Raising the Next Generation

Conversations With Jesus – Luke 6:40

Welcome to part 5 of Ken’s teaching series called Conversations. Today I am going to talk about The Greatest Teacher – Jesus’ conversation about raising the next generation. – Luke 6:40 (this is also my tribute to moms on Mother’s Day)

Let’s take a look at what Jesus is teaching his disciples in Luke 6. Beginning in verse 20, Luke records his equivalence of the sermon on the mount, with his version of the beatitudes (Luke 6:20-26).

And THEN Jesus spoke a parable to them in Luke 6:39-40, when he tells us that the blind cannot guide the blind. Why? Because they will both fall into the pit. You know what this tells me? Since I am all about discipleship, I think that it is accurate to say that we CANNOT lead someone in discipleship to a place that we have not yet gone. That’s not an excuse to never attempt to disciple someone but it IS a strong challenge to lead by example. As followers of Christ, we are called to lead people to greater depths of devotion to Jesus and to spend our lives in the pursuit of conforming to the image of Christ. We must be willing and committed to do whatever it takes to look more like Jesus. It doesn’t happen by accident but on purpose with determined intentionality.

OK, let me get to my intended verse because Luke 6:40 is the starting point for my message today… “A pupil is not above his teacher; but everyone, after he has been fully trained, will be like his teacher.”

So, this message today is going to focus on what Jesus said about raising the next generation. In context, Jesus is talking about the rabbi-follower relationship, discipler-disciplee, mentor-mentee, but on this Mother’s Day, I think this verse can speak to us about what parents do for their children. If we don’t do anything else, our kids will generally turn out much like us. They follow our example, it’s NOT just what we SAY but what we DO.

I remember a commercial when I was a kid, a dad and his son were in the front yard washing the car. The little boy of 5 or 6 does exactly what the dad does… washing the fender, scrubbing the tires, wearing the baseball cap, all with the narrator repeating the phrase, “like father, like son.” Then they sit down at the base of a tree in the front yard and dad grabs a pack of cigarettes, and as the son reaches for the pack that daddy just laid down, the narrator asks the question, “Like father, like son?”

Our kids are watching us. Moms and dad not only have the awesome responsibility of raising the next generation of citizen in America, but they are raising the next generation of Christians in America. As we look around our country today, what sort of followers of Jesus are we producing? Are we making disciples or do we settle for making good little church attenders? Are the kids in the church today just learning moral lessons from the Bible or are they encountering and learning about the God of the Bible? Do they know the reason they were created and the responsibility they have for reaching those who are far from God and even those who have little or no access to the gospel?

Remember what I said a moment ago, it is very difficult (if not impossible) to take someone to a place we have not yet gone ourselves. We cannot pass on that which we don’t embrace. Our kids will never learn how to have a quiet time if they don’t see us having regular times for devotional reading and praying. They won’t learn how to share the gospel if we don’t share the gospel. They won’t learn how to disciple someone else if no one ever discipled them.

Maybe this sounds familiar… when asked in a social situation, “what do you do?” I’ve heard some moms say something like, “I’m just an at-home mom.” Well, let me remind you what mom’s do at home…

  • First, let’s give mom a creative title. Domestic engineer? Household CEO? Director of child development? And how about the activities an at-home mom does?
  • Teacher: Mothers teach children their first words, colors and shapes. They continue to enrich their learning by helping them with their homework and school projects.
  • Chef: The Bureau of Labor Statistics describes the role of a chef as one who develops recipes, plans menus, orders food inventory, and ensures sanitary kitchen conditions. That certainly sounds like a mom.
  • Event Planner: Even the busiest mom squeezes in time for fun. Whether it’s planning a themed birthday celebration, coordinating schedules with extended family for the holidays, or signing kids up for recreational activities, moms constantly have something to do and somewhere to be.
  • Housekeeper: Maintaining an orderly house can be quite the daunting task for a mother. There is no shortage of things to clean or organize, whether the children are toddlers or teenagers.
  • Accountant: In most households, moms perform many accounting functions such as creating and balancing a budget, paying bills and identifying cost-saving opportunities.
  • Chauffeur: Moms also serve as chauffeurs by providing hours of transportation for kids to and from doctor appointments, school, shopping, and play dates.
  • I read a statistic that if moms received an annual salary for all of their responsibilities, they would earn an estimated $78,000 a year.

