Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Resisting Gossip Teaching Series Now on YouTube

Good news! The videos we created a few years ago to go with Resisting Gossip Together have now been uploaded to my YouTube channel and arranged into a playlist.

Anyone anywhere with YouTube can now watch and share the 10 teaching videos, an introduction/trailer, and the blooper reel. Enjoy!

Thank you to Spencer Folmar of Third Brother Films for creating them and, especially, to CLC Publications for making these available free to the public!


Sunday, November 19, 2017

[Matt's Messages] "Steadfast"

“Steadfast”
Gospel Roots (1892-2017)
Lamentations 3:19-24
November 19, 2017

Surprise, surprise! We are not going to finish the book of Galatians today. We were on a roll there, and we only have one more message to go, but I’m going to save that for next Sunday.

Because we have two more messages to go in our Gospel Roots series, and the one I have planned for November fits just perfectly with the Thanksgiving holiday and the theme of our worship service this morning.

And I can sum it up with one word: STEADFAST.

That word keeps bubbling up in my mind the last several months. Steadfast.

Our God is faithful. Our God is trustworthy. Our God is dependable, reliable, and always true. Our God is steadfast and so is His love.

And we are called to be steadfast, too.

Because He is steadfast, we are called to be steadfast, as well.

Standing firm. Immovable. Unflinching. Persistent. Persevering.

Even when times are tough.

Or, especially when times are tough.

What I want to focus on today from our church’s history is that this church has a track record of being steadfast and trusting in the steadfast love of the Lord through difficult times, through times of trial and testing and trouble.

Has this church seen times of trouble?

Of course it has.

We are 125 years old! And that means this church family has weathered all kinds of storms.

Think about what the world has gone through in those 125 years! World Wars. Cold Wars. Earthquakes. Famines. Fast-spreading diseases.

Think about what our nation has gone through in those 125 years. How many ups and downs and trouble on every side.

So of course, our little church has seen its fair share of trouble.

Just read through the history book that we just reissued last month. Read the lines and read between the lines, and you’ll pick up on the hardships and the heartaches and the grief that our church family has experienced through twelve and half decades.

For example, the deaths of those we love. I was just reading yesterday in the fourth decade it says, “On New Year’s Day, 1932, the church’s last charter member went home to be with the Lord. Mr. Gust Nelson had been a leader in the church as well as in the community. The church minutes record that there was an ‘emptiness’ in the church services without Mr. Nelson’s presence and leadership.”

I don’t know about you, but that makes me think of the deaths of Bea Johnson and Blair Murray. Lita wrote about them on pages 32 and 33 of the new book.

It isn’t the same around here without them.

And it isn’t the same without hundreds and hundreds of others of our loved ones who have passed during these 125 years.

There have been other troubles. There have been financial troubles. There was a time when we didn’t have the funds to continue supporting our missionaries at the level we had planned to.

There were times of conflict and division in the church family. Some of you lived through those times, and it hurts just to think about it today.

And every family here has experienced trouble yourself.

Just like Jesus promised! Jesus said, “In this world, you will have trouble.”

And that’s encouraging to me that He said that because we see it all the time!

We see trouble. The Bible says, “Man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward!” (Job 5:7).

What trouble have you seen?

Cancer?
Losing a job?
Losing a home? I remember when Keith and Pennie’s house burned down. February 2001.

I’ve stood at a lot of your bedsides in hospitals and besides caskets in funeral homes.

We’ve all seen trouble.

You’ve stood beside our family when we’ve seen trouble.

When we lost our first child, Charis Mitchell in April 1999.
When Heather lost her mom to cancer in 2010.
When our daughter Robin was diagnosed with Celiac disease in 2014.
When Heather was diagnosed with fibromyalgia in 2016.
When I had to have surgery for a perforated bowel and I was out of the pulpit for 6 weeks in 2015.

You’ve been steadfast by our side when we’ve seen trouble.

The fact is that trouble is normal.

For some reason we’re always surprised by it, but trouble is actually normal in this cursed world that we currently live in.

Ever since the Fall, trouble is normal.

Suffering is normal.

Suffering can be so bewildering, so confusing, that unless we are prepared in advance for it, we won’t know how to respond to it.

Unless we’ve got a great, functional, practical theology of suffering before it comes, the chances are that we will buckle under it and flail around not knowing what to do.

