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)

Living Stones in God's Portable Temple (1 Peter 2:4-10)

  • awesome in the extreme is a visit to any of the world's great temples
  • three hundred miles up the Nile from Cairo, in the middle of the desert, stands the great Temple-Palace of Karnak, one of the most imposing structures built by human hands
  • its dimensions are 1,200 feet in length by 360 feet in breadth, covering more than twice the area of St. Peter's in Rome
  • it's hard to find words to describe its beauty, and no artist has been able to capture on canvas or film the idea of its grandeur
  • the Egyptians erected it as a mighty temple to that which they worshipped
  • look again at the Parthenon on the Acropolis in Athens
  • it is without exception the most magnificent ruin in the world
  • hovering as if in the air above the great city of Greece, it was commenced in 448 B.C. and completed in only 16 years
  • to see it is to never forget it
  • the Parthenon was a temple, and it contained a statue of the goddess Athena, made of ivory and overlaid with solid gold garments
  • when we think of a temple, we think of monuments as these or of Solomon's temple in the Old Testament
  • yet, do we connect those hallowed concepts of temples with the church where we worship today, or even more accurately, with those persons sitting in the pew with you?
  • in the biblical sense of the word, God's people are his temple, and what we bring to His work are the spiritual sacrifices of a holy priesthood
  • in last week's message, we saw that God's church is a mighty human temple
  • in the Old Testament, God had a temple for his people
  • in the New Testament, God has a people for his temple
  • YOU ARE A STONE IN GOD'S TEMPLE
  • (1 Peter 2:4) As you come to him, the living Stone--rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him--
  • (1 Peter 2:5) you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

  • at the cornerstone of the living temple stands Christ, the great living Stone
  • that appears to be a dramatic contradiction in language - "living Stone"
  • normally we speak of something as being "stone dead"
  • but "living Stone" expresses something that language cannot otherwise express
  • the Bible speaks of Christ as our Rock and Christ as our Life
  • only here do these two words come together
  • this "living Stone" oxymoron says something about Jesus Christ that is unique
  • our Lord has the qualities of a massive stone: fixed foundation, a fortress, solid, steadfast, strong, massive, immovable
  • yet there's another side
  • there is warmth, vitality, and life
  • the Stone is living in that it is personal; it is a life-giving Stone
  • it's part of the paradox about the God/man Jesus:
  • he's the wounded healer, the dying life-giver, the tolerant dictator, a strict liberator, a meek master
  • he gives us a light yoke, a peaceful sword, and he makes us winning losers
  • along with this he is a "living Stone"
  • Peter says as well that we are living stones
  • we are not literal pieces of rock, but as we come into contact with Christ, we're transformed from being lifeless stones to living and integral parts of God's temple
  • just as a radioactive isotope makes you radioactive, just as phosphorus glows because of the light of the sun, so contact with Christ gives life to the lifeless
  • when you contact Christ, you become as he is - a living stone
  • Peter presents one of the most beautiful pictures of the church's dignity and destiny
  • God is building a spiritual temple with you as the living stones of that edifice
  • from a merely human perspective, the church - and individual churches - often appear to be divided, human, weak, competitive, inefficient, and even temporary
  • yet Peter reminds us that we cannot see what God is doing
  • God is building a living temple that spans the ages and the continents
  • and he is building it with living stones
  • it has always been God's final intention not to have a temple for his people, but to have a people for his temple
  • Jesus said early in his ministry:
  • (John 2:19) Jesus answered them, "Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days."
  • he was speaking of his own body as the temple of God where God and humanity would meet
  • even the witnesses at his trial quoted him as saying:
  • (Mark 14:58) "We heard him say, 'I will destroy this man-made temple and in three days will build another, not made by man.'"
  • Stephen declared in his trial:
  • (Acts 7:48) "However, the Most High does not live in houses made by men.
  • when Paul preached in the shadow of the Greek Acropolis, he said:
  • (Acts 17:24) "The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands.

