Tag Archives: Bible

Seek the cure! – 2 Kings 5:1-3, 9-15a

Seek the cure! – 2 Kings 5:1-3, 9-15a
By Pastor Lee Hemen
September 23, 2018

Our background can and does influence our lives today. How we were raised, educated, and how we were taught about morality, religion, patriotism, and such makes a huge impact on our lives. However as we can later decide for ourselves how we will relate to our world and others, that’s how we grow and mature or degenerate and digress. The choice is ours to make.

Chapter 5 of 2 Kings reveals Elisha was a man of God. We are now introduced to Naaman a commander in his king’s army. He was a man of prominence, power, and influence. He was not used to taking order from those he thought inferior to his status in life. He commanded others but this man of power was also sick with a disease that would have precluded him from being everything in his life he could have been. He could be cured but he would need to do just one thing: seek the cure! Let’s find out what happens…

READ: 2 Kings 5:1-3, 9-15a

God can and does use different people in our lives in order to bring us closer to him. We discover that Naaman was no different. We discover that…

I. When God brings others into our lives we need to be willing to listen! (Vv. 1-3)

Now Naaman was commander of the army of the king of Aram. He was a great man in the sight of his master and highly regarded, because through him the LORD had given victory to Aram. He was a valiant soldier, but he had leprosy. Now bands from Aram had gone out and had taken captive a young girl from Israel, and she served Naaman’s wife. She said to her mistress, “If only my master would see the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.”

1. In these verses we discover Naaman who was the commander of the army of Aram under the unidentified Aramean king. Aram was another name for the nation of Syria. Naaman was a great man, second in power under the king. He was highly regarded by the king because the Lord had given military victories to him. We learn that “He was a valiant soldier, but he had leprosy.” The word for “leprosy” can mean any form of skin disease. Whatever it was it would have been a problem for Naaman because any form of skin disease was seen as a curse or at best something or someone who had it was to be avoided. Yet little did Naaman suspect that within his life there were others he never would have thought would be able to help him. It began when “bands from Aram had gone out and had taken captive a young girl from Israel, and she served Naaman’s wife”. This young Israelite captive slave girl would change a prominent warrior’s life forever. Evidently Naaman and his wife were kind to this slave girl because she sought Naaman’s welfare. Naaman could obtain physical and spiritual healing from God through Elisha if he listened to and obeyed good advice. She possibly had heard of Elisha since she was an Israelite captive. Apparently she assumed he could cleanse leprosy in view of his supernatural power. No leper in Israel, though, was healed in Elisha’s day, but Naaman would be if he was willing to listen. The young slave girl tells her mistress, “If only my master would see the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.” To experience God’s salvation from sin, a person must hear the message of salvation and respond to God’s call to come to Jesus for salvation. When God brings others into our lives we need to be willing to listen!

EXAMPLE: My mother used to ask us, “Did you hear what I said to you?” when she wanted to know if we were actually listening or not. My dad would remind us that we had better listen to our mother for our own sake. Often when we know we should listen and respond we don’t do so. Naaman learned that when God brings others into our lives we need to be willing to listen!
Interestingly the slave girl’s faith in the Lord may have been an indirect rebuke to Israel’s King Joram who had no faith in God. Naaman had a choice to make and in this we learn that…

II. When God confronts us to make changes we must make a decision! (Vv. 9-12)

So Naaman went with his horses and chariots and stopped at the door of Elisha’s house. Elisha sent a messenger to say to him, “Go, wash yourself seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will be restored and you will be cleansed.” But Naaman went away angry and said, “I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the LORD his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy. Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than any of the waters of Israel? Couldn’t I wash in them and be cleansed?” So he turned and went off in a rage.

1. We find out that Naaman was a man willing to listen and “So Naaman went with his horses and chariots and stopped at the door of Elisha’s house.” The journey Naaman had to make was longer than the Bible shares. It would have taken him days to go to Israel and then to find Elisha, but he does just that. The King of Israel thought he was being set up and tears his robes in anguish and fear. However Elisha tells him to buck up and have Naaman come to him and then he would know “there is a prophet in Israel” (v. 8). So here is Naaman the great commander of Aram outside of the door of Elisha the scruffy prophet and what does Elisha do? “Elisha sent a messenger to say to him, ‘Go, wash yourself seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will be restored and you will be cleansed.’” Would Naaman do as he was asked? Would he humble himself? “But Naaman went away angry and said, ‘I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the LORD his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy.’” When he was asked to do something easy like find a prophet, Naaman was willing. Most people are more than willing to seek easy answers to their problems. Have them light a candle, walk on bended knees, make absolution, or do something good for another then they will do that; but ask them to trust in something they cannot see and their pride gets in the way. Naaman’s did and he pridefully declares, “Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than any of the waters of Israel? Couldn’t I wash in them and be cleansed?” The answer is “no” he could not he had to do what God asked him to do through his prophet. “So” like so many prideful people “he turned and went off in a rage.” When God confronts us to make changes we must make a decision!

EXAMPLE: Change can be hard in our lives if we try to do it on our own but with the help of God we can do all things. Naaman made known his disgust that he had to dip himself in the river Jordan. He was offended, he was angered, and he knew he had a decision to make. Scripture teaches that when a person obeys God’s call and comes to him through Christ in repentance and faith, that person needs to confess Christ publicly. New believers need to tell others of their commitments, make their public professions of faith in church services, follow the Lord in believers’ baptism, and begin living lives of faith and service. When God confronts us to make changes we must make a decision!

Knowing what to do and doing it are two different things. With the help of others Naaman begins to realize that…

III. When we are shown the cure we must seek it! (Vv. 13-15)

Naaman’s servants went to him and said, “My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more, then, when he tells you, ‘Wash and be cleansed’!” So he went down and dipped himself in the Jordan seven times, as the man of God had told him, and his flesh was restored and became clean like that of a young boy. Then Naaman and all his attendants went back to the man of God. He stood before him and said, “Now I know that there is no God in all the world except in Israel. Please accept now a gift from your servant.”
1. Sometimes the people God places around us are wiser than we are. “Naaman’s servants went to him and said, ‘My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more, then, when he tells you, “Wash and be cleansed”!’” Now isn’t this little fact interesting. When others know what we need to do and come to us are we willing to make the right choice and accept their advice and do what we need to do? Sadly this often isn’t the case. Either we humble ourselves or allow our pride to dictate to us what we should do. Humility can go a long way in helping us become the person God desires. Calling Naaman “father” was a term of respect and endearment his servants reasoned with him that he would have done some great thing if Elisha had so instructed. Therefore, why not do as the prophet said and wash himself in the Jordan? Naaman had good advice from a Hebrew slave girl, Elisha’s servant, and then from his own servants.  We learn that finally Naaman “went down and dipped himself in the Jordan seven times, as the man of God had told him, and his flesh was restored and became clean like that of a young boy.” Naaman was not made clean the first time he submerged himself, nor the second time, or the third time and on to the sixth time he still was not cleansed. Did he feel foolish, was he getting angrier at his humiliation as a warrior dipping himself in a river in a conquered country in front of his servants and fellow soldiers? Naaman overcame his initial rejection of Elisha’s command and followed through with faith, trusting Elisha’s instructions. He is then completely cleansed. He then had to do one more thing: “Naaman and all his attendants went back to the man of God. He stood before him humbled and said, ‘Now I know that there is no God in all the world except in Israel. Please accept now a gift from your servant.’” Repentance requires faith in action. When we are shown the cure we must seek it!

