Monday, November 18, 2019

Paul's Practical Theology - Sermon Recap

Here's a brief summary of yesterday's sermon from 1 Thessalonians 3:9-13. There's a link to the entire message (40 minutes) at the bottom of the post.


Spiritual growth is hard. It doesn’t just happen. It takes effort.
Spiritual maturity takes time. The usual experience is slow growth over a long period of time. This is often frustrating to us, but when we come to realize that it’s the usual pattern for almost all believers, we can relax a little. 
While he’s excited that they’re standing firm, Paul also acknowledges the reality of the need for much spiritual growth to happen in the Thessalonians church. He’s not frustrated at their lack of growth. 
In this passage, we see three practical principles in Paul’s life that help us to live faithfully in the midst of whatever situation the Lord has us in.

1. Be Thankful
We want to see BIG things, MAJOR growth, huge dynamic changes. But most of the time, change doesn’t happen that way. So iwhether things are moving at a snail’s pace or rocketing forward, always be thankful for what the Lord is doing,. For the growth you’re seeing in yourself and in others. When you’re thankful, it changes your heart.

Five ways thankfulness changes your heart.
   1. It acknowledges God’s sovereignty.
   You’re saying - you’re in control and you deserve my thanks. When I’m not thanking God
   It’s easy to fall out of the attitude of gratitude
   And forget (James 1) that everything good & perfect gift comes from God.

   2. It acknowledges God’s goodness
   God is good. All the time. 
   All the time. God is good.
   God cannot do anything that’s not good.

   When I’m not thanking God, I can easily forget about His inherent goodness

   3. It promotes my humility 
   Matthew 7 tells us that we’ll be judged by the standard we use to judge others. 
   We need to be thankful for even the little things in life.

   4. It confesses my own inadequacy
   I’m in need of His grace, mercy, tender care, guidance, provision… on and on…
   The more I thank God - the more I remember how much I need Him.

   5. It helps me submit to His will
   When I’m thankful to God, it helps me to be submissive to His will because
   I’m remembering that He is sovereign, He is Good, He’s working for me, 
   so I can follow His will for my life. 

Paul is absolutely overwhelmed:
For what thanksgiving can we return to God
This is a rhetorical question
He’s saying:
I just can’t be thankful enough
There’s no way to be adequately thankful for what God is doing in your lives.


2. Passionate Prayer
Two things about Paul’s prayer:
The How:
“most earnestly”
How passionate is your prayer life?
Are you driven to pray like what we see in Paul? Most earnestly, day and night
Or do you do it because you know you’re supposed to? To check it off your “to do” list? 

What is the attitude of your heart when you pray?

We need to live as if it all depends on us and pray as if it all depends on God.

Paul also prays night and day
Pointing to two things:
• a pattern of life - overflowing from the earnest, fervent, passionate prayers
• a system - He was disciplined, organized, and intentional in his prayer life.  

The WHAT of Paul’s prayer life
Verse 12 may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you, 

The foundation of effective ministry is found in both personal relationships (involvement in one another’s lives), and in love. Not generic affection, but agape love
1 Corinthians 13:1-3 expands on this

3: Gospel Transformation
v 13 - the end goal: to be established in holiness
It is not until we come to Christ and abide in Him that any of this makes sense.
The Bible says 
You were dead in your sin… disobedient, led astray, hateful, envious, slaves to various passions and pleasures…
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, (pointing us to the cross - Jesus Christ crucified, dead, buried and risen again) 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, (salvation is not something you can earn, no matter how hard you try) so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. 
Paul’s prayer for them is that they be created in Christ Jesus
That they be established with blameless hearts
That they be holy before God

When we repent of our sins and place our faith in Jesus Christ, we’re radically changed and we will grow.

And that is something to be excited about
We need to be on the lookout for growth in one another’s lives

Thankfulness must be a primary goal

When we constantly complain and are consistently critical, it’s poison in our mind and heart.We have to recognize it as sinful behavior and stop it.
Ephesians 4:29Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

God has given me much grace
How can I not turn around and give that grace to others? (not just Christians - but ALL)
Remembering that I was a great sinner
But HE is a greater Savior

Read the lyrics to the song “How Deep the Father’s Love”
How deep the Father's love for us
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make this wretch His treasure

How great the pain of searing loss
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the Chosen One
Bring many sons and daughters to glory

Behold the man upon a cross
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice
Call out among the scoffers

It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished

I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection

Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom

How can we not be thankful?
John 15:13-14 – Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.

