Oh Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

Oh Won’t You Be My Neighbor?: 2016 Gospel of Luke #40

LukeThis exposition of Luke 10:25-37 was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church by Pastor Rod Harris on Sunday morning, December 4, 2016.

Intro:

In the fall of 1985 we moved from the seminary in Fort Worth to the greater Pawnee, Ralston, Skedee metroplex.  In the spring of 1986 we decided we were going to try our hand at gardening.  I mentioned our intention one Sunday and early the next morning a tractor pulled into our driveway and soon a large garden spot had been plowed up.  I thought to myself, “That’s mighty neighborly.” Once I turned on the television and found a preacher in a pastel suit complete with a red carnation.  He smiled and looking into the television said, “Howdy friends and neighbors.”  I turned the channel and there was a nice pleasant man in a sweater tying his tennis shoes, singing a song, asking me to be his neighbor!

I remember visiting with a man one afternoon and as we were talking I asked him about the other folks in the neighborhood.  He pointed to the north and said, with a frown, “That’s old man Johnson’s house.”  Then with a big smile he pointed to the south and said that’s my neighbor’s house.”  One was a neighbor the other was old man Johnson.  What is the difference?  Who is my neighbor?

That is the question posed to our Lord by an expert of the law.  That question sparked one of our Lord’s most famous parables.  A parable that sets forth in vivid color the true meaning of the word neighbor from a biblical perspective.

A parable is an earthly story with a heavenly meaning.  It is the use of the common, the ordinary, and the everyday to explain or illustrate the profound.  Lloyd Ogilvie calls the parables “the autobiography of God.”  For the parables are God telling us what He is like.  Our text this morning is found in Luke’s Gospel Luke 10 Luke 10:25-37.

Text: Luke 10:25-37

Luke with a few masterful stokes paints a vivid scene for us.  I want us to look at the context, the parable, and then consider its message for us.

  1. The backdrop – a critical question.  (10:25-29)
  2. The parable – an intriguing response.  (10:30-37)
  3. The meaning for us – a valuable lesson.

As we come to determine the significance of the parable, we must remember that the purpose of a parable is to leave an impression on the hearers.  Remember parables were spoken not written.  The clear impression of this parable is that:

As believers, we are to actively, consistently demonstrate the love of God toward our fellow man.

Our Lord makes it clear this isn’t about others and what they do – it is about us and what we do.  We are to be the neighbor of the one in need.  We are not to ask if they deserve pity.  We are not to determine if they are worth our time.  It doesn’t matter if they are one of ours or not.  We are to pursue the course of love in responding to the hurting and the needy around us.

This involves two things.

  1. To actively, consistently demonstrate the love of God demands that we recognize the needs of the hurting.
    Open your eyes, tune your ears, and be sensitive to those around you.
  2. To actively, consistently demonstrate the love of God requires that we respond to the needs of the hurting.
    His response was swift (34).
    His response was practical (34-35).
    His response was complete (35).

Conclusion:

The ultimate good Samaritan
Of course we cannot consider this parable without considering what our Lord has done for us.  He is the ultimate neighbor.  He came a lot further than from across the street.  He did much more than bind up our wounds and spend a few coins.  He came from glory not to rescue the nearly dead but the utterly dead.  He gave his life for us.

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The Glory of God from A to Z

The Glory of God from A to Z: Selected Psalms

The PsalmsThis exposition of Psalm 111 was delivered by Pastor Rod Harris at Trinity Baptist Church on Wednesday evening, November 30, 2016.

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Thank You Lord, for Saving My Soul

Thank You Lord, for Saving My Soul: 2016 Gospel of Luke #39

LukeThis exposition of Luke 10:17-24 by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday morning, November 27, 2016.

Intro:

When I was a kid I remember coming to church and there would be a guest preacher.  This preacher was different.  He wore funny clothes, talked about far away places and gave a slide presentation.  For those of you who are younger, a slide presentation is an ancient form of PowerPoint that came out just after cave drawings.  This visiting preacher was a missionary.  He was here to give a report of what God was doing through our convention and with the gifts given through the Cooperative Program.  Such reports have a long tradition.  We find the apostle Paul giving reports in the New Testament to those church who supported his mission work.  We find it also in the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus in passages like our text telling of the return of the 72 who had been sent out.  Our text this morning is found in Luke 10 beginning with Luke 10:17.