EXAMPLE: Every country had gods. Phoenicia had Baal, Moab had Chemosh, Ammon had Moloch, Babylon had Bel, and Egypt had Ra. But these gods were only idols—none of them were real, living gods. Rimmon was the Syrian version of Baal, a god of fertility, storms, and rain. Rimmon was also known as Hadad. Only Israel worshiped the true and living God. Because of what the Lord God had done for Naaman, he renounced loyalty to the Syrian god Rimmon and trusted in the true God alone. Naaman confessed, “I know Israel’s God is the only God.” Naaman knew this—not because he had heard the confession of someone else but through his personal experience with God. Through faith in God, Naaman was made whole physically and spiritually. Like Naaman when we are shown the cure we must seek it!

Conclusion:

When God brings others into our lives we need to be willing to listen! When God confronts us to make changes we must make a decision! When we are shown the cure we must seek it!
—-
This article is copyrighted © 2018 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Bible, Sermon Notes, Uncategorized

Hold on to God-given dreams! – 2 Kings 4:8, 16-22, 32-37

Hold on to God-given dreams! – 2 Kings 4:8, 16-22, 32-37
By Pastor Lee Hemen
September 18, 2018

A prominent woman in Shunem invited Elisha to stay with her and her husband when he passed through. She was deeply spiritual and an example of one who lived by faith. Elisha was appreciative of the woman’s hospitality. When asked what Elisha could do for her, she replied she and her husband were prosperous and did not need anything. Elisha’s servant Gehazi mentioned they did not have a son. Elisha told her that next year she would be hugging a son in her arms. God promised a son a desire that came from her heart. God’s promise to this woman would come true because God made the promise through his prophet. Big God-inspired dreams like this one can come true.

What is your biggest dream? Do you believe it is based on your desires or the Lord’s will? Why do you think so? For some, it’s owning a home, for others a good job or education, it could be retirement or having children and grandchildren. Have you ever asked God what his dream might be for your life? The passage we will look at today teaches us to hold on to God-given dreams!

READ: 2 Kings 4:8, 16-22, 32-37

When I was younger one of my big dreams was to fly jets off an aircraft carrier, to be a Navy pilot. However my dream, although almost came true, did not due to circumstances. Later, after the Lord got a hold of my life his dream for my life came true. Here in the life of Elisha we discover that when we hold on to God-given dreams…

I. God gives us what we don’t expect when we expect it! (2 Kings 4:8, 16-17)

One day Elisha went to Shunem. And a well-to-do woman was there, who urged him to stay for a meal. So whenever he came by, he stopped there to eat… “About this time next year,” Elisha said, “you will hold a son in your arms.” “No, my lord,” she objected. “Don’t mislead your servant, O man of God!” But the woman became pregnant, and the next year about that same time she gave birth to a son, just as Elisha had told her.

1. A gracious spirit is always seen by God as a wonderful attribute. This woman wasn’t gracious simply to be nice she was this way because of her faith. The Spirit of God had influenced her life and actions. She had wealth, power in her local community, and prominence. People respected her and her husband not just because of their position but because of their actions and attitudes. So “One day [when] Elisha went to Shunem” this “well-to-do woman was there, who urged him to stay for a meal”. This woman did not do what she did for fame or personal recognition; she did it because she loved the Lord. Therefore “whenever he came by, he stopped there to eat”. Little did this wonderful woman know but her love of God and her sweet spirit was going to be rewarded. God rewards those who willingly and lovingly serve him and he does it according to his timing and will. “About this time next year,” Elisha said, “you will hold a son in your arms.” There are those who falsely suggest or teach that God will bless someone financially if they follow a certain set of rules or guidelines. Of course only they know what they are and will teach you if you’re willing to give to them first of all. It is all theological hogwash. This lady could not believe what she was hearing because she never expected to be blessed so she cries out “Don’t mislead your servant, O man of God!” I do not believe she doubted God or his prophet she simply could not believe the Lord would want to bless her because of her gracious spirit! “But the woman became pregnant, and the next year about that same time she gave birth to a son, just as Elisha had told her.” When we hold on to God-given dreams we discover God gives us what we don’t expect when we expect it!

EXAMPLE: I knew of a couple who desired to have children but later in their marriage learned that neither of them could. Others tried to encourage them and some even falsely claimed that all they needed to do was to claim the promise of the Shunammite woman here in this passage. There was just one huge problem; the promise here in this passage was for a specific person for a specific time to bring God glory and not for anyone else to claim. Yet “He settles the barren woman in her home as a happy mother of children. Praise the LORD. (Psalms 113:9 NIV)” The couple held on to their desire to have children and God blessed them later with a baby girl. God did not do it the way anyone expected but just like the Shunammite woman they learned that when we hold on to God-given dreams we discover God gives us what we don’t expect when we expect it!

There are those who often declare, “This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. (Psalms 118:24 NIV)” not fully realizing this is a declaration for the coming Messiah and not the actual day they are experiencing. Sure we can remember the truth to rejoice in each day because God does indeed give them to us but we need to be reminded God’s view of things is much bigger than our own. In fact, when we have God-given dreams we must realize that God’s plans are bigger then our dreams!

II. God’s plans are bigger then our dreams! (2 Kings 4:18-22)

The child grew, and one day he went out to his father, who was with the reapers. “My head! My head!” he said to his father. His father told a servant, “Carry him to his mother.” After the servant had lifted him up and carried him to his mother, the boy sat on her lap until noon, and then he died. She went up and laid him on the bed of the man of God, then shut the door and went out. She called her husband and said, “Please send me one of the servants and a donkey so I can go to the man of God quickly and return.”

1. This family had been blessed by God beyond their wildest dreams. They had a producing farm and a grand little boy who often went out and joined his father in the fields. In fact, “The child grew, and one day he went out to his father, who was with the reapers.” However when he had gotten there something became physically wrong, “My head! My head!” he said to his father. Often times when bad things happen to us we cannot see past our grief. Yet often in our worst times in life God can and does work miracles, we just have to realize it. The father immediately tells a nearby servant, “Carry him to his mother.” The father surely may not have understood that the boy was seriously ill. The son is taken to his mother and “After the servant had lifted him up and carried him to his mother, the boy sat on her lap until noon, and then he died.” The little boy died from what probably was sunstroke. The boy’s condition was much more serious than the father had realized. The child of their dreams died in his mother’s arms. How tragic and sad. The mother’s actions reveal much about her faith. When she saw her son had died, she refused to accept his death as final. She took him up to the prophet’s room on the roof and laid him on the bed of the man of God “then shut the door and went out”. Her first thought was to turn to God by turning to Elisha and his room was the nearest thing right now she could get to his presence. Evidently she knew that he would come and help her in her grief. She does not share with her husband right away about their son’s death but she “called her husband and said, “Please send me one of the servants and a donkey so I can go to the man of God quickly and return.’” Because she turned to God to seek his will, the woman did not take part in the normal grief process. People would mourn the death of a loved one many days. Often, they would tear their clothing, put on sackcloth and ashes, and weep and weep often with the aid of hired professional mourners. This woman did none of these customary actions. Later (v. 23) we learn that the mother would not leave Elisha’s side until he agreed to go home with her. She decided that whatever happened she would depend on God. When we have God-given dreams we must realize that God’s plans are bigger then our dreams!