Soli Deo Gloria!
Rob

Here's the link to the sermon on the church website: http://fellowshipjoplin.org/media/305766-1180564-2192322/pauls-practical-theology


Sunday, November 3, 2019

Paul's Hope, Joy, and Crown

1 Thessalonians 2:17-20


Three points from this passage
1. A Life-on-Life Passion for People
Paul had spent a few months with the Thessalonians. He’d taught them many things before he had to leave Thessalonica, but had a deep desire to re-connect with them. He had a love for them that desired being present with them face-to-face.

2. The attack/opposition of the Enemy
He's pointing out that the reason he's not been able to come back to them is that Satan hindered him over and over. Satan will always attack the church.
"For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe.  His craft and power are great and armed with cruel hate, on earth is not his equal."
(Martin Luther, A Mighty Fortress)
Even though Satan is against us, God is still sovereign. Satan is still under His authority.

3. The Joy of Heaven
Paul lived with a continual focus on the return of Jesus. He was a true pastor - with a deep desire to see men and women become passionate followers of Jesus Christ.

Your crown is going to be the presence of the people that you were responsible to lead to the knowledge of Christ

Ultimately, this passage tells us that there is a deep, abiding joy that comes from being involved in "Life-on-Life" discipleship with others.

The Foundation: Matthew 28:19-20 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” 

Discipleship is simply Helping each other follow Jesus better

3 Rewards of Discipleship:
1. Increased longing for spiritual fellowship
Why there are fringe people in the church?
they don’t disciple
they don’t let anyone disciple them
When you offer God your gifts, passions, and abilities, it brings joy and your love for others increases.

You’ll want to lean more so you can share more

2. Increased Opposition
When you’re actually moving forward-  
there will be opposition
Satan will try to block your efforts
it will be all out war.
But that’s exciting - it says you’re threatening to the Kingdom of Darkness

3. Increased Glory
Paul is so excited to say: I want to see you make it all the way to the end and I want to be standing there when you meet Christ. I got to help you in your pursuit of Christ in life and it will be so glorious to see you in Christ’s presence face-to-face in glory.

Our glory is increased as we grow in Hope
My hope is encouraged in the midst of discipling someone toward their hope!

Our Joy increases as well
3 John 4I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth. 
Seeing someone grow in Christ brings great joy.

There is also a Crown - of exultation and boasting. 
I will have the great joy of boasting about what Christ is doing now, and then in heaven, what Christ has done in your life. 

Every person you help grow spiritually here on earth - you’ll get to be there to see them receive their reward. 
That should motivate us today

All of this is because of The Gospel.
In the gospel, we are drawn to love those with whom we have nothing in common.
In the gospel we can persevere through trials and tribulations rather than throw in the towel.
In the gospel we have the hope of heaven. We have strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow. 

Whose life will you begin pouring into?

Soli Deo Gloria!
Rob Signs




Monday, June 24, 2019

It's Getting Personal!

Acts 8:26-40

Guidelines for Personal Evangelism
The story of Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch gives us some great practical principles for personal evangelism. 


1. We are all called to personal evangelism
Theologian/Author Michael Green in his commentary on Acts points out: Above all how the early church grew [was] by personal evangelism. 
Philip, a gifted preacher, was taken away from a thriving public ministry in Samaria for this encounter. Later, in Acts 20, he mentions both his public and his personal evangelistic ministry. We are all called to take the gospel to others. 



2. Simple Obedience
Philip was given an odd command. Leave this place where you encounter people constantly and go out to the middle of nowhere. He immediately got up and went.
When he got there, he ran to the chariot.

3. Don’t categorize people.
The Ethiopian wasn’t a likely person to be receptive. He wouldn’t have been easy to approach as he was an important, wealthy man
The Samaritans were ready. An Ethiopian wouldn’t seem to be ready to hear without laying some groundwork first, but God had prepared the soil!
The gospel is both simple enough that a child can understand it and profound enough that the greatest minds could never grasp the fullness of its depth. 

