“If Everyone In The Church Were Just More Like Me …”

“If they were all one member, where would the body be?” (I Corinthians 12:19)

The Apostle Paul makes a great point in this verse, as he addresses church members who wanted others in the church to function like them in their gifting and servcie. Our natural inclination, like some in the Corinthian church, can be to want everyone in the church to be like us, with our particular outlook, temperament, and gifts. But if that were so, what a drab and monolithic church it would be! Continue reading

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“The Purpose of God’s Blessings” (Psalm 67 sermon)

This Thanksgiving week, many of us will sit down around a table and thank God for the blessings that He has given us this year — and we should. The Bible repeatedly commands us to give thanks to God for His blessings. But we should also do more than that. We should also ask ourselves the question, WHY has God chosen to bless us the way that He has? Because He loves us? Sure. God does love us. But is there a purpose greater than that for the way that He has blessed us? We find the answer to that in our text for today: Psalm 67. Fittingly enough, many Bible scholars believe that Psalm 67 was written for a thanksgiving celebration of harvest. Look at :6 where it says: “the earth has yielded its produce.” The setting is harvest time — what we would call “Thanksgiving.” So Psalm 67 is a perfect Thanksgiving Psalm — not only because it celebrates what God has given us, but because it gets us to think about WHY God has given us the things He has. It shows us “The Purpose of God’s Blessings.” Continue reading

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For The Common Good

“But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” (I Corinthians 12:7)

The Bible teaches us here that every believer in Jesus Christ has been given a gift by the Holy Spirit: “But to EACH ONE is given the manifestation of the Spirit.” But it is also important to note the PURPOSE for which God gives each of His people a spiritual gift:  it is “for the common good.” That is, one’s gift is not for himself. It is not given merely to boost his ego, or to make him feel good, or to elevate him in the eyes of others. It is not for or about HIM at all; rather it is “for the common good” — that is, to edify OTHERS in the church. Continue reading

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The River of God’s Delights

“They drink their fill of the abundance of Your house; and You give them to drink of the river of Your delights. (Psalm 36:8)

Speaking of those who have been touched by the grace of God (:7), the present verse describes the pleasures which those who take refuge in God experience. And it does it in very expressive terms: Continue reading

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The Divine Delight

“Behold, My Servant, Whom I uphold; My Chosen One in Whom My soul delights.” (Isaiah 42:1)

It is significant that God calls His Servant here “My chosen one IN WHOM MY SOUL DELIGHTS.”  The “Servant” which is mentioned several times in the latter chapters of Isaiah refers to the coming Messiah, Jesus Christ. Perhaps one of the most famous passages in this line is “The Suffering Servant” passage of Isaiah 53, which predicts in detail the substitutionary suffering of the Messiah for our sins on the cross.

But significantly, in the present verse, Isaiah 42:1, the prophet proclaims that the Father “delights” in the Son — an instructive description of their relationship. Continue reading

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“This Is My Story: The Apostle Paul” (Philippians 3:3-9 sermon)

For the last 50 years of the 20th century, Anthony Flew, professor of philosophy at Reading University in England, had been one of the world’s most influential atheists. But in December of 2004, Flew made news by announcing that “it is simply out of the question” to believe that life came from dead matter, and that complex organisms just “evolved” from it. He said he now believed that on the basis of scientific evidence — especially the intricate and complex DNA codes in our cells — that a “super intelligence” was the best explanation for life and the universe; in other words, the existence of a God. Flew’s conversion from atheism to theism sent shock waves around the world.

Two thousand years ago, a similar “shocking” story took place, when Saul of Tarsus, the most vehement opponent of Christianity in all of Judaism, who had been persecuting and arresting Christians, suddenly began preaching the Jesus that just a few days earlier he had given his life to opposing. This Saul of Tarsus of course became the man we know as “The Apostle Paul”, and today we are going to look at his “story.” Paul shares his “story” in Acts 22, but then in Philippians 3:3-9 Paul interprets his “story” for us, sharing four things in his life that could not save him, and ONE that did. These same things are true for us as well:

Continue reading

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The Triune Example For Unity Amidst Diversity In The Church

In I Corinthians 12:4-6 Paul definitely spoke in purposeful Trinitarian terms in order to make his point about God’s desire for unity amidst a diversity of gifts in His church:

— :4 “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit”
— :5 “And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord”
— :6 “There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all.”

In the three consecutive verses Paul employs three different words for deity: “Spirit”, “Lord”, “God.” These refer, of course, to the Holy Spirit, the Lord Jesus, and God the Father. It is obvious that Paul is referencing the Triune God to make his point.

And he employs the Trinity in more than name only. Continue reading

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