Text: Luke 10:17-24

These 72 missionaries returned overflowing with joy and excitement about what God had done through them.  It is clear that their report that they are beside themselves.  Part of that joy no doubt had to do with what they had expected.  Remember as they were sent out our Lord said, “I am sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves.”  Not the kind of language that indicates rousing success! Further they were told what to do when they were rejected.  In Luke 10:10 our Lord said, “Whenever you enter a town and they do not receive you…”  It wasn’t, “If some town does not receive you” but “When a town does not receive you.”  They went out expecting rejection, expecting hostility and an uphill battle.  Yet, there is not a note of failure in their report!  Of course that doesn’t mean that everyone accepted them and their message but it does tell us that whatever rejection they experienced was small compared to the success they experienced.  They are overjoyed with what happened.  Let’s look together at their report.  Luke 10 beginning at Luke 10:17.

This is an appropriate text for today given this is thanksgiving weekend.

As we work our way through the passage I want you to note that…

Thesis: As a child of God you have much to be thankful for not the least of which is His grace given to you in salvation.

There are two things I want us to note from this text.

  1. You must not glory in the fact God gives you power and authority to serve Him but that He has given you eternal life.  (10:17-20)
  2. You must recognize, rejoice and give thanks for the sovereignty of God in salvation and His grace extended to you.  (10:21-24)

Conclusion:

If you are a child of God it is all because of grace.  You didn’t earn it, you don’t deserve it, you didn’t figure it out – God has graciously opened your eyes to the truth and in simple faith you have believed.  How wonderful is this?  Luke 10:23 and 24 answer that – Then turning to the disciples he said privately, Blessed are the eyes that see what you see!24 For I tell you that many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.

As a child of God you have much to be thankful for not the least of which is His grace given to you in salvation.

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Guaranteed Ruin

Guaranteed Ruin: 2 Kings #20

"Guaranteed Ruin"–an Exposition of Second KingsGuaranteed Ruin” is an exposition of 2 Kings 16:1-20. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday evening, November 20, 2016.

Intro:

It is true what they say, “The grass isn’t always greener on the other side of the fence.”  In 2 Kings 15 the Northern kingdom of Israel is spiraling into political Hades while Judah seems relatively stable.  Remember there were only 2 kings in Judah during that 35 year period and there were 5 kings in Israel, 4 of whom were assassinated!  Israel is nearing her end.  The nation is characterized by chaos and ruin.  One might be tempted to flee Israel and seek peace in Judah but not so fast my friend.  The biblical writer switches back to Judah in 2 Kings 16 and lets us know all is not well in Judah.  2 Kings 16 tells the story of Ahaz, son of Jotham.  We will cover the entire chapter.

Text: 2 Kings 16:1-20

Ahaz’s story is told here and in 2 Chronicles 28.

He was a vile, wicked, morally bankrupt king whose life defiled the nation.

From his example we can learn some valuable principles.

As we work our way through these 20 verses we discover that…

Thesis: To abandon biblical faith and embrace your own desires guarantees godlessness and spiritual ruin.

I want to note three things briefly.

  1. To depart from biblical faith is to set your feet on the path to spiritual ruin.  (16:1-4)
  2. Failure to trust God leads to further compromise and eventually to embrace a life of pragmatism.  (16:5-9)
  3. A pragmatic approach to life coupled with a spiritual instinct leads to a godless religious system of your own making.  (16:10-20)

Conclusion:

  • To abandon the way of biblical faith is to put your feet on the path to spiritual ruin.
  • That path will lead to further compromise and the embrace of pragmatism over promise.
  • Such pragmatism coupled with a religious instinct leads to a godless religious system of your own making.

There is one positive not in this chapter – Ahaz dies!

Judah is finally spared.

It is a blessing because of what we read in 2 Chronicles 18:1-6 : In the third year of Hoshea son of Elah, king of Israel, Hezekiah the son of Ahaz, king of Judah, began to reign.2 He was twenty-five years old when he began to reign, and he reigned twenty-nine years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Abi the daughter of Zechariah.  3 And he did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, according to all that David his father had done.  4 He removed the high places and broke the pillars and cut down the Asherah. And he broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made, for until those days the people of Israel had made offerings to it (it was called Nehushtan).  5 He trusted in the LORD the God of Israel, so that there was none like him among all the kings of Judah after him, nor among those who were before him.  6 For he held fast to the LORD. He did not depart from following him, but kept the commandments that the LORD commanded Moses.

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Our Mission Mandate

Our Mission Mandate: 2016 Gospel of Luke #38

Our Mission Mandate: 2016 Gospel of Luke #38“Our Mission Mandate”, an exposition of Luke 10:1-26 by Pastor Rod Harris, was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday morning, November 20, 2016.