EXAMPLE: To lose a child is the hardest thing I can imagine and especially an only child. Of course any child lost is horrible but the grief involved is hard to imagine. Children were considered a gift of God and rightly so. When a family goes through this kind of grief it is often difficult for them to see the outcome or how God could be working. Sometimes folks can become so despondent or depressed that they withdraw from the world or loved ones during this time of sadness. Yet the wonderful truth is that God indeed does understand our grief and our loss. Yet many times we learn later on that when we have God-given dreams we must realize that God’s plans are bigger then our dreams!

When we hold on to our God-given dreams we learn that…

III. God follows through! (2 Kings 4:32-37)

When Elisha reached the house, there was the boy lying dead on his couch. He went in, shut the door on the two of them and prayed to the LORD. Then he got on the bed and lay upon the boy, mouth to mouth, eyes to eyes, hands to hands. As he stretched himself out upon him, the boy’s body grew warm. Elisha turned away and walked back and forth in the room and then got on the bed and stretched out upon him once more. The boy sneezed seven times and opened his eyes. Elisha summoned Gehazi and said, “Call the Shunammite.” And he did. When she came, he said, “Take your son.” She came in, fell at his feet and bowed to the ground. Then she took her son and went out.

1. Her faith, tenacity, and gracious spirit shine through and get the results she hoped for. Elisha agreed to go back to her home with her to see what God would do. When they get there nothing has changed: “When Elisha reached the house, there was the boy lying dead on his couch.” Dead is dead and her little boy had died. Some want you to think that perhaps he had swooned, was in a coma, or that he had simply fainted. He hadn’t. But then the prophet does something unusual, Elisha goes into his room and “shut the door on the two of them and prayed to the LORD”. Elisha did not need grieving parents he needed to be alone with the Lord so he could focus on the task at hand. I am always amused by those who try to teach that there are specific formulas to follow that are found within the pages of Scripture. There are none because God works with each of us as individuals and what worked for Elisha then would not work for anyone else now. “Then he got on the bed and lay upon the boy, mouth to mouth, eyes to eyes, hands to hands. As he stretched himself out upon him, the boy’s body grew warm. Elisha turned away and walked back and forth in the room and then got on the bed and stretched out upon him once more.” No mystical or magical power was given off by Elisha’s physical touch; he simply was following what God told him when he spoke with him. While Elisha did pray like his mentor Elijah would have done and interceded with the Lord, he did not follow a prophetic formula to revive the dead. It shows his intimate relationship with the Lord had developed. Everything in the text suggests everything the prophet did was in the spirit of prayer and looking in faith to the Lord. To show Elisha and the others that God had answered his prayers “The boy sneezed seven times and opened his eyes.” Again, some suggest that 7 is a mystical number and while it carries significance in Hebraic theology for God working we dare not read too much into the number ourselves. Elisha then “summoned Gehazi and said, ‘Call the Shunammite.’ And he did. When she came, he said, ‘Take your son.’ She came in, fell at his feet and bowed to the ground.” Wow! The mother had laid the boy on the prophet’s bed as a corpse; she picked him up again as her living son whom God had raised from the dead! When we hold on to our God-given dreams we learn that God follows through!

EXAMPLE: The young couple I told you about earlier decided to adopt a child. After that decision they were told by others not to worry God would make the wife pregnant because that’s what happened to someone somewhere they knew about. Of course this happens to less than 1% of those who adopt. And others warned them to let God be God and he would work it out. If they were meant to have children they would and if not, then that was God’s will. Yet again the couple held on to what God had already told them through his word and prayer, “He settles the barren woman in her home as a happy mother of children. Praise the LORD. (Psalms 113:9 NIV)” They adopted a wonderful daughter and now have grandchildren. Like the Shunammite woman they discovered that when we hold on to our God-given dreams we learn that God follows through!

Conclusion:

When we hold on to God-given dreams we discover God gives us what we don’t expect when we expect it! When we have God-given dreams we must realize that God’s plans are bigger then our dreams! When we hold on to our God-given dreams we learn that God follows through!
—-
This article is copyrighted © 2018 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

Leave a comment

Filed under Bible, Sermon Notes, Uncategorized

A mentor – 2 Kings 2:1-3; 7-14

A mentor – 2 Kings 2:1-3; 7-14
By Pastor Lee Hemen
September 9, 2018

When I began as a pastor, I heard that Sunday School was a way to reach, teach, win, and develop believers. I chose to adopt these concepts. Developing Christians requires personal mentoring as well as teaching. As a church we are to be alert for Christians who are growing spiritually and who give indications they would make excellent workers in the Lord’s kingdom and then mentor them for that task. In spite of our busy schedule, lack of confidence, or belief that only God or staff members can mentor another believer we are all called to mentor others in Christ.

First Kings ends with the ascension of Ahaziah to the throne of Israel, and 2 Kings begins with Ahaziah already reigning as king. 1 and 2 Kings were originally one book. The approximate date for the starting point for 2 Kings is 853 BC. The first two chapters in 2 Kings record the last two acts of the prophet Elijah and the first three miracles of his successor Elisha. Elijah’s mentoring of Elisha provides an illustration of some helpful steps any Christian can take in mentoring another Christian. Mentor means a trusted guide, a tutor, or a coach. Let’s discover what that means for us today…

READ: 2 Kings 2:1-3; 7-14

Whereas Elijah mentored Elisha to be his successor as God’s prophet, most Christians will mentor workers for other tasks like teaching, witnessing, serving, working in Extended Teaching, Trail Life or any number of ministries to which God leads them. What qualifications would you look for in another Christian to determine if that person is ready to be mentored? In these verses we discover how to…

I. Test others! (Vv. 2 Kings 2:1-3 NIV)

When the LORD was about to take Elijah up to heaven in a whirlwind, Elijah and Elisha were on their way from Gilgal. Elijah said to Elisha, “Stay here; the LORD has sent me to Bethel.” But Elisha said, “As surely as the LORD lives and as you live, I will not leave you.” So they went down to Bethel. The company of the prophets at Bethel came out to Elisha and asked, “Do you know that the LORD is going to take your master from you today?” “Yes, I know,” Elisha replied, “but do not speak of it.”

