DashHouse.com

The Blog of Darryl Dash

This blog is about how Jesus changes everything. He changes:

Our relationship with God

Our relationship with others

Our vocations - how we live and work in this world

Our ministries

This blog exists to explore some of the ways that Jesus changes everything. It provides resources and articles that will help you think about the ways that Jesus can change every part of your life.

The Lord himself invites you to a conference concerning your immediate and endless happiness, and He would not have done this if He did not mean well toward you. Do not refuse the Lord Jesus who knocks at your door; for He knocks with a hand which was nailed to the tree for such as you are. Since His only and sole object is your good, incline your ear and come to Him. Hearken diligently, and let the good word sink into your soul. (C.H. Spurgeon, All of Grace)

Moses' Great Good-bye (Deuteronomy 31:1-7)

  • part of this past week was spent beginning to organize and pack my library for the big move
  • one of my favorite sections in my library is on the subject of leadership
  • I dusted off some of my leadership books, and reflected on some of the titles: Lincoln on Leadership, The Leadership Style of Jesus, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Leadership, and even Winnie the Pooh on Management
  • now you know what your pastor does during the week - reads Winnie the Pooh books in his office

  • as a general observation, I believe that many Christians in the church minimize the importance of leadership for the church
  • many people do not say what is painfully obvious: the church needs great leaders
  • Paul wrote words which we don't emphasize enough:
  • (Romans 12:8 NLT) If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously.

  • I honestly believe that one of the greatest leaders in Biblical history is Moses
  • after four hundred years of slavery, Moses was the man appointed by God to lead an estimated two million stiff-necked sinners through the wilderness for forty years
  • you think you have a hard job?
  • what pastor hasn't wanted to preach on a verse such as this one:
  • (Deuteronomy 31:27) For I know how rebellious and stiff-necked you are. If you have been rebellious against the LORD while I am still alive and with you, how much more will you rebel after I die!
  • Moses really didn't have an easy job

  • what's also hard to understand is how Moses disqualified himself from entering the promised land
  • in Numbers 20, we read that God told Moses to speak to the rock, to command water to come out of it
  • Moses, however, struck the rock - not once, but twice
  • and Moses even took credit for the miracle, saying that he brought water out of the rock
  • it seems unusually harsh at first, but Moses disqualified himself from eventually leading the people into the promised land
  • he would only see the land of Israel from a distance, but would never set foot in it - not until thousands of years later, anyway, when he appeared with Jesus in the transfiguration

  • and here's a question for any good leader, not to mention their followers
  • what's a leader to do when it's time to hand over the reigns?
  • I wonder if Moses was ever tempted to say, "Ah, that's it. I quit. Somebody else can lead this cantankerous group of people"
  • not long after Moses and Aaron disobeyed God, Aaron died before entering the promised land, probably as punishment for his sin of rebellion
  • I think Moses had a hard time accepting that he would never set foot in the land beyond the Jordan
  • in fact, God in effect told Moses not to bother him anymore about the matter:
  • (Deuteronomy 3:23) At that time I pleaded with the LORD:
  • (Deuteronomy 3:24) "O Sovereign LORD, you have begun to show to your servant your greatness and your strong hand. For what god is there in heaven or on earth who can do the deeds and mighty works you do?
  • (Deuteronomy 3:25) Let me go over and see the good land beyond the Jordan--that fine hill country and Lebanon."
  • (Deuteronomy 3:26) But because of you the LORD was angry with me and would not listen to me. "That is enough," the LORD said. "Do not speak to me anymore about this matter.
  • talk about unanswered prayer
  • God didn't just say no, he said, "Don't bother asking me again"

  • but Moses didn't just quit
  • he did what every good leader aspires to do - he finished well
  • if you'll turn with me to Deuteronomy 31, you'll see that Moses took three steps to help Israel as he faced his impending death
  • these three steps are contained in his great good-bye, contained in this passage, and are applicable to any leader today:
  • STEP NUMBER ONE: A GOOD LEADER PREPARES PEOPLE TO FUNCTION WITHOUT HIM
  • read with me:
  • (Deuteronomy 31:1) Then Moses went out and spoke these words to all Israel:
  • (Deuteronomy 31:2) "I am now a hundred and twenty years old and I am no longer able to lead you. The LORD has said to me, 'You shall not cross the Jordan.'
  • (Deuteronomy 31:3) The LORD your God himself will cross over ahead of you. He will destroy these nations before you, and you will take possession of their land. Joshua also will cross over ahead of you, as the LORD said.

  • Moses is making his retirement speech, right before he dies
  • perhaps many of the people always assumed that Moses would lead them right into the promised land
  • but now Moses tells them, "You're going to have to function without me. My leadership is coming to an end."
  • and the big question is this: "What are you going to do when I'm done being your leader?"

  • don't forget how dependent the Israelites were on Moses
  • no one had ever known any other leader
  • when Moses started as leader, the people were still slaves in Egypt
  • now that entire generation had died off, and those who were about to enter the promised land were an entirely new generation who had never been led by anyone else but Moses
  • it would have been incomprehensible to think of crossing the Jordan River without Moses leading the way

  • the mark of a good leader is really what happens when they're not there
  • every leader knows that one day they won't be leader anymore, but if they've been effective, the people they've led will function even better once they're gone
  • the real test of a leader is what happens when they're no longer leading

  • some leaders make the mistake of making themselves indispensable
  • you'll remember that when Moses started off, everything revolved around him
  • got a sheep problem? call Moses
  • have a dispute with your neighbor? line up for Moses
  • at that time, Moses was literally indispensable
  • they couldn't get along without him
  • if Moses was sick one day, everything came crashing to a halt
  • kind of like some churches
  • is there a problem with the piano bench? call the pastor
  • is there a video to be returned to the church library? give it to the pastor
  • trust me - this happens!

