A Gospel Psalm

A Gospel Psalm: Selected Psalms

The PsalmsThis is an expisiton of Psalm 130. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Wednesday evening, April 26, 2017.

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A Compassionate Sovereign?

A Compassionate Sovereign?: Gospel of Luke #55

This is an exposition of Luke 13:31-35. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday morning, April 23, 2017.

Intro:

What is Christianity about anyway?  I mean, what’s the purpose?  I think that is a legitimate question.  And if you turn to religious programming or pick up a best seller in the local Christian bookstore you just might miss the purpose.  Some recent examples from my channel surfing may help illustrate what I mean.  As I was flipping channels one evening I came across a “prophet” who was speaking to the demon of debt.  As I listened to him for a few minutes it seemed as if the whole purpose of Christ’s coming was to break the spirit of poverty.  “Tonight is a night of deliverance,” declared the prophet.  “If you are in bondage to debt, if you are on the verge of financial ruin call in your faith pledge and we’ll pray the prayer and set you free.”  I guess it’s true, “You have to spend money to make money!”  Never mind that not one word was said about being financially responsible.  Never mind that stewardship was not an issue.  Never mind that nothing was said about Christ, his death on the cross, our sin or the need of redemption.  It was easy to see Christianity is about financial freedom.  On another occasion I heard about God’s moving in a miraculous way in a certain church.  What was happening?  Were people broken over their sin?  Where people falling on their faces before a holy and righteous God?  No, they were told if they had mouth or teeth problems that they were to put their hands on their mouths and receive the blessing.  The result?  God was filling teeth!  And He was filling them with gold.  Person after person testified that God miraculously filled their teeth with gold while they were sitting in the service.  Free dental work?  Is that the good news of the Gospel?  Others share testimonies about how miserable their lives were but one day they met Jesus and now they are happy.  For others Jesus was the means of overcoming drug addiction, depression, suicidal tendencies or other disorders.  Is that the Gospel?  Jesus the miracle cure?

By the grace of God many have been relieved of financial bondage.  Many have received miraculous healing and deliverance from all kinds of distress and disease.  A relationship with Christ does bring joy, peace, meaning and purpose to life.  But that is not the Gospel.  The Gospel is that we who are spiritually dead, hell bound, hell-deserving sinners are the object of God’s great mercy and grace.  That Jesus Christ left the glory and splendor of heaven on a mission to redeem stubborn, rebellious folks like us.  Jesus did not come to make us happy.  He came to make us holy.  He came so that we who are the enemies of God could be made the children of God.  That, is the Gospel.  The Gospel isn’t about us, it is about Christ.  It isn’t about what we want, it is about what He did.

That was the focus of Dr. Luke as he wrote to his good friend Theophilus.  You see even in the first century the Gospel was being distorted.  Many “Gospels” were being written.  Many stories were circulating.  Luke wanted his friend to have an accurate account of the facts.  And he wanted those facts to lead his friend to saving faith.  This morning I want us to look at Luke 13:31-35 and learn something about the true nature of the Gospel.

Text: Luke 13:31-35

We are in the last months of Jesus’ earthly life and ministry.
Luke 9:51 signals Jesus march toward death.
From that moment on Jesus moved toward the cross.

Each day brought Him closer to agony.  Yet He was determined to give himself as a ransom for many.  This is at the heart of the Gospel.  This is why He came.  The son of man must suffer and die.

Remember that the religious establishment has had it with this upstart from Galilee.  They are determined to get rid of him.  They are determined that he will be silenced.  They have been following him for months seeking an accusation that could be used against him.  The storm is gathering and is about to erupt.  

The immediate context finds Jesus teaching on the nature of salvation.  The question was raised concerning the number who would be saved.  Will it be only a few?  Jesus’ response was, “Make sure you are saved.  Strive to enter through the narrow gate.  Many will try to enter and will not be able.”  Why?  They do not know the Lord – or better yet – He does not know them.  Jesus warned of the misery that awaits those who reject the Gospel.  But He closed with assuring that people from north, south, east and west would gather in the kingdom.  The Gospel is universal in its appeal.

Luke tells us that on that very day, the day of that teaching, some folks came to Jesus with a warning.  Let’s take a look at that.

[Read the text]

What is clear in this brief text is that…

Thesis: The gospel tells of our Sovereign Savior lovingly laying down his life while weeping over the stubborn refusal of an obstinate people.