1. Just before Elijah’s home going in a whirlwind, he and Elisha were on the way from Gilgal. The Hebrew word translated whirlwind can also refer to a windstorm, a gale, or a violent wind. God took Elijah up to heaven in a whirlwind. In the prophets’ relationship Elijah was able to demonstrate to Elisha what this ministry was all about. Elisha was able to watch Elijah closely and see how he served God as a prophet. When the time came for Elijah to go to heaven and for Elisha to assume Elijah’s work; Elijah tried to get Elisha to remain in Gilgal by telling him to stay there while he went on for the Lord. Elisha responded by saying, “I will not leave you.” So together, they went to Bethel. Three times Elijah tried to leave Elisha behind (vv. 2, 4, 6). Each time Elisha refused to leave. Elijah’s command to Elisha to stay behind was a test of Elisha’s determination to become a prophet. Elisha showed he would remain with Elijah. As the two approached Bethel, the sons of the prophets came out to speak to Elisha. These men were prophets and were being trained or mentored in their religious duties by leading prophets such as Elijah and Elisha. They asked Elisha if he knew the Lord was going to take his master from him that day. The expression from you, or literally “from your head,” alludes to the custom of students’ sitting at the feet of their teachers. Their being in that position made the teacher taller than their heads. Elijah was Elisha’s teacher who was mentoring him for future prophetic service. God had revealed to these students that Elijah’s time on earth was over and that God was going to take him that day to heaven. God had revealed the same sad truth to Elisha also, for he said, “Yes, I know.” However, he told the prophets, “Be quiet,” for that news was very painful. God was also testing Elisha to see if he was ready to assume the prophetic mantle of Elijah.

EXAMPLE: It is good for churches to test prospects for service within their ministries. Over the decades I have watched as some churches have not done this and suffered the consequences of their inaction. When churches were considering setting a person aside for a particular ministry they would have a time of training, then allowing the candidate to serve within the particular ministry, followed by an evaluation period. These verses teach us this morning that it is a good idea to test others while mentoring them!

Elijah was testing Elisha’s spiritual sensitivity and determination to follow him and become his successor just as God planned. Like Elijah, all mentors need to test those they mentor to see if they are spiritually committed and suited for their particular function in God’s service. Elisha, however, had no trouble passing the test. In these verses we learn to…

II. Mentor others! (Vv. 2 Kings 2:7-10 NIV)

Fifty men of the company of the prophets went and stood at a distance, facing the place where Elijah and Elisha had stopped at the Jordan. Elijah took his cloak, rolled it up and struck the water with it. The water divided to the right and to the left, and the two of them crossed over on dry ground. When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “Tell me, what can I do for you before I am taken from you?” “Let me inherit a double portion of your spirit,” Elisha replied. “You have asked a difficult thing,” Elijah said, “yet if you see me when I am taken from you, it will be yours–otherwise not.”

1. Elijah and Elisha arrived at the Jordan after their trip from Gilgal and Jericho. Fifty prophets came out and from a distance. The Jordan River here is where it flows into the northern end of the Dead Sea. When they reached the Jordan, Elijah took his mantle, struck the waters and the water parted, allowing them to cross on dry ground to the east side. Just as God parted the waters for Moses when he held his staff over the sea God parted the Jordan for them. Now “Elijah took his cloak, rolled it up and struck the water with it. The water divided to the right and to the left, and the two of them crossed over on dry ground.” Elijah’s question to Elisha was very important. Before he died, Elijah asked Elisha, “What can I do for you?” This question was another test for Elisha. Would he ask for riches, fame, safety, or something like that? Instead, Elisha’s reply was a request for a double portion of Elijah’s spirit. Elisha was not asking for twice the amount of Elijah’s spirit or some form of mystical power. The double portion terminology goes back to passages like Deuteronomy 21:17. A father’s oldest son received a double share of the inheritance. That implied the oldest son would succeed his father and have his father’s authority and blessing. Elisha wanted to follow Elijah in his prophetic ministry. He asked for Elijah’s spirit his zeal because he knew Elijah’s power and ability came from God working in Elijah. Elisha’s spiritual sensitivity made him aware that he would need that same God-given spiritual ability to be Elijah’s successor. Elijah called Elisha’s request something difficult. He knew only God could answer such a request. But he promised Elisha that he would inherit his prophetic office and his spiritual gifts if he remained with him and witnessed his death. If not, then Elisha would not receive what he requested. Elisha must reveal his willingness to stay with Elijah all the way. The older prophet could not produce his spiritual power in Elisha but he could mentor him and prepare him for God to use him. Elijah mentored through example and through teaching. He made sure Elisha saw that God was the source of his power and preaching.

EXAMPLE: Mentoring another is not an easy task yet every believer is called to do so at different times. It could be someone they lead to the Lord; it could be their children, a spouse, a friend or someone within the church! I had several mentors over the years from friends, pastors, deacons, teachers, and others. God used these men and women to polish the edges, give me greater wisdom, and the ability to learn how to be the best possible pastor I could be. Through the years I have tried to mentor others as well. As believers we are called to mentor others.

In evangelism we often challenge Christians by saying, “Each one should win one.” In discipling others for Christian service, we need to challenge each other by saying, “Each one mentor one.” However there comes a time when the ones we are mentoring must be left on their own to develop and mature in Jesus in their own time. In the following verses we discover that we must…

III. Leave the work to others! (Vv. 2 Kings 2:11-14 NIV)

As they were walking along and talking together, suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind. Elisha saw this and cried out, “My father! My father! The chariots and horsemen of Israel!” And Elisha saw him no more. Then he took hold of his own clothes and tore them apart. He picked up the cloak that had fallen from Elijah and went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan. Then he took the cloak that had fallen from him and struck the water with it. “Where now is the LORD, the God of Elijah?” he asked. When he struck the water, it divided to the right and to the left, and he crossed over.

1. The time came for Elijah to go home with the Lord. As Elijah and Elisha were walking along and talking together, God revealed a chariot of fire with horses of fire. God took Elijah up into heaven in the whirlwind. The picture of Elijah and Elisha walking along the road together and talking with each other is a good picture of the mentoring process. The mentor must spend time with the one being mentored. The learner needs to ask questions and the mentor needs to demonstrate what is to be done and to explain how and why the one mentored needs to do these tasks. God often revealed himself through fire, as he did to Moses at the burning bush and to Elijah on Mount Carmel before the prophets of Baal. The appearance of the chariots and horsemen was used elsewhere to describe an appearance of God (see 2 Kings 13:14). God separated them; Elijah to go home with him and Elisha to stay and minister to his people. Elisha addressed Elijah as “My father, my father,” meaning his spiritual father. After watching Elijah go out of sight, Elisha tore his clothes apart in anguish. This action and his intimate address of Elijah as “My father, my father” revealed the grief of Elisha’s heart at the departure of Elijah. Evidently in Elijah’s miraculous translation to heaven in the whirlwind, he either discarded or dropped his mantle. This garment was part of the uniform of Elijah the prophet and served as a symbol of his ministry. Elisha picked up the mantle and went back to the banks of the Jordan where Elijah had parted the waters. Taking Elijah’s prophetic cloak was meaningful symbolism. Elisha was assuming responsibility as Elijah’s successor and began his journey back to Israel to serve the Lord. Using the mantle in the same manner as he had seen Elijah use it, Elisha struck the waters. He asked, “Where is the Lord God of Elijah?” Elijah was gone. Only his cloak remained. Was God gone also? Facing the obstacle of the river was Elisha’s first test as to whether God really had called him and empowered him to succeed Elijah. When Elisha used the cloak on the river, it divided and he crossed over. God answered Elisha’s question: God was with Elisha as He had been with Elijah! Elijah had left the work to others, namely Elisha!