  • listen: you are God's temple!
  • in the noblest sense, God is building a temple of living human stones, of which you are a part
  • even the most awesome physical structure cannot identify the true church
  • the visible church on earth is not denoted by Gothic, Romanesque, Renaissance, Colonial, or modern architecture
  • the true temple of God is the individual and the collective body of believers

  • every believer, although part of the whole, is a microcosm of the whole
  • Paul says:
  • (1 Corinthians 6:19) Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?
  • every believer has become a spiritual edifice with a royal resident

  • every individual Christian is a temple
  • all Christians together form a colossal temple of the ages
  • and I need to tell you: our local church is the visible scaffold around that invisible temple
  • when the last and the least has come into the kingdom of God, when this Gospel of the kingdom is preached to the ends of the earth, at the shout of the archangel, this scaffold will come down, the scales will fall from our eyes, and we shall see the great work that God has done in the temple of the ages

  • the deadening routine of ecclesiastical machinery can cause us to become dull, near-sighted, myopic, blind to the awesome beauty of what God is doing in the church
  • if we could recover that vision, it would transform our view of life in the local church
  • every Bible study class would be a quarry for living stones
  • every meeting would become not just a review of money and statistics, but a planning meeting for building the temple!
  • every children's worker could say, "I have around me living stones to chip, shape, round, and smooth until each of them finds his little place forever in the wall of God's living temple"
  • every worship service would become a time of drama and suspense in which we wait to see what God is doing to add living stones to his temple

  • but more than anything else, this image could revolutionize our giving to the cause of Christ
  • the lowest view of giving sees it as an unwilling extraction of money to maintain a human institution
  • it is scarcely better to give out of a drudge-like sense of obligation to support the ministry, the building maintenance, and the parking facilities of the church
  • what if every believer saw every gift as a gift to the temple that God is building?
  • what if we all realized that every contribution we make is to the living temple of God on earth?
  • nothing else to which we make donations compares
  • the school will someday close; the charity will end its work; the nation will not need its taxes; but the living church of the risen Christ will abide the ages and endure throughout eternity

  • Peter continues with another thought
  • not only are you a stone in God's temple,
  • YOU ARE A CHOSEN PRIEST IN GOD'S TEMPLE
  • (1 Peter 2:5) you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
  • (1 Peter 2:9) But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
  • (1 Peter 2:10) Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

  • Peter changes images, and picks up a new picture of our status
  • he sees every believer as a priest in God's holy temple
  • in the Old Testament, priests were men selected to serve for limited times in only one place
  • only men served; there was no question of a woman being a believer-priest
  • these men served in rotations episodically and intermittently
  • they could serve only at one place, the Jerusalem temple

  • in contrast, Peter envisions a universal church in which all men and women, at all times and in all places, serve as priests
  • you are a priest in the factory, at the sales office, in the hospital nursing station, at the recreational club - a priest everywhere and always

  • what do you do as a believer-priest?
  • the Latin word for priest is pontifex
  • this comes from two words, "bridge" and "to make"
  • the priest is one who builds a bridge between God and man
  • in one sense, there is only one great Priest, the Lord Jesus Christ
  • but in another sense, God has left us as his under-priests, bridge-builders for him on earth
  • the sphere of every believer-priest has no limitations geographically or chronologically
  • we are not confined to one day on Sunday or a place of worship
  • we are all portable temples and mobile priests
  • everywhere and anywhere we find ourselves, we are bridge-builders for God

  • how this concept dignifies every life and every aspect of each life!
  • there is no job so low or vocation so prestigious that it is not dignified by this high calling
  • the common laborer in the ditch and the distinguished professor in the classroom may each say, "I am a priest in the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ"
  • every ditch dug and every lecture given equally becomes service to God

  • were we to see our lives in this way, it would utterly transform our concept of giving to the work of the church
  • for many, the offering time is a thing detached, separated, truncated, and denatured from all of life
  • it's part of the service that lasts only a few seconds, something we hardly think about
  • yet if we could see our lives as one long, uninterrupted, continuous act of serving as God's priest, then the offering becomes part of that majestic whole
  • it is simply one more way among many that I live out my vocation as a believer-priest
  • our outlook always determines our outcome
  • could we see ourselves in such terms, our giving would elevate spontaneously to another dimension
  • the call for offerings to the church would no longer be a foreign voice demanding our money alongside all other voices of the age
  • our royal, personal priesthood would make all giving a joy, not a burden

  • there's one more image we're going to look at
  • we're stones and priests in God's temple, and Peter also says
  • YOU BRING A SPIRITUAL SACRIFICE IN GOD'S TEMPLE
  • (1 Peter 2:5) you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
  • Peter tells us that the believer-priests are offering up "spiritual sacrifices"

  • the concept of sacrifice is lost in the modern world
  • the truth is that we all offer sacrifices to something - perhaps to materialism, prestige, standard of living, or some other modern idol
  • but we bring to God spiritual sacrifices

  • what sacrifice are you offering to God these days?
  • are you offering the sacrifice of penitence?
  • (Psalms 51:16) You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
  • (Psalms 51:17) The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
  • somebody has said, "To err is understandable; to admit it is unlikely"
  • do you offer the sacrifice of penitence to God - admitting the simple reality that you are a sinner and need his forgiveness?