  • Moses took steps to correct this situation, which we'll discover in a minute
  • but other leaders make the same mistake today
  • in preparation for his death, Walt Disney made some movies, in which he recorded instructions for his employees after his death
  • how would you like a boss who tries to manage you even from his grave?
  • some leaders never prepare their people to function without them

  • and the greatest compliment you could pay me as a pastor is to function well without me
  • if I've done a good job, this church won't miss a beat while I'm gone
  • because a good leader has led his people to own a vision, and build a structure to accomplish that vision, so that even when the leader is no longer there, the vision and the structure to reach that vision are still present
  • Moses vision? it came from God, and it could be summarized in three words: the promised land
  • the structure to accomplish that vision? Moses clearly outlines that structure in chapters 31 and 32

  • if I've done a good job as a pastor, you'll know our vision
  • because it won't be my vision - it will be the vision that God has given us corporately
  • and it won't die after I'm gone
  • the vision can be summarized in four simple words, "Bond, Grow, Serve, Win"
  • and if I've been a good leader, the structure of teams to accomplish this vision will outlast me
  • but if I've been ineffective as a leader, our vision and the structure to accomplish the vision will disappear soon after I'm gone
  • the biggest compliment you could pay me as a pastor is that you are strong and courageous after I'm gone, and that you accomplish the vision God has given us, even witho ut my leadership

  • STEP NUMBER TWO: A GOOD LEADER PREPARES LEADERSHIP TO OUTLAST HIM
  • I love what Moses does, in verse Deuteronomy 31:7
  • (Deuteronomy 31:7) Then Moses summoned Joshua and said to him in the presence of all Israel, "Be strong and courageous, for you must go with this people into the land that the LORD swore to their forefathers to give them, and you must divide it among them as their inheritance.
  • (Deuteronomy 31:8) The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged."
  • (Deuteronomy 31:9) So Moses wrote down this law and gave it to the priests, the sons of Levi, who carried the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and to all the elders of Israel.

  • remember how everything used to revolve around Moses?
  • one day his father-in-law, Jethro, suggested that he find, recruit, and train other leaders to assist him in his leadership responsibilities
  • the results were dramatic
  • soon other leaders were there to help him carry the load
  • this gave added strength to Moses, and enabled the needs of the people to be met

  • after God made it clear that he wouldn't enter the promised land, Moses began to take additional steps to transfer the leadership
  • in Deuteronomy 3:21-22, Moses takes Joshua aside and assures him that God will give him great victory after he's gone
  • Moses commissioned Joshua as the new leader and encouraged him in that role
  • and now, in Deuteronomy 31, Moses publicly encourages the people to follow Joshua
  • in other words, he could say, "Don't be dependent on me. There's the promised land, and there's your new leader. You're still following the same God, so be strong and courageous"
  • a good leader prepares people to function without them by discovering those with leadership potential, training and encouraging them, and eventually turning leadership over to them

  • I grew up with the model of pastoring that said, "The pastor does everything. The people show up to pay his salary and watch him work"
  • as I began to read the Bible, I discovered that this is the exact opposite of what God intends
  • according to Ephesians 4:10-11, God's design is that pastors equip the people to do the work of the ministry
  • in other words, my job has been to prepare you to do ministry that will outlast my leadership
  • I'm attracted to a story I heard of a large church pastor who preaches and lives this model
  • he came to a baptismal service
  • those who had a role in leading a person to Christ were actually in the water, doing the baptizing
  • in the middle of the service, somebody approached the pastor and said, "Who are you?"
  • that church had reached the point where the pastor had equipped the people so well to do the work of the ministry, that he became almost invisible
  • the church was able to function quite well, because he had raised up leaders to lead the church without him

  • some of you have been leaders in this church, and have done a good job
  • you will be tempted to rest a little after I'm gone
  • but let me tell you: this church needs your leadership - not just when a pastor is leading the people, but especially when he's gone
  • I've tried to develop leaders while I've been here, and now I challenge you to lead - and may your leadership long outlast mine at Park Lawn Baptist Church!

  • FINALLY, STEP NUMBER THREE: A GOOD LEADER ELEVATES GOALS THAT ARE BIGGER THAN HIM
  • have you ever heard of "BHAG?"
  • it's pronounced "beehag," and it stands for "big hairy audacious goals"
  • don't worry - it's not a term that I invented
  • a recent study from a book called Built to Last concludes that businesses that thrive over a long period of time have goals that are so big and audacious, that somehow these goals propel the company to thrive over a long period of time
  • in other words, if you want an organization to outlast the leadership of one individual, don't set small goals

  • Moses left behind a big goal for the Israelites to pursue:
  • (Deuteronomy 31:3) The LORD your God himself will cross over ahead of you. He will destroy these nations before you, and you will take possession of their land. Joshua also will cross over ahead of you, as the LORD said.
  • Israel had a goal that would outlast Moses' leadership
  • that's a mark of a good leader
  • I think you can accurately describe the goal that Moses left as BHAG!

