Sunday, March 30, 2008


Confessions Of An Unpopular Prophet

Jer 11: 18 The Lord informed me, so I knew. Then You helped me to see their deeds,
19 for I was like a docile lamb led to slaughter. I didn’t know that they had devised plots against me: “Let’s destroy the tree with its fruit; let’s cut him off from the land of the living so that his name will no longer be remembered.”
20 But, Lord of Hosts, who judges righteously, who tests heart and mind, let me see Your vengeance on them, for I have presented my case to You.
21 Therefore, here is what the Lord says concerning the people of Anathoth who want to take your life. They warn, “You must not prophesy in the name of the Lord, or you will certainly die at our hand.”
22 Therefore, this is what the Lord of Hosts says: “I am about to punish them. The young men will die by the sword; their sons and daughters will die by famine.
23 They will have no remnant, for I will bring disaster on the people of Anathoth [in]the year of their punishment.”

Jer 12:1 Righteous are you, O LORD, when I complain to you; yet I would plead my case before you. Why does the way of the wicked prosper? Why do all who are treacherous thrive?

Jer 12:2 You plant them, and they take root; they grow and produce fruit; you are near in their mouth and far from their heart.

Jer 12:3 But you, O LORD, know me; you see me, and test my heart toward you. Pull them out like sheep for the slaughter, and set them apart for the day of slaughter.

Jer 12:4 How long will the land mourn and the grass of every field wither? For the evil of those who dwell in it the beasts and the birds are swept away, because they said, "He will not see our latter end."

Jer 12:5 "If you have raced with men on foot, and they have wearied you, how will you compete with horses? And if in a safe land you are so trusting, what will you do in the thicket of the Jordan?

Jer 12:6 For even your brothers and the house of your father, even they have dealt treacherously with you; they are in full cry after you; do not believe them, though they speak friendly words to you."

Jer 12:7 "I have forsaken my house; I have abandoned my heritage; I have given the beloved of my soul into the hands of her enemies.

Jer 12:8 My heritage has become to me like a lion in the forest; she has lifted up her voice against me; therefore I hate her.

Jer 12:9 Is my heritage to me like a hyena's lair? Are the birds of prey against her all around? Go, assemble all the wild beasts; bring them to devour.

Jer 12:10 Many shepherds have destroyed my vineyard; they have trampled down my portion; they have made my pleasant portion a desolate wilderness.

Jer 12:11 They have made it a desolation; desolate, it mourns to me. The whole land is made desolate, but no man lays it to heart.

Jer 12:12 Upon all the bare heights in the desert destroyers have come, for the sword of the LORD devours from one end of the land to the other; no flesh has peace.

Jer 12:13 They have sown wheat and have reaped thorns; they have tired themselves out but profit nothing. They shall be ashamed of their harvests because of the fierce anger of the LORD."

Jer 12:14 Thus says the LORD concerning all my evil neighbors who touch the heritage that I have given my people Israel to inherit: "Behold, I will pluck them up from their land, and I will pluck up the house of Judah from among them.

Jer 12:15 And after I have plucked them up, I will again have compassion on them, and I will bring them again each to his heritage and each to his land.

Jer 12:16 And it shall come to pass, if they will diligently learn the ways of my people, to swear by my name, 'As the LORD lives,' even as they taught my people to swear by Baal, then they shall be built up in the midst of my people.

Jer 12:17 But if any nation will not listen, then I will utterly pluck it up and destroy it, declares the LORD."

It was once announced that the devil was going out of business and would offer all tools for sale to whoever would pay his price. On the night of the sale, they were all attractively displayed and a bad looking lot they were: Malice, Hatred, Envy, Jealousy, Sensuality, and Deceit, and all the other implements of evil, were spread out each marked with its price.

Apart from the rest lay a harmless looking, wedge shaped tool, much worn and priced higher than any of them. Someone asked the devil what it was. “That's discouragement,” was the reply.

“Why do you have it priced so high?”

“Because,” replied the devil, “it is more useful to me than any of the others. I can pry open and get inside a man's consciousness with that when I could not get near him with any of the others, and when once inside I can use him in whatever way suits me best. It is so much worn because I use it with nearly everybody, for very few people yet know it belongs to me.” -- Rev. E. E. Hendricks

During the Boer War (1899-1902), a man was convicted of a very unusual crime. He was found guilty of being a "discourager." The South African town of Ladysmith was under attack, and this traitor would move up and down the lines of soldiers who were defending the city and do everything he could to discourage them. He would point out the enemy's strength, the difficulty of defending against them, and the inevitable capture of the city. He didn't use a gun in his attack. It wasn't necessary. His weapon was the power of discouragement.

In “Remember All the Way,” William C. Townsend founder of Wycliffe Bible translators related the story of an evangelist who was facing discouragement and criticism. One day he said to a colleague, “'Don Guillermo, I'm going to quit.’ Guillermo replied, 'Why do you give your resignation to me? When you began your service, you said the Lord Jesus Christ was calling you to tell others about Him. I think you'd better present your resignation to the One who called you. Let's get down on our knees here, and you tell Him that you are going to quit. Let Him hear what you've just told me -- that it's too hard, that too many people criticize you. Tell the Lord -- He's the One who sent you.’ 'Well, I hesitate to do that,' he replied. 'I'm afraid He'll tell me to stay with the job.’ 'If that's what He wants, don't you think you'd better stay?’ 'Yes, I think I should!'" Taking new courage and refusing to look back, the evangelist went on to 'plow a straight furrow for God.’

1. Faithful Christian Service Can Be Formidable

Jer 11: 18 The Lord informed me, so I knew. Then You helped me to see their deeds,
19 for I was like a docile lamb led to slaughter. I didn’t know that they had devised plots against me: “Let’s destroy the tree with its fruit; let’s cut him off from the land of the living so that his name will no longer be remembered.” 20 But, Lord of Hosts, who judges righteously, who tests heart and mind, let me see Your vengeance on them, for I have presented my case to You. 21 Therefore, here is what the Lord says concerning the people of Anathoth who want to take your life. They warn, “You must not prophesy in the name of the Lord, or you will certainly die at our hand.” 22 Therefore, this is what the Lord of Hosts says: “I am about to punish them. The young men will die by the sword; their sons and daughters will die by famine. 23 They will have no remnant, for I will bring disaster on the people of Anathoth [in]the year of their punishment.”

Sometimes our faith will cost us with family.

Jeremiah had a problem and the problem was in his own hometown. Some of the home grown politicians and the local families of note wanted Jeremiah dead.

A plot had been made against his life. And Jeremiah ought to be real careful.

Later it would be the King Jehoiakim who wanted to take Jeremiah’s life.

Luke 4:  He then rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. And the eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fixed on Him.
21 He began by saying to them, “Today as you listen, this Scripture has been fulfilled.”
22 They were all speaking well of Him and were amazed by the gracious words that came from His mouth, yet they said, “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?”
23 Then He said to them, “No doubt you will quote this proverbto Me: ‘Doctor, heal yourself.’ ‘All we’ve heard that took place in Capernaum, do here in Your hometown also.’ ”
24 He also said, “• I assure you: No prophet is accepted in his hometown.

The Lord Jesus said Matthew 10 : 32 “Therefore, everyone who will acknowledge Me before men, I will also acknowledge him before My Father in heaven. 33 But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father in heaven. 34 Don’t assume that I came to bring peace on the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I came to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; 36 and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household.37 The person who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; the person who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. 38 And whoever doesn’t take up his cross and follow Me is not worthy of Me. 39 Anyone finding his life will lose it, and anyone losing his life because of Me will find it.

Ravi Zacharias, a great Christian apologist writes: When I was a teenager growing up in Delhi I was really not doing very well. I was failing at everything. For those of you who have read my story in WALKING FROM EAST TO WEST, you’ll know failure was writ large on my life. My dad basically looked at me and said, “You know, you’re going to be a huge embarrassment to the family — one failure after another.” And he was right given the way I was headed. I just was looking for an escape. I wanted to get out of everything I was setting my hand to, and I lacked discipline.

During this time, India was at war with a neighboring country and the defense academy was looking for pilots to be trained. They were calling them general duties pilots — G.D. pilots. So I applied and I went to be interviewed for this. It was an overnight train journey from the city of Delhi. It was wintertime and it gets quite cold then in the northern part of the country. We were outside freezing in the cold air for about five days as we went through physical endurance tests and all kinds of other tests. There were three hundred applicants; they were going to select ten. On the last day they put their selection of names out on the board, and I was positioned number three.

I phoned my family and said, “You aren’t going to believe this. I’m going to make it. I’m number three. The only thing that’s left is the interview. The psychological testing is tomorrow, and I’ll be home.”

The next morning I began my interview with the chief commanding officer, who looked to me like Churchill sitting across the table. He asked me question after question. Then he leaned forward and said, “Son, I’m going to break your heart today.” I wondered what he was going to say. He continued, “I’m going to reject you. I’m not going to pass you in this test.” “May I ask you why, sir?” I replied. “Yes. Psychologically, you’re not wired to kill. And this job is about killing.”

You know, inside of me I felt that I was on the verge of wanting to prove him wrong right then and there. But I knew better, both for moral reasons and for his size! So I went back to my room and didn’t talk to anybody, packed my bags, got into the train, and arrived in Delhi. My parents and friends were waiting at the platform with garlands and sweets in their hands to congratulate me. No one knew. I thought to myself, “How do I even handle this? Where do I even begin?” They were celebrating, and yet for me, it was all over.

Or so I thought. Had I been selected, I would have had to commit twenty years to the Indian armed forces. It was the very next year that my father had the opportunity to move to Canada. My brother and I moved there as the first installment, and the rest of them followed. It was there I was in business school and God redirected my paths to theological training. It was there that I met Margie; there my whole life changed. The rest is history. Had I been in the Indian Air Force, who knows what thread I’d have pulled to wreck the fabric.

THANKFULLY, OUR DISAPPOINTMENTS MATTER TO GOD, AND HE HAS A WAY OF TAKING EVEN SOME OF THE BITTEREST MOMENTS WE GO THROUGH AND MAKING THEM INTO SOMETHING OF GREAT SIGNIFICANCE IN OUR LIFE. It’s hard to understand it at the time. Not one of us wants that thread when it is being woven in. Not one of us says, “I can hardly wait to see where this is going to fit.” We all say at that moment, “This is not the pattern I want.”

Sometimes your faithfulness will be tested with regard to family.

Sometimes your faithfulness will be tested with regard to fear.