But, let’s refocus on Christian moms and dads. Luke 6:40 reminds us that a pupil (or child), after he has been fully trained, will be like his teacher. How do we as parents invest in our kids for the kingdom’s sake. Aside from any teaching and training that will turn our kids into socially acceptable citizens and productive members of our community, let me suggest these 6 things to be a part of ANY parental curriculum. Here is my acrostic for the day. M.O.T.H.E.R.

Mission – Acts 1:8but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”

Think about your goal as a Christian parent. It’s not about raising a socially acceptable and productive member of the community. Your goal is not for your kids to have a great education. It’s not to be a great athlete. It’s not to have them participate in wholesome dating. It’s not to have a great career. It’s not about getting them out of the house on their own, making lots of money.

The goal of Christian parenting is for your kids to embrace the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20) and live out the Great Commandment (Matthew 22:36-40). We teach our kids to love God with their whole being and to love others as themselves. The Great Commandment leads to the Great Commission and the fact that God uses ordinary people like US to spread the love of Jesus to those with little or no access to the gospel.

I love Acts 1:8 because we don’t do any of this alone, we have received the power of the Holy Spirit to be his witnesses. This verse reminds us that our mission field is in our own city, state, country, and the world. It’s not about one place over another but doing all four at the same time. Notice Jesus used the word, “both” in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. We tend to see the command as a buffet line… Jerusalem or Judea or Samaria, or the ends of the earth. Pick one.

Jesus told the disciples, and tells us, that they WILL be his witnesses,” meaning if you carry the name of Jesus, you are his witness. We don’t go out and DO witnessing, but we ARE witnesses. If you’re a believer, you’re a witness and can tell others what Jesus has done for you. The only choice we have is between these two options… will we be a GOOD witness or a BAD witness?

As parents, our first priority is to instill in our children that we are on mission with God, no matter what our vocation, marital status, or personal hobbies or interests. Once we understand our mission, it leads us to the next part of raising the next generation…

Obedience – John 14:21He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him.

We teach our kids about obeying us (as parents) and obeying teachers, and those in authority (like police) but we often find ourselves telling our kids that obedience to God is optional. Perhaps we justify it by thinking like this… the standard of Jesus is perfection, we can never be perfect, so why try? Or maybe we say, my salvation is not based on my performance (like my obedience) but on the work of Christ on the cross, so obedience must therefore be optional.

Read John 14:21 again… keeping his commandments is a sign of our love for God. If you love God, you WILL keep is commands. When we love God, we will be loved by the Father. Jesus said that if we keep his commands, HE will love us and he will disclose himself to us. If you don’t feel like Jesus is revealing himself to you, try obedience! When we obey his word, Jesus will disclose himself to us.

Walking through life in obedience is something that is caught more than it is taught. We have heard the phrase, “do as I say and not as I do” but our kids see how we are living. They know if we simply put on the mask of Christianity on Sundays or they see that we’re fully committed to Christ and his mission throughout the week.  

Teaching – Matthew 7:28-29 – When Jesus had finished these words, the crowds were amazed at His teaching; 29 for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as their scribes.

If parents don’t do anything else, teaching is the thing that they do the most. It seems that day after day, all we do is teach our kids about life, relationships, dating, work ethic, trade skills, vocational skills, study skills, sports skills, coaching, board games, fishing, household chores, homework, you name it. We teach all the time.

But how do we prepare our kids for life’s ultimate final exam? When you stop learning, you stop growing, and all living things grow. Parents must make it a priority to teach their children the WILL and WAYS of God. Nothing will draw a child closer to God than seeing mom and dad taking steps of faith, walking in obedience, especially when it is difficult or uncomfortable. Actions really do speak louder than words.