You are familiar with the expression “beware of Greeks bearing gifts?”  If you are Jesus or one of His disciples, beware of Pharisees giving “caring advice!”  When your mortal enemies come to tell you something for your own good, out of their great concern for your personal safety, look out!

In this encounter we are given a unique glimpse into the character and personality of the Lord Jesus.  I want you to look carefully at this passage and learn 2 precious truths about our savior.

  1. The gospel presents the Sovereign Lord who willingly gives his life as a sacrifice for sin.  (31-33)
  2. The gospel presents the compassionate Savior who weeps over the stubborn rejection of His own people.  (13:34-35)

    Conclusion:
    Luke calls us to see who now, for who he is.

    This is our Savior – powerful, strong, determined, Sovereign and at the same time, loving, compassionate, caring, giving.  The perfect blending of strength and compassion – power and tenderness.  He is at the heart of the Gospel.  The Gospel is about our hopeless state – and the one who brings hope – Jesus the compassionate, sovereign Savior.

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Perseverance

Perseverance: Selected Psalms

The PsalmsThis is an exposition of Psalm 129. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Wednesday evening, April 19, 2017.

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From Sorrow to Joy!

From Sorrow to Joy!: Resurrection Sunday

This is an exposition of John 19:31-20:18. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday morning, April 16, 2017.

Intro:

You know the movie was good when you walk out of the theatre and you are drained.  You’re not even sure you’re going to make it to the car.  You’ve been sitting for the last two hours and watching a movie but you are drained.  You are exhaust because the movie was so intense.  You traveled through the whole range of emotions.  You just don’t have anything left.  You’re worn out, drained, dead on your feet and you look at your spouse and you say, “I could see that again!”

The problem is when you see that movie the second time – it’s lost something.  It is not quite as intense the second time around.  You know the hero is going to make it out alive.  You know how it is going to end.  Oh, you may still enjoy the movie but it just doesn’t compare with the first time.

There is, however, a story that never grows old.  A story so shocking, so wonderful, so vivid and so significant that no matter how often you hear it there are aspects you’ve never explored.  There are subjects you can never exhaust.  It is the story of the cross and the resurrection.  The old, old story of how Jesus, as the Lamb of God, secured our salvation.  The story of history’s most daring rescue mission.  The story of the final battle in the cosmic war for the souls of men.  

John, the beloved, took up his pen to write an account of the life and ministry of Jesus.  He tells us that the purpose of his writing is that we might know that Jesus is the Christ, the son of the living God and that we might have life by believing on His name.  John’s Gospel is not a biography, it is a selective history with a purpose and that purpose is to bring us to faith.  Throughout his Gospel John has referred to various “signs.”  Back in John 2 when Jesus cleansed the Temple at the beginning of His ministry he was asked by the Jews to perform a sign to demonstrate His authority.  Jesus responded by saying,  “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.”  On another occasion He responded to those demanding a sign, “The only sign you will be give in the sign of Jonah.”  These were references to the cross and the resurrection.  This morning we look at the “great sign” of John’s Gospel.  Our text is found in John John 19 and 20.

Text: John 19:31-20:18

Today is Resurrection Sunday.  Today the Church is gathered around the world celebrating the fact the grave could not hold Him.

We need set our passage in its context.
Our Lord has been betrayed by one of His own.
He has been scourged, mock and ridiculed.
He has traveled the road of suffering and nailed to the cross.

He has entered behind the veil in to the most holy place as the Lamb of God slain for our sin.  Jesus, the great high priest entered into the presence of God into that tabernacle not made with human hands and offered the once and for all sacrifice for sin.  Redemption’s payment was made.  Salvation was secured.  There has been that shout of triumph as Christ the victor declared – “It is finished!”

But the story does not end there.  The story did not end with a lifeless body on the cross.  That is only part of the story.

As we explore our text we are going to discover that:

Thesis:  The horror of the cross is swallowed up in the glory of the resurrection.

As the drama unfolds it naturally falls into three parts.

  1. First, we note the horror of the death of Jesus.  (19:31-42)
  2. Second note, the confusion of the empty tomb.  (20:1-10)
  3. Finally note the glory of the risen Lord.  (20:11-18)

Conclusion:

In a matter of hours the disciples have moved from fear to despair to confusion to glory.  Running the full gamut of emotions.  As the drama of redemption played out.  John says, “You want proof that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God?  There is no greater proof than the cross and resurrection.”