I guess there is a sense in which you don’t gather your convictions until someone so wants to take your life.

Marijuanna almost took one pastor’s life some years ago.

Do you remember the McKay murder down in the Riverina? There were several places Robert Trimbolli had plantations growing. This pastor stumbled across one , grown by the husband of a parishioner. One day the woman who was scared and distressed dropped off 27 plants in his backyard. He burnt them off in his back yard. It was too dangerous to bring the authorities in at that stage, as her estranged schizophrenic husband had gathered a multitude of weapons including hand grenades and hand guns.

He had already spent a few years in gaol for trying to blow up a police station with dynamite strapped to his chest.

He figured out it was either the pastor or a deacon in the town that had destroyed his prototype research crop. And he wanted the one that did it dead.

The pastor needed to see him gone. So he arranged a police swoop that netted a million dollars worth of marijuana. There was actually 3 m8ilion worth growing there, and the police only took one million worth.

So the pastor arranged another swoop with the drug squad, which netted another million worth.

Very soon after the pastor found a bad of marijuana dumped on his driveway. He didn’t touch it (kept finger prints off it) and realised he might be being set up. He called the police and none came. So he sat watching the marijuana and preparing sermons all day, ringing the police every two hours to come get it. Finally he rang a young policeman who immediately came a picked it up.

The pastor spent a whole year keeping a low profile, realising that what had happened to his friend’s brother-in-law, could certainly as easily happen to him.

Yes sometimes our faith will cost us with fear!

2. Faithful Christian Service Can Be Frustrating

Jer 12:1 Righteous art thou, O LORD, when I plead with thee: yet let me talk with thee of thy judgments: Wherefore doth the way of the wicked prosper? wherefore are all they happy that deal very treacherously?
2 Thou hast planted them, yea, they have taken root: they grow, yea, they bring forth fruit: thou art near in their mouth, and far from their reins.
3 But thou, O LORD, knowest me: thou hast seen me, and tried mine heart toward thee: pull them out like sheep for the slaughter, and prepare them for the day of slaughter.

(Psalm 73: 1 God is indeed good to Israel, to the pure in heart.
2 But as for me, my feet almost slipped; my steps nearly went astray.
3 For I envied the arrogant; I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
4 They have an easy time until they die,and their bodies are well-fed.
5 They are not in trouble like others; they are not afflicted like most people.
6 Therefore, pride is their necklace, and violence covers them like a garment.
7 Their eyes bulge out from fatness; the imaginations of their hearts run wild.
8 They mock, and they speak maliciously; they arrogantly threaten oppression.
9 They set their mouths against heaven, and their tongues strut across the earth.

12 Look at them—the wicked! They are always at ease, and they increase their wealth.
13 Did I purify my heart and wash my hands in innocence for nothing?

16 When I tried to understand all this, it seemed hopeless
17 until I entered God’s sanctuary. Then I understood their destiny.
18 Indeed You put them in slippery places; You make them fall into ruin.
19 How suddenly they become a desolation! They come to an end, swept away by terrors.

21 When I became embittered and my innermost being was wounded,
22 I was a fool and didn’t understand; I was an unthinking animal toward You.
23 Yet I am always with You; You hold my right hand.
24 You guide me with Your counsel, and afterwards You will take me up in glory.

28 But as for me, God’s presence is my good. I have made the Lord God my refuge, so I can tell about all You do.

The ministry is not a picnic or carnival and is a task that requires determination, conviction and a reliance on God. This is no place for the fainthearted. This is no place for those who are on a fool's errand. This is not Bible camp. This will take everything in you. The apostle Paul would have been greatly alarmed if he had been asked to speak at many modern-day conferences on ministry. "I wonder what he would have thought about spending a great deal of time on the nature of blended worship." Likewise, Paul would have been dismayed to hear such addresses as "the pastor and his computer," "the pastor as a change agent" and "seven skills for highly effective pasturing. You can just imagine him laying the phone down on his desk and saying, 'My, my. I don't know what I'm going to do with these people.'"

Pastor Im served the Lord in North Korea before mistakenly being arrested and thrown into prison on Kojedo Island. He could almost hear Satan whispering, “Where is your God?” But he overcame self-pity and prayed, “Dear Lord Jesus, if You have let all this heartache come to me and my family, it must be because You have something for me to do. What can I do for You here on this prison island?”

It was Christmas season, so Pastor Im gathered some other prisoners to sing carols. Such gatherings were forbidden. But the American soldiers knew the tunes, though not the Korean words; so with guns trained on the group, they let 500 Korean POWs stand in the rain and sing carols of our Lord’s birth.

Pastor Im won hundreds of prisoners to Christ, holding Bible studies in camp. More than 6000 men finished the six-month course of daily Bible study. At least 600 prisoners went on to become preachers of the Gospel -- all because of one man who didn’t give in to the Christmas blues.

Sometimes your faithfulness will be tested with regard to finances.

When Lorelle and I started out pasturing a small church plant in Kiama things were tight. The wage was $110 a week, out of which we paid $80 a week rent, and I had to run a car and go to Sydney each week to complete theological college. When we were first married we saved up for three months to buy a mop.

Sometimes you need those times to test whether you are serving the Lord for right motives. Finances should never be an issue when you are looking into eternity. Sometimes the Lord tests us in this way.

3. Faithful Christian Service Can Be Fatiguing

Jeremiah 12: 5 If thou hast run with the footmen, and they have wearied thee, then how canst thou contend with horses? and if in the land of peace, wherein thou trustedst, they wearied thee, then how wilt thou do in the swelling of Jordan? 6 For even thy brethren, and the house of thy father, even they have dealt treacherously with thee; yea, they have called a multitude after thee: believe them not, though they speak fair words unto thee.

There is a Peanut’s cartoon where Charlie Brown is telling his problems to Schroeder. To comfort Charlie Brown Schroeder says, “Don’t be discouraged, Charlie Brown. These early defeats help to build character for later on in life.”

Charlie Brown asks, “For WHAT later on in life?”

Schroeder answers, “For more defeats!”

In the fifth chapter of Romans the apostle Paul declares, “we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.”

Rev. W.G. Lawes of the London missionary Society in PNG worked at “Savage Island”.. over the years of his ministry there, the Lord allowed him to lead over 1000 folk to Christ and see them baptised as believers., He trained many of the young men as pastors and missionaries. He translated the whole New Testament and parts of the Old testament into the native dialect. He found it hard to leave the work “but the call to harder work, more self denying work, is an honour from the Master’s hands. Does He not in this way deal with his servants? Is not the reward for service in His kingdom, more service, harder sservice, and (measured by human standards) less successful service?”

Steve Brown related the story of a British soldier in the First World War who lost heart for the battle and deserted. Trying to reach the coast for a boat to England that night, he ended up wandering in the pitch black night, hopelessly lost. In the darkness he came across what he thought was a signpost. It was so dark that he began to climb the post so that he could read it. As he reached the top of the pole, he struck a match to see and found himself looking squarely into the face of Jesus Christ. He realized that, rather than running into a signpost, he had climbed a roadside crucifix. Brown explained, "Then he remembered the One who had died for him -- who had endured -- who had never turned back. The next morning the soldier was back in the trenches."

Lift up your heads, discouraged ones,

And be ye glad at heart,

For Calvary and the resurrection —

Earth’s saddest day and gladdest day,

Were just three days apart,

Consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. — Hebrews 12:3.

Many years ago there was a discouraged servant of the Lord in a New England town. He was criticized for his beliefs and the way he expressed them. One day with a sense of failure, he climbed to the steeple room in his church. Unconverted men feeling a lack of approval, financial success and popularity might have attempted suicide. But this man, Washington Gladden, sat down and poured himself out in prayer and then wrote:

“0 Master, let me walk with Thee In lowly paths of service free,

Tell me Thy secret, help me bear The strain of toil, the fret of care.”

Another hymn writer pout it this way:

When my life is burdened with sorrow, And it seems all help is gone,

Jesus whispers, “Do not falter; I will leave thee not alone.”

Then somehow amidst my trials, How it is I cannot see;

Still I hear a voice from heaven; Gently saying “Follow me.”

Sometimes my friends do forsake me, and I’m tempted to despair;

Then I think of my dear Jesus -- To lay His head He had nowhere.

Saturday, March 29, 2008


2 Corinthians 3 Why We Do Not Lose Hope In Ministry!


2 Corinthians 3:1 Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, as some do, letters of recommendation to you, or from you? 2 You yourselves are our letter of recommendation, written on our hearts, to be known and read by all. 3 And you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. 4 Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. 5 Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, 6 who has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. 7 Now if the ministry of death, carved in letters on stone, came with such glory that the Israelites could not gaze at Moses' face because of its glory, which was being brought to an end, 8 will not the ministry of the Spirit have even more glory? 9 For if there was glory in the ministry of condemnation, the ministry of righteousness must far exceed it in glory. 10 Indeed, in this case, what once had glory has come to have no glory at all, because of the glory that surpasses it. 11 For if what was being brought to an end came with glory, much more will what is permanent have glory. 12 Since we have such a hope, we are very bold, 13 not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face so that the Israelites might not gaze at the outcome of what was being brought to an end. 14 But their minds were hardened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away. 15 Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts. 16 But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

2Co 4:1 Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart.

Faithful Christian Service Can Be Formidable

Faithful Christian Service Can Be Frustrating

Faithful Christian Service Can Be Fatiguing

Who cares?

What will it achieve anyway?

Baptists are a small people. 65,000 people around Australia.

Our Asian Baptist churches have grown to close to 5000 members. But our non-migrant churches are in a slow decline.

We are an insignificant people.

Christians are an insignificant people in our culture, although our culture thinks that the hierarchy of the churches are controlling and dominate the culture.

Yet less than 15% of people attend church, and most of these attend the roman catholic Church. That is 1/8 attend church and most of these attend a catholic church. Protestant churches are not doing so well in Australia.

And there is difficulty in the churches. Confusion reigns. Do Christians believe this or that about sexuality? Is marriage important? Do we believe the Bible is the Word of God?

There is division. Confusion and distress in the churches.

Some churches love the Bible as the Word of God. Some pastors reject the scriptures as God’s Word.

Many pastors are leaving the ministry for many reasons, most of all; discouragement.

Discouragement is the biggest killer.

John O'Brien was the pseudonym of Patrick Joseph Hartigan, born in 1878 in Yass in New South Wales. He was ordained a Roman Catholic priest in 1903 and was appointed inspector of Catholic schools in the Goulburn diocese in 1910. He later became parish priest for Narrandera from 1917 to 1944. He wrote a piece of poetry that epitomises discouragement.