You’ve heard it said that we should never let a crisis go to waste. It is through the crises of life that we find the greatest teaching opportunities. Take advantage of difficult times to help your kids walk in faith and trust God. Lead by example. Set the pace for your family.

Humility – Mark 10:45For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.

The culture and the world will teach your children to look out for Number One. They justify this type of teaching to emphasize and develop a positive self-esteem in children. Now, if YOUR kids were anything like MY kids, I didn’t have to teach them how to be selfish, that seemed to come naturally. Kids think the world revolves around them. It’s part of the fall of mankind. We make ourselves to be most important and we desire to be the master of our own destiny, the center of the universe, and sit upon the throne of our own lives. But is that the example of Jesus?

Our Lord and Savior did not seek power, prestige, or position so he could manage or rule over others. Jesus taught that we are supposed to serve others rather than serve ourselves or have others serve us. This is the essence of humility.

We must teach our kids to look out for the interests of others more than themselves. Just how do kids learn this? By seeing the example of their parents. Again, set the pace for humility in your household. Give your life in service to others.

Evangelism – Mark 3:13-14And He went up on the mountain and summoned those whom He Himself wanted, and they came to Him. 14 And He appointed twelve, so that they would be with Him and that He could send them out to preach

Jesus spent the whole night in prayer before he called his 12 closest men to be his disciples. We often think of these guys as super-Christians and we can’t expect to live up to the standard they set, especially in the areas of ministry and mission. I love this Mark passage because of what Jesus called them to do.

We often focus on the last section, that he called them to send them out to preach, which is an important part of their mission, but notice the phrase just before that. He called them “to be with him” and THEN he sent them out to preach. This is the “with him” principle.

We need to walk through this life with Jesus, learn from him, and then pass on what we have learned to others, especially to our kids and those within our circle of influence. We learn from him, then we go out to make a difference in the world around us. Make a difference for the kingdom of God. All this leads up to our final point, which is…

Relationship – Luke 24:14-15And they were talking with each other about all these things which had taken place. 15 While they were talking and discussing, Jesus Himself approached and began traveling with them.

Christianity is nothing if not about relationships. First there is our relationship with the Father through the Son. This relationship is all about salvation. Our next relationship is with other believers. This relationship is all about fellowship. Our third relationship is with a lost and dying world. This relationship is all about evangelism and mission, which we have previously covered today.

We can teach our kids to be successful in the world but unless they understand these key relationships in life, they are no different than your average lost person. Notice what is included in the Luke 24 passage…

In context, this story is part of the disciples on the Road to Emmaus. Look what takes place…

They were talking with each other about the things that had taken place. How often do you talk with your kids about spiritual matters? About how you came to faith in Christ? About how God has moved in your life this week? About how Jesus gave you opportunities to make a difference in someone else’s life? About ministry opportunities or a mission experience? Faith is caught more than it is taught, and it is caught by talking about life together.

Along with talking about and discussing spiritual matters, Jesus approached them and began traveling with them. He took the initiative. The Christian life is not so much about the destination (heaven when we die) as it is about the journey and the path we walk. We go through life as a family, whether in our physical family of blood relatives or our family of faith (or what I like to call them, my forever family).

In Christianity, there are no “lone ranger” disciples. We are in this thing together. The body is made up of many parts and we all work together for the body to function properly. Christianity is about community, and at its core, this means relationships. We need to be connected with one another.

I think this has been the hardest part of this year of COVID. Our relationships have suffered. We have drifted apart. I feel many people have come to the conclusion that gathering together as the church or a small group or a Sunday school class was not really as important as we had made it out to be all these years.

“I have made it just fine without getting together.” I can have my “worship on demand,” any time I want; when it’s convenient for me. I don’t need for my class to get together; e-mail is just fine for me to keep up.