Intro:

We are a mission people.  It is coded into our DNA as Southern Baptist.  Our convention was born out of missions.  We came together for the purpose of missions.  On May 8, 1845, about 293 Baptist leaders of the South gathered at the First Baptist Church, Augusta, Georgia, representing over 365,000 Baptists.  There our convention was founded and one of the first items of business was the formation of what was then called, “The Foreign Mission Board.”  The FMB was founded as part of “one sacred effort, for the propagation of the gospel.”  Today we have some 4000 missionaries in over 100 nations around the world.  We have another 5000 across North America and Canada.  Add to these the state and associational missionaries, the various outreach ministries of local churches and you find a substantial mission force.  All focused on reaching and discipling the nations.  This task is not optional to the church.  It is the command of our king.  We are either engaged in the missionary task or we are disobedient.  Either we are on mission or we are openly defiant.  Missions in not just a suggestion it is a mandate.  A mandate is an authoritative command, an edict.

We see this clearly in the life and ministry of Jesus.  We of course know it from, “The Great Commission” but we see it earlier than that.  We see it during the life and ministry of our Lord in his sending out the 12 and a short time later, the 72.  Our text this morning is found in Luke’s gospel the 10 beginning with the 72:1.

Text: Luke 10:1-16

Luke has turned the corner in his presentation of the life of Jesus.  He is entering the home stretch.  In Luke 9:51 we read that our Lord, “Set his face to go to Jerusalem.”  That is, he determined to go.  He set his course for Jerusalem.  There is no turning back from this point.  He is on the march to the cross.  He will suffer, be rejected, die and rise again.  This is why he came.  This is his mission.  He came to seek and to save the lost.  At the beginning of Luke 9 he sent out the apostles with power and authority to heal the sick, cast out demons and preach the gospel.  Now, given the urgency of the hour, he sends a larger group.  He sends them ahead into those areas he is about to enter.  Who are these folks?  We don’t know.  We are told he appointed 72 “others” so these are in addition to the 12.  But that’s all we know.  We don’t know their names.  As far as we know they held no “office.”   These are just folks he appointed/commissioned to join him in his work.  Ministry is not limited to the 12.  There is much discussion about the number sent.  Some manuscripts have the number 72 others have the number 70.  Is the number symbolic?  Some have connected it with the number of elders appointed to assist Moses with his burden.  That story is recorded in Numbers 11.  Moses said, “This work you’ve given me is more than I can bear.”  The Lord instructed him to call out 70 elders to join him in the work.  The spirit fell and the 70 prophesied.  There were two others in the camp who did not go out with the others.  They too prophesied.  So interestingly, you have the number 70, those who went out, and the extra 2 – 72!  Others connect the number with the nations listed in Genesis 10.  The implication being that the gospel is for the nations (which is in keeping with Luke’s emphasis of Jesus as the Savior of the world).

I don’t know whether the number is important or not.

We are not given enough information in the text to determine that one way or another.

I do know this account is unique to Luke’s gospel.

Let’s consider the text – Luke 10 beginning with Luke 10:1

Thesis: The sending out of the 72 graphically portrays the missionary mandate of the church.

There are 4 things I want to call to your attention from this text.

  1. Our mandate demands we see the enormity of our task and earnestly plead for the Father to thrust laborers into the harvest.  (10:1-2)
  2. Our mandate demands we accept the inherently hostile nature of the task assigned.  (10:3)
  3. Our mandate demands we trust wholly in the Father’s provision.  (10:4-9)
  4. Our mandate demands we warn others of the horrifying consequence of unbelief.  (10:10-16)
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A Portrait of Christ

A Portrait of Christ: Selected Psalms, 2016

The PsalmsThis is an exposition of Psalm 110. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Wednesday evening, November 16.

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Lessons from a Dying Nation

Lessons from a Dying Nation: 2 Kings #19

Exposition of Second KingsThis is an exposition of 2 Kings 15:1-38. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday evening, November 13, 2016.