  • as I close this morning's message, I want to leave you with a BHAG that will outlast my leadership
  • why did God put this church here sixty-nine years ago?
  • why did God put us in the middle of a community with ten thousand residents within a three-minute drive?
  • pretty simple, but also big, hairy, and audacious:
  • to bond together as God's family
  • to grow together in obedience to God's commands in our everyday life
  • to serve God using our unique gifts
  • and to win others to Christ

  • God has put Park Lawn Baptist Church here, I believe, for a strategic purpose
  • and to accomplish this purpose will take all the courage and strength you could possibly muster
  • now is the time for strong and courageous people to step forward, to own the goal that God has given us, and, with God's help, to enter the promised land - with or without Moses, with or without Pastor Darryl
  • my prayer is that you'll thrive without me, that there are leaders here who will long outlast me, and that the goals we've set together - which we believe are God's design for this church - will propel this church forward for many years to come
  • let us pray

Paul's Great Goodbye (Acts 20:17-38)

  • one of my high school teachers used to twist a familiar saying
  • instead of saying "one last kick of the can," he'd say "one last kick at the cat"
  • he obviously wasn't an animal lover, but I always thought his version was slightly more picturesque than the usual one

  • well, I've got three last kicks at the cat here at Park Lawn
  • some pastors take the opportunity to share everything they ever wanted to say but never had the courage to, for fear of getting fired
  • somebody said, "Nothing changed after our pastor resigned, except his sermons became a little more frank"
  • that's not going to happen here - I've never held back!
  • but I'm going to begin a short and unusual series on saying goodbye
  • saying goodbye can be difficult and drawn out, or it can be elevated to an art form
  • I'm all for elevating this process of saying goodbye to an art-form, so this week and the next two Sundays, I'd like to look at three of the greatest goodbyes recorded in Scripture

  • saying goodbye has some obvious benefits
  • it allows us to reflect on where we've been together
  • it helps us to appreciate one another, and reminds us not to take our relationships together
  • it reveals the true nature of the relationship we've had together
  • and it allows both of us to stand on our own, to see what we're really made of

  • saying goodbye can also be difficult
  • I guess it all depends on who you're saying goodbye to
  • some pastors resign and the service is extended for half an hour for a spontaneous outburst of praise choruses!

  • but the apostle Paul models for us what it means to say a healthy goodbye
  • please open your Bibles this morning to Acts 20 as we examine one of the greatest goodbyes in the Bible
  • I just completed a course on the apostle Paul
  • it's easy to develop a picture of Paul that is inaccurate
  • it's certainly easy to think of the apostle as a prickly and distant character
  • but here we see Paul in a different light - as a human being, caught in the very difficult process of saying goodbye to loved ones in a church, maybe for forever

  • Paul was traveling to Rome, against the better judgment of many of the early Christians, and passed near Ephesus, a city he had visited earlier
  • he couldn't pass by without calling for the leaders of the Ephesian church for a very emotional farewell
  • as I looked at this passage, I've discovered three characteristics of a goodbye that could be applied to our situation here today
  • three lessons, if you will, on how to say a good goodbye

  • LESSON NUMBER ONE: SAYING GOODBYE MEANS APPRECIATING OUR PAST RELATIONSHIP
  • as Paul meets the Ephesian elders, the first thing he does is reminisces on their past relationship together - particularly the integrity of his own ministry among them
  • read with me:
  • (Acts 20:18) When they arrived, he said to them: "You know how I lived the whole time I was with you, from the first day I came into the province of Asia.
  • (Acts 20:19) I served the Lord with great humility and with tears, although I was severely tested by the plots of the Jews.
  • (Acts 20:20) You know that I have not hesitated to preach anything that would be helpful to you but have taught you publicly and from house to house.
  • (Acts 20:21) I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus.

  • when saying goodbye, it's easy to look back at the past
  • Paul points out that he wasn't reluctant to jump in when he started, but says "from the first day" that he ministered the same way among them
  • his motive was simple: he wanted to serve the Lord (verse 19)
  • he wasn't in it to make money, and he wasn't in it for his ego
  • his only motive was to serve the Lord

  • the manner of his ministry was also simple
  • the entire time he was with them, he lived a consistent life, and served the Lord with humility and tears

  • and his message was well known to the Ephesians (verses 20-21): he didn't hesitate to preach anything, but told sinners to repent and have faith in the Lord
  • he had ministered to both Jews and Gentiles, and preached a balanced message, not hesitating to include anything that would be of benefit to the congregation
  • in short, Paul had an exemplary ministry while he ministered in Ephesus

  • the thing I like about Paul is that he didn't have to hang his head in shame when he left them
  • Paul could look back and praise God for an effective and credible ministry while he was among them
  • were there problems? of course! just read Acts 19
  • I guess you could call a riot a bit of a problem!
  • but Paul could look back without shame or regret, and praise God that his motives, manner, and message were beyond question while he was among them

  • I learn from Paul an important lesson here
  • it's important as we say goodbye to each other these next few weeks that we appreciate our past
  • I'll never forget the first time I stepped into this church - the feeling of warmth and enthusiasm that I sensed immediately
  • I won't forget my first sermon here, the first baptism
  • I also won't forget the first time I ran into problems here, and yes - like any pastor - I've received some scars
  • there have been good times, and there have been times I've pulled out my hair
  • but like Paul, I can look back at our time together and say, "Praise God for what we've been able to accomplish here!"
  • it's time to reflect on the seven years we've had together, and to appreciate the relationship he's allowed us to have
  • and please here me: I appreciate you and what you have done

  • but Paul also teaches us a second lesson
  • LESSON NUMBER TWO: SAYING GOODBYE MEANS WE ACCEPT GOD'S LEADING ABOVE OUR OWN DESIRES
  • (Acts 20:22) "And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there.
  • (Acts 20:23) I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me.
  • (Acts 20:24) However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me--the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace.
  • (Acts 20:25) "Now I know that none of you among whom I have gone about preaching the kingdom will ever see me again.
  • (Acts 20:26) Therefore, I declare to you today that I am innocent of the blood of all men.
  • (Acts 20:27) For I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God.