Today is resurrection Sunday.  Today we celebrate the life that is our because of Christ.  The Scripture is clear, all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God and the wages of our sin is death.  We all stand before God as guilty sinners.  But Christ died, the righteous for the unrighteous in payment for our sin.  On the third day he was raised to life in recognition that our redemption is complete.  As Paul says in Romans 6, “We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.”  Easter is not about bunnies and eggs it is about life, joy, peace and forgiveness.  It is about how you, a sinful, fallen child of Adam can be right with God.  It is the story of how God, in love and mercy, has made it possible for you to be at home with Him.

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Surviving in a Hostile Environment

Surviving in a Hostile Environment: 2017 Study of 1 Peter #4

This is an exposition of 1 Peter 1:22-2:3. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday evening, April 9, 2017.

Intro:

There is really no doubt we are living in a “post-Christian” world.  A world that has moved beyond biblical morals and ethics.  Just look at television programming.  Look at the worldview espoused night after night on both cable and network television.  The Christian worldview, long the dominant worldview in American history and culture, is now shoved aside.  And it is not that it has been ignored it is openly attacked!  It is attacked as narrow-minded, bigoted, ignorant and intolerant.  Webster defines “hostile” as “of or relating to the enemy.  A relationship marked by antagonism.”  We are living in a hostile environment.  Our way of life is under attack.  We are labeled as extremist or alarmist.  But when you examine what is happening today maybe the sky really is falling!

Let me just refer to two things that are disturbing.  One is the increasing number of couples who do not want children.  The disturbing thing about that is the attitude of some of the people interviewed who did not want children.  Most did not want children because they would not fit into their lifestyle.  They might have to go without the new house and car if they had some kid to take care of.  Another wanted to know what kind of “return they would get on their investment if they had children!”  The other has to do with what is happening in terms of marriage and the family.  There are those who seek to redefine both marriage and family.  A year ago the Supreme Court legalized same sex marriage in all 50 states.  And now we are arguing we can’t stop there.  The argument goes something like this, “Why can’t any number of people enter into any kind of ‘loving relationship’ and be acknowledged as a family unit?  After all the real issue is that there is a loving relationship.  Whether that is between a man and a woman or two men or two women or an adult and a child or any combination of the above.”  Now add to this perversion the intolerance for evangelism and preaching the Gospel and we are not far removed from dark, difficult, and painful days as the church.  Persecution cannot be far behind.

When we turn to the church things are not that much better.  Church fights, church splits and forced terminations are commonplace.  When I look at the church today I am reminded of an incident from the War of 1812.  The troops, under the command of Andrew Jackson, found conditions unbearable.  Morale was at an all time low and the result was constant arguing, bickering and fighting.  Old Hickory called his troops together and said, “Gentlemen, let’s remember one thing.  The enemy is over there!”

From time to time we, in the church, need to be reminded of the same truth.  One of the earliest sources, outside of the Scripture, describing the church is from a man named Aristides who was sent by Emperor Hadrian to study this new sect called “Christians.”  In his report to the Emperor, Aristides marveled at these early believers and their love for one another.  Jesus had said this would be one of the ways the world would know we are His disciples, that we would love one another.  Yet today there seems to be a lack of love among the brothers.  Would those outside of this fellowship be overwhelmed by the depth of love they see reflected in us?  Would they be amazed at the unity and harmony within our church?  That is a question worth considering.

The fact is we need each other.  We need each other especially in a hostile environment.  In the face of hostility we need the support and encouragement of our brothers and sisters in Christ.  Peter was writing to believers who were scattered due to persecution.  They had been driven from their homes.  Many had fled for their lives.  They needed to know they were not alone.  Our text this evening is found in chapter one of 1 Peter.

Text: 1 Peter 1:22-2:3

Peter was writing to encourage struggling, first-century believers, but his words speak just as eloquently to us in the 21st century.

Thesis: Survival in a hostile world demands that believers walk in genuine unity.

Unity is at the heart of what Jesus taught us.  
We also discover that unity and love go hand in hand.  

Look at what Jesus taught in John 13:13-15: You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am.  If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.  For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.

No doubt any of them would have been happy to wash Jesus’ feet.
Jesus said, “Wash each other’s feet.”
No one was too interested in that!
Thus Jesus added a new commandment 13:34-35 – A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.

It is easy to love Christ – not so easy to love one another!

Now consider John 17:20-23“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.  The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.