The prophet Jeremiah knew all about trouble.

The prophet Jeremiah lived through the exile of Judah and the destruction of Jerusalem.

In the year 586 BC, God brought judgment upon the nation of Judah. He had promised exile and warned of judgment for hundreds of years. And Judah had, by and large, ignored those warnings. We were studying this just a year ago when we came to the end of the Books of Kings.

In 586 BC, God kept His promise to bring disaster on His rebellious people. The King of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar, sacked and destroyed the city of Jerusalem.

And Jeremiah, the prophet, was there. He saw it with his own eyes. And his eyes were full of tears.

Jeremiah is called the “weeping prophet” because even though he had to faithfully deliver a message of woe to the people, he didn’t have to like it.

His message was, by and large, a message of doom, condemnation, and judgment.

And it caused him to weep.

The worst thing that he could imagine was the destruction of his beloved city–Jerusalem. The capital of the nation. The headquarters of the homeland. The jewel, the apple of the Israelite’s eye. The location of the temple. The city that stood for the people. When Jerusalem went, so did the people.

And Jerusalem fell.

And Jeremiah wept.

And he wrote about his suffering, he wrote about this trouble, in a little book tucked away between the major prophets called “Lamentations.”

Every few years, I like to take us back to Lamentations.

I invite you to turn there with me. It’s a little hard to find. If you open your Bible to the middle, you’ll find the Psalms. Lamentations is to the right. If you have found Isaiah keep going to the right. Jeremiah, and then Lamentations, right before Ezekiel.

And turn to chapter 3.

Today, we’re just going to read the most famous verses in the book of Lamentations.  We sing the words of these few verses all the time. We already have and we’re going to again this morning. They are very familiar.

But they are tucked into the very middle of one of the saddest books in the whole Bible. I mean, the name of the book is Lament. Which basically means to be sad.  “Sad-Thoughts” is the name of the book. Lamentations.

And that’s great. We need books like Lamentations. I’m becoming more and more enamored and interested in the idea of lament in our Bibles.

Because life is not always happy! It’s not always smooth.  It’s not always pleasant.

In fact, it’s full of trouble. That’s why we need books like Lamentations.

One of the most amazing things about Lamentations is how it is structured. 4 of the 5 chapters of Lamentations are acrostic poems.  Do you know what an acrostic is?

It’s like every sentence starts with a different letter of the alphabet in order.

Like the first line starts with A and the second line with B and so on. That’s something that the Hebrew poets loved to do. Psalm 119 is like that. And Proverbs 31 is like that.

But Lamentations is even more carefully structured!

Here in chapter 3, which we’re going to look at closely, each stanza (like a paragraph in poetry) begins with the next letter of the Hebrew Alphabet (Aleph, Beth, Gimel, Dalet, etc) and each sentence within that stanza also begins with that same letter.

It’s very carefully composed.

I think that’s awesome!

You know why?  Because it says that there is a lot of thought that has gone into this expression of sad thoughts, of bad feelings, of lamentations.

Jeremiah (who I believe wrote this book) put meticulous thought into how to express his grief and sorrow and pain over what had happened to him and his beloved city.

And he shows us how to be sad. He shows us how to suffer.  How to practice the lost art of lament.

I’ve promised it before and I’ll promise it again–someday, we’ll do the whole book together, and we’ll learn a lot of different principles about responding to suffering.

Today, we’ll see just a few, perhaps the brightest. Today, we’re going to read verses 19 through 24 of chapter 3.

You’re already singing it in your head, aren’t you?

“Great Is Your Faithfulness.” Right there in verse 23.

Trouble may be normal, but God is steadfast.

Our Lord is steadfast, and so is His love.

“Great is your faithfulness.”

I love that those precious words come out of this passage of Scripture.

They don’t come out of a happy dappy chapter in a happy dappy book. They don’t come out of good feelings. They come out of a passage about Bad Feelings. “My soul is downcast.”

A passage about Sad Feelings. A passage about suffering and lamentation and being downcast.

And right smack in the middle of that is this reminder that God is steadfast.

#1. WHEN IT DOESN’T FEEL LIKE IT.

Jeremiah tells God that His faithfulness is great at a time when he doesn’t really feel it.

Things are not going well. The worst thing that he could imagine has happened.