'Said Hanrahan'

"We'll all be rooned," said Hanrahan, In accents most forlorn,

Outside the church, ere Mass began, One frosty Sunday morn.

The congregation stood about, Coat-collars to the ears,

And talked of stock, and crops, and drought, As it had done for years.

"It's looking crook," said Daniel Croke; "Bedad, it's cruke, me lad,

For never since the banks went broke Has seasons been so bad."

"It's dry, all right," said young O'Neil, With which astute remark

He squatted down upon his heel And chewed a piece of bark.

And so around the chorus ran "It's keepin' dry, no doubt."

"We'll all be rooned," said Hanrahan, "Before the year is out."

"The crops are done; ye'll have your work To save one bag of grain;

From here way out to Back-o'-Bourke They're singin' out for rain.

"They're singin' out for rain," he said, "And all the tanks are dry."

The congregation scratched its head, And gazed around the sky.

"There won't be grass, in any case, Enough to feed an ass;

There's not a blade on Casey's place As I came down to Mass."

"If rain don't come this month," said Dan, And cleared his throat to speak --

"We'll all be rooned," said Hanrahan, "If rain don't come this week."

A heavy silence seemed to steal On all at this remark;

And each man squatted on his heel, And chewed a piece of bark.

"We want an inch of rain, we do," O'Neil observed at last;

But Croke "maintained" we wanted two To put the danger past.

"If we don't get three inches, man, Or four to break this drought,

We'll all be rooned," said Hanrahan, "Before the year is out."

In God's good time down came the rain; And all the afternoon

On iron roof and window-pane It drummed a homely tune.

And through the night it pattered still, And lightsome, gladsome elves

On dripping spout and window-sill Kept talking to themselves.

It pelted, pelted all day long, A-singing at its work,

Till every heart took up the song Way out to Back-o'-Bourke.

And every creek a banker ran, And dams filled overtop;

"We'll all be rooned," said Hanrahan, "If this rain doesn't stop."

And stop it did, in God's good time; And spring came in to fold

A mantle o'er the hills sublime Of green and pink and gold.

And days went by on dancing feet, With harvest-hopes immense,

And laughing eyes beheld the wheat Nid-nodding o'er the fence.

And, oh, the smiles on every face, As happy lad and lass

Through grass knee-deep on Casey's place Went riding down to Mass.

While round the church in clothes genteel Discoursed the men of mark,

And each man squatted on his heel, And chewed his piece of bark.

"There'll be bush-fires for sure, me man, There will, without a doubt;

We'll all be rooned," said Hanrahan, "Before the year is out." -- John O'BrienBut for

"More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness; the other to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly." (Woody Allen)

Paul and for you and I, how the church in Australia can grow is beyond our ken. Its too hard to know! Sometimes pastors get together and have a Hanrahan hour. We talk of how we’ll al be rooned.

Last week a pastor rang me concerned about what was happening in the Christian School. The Christian school had several members of his Baptist church on it. They had got the thing going. They had been in it at the start. But now a group of Pentecostals have tried to take over the school and have the whole thing signed into their denomination, and their pastor appointed head over it all. We wonder, with all these shenanigans going on, how the Lord’s work can proceed when people behave unethically. And we tend to think as Hanrahan did, “we’’ll all be rooned!”

But we forget there is a greater one who is ultimately in control. And though Satan sometimes seems so strong, and those who would undo the gospel seem so politically capable, we for get, we do not need to lose hope.

Paul’s conflict was with some who said he was second rate. He didn’t have the glory resting upon him, like their preachers did. He was second rate.

Paul responds that we have the New Covenant. And the new Covenant is the glorious thing.

2 Cor 3:12 Therefore having such a hope, we use great boldness—

What is the hope that drives us forward?

Samuel Taylor Coleridge said that "Hope without an object cannot live." If you have ever lost the focus of life, you understand hopelessness. Perhaps you have invested much into your job, marriage, or the struggles of life; and then you saw it all destroyed. The object of your hope is gone, and you feel dead and aimless.

Psychologist William Marston asked 3,000 people this question: "What do you have to live for?" 94 percent responded that they were merely enduring their lives, hoping someday that things would get better. I suppose that this is an expression of hope to a small degree, hoping that the future will be better than the past or present. Yet, this seems so inadequate. If our only encouragement is found in hoping for a better tomorrow, is this an adequate hope? It has been said that some people see only a hopeless end, but the Christian sees an endless hope.

In 2 Cor 2 Paul spoke of our triumph in Christ. He saw the end and it was hopefilled.

Now he looks back and makes comparisons with the old Covenant. And he sees how the New covenant allows us to look within and be hopefilled.

The new covenant has been introduced. There is a new way that people can be made right with God. It isn’t by keeping the Old testament laws and being Jewish. A person is made right with God in the basis of what the Lord Jesus Christ has done at the cross.

Jeremiah 31:31 Look, the days are coming”—this is the Lord’s declaration—“when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. 32 This one will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt—a covenant they broke even though I had married them”—the Lord’s declaration. 33 “Instead, this is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after those days”—the Lord’s declaration. “I will place My law within them and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be My people. 34 No longer will one teach his neighbor or his brother, saying: Know the Lord, for they will all know Me, from the least to the greatest of them”—the Lord’s declaration. “For I will forgive their wrongdoing and never again remember their sin.”

A hopefilled life from within!

The New Covenant is much more glorious.

1. We Have A More Glorious Revelation Which means that The ministry of God goes deeper.

We live in a world that can cause great despair. When General Douglas MacArthur was recalled from Korea, he was afforded an opportunity to address the United States Congress. As he spoke, he said, “I am closing my 52 years of military service. When I joined the army, even before the turn of the century, it was the fulfilment of all my boyish hopes and dreams. The world has turned over many times since I took the oath on the plain at West Point, and the hopes and dreams have long since vanished.”

What a sad day that must have been, the day his hopes and dreams died. How very similar for the disciples as they hid in a room in Jerusalem behind locked doors. They had believed Jesus and left their jobs and their families to follow the Christ. But the dreams were dead, and the one they had believed in and loved was buried in a tomb. Hope seemed nonexistent on that lost weekend. Then God did something totally awesome, and hope was reborn. On that resurrection morning, hope broke through stone walls. The door to the tomb was open, and the Saviour was alive. Who would have ever dreamed that this kind of hope was possible?

2 Corinthians 3 brings us into this resurrection hope.3 since it is plain that you are Christ’s letter, produced by us, not written with ink but with the Spirit of the living God; not on stone tablets but on tablets that are hearts of flesh. 4 We have this kind of confidence toward God through Christ: 5 not that we are competent in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our competence is from God. 6 He has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter, but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit produces life.

The New Covenant has the Spirit of God dwelling inside us. Dreams of effective faithful Christian service are not futile dreams! “the hopes and dreams have [not] vanished.”

There is something more. The Spirit of God is at work. And we may not quickly see and discern His work, but nonetheless He is still at work.

Robert Morrison was born in 1782 to a stern Presbyterian family. As a young man he read missionary stories in a church magazine and it whetted his interest in foreign missions. But his mother was appalled and said it would be over her dead body. A few years later she died, and in his early twenties Morrison began his training to be a missionary. Morrison was accepted into the London Missionary Society. While he waited to find a male colleague to go with him to China, he studied the Chinese language for one year. When no partner was forthcoming, Morrison left for China alone. He was forced to go through the United States, since the East India Company wouldn't let him take a British ship to China. The East India Company didn't like missionaries because they thought Christians would upset the Chinese. Nothing would be allowed to get in the way of profits. But they found that Morrison was so good with the language they hired him as a translator. Even so, they forbid him to do Christian work. For example, in 1815 the company threatened to fire him when it learned that he had secretly translated the New Testament. Robert Morrison worked in China for 27 years. His first wife died. He sent his children to England and saw them once after that. By the time he died, he had baptized 10 Chinese. Only 10. That's not a lot of fruit. To be honest, many would see him as a total failure. But if Morrison died discouraged, his work of translating the Bible and making dictionaries laid a foundation for others. Christians in China now number in the tens of millions. When as a young man Morrison had first sailed to China, he was asked, “Do you really expect to make an impression on the idolatry of the great Chinese empire?” In reply, Morrison spoke more prophetically than he knew: “No, sir, but I expect God will.”

As he sailed into the port of Canton in 1807, 25-year-old Robert Morrison was filled with a driving passion to see the Chinese people come to know Christ. That motivation came from the Spirit of God! By the time he died in China 27 years later, however, he had baptized only ten Chinese. But if Morrison died discouraged, his pioneering work, which included a six-volume Chinese dictionary and a translation of the Bible, opened the door for other missionaries and thus for the millions of conversions he had only dreamed of.

2. We Behold Him His glory means the ministry of God goes higher.

7 Now if the ministry of death, chiseled in letters on stones, came with glory, so that the sons of Israel were not able to look directly at Moses’ face because of the glory from his face—a fading [glory]— 8 how will the ministry of the Spirit not be more glorious?

Glory of God like a consuming fire

Moses is unique in the Old Testament. In Exodus 24:15-17 we are told Moses went up to the mountain and the cloud of glory covered the mountain. "The glory of the LORD rested on Mount Sinai . . . and He called to Moses from the midst of the cloud. And to the eyes of the sons of Israel the appearance of the glory of the LORD was like a consuming fire on the mountain top."

Moses longed to be in the presence of God

Moses enjoyed deeply personal communion with Yahweh. "Thus the LORD used to speak to Moses face to face, just as a man speaks to his friend" (Exodus 33:11). There is universal agreement among scholars that Moses is expressing intimacy with God and not literally in His face. He is preparing his readers for the deeply personal conversation that follows. In Exodus 33:18-23 Moses makes it very clear that sinful man cannot see the glory of God and live. "You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live" (v. 20, cf. v. 23). It is not a contradiction, but a clarification. What happens when Moses came into the presence of God is amazing.

Moses reflected the presence of the glory of God in his face

In Exodus 34:29-35 we are told that after Moses fasted on the mountain forty days and nights that "Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because of his speaking with Him" (v. 29). "The skin of his face shone" and the people were afraid to come near him (v. 30). His face had a general irradiation and illumination about it. His whole face was irradiated in a strange and wonderful way, unusual manner in which those familiar with him had never seen it irradiated before. Moses face was transfigured. The word is used in Hebrew for a sunrise. This was new spiritual illumination for Moses, so mighty, so powerful that it irradiated his countenance. His spirit was in a new fellowship with God. His whole person being was mastered, captured, and illuminated by fellowship with God. Moses had a supreme consciousness of God. It would be needed for the job before him.