  • another sacrifice we can bring God is the sacrifice of praise
  • (Hebrews 13:15) Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise--the fruit of lips that confess his name.
  • one of the refreshing winds blowing through the church is the renewed emphasis on the vibrant praise of God
  • this is a sacrifice to God
  • are you offering it?

  • at the same time, there is the sacrifice of possession
  • the apostle Paul had not seen the Philippians for ten years when he was surprised by a serendipitous offering sent from Macedonia in Greece to his prison cell in Rome
  • he called their gift:
  • (Philippians 4:18) ...a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God.
  • does anything stay with the sensual mind more than the fragrance of a pleasing aroma?
  • the perfume of a beloved, the earthy fragrance of a newly mown meadow, the bracing ozone of a seaside stroll, or the pine scent of a great forest - all evoke piercing memories
  • our Christian giving is compared to a fragrance that fills the room, the house, and life itself
  • there is nothing forced or unpleasant about such a sacrifice
  • it simply happens as the natural response to the situation
  • just as today, Christian giving should never be an extortion by a desperate finance committee of a pressured pastor
  • when we see ourselves as living stones in a temple, believer-priests within the temple bringing spiritual sacrifices to the temple, we will give as naturally as we breath

  • what if we cannot bring a perfect gift?
  • we can always bring our gift, confident that it is "acceptable to God through Jesus Christ"
  • there was an old-wood carver deep in the forest who at one time had been the best at his craft
  • he had taught the craft to his son, who followed him as an artisan
  • but the old man's eyes began to dim and his hands began to tremble
  • he could no longer carve the perfect figures of his youth
  • he would mar the figure, and imperfections blighted his work
  • his fading eyes could no longer see the flaws

  • late in the night, while his old father slept, the son would sneak down the stairs and pick up the figures marred by the shaking hands of the ancient artisan
  • with a few apt strokes, the son would correct the flaws in the newly carved wood
  • when the figures passed through the hands of the son, they were made perfect again

  • even so, we may bring our gifts with the assurance that, as they pass through the hands of the Lord Jesus Christ, they will all be placed before the Father in absolute perfection "through Jesus Christ"
Part of the stewardship program The Joy of Belonging, (c) Resource Services, Inc.

Let's Talk About the Pastor (1 Timothy 4:12-16)

  • please open your Bibles to 1 Timothy 4
  • I counted on my bookshelf yesterday 58 books on being a pastor
  • many of these books have great titles
  • "What the Didn't Teach You in Seminary," "Principles of Pastoral Success," "Coping with Depression in the Ministry," "Confident Pastoral Leadership," and my favorite, "The Art of Pastoring: Ministry Without All the Answers"
  • despite all these excellent books, I'm still a lousy pastor
  • I still need lots of help

  • I think my all-time favorite book on pastoring is one you've probably read
  • it's called 1 Timothy
  • if I had to get rid of everything I've ever read on pastoring and major on just one book, it would be this one
  • it was written by the Apostle Paul to Timothy, a young man providing leadership in the Ephesian church
  • the whole book is good, but this morning I'd like to focus on chapter 4, beginning with verse 12

  • leadership today is tougher than ever before, and it's no different in the ministry
  • an anti-authoritarian atmosphere pervades the world and the church
  • people distrust leaders
  • on top of that, we're exposed to tapes, books, seminars, and television productions of pastors who are all better than we are
  • and not only that, consumerism has entered the church
  • if we don't like what we find in one church, we just bail out and go to another
  • I don't think any pastor is going to find it easy in the ministry

  • people talk about the pastor
  • a couple had invited the pastor over for dinner
  • while they were in the kitchen preparing the meal, the pastor was chatting with their little boy
  • he asked if the boy knew what they were having for dinner
  • "Goat," the little fellow said
  • the pastor was startled
  • "Goat? are you sure?"
  • the boy said, "I think so. This morning I heard Dad say to Mom, ‘Might as well have the old goat for dinner today"

  • since people talk about the pastor, we might as well talk about him too
  • except let's talk about the pastor biblically
  • what kind of pastor is he going to be?