4. God Prepares the Soil
The Ethiopian was ready to hear the gospel because God had prepared the soil of his heart.
Every encounter is going to look different
sometimes times we plant seeds 
(like handing out million dollar bill tracts)
sometimes wen we water
sometimes we harvest harvest.
Our task is to share. 

5. Listen to their Questions
Philip began by asking “do you understand what you’re reading?”
Start by asking where they are? What are their questions? What do they believe?
Then, explain the gospel.

6. Use Scripture
Philip’s example: beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus
While we hope that our explanation of the gospel is helpful, what people need to hear is God’s Word, which is able to save their souls. (1 Peter 1:23, James 1:19, Romans 10:19, John 


Seek accountability from someone. Ask someone to check with you as to how your gospel preparation is going. Ask your Sunday school teacher to call on you to share your gospel verses or share the gospel in class, etc.

7. It’s All About Jesus
Everything in Christianity revolves around who Jesus is and what He has done. Everything. 
John Wesley used to say “we must offer them Christ”
When our own intellectual AND experiential knowledge of Jesus is deepening, we’ll be better prepared for personal evangelism. 

8. Seek a Response
Does that make sense?
Is that something you’d like to do now?
Do you understand what I mean when I say
repent?
believe?
Ask them to repent of their sins and place their faith in Christ. (Mark 1:15) 

9. Encourage Baptism
Notice that the Ethiopian was baptized immediately. This is relly the first step of obedience for a believer. Get baptized
It’s a public declaration of what Christ has done and a picture of salvation.

10. Church Membership
There wasn’t a church for him to go back to, but early church tradition seems to indicate that he went home and started the first church there. 
Today, there’s no reason for a new believer to not become involved in a local church right away.
God’s design is that the church is to be the fundamental environment in which we are going to grow spiritually.

This Passage Challenges Us
to put evangelism on the front burner
Whether that means
learning the gospel
identifying someone to share with
committing to pray daily for opportunities
getting out and sharing with someone
inviting that friend, co-worker, etc. to come to church

Don’t neglect what is not just a command, but what is one of the great privileges of the Christian life - sharing Jesus with others!

Soli Deo Gloria!
Rob


Monday, May 13, 2019

FOUNDATIONAL THINKING

We’re all Saints & Sinners
Acts 4:32-5:11

When it comes to your commitment to and involvement in the Body of Christ (your local church) there are some principles that you should follow. We are all Saints & Sinners and need to strive to think rightly about how we engage in church life.

1. Crucify self
Philippians 2:1-11 - look to Christ’s example of sacrifice
Ephesians 4:2 be patient, bearing with one another…
Ephesians 4:32 …forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
Are you patient with your brothers/sisters? Are you bearing with them?
Are you forgiving as Christ forgave you? 

Hint: you are required to forgive. To not forgive could mean you’re not saved

WHEN (not if) you’re hurt - do you fight for “justice?” You’re likely battling for your wounded pride.
1 Corinthians 13:5Love… does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;
If you have crucified self - you won’t insist on your own way. 
You’ll be willing to compromise on non-essentials for the greater good
It shouldn’t be about your personal agenda

2. Meet Often - Share Deep
We need to become more deeply engaged in one another’s lives. Our hearts becoming intertwined & woven together/
1 John 1:7if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another

Who really knows what’s going on in your life spiritually 
(other than your spouse?)
If there’s not someone - there needs to be - and you need to pursue that - NOW!

3. The Acts 2:42 Foundation
Memorize this verse.
This is the foundation - build on that
• The Word
• Fellowship
• The Gospel
• Prayer

4. Serve with a Right Mindset
Here’s the big question of this passage:
Are you serving Christ, or serving self?

Are you serving for the recognition, or for the Lord? Is your goal the advancement of the kingdom? Or the advancement of your personal agenda? It’s hard to answer that question because our pride so expertly disguises itself.

If you are reading this blog: you struggle with pride.

Barnabas was the positive example.
Ananias & Saphira were the negative.
On the surface, there was no difference. 
We all need to think carefully: what’s my motive?