  • Paul says in verse 22 that he is "compelled by the Spirit" to leave for Jerusalem
  • it didn't make a lot of sense
  • everywhere he visited, the Holy Spirit told him through prophesies that jail was waiting for him ahead
  • I don't think anyone really wanted Paul to leave
  • probably even Paul experienced the occasional doubt

  • but I love verse 24:
  • (Acts 20:24 NLT) But my life is worth nothing unless I use it for doing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus - the work of telling others the Good News about God's wonderful kindness and love.
  • Paul is saying, in effect, "I don't care if I end up in jail - I have to go where the Spirit takes me. I don't know what is going to happen, but I know I'm following Jesus."
  • and you can read between the lines and sense that Paul is reminding the Ephesian elders that even if they don't want him to leave, they had better accept God's will

  • I could preach a whole sermon on sensing God's will, but what I know is this: when God calls, you had better listen
  • and just as we sensed very clearly that God led us to Park Lawn, we have sensed very clearly that it is time to move on

  • I don't want t o get too mystical, but I really believe that God brought us to Park Lawn for a reason
  • and I also believe that now he's led us somewhere else for a reason
  • and it's comforting to know that God is somehow preparing Park Lawn Baptist Church for something better than you've experience before
  • because God has a reason for leading us away, and we wouldn't be leaving if we didn't believe that
  • it's never easy to leave people you love, but Paul teaches us obedience is more important than our own preferences - it's even more important than our own safety

  • jumping ahead for a minute to the end of Paul's message, we see how the people reacted
  • (Acts 20:36) When he had said this, he knelt down with all of them and prayed.
  • (Acts 20:37) They all wept as they embraced him and kissed him.
  • (Acts 20:38) What grieved them most was his statement that they would never see his face again. Then they accompanied him to the ship.
  • nobody wanted Paul to leave, but if Paul is compelled by the Spirit, he had better go
  • and if we are compelled by the Spirit as well to move on, we had better go!

  • lesson number one: saying goodbye means we appreciate our past relationship
  • lesson number two: saying goodbye means that we accept the Spirit's leading
  • there's one more lesson we discover in this passage:
  • LESSON NUMBER THREE: SAYING GOODBYE MEANS WE CAREFULLY PREPARE FOR THE FUTURE
  • (Acts 20:28) Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood.
  • (Acts 20:29) I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock.
  • (Acts 20:30) Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them.
  • (Acts 20:31) So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears.
  • (Acts 20:32) "Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.

  • Paul brought his message to a close by warning of the dangers they would have to deal with
  • and I need to tell you that there are very real dangers ahead in Park Lawn's future

  • Paul warns about two dangers
  • there are dangers outside the church (verse 29) - false teachers, who like wolves want to come in and ravage the church
  • there are dangers within the church (verse 30) - sometimes people within the church can destroy the church
  • Paul pleads with the Ephesian leaders to be on the lookout, and protect the church after he's gone
  • Paul once again, in verses 33 to 35, emphasizes that his ministry was not one of laziness or greed for money
  • Paul doesn't want others who minister for selfish motives to come into the church and destroy it after he leaves

  • Park Lawn, I could go on for hours about the dangers that lie ahead for you
  • there is a danger that you could become complacent and comfortable, and lose your vision and courage
  • you could fail to live up to the purpose that we've defined for ourselves - to bond, to grow, to serve, and to win
  • that could be thrown in the wastebasket and forgotten
  • there is a danger that you won't think imaginatively about the future, and that you won't take this time to dream new dreams of what God wants to accomplish in this church and in this area
  • there is a danger that you won't reach the lost people of this area for Christ

  • there's a crying need for strong, effective leadership
  • leadership that doesn't come from Paul in Ephesus, or from the pastor in this church
  • leadership that will survive the removal of one person from the church
  • leadership that will think boldly and creatively of the possibilities ahead, and that will carefully avoid the dangers that could destroy the church

  • the time for my leadership in this church is over
  • but the time for your commitment and vision for this church is not
  • but Paul's desire for the Ephesian church is my desire for Park Lawn Baptist Church:
  • (Acts 20:32 NLT) And now I entrust you to God and the word of his grace - his message that is able to build you up and give you an inheritance with all those he has set apart for himself.
  • my greatest desire for Park Lawn is that God would build you up and give you an inheritance with all God's people
  • I desire that Park Lawn become a prevailing church, so that even hell can't withstand its force
  • I pray that God would protect and nurture God's people in this church so that the best years of ministry - the greatest number of baptisms, the greatest intimacy with God - so that the best is still ahead

  • Paul teaches us quite a bit about saying goodbye
  • he's reminded us to appreciate the time we've had together; to accept the Spirit's leading; and to carefully prepare for the future
  • I'm excited, because we're both on the threshold of a new adventure
  • with God's help, and God's future leading, who knows what blessings lie ahead?
  • saying goodbye isn't easy, but with the lessons we learn from Paul's goodbye, it's a little bit easier