The face of Moses shone from his relationship with God.

He went into the Tabernacle and his face shone. It was a reflected glory. The moon is a reflected glory of the sun.

If Moses saw God and His face beamed with the Glory of God’s presence when all it meant for the Jews was the bringing in of the Old Covenant which resulted in their spiritual death, how much more glorious shall be our experience as we look into the face of Jesus Christ and behold His glory.

We behold Him. John 1:14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

The beholding of His glory was not just the experience of the disciples for those 3 years that they walked with Him. It was not just for the apostles who saw His bodily resurrection. It is also for us, who, by faith have come to know Him as our own Saviour and Lord.

Because you I know Him, there is a relationship with Him. And because there is a relationship with Him, your life overflows with that relationship with Him.

Jeremiah 9:23 Thus saith the Lord, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: 24 But let him that glories glory in this, that he understands and knows me...

It is part of the New covenant relationship that you now personally can know the Lord.

Jeremiah 31:33 Instead, this is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after those days”—the Lord’s declaration. “I will place My law within them and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be My people. 34 No longer will one teach his neighbor or his brother, saying: Know the Lord, for they will all know Me, from the least to the greatest of them”

The Lord Jesus said John 17:3 This is eternal life: that they may know You, the only true God, and the One You have sent—Jesus Christ.

(Psalms 34:8-10 NKJV) Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him! {9} Oh, fear the LORD, you His saints! There is no want to those who fear Him. {10} The young lions lack and suffer hunger; But those who seek the LORD shall not lack any good thing.

2 Peter 1:2-3 Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, 2 Peter 1:3 as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, 2 Peter 1:8 For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.. 2 Peter 3:18 but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.

Those Who Know God Show Great Boldness for God.

2 Cor 3;12 Therefore having such a hope, we use great boldness—

We know that He who is with us is greater than He who is against us.

Acts 5:29 Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.

We know that He who is within us, can enable us to do the greatest tasks.

Acts 20:22-24 And see, now I go bound in the spirit to Jerusalem, not knowing the things that will happen to me there, 23 except that the Holy Spirit testifies in every city, saying that chains and tribulations await me. 24 But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.

3. Because of the Glory here, The ministry of God lasts longer.

9 For if the ministry of condemnation had glory, the ministry of righteousness overflows with even more glory. 10 In fact, what had been glorious is not glorious in this case because of the glory that surpasses it. 11 For if what was fading away was glorious, what endures will be even more glorious.

Steve Brown related the story of a British soldier in the First World War who lost heart for the battle and deserted. Trying to reach the coast for a boat to England that night, he ended up wandering in the pitch black night, hopelessly lost. In the darkness he came across what he thought was a signpost. It was so dark that he began to climb the post so that he could read it. As he reached the top of the pole, he struck a match to see and found himself looking squarely into the face of Jesus Christ. He realized that, rather than running into a signpost, he had climbed a roadside crucifix. Brown explained, "Then he remembered the One who had died for him -- who had endured -- who had never turned back. The next morning the soldier was back in the trenches."

Adoniram Judson finally achieved peace by accepting Christ as his Savior. What is more, he was determined to share it with those who had never heard the gospel. Adoniram Judson raised money and sailed for India with his wife Nancy, but the British merchants kicked them out. They knew the gospel would get the natives thinking about freedom and justice, and they didn't want any of that. So in 1813 the Judsons arrived in Burma. Judson began the voyage as a Congregationalist but arrived as a Baptist because of an intense Bible study. When they got off the boat in Burma, they built a church and preached the gospel. Nothing happened. Adoniram translated the Bible into Burmese. Still no one was saved. It took 5 years before he baptized a single convert. After a lifetime of preaching and translating the Bible, 2 years on death row in a Burmese prison, the death of three wives and 7 children, Judson had only a few dozen converts from the Burmese. Because of this hope he went back and continued to work. And the Burmese Baptist church numbers over a million.

A hero is no braver than an ordinary man, but he is braver five minutes longer.  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

4. The ministry of God goes further We become Like Him.

Their hope of freedom comes from that great fact, for the One who is within them is God himself. Paul identifies him: "the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom."

He is not confusing, of course, the personages of the Trinity. He does not mean that the Holy Spirit and Jesus the Lord are one and the same. He means that they are so identified in purpose and function that they seem to be the same; you can exchange one for the other. That is why "to walk in fellowship with Christ," and "to walk in the fullness of the Spirit" is to talk about the same thing. It is not two different experiences; it is the same. The Holy Spirit has come to reveal the Lord Jesus; therefore, what he does will not involve talking about himself but talking about the Lord. The Spirit-led life is one in which Jesus Christ is made visible and clear to our spiritual eyes. Therefore, the one who is doing this is the Lord himself, "and where the Spirit of Christ is (the Spirit of the Lord is), there is freedom."

"Since we have such a hope, we are very bold."

It is the hope of a victorious gospel -- the good news that God the Father chose his people, God the Son died for their sins and God the Holy Spirit will bring them to faith and write God's law on their hearts! The gospel will accomplish all that it is sent to do. It will not come back empty any more than the word of God can fall to the ground. Paul is utterly confident that the Spirit of God will conquer and justify and preserve for glory all whom God has chosen for himself. His missionary labors cannot fail. By the almighty power of the Holy Spirit not only will the gospel succeed in each new field where it si sown, but it will succeed in each heart where the gospel; is own. This is a bold hope! Even the worst of people can be transformed by the Spirit of God working inside them.

Tyrants become transformed. Drunkards become devout.

The ministry of God goes further. The Lord is day by day transforming you into the likeness of the Lord Jesus Christ. You may look at all your problems. You may think you are hopeless. You may think God could never transform your life.

Bruce Larson: “A friend of mine tells about driving through Kentucky when he went off on a side road to see some of the more rural areas of this beautiful state. He found himself in a small town called No Hope, Kentucky. On a hunch, he drove around looking for a church and sure enough he came upon a lovely little white structure in front of which was a big sign that declared it to be `The No Hope Baptist Church.’ Know any churches like that one?”

But that is not the true state of things. You are not hopelessly addicted to sin. God does transform you as you look into the face of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim… Money.. Pride Egotism.. Insecurity.. Selfishness.. Lack of satisfaction in life..

Lack of significance from family or friends…

It will all grow strangely dim.. it wont hatter so much, it’ll be come less and less.. In the light of His glory and grace.

He must increase, I must decrease.. John 3:26 So they came to John and told him, “Rabbi, the One you testified about, and who was with you across the Jordan, is baptizing—and everyone is flocking to Him.” 27 John responded, “No one can receive a single thing unless it’s given to him from heaven. 28 You yourselves can testify that I said, ‘I am not the • Messiah, but I’ve been sent ahead of Him.’ 29 He who has the bride is the groom. But the groom’s friend, who stands by and listens for him, rejoices greatly at the groom’s voice. So this joy of mine is complete. 30 He must increase, but I must decrease.”

2 Cor 3:18 We all, with unveiled faces, are reflecting the glory of the Lord and are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory; this is from the Lord who is the Spirit.

Now did you notice those words there? One degree of glory to another.

Wow. The very glory of God transforming you.

"Those who believe look upon the unveiled, the unhidden glories of the Lord, and are transformed into the same image from glory to glory, it is through faith. And all is through the blessed life-giving Spirit of Christ, who works in believers as the epistle of Christ. 'This power to enjoy Him is the power to reflect Him. The reflection is no effort, but the necessary effect of enjoyment.' May we enjoy Christ by being more and more occupied with Him through His Word and then make Him known by walking even as He walked" (The Annotated Bible, p. 164).

Dallas Willard observes that "What we see around us today of the "usual" Christian life could easily make us think that spiritual transformation is simply impossible. Social scientists tell us that surveys indicate little difference between Christians and non-Christians in the areas of morality and ethics. The public failure of Christian leaders raises significant questions about the possibility of genuine transformation for real human beings. This has caused many to accept the low level of spirituality among Christians as the norm. They believe that the most Christ-like attitude will offer acceptance and affirmation. Anything less than mutual tolerance and forbearance is considered judgmental legalism.

Paul had different vision of the Christian life. The inner person, once plagued by envy, greed, lust and doubt is change to reflect the character of Christ. Someone once said, "In Christ mankind is allowed to see not only the radiance of God's glory but also the true image of man."2 Calvin stated in his commentary, "that the image of God, which had been effaced [defaced] by sin, may be stamped anew upon us...." He wants to transform you. This brings hope.

I love the way Allan Redpath words a clear explanation of this glory the apostle Paul is trying to communicate to believers: "I have a clear view of Jesus. I have seen Him, felt Him, and I have known Him in a far deeper way than simply by the outward physical appearance; I have felt the reality of His life begin to burn in my heart. I have seen in Christ the glory of a life that is totally submitted to the sovereignty of God. That glory has begun to take hold of me, and I have begun to see that this is the one life that God expects of any man He made in His own image. " (Blessings Out of Buffetings, p. 44).

He wants to transform you. This brings hope.

In Chicken Soup for the soul, Dr. William M. Buchholz wrote: As I ate breakfast one morning, I overheard two cancer doctors conversing. One complained bitterly, "You know, Bob, I just don't understand it. We used the same drugs, the same dosage, the same schedule and the same entry criteria. Yet I got a 22 percent response rate and you got a 74 percent. That's unheard of for metastatic cancer. How do you do it?" His colleague replied, "We're both using Etoposide, Platinum, Oncovin and Hydroxyurea. You call yours EPOH. I tell my patients I'm giving them HOPE. As dismal as the statistics are, I emphasize that we have a chance."

Saturday, March 15, 2008


What Shall Come Of My Ministry? 2 Corinthians 2:12-17


2 Corinthians 2: 12 Furthermore, when I came to Troas to preach Christ's gospel, and a door was opened unto me of the Lord, 13 I had no rest in my spirit, because I found not Titus my brother: but taking my leave of them, I went from thence into Macedonia. 14 Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place. 15 For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish: 16 To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things? 17 For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ.

11 so that we may not be taken advantage of by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his intentions.

There are many things about the church that can demoralise us.

Over recent weeks the number of people who bailed out pasturing churches is amazing to me. As you know Tom is taking time out from ministry to try and determine whee the Lord would have him be, and what he ought to be doing.