Ultimately, this passage is about wise investment of our money, time, talent, tools, and our “stuff.”
• to the glory of God
• while serving One another
• with the goal of encouragement


Side Note:
Barnabas was called Barnabas for a reason - 
v 36Thus Joseph, who was also called by the apostles Barnabas (which means son of encouragement)

encouraging was his thing. 

Another question: who can you encourage today?
Do that TODAY - every day this week
send a text
write a note
make a phone call
send an email
make a comment
have a conversation
It’s way too easy to see something negative and complain. Instead, we should make it our aim to be encouragers.

The Bottom Line:
• Go encourage someone right now. 
• Start memorizing Acts 2:42
• Review the four “Foundation” principles regularly (probably daily for a couple of weeks, then less often). 
• Engage accordingly. 

Stay saturated in the Word,

Pastor Rob


Monday, April 29, 2019

So what, specifically, do I do THIS week? (answers at the bottom)

Speaking Boldly
Acts 4:23-31
We’re reminded in this passage of the centrality of prayer in the life of the church.

Charles Spurgeon famously said:
If a church is to be what it ought for the purposes of God, we must train it in the holy art of prayer. If a church does not pray, it is dead. Instead of putting united prayer last, put it first. Everything will hinge upon the power of prayer in the church. 

If we are to be the church that God is calling us to be - we must pray. In this passage, prayer leads to their being “filled with the Spirit,” which leads to them Speaking Boldly.

The idea of “filled with the Spirit” comes up again and again, so what does it mean? How do we follow the command in Ephesians 5:18 to be “filled with the Spirit?”

What Filled with the Spirit is NOT:
1. It’s NOT just some sort of dramatic, emotional experience. 
2. It’s not robotic mechanical obedience
devoid of any feeling
3. It’s not a progressive thing. 
It’s not a little more here, then a little more - 
You were given the fullness of the Spirit at salvation. John 3:34he gives the Spirit without measure
4. It’s not “sealed, indwelt, or baptized” by the Spirit
Those are different aspects of the Spirit 

Understanding the meaning of “filled.”
Here are some helpful ideas to understand what it means to be filled.
• A glass that’s been filled up 
• Wind filling up the sails, carrying the boat along
• Something that’s been Permeated - like marinating meat - it absorbs the flavor. Every bite tastes good.
• A Sponge that’s Saturated with water. You can’t pick it up without getting wet. You can’t set it on the counter without water seeping out. You toss it at someone, it gets on them. 
Ultimately: Under Total Control

How to be Filled with the Spirit:
Practical Steps
1. Understand that this is God’s will for you. (Ephesians 5:18)
You don’t have to pray about it to determine if it’s a path/direction to pursue
2. It’s an ongoing thing
Not something you did in the past
Not something you should do in the future. 
But something you do all the time. 
keep being filled.

3. Be Saturated in the Word
The Bible is the inspired Word of God
Every word – written under the full inspiration, guidance, direction of the Holy Spirit
   These are the words of the Spirit
   These are the words of Christ
   These are the words of God
If we are to be filled with the Spirit
We MUST be filled with His Word.

4. You Must Make Effort

2 Peter 1:5 tells us to make maximum effort toward our spiritual growth. When we don’t make intentional effort toward begin filled, the default mode is toward the things of the flesh. (Galatians 5:16-23)

NOW - Get in the Word!
Three Options you can start this week.
Wednesday is May 1 - new month, new plan

Option 1: If the goal of Prayer and Bible Study is to know Jesus - a great place to start is one of the Gospels. Here’s a link to a 31 day Bible Reading Plan through the Book of John

Option 2: Take a book of the Bible or a section that you can read in 20-25 minutes and read it daily for 30 days. A the end of that month, you’ll really know that book. 
The book of James, 1 John, Colossians, Ephesians, or Philippians are good choices. 

Option 3: The ultimate goal of all this is “Speaking Boldly.” But what, exactly, should we be speaking? Ultimately, we want to boldly speak and share the gospel with others. Here’s a guide to learning to share the gospel in a month. Why not take the Month of May to solidify your ability to biblically share the gospel with others?

Any of these plans can be started at any time, but since we start a new month on Wednesday, why not kick off something new?

Praying you grow in your love for the Lord and that you keep being filled with the Spirit today!

Soli Deo Gloria!
Rob