  • there's one more great goodbye we'll cover next week
  • but for now, I hope you'll pray with me that our time together will reflect the words written on an old burial plaque 300 years ago
  • "In the year of 1653, when all things sacred were throughout the nation destroyed or profaned, this church was built to the glory of God by Sir Robert Shirley, whose singular praise it was to have done the best things in the worst times"

  • may it be said of us that, like the Apostle Paul and like Sir Robert Shirley, we built our ministries to the glory of God by having done the best things in the worst times
  • let us appreciate the time we've had together, accept the Spirit's leading in the present, and look forward with great care and anticipation to the future that lies ahead
  • may the best years of my ministry, and the ministry of Park Lawn Baptist Church, still lie ahead
  • let us pray

The Ministry of Motherhood (Titus 2:1-5)

  • I'd ask you to open your Bibles this morning to Titus 2
  • today it is exactly 90 years since Mother's Day was first celebrated on May 10, 1908
  • the idea started with a women named Anna Jarvis
  • she was so grief-stricken by the death of her mother three years before on the second Sunday of May, that on the anniversary of her mother's death, she invited some friends over to her home
  • and she announced her idea for an annual nationwide celebration to be called Mother's Day

  • she then wrote to the Methodist Church in Grafton, West Virginia, where her mother had attended for many years
  • and she suggested that they hold a service at which mothers would receive special recognition
  • so, on May 10, 1908, the first Mother's Day service was held in Grafton, where the minister's text was John 19:verses 26 and 27:
  • (John 19:26) When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, "Dear woman, here is your son,"
  • (John 19:27) and to the disciple, "Here is your mother." From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.
  • Miss Jarvis presented every mother in the congregation with a carnation, her own mother's favorite flower

  • the idea began to take off
  • the U.S. House of Representatives quickly passed a Mother's Day resolution, but it stalled in the Senate
  • Miss Jarvis began one of the most energetic letter-writing campaigns in history
  • she wrote to congressmen, mayors, business leaders, and ministers throughout the country
  • soon everyone was celebrating an unofficial Mother's Day
  • finally, in 1914, the Senate approved the resolution, and President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the second Sunday in May as Mother's Day

  • that's not the end of the story
  • Anne Jarvis became disappointed in the commercialism of the occasion
  • she began to launch lawsuit after lawsuit against any company that tried to profit from Mother's Day
  • her lawsuits all failed, she exhausted her savings, lost her home, and was forced to seek public assistance
  • in 1948, she died a childless and unhappy recluse

  • but let's thank God for Anne Jarvis and Mother's Day
  • those of us who still have our mothers with us, or are mothers themselves, realize how blessed we are
  • and I'm sure all of us, whether our mothers are still with us or if they are gone, would like to be able to give her one more carnation and take her out to dinner one more time

  • I agree with the author who wrote:

The Mom Ministry is one of the toughest assignments God ever gave anybody. She's got to be as insightful as a psychologist, tough as a marine corps drill instructor, gentle as a nurse. She's got to be a labor and management negotiator, a teacher, an electrician, a plumber and a carpenter. It requires an endless supply of energy, a massive amount of patience, an iron will and recognition of the fact that if she gets sick, she's got to get well before the end of the school day. (Norman Bales, All About Families ministry)

  • and yet the ministry of motherhood has been derogated in recent decades
  • some women may choose to have careers, after becoming mothers, but more disturbing than this is the popular notion that motherhood or even parenting is a second-class calling
  • Dr. Grace Ketterman writes:

Perhaps the most urgent need of our era is the restoration of the high value of godly mothering....Those of us who cherish biblical values must teach and practice them consistently. Those of us who are mothers must see that responsibility as a high privilege. We must reclaim our role as the shapers and supporters of the next generation of leaders and parents.

  • lets read Titus 2:1-5 together:
  • (Titus 2:1) You must teach what is in accord with sound doctrine.
  • (Titus 2:2) Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance.
  • (Titus 2:3) Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good.
  • (Titus 2:4) Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children,
  • (Titus 2:5) to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.

  • in this passage we discover three important ministries of the godly women
  • THE FIRST MINISTRY THAT THE GODLY WOMAN IS TO PURSUE IS THE MINISTRY OF TEACHING
  • (Titus 2:3) Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good.
  • Paul instructs those of you who are more mature women to teach the younger women "what is good"
  • he speaks of the value of the older woman being a living example of the Christian life so that they might teach and instruct the younger women how to be godly women
  • right living and right teaching always go hand in hand

  • I thought there might be some confusion in your minds over who is an older woman and who is a younger woman
  • you can know you're an older woman if you see younger women, especially mothers, taking certain courses of action, and you say, "Tsk, tsk. In my day we wouldn't have done things that way!"
  • you'll notice I didn't say you're an old woman - you're just older than the young women!
  • but did you know that biblically you have an important role in mentoring and teaching the younger women what it means to be a godly woman?
  • in some ways, you are to mother and mentor the younger women

  • and what good things will you teach them?
  • read verses 4 and 5:
  • (Titus 2:4) Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children,
  • (Titus 2:5) to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.