The threats are over and so is Jerusalem.

And it stinks. It hurts. It’s painful. It’s terrible. It’s suffering.

Verses 19 and 20 say this, “I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me.”

The first line could be taken as a prayer request. The ESV translates it, “Remember my affliction and my wanderings.”

“Lord, don’t forget what I’ve suffered.”

Verse 20 clearly says that Jeremiah hasn’t forgotten. And he, I think, is speaking in chapter 3 for the whole of the nation, especially the remnant who either believes or at least will repent. V.20

“I well remember [my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and gall], and my soul is downcast within me.”

Have you been there?

I love the realism of the Bible. The Bible is not sugar coated. It is not fake in the slightest.

There is no sense that if you come to Jesus then your life will be a bed of roses.

You will be healthy, wealthy, and well-liked.  Smiling all of the time.

Knowing God means an easy road from here on out.

No!

The Bible paints a realistic picture of life which includes suffering and sadness and trouble.

And it even gives us patterns to follow when those times of suffering and sadness come. Divine patterns.

I love that about the Bible!

It doesn’t always feel like God’s faithfulness is great. That God is steadfast.

Sometimes our minds are full of affliction, wandering, bitterness, and gall.  Sometimes our souls are downcast within us.

And that’s okay.

We should tell God about it.

We can pray about that. And pray like that. Honestly. He loves our honest hearts.

We can write it down in a song. We can think long and hard about it.

We can express our lamentations in the right way to the Lord.

We don’t have to pretend that everything is fine and dandy.

It doesn’t always feel like God’s faithfulness is great.

But it is.

Things are not always as they feel.
Things are not always as they seem.

In fact, they often are not as they seem.

God’s faithfulness is great even when it doesn’t feel like it.  V.21

“Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”

Verse 21 is a turning point.

That “yet” in verse 21 says so much!

“Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope...great is your faithfulness.”

Even when it doesn’t feel like it.

Do you need to hear that today?

Maybe right now it doesn’t feel like it for you.
Maybe you’re in a dark night of the soul.
Maybe you’re hurting. Maybe God seems distant.
Maybe you’re very disappointed, confused, bewildered, sad.

Or maybe you’re okay today, but you need to remind yourself of this right now so that when those feelings come (and they will!), you’re ready to call this to mind, “Great is your faithfulness.”

Lita put this title on the new history book, “Gospel Roots: A History of God’s Faithfulness in Our First 125 Years.”

I’ll tell you, it didn’t always feel like it.

There have been some dark times for this church.

Some of you have particular days that you remember when something hard happened here, and it makes you wince every time that day rolls around again on the calendar.

But here you are being steadfast and sticking to it.

Because you know that even in those moments, the Lord was steadfast.

The Lord has been steadfast for every one of those 125 years.  Every day of those 125 years. God is steadfast.

#2.  EVERY SINGLE DAY. V.21 again.

“Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:  Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed”

The word for “great love” there in verse 22 is “hesed.” It’s the word for God’s covenant love. His unfailing love. His love that is promised to His people and can be counted upon no matter what.

The ESV translates it, “the steadfast love of the LORD.”

Steadfast love. It doesn’t get better than that!!!

And v.22 says that it’s because of that steadfast love that we are not consumed.  Or another way of translating it would make the consumed about the love meaning “the steadfast love of the LORD never is consumed, never ceases.”

And that fits with the next phrase... “for his compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”

His compassions, His mercies, never fail.

God isn’t moody.

God doesn’t get up some days on the wrong side of the bed.

Aren’t you glad that you and I aren’t God?

Somedays we just get up and there’d be hell to pay.

“I don’t feel like being compassionate to those people of mine. They are sinners, they fail, they’re lazy, they don’t meet up with expectations. They are slackers!

And today I just don’t feel like lovin’ on them.”

That’s not the LORD. His compassions for His people never fail.

I love the word picture of verse 23. Everyone does.

“His compassions [His tender mercies] are new every morning...”

Every morning.

Every morning!

With the dawn comes a new wave of God’s mercy.

Every morning.

Every single day.

Look for them.

One of the things that my wise wife often says is that we need to look each morning for new mercies.

Yesterday's mercies are yesterday. And God has promised new mercies every morning. So we have to go looking for them.

We know they are there. We can count on them.