EXAMPLE: We need to be reminded that unlike now because of Jesus’ resurrection we enjoy the power and presence of God always. During Elijah’s and Elisha’s day this was not the case. The presence of God through the Holy Spirit had not been given permanently as it is today. Elisha was unsure and he needed to be reassured by the Lord. God show him that he indeed was Elijah’s true successor by parting the waters of the Jordan just as he had done for Elijah. That hairy old garment was not magical or special, it was the people God worked through who were. Elijah had left Elisha to continue the work of being God’s prophet.

Conclusion:

1. Mentors need to test those they are mentoring to see if they are suited for the task.
2. Those who demonstrate spiritual sensitivity to serving God should be mentored.
3. Those mentored must be released do the work for which they have been mentored.
—-
This article is copyrighted © 2018 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

Leave a comment

Filed under Bible, Sermon Notes, Uncategorized

What’s important? – Philippians 3:1-11

What’s important? – Philippians 3:1-11
By Pastor Lee Hemen
July 29, 2018

When you’re single what is important changes dramatically after you get married and have kids. And it should. Sadly there are a few men and women who seem not to mature into the role of spouse and parent. They seem to think that life still should revolve around their needs, desires, and wants. This simply is not true. One who lives selfishly this way never seems to ask “What’s important?”

A faithful follower of Jesus has to constantly ask themselves what is important in order to maintain spiritual focus for their lives. Christianity is not a momentary thing. It does not just happen once a week on Sundays. If we do not take seriously our walk with the Lord we will fall prey to the whims of the ungodly world around us. Paul knew this to be true and teaches the Philippians what’s important. Let’s find out what he writes…

READ: Philippians 3:1-11

There were those who were called “Judaizers” Judaizers is a term for Christians who insisted that their fellow Christians should follow the Old Covenant laws. This term is most widely known from its single use in the Greek New Testament (Galatians 2:14) where Paul publicly challenges Peter for compelling gentile converts to early Christianity to “judaize” their faith instead of relying on faith alone in Christ alone. We discover that what is important for Paul is that…

I. Christians should never live a life of works! (Vv. 1-4)

Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord! It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you. Watch out for those dogs, those men who do evil, those mutilators of the flesh. For it is we who are the circumcision, we who worship by the Spirit of God, who glory in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh–though I myself have reasons for such confidence. If anyone else thinks he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more:

1. Some call it “sacraments” as if there is something sacred in making people earn their salvation by doing certain manmade requirements instead of placing their faith and trust in Jesus. Evangelicals can be guilty of the same thing when we begin to swallow the lie of the world that if we are good enough, nice enough, or do simple acts of kindness then God will wink at our putrid sin and let us into heaven. Paul feared that the Philippians were allowing themselves to swallow the same lie and so begins this section by telling them “my brothers, rejoice in the Lord!” That was to be their focus, not rituals. If Paul had to repeat himself he would because he cared about their faith, so he writes, “It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you.” He bluntly tells them to “Watch out for those dogs, those men who do evil, those mutilators of the flesh.” There were those who were whispering in the unsuspecting ears of the Philippians that they needed to go back to following Old Testament rules of circumcision. Jesus totally did away with such a view. Paul knew what he was speaking about here and tells them, “For it is we who are the circumcision, we who worship by the Spirit of God, who glory in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh–though I myself have reasons for such confidence.” He had been one! A “mutilator of the flesh”! But now Paul had trust Jesus and “put no confidence in the flesh”. In fact “If anyone else thinks he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, [Paul had] more”! Christians should never live a life of works!

EXAMPLE: Trail Life for boys is a group that was founded upon certain principles and one of them is that it isn’t awards focused. Some boys’ programs are very focused on helping a boy achieve as many awards as he can in the shortest period of time. In contrast, Trail Life is more concerned with building character than with earning badges and ranks. Trail Life has a robust and prominent ranking and awards structure; however, this is not the focus of the program. The focus is on building character over merely earning awards. I like this because it supports that our lives in Jesus should never be focused on doing things in order to be saved. Paul teaches us what is important in that Christians should never live a life of works!

Far too many people try to placate God instead of living their lives for him. We tend to forget that if God did not love us he would not have come to die for us! In fact this notion was a completely new concept during Paul’s day that a deity would not require pacification in some way. Paul reminds us here in these verses what’s important in that…

II. Christians should never try to appease God! (Vv. 5-7)

circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless. But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.

1. Paul absolutely understood what he was talking about because his whole life up until he laid aside his pride and came to Christ had also been “circumcised on the eighth day”. He had been changed by his faith in Jesus and because of that change Paul realized that coming to God no longer took a plethora of requirements and crossing off the deeds you did. Paul was “of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin” and quite literally “a Hebrew of Hebrews”. No one could outdo Paul in his strict adherence to following a set of commands, regulations, and manmade requirements. By Paul’s day there were over 600 volumes written by the Jews in order to try as hard as they might to follow the legalistic manmade requirements they self-imposed on one another. Paul would call them “fools” because these people were foolish for spiritually enslaving people. To the church at Corinth he wrote, “You gladly put up with fools since you are so wise! In fact, you even put up with anyone who enslaves you or exploits you or takes advantage of you or pushes himself forward or slaps you in the face. To my shame I admit that we were too weak for that! What anyone else dares to boast about–I am speaking as a fool–I also dare to boast about. Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they Abraham’s descendants? So am I. (2 Corinthians 11:19-22 NIV)” Paul understood and was angered this kind of enslavement because he had followed it himself and “in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless.” Paul had blindly believed the fallacy of trying to do one more “good thing” in order to be loved by God and he knew it was ungodly thinking! Paul’s way of thinking changed because he had changed and so he writes, “But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss (literally damaged goods or a detriment) for the sake of Christ.” Paul knew what’s important for faith and the fact was that Christians should never try to appease God!

EXAMPLE: I will never forget going to the bedside of a beautiful Christian woman who was dying of cancer and her only thought was: “Have I done enough good things for God to love me?” She was part of a Christian denomination that places part of the burden of grace on the believer. So those who belong to it think they have to do a certain amount of good works in their livers in order to offset any unpaid for sin. This is faulty theology. Jesus paid it all on the cross. Paul teaches us what is important in that Christians should never try to appease God!

If something or someone is important in your life you do not treat them as second class, you do not take them for granted, and you never place yourself first. Your relationship would end quickly if you did! In fact, Jesus taught that if you wanted to be great in his kingdom we had to learn to be servants. We discover what’s important when Paul teaches us that…

III. Christians should sacrifice themselves to the Lord first! (Vv. 8-11)

What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ–the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.

1. Paul had come to the right attitude that every believer should. He tells the Philippians, “What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things.” I firmly believe that if even just 10% of believers truly believed and practiced Paul’s attitude here in these verses the world would be changed! Paul in fact “consider(ed) them rubbish (quite literally human waste), that [he might] gain Christ and be found in him”. But notice Paul never wanted the focus on himself. Paul truly wanted to “be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from following” dead laws that did not matter anymore “but that which is through faith in Christ–the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.” Why was this so important to Paul and why should it be important for us as Christians in our day and age? Faith is the most important thing for the believer. Paul would tell the Romans “For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: ‘The righteous will live by faith.’ (Romans 1:17 NIV)” For Paul Jesus was everything and he writes, “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.” In every phrase of this we discover what Paul thought it was important, namely that Christians should sacrifice themselves to the Lord first!