  • THE SECOND MINISTRY OF A GODLY WOMAN IS THE MINISTRY OF LOVE
  • the older women are directed to this ministry of teaching, but young godly women are directed to the ministry of love - to love their husbands, and love their children
  • if there is one thing that is necessary within our homes today, it is love - love not just from wives, but from men and children alike
  • the call here is for wives to continue to love their husbands and children
  • this is not a passive, mushy feeling
  • the call is to a love of action

  • one of the ministries of a godly woman is to love her husband
  • and I can tell you as the husband of a godly woman that nothing is more encouraging and nourishing than the experience of receiving biblical love from a godly woman
  • our society has allowed the love relationship to falter to a lifestyle that says, "I will if you will"
  • but the love that Paul talks about here is a love not based on reciprocity, but based on commitment and daily sacrifice
  • ultimately, it is a love based on a love for God

  • it might seem obvious, but younger godly women are also to love their children
  • once again we have allowed the present culture to decide what love is, and it is usually love when convenient
  • Elisa Morgan and Carol Kuykendall in their book What Every Child Needs speak of nine basic needs a child has and how they can be met in the language of love:
  1. Security: a hold-me-close love
  2. Affirmation: a crazy-about-me love
  3. Belonging: a fit-me-into-the-family love
  4. Discipline: a give-me-limits love
  5. Guidance: a show-me and tell-me love
  6. Respect: a let-me-be love
  7. Play: a play-with-me love
  8. Independence: a let-me-grow-up love
  9. Hope: a give-me-hope love
  • you see, on ly God's love supercedes the love of a mother
  • the greatest priority in the home should be love
  • success in the home is never gauged by the incoming of money and stuff, but by love
  • the greatest success story in the home is that we love one another
  • wives, love your husband and children

  • THE THIRD MINISTRY OF A GODLY WOMAN IS THE MINISTRY OF BUILDING
  • (Titus 2:5) to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.
  • Paul lists what appears to be a grocery-list of qualities the younger woman is to exemplify
  • most of us wouldn't argue with the portion about being "self-controlled and pure" and "kind"
  • but the part about being "busy at home" and "subject to their husbands" is decidedly politically incorrect
  • in my study of the Bible, I've never found a passage that commands men to do the yard work and to take out the garbage, and women to clean, cook, and do laundry
  • but I have read plenty about husbands and wives loving each other, submitting to each other, and sacrificing for each other
  • I think we detect in this passage a difference between being a house builder and a homemaker
  • one builds the physical structure of a house, and the other builds the lives of those who live in the house

  • Phil Ware of Heartlights, 2 Minute Meditations, says, "Being a mom is a soul craft. Moms are partners with God in crafting a child into an adult that is trained and ready to serve him"
  • think about Timothy and the testimony of a godly mother and grandmother teaching and admonishing to build in Timothy a solid foundation of faith:
  • (2 Timothy 1:5) I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.
  • what a ministry of crafting godly children, who will be able to pass on to their children the same faith that we have
  • my grandmother spent hours on her knees praying for her children and grandchildren
  • she exemplified the qualities of a godly woman
  • and all four of her children, all ten of her grandchildren, and so far, all of her great-grandchildren, are walking with the Lord

  • ministry moms, never let the world conform you to think your role as a mother is not worth it
  • don't let the success stories of the world conform you to think your role as a mother is not worth it
  • don't let the success stories of women in the world deflate your divine calling
  • your status is with the Lord

  • a mother was asked in a county clerk's office what her job is
  • she replied, "I am a mother"
  • mother was not an acceptable job description
  • so she wrote:

I'm...a Research Associate in the field of Child Development and Human Relations...I have a continuing program of research (what mother doesn't?) in the laboratory and in the field (normally I would have said indoors and out). I'm working for my Master's (for a whole family) and already have four credits (all daughters). Of course, the job is one of the most demanding in the humanities (any mother care to agree?) and often I work 14 hours a day (24 is more like it). But the job is more challenging than most run-of-the-mill careers and the rewards are in satisfaction rather than just money.

  • moms, you are homemakers, soul crafters, and builders of lives
  • it is a divine calling from God
Adapted from a message by R. AuBuchon Jr.

Responding to God

  • anyone who has ever studied God, in the way that he has intended, knows what David meant when talking about one of God's attributes in Psalm 139:6
  • (Psalms 139:6) Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.
  • when we study what the Bible teaches about God, we encounter some marvelous truths - ones we've talked about these past months
  • the sufficiency of God; his holiness, sovereignty, and goodness
  • the fact that he is omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient
  • we see God's justice, but also his love and his grace
  • we can use all the fancy terms in the world, but let's boil it down to something we can all agree on: we have an awesome God!
  • Amen?
  • I don't think words could ever do justice to the great God we worship
  • far from being dry and dusty, the study of God unlocks truths which are mind-stretching and life-changing

  • Hebrews 1:1-3 tell us about the ultimate revelation of God's character to human beings
  • (Hebrews 1:1) In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways,
  • (Hebrews 1:2) but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe.
  • (Hebrews 1:3) The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.
  • don't miss what verse 3 says!
  • (Hebrews 1:3 NLT) The Son reflects God's own glory, and everything about him represents God exactly.
  • did you realize that Jesus is the exact representation of God himself
  • he is God - the very God who spoke in Old Testament times; he very God who worked with the Father in creating the world
  • he is the full revelation of God
  • in fact, you can have no clearer view of God than by looking at Christ
  • Jesus Christ is the full and complete expression of God in a human body