Let’s keep an eye out for them.

Bob & Sylvia Gisewhite have a plaque on the wall at their house.

It said something like this, “Every day may not be good, but there is something good in every day.”

“His compassions never fail. They are new every morning.” Look for them.

“Great is your faithfulness.”

God’s love is steadfast.

Every single day.

What does it mean for God to be faithful? It means that He always keeps His promises.

Whatever He has said, He will do.

We’ve learned that it may not be on our time-table. It may not even look like what we expected.

But none of His promises fall to the ground. None of His promises ever fail.

He is perfectly faithful with a steadfast love for His people.

“Great is His faithfulness.”

Okay, so what should we do about that today?

What should we do about that this Thanksgiving season?

How do we live differently because we’ve read these few verses together?

You know, it doesn’t necessarily change how we feel.

Jeremiah has two and half more chapters of lamentation to go!

You and I might have a lot more sad feelings to feel and to express.

What difference does it make that God is faithful? That God’s love is steadfast? What should we do?

The same thing we’ve been doing for 125 years. Trust Him!

Here are three points of application to take home with us:

#1.  SAY THIS TO HIM.

Say, “Great is Your faithfulness.”

Notice that phrase is a prayer in verse 23.

He doesn’t just say, “God is faithful. God’s faithfulness is great.” That’s true.

But in the middle of his pain, in the middle of his suffering, in the middle of his lament, he calls out to God and says, “Great is your faithfulness.”

He says it to the LORD Himself.

It makes it seem a lot more real when you talk to Him.

“Lord, it hurts. This is the worst thing that has ever happened to me.”

“But great is your faithfulness. I trust you.”

“I don’t understand. I don’t like it. My soul is downcast within me. But great is your faithfulness! Great is your steadfast love.”

Say that to Him when you are suffering.

And you will find that God’s compassions are right there with you.

Declare to the Lord that you believe that His mercies are new every morning and that you’re going to look for them.

And you will find them.  I heard one of you pray like that just this week.

“Great is your faithfulness, Lord unto me.”

I have a new song that I’m loving these days by Sandra McCracken, and it’s just called “Steadfast.”

And she just talks to the Lord and tells Him that He is steadfast.

The first stanza goes:

I will build my house
Whether storm or drought
On the rock that does not move
I will set my hope
In your love, O Lord
And your faithfulness will prove
You are steadfast, steadfast

Even when it doesn’t feel like it.
And every single day.

Tell Him!

But don’t just tell Him. Tell yourself that.

#2. SAY THIS TO YOURSELF.

Did you catch how Jeremiah is preaching to his own heart, his own soul?

Look back up at verse 21, “Yet this I call to mind...”

Jeremiah tells himself to remember something. “Hey, self, don’t forget. God is faithful! God’s love is steadfast.”

And look down at verse 24, “I say to myself, ‘The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.’” King James–“I will hope in Him.”

Jeremiah doesn’t just pray these words, he reminds himself of the truth of God’s faithfulness. He tells himself that the LORD is his “portion” – his lot, his treasure, his only comfort in life and death, his satisfaction, his portion.

Jeremiah reminds himself that God has great steadfast love and great faithfulness and that it is worth it to endure the suffering (which will last for moment) because joy will last forever. Hope in him.

All too often we listen to ourselves instead of speaking to ourselves.

Often we listen to our feelings, and we don’t talk back to them.

But our feelings can be deceived. Just like we said last week.

We need to speak to our hearts and remind them of what is true.

“Hey, Matt, don’t forget it’s only because of the LORD’s great love that we are not consumed.  For his compassions never fail.  Matt!  Don’t forget that they are new every single morning.  Great is HIS faithfulness!  Hope in Him, Matt.”

Say this to yourself every day.  “God’s faithfulness is great.”

Lanse Free Church, “We have 10,000 Reasons to give thanks. Our sins they are many, his mercy is more.”

And that’s the last one. Last application.

#3.  SAY THIS TO OTHERS.

Jeremiah wrote this poem to be read by others. To be (in some cases) sung by others.

It’s not a fun song. It’s not a popcorn and candy song that’s a blast to sing.

But we need songs like this. We need dirges. We need laments. Because life hurts!

But most of the time, we need our sad songs to have this embedded in their middle.

Hope in the Lord! Because His faithful.