EXAMPLE: The other night on America’s Got Talent a “man” came out and sang and danced and was a complete freak show. The only reason the audience liked him was because he was sadly so outlandish and perverted. It is evident he has given himself to the lowest form of hedonism. Much of the world is like this. It demands that it be allowed to do anything or live anyway it wants to without any repercussion. It has perverted such organizations as the Boy Scouts and even some churches. I believe the world needs to see Christians living like Christ in order to turn the spiritual tide. What’s important? I believe that Christians should sacrifice themselves to the Lord first!

Conclusion:

Christians should never live a life of works! Christians should never try to appease God! Christians should sacrifice themselves to the Lord first!
—-
This article is copyrighted © 2018 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

Leave a comment

Filed under Bible, Sermon Notes, Uncategorized

Two wonderful men! – Philippians 2:19-30

Two wonderful men! – Philippians 2:19-30
By Pastor Lee Hemen
July 22, 2018

What qualities do you look for in a friend? Sometimes folks can ask a lot of friendship but give little in return. Winnie the Pooh said, “It is more fun to talk with someone who doesn’t use long, difficult words but rather short, easy words like ‘What about lunch?’” Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote that “The glory of friendship is not the outstretched hand, not the kindly smile, nor the joy of companionship; it is the spiritual inspiration that comes to one when you discover that someone else believes in you and is willing to trust you with a friendship.”

Paul understood friendship because he understood Jesus. He enjoyed the friendship of many people but there were those who he considered more than friends; Paul saw them as brothers and sisters in Christ. Friends with the common bond of Jesus are closer than any earthly friendship. In his letter to the Philippians he shares about two wonderful men of God who he considered his friends. Let’s see what he wrote about these men…

READ: Philippians 2:19-30

The world loves itself. It delights in being good and showing others just how wonderful it is. But God tells us that there is more to being good and being wonderful because as wonderful or as good as the world seems at its core it is full of sin. The first wonderful man Paul writes about is…

I. Timothy! (Vv. 19-24)

I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, that I also may be cheered when I receive news about you. I have no one else like him, who takes a genuine interest in your welfare. For everyone looks out for his own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. But you know that Timothy has proved himself, because as a son with his father he has served with me in the work of the gospel. I hope, therefore, to send him as soon as I see how things go with me. And I am confident in the Lord that I myself will come soon.

1. Paul writes the Philippians “I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon”. Timothy was the son of a Greek father and a Jewish mother. He joined Paul during one of Paul’s later missionary journeys. Paul called Timothy “my true son in the faith”. (1 Timothy 1:2 NIV) Timothy was probably in his late teens or early twenties when he joined Paul and had distinguished himself as faithful to the gospel. He probably responded to the gospel when Paul came through the area of Derbe and Lystra on his first missionary journey, but we don’t know for sure. Timothy served as Paul’s representative to several churches and is mentioned as being with Paul when Paul wrote the New Testament letters of 2 Corinthians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, and Philemon. Paul wrote that Timothy had a “genuine faith,” the same as that which lived in his mother Eunice and grandmother Lois (2 Timothy 1:1-5 NIV). Paul decided to send Timothy in order to “be cheered when [he received] news about” them. Paul spoke highly of Timothy and tells them “I have no one else like him, who takes a genuine interest in your welfare.” Timothy cared because he first loved the Lord. This is why Paul writes that “everyone looks out for his own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.” Paul knew people’s hearts. Those who trust Jesus know the love of Christ and Paul knew that “Timothy has proved himself, because as a son with his father he has served with me in the work of the gospel.” Timothy worked side-by-side with Paul and Paul saw him as his son! Paul knew Timothy’s character and so he hoped therefore “to send him as soon as I see how things go with me”. Paul could send Timothy in his stead knowing he would be a good worker and would care about them just as Paul did. And besides Paul was “confident in the Lord” that he would “come soon” to them as well. Paul trusted Timothy as a wonderful friend!

EXAMPLE: Interestingly Timothy means “precious to God” and it is evident he was. What do you hold precious in life? What character traits do you hold precious in the life of those you call friend? Fred Rogers, who was a wonderful Christian, said that “When I say it’s you I like, I’m talking about that part of you that knows that life is far more than anything you can ever see or hear or touch. That deep part of you that allows you to stand for those things without which humankind cannot survive. Love that conquers hate, peace that rises triumphant over war, and justice that proves more powerful than greed.” Fred Rogers loved God and we discovered this morning that Timothy also loved God and was a wonderful friend to Paul and a wonderful man of God.

Friendship for the world is often based on “What can you do for me?” Friendship’s foundation is based on emotionalism and selfishness whereas friendship for the believers is founded upon the love of God for us. Friendship is founded on Jesus’ sacrificial love for us and we discover a wonderful man of God in…

II. Epaphroditus! (Vv. 25-30)

But I think it is necessary to send back to you Epaphroditus, my brother, fellow worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger, whom you sent to take care of my needs. For he longs for all of you and is distressed because you heard he was ill. Indeed he was ill, and almost died. But God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, to spare me sorrow upon sorrow. Therefore I am all the more eager to send him, so that when you see him again you may be glad and I may have less anxiety. Welcome him in the Lord with great joy, and honor men like him, because he almost died for the work of Christ, risking his life to make up for the help you could not give me.

1. The next man wonderful man Paul mentions is Epaphroditus and he thought it “necessary to send” him “back to” the Philippians. Notice what Paul calls him. First he writes that Epaphroditus is “my brother”, his adelphos, the one who shared the same womb. Paul’s affection for Epaphroditus was strong. Those who share the same spiritual birth in Jesus share the same spiritual womb and are called brothers and sisters in Christ! Paul goes on to writes that Epaphroditus is his “fellow worker and fellow soldier”. Epaphroditus was Paul’s co-laborer and his co-campaigner for Jesus! They shared in the work and in the battle! Epaphroditus also carried a message to Paul from the Philippians and he was sent to him to take care of Paul’s needs and evidently he had gotten ill. Epaphroditus longed “for all of [the Philippians] and [was] distressed because [they] had heard he was ill and almost died”. Yet Paul had good news for them that “God had mercy on him, but not on him only but also on me, to spare me sorrow upon sorrow”. Epaphroditus had been sent to Paul from the Philippians with gifts and now Paul was ending him back to them and Paul had grown to like Epaphroditus immensely! Paul wrote “Therefore I am all the more eager to send him, so that when you see him again you may be glad and I may have less anxiety.” Paul wanted them to be glad, and he wanted to be relieved of all anxiety himself. The believers in Philippi were not to think wrongly of Epaphroditus for coming home and in fact they were to “Welcome him in the Lord with great joy, and honor men like him, because he almost died for the work of Christ, risking his life to make up for the help you could not give me.” Wonderful men of God sacrifice themselves for the Lord they serve like Epaphroditus. Paul was encouraged and strengthened by a wonderful man like Epaphroditus.

EXAMPLE: Interestingly, Epaphroditus’ name is of pagan origin. It means “belonging to Aphrodite”; the name of this pagan Greek goddess is actually incorporated into his name. This is not unusual for Paul’s day. Parents wanted their children to have any advantage in life they could and thought by giving their children such a name would garner the favor of that deity. Such is the power of the gospel that a man is set free from dead paganism to serve the living God. When Epaphroditus received the gospel, he was “belonging to Jesus,” and the idol had no more claim on him, regardless of his name. The new birth of Epaphroditus overcame his birth name. When a wonderful man like Epaphroditus gives of himself for the sake of God’s kingdom, many people benefit. Such a man is worthy of honor, and his presence is cause for rejoicing! Epaphroditus was a wonderful man of God!