  • as Jesus said to Thomas in John 14:
  • (John 14:9) Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.
  • if you want to know what God is like, look at Jesus
  • the search for God ends in Christ
  • only once has God become a man and shown us, in the flesh, what God is really like
  • Jesus showed us God's compassion when he healed the sick
  • he demonstrated God's grace when he forgave sins
  • he gave us the ultimate expression of God's love when he suffered the most terrible death imaginable to pay the penalty for our sins
  • and he demonstrated God's remarkable power when he conquered death, bringing new life to all those who trust in him
  • now remember - God didn't have to reveal his qualities to us
  • he could have kept them hidden from us
  • but God chose to reveal himself to humanity, most powerfully in the life of Jesus Christ, and most notably in the death, burial, and resurrection of his only Son

  • what I'm saying is this
  • the doctrines we've been studying are fine and good
  • the Bible is a wonderful gift from God
  • but Jesus is not a doctrine, a theology, a book, an abstract principle, a ministry, a church, a denomination, an activity, or even a way of life
  • Jesus is a person - a real person
  • a person who walked this earth as we do
  • a person who lived a perfect life and died a painful death on our behalf
  • a real person who rose again from the dead and now sits at the right hand of God praying on your behalf
  • what's more, he's a wonderful person
  • a person who demands a real response from you and from me
  • if Jesus is God, and reveals God perfectly, how can we ignore him?
  • how can we skip over him?

  • IT'S NOT ENOUGH TO KNOW JESUS INTELLECTUALLY
  • a lot of people have great theology, but don't really know God
  • it's possible to read the Bible every day of your life and never really know God
  • you can know the Bible and not know God
  • you can love the Bible and not love God
  • you can read the Bible without ever hearing God
  • somebody has pointed out that the Pharisees knew the Bible, loved the Bible, and read the Bible, but they did not know, love, or hear God
  • one day Jesus said to them:
  • (John 5:37) And the Father who sent me has himself testified concerning me. You have never heard his voice nor seen his form,
  • (John 5:38) nor does his word dwell in you, for you do not believe the one he sent.
  • (John 5:39) You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me,
  • (John 5:40) yet you refuse to come to me to have life.

  • these men spent hours studying the Scriptures, yet the Son of God said they had never heard the Father's voice at any time
  • it's shocking for me to read these words, but they're true: "It's possible to read the Bible every day of our lives and never hear the voice of God!"
  • intellectual belief is not enough
  • (James 2:19 NLT) Do you still think it's enough just to believe that there is one God? Well, even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror!

  • one preacher I read of this week plead guilty to loving the Bible more than he loved God
  • let me read for you what he said

    The majority of my efforts and time were given to understanding the Bible and orthodox theology rather than pursuing the Son of God and becoming like him. I had no idea of the depth of deception that had gripped me.

    Here are some obvious signs in the lives of those who put the Bible ahead of Jesus. They talk more about the Bible than they do about Jesus. Having right doctrine is more important to them than having a right life. This means the ultimate test for admission into their groups is what you believe, not how you act. Their leaders can be harsh and authoritarian. Sins of pride, arrogance, and religious cruelty are often excused or overlooked. Preaching the Word is more important to them than modeling the Word.

    I hate to admit this, but all those characteristics were true of my life when I put the Bible above the Lord Jesus. The problem was not that I loved the Bible too much, but that I loved Jesus too little in comparison with the Bible. (Jack Deere, Surprised by the Power of the Spirit)

  • I'll say it loud and clear: Bible knowledge is not enough
  • knowing about God is not enough
  • this study was never intended to be an intellectual exercise

  • KNOWING GOD DEMANDS A RESPONSE
  • when a man and a woman begin a relationship, they are usually very guarded
  • gradually, they begin to open up and reveal more of themselves, until finally, if the relationship progresses, there is little hidden between them
  • the whole purpose of revelation is relationship
  • the whole reason God has revealed himself to you, friends, is so that he can have a relationship with you
  • God loves you and God desires that you love him as well

  • Jesus said that the summary of all the Scriptures of his day is summed up in two simple commands
  • (Matthew 22:37) 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'
  • (Matthew 22:38) This is the first and greatest commandment.
  • (Matthew 22:39) And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'
  • (Matthew 22:40) All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."
  • the whole point of our lives is not knowledge, but relationship
  • do you love God this morning?

  • you see, loving God involves our whole being
  • the command Jesus gave is to "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind"
  • in other words, it involves all of you
  • don't hold anything back!

  • about ten years ago I had a good friendship with a woman
  • she had grown up in a Christian home, but had never given her life to God
  • one day she told me she believed the facts of Christianity, but wasn't prepared to give her life to Jesus
  • she hadn't traveled what somebody has called the longest distance in the world - the distance from your head to your heart
  • ten years later, she hasn't changed her mind
  • how can you know that God is holy, just, loving, and sovereign, and hold back from giving your life to him?
  • it boggles my mind to think that somebody could believe that God loves them so much, that his Son was willing to die so that they could have eternal life, and yet refuse to accept that free gift
  • I urge you this morning, if you haven't given everything to Jesus, that you come to him this morning
  • (Hebrews 2:3 NLT) What makes us think that we can escape if we are indifferent to this great salvation that was announced by the Lord Jesus himself?
  • I urge you to respond right where you're sitting and accept the free gift of salvation offered to you this morning

  • loving God also means we'll honor him in our lives
  • Jesus said:
  • (John 14:15) "If you love me, you will obey what I command.
  • if we love God, the natural result will be that our burning desire is to please God in every aspect of our lives
  • every decision we make will be based on one question: "Does this decision please my God?"
  • Billy Graham said once, "I would rather be struck down dead than to discredit God"
  • you and I are both aware of things in our lives that bring disgrace to God
  • if we love Jesus, we will be eager to get rid of any action, habit or thought that is not pleasing to God
  • some of us need to come to God this morning and say, "In light of the tremendous sacrifice of Jesus Christ at the cross, bringing me salvation, it is my desire to give up anything that is not pleasing to my heavenly Father"