We know this now even more than Jeremiah did.

Jeremiah didn’t know about the Suffering Servant.

Jeremiah didn’t know what we know about the Messiah.

Jeremiah didn’t know Jesus.

Jesus was a man of sorrows and familiar with suffering.

If anyone knew about being sad, it was Jesus.

If anyone ever trouble, it was Jesus.

Jesus felt like Lamentations in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the Cross of Calvary.

He is One who said, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

It’s because Jesus was the very embodiment of the steadfast love of the Lord.

Jesus’ death and resurrection was God keeping His promises.

And they keep us from being consumed by our sin.

It’s only because of what He did on the Cross that we are not consumed and that we can say today, “His compassions never fail. They are new every morning. Great is your faithfulness.”

And we need to tell other people just how great He really is.

Just how faithful.

He’s too good to keep to ourselves.

Say this to others. “God is steadfast. Great is God’s faithfulness.”

I pulled this off the wall again for today because I think it perfectly illustrates the message.

“A congregation of seven members met in 1965 (52 years ago) to decide if they should dissolve or continue as a local church.”

Things were tough. This church had experienced trouble.

We had dwindled to just seven members.

Those seven members contributed only 75 dollars a month toward the pastor’s salary.

And their district conference said that they had no extra funds to help out at this time.

Should they close their doors or continue on?

“Believing they were to continue, they led the way to the conclusion of the first hundred years of history. May their example guide us with similar resolve.”

And it lists the seven steadfast re-founders of our church.

They didn’t pretend that everything was hunky dory.

But they didn’t back down either.

They cried out to the Lord and they put their faith in His steadfast love.

And here we are today.

“May their example guide us with similar resolve.”

***

Previous Messages in This Series





Saturday, November 18, 2017

Sunday, November 12, 2017

[Matt's Messages] "We Will Reap a Harvest"

“We Will Reap a Harvest”
Galatians: The Truth of the Gospel
November 12, 2017 :: Galatians 5:26-6:10

Due to guest preachers and Reformation Sunday, it’s been a whole month since we were in Galatians together, so you might not even remember that we’ve been studying Galatians together since the month of May. This is our fourteenth message in Galatians, and I am projecting only one more after this to finish the book this month.

I promised to finish it this year; I plan to finish it this month.

Our series is called “The Truth of the Gospel” because that’s what was at stake in Galatia. The churches that Paul had planted and loved so much had been infiltrated by false teachers who were insisting that the Christians in the region of Galatia take on obedience to the Mosaic Law to be justified before God on the last day and to show their reliance on keeping the Law by having all of the men circumcised.

And Paul was astonished and perplexed because it looked like the Galatian churches just might tragically abandon the truth of the gospel of grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. So Paul wrote this letter to try to rescue them from losing the truth of the gospel and everything that comes with it.

Now, we’ve reached the end of the letter where Paul has been laying out the practical implications of the gospel of grace. The Galatians were to embrace their freedom and embrace their identity as sons and heirs of God. And they were not go back to slavery but instead to live out of their freedom. And to live in love and to live by the Spirit.

Last time, we read that we are to keep in step with the Spirit. To walk by the Spirit, to be led by the Spirit, to allow the Spirit to produce His fruit in us, and to keep in step with the Spirit.

What does that look like?

Well, that’s what he gets into today. Paul didn’t write any big chapter numbers in his letter. 5:25 is immediately followed by 5:26 and 6:1 and so on, in the original!

So that’s what we’re going to read now: 5:26 through 6:10.

But I want to start today with verse 9.

Chapter 6, verse 9 is one of my favorite Scripture passages, and it’s also our new Hide the Word verse for the remainder of 2017.

We’ve been on Galatians 2:20 for some time, and I think we’ve got it down.

So now we’re going to do Galatians 6:9, and it has such a wonderful promise in it.

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

What a great thing to memorize!

What a wonderful promise! That promise is the title of today’s message.

“We Will Reap A Harvest.”

This is the right time of year to talk about harvesting.

This is harvest season when the farmers reap the crop that they have been so painstakingly caring for all year long.

It’s the time for the return on their investment.

And we sing about it this month. A lot of the songs we sing for Thanksgiving have a harvest theme, because it’s that time of the year, and we’re thanking God for what He has provided for us in the harvest.