Unity is pretty important within the body of Christ.

By the way, the issue is unity not uniformity.

We are in this together.  We are the body of Christ.  We need each other.  In light of that I want us to note two key principles of biblical unity.

There are any number of movements today calling for unity among believers.  The problem is they destroy the very basis for unity in their striving to achieve unity!  Let’s look at the biblical model.

  1. Biblical unity flourishes in an atmosphere of genuine love.  (1:22-23)
  2. Biblical unity is founded on common ground.  (1 Peter 1:23-2:3)

Survival in a hostile world demands that we walk in genuine unity.
Such a unity flourishes in an atmosphere of genuine love.
Such a unity is founded on common ground.

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The Narrow Way

The Narrow Way: 2016 Gospel of Luke #54

This is an exposition of Luke 13:22-30. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday morning, April 9, 2017.

Intro:

We are spoiled.  I’m not just talking about material wealth, although most of us have far more than we need.  We have more clothes than we can wear, more house than we use, food we throw away – so yes, I am talking about material things but not exclusively.  I mean also spoiled by our options.  Just think about going out to eat.  At the risk of sounding like an old man, I kind of miss those good old days in Pawnee.  If we wanted to go out to eat we had two choices.  We could go to Clicks or there was Sonic.  Now, by the time we figure out where we’re going to eat – they’re closed!  As for television, between cable, satellite, Netflix, Hulu and the like we have our choice of a thousand channels and still can’t find anything to watch.  It’s not just variety it’s instant access.  I want it yesterday but I’ll settle for getting within the next 5 minutes.  Years ago, while in Argentina the family we were visiting was so excited because they had just gotten a telephone – and they only waited 8 years!  I was embarrassed when they asked how long we had to wait for a phone.  Excess, variety and access plays into every aspect of our lives,  even religion.  You’ve got your choice.  I read this week there are 1000 organized religions in the United States.  Each with its own belief system, its own doctrine of God, its own explanation of reality, view of humanity and sense of destiny.  One thousand.  Picture yourself standing in a hallway with 1000 doors, as far as you could see.  Take your pick.  There are those who would tell you, “It really doesn’t matter which one you pick they all lead to the same place.  Go ahead, step through any one you want it leads to heaven.”  But what if that’s not true?  What if some of those doors don’t lead to anywhere?  Worse, what if some of those doors lead to hell?

Our faith is an exclusive faith.  Our Savior had the nerve to say things like, I am the way, the truth and the life and no one comes to the Father but by MeI have come that you might have life and have it to the full…come unto Me all who are weary and heavy ladened and I will give you rest.”  He dared to say that he and the Father were one.  He claimed to forgive sin.  No wonder the religious establishment was upset with him.  It’s also not surprising that our pluralistic culture would be bothered by the same claims.  Thus many seem compelled to serve as public relations representatives for our Lord.  Let’s tone down those exclusive claims.  “He didn’t mean that.  Some of his zealous followers placed those words in his mouth – he never made such claims.”  We neither serve our Lord or anyone else if we “tone down” his message.  We serve the kingdom and humanity when we preach the gospel as delivered by our Lord and Master.  Our text this morning in found in the 13th chapter of Luke’s Gospel beginning with the 13:22.

Text: Luke 13:22-30
We are in the last year of our Lord’s earthly life and ministry.  Most likely we are in the last six months.  He has set his face for Jerusalem.  There is no turning back, he is on his march to the cross.  The closer he came to his own destiny the more he spoke about the destiny of all men.  Thus he called on the people to understand the times and to repent before it was too late.  Now, as he moves from town to village on his way to Jerusalem he is asked a very important question.

What is made clear in this encounter is that…

Thesis: Love demands we be absolutely truthful when declaring the biblical message of salvation.

John tells us grace and truth have there being in the person of the Lord Jesus.  When we speak of Christ and his mission we must speak the truth but that truth most be wrapped in grace.  Truth and grace, one without the other is no gospel at all.  This is what we find in our Lord’s response to this question.  Let’s look at it together.

There are three things I want us to note.

  1. The biblical gospel makes plain the need for personal commitment.  (13:22-24)
  2. The biblical gospel warns of the danger of presumption.  (13:25-28)
  3. The biblical gospel celebrates the inclusive nature of God’s glorious salvation.  (13:29-30)

Love demands we be absolutely truthful when declaring the biblical message of salvation.
We must make plain the need for personal commitment.
We must warn of the danger of presumption.
We must celebrate the inclusive nature of God’s glorious salvation.