If you read the Together In Ministry paper of the BUNSW you would be aware that there is confusion over what we should be about as Baptists in NSW in the 21st Century.

Again of you read the TIM you would be aware that more than 1/10th of our churches are vacant at the moment with so many pastors resigning over this last few months.

I had a phone call yesterday from a former regional superintendent of our Baptist Union despairing over the situation in the Creations Ministries organisation and several churches he had concern for.

Over just a few years, I have found there are very not so many pastors older than me still in ministry these days.

We hear of troubles among our churches in this region: 2 pastors told their congregations last week that they were about to close those churches.

When we hear of a pastor caught in immorality. When we hear of church members bitter and hateful. When we see church members behaving in ways that do not enhance the gospel.

There are many things in the life of a church that can distress us. As we grow older sometimes we just want to run away and hide.

Here, for example, is what Mr John Buchan says regarding Oliver Cromwell: "Oliver had long thoughts of a little ease at last, of an old age like a Lapland night, when he could return to a simple life of family joys and country peace. But he resolutely put them aside, for he knew that he had entered upon a war in which there was no discharge, and that case was not for him on this side the grave .... He must he up and doing, for he was called upon to assist in the building of the city of God. There was no security, no hope of laying aside the task."

A similar yeanling for rest from the strife of many turbulent years was manifested by the dauntless Scottish reformer, John Knox. in the preface to his last book, written after the cause of the reformation had virtually triumphed in his native land, Knox states that he had already " taken good-night at the world and at all the fasherie of the same," and henceforth wished his brethren only to pray that God would" put an end to my long and painful battle." It was an attitude that came to light again and again in the utterances of his latter days. The veteran had fought a good fight, and longed for his discharge.

The most familiar form of suffering, however, is physical pain. It is true that bodily sickness may be relieved through the resources of medical science, but there is a limit to such alleviations. A man is laid low with some form of malignant disease, and his frame is racked in every nerve and limb with excruciating pain. Nowhere, perhaps, outside the Book of Job, can a more vivid and realistic account of this kind of suffering be found than in Ugo Bassi's" Sermon in the Hospital." Here is a characteristic passage:

Such long weakness and such wearing pain As has no end in view, that makes of life One weary avenue of darkened days;

The bitter darkness growing darker still,

Which none can share or soothe, which sunders us

From all desire, or hope, or stir of change,

Or service of our Master in the world.

Or fellowship with all the faces round

Of passing pains and pleasures--while our pain

Passeth not, nor will pass; and only this

Remains for us to look for-more of pain,

And doubt if we can bear it to the end.

Little wonder if in such hours of anguish there should be a yearning for release.

The apostle Paul was deeply depressed and disturbed over the church at Corinth. It has every problem imaginable. Some were given to immorality. Some were caught up with themselves. Some had perverted the gospel. There were ratbags running the show. Paul had suffered at their hands. A church that promised so well turned so bad. Paul had addressed them about their problems. And now he wants them to know why he isn’t completely distracted and throwing the towel in.

He wants them to know that the Lord of the church wants us to get up and move on. He wants us to see why we can be encouraged. Why you and I can be thankful for the church and for God’s work in it. Do you remember the footy song from last year:

We'll be singing When we're winning We'll be singing
I get knocked down But I get up again You're never going to keep me down

He sings the songs that remind him Of the good times
He sings the songs that remind him Of the better times: Chumbawamba I Get Knocked Down

Like the coyote on the road runner cartoon show. He gets knocked down and he gets up again. Sometimes we all feel like that.

Paul lists several truths that pick him up and keep him going after he has been knocked over.

He sings the songs that remind him of the good times and the songs that remind him of the best times. And he knows that in spite of all that he is enduring, all the trouble he sees, the songs of the good times and the songs of the best times are actually the songs of now!!

Because no matter what he sees now that disillusions him, no matter what he sees that disturbs him, no matter what he sees that depresses him or makes him despair, still the Lord is King.

Whatever you are going through right now:

1. Your Life Is Prevailing.

Verse 14. 14 Now thanks be unto God,

Paul wrote, "But thanks be to God, who always leads us in His triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place" (II Corinthians 2:14).

Paul had in mind the Roman Triumph. The picture is the triumphal entry of a military hero into the city of Rome. In a Triumph procession, the victorious generals marched in a certain order through the streets of Rome to the Capitol. First came the city magistrates, state officials, followed by the Roman senate, and then the trumpeters. These were followed by soldiers who carried their spoils from the conquered land. Next pictures and models of the conquered citadels and ships were carried along in the parade. The white bull for the sacrifice followed, and then the captive rulers, their leaders and captured generals in chains who would be executed before the day was over at the sacrifice. Following them came the musicians and priests swinging their censers with a sweet-smelling incense burning in them. To the conquered victims the incense has the stench of death lingering all about them. To the victorious army the fragrance has the sweet aroma of victory. Finally, the conquering general rode in a chariot drawn by four white horses. His family and his army followed wearing their decorations and shouting lo triumphe! Lo triumphe!

“This was not, however, the triumphalism of Paul's opponents, who declared themselves superior to Paul in missionary success as well as 10 ecstatic experience. Success and strength were the marks as well as the objectives of their ministry and significant numbers of the Corinthians came under their influence.

Christian triumphalism, although a contradiction in terms has had its appeal in many subsequent generations. The Emperor Constantine believed that he won his greatest battle through the first two Greek letters of Christ's name which were inscribed, cross-like, on the shields of his soldiers. Many subsequent leaders have sought victory in battle in and for the name of Christ. In the Middle Ages it was believed that God was glorified through soaring cathedrals and spectacular church ceremony. Closer to our own times there have been some expressions of missionary Work in under-developed countries which appear to have been as much inspired by a spirit of colonial expansion and cultural expansion as by obedience to the Great Commission of Christ. In our own century, triumphalist language has been used of some church growth movements and the development of so called "great churches”.

For his part, Paul consistently applies anti triumphalist language to his ministry throughout this letter. He is the Corinthians’ servant, a dying man, 'weak' and a fool. The newcomers ministry, like their Christ was characterized by a this-worldly triumphalism. His ministry, like his Christ, was characterized by crucifixion. This has serious implications for the way Christians think and speak about their faith.

'Triumphal ism' in all its forms is excluded by the studied remarks of the apostle Paul within this letter. What is important to God is not 'bigness' - of church buildings, or of the numbers who gather there - but faithful and sacrificial service, based on the example of Christ himself.” Paul Barnett BST 2 Corinthians. 52,53

Christ is the universal conqueror marching in triumph down through the corridors of time throughout the conquered world. He is in the lead, and we, His chosen warriors march behind Him enjoying the benefits of His conquest.

There were two groups of prisoners that marched in those triumphs. There were the Condemned Prisoners and the commended Prisoners.

Commended prisoners were soon to be released.

You are a prisoners for Jesus Christ chained to the chariot wheels in His glorious triumph/ You used to be bound by Satan, but now you have been freed to be enslaved to Jesus Christ

George Matheson wrote make me a captive Lord and then I shall be free. Force me to render up my sword and I shall conqueror be.

I sink in life’s alarms when by myself I stand Imprison me within thy arms and strong shall be my hand.

My will is not my own till thou hast made it thine;

f it would reach a monarch's throne, it must its crown resign.

It only stands unbent amid the clashing strife,

when on thy bosom it has leant, and found in thee its life.

Aren’t you glad to be under a great power? In the same way those freed from Satan count it a delight to be freed and enslaved to Christ. In His service is perfect freedom

There are the Condemned Prisoners

Those marked out for imprisonment or execution. Refusal to submit to the new Sovereignty.

By their very rejection they condemn themselves.

Have you dropped at his feet and found in enslavement to Him you have your true manhood?

Or are you self condemned because you have never owned Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord.

You have never repented and believed. He that believes not is condemned already.

Are you enslaved to Jesus Christ? Then you can share with all God’s servants in all centuries the freedom of being in Christ, the freedom of being led in the triumphal procession of Christ.

Romans 8:36  Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. 37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. 38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

No matter what, Nothing can separate you from the love of Christ… but look at verse 37.

No matter what perplexities you face today. You are triumphant. No matter how much you feel like a loser because of the disasters of your life right now, you are triumphant. Is this nuts? No this is looking at things from the eternal perspective.

No matter what, Nothing can stop the Lordship of Christ.

"But thanks be to God, who always leads us in His triumph in Christ, (II Corinthians 2:14).

He leads us. He leads us in triumph

Matt 16:18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

Romans 16:20 And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.

1John 3:8 He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.

Rev. 11:15 And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.

Acts 26: 16 But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; 17 Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, 18 To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.

Phil 2:9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:
10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; 11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Friends, we don’t struggle for victory. We are being led along in His triumph who through his death and resurrection has already won the victory!

No matter what nothing can stop the lingering odour of Christ

14 and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place. 15 For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish: 16 To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life.

I saw a sign that read: "Old fishermen never die; they just smell that way!" The sign reminds me of carnal Christianity that always has the smell of death about it. It stinks. It has a repulsive odor.

Occasionally very occasionally I come across a perfume that I react to. Yes, it’s the whole ordeal, runny nose, watery eyes and a deep soar throat. I have had it. I don’t know what the person was covering up, but phew! They tried too hard.

Ray Stedman, illustrates this point in a down-to-earth way. "Have you ever been in a room when a very pretty woman walks by wearing a distinctive perfume?" he asks. From that time, whenever that fragrance whiffs into your nostrils, you recall that woman. An unforgettable imprint is made on your brain! (I'm not certain if the illustration holds for women!)

Our lives will have a distinctive quality that makes an unforgettable impression on people around us.

You Are An odour to the Lost

As the triumph entered the city gates, the priests would amrch ahead and around and through the parade wafting their incense throughout the prisoners. The chariot wheels with their prisoners chained would smell the overwhelming effects of that incense. For some this incense was a reminder that they were soon to be released. They ah already bowed the knee to the Sovereign, an their promised release was soon to be fulfilled. For others, who had not bowed the knee to the Sovereign, the incense was a reminder that they were soon to be enslaved or executed. Their doom was sealed.

Not all people will be favourably impressed. To some we are the stench of DEATH. The Spirit in us causes them to be even more aware of their spiritual need, of their alienation from God. They may not even know why, but they don't like us. They don't like the way we make them feel. But to others we are the fragrance of life because we bring them the knowledge of eternal life through Christ Jesus!