Conclusion:

What does it take to be a wonderful man of God? Paul gives us two great examples in Timothy and Epaphroditus. These two men display for us what wonderful men of God are like. They have genuine faith in Jesus, love their fellow believers, and are selfless. Let me ask you are you a wonderful man of God or do you know a wonderful man of God? I pray you are or that you do. Timothy and Epaphroditus are two wonderful men of God.
—-
This article is copyrighted © 2018 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

Leave a comment

Filed under Bible, Sermon Notes, Uncategorized

Stars! – Philippians 2:12-18

Stars! – Philippians 2:12-18
By Pastor Lee Hemen
July 8, 2018

There was a kid’s cartoon TV show called Jimmy Neutron and one of the many characters was a guy who was the quintessential movie agent. He would tell other characters that he could make them “a super star!” Of course the whole idea was that he was trying to get people to think he could make anyone a “super star!” which wasn’t true. It seems however with the advent of reality TV and social media like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube and such that many think they can get their fifteen minutes of fame. But does that make you a “super star”?

The definition of what constitutes stardom has been redefined. Spiritual stardom is quite different. We learned last week that humility plays a huge role in achieving this status. Paul wanted his fellow disciples to become all they were meant to be in God’s kingdom. There was and is however no easy way to the goal of spiritual stardom. Yet for those who strive for it the race and its finish is spectacular! Let’s discover what Paul teaches us concerning being a star…
READ: Philippians 2:12-18

Even as Christians it is our choice whether we live for ourselves or for the glory of the Lord. In order to live a life worthy of being united with God Paul knew we are as…

I. Spiritual stars live in the awe and knowledge of God! (Vv. 12-13)

Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed–not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence–continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.

1. How many of us have either heard from our own parents or have said as a parent, “you kids be good while we are gone and do not get into trouble, I only want to hear good things about you when I get home”? Of course most of us have. Then there was the following caveat that if we did not behave as we should as siblings then we would suffer the consequences of our actions. Paul says much the same thing when he writes the Philippians “Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed–not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence–continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling”! Paul desired that they fully understood the serious nature of their walk in this world with the Lord. They were living examples of the One they followed just as we are today! We can hear about Jesus, we can read about Jesus, and we can see some convoluted movies and TV specials about Jesus but the real way folks see and know Jesus is when they see him being displayed in the lives of his followers – meaning us! Far too many believers think their faith walk is only a Sunday morning experience or a once in a while “safe zone” where they can go and be spiritual for a while until they have to get back into the real world. Nothing could be further from the truth. Christians live in the real world; the ungodly, sinful, filthy, dirty world. And we are to be the influence on that world that Jesus wanted us to be! Jesus related that “In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:16 NIV)” Paul reminds his readers that “it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose”! We do not live for ourselves; we live to influence others and to honor the Lord! Spiritual stars live in the awe and knowledge of God!

EXAMPLE: The other night we had a blackout caused by a local transformer going out. It showed us just how dependent we are on electricity. It also displayed the wonder of God’s universe. In the darkness the stars showed a whole lot brighter without the lights of the nearby city to diffuse their brightness. It reminded me that Spiritual stars live in the awe and knowledge of God!

II. Spiritual stars shine in the midst of a sin-darkened world! (Vv. 14-16)

Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life–in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing.

1. There are those who constantly see the glass either half empty or half full. Christians can be of the same ilk in that they either see their walk with Jesus as a joy or a job. Our walk with the Lord is not to be seen as a job but as a personal process. We are to be striving to “press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called” us! Paul writes that as believers we are to “Do everything without complaining or arguing”. Notice that he writes that we are to do “everything”. That means everything in life: job, school, appointments, shopping, driving, walking, running, exercising, sports, food, fun, and fellowship – EVERYTHING! While we are children of the king we are not to act like earthly children but rather King’s kids! Certainly siblings can disagree and fight with one another but the believer is to be above the pettiness of nitpicking and complaining of the world around them. Why was this so important for Paul? His desire was that his readers would “become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation”. Blameless? Pure? Yep that is what we are to do, so why don’t we do that? We can forget that from the tiniest baby to the grandest sunset it is all sin-tainted. Like goldfish in a bowl we learn to live in the filth of our condition and it can begin to look great to us. But when we strive to be the true children of the King that we are meant to be we begin to see the world as it really is! This is why when we live like Paul shares we will “shine like stars in the universe as [we] hold out the word of life”! There should be a huge difference between the purity of Christ and the sin-filth of the world. We are stars who shine when we share the gospel! There should be a difference between the believer and the non-believer. Paul was proud of his progeny in Jesus and he wanted to be able to “boast on the day of Christ that [he] did not run or labor for nothing”. Isn’t this what every parent desires to do when their children do something wonderful? Paul knew that spiritual stars shine in the midst of a sin-darkened world!

EXAMPLE: When the power went out the other night it reminded me of why I like to head way out when I camp. You can see so much of the Milky Way! One of the best places to go is to the Goldendale Observatory outside of Goldendale, Washington. You can look through a large telescope and smaller ones during the day. I never realized until I went there that you can view some stars during the day if you have a powerful enough telescope! It reminds me of what Paul teaches us here that spiritual stars shine in the midst of a sin-darkened world!

III. Spiritual stars shine as an offering to the One they follow! (Vv. 17-18)

But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.

1. We know and have learned that Paul was perhaps facing certain death for his witnessing about Jesus. He was after all in Rome chained to a Roman soldier under constant guard for his faith. He knew his life could end at any time because he was at the mercy and whim of the Roman Emperor. However Paul never forgot who his actual king was: Jesus. He no longer lived for himself but for the Lord whom he followed. He saw his life as a sacrifice to the God he lived for and this is why he wrote the Roman church, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship. (Romans 12:1 NIV)” Paul understood he could not ask others to do what he was unwilling to do himself and so he never did. This is why he now wrote the Philippians, “But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you.” Paul knew if he asked others to live as sacrifices for the Lord he would have to lead the way. The “drink offering” he referred to was the offering the Jews made in the temple and were also included with burnt and grain offerings in God-ordained sacrifices, including the morning and evening sacrifices. Yet Paul is using the idea here as a spiritual metaphor to describe his own service and to encourage other Christians to live the same way; as an offering being poured out to the Lord. This is why he writes them, “So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.” Spiritual stars shine as an offering to the One they follow!

EXAMPLE: I will never forget one camping trip I went on with my family. My father took us down to the creek nearby and showed my brother and me how to pan for gold. I was surprised when after a while and a lot of patience there were bright little flakes of gold shining in the bottom of our gold pans. It was fun and kind of exciting to be able to discover a tiny amount of shiny wealth in the midst of all that grey sand of the creek. We saved as much as we could, which wasn’t much. My dad gave my brother and I all that he found as well. It reminds me that spiritual stars shine as an offering to the One they follow!