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Blessed

Blessed: Selected Psalms

The PsalmsBlessed is an exposition of Psalm 128. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Wednesday evening, April 5, 2017.

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Holy Living in an Unholy World

Holy Living in an Unholy World: 2017 Study of 1 Peter #3

This is an exposition of 1 Peter 1:13-21. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday evening, April 2, 2017.

Intro:

Life on this fallen planet can be extremely frustrating.  It seems the whole world has just gone haywire.  Nothing makes sense.  Given the intellectual and moral climate in which we live, it is becoming increasingly difficult to live the Christian life.  Now we have to add to that the fact that we all deal with an inward struggle with living the Christian life with consistency.  After all we have been given new life in Christ.  We have been declared righteous in the sight of God but we are in the process of being sanctified.  We are in the process of being made holy.  We are, as Martin Luther put it, “at the same time justified and a sinner.”  We are holy and accepted by God because of the Lord Jesus and at the same time weak, marred and sinful.

Why couldn’t it have been different?  Why didn’t God just take us immediately to glory the moment we believed?  You pray the prayer and swoosh you’re out of here?  Then we could just live in his presence and skip all the heartache down here?  Wouldn’t it be nice to never have to struggle with sin?  Wouldn’t it be nice to never stumble or fall?  Never disappoint the Lord, never let others down?  But it doesn’t work that way.  Rather we are called to live above reproach in this corrupt world.  We are called to live holy lives in an unholy world.

It is a startling thing to read, “Be holy even as I am holy.”  Does God really expect us to be as holy as he is?  He is infinitely pure – I’m hopelessly depraved.  This call to holiness seems to either ignore human frailty or impose certain failure.  What are we to do?  How are we to respond?  Do we respond by saying, “Get real?”  Or should we burst into tears sobbing, “I can’t do it?”

How do you live a holy life in an unholy world?  Some have suggested isolation.  The only way to live above reproach is to gather ourselves together in small groups that are self-sufficient and removed from the world system.  After all you can’t walk through a coal mine without getting dirty!  The best thing to do is to form a monastic community and literally live apart from the world.  But is that a biblical solution?  Are we called to remove ourselves from the world?

That doesn’t seem in keeping with the prayer of Jesus found in John 17:14-15.
“My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but protect them from the evil one.”

Jesus prayed for insulation not isolation.
We are called to a lifetime struggle of swimming upstream against the current.
Practicing contact without contamination.

Of course it is necessary for us to define “worldliness.”  Too often we accuse everyone outside of the church of worldliness while assuming we are immune from such charges.  Yet some of the most worldly people I’ve ever know have been church members, church leaders and pastors!

1 John 2:15-17 defines worldliness from a biblical perspective.
Worldliness is a mindset.

  • It is to be caught up in the “spirit of the age.”
  • It is an approach that operates apart from and at odds with God.
  • It finds its source in Satan – the father of the worldly system.
  • It is a way of thinking and evaluating everything in life.
  • It effects every area of life including the church.

Our text this evening is found in 1 John 1 of 1 Peter.

Text: 1 Peter 1:13-21

Thesis: As the people of God, we are called to live holy lives in the heart of a corrupt world.

I don’t think there can be any question as to the legitimacy of that statement.  There is no denying that we have been called to such a life.  The question is, “How do we do that?”  what is it going to take for us to live holy lives in the face of such corruption?  It is one thing to “live the Christian life” at church.  In is another to live it at work.  It is one thing to speak for Christ in a context where everyone is doing so.  It is another thing to buck the system and go against the crowd.

For some help in how to live a holy life we turn again to the apostle Peter.
As an old man Peter is writing to encourage a new generation of believers to stand firm.
He is calling them to hold the line in the face of persecution and death.
He has reminded them of the great doctrinal truth of their salvation now he calls them to live out that salvation.

Note the “therefore” – what is the therefore, there for?

In our text we find three demands for holy living.

  1. Holy living demands a conscious, deliberate effort.  (1:13-16)
  2. Holy living demands a life of reverential fear.  (1:17)
  3. Holy living demands a divine focus.  (1:18-21)

As the people of God, we are called to live holy lives in the heart of a corrupt world.
Holy living demands a conscious, deliberate effort.  
Holy living demands a life of reverential fear.
Holy living demands a divine focus.