This harvest in verse 9 is probably not about crops like corn, wheat, and beans. At least, not primarily.

It’s primarily a spiritual harvest. And it’s the blessings that come in eternal life, the blessings of holiness, the blessings of knowing God, the blessings of all of the good gifts that the Lord of the harvest has promised to His faithful children.

Some of those blessings will be seen now in part. Maybe even in corn, wheat, and beans. But most of these blessings will come in full in the future. In the age to come.

But come they will!

We will reap a harvest.

That’s the promise of God.

...if we don’t give up.

Did you notice that in verse 9?

Verse 9 has a wonderful promise, but has a condition. It has a condition that is a calling.

It’s a calling to faithfulness. To continue believing and to continue obeying.

Trusting and obeying. V.9

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

Point Number One today:

#1. DON’T GIVE UP.

The first part of the verse says, “Let us not become weary in doing good...”

Let’s not get fatigued.
Let’s not grow too tired to go on.
Let’s not lose heart.

Don’t give up.

Of course, the Galatians were tempted to give up the gospel. They were tempted to believe a false gospel, another gospel which is really no gospel at all.

But they were also tempted to give up doing good.

They were tempted to stop doing good works.

They were tempted to stop loving the people around them.

That’s easy to do, isn’t it?

To get tired of doing good?

To get compassion fatigue?

To want to just throw in the towel and stop loving the hard-to-love people around you?

That has happened to me at times.

Let me tell you why this verse is so precious to me.

A few years ago, I grew weary of doing good as a pastor. I just got tired of doing what was right in a few relationships that were difficult around here.

And I just avoided them. I didn’t stop doing my job, but I stopped doing that part of my job. I took every excuse.

But God engraved this verse on my soul, and it became my biggest prayer request at the time. “Do not grow weary of doing good.” King James, “Let us not be weary in well doing.”

And so I had to make a list of people to whom I needed to apologize. It was several people long. People that I had failed as their pastor in some way.  I had just given up with them, and God said, “Matt, do not grow weary in well-doing.”

It took me several months, almost a year, to apologize to everyone on that list. But by God’s grace, I did. And I felt an incredible freedom.

Are you tempted to give up?

Hear the promise that goes with that calling: “At the proper time we will reap a harvest.”

I know. I hear it, too, “at the proper time.” “In due season.”

That means waiting. That means being patient.

That means we sow now and we reap later.

You can’t say, “You know, I want to have an apple this afternoon. I should get out there and plant an apple seed this morning.” It doesn’t work that.

There is sowing now and reaping later.

So we’ve got to wait. And we can’t give up while we wait.

We’ve got to hold on for the harvest.

Don’t give up.

Are you tempted to give up? There are a lot of reasons to feel like throwing in the towel. I don’t have to list them to you. You feel them already.

But do you feel the promise?  “We will reap a harvest.”

Now, what is it we’re supposed not give up doing? V.9 again.

“Let us not become weary in doing good...”

#2. DO GOOD. Look at verse 10.

“Therefore [because of the harvest], as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”

Because we will reap a harvest, we’re supposed to not give up doing good works, doing things that will serve others–doing good to all people but especially the church, the family of believers.

Do good.

Now, what does that look like?

I think that’s what Paul is talking about in this whole section Galatians 5:26 through 6:10. It’s all about the good we’re supposed to do to each other. Especially to one another in the church.

This is what keeping in the step with the Spirit looks like. And it’s what doing good to people looks like. Let’s back up to 5:26 and look at some specifics. 5:26

“Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.”

That’s the opposite of doing good.

Paul is going to toggle back and forth between what not to do and what to do to love others.

He starts with the negative. Don’t get into competition with others.

“Let us not become conceited [or prideful or old word, “vainglorious”, full of oneself because that leads to], provoking [or competing] and envying each other.”

This is what you might call the sin of comparison.

It’s thinking so much of yourself that you can only think about others as they compare to you.

Do you know anybody who does that constantly? They are constantly comparing themselves to others, and it comes out in either competing, “I’m better than you,” or envying “you’re better than me and I hate you for it!”

That is not doing good to all people.

Look at what is. Chapter 6, verse 1. “Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently.”

Doing good to someone who has found themselves trapped in a sin, means restoring them gently.

Now, that is not easy to do.