  • loving God also means that we will have a greater passion for him
  • have you ever noticed that new Christians start out passionately in love with God?
  • when this happens, I'm always scared that these new Christians will hang around us long enough to have their fire put out
  • shame on us for accepting a lukewarm Christian life!
  • shame on us for loving Christ with a lukewarm love!
  • (Revelation 3:15) I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other!
  • (Revelation 3:16) So, because you are lukewarm - neither hot nor cold--I am about to spit you out of my mouth.
  • (Revelation 3:17) You say, 'I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.' But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.

  • the Psalms show us how we could and should feel about God
  • (Psalms 42:1) As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God.
  • (Psalms 42:2) My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?
  • (Psalms 63:1) O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
  • (Psalms 27:4) One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.
  • (Psalms 119:148) My eyes stay open through the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promises.
  • when was the last time you stayed awake at night to meditate on God's promises?
  • how come we don't feel passionately about God?
  • why have we accepted a Christianity which says it's okay to hunger for food, and it's okay to cheer at a sports event, but don't ever hunger for God and exuberantly worship the King of Kings and Lord of Lords?
  • why have we separated emotion and passion and desire from the Christian life?

  • if you're like me, and you want to recapture this passion for God, I'm going to suggest three simple steps for you this morning:
  • these steps come from the Christian author Jack Deere
  • the first step is obvious: you cannot love someone or have a passion for someone you do not know
  • like Mary, who sat at the feet of Jesus while Martha rushed around, we must take time to get to know Jesus
  • "The more we sit at his feet and listen to him, the better we will know him. And the more we know him, the better we will love him"
  • we need to set aside a regular time for personal meditation in the Scriptures and prayer
  • we must remind ourselves that the purpose of our devotions is not to learn facts, or to bring a shopping list to prayer, but to meet with a real Person
  • "This Person speaks, guides, encourages, reveals, and convicts. He gets angry, and he forgives. We are capable of grieving him or making him rejoice" (Jack Deere)
  • and we have come to meet with him

  • listen: there is not one biblical hero who did not come into the presence of God on a regular basis
  • follow Mary's example and sit at the feet of Jesus
  • you'll wonder why you didn't do it sooner

  • the second key to acquiring a passion for the Lord Jesus is this: remove the barriers between you and God
  • in every relationship, from time to time, barriers are erected that disrupt the relationship for a time
  • whenever we sin, that creates a barrier between us and the Lord
  • only one thing can remove the barrier of sin between God and his disobedient children: the blood of Jesus Christ
  • (1 John 1:7) But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.
  • (1 John 1:8) If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.
  • (1 John 1:9) If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
  • whenever we confess our sins, the guilt of that sin is taken away by the power of the blood of Christ
  • so why do so are so many Christians weighed down by the guilt of sin?
  • they don't feel forgiven, or they're scared to come back to God after sinning
  • listen: remove the barriers between you and God
  • come back to him in repentance, and accept the forgiveness he freely offers

  • the third key is to ask God to grant you a passion for the Son of God more than you ask him for anything else
  • in perhaps the greatest prayer in the Bible, the great high-priestly prayer of John 17, Jesus prays:
  • (John 17:26) I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them."
  • Jesus prayed that his disciples would love him like his heavenly Father loves him
  • he wanted the love the Father has for him to be in his disciples

  • how can this be possible?
  • "The Father loves the Son more than anyone or anything else. He is devoted to the Son. His eyes never leave the Son. All that the Father does, he does for the Son. Jesus prayed that we would be driven by that same passion." (Jack Deere)
  • we can paraphrase Jesus' prayer and pray it like this:
  • "Father, grant me power from the Holy Spirit to love the Son of God like you love him"
  • pray it when you wake up; pray it during the day; pray it when you go to sleep
  • ask that God would grant you a passion for the Son of God
  • Jack Deere writes:

    If you begin to pray this prayer on a regular basis, passion for the Son of God will start flowing into your heart. It may take you months, even years, before you notice a significant difference. In fact, you will probably never be able to poi nt to the day or the hour when you began to be consumed with a passion for the Son of God, but others will notice. They will say you have changed; that you seem different. They will say there is a kindness, a gentleness in you they hadn't noticed before. There is an infectious quality in your love for the Son of God that didn't seem to be there before, and they will want to know what you have been doing.

  • Don't be passive about acquiring a passion for the Son of God. Make it the focus of your life. Put your eyes on the Son of God and leave them there (Hebrews 12:2), and you will find yourself becoming like him. You will find yourself falling with him as you ask God day after day to consume you with a passion for his glorious Son. And that passion, as it begins to occupy your heart, will conquer a thousand sins in your life. You will begin to love what he loves and hate what he hates.

  • we only have a brief time on earth
  • God has revealed himself to us in his wonderful attributes, and he has sent us his Son to die for our sins
  • he was raised again to give us new life
  • one day we will have to stand before the Lord to give account of our lives
  • "How did you respond to the revelation I gave you?"
  • we can respond by loving God with our entire being, asking that Jesus Christ would become the consuming passion of our lives
  • we can have a relationship with the King of Kings and Lord of Lords
  • why would you want to settle for anything else?