That is a tall order and a staggering challenge.  But keep this in mind.  Your salvation is granted by grace and so is your sanctification!  Remember the words of the apostle Paul –

O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified.   Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith?  Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?  Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain?    (Galatians 3:1-4)

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You Can’t Do That in the Worship Service!

You Can’t Do That In The Worship Service!: 2016 Gospel of Luke #53

This is an exposition of Luke 13:10-21. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday morning, April 2, 2017.

Intro:

It was your typical service.  Nice, dignified.  There was a touch of excitement in the air with the guest preacher.  This visiting preacher had a little more style and was more dynamic than the usual preacher.  Everyone was talking about the new guy.  Several had heard him before.  “He’s great!  You’ve never heard anyone like him,” was the evaluation of most.  And he was good.  Things were progressing nicely – then he did it.  The congregation was stunned.  The pastor was horrified.  “How could he do such a thing?  That goes against everything we stand for.  I can’t believe he did that.  There is no excuse for such insensitivity.  It’s outrageous.  You can’t do that in church!”  What did he do?  What great evil caused such an uproar?  The answer may surprise you.  It is found in Luke’s Gospel, Luke 13.

Text: Luke 13:10-21

Luke is writing to his friend an evangelistic message.
He wants his friend to understand who Jesus was and to commit his life to him.
Luke wanted Theophilus to know that Jesus is indeed the Messiah of the Jews but also the Savior of the world!

By the time we reach Luke 13 of Luke’s account, we are in the last year of our Lord’s ministry.  The religious establishment is growing increasingly hostile.  The storm is gathering that will erupt in the agony of the cross.  All of that serves as the backdrop of our text.  In all likelihood we are in the last six months of our Lord’s ministry when this event takes place.  From this dramatic moment we are reminded that:

Thesis: The ministry of Jesus confirms His love for the hurting and His assurance that the Gospel will triumph.

In some respects this account serves as a bookend for Luke’s account of the ministry of Jesus.  How did Luke begin his account of Jesus’ ministry?  He began with our Lord’s sermon in His hometown synagogue in Nazareth (Luke 4:14-21).  “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to reach good news to the poor.  He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recover of sight for the blind.  To release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”  He began His ministry in the synagogue and here we have the last reference to ministry in a synagogue doing the very thing He announced at the beginning of His ministry.

I’ve noticed something about our Lord.  Isaiah said of Him, “His ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts.”  As I read through the Gospels I am often surprised by what I read.  God doesn’t always act as “God should.”  He doesn’t respond the way I think He should respond.  His friends are often the folks I would have never considered candidates for befriending the Almighty.  But that is the way it has always been with our God.  He chose the son of a Moon worshiper from Ur to establish a people who would be uniquely His.  The man, Abram (later Abraham) acted as a pimp for his own wife when they were in Egypt!  He chose a lying thief named Jacob to carry on the promise.  Then He used a murder named Moses to lead His people out of Egyptian bondage.  Israel’s greatest king was a murderous adulterer yet became known as a man after God’s own heart.  God has forever been in the business of using the weak things to confound the strong, the simple to amaze the wise.  We find that continued in the ministry of our Lord.  Look at the crowd He took up with.  Look at the things He consistently did.  That is why the religious establishment had so much trouble with him.  “This man is God?  That’s no way for God to act!”  And yet as I read those various accounts my heart says, “Yes. This is the Holy One of God.”

As we seek to carry on the ministry of our Lord this passage serves as an important model for us.  Because I’m convinced we find in this passage three key elements to the ministry of our Lord.  Elements that must be reflected in our ministry if our ministry is to be like Christ’s.

  1. The Lord Jesus, in love and compassion, brings peace and healing to the suffering.  (13:10-13)
  2. The Lord Jesus, in righteous indignation, scathingly rebukes merely ritualistic religion.  (13:14-17)
  3. The Lord Jesus, in quiet confidence, assures us of the strength and influence of the Gospel.  (13:18-21)

Conclusion:

We are to carry on the work of our Savior.  His ministry is our ministry.  Our agenda is His agenda.  Our must be a ministry of love and compassion for the hurting.  A ministry that is more than mere ritual.  A ministry firmly rooted in and confident of the transforming power of the Gospel.

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Useless?

Useless?: from Selected Psalms

The PsalmsUseless? is an exposition of Psalm 127. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Wednesday evening, March 29, 2017.

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