For one thing, most people who are trapped in a sin don’t want to be restored.

They want to be left alone with their trap.

So it require a loving rebuke. And that’s hard to do gently!

So you can see why Paul says that we should not grow weary in doing good. This is hard work!

But it’s a good work.

I know that right now, while I’m sane, I want someone to love me enough to step into my life if I get caught in a besetting sin and try to restore me. Gently.

That’s what love does.

That’s what Christians do.

They help each other to get out of their sinful traps.

Do you see how is supposed to do that work in verse 1?

“Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently.”

Who’s that?

Is that a special class of Christians? They “spiritual” Christians?

I don’t think so. I think it just means the true Christians, you know, the ones who hav the Spirit. The ones who are led by the Spirit and walk by the Spirit, and are producing the fruit of the Spirit and are keeping in the step with the Spirit.

Those are the ones who love others enough to do them good by confronting and forgiving and restoring those who have been caught in a sin.

But see the warning in the second half of verse 1?

“But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted.”

You might have the same temptation that your sinning friend had fallen into.

Or you might be tempted to pride, tempted to think that because you are helping him, that you’re really something and you’re immune to these sins of lesser mortals.

I know people who love to point out the sin in others, but they can’t see it in themselves. V.2

“Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”

That’s what it means to do good to the family of believers.

It means to carry each other’s burdens.

I heard Tim Keller talk about this verse. He said that it’s like helping somebody move furniture.

If the chest of drawers weighs 200 pounds, you can’t carry it yourself. But if two guys grab it. Then you’re both only carrying 100 pounds. And if four guys do it, you only have to lift 50 pounds each.

What I think is interesting is that this verse makes it clear that we all have burdens.

We’ve all got heavy stuff in our lives.

And we’re not supposed to carry them all by ourselves!

We’re supposed to share our loads with another.

I help you. And you help me.

That’s one of the reasons why we have the church!

“Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”

Isn’t that interesting? The Galatians were so concerned about obeying the Law. Or at least the false teachers wanted them to be.

Paul says, “If you love other people, especially the people in your church and you carry their burdens, you’re fulfilling the Law! The Law of Jesus Christ!”

How are you doing at carry the burdens of others?

Are you praying for someone?

Not just saying that you’re going to, but actually praying for them?

Are you helping people out, the people around you?

Unless this is your first Sunday with us, everybody in this room should have relationships with other people in this room and should know some of each others’ burdens and be doing something to help each other carry them.

Is that happening?

Are you doing that?

That’s what we’re supposed to be doing.

It’s going to look different for different. Different for everybody.

But that’s what church is supposed to be.

“Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”

The deaconnesses are helping us with that. But they don’t do it all for us. We all do it for each other.

Look at verse 3. Isn’t it interesting how Paul keeps toggling between what to do and what not to do? Or, maybe it would be better to say that he keeps toggling between how to look at other people (with eyes of love) and how to look at yourself (with a basic mistrust of your own heart). V.3

“If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, for each one should carry his own load.”

Point number three.

#3. KEEP AN EYE ON YOURSELF.

Paul is telling us to examine ourselves.

“If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself.” I think he means, “If you think you’re too good to carry someone else’s burdens, then you are in danger. You are not above helping somebody else with their problems.”

Watch out for that attitude. Test yourself!

“Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else...”

Now, I don’t think he means that you should expect to boast in your own actions on your own merits. That would be antithetical to everything he teaches in the rest of this letter and all of his other letters!

I think he’s basically just saying, that you should keep a critical eye on yourself instead of a critical eye on everybody else (which is what comes naturally!) and if you can honestly say that your motivations come from faith and love, then you can be boast that God has done His work in you on the Day of Christ Jesus. And it’s not what someone else has done, but what God has done in you.

For...(look at the end of verse 5), “for each one should carry his own load.”

Now, that’s interesting because it sounds like the opposite of verse 2 that we help each other carry their loads.

I think it’s different kinds of loads. V.2 is a “burden” like a heavy thing, a trial. I think verse 5 a “load” like a responsibility, a calling.

Verse 5 means that we don’t pass the buck.

We take responsibility for the things God has called us to do.

That doesn’t mean we don’t expect help. Verse 2 tells us that we’ll need it!

But it does mean that we don’t blame everybody else for our failures.

Everybody needs to carry our own load in Christianity.