  • Joe Stowell has observed that some choose to lead from the platform of personal charm
  • they feel they can please all the people all the time
  • they treat ministry as a popularity contest, but any pastor who leads from the platform of personal charm is guaranteed to have a short ministry
  • the pastor is not called by God to be a diplomat
  • he is called by God to speak God's Word plainly and clearly and without apology - but with utter humility and brokenness of heart

  • some try to lead from the platform of the latest programs and ministry fads
  • others try to rally their people to causes
  • some pastors try to lead from the platform of self-promotion
  • I once read a church-growth book that encouraged pastors to be strong leaders, and one way to communicate this is to make sure that the pastor's name on the church's letterhead is bigger than the church's name
  • I'll reserve comment on that suggestion

  • the real question is, what kind of leader is the pastor going to be?
  • I believe the real answer is found in 1 Timothy 4:12
  • (1 Timothy 4:12) Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young
  • literally, "don't let anyone underrate you because you are young"
  • in essence, what Paul is saying to Timothy is this:
  • there are going to be some older members of your church
  • they're probably going to dislike being lectured to, and having their conduct dictated by, so relatively young a pastor

  • Paul admonishes Timothy to do what was necessary to engender a healthy sense of respect among those he was called to lead
  • rather than building on the platforms of personal charm, popularity, programs, or self-promotion, Paul admonishes Timothy to earn and build respect among those he serves
  • Paul says that the unchangeable factor of his youth can be overcome by exhibiting exemplary character

  • people rarely give respect as a gift to a leader or pastor; it has to be earned
  • most take a wait-and see attitude
  • pastors are challenged in the words of Paul to Timothy: earn respect
  • don't let anyone look down on you just because you're young
  • focus your life and ministry in three areas
  • and these three areas will define the kind of respect that will enable someone to be an effective pastor

  • FIRST, FOCUS EARN RESPECT BY YOUR PERSONHOOD(1 Timothy 4:12) Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.
  • it's amazing that Paul didn't begin with technique, style, or task performance
  • he begins with the question of basic personal integrity

  • when I go to an ordination, I can determine pretty quickly whether or not a person is orthodox
  • I can tell if he is sound theologically pretty quickly
  • but my main question becomes this: how is your integrity?
  • how is your walk with God?
  • how do you treat your wife?
  • who are you? can I trust you?
  • these are the questions that determine effectiveness in ministry

  • personhood is the ultimate make-or-break issue in effective leadership
  • Paul says in verse 12, set an example in five areas:
  • SPEECH - what you say about people, your day-to-day conversation
  • LIFE - really, your behavior; the general conduct of your life
  • your conduct toward your children and your spouse
  • how you handle those who will oppose you in ministry and cause you grief
  • how you carry out the business of life, and how you relate to others
  • LOVE - the defining mark of a Christian, and most certainly a Christian leader
  • once again, the issue of how you treat your enemies; whether or not you love unconditionally; loving those who disagree with you theologically, or who have certain temperaments or idiosyncrasies that just drive you crazy
  • Paul mentions FAITH - the idea of faithfulness and fidelity
  • and PURITY - who you are when nobody is looking
  • Ephesus was a center for sexual impurity, and Timothy was faced with temptations
  • so stay sexually pure, but also entertain purity of motives, purity of heart, purity of conscience, purity in the way you deal with money, purity in managing your time and relationships

  • as Proverbs says:
  • (Proverbs 4:23) Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.
  • (Proverbs 4:24) Put away perversity from your mouth; keep corrupt talk far from your lips.
  • (Proverbs 4:25) Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you.
  • (Proverbs 4:26) Make level paths for your feet and take only ways that are firm.
  • (Proverbs 4:27) Do not swerve to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.

  • if you were around someone who exemplified these five characteristics on a consistent basis, you would be compelled to respect them
  • I've noticed that some pastors fail because they lack people skills, some fail because they lack leadership capacity, but an even greater number fail because they lack integrity
  • personal integrity is a non-negotiable element of a pastor's ministry
  • he is to set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity

  • SECOND, EARN RESPECT BY YOUR PROCLAMATION
  • (1 Timothy 4:13) Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching.
  • the fundamental need of every believer is to understand and know the Bible and live in obedience to its truth
  • people com e to our ministries expecting that in some way their innate spiritual hunger will be satisfied
  • the goal is not to be the greatest preacher, the goal is to be an effective proclaimer - one who feeds the truth of God to the spiritual needs of his people