A refusal to bow meant being ushered into an underground place under the capital hill.

There is coming a day when every knee shall bow.

And to them the fragrance of Christ will be a savour of death unto death.

Death to death for those who reject Him, we will not have this man to reign over

You Are An odour to the Loved

Have you ever noticed how easy it is to understand who are believers and who are not? There is a wonderful communion and fellowship begun here on earth with other fellow believers in Christ.

You Are An odour to the Lord

As terrifying as this is, its all about the glorious triumph of Christ. The gospel and those who preach it are well pleasing to the Lord, whether people receive it or reject it.

Whatever you are going through right now: if you have bowed your knee to Jesus Christ as your Sovereign and saviour, the Lord delights in you.

2. Your Life Is Powerful

And who is sufficient for these things? 17 For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ.

No matter what nothing can stop the labourers for Christ Here is the Triumph of the Ministry.

Who is sufficient for these things?

Paul is going to answer that question in 2 Corinthians 3: 4 We have this kind of confidence toward God through Christ: 5 not that we are competent in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our competence is from God.

4 And such trust have we through Christ to God-ward: 5 Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God; KJV

But our sufficiency is of God. What if things aren’t going your way? What if you can’t see the fruit of your witness immediately. Do you just give up? Do you just say, well it works for others, but God isn’t doing it for me? Well you keep on. You don’t have a choice in it. You keep on.

And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah.   So Judah gathered together to ask help from the Lord; and from all the cities of Judah they came to seek the Lord." (2 Chronicles 20:3--4)

Jehoshaphat, King of Judah, faced a dilemma.  His enemies greatly outnumbered him.  To make matters worse, his enemies had joined forces with Israel's other enemies and were coming to destroy him. 

One day, someone came to King Jehoshaphat and warned him that a gigantic army was headed his way, bent on his destruction.  It was hopeless.  There was no way that he could meet this army with what he had.  He was going to be destroyed.  What did Jehoshaphat do?  The Bible says that he "set himself to seek the Lord."  He prayed, "O our God, will You not judge them?  For we have no power against this great multitude that is coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are upon You" (2 Chronicles 20:12).

The Lord told Jehoshaphat, "Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God's. . . . Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord, who is with you" (2 Chronicles 20:15--17). Jehoshaphat and his army went out to meet their enemies, but they put the worship team out front.  The Bible says that when they began to sing and praise the Lord, the enemy started fighting among themselves and destroyed each other. Maybe you are facing what seems like an impossible situation right now.  You may not be able to see a way out.  But God can.  Call on Him.  Then stand still and see what He will do.

He intends to work mightily through His people. And He will. He intends to spread the fragrance of Christ everywhere. There is no defeatist thought with the ministry, in spite of desperate situation Jesus Christ is triumphing.

No matter what nothing can stop the faithful word of Christ

17 For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ. God calls you to a loyalty to the message of the gospel and a loyalty to the ministry of the gospel. He wants you to display faithfulness to the message of the gospel.

That means being sold out to Christ. Not corrupting the message, committed to being faithful to the message. The word Corrupt here has in mind saloon keepers diluting the drinks and making money under false pretences. The implication is clear: Don’t water down the Word of God.

To do so is to cease to move in the train of the Saviour’s triumph.

We are living in an age when the Word of God is watered down in order to make it acceptable to the elite or to the hedonist.

Whatever men may say, or criticisms they attack with, there is one who has triumphed and He is leading me in that triumph along the chained chariot wheels.

Paul says though we or an angel preach any other gospel let him be accursed.

Jude 3 Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. 4 For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.

God make us ever faithful to the message of the gospel in these days of departure from the faith.

Rev 5 8 And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints. 9 And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; 10 And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth. 11 And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands;
12 Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.
13 And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.

Monday, March 10, 2008


Jeremiah 5 Betting Against Getting Busted


1 Roam through the streets of Jerusalem. Look and take note; search in her squares. If you find a single person, anyone who acts justly, who seeks to be faithful, then I will forgive her.
2 When they say, “As the Lord lives,”they are swearing falsely.
3 Lord, don’t Your eyes [look for] faithfulness? You have struck them, but they felt no pain. You finished them off, but they refused to accept discipline. They made their faces harder than rock, and they refused to return.
4 Then I thought: They are just the poor; they have played the fool. For they don’t understand the way of the Lord, the justice of their God.
5 I will go to the powerful and speak to them. Surely they know the way of the Lord, the justice of their God. However, these also had broken the yoke and torn off the fetters.
6 Therefore, a lion from the forest will strike them down. A wolf from an arid plain will ravage them. A leopard keeps watch over their cities. Anyone who leaves them will be torn to pieces because their rebellious acts are many, their unfaithful deeds numerous.
7 Why should I forgive you? Your children have abandoned Me and sworn by those who are not gods. I satisfied their needs, yet they committed adultery; they gashed themselves at the prostitute’s house.
8 They are well-fed, eager stallions,each neighing after someone else’s wife.
9 Should I not punish them for these things? [This is] the Lord’s declaration. Should I not avenge Myself on such a nation as this?

The Titanic hit an iceberg.

"What was that?" "It's nothing, don't worry everything is under control." Yet, 1500 people DIED!

Jeremiah 6:14--"Peace Peace," when there is no peace!

What are they doing? They are dull about Judgement

They are unheeding. Feel its unnecessary.

Feel they will escape. Blasé

The Lord tells jemeiah go look out for 1 good guy. Its reminiscent of the old testament story of Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 18 and 19

18:20 Then the Lord said, “The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is immense, and their sin is extremely serious. 21 I will go down to see if what they have done justifies the cry that has come up to Me. If not, I will find out.” 22 The men turned from there and went toward Sodom while Abraham remained standing before the Lord. 23 Abraham stepped forward and said, “Will You really sweep away the righteous with the wicked? 24 What if there are 50 righteous people in the city? Will You really sweep it away instead of sparing the place for the sake of the 50 righteous people who are in it? 32 Then he said, “Let the Lord not be angry, and I will speak one more time. Suppose 10 are found there?” He answered, “I will not destroy [it]on account of 10.” 33 When the Lord had finished speaking with Abraham, He departed, and Abraham returned to his place.

But for Jeremiah he only has to find 1, just 1 man who was godly. And he couldn’t.

The previous passage Jeremiah 3:-4 dealt with God’s gracious pleadings with His People.

He urged them to return to Himself and repent because He is a gracious Father, a merciful Lord, a loving husband and physician to cure their backslidings.

Tonight, Jeremiah’s message is a little more blunt.

He speaks of the reality of approaching Judgement.

The coming Judgement, something not readily on our hearts and minds when religion is largely consumer driven.

The coming judgement, well we hope it wont hiyt in our lifetime.

The Coming Judgement, maybe it won’t be so bad after all.

Maybe it’ll be ok, because well I’m not really so bad.

There are so many excuses that we make not to search out our own hearts diligently and really make sure of our own relationship with God.

Patrick Naylor went to dentist. For 6 days he had had a mild toothache.. After 6 days he went to his dentist who did an x ray of the side of his mouth.

He found a 4 inch nail. Patrick had been using a nail gun on a building job, 6 days before he had misfired the nail gun and narrowly missed being hit. The nail had gone into a wooden architrave behind him. What Patrick didn’t know was that second nail had fired and pierced up through the roof of his mouth and penetrated to his brain. It took 4 hours of surgery at the hospital to remove the nail. The surgeon said, “If you are going to have a nail in your brain that’s the way you want it to be.” His problem was a lot more serious than he thought. So is yours.

Life pain. There a re things in our lives we would like to fix or change.

We don’t understand the true cause of our problem and instead of getting to the root cause we don’t fix the problem we just treat the symptoms.

Their corruption is Widespread.

“You Are Busted!”

The searcher of hearts Rev 2:18  “To the angel of the church in Thyatira write: “The Son of God, the One whose eyes are like a fiery flame, and whose feet are like fine bronze says: 19 I know your works—your love, faithfulness, service, and endurance. Your last works are greater than the first. 20 But I have this against you: you tolerate the woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, and teaches and deceives My slaves to commit sexual immorality and to eat meat sacrificed to idols. 21 I gave her time to repent, but she does not want to repent of her sexual immorality. 22 Look! I will throw her into a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of her practices. 23 I will kill her children with the plague. Then all the churches will know that I am the One who examines minds and hearts, and I will give to each of you according to your works.

1. Stoical hardness. We may be stricken, but not grieve.

2. Thoughtlessness. We may feel inward grief, but not reflect on our condition and need.

3. Pride, which suffers pangs of grief but no contrition for sin.

4. Impenitence. We may “refuse to receive correction,” harden our wills against submission, and rebel in impatience and complaining against God, instead of returning to him.

1. You Are Banding With A Company That You Cannot Combat

3 Lord, don’t Your eyes [look for] faithfulness? You have struck them, but they felt no pain. You finished them off, but they refused to accept discipline. They made their faces harder than rock, and they refused to return. 4 Then I thought: They are just the poor; they have played the fool. For they don’t understand the way of the Lord, the justice of their God. 5 I will go to the powerful and speak to them. Surely they know the way of the Lord, the justice of their God. However, these also had broken the yoke and torn off the fetters.

Its interesting that their spiritual adultery has led them into physical adultery. Our spiritual life does effect our whole life.

7 Why should I forgive you? Your children have abandoned Me and sworn by those who are not gods. I satisfied their needs, yet they committed adultery; they gashed themselves at the prostitute’s house.
8 They are well-fed, eager stallions, each neighing after someone else’s wife.

Untruthful habits. Israel had dealt treacherously with God (ver. 11). We must be true to discern truth. If the eye is evil, the whole body is full of darkness. There is a close connection between those two evil things which go under the name of infidelity — treachery and unbelief, lack of faithfulness and lack of faith.

11 They, the house of Israel and the house of Judah, have dealt very treacherously with Me. This is the Lord’s declaration.

1 Corinthians 15: 33 Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good morals.”

The people you run with will affect your morals. They will affect your conscience. Your conscience could well become dulled by the people you run with.

Baptist pastors becoming drunken.. who’d have thought it, were they not led to the pub by those they respect.

Spiritual deadness. The Jews deny the inspiration of the prophets. To them weighty words such as those of Jeremiah are mere “wind.” So there were those who derided him who spake with the weightiest authority and “as never man spake.” Sin deadens the soul to the perception of God’s voice in nature, in the Bible, in Christ, in conscience.