Intro:

I don’t know how I lived without it.  It is that essential to my happiness.  I’ve grow so accustomed to it I barely remember my life before it.  The fast forward button on my DVR.  I can zip right past those annoying commercials and get right to the good stuff.  Or if I’m watching a movie to the umpteenth time I can hurry past the nonessentials to the meat of the story.  I have heard from at least one of you – that you love listening to my sermons online because you can hit the fast forward and get through the whole thing a lot faster than listening at normal speed and I sound better!  In 2 Kings 15 the biblical writer seems to have his finger on the fast forward button.  He covers 30 some odd years and seven kings (2 in Judah and 5 in Israel) in just 38 verses.  Obviously he is not interested in giving a lot of detail – he just wants to make an impression.  His dismissive style in telling the story of Israel’s last kings adds to the sense that Israel is circling the drain.  Israel is in her death rattle.  The end is very near.  I don’t want to take a great deal of time in this message because that would not be in keeping with the style or the sense of the text.  I want to rapidly move through the chapter and just point at a few things along the way.

Text: 2 Kings 15:1-38

2 Kings 15 is the story of the last days of Israel.

The kings of Israel are bookended by 2 kings who served Judah.

Azariah or Uzziah who served for 52 years and Jotham who served for 16.

Sandwich between is the story of 5 kings in Israel who served a total of just under 35 years.

There is stability in Judah and instability, chaos and assassination in Israel.

The story is told so as to heighten the contrast.

While it’s clear the emphasis is on God’s judgment of Israel, Judah is not immune.

As we fly over this text I want us to note that…

Thesis: The death rattles of the nation of Israel served to remind us of the inadequacies of a mostly orthodox faith, the certainty of God’s word and the tragic consequences of spiritual compromise.

  1. A general obedience with mostly orthodox faith may very well experience the sting of God’s judgment.  (15:1-7, 32-38)
  2. The end of the house of Jehu reminds us of the absolute certainty of God’s word and His sovereignty over all things.  (15:8-12)
  3. The fall of Israel reminds us of the devastating consequences of compromise and the horrifying judgment of God’s letting us have our own way.  (15:9, 18, 24, 28)

Conclusion:

Let’s not turn a blind eye or deaf ear to Israel’s death rattle.

Let’s learn from their failure.

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Demands of Following

Demands of Following: 2016 Gospel of Luke #37

LukeThis is an exposition of Luke 9:51-62. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday morning, November 13, 2016.

Intro:

Bonhoeffer called it “Cheap Grace”.  Some modern day Bible teachers have called it “Easy Believeism.”  You might call it “nominal Christianity.”  Whatever name you choose it all boils down to people giving “lip service” to the Kingdom of God.  People claiming commitment but showing little or no fruit of genuine life.  They’ve walked an aisle, they’ve filled out a card – many have been “dunked” in water – but have never genuinely been born again.  To look at many of them you would think their love for Christ was a mile wide.  But scratch the surface and you will find it is about an 1/8 of an inch deep!  There have always been those who are quick to jump on the band wagon.  Those who are carried along on a wave of emotion.  Who rise and fall on the ebb and tide of feelings.  Throughout the history of the church there have been those who “join the church” for the same reason they join a country club.  They want something that will help their public image.  Some are seeking a balm for their aching conscience.  There is no repentance, no change.  There is not a desire to surrender all to Christ – they simply want to feel better about themselves.

Of course we, as the church, cannot point the finger of blame at a corrupt society and say, “Shame on you for trying to use God in such a self-serving way.”  We must bear some of the blame for the message we have preached.  Where did they get the idea it was okay to believe in God for their own benefit?  We told them that!  This is the result of our preaching a “Burger King” gospel that says, “Have it your way!”  A Gospel that allows the sinner to set the terms of surrender.  We do not come to God in our own way – we come His way or not at all.  By the way, we are not even comfortable with using language like “surrender.”  I remember being told as a young person that, “You do not surrender to God.  That is the language of defeat.  That is not the language of love.”  But take a good look at the Gospel.  Apart from Christ we are the enemy of God.  We are the object of God’s wrath.  Our only hope is to throw ourselves on the mercy of God in Christ Jesus. 

It is a surrender.  I give up my life.  I must die to myself and begin to live for Christ.  That is demanding.  That is defeating.  And that, is the Gospel.  It is a costly thing to follow the Lord Jesus.  And if we are to be faithful to our call as witnesses of the Gospel we must be prepared to, “Tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth so help us God.”

Our text this morning is found in the 9th chapter of Luke’s Gospel.

Text: Luke 9:51-62

Our text marks a major shift in Luke’s Gospel.  Note the opening verse, “When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem.”  The word translated, “To be taken up” in this form is only used in this one verse.  Its root is used several times and always in connection with the ascension.  Here it refers to everything our Lord referenced in Luke 9:22 – his suffering, rejection, death and resurrection.  “The days drew near to the work of redemption” thus, “He set his face to go to Jerusalem”

He fixed his gaze.

He determined.

He set his course.