  • when I began my ministry, I thought I could coast in this area
  • I could get away with hastily prepared sermons - for a while
  • but over time I began to see the effects of this, so much so that now I devote many hours a week to the preparation of God's Word to feed hungry souls
  • I'll never be a Spurgeon or Swindoll, and I'll never feed intellectual giants, but I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing - feeding sheep
  • and God calls us to ground our ministries in the proclamation of his unchanging Word to a new generation

  • look at the word Paul uses in verse 11
  • (1 Timothy 4:11) Command and teach these things.
  • the word "command" is a strong one, with military overtones
  • the pastor is told to command and speak with authority from God's Word
  • the pastor can never try to be a people-pleaser in his ministry
  • never shy away from preaching God's truth just because it isn't popular
  • he must preach the Word of God accurately
  • preach from the Scriptures, not from your own ideas and perspectives
  • relate the Word of God to the needs of your flock
  • clearly communicate the Word of God to the church and they will respect you for it

  • throughout the history of the Christian Church other elements have squeezed out the preaching and teaching of the Word of God
  • it's like the little girl who was vigorously stirring a glass of ice tea
  • she sipped some of it, grimaced; stirred it again and contorted her face with displeasure once again
  • she complained, "Mother, this tea won't come sweet"
  • her mother answered, "Of course it won't. There's no sugar in it. All the stirring in the world won't do any good."

  • all the stirring-up of people in a church won't do any good unless the Gospel is proclaimed
  • so the pastor must proclaim the Word of God!

  • PAUL SAYS THERE IS A THIRD NON-NEGOTIABLE ELEMENT IN THE MATTER OF RESPECT
  • (1 Timothy 4:14) Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through a prophetic message when the body of elders laid their hands on you.
  • Timothy's commission as a church leader was confirmed by the laying on of hands by the elders of a church
  • Timothy was not a self-appointed leader; no pastor is
  • God calls the pastor into the ministry

  • God gives the pastor spiritual gifts
  • God may have gifted him to be a teacher, or a merciful person, or a servant, or an exhorter, or an administrator
  • but whatever his gift is, God calls him to proficiency in using that gift
  • he shouldn't covet the gifts of others
  • instead, he should lead others to use their spiritual gifts
  • some church members think they hire the pastor to do all the work; in reality, the pastor's job is to prepare God's people for works of service
  • he must be diligent in cultivating what it is God has gifted you to do
  • he must become, as Paul says elsewhere, a workman who needs not be ashamed

  • I love what Paul says in verses 15 and 16:
  • (1 Timothy 4:15) Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress.
  • (1 Timothy 4:16) Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.
  • these concluding verses bring together everything that has been said in the preceding verses
  • the pastor must be passionate, and establish his authority through respect, because everyone will see his progress in these matters
  • he must be completely dedicated to your task
  • he must watch both his life and his doctrine

  • and the stakes are high, as we notice in verse 16:
  • "Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers."
  • by his conscientious and devoted efforts, the pastor will have the supreme joy of helping the flock entrusted to him, which depends on his teaching and leadership, to attain salvation

  • why am I preaching this message?
  • I spoke these words at an ordination of a good friend yesterday
  • but as I did, I was reminded of my need to be challenged in these areas
  • I thank God for this church
  • I am asking you to pray for your pastor
  • I am humbled and honored to serve you in this way
  • but I know that to be effective I need your prayers
  • you know my weaknesses; I know my weaknesses; now all we can do is go to God and ask him to bless our church in spite of who I am

  • I'm going to close by challenging you with words from a ministry called "Prayer Partner"

    Who is the "MVP"? The pastor's most valuable player is not the financial giver, the influencer, the worker, the loyal church member or even the most talented singer. The pastor's MVP is the PASTOR'S PRAYER PARTNER. Knowing that the most valuable influencers in the church are the prayer partners, John Maxwell has committed to seeing over 1,000,000 Pastor's Prayer Partners raised up all over the world.

    In these final years before the new millennium, a significant spiritual movement is underway-- an effort to enlist one million Christians to pray for their pastor. The members of this unique, all-volunteer army agree to pray continually and specifically for those who shepherd God's flock. This is without question one of the most exciting, important endeavors ever undertaken and its results are certain to be far-reaching.

    Will you be the one? Will you become your pastor's Most Valuable Player? Would you commit to pray for your pastor for one year? If you will make this exciting, strategic commitment, please let us know of your decision by returning the response portion of this brochure. The members of EQUIP want to pray for you and add your name to the expanding army of Prayer Partners today!

  • let's close in prayer