Conclusion:

Spiritual stars live in the awe and knowledge of God! Spiritual stars shine in the midst of a sin-darkened world! Spiritual stars shine as an offering to the One they follow!
—-
This article is copyrighted © 2018 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

Leave a comment

Filed under Bible, Sermon Notes, Uncategorized

Humility! – Philippians 2:1-11

Humility! – Philippians 2:1-11
By Pastor Lee Hemen
July 1, 2018

There was an old Country/Western song that stated, “Oh Lord it’s hard to be humble, when you’re perfect in every way” but of course it was a parody on how the singer viewed himself. However if you listen to some of the folks in today’s headlines you would wonder if some of them need to take a reality pill. Sadly it has infected Christianity to the point where we have begun to arrogantly think that everything about Jesus revolves around us instead of his eternal plan.

Paul knew that each believer was part of God’s plan for the spreading of his gospel. He understood this because it was what he had dedicated his life to. Because of Paul’s adamant belief in the saving grace of Jesus and his single-minded focus there were those who thought he was arrogant. This can happen to someone who is totally focused in life as Paul was. Needless to say this kind of irked Paul and so he did not want others to think this was the way the Christian life was to be lived. If one follows Jesus then they should practice humility; let’s discover what he taught the Philippians…

READ: Philippians 2:1-11

In some cases Christians can be some of the orneriest and unkind people I know but this should never be so. If we follow Jesus then his Spirit lives in us and we should live like it! And this is why…

I. Humility begins with Jesus and ends with others! (Vv. 1-4)

If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

1. It isn’t enough to ask if you believe in Jesus but to also understand why you follow him at all. Our faith-walk must be about more than fuzzy feelings or making ourselves happy. It should be much deeper than one’s selfish outlook on life. Paul begins a litany on what occurs spiritually, emotionally, and physically in the life of someone who trusts Jesus as their Savior and Lord. He begins his list with “If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ”. Jesus prayed this very thing for us! He told his disciples as he prayed “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. (John 17:20-23 NIV)” When we believe we are in complete unity and total support with Jesus! But more than that if we are in unity with Jesus we enjoy the complete “comfort from his love”, “fellowship with his spirit”, and his “tenderness and compassion”! So if we believe we have all of these things and if we have these things in our lives shouldn’t we want to make Paul’s “joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being in the same spirit and purpose”? And of course the Philippians would answer a hearty “YES!” Just as each of should as well! But in our case we make God’s joy complete when he sees us living as we should! Therefore because all believers share in each of these wonderful blessings we should “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than [ourselves]”! Believers in Jesus should therefore act like Jesus! (I know what a novel concept, right?) In fact, Paul writes that “Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others”! We discover that humility begins with Jesus and ends with others!

EXAMPLE: Service in its truest sense is not doing something for others in order to make oneself feel good because then it ceases to be service. One does not serve in a food kitchen, head to the mission field, or decide to do disaster relief in order to feel good. Can you feel good about serving afterwards or delight in serving the Lord through your acts of service? Absolutely! However, the believer does his or her acts of service in order to bring glory to the one they follow; then when others benefit from their service then all the better! Paul teaches us that humility begins with Jesus and ends with others!

Far too often we forget that as a Christian just whom we have living inside of us. The Holy Spirit is not a thing, concept, some mystical entity nor a genie but God himself! And while we may not yet be perfected we are to live like we are striving to be and because of this, Paul teaches that…

II. Humility is the very nature of Jesus! (Vv. 5-8)

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death– even death on a cross!

1. Paul bluntly tells his fellow believers that “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus” because if it isn’t then you may not be what you say you are! Jesus was all about self-sacrifice! Every deed, every miracle, every sermon and example of Jesus was all about sacrifice! He taught that “whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave– just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. (Matthew 20:26-28 NIV)” And that “If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all. (Mark 9:35 NIV)” Now pause for a moment and let it truly sink in and think about what Jesus was teaching here. First place and greatness come when we sacrifice ourselves in everything we do in life! Say what? Yep, we are to be sacrificial and our attitude as Christians should be the very same as Jesus “Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death– even death on a cross!” Now do you get what Paul is trying to teach here to the Philippians? This is not some noble pithy concept, this is not a truism for life, nor is it a Facebook meme to be posted and passed on ad-nauseam. It defines who Jesus is and what his life was all about! And if you say you believe that and you have trusted him with your life then you too will live like he did! You will set aside you arrogance, pride, and “me-first” attitude and willingly let others go first, be first, and enjoy the sunshine before you do! What you enjoy in life is not yours to hoard but it is a gift that you are to give away! Now is this easy, is this something we all can do at anytime, and is it part and parcel of our lives? NO! But it can be when we begin to live it and practice living it as we know Jesus desires us to do because humility is the very nature of Jesus!

EXAMPLE: If you were to ask folks to list some of the character traits of Jesus one that would be near the top of the list would be his humility. We see it in his birth, when he is found as a youth teaching in the Temple, when he writes in the dirt and forgives an adulterous woman, when he feeds the thousands with a young boy’s lunch, when he forgives the Romans who nailed him to a cross, and finally when he forgives a friend who betrayed him three times. Humility is the very nature of Jesus!

What is the outcome of a life lived sacrificially? Didn’t Jesus die a horrible death after all? Is this what God desires for each of us? To die a horrendous death as martyrs for the cause? Nope. God desires that we die to ourselves and live for him because when we do we discover that…

III. Humility exalts Jesus! (Vv. 9-11)

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

1. Now I do not know what Jesus has called you to do specifically but if you have trusted him with your life he has called you to service. And service for him means sacrifice. Paul understood this because he understood what Jesus had done. You see because of Jesus selfless act of deciding to be a complete servant “God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name”! Wow! We do not fully understand in our day and age what this means. Names were extremely important in Paul’s day and during the time of Jesus. Naming a child carried with it a lifelong impact. People did not make up names nor did they name their children after ungodly people. Yes, sometimes God was the one who chose the name of a child and it was because of this that names were seen as an important thing because they firmly believed that a name was something that defined you as a person. So when God in total; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit decided to give the Son, Jesus, a “name that is above every name” it was really something special! It meant Jesus deserved to be given a name that all others would have to honor, “that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord”! That Jesus is master and commander of all there is, was, and ever will be! Simply by his willingness to humbly sacrifice himself for our sins and die for us he is given the name, the title, the honor that is above any name and every name! He is Yeshua Messiah Lord! But the important fact here is that Jesus was given this title because of his sacrifice and he was given this title by himself because of who he is and that he is God the Father to his glory! Humility exalts Jesus!

EXAMPLE: My uncle George was disappointed in me and I could tell it. He had left me in charge of weeding my grandmother’s vegetable garden and instead of pulling the weeds up root and all I had just chopped the tops off. Of course they grew back with vigor. He asked me, “Why did you weed your grandmother’s garden this way?” Of course I did not tell him I did it because it was easy and I was being lazy. He told me that I should have done the best job I could have because it was for my grandmother. We should do what we do because our humility exalts Jesus!

Conclusion:

Humility begins with Jesus and ends with others! Humility is the very nature of Jesus! Humility exalts Jesus!

—-

This article is copyrighted © 2018 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

Leave a comment

Filed under Bible, Sermon Notes, Uncategorized