And of course, that’s by faith, as well. We don’t carry our own load in our own power, either.

But we do keep an eye on ourselves.

We need to have a basic distrust of our natural motives and inclinations.

You know the world says, “Trust your heart! Follow your desires!”

But the Bible says that’s dangerous advice.

We need to keep a weather eye on our own hearts and desires.

Isn’t that interesting? This whole passage is about doing good to others and being gentle with them. But it’s also about being critical of ourselves and not going easy on our own sin.

Helping others but distrusting ourselves.

How are you doing at that?

For me, sometimes I’m good at that. But often I’m not.

I let my guard down and I give myself little passes.

And the next thing you know, I’m off course. And I’m following my own self desires and I think I’m better than others. And I’m concerned that I’m worse than others and I’m jealous of them for it!

And I think I’m really “something.”

And I need to take a good hard look at myself.

How about you?

V.6

“Anyone who receives instruction in the word must share all good things with his instructor.”

This is also about doing good. I think this is basically the call to pay your pastor, and this church is really good at that. Thank you!

But notice how he toggles from the good right back to the bad. V.7

“Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.”

Do you feel the warning?

He’s saying, “Don’t lie to yourself.” “God CANNOT be mocked.”

You see how strong that is? It’s a basic law of the universe, you don’t get away with anything.

God has built the principle of actions and consequences into the fabric of the universe.

This is not karma. It is God’s sowing and reaping principle.

“Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.”

Two kinds of people. Two kinds of sowing. Two kinds of reaping.

Those who sow [literally] “into the flesh” like the sinful nature is the field, will reap destruction (or corruption). That’s what will happen to unbelievers. To those who do not put their faith in and follow the Lord Jesus Christ.

But those who sow “into the Spirit” like the Holy Spirit is the field, will reap eternal life from that Spirit!

That’s what happens to those genuine believers who walk by the Spirit, are led by the Spirit, allow the Spirit to produce His fruit in them, and keep in step with the Spirit. They sow to the Spirit and they reap eternal life.

We will reap a harvest!

So don’t give up. V.9

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

Do good. V.10

“Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”

And keep an eye on yourself.

Don’t sow to the flesh. Don’t just listen to your own heart and your desires.

They are often fallen and fleshly.

And the end of that road is destruction.

Instead, sow the Spirit.

Put all of your energy into doing what He wants and what brings glory to Jesus Christ.

Do good to all people. Even children far away that will open up a Shoebox full of your love.

And do good to the people right here close to you. Right here in this room.

Be the church to each other. Restoring each other gently. Carrying each others burdens. Looking out for each other’s welfare.

And don’t stop until you see your Savior’s face.

Until He brings the all of the blessings that He has so faithfully promised.

Because we will reap a harvest!


***

Messages in this Series:
01. To the Churches in Galatia
02. Turning to a Different Gospel
03. Preaching the Faith He Once Tried to Destroy
04. So the Truth of the Gospel Might Remain With You
05. Acting in Line with the Truth of the Gospel
06. I Live By Faith in the Son of God
07. You Foolish Galatians!
08. You Are All Sons of God Through Faith in Christ Jesus
09. So You Are No Longer a Slave
10. I Plead With You
11. Abraham Had Two Sons
12. Called to Be Free

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Monday, November 06, 2017

Vintage Resisting Gossip Live Seminar at Miracle Mountain Ranch

In March of 2013 (a few months before the publication of Resisting Gossip: Winning the War of the Wagging Tongue), I test-drove some of the material for the students at the Miracle Mountain Ranch School of Discipleship.

The videos were recorded and 10 snippets have been published on YouTube as a playlist.

It's fun to see how the seminar has changed yet stayed the same all these years.

Saturday, November 04, 2017

Friday, November 03, 2017

And the Winner Is....

....Marguerite Harrell!

Congratulations, Marguerite, on winning a copy of Pass It On by Champ Thornton. Send me your address so that the generous folks at New Growth Press can send you your free book.

Thank you, everyone who participated! If you want to buy your own copy, visit Amazon, New Growth Press, Westminster Bookstore or any other book retailer today.

Thursday, November 02, 2017

Gossip Girls



Cedarville Comedy with a funny/notfunny sketch on how gossip often slips and falls into our prayer requests.

[For a not funny alternative: see this article.]