His journey to the cross begins in earnest at this moment.  It will take several months and he will teach and minister along the way.  He will also continue to train the 12.  It is as much a spiritual journey as it is geographical.  This is the focus of Luke 9:51-19:27.  Ahead of him lies a murderous plot, the betrayal of one of his own, arrest, false charges, abuse, scourging, crucifixion and death.  He knew this and yet he set his face to go to Jerusalem.  He joyfully, willfully embraced the Father’s plan.  This is why he came.  This is the purpose of his mission.  We are called to join him on his journey.

What does it mean to follow him?

What will it cost?

Let’s consider the text before us [read text].

Thesis:  The life of a Jesus follower is no walk in the park but rather a life requiring mercy, self-denial, urgency and unwavering commitment.

There are 4 things I want to point out as we explore this text.

  1. Following Christ demands a heart of mercy and compassion not merely a head filled with doctrinal certainty.  (9:51-56)
  2. Following Christ demands you willfully embrace a life of self-denial and homelessness in this world.  (9:57-58)
  3. Following Christ demands you set the kingdom agenda above all other loyalties.  (9:59-60)
  4. Following Christ demands a laser focus and an unwavering commitment.  (9:61-62)

The life we are called to, is not an easy life.  It is a demanding life.  It is a life requiring mercy, self-denial, urgency and unwavering commitment. 

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Surviving the Storm

Surviving the Storm: Selected Psalms, 2016

The PsalmsThis is an exposition of Psalm 109. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Wednesday evening, November 9, 2016.

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Things Are Not Always What They Seem

Things Are Not Always What They Seem: 2 Kings #18

Exposition of Second KingsThis is an exposition of 2 Kings 14:1-29. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday evening, November 6, 2016.

Intro:

He was over an hour late, driving down a dirt road in an unfamiliar part of the state and he was furious.  He only agreed to it because it was a relative of a beloved church member.  There were a thousand other things he could be doing and should be doing but the faithful pastor was dutifully trying to find the rural cemetery.  “Who gets buried out in the middle of nowhere anyway?”  His eyes scan the horizon as he tries to figure out what he can say to the family being this late.  He topped the hill and there it was.  Everyone was already gone, obviously they had given up on the preacher.  The two grave diggers had just filled in the last shovel of dirt and were about to load the backhoe when he pulled up.  He hurried over and said, “I’m so sorry I’m late.  I’m so embarrassed I’ve never been late for one of these.  Would you mind if I just said a simple prayer?”  The two men agreed and removed their hats.  The preacher prayed.  Got back in his car and drove away.  One of the men said to the other, “I’ve been putting in septic tanks for 30 years and this is the first time a preacher has prayed over one.”  Things are no alway what they seem.  Have you learned that its dangerous to assume?  How many times have you gotten in trouble because you thought you knew exactly what was going on only to discover you had no idea?  Our text this evening is found in the 14th chapter of 2 Kings.

Text: 2 Kings 14:1-29

2 Kings can be confusing.  There is all of this back and forth between Israel and Judah.  There are names that have a couple of different spellings and both are used in the same text.  There are kings from different kingdoms with the same name.  You can get lost in all of that if you’re not paying attention.  It is also very possible to get so focused on individual trees you fail to see the forest.  Sometimes in these passages we get rocked to a sleep through the repetition of formulas.  The writer uses the same formula in describing a king’s reign.  There is a sameness to it and we nod approval without noticing the deficiencies noted.  “So and so began to reign and he did as so and so before him and yada, yada, yada, he died and such and such took his place.”  These are the sections we tend to “skim” in our daily bible readings.  But there is much to gain in these passages if we slow down and ponder.

If we learn nothing else from our study of Kings, we must learn the necessity of a biblical faith and a solid grasp of God’s sovereignty.

We must note what it means to really, genuinely trust in God and what it means to say God is sovereign over all things.  It is hard, at times, to accept that God is sovereign in the midst of all this intrigue, assassination and corruption.  At times we are left wondering, “How in the world does this fit with God’s promise that a son of David will forever sit on the throne?  How does this wicked king’s brutal elimination of that wicked king serve God’s purpose?”  It helps when we remember, things are not always what they seem.

Understanding God is always in control and working all things together for His glory, I want to point out three principles from our text.

  1. A presumptive faith and an assumed assurance bring disastrous consequences. (14:1-14)
  2. Know that God’s Word gives stability and order to this chaotic world.  (14:15-22)
  3. Beware of mistaking God’s pity for God’s endorsement.  (14:23-29)
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