2. You Are Belittling Consequences That You Cannot Comprehend

Ecclesiastes 8: 11 Because the sentence against a criminal act is not carried out quickly, therefore the heart of people is filled with the desire to commit crime. 12 Although a sinner commits crime a hundred times and prolongs his life, yet I also know that it will go well with God-fearing people, for they are reverent before Him. 13 However, it will not go well with the wicked, and they will not lengthen their days like a shadow, for they are not reverent before God.

There was no APPARENT Danger!

2 Peter 3:4--“Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.”

6 Therefore, a lion from the forest will strike them down. A wolf from an arid plain will ravage them. A leopard keeps watch over their cities. Anyone who leaves them will be torn to pieces because their rebellious acts are many, their unfaithful deeds numerous.

3. You Are Betting On A Conclusion That You Cannot Control

12 They have contradicted the Lord and insisted, “It won’t happen. Harm won’t come to us; we won’t see sword or famine.” 13 The prophets become [only] wind, for the [Lord’s]word is not in them. This will in fact happen to them.

29 Should I not punish them for these things? [This is] the Lord’s declaration. Should I not avenge Myself on such a nation as this?

4. You are Boasting Of Convictions You Cannot Create

5:21 Hear this, you foolish and senseless people. They have eyes, but  they don’t see. They have ears, but they don’t hear.22 Do you not fear Me? This is the Lord’s declaration. Do you not tremble before Me, the One who set the sand as the boundary of the sea, an enduring barrier that it cannot cross? The waves surge, but they cannot prevail. They roar but cannot pass over it. 23 But these people have stubborn and rebellious hearts. They have turned aside and have gone away.

Its pride that does this.

Resistance to the will of God. The language of the people betrays a spirit of enmity to God. “They have belied the Lord.” Nothing blinds like hatred. Love of ease. The words of Jeremiah were not pleasant; be threatened terrible things. Therefore his hearers refused to accept his message. Their conduct was most illogical, since truth is not affected by our liking for it are there not many unpleasant truths? and most injurious to themselves, since it was for their own interest to give heed to the warning of approaching calamity, that foresight might mitigate the force, if it could not now prevent the falling, of the blow. Yet this conduct was most natural. It is constantly to be observed that people listen to the teachers whom they like rather than to those whom they believe to be speaking the most important truths, and accept the opinions which suit their inclinations rather than those possibly less agreeable ideas which stand on the surest foundation of fact.

These People lost their way and were estranged from God . They didn’t know which way to turn. They had a message from God but kept travelling the wrong way towards destruction.

“This is what the Lord says: Stand by the roadways and look. Ask about the ancient paths: Which is the way to what is good? Then take it and find rest for yourselves. But they protested: We won’t!”

God’s people had lost direction, they were not following the way of God. Jeremiah 6:6-9

For this is what the Lord of • Hosts says: Cut down the trees; raise a siege ramp against Jerusalem. This city must be punished. There is nothing but oppression within her. 7 As a well gushes out its water, so she pours forth her evil. Violence and destruction resound in her. Sickness and wounds keep coming to My attention. 8 Be warned, Jerusalem, or I will be torn away from you; I will make you a desolation, a land devoid of inhabitant. 9 This is what the Lord of Hosts says: Glean as thoroughly as a vine the remnant of Israel. Pass your hand once more like a grape gatherer over the branches.

God was about to send a nation to overwhelm them. They were not following the ways of God They were not giving heed to the Word of God.

10 Who can I speak to and give such a warning that they will listen? Look, their ear is uncircumcised, so they cannot pay attention. See, the word of the Lord has become contemptible to them— they find no pleasure in it.

There are 2 great indications that we have lost our ways are

Not following the ways of God. Not heeding the Word of God.

Therefore they were facing imminent judgement. God comes and seeks to give them an invitation and redirection to get back on track., God’s wrath is expressed.

Jer 6:11-15

Leadership healed the matter lightly.. peace peace..

Serious problems require serious solutions. Judgement is on the way.

There is wickedness all around and therefore there needs to be a total turning around. They needed true repentance and true obedience

1. God Calls You To Reflection

16 This is what the Lord says: Stand by the roadways and look.

Take it in stop and see what is going on. Stand See ask

16 This is what the Lord says: Stand by the roadways and look. Ask about the ancient paths: Which is the way to what is good? Then take it and find rest for yourselves. But they protested: We won’t!

We won’t consider the options until we know we are truly off course.

They weren’t on the paths God wanted them to be on. They needed to recognise they were off the path. Maybe you need to go and ask the Lord, to show you where you have left His way.

2. God Calls You To Investigation

16 This is what the Lord says: Stand by the roadways and look. Ask about the ancient paths: Which is the way to what is good? Then take it and find rest for yourselves. But they protested: We won’t!

The right destination: Rest for our souls.

Being in the place where God strengthens and guides His people.

When we walk with the Lord in the light of His Word… What a Glory He sheds on our way

Matt 11:28 “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 All of you, take up My yoke and learn from Me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for yourselves. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

3. God Calls You To Submission

16 This is what the Lord says: Stand by the roadways and look. Ask about the ancient paths: Which is the way to what is good? Then take it and find rest for yourselves. But they protested: We won’t!

The right Direction

The old paths Jer 18:15 Yet My people have forgotten Me. They burn incense to false [idols]that make them stumble in their ways— in the ancient roads— to walk on [new]paths, not the highway. 16 They have made their land a horror, a perpetual object of scorn; everyone who passes by it will be horrified and shake his head.

Col. 2:6  Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, walk in Him, 7 rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. 8 Be careful that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit based on human tradition, based on the elemental forces of the world, and not based on Christ.

These folk refused to walk in His Ways.


2 Corinthians 1:15-2:11 God Give Us Christian Men!


In this confidence, I planned to come to you first, so you could have a double benefit,
16 and to go on to Macedonia with your help, then come to you again from Macedonia and be given a start by you on my journey to Judea.
17 So when I planned this, was I irresponsible? Or what I plan, do I plan in a purely human way so that I say “Yes, yes” and “No, no” [simultaneously]?
18 As God is faithful, our message to you is not “Yes and no.”
19 For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us—by me and Silvanus and Timothy—did not become “Yes and no”; on the contrary, “Yes” has come about in Him.
20 For every one of God’s promises is “Yes” in Him. Therefore the “• Amen” is also through Him for God’s glory through us.
21 Now the One who confirms us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, is God;
22 He has also sealed us and given us the Spirit as a down payment in our hearts.
23 I call on God as a witness against me: it was to spare you that I did not come to Corinth.
24 Not that we have control of your faith, but we are workers with you for your joy, because you stand by faith.

Gutlessness in the church.

One of the things that annoys many men about Christianity is that the Lord Jesus Christ is perceived as a feminine style figure. Obviously He wasn’t a feminine style figure. He was courageous in His teaching, in His convictions and in His determination to go to the cross for our sins. Many Christian men do not display the manliness that is evidenced in courage of conviction.

As Gerald Harris says “We are much like the ostrich with our heads buried in the sand going through some kind of denial hoping beyond hope that things aren’t as bad as they seem. Or we are like the possum that in the face of a predator just rolls over and “plays dead.” Or are we like the three-toed sloth that moves so slowly that he could hardly bring either contribution or consternation to anyone or anything?

As Vance Havner used to say, “We are many, but not much.”

may go to church, but the vast majority is seldom stirred to action. In church we sing our hymns (choruses), say our prayers, pay our tithes, hear the sermon, sit through the invitation, and go home and do nothing. The same ritual is repeated Sunday after Sunday.

It is practically impossible to find anyone with enough spiritual grit and gumption to confront sin, challenge the Pharisees, or drive the moneychangers out of the temple. We used to be concerned about things like drinking, smoking, chewing tobacco, playing cards, and dancing, but today it is nearly impossible to find more than a handful of people to register a modicum of concern over the killing of babies.

There is nothing more fundamental than the preservation of human life, but since 1973 we have allowed the abortionists to slaughter 45,000,000 babies. We are wimps because we have grown accustomed to this atrocity; and we have come to accept it as normal.

What if the earliest disciples of Jesus had been wimps? The message of the resurrection would have been silenced. The gospel would have never been preached. The church would have never been birthed. The New Testament would never have been written. There would be no Christian martyrs. No examples of faithfulness and sacrifice. No remnant of Christianity left for this present day. The cause of Christ would have disappeared into the dust of oblivion.

We must extricate ourselves from this malaise, the cove of complacency, the den of dormancy, this world of “wimpiness.” “

1 Cor 16: 13 Be alert, stand firm in the faith, be brave and strong.

The Christian life is not an easy milk sop style life. It does require of Christian men a manliness that faces up to some of the great challenges of life. One of those challenges is to be able to speak with conviction and strength at times when it is necessary.

Rudyard Kipling noted this strength of resolve in his poem “If”

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you
But make allowance for their doubting too,
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:…..

If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings--nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much,
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And--which is more--you'll be a Man, my son!

Courage, Confidence, Commitment, Convictions, Constancy. Yes those are marks of Christian manliness.

The apostle Paul is an example of Christian manliness.

He has to face up to difficulties in the Corinthian church. He has faced up t these difficulties a few times and in a few different ways. He has addressed a moral problem there. He has addressed selfishness that was dominating the life of that church. He ahs addressed false teachers insinuating false doctrines, he has visited them on an occasion prior to this letter and directly confronted those who would desired pre-eminence and power in the church. He has objected to their threats and their destructive lies. And in many ways he has displayed a manliness in Courage, Confidence commitment Convictions and constancy.

The situation that confronts the Apostle Paul is the slander and mudslinging that some power mongers in Corinth were hurling at Paul. It was a problem that was not going away.

Paul is going to demonstrate that the charges against him were false, not by actively defending every criticism or charge these people make against him, but by elevating the Lord Himself, and indicating that one who is in communion with the triune God will have characteristics different from those that these folks accuse him. In fact it is his accusers that do not demonstrate the characteristics of a man in Christ. As Paul handles the criticism of this small pressure group that had so affected the Corinthian church, Paul highlights for us the essential Confidence you and have in the Lord, and how that relationship with the Lord, worked by the Lord Himself, works out into our characters.

Others have expressed this same Convictional behaviour of Confidence, Commitment and constancy that is courageous: People like Martin Luther, who withstood the pressure of Popes and prelates and Princes for the sake of the gospel.

Is the Lord in all your thoughts? Do you trust yourself to Him alone. Are you only interested in His glory? If you are, you will feel as Martin Luther:

A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing;
Our helper He, amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing:
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.

Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing;
Were not the right Man on our side, the Man of God’s own choosing:
Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He;
Lord Sabaoth, His Name, from age to age the same, And He must win the battle.

And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us:
The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure, One little word shall fell him.

That word above all earthly powers, no thanks to them, abideth;
The Spirit and the gifts are ours through Him Who with us sideth:
Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also;
The body they may kill: God’s truth abideth still, His kingdom is forever.

Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also;
You see, there is no guarantee of winning in worldly terms against Satan and his people. You may have to let “goods and kindred go” You may not come out smelling like a rose here on earth. But this earth is not the whole deal. Our perspective is the eternal perspective. And who cares whether you come out smelling like a rose, just so long as the Lord Jesus Christ is heard and seen in your life. That’s all that matters.

People like Adoniram Judson who went to Burma and spent a lot of time in prison to bring the gospel to the Burmese people. He lost all for the sake of the gospel. His convictions were deep and lasting.

He demonstrated the same Convictional behaviour of Confidence, Commitment and constancy that is courageous.

People like Jeff and Jo Shepley who have gone out to a place they knew not for the sake of the gospel.

People like you.

1. You Can Be Confident

God Is Faithful To His Promises

One of the most popular 20th century hymns is "Great is Thy Faithfulness" written by Thomas Obediah Chisholm who died in 1960.

"God is faithful," our text says, and Thomas Chisholm sings, "Great is Thy faithfulness,"

You can be Confident because you know that God is faithful.

Sometimes our work for the Lord is like stepping out over a huge gap, just trusting there is something beneath you to support you. God is Faithful to His Promises:

He is the unlying God. Titus 1:2 in the hope of eternal life that God, who cannot lie, promised before time began,

He was the unlying God of the Old Testament Numbers 23: 18 Balaam proclaimed his poem: Balak, get up and listen; son of Zippor, pay attention to what I say! 19 God is not a man who lies, or a son of man who changes His mind. Does He speak and not act, or promise and not fulfill? 20 I have indeed received [a command]to bless; since He has blessed, I cannot change it.

68 You are good, and You do what is good; teach me Your statutes.

Psalm 119:86 All Your commands are true;

140 Your word is completely pure, and Your servant loves it.

151 You are near, Lord, and all Your commands are true

160 The entirety of Your word is truth, and all Your righteous judgments endure forever.

God Is Faithful To His People

Psalm 119:89 Lord, Your word is forever; it is firmly fixed in heaven.
90 Your faithfulness is for all generations;

Psalm 119: 28 I am weary from grief; strengthen me through Your word

Hebrews 13:5 for He Himself has said, I will never leave you or forsake you. 6 Therefore, we may boldly say: The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?

We can be Confident

161 Princes have persecuted me without cause, but my heart fears [only]Your word.

165 Abundant peace belongs to those who love Your instruction; nothing makes them stumble.

168 I obey Your precepts and decrees, for all my ways are before You.

2. You Can Be Committed

A. Faith Is The Echoing Response To The Faithfulness Of God

Alan Redpath wrote "From that moment when a man says "amen" to the Lord in these matters, his life is to be gripped constantly by the reality of the promises of the Word of God. That is one thing that I believe the Christian church lacks today-a grip of eternal truth upon our Souls-I" so that when God says, "Thou shalt not," something rises in us that : says, "Why?" When God forbids a certain course of action, strangely . enough Satan can come along and persuade us that a course of action contrary to the teaching of Scripture may be completely right. I grieve in the instance of a Christian who can placate himself (or herself) that It IS right to marry a non-Christian and convince himself that it is right in order that he might satisfy; the loneliness of his heart, and convince himself that that kind of thing is per­missible to a child of God. Satan does that today to the people of God.

Have you said "amen" to the Lord in your soul? I believe that God waits for everyone of His children to have a day when they crash! Have you had your crash? That crash is not something emotional, nor is it a moral breakdown; it is the moment when from the depths of your soul there’s an "amen" to all the Will of God; And heaven resounds With rejoicing because It has heard the amen to His pardon, the "amen" to His standards, no matter how narrow~ the world may think they are. By the grace of God, HIS standard IS to be our standard and therefore to Him we say ·'amen". Has that happened in you; heart? If so, observe the inevitable spiritual outcome of that great moment in life: the communication of his character."

B. Faithfulness Is The Enduring Response To The Faithfulness Of God

Paul's argument is simply this: How can I, with such a message burning in my soul, ever be guilty of fickleness? Surely the message must make the messenger like it. Surely communion With a faithful God whose promises are "yea" must make a man faithful in all other relationships. As I have said, for a man to be a Christian and a double-dealer is an utter impossibility. Why? Because God, whose promises are "yea" in Christ and who hears the "amen" of our hearts, thereupon without delay-at that moment, instantaneously­ communicates His character to make us stable.

3. You Can Be Consistent

A. You Are confirmed Notice Paul's precious words in the two closing verses: underline them, and test your Christian life by them: establish, anointed, seal, earnest. He establishes us in Christ; that is to say, the fixity With which the Lord Jesus set His face towards Jerusalem, the constant and tenacious purpose of obedience to His Father’s will-:-that becomes a part of my life, too. Days of broken promises and hesitancy of obedience become less frequent, for He establishes us.

B. You Are anointed How does He do it? He does it by the anointing of the Spirit.

John says" ... ye have an unction from the Holy One ... " (I John 2: 20), and the man and the woman who have said "amen" in happy, glad abandonment to the will and Word of God have received this. The anointing of the Holy Ghost which enabled. Jesus to obey HIS Father in heaven unswervingly IS the same anointing of the Holy Spirit that has come upon the child of God who has said "amen" to all God's will. It is Christ in us, and only Christ in us by the anointing of His Spirit, who can deal with the fickleness of our nature and the wandering of our hearts, and bind those wandering hearts to Him.

C. You Are Sealed Having anointed us, see what He does: He seals what He anoints.

The seal impresses its likeness upon everything it touches. So a man sealed with the Spirit is made strong with the strength of Christ, wise with the wisdom of Christ, gracious with the gentleness of Christ, holy with the purity of Christ. Sealed! And all these are ..... marks of His divine ownership, the mark of the moment when God raises the flag of heaven over the territory of the soul and seals it with the Spirit.

If every inward profession of faith is matched with an outward righteousness of life, then we make it plain that truly we are genuinely His. So we have the earnest of the Spirit, the down payment which guarantees-with evidences that are unmistakable in a man who is living a life that is faithful-that he will one day see His lovely face. And there is no such guarantee in my Bible for any other kind of life.

Thus Paul brings all these great principles to bear in answering a simple charge-"Paul, you broke your promise! Paul, we cannot trust you! Paul, you are completely fickle!" To all of which he tells them that he uses the greatest principles of life to direct his conduct in the smallest detail, and therefore fickleness is impossible.

So let our lips and lives express The holy gospel we profess;

So let our works and virtues shine, To prove the doctrine all divine.

Thus shall we best proclaim abroad The honours of our Saviour God, When His salvation reigns within, And grace subdues the pow'r of sin.

Our flesh and sense must be denied, Passion and envy, lust and pride;

'While justice, ternp'rance, truth and love, Our inward piety approve.

4. You Can Be Convictional

In 1972, Hal Lindsey wrote a book that would sell over a million copies. It is called, Satan Is Alive And Well On Planet Earth. It certainly struck a cord in our culture, and it sold to a wide audience of Christians and non-Christians alike.

There is no doubt that we are engaged in a struggle between good and evil. All you need to do to confirm this is to read the daily news. The pages of our papers and the screens of our televisions are filled daily with graphic accounts of violence and human depravity of every horrendous kind. Why is this true? What is wrong?

I spoke with a pastor on Friday who told me of his despair for Christianity here in Australia when so many are giving away their Christian convictions that about God’s standards of morality in our society. We discussed the pervasive permeating influence of the media upon our Christian values. Certainly if the Lord does not work mightily we all can be in despair.

We are told in 2Corinthians 2:11 that we can be aware of the schemes of the devil. The devil has an MO (Modus Operandi) which has been the same since the beginning of time. We can become aware of how he works and how we can combat his activities in our lives.

Paul had heard of trouble and made a "painful visit."

The matter didn't clear up and he wrote a "painful letter."

What was the trouble?

A Man was messing with his step-mother (1 Corinthians 5) Certainly this was painful, but 1 Corinthians doesn't fit being a "painful letter" written with tears.

Also, note that in 2:10 Paul casually says, "if there was anything to forgive," ..this indicates that the Corinthians themselves had mistreated the apostle Paul.

It appears that the man who was caught in immorality, whom the church turned a blind eye to, and who behaved so brazenly, also tried to undermine the Apostle Paul. He had some friends. They put their heads together. They figured out that they could get a bit of vengeance on Paul. They could white ant his credibility with the Corinthians, after all, he was only a preacher, he would be gone in a few years, and these guys were the ones who paid the bills for the church, or so the reasoning probably went.

Paul’s stern letter led church to rebuke the man.

Pain is highlighted throughout this episode.

Paul felt pain, the man caused pain.

Paul wanted to avoid further pain, so he delayed his visit to the Corinthians, so that they would have time to repent. And they did.

The Corinthian church responded with grief. 2:2

The grief resulted in "godly sorrow." 7:9-11

The Godly sorrow results in repentance.

It is sorrow with a purpose. Everyone in Corinth changed their direction.

The church got serious about its disunity. They became indignant and disciplined the man. And of all things, the man changed his attitude and actions.

Do you remember Cliff Young, the 62 year old potato farmer, who dressed in boots and galoshes, Shuffling along in the652 mile ultra-marathon run from Sydney to Melbourne (875 km), outstripped the other 10 youthful competitors? How did he have the resilience to keep on going?

At the commencement of the race, I remember Mike Willassee interviewing him, and the embarrassment of the officials who wanted him removed from the race.

His age, his dress, his shuffling gait, were all an embarrassment.

He set the world record, and beat the previous world record by 9 hours.

Reporters mobbed him.. knapsack.. lived on pumpkin seeds and water.

Nobody told Cliff that you could stop along the way and sleep.

He shuffled his way through history because he never slept and became a National hero. All theology is practical. Want you are going through no matter how they are beating on you.. let us run with endurance the race set before us let us keep our eyes on Jesus. Hebrews 12

He is the yea and Amen. As we focus upon Him we can have integrity of Character. We can have confidence in difficult circumstances, we can progress towards the mark. You can live a Consistent Christian life, and you can be convictional in your stands for the Lord.

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