So, what does Jesus teach about raising the next generation? Look over these 6 areas. Which one do you need to focus on first? What can you do this week that will help you get back on track? How will you pray differently this week?

When we realize that the life we have been given is not about US, then we find freedom. We are called to be a good steward of the life we have, as one who will give an account for what we have done with that which we have been entrusted.

On this Mother’s Day, let us all remember why we are on this planet. If you are a follower of Christ, your life is NOT about YOU, but it’s all about being an ambassador for Christ and being his witnesses locally, and even around the world. Let’s reflect on what God may be saying to us right now.

PRAY: Lord Jesus, we recognize that life is hard, and without question, it is distracting from what you have called us to do for the kingdom’s sake. Father, open our eyes to the opportunities all around us as we go through this life. May we see you at work and seek to join you in in your mission to reach through who are far from you. Help us to seek the one who is lost. Help us to raise the next generation to love you extravagantly. May we set the pace for our families and our community. May we run the race set before us and not grow weary. May we fight the good fight and finish well. Father, we know we fall short but plead your mercy and grace, to encourage us to stand strong in our calling to salvation and our calling to be your hands and feet in this world. May we be salt and light. In Jesus name. Amen.

The Knowledge of God – F260

2 Peter 1:2-4 – “Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, 3 for His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. 4 Through these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world on account of lust.” 

Today I want to focus on knowledge, the knowledge of God which is a foundational principle of our spiritual growth. So, how do we gain knowledge about God? That’s where the Bible comes in. 

1. George Muller, who established many orphanages throughout England, said… “I believe that the one chief reason that I have been kept in happy useful service is that I have been a lover of Holy Scripture. It has been my habit to read the Bible through four times a year; in a prayerful spirit, to apply it to my heart, and practice what I find there. I have been for sixty-nine years a happy man; happy, happy, happy.” 

2. Ronald Reagan said, “Within the covers of one single book, the Bible, are all the answers to all the problems that face us today—if only we would read and believe.” 

3. Missionary Amy Carmichael said, “Never let good books take the place of the Bible. Drink from the Well, not from the streams that flow from the Well.” 

4. And this may be the most direct, author unknown, “A Bible in the hand is worth two in the bookcase.” 

If you don’t hear anything else I say today, get this: Let’s make 2021 the best year ever in your spiritual growth by reading the entire New Testament. That is the reason I have organized this Foundation 260 initiative. Let’s read the New Testament together. 

I don’t think there is anything more basic to knowing and loving Christ, and obeying him, than to hear God speak to us though his Word and then to speak back to him with the prayers and praises and obedience which flows from our hearts. 

The reason for that is because it is so plain that today God reveals himself to us by the Word.  

  1. The living Christ in his bodily form is not here. He has ascended and taken his place at the right hand of God.  
  1. Neither are his inspired prophets and apostles here. God has ordained for himself to be known primarily by the Word that was recorded from those prophets and apostles—especially those who knew the Lord himself in his physical form—and preserved what we need to know in this book. 

But let’s face it, reading through the entire Bible or even committing to reading a daily portion can be difficult. It can be a struggle to stay with it every day. That’s the way it is with most new things that we make a commitment to start; fitness, exercise, college, dieting. We begin with enthusiasm but somewhere along the way we give up. We lose focus, the excitement wanes. 

We may feel that we don’t have the time for reading the Bible every day.  But Dr. Tony Evans reminds us that we always have time for what is first on our list. The question then becomes: Is the Bible first on our list? 

Why is the Bible important? 

1) The Bible is enduring and lasting. (Because God is enduring) – Psalm 119:89 says: “Your Word, Oh Lord, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens.” Isaiah 40:8 tells us, “The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the Word of our God stands forever.” 

We live in changing times. Fads come and go, social mores change and we tend to drift away from God’s Word and lean more toward society and the culture around us.  

But the Word of God is enduring! Isaiah contrasts it with flowers and grass. Flowers and grass may be here today and we enjoy them, but we know that they are short-lived. Their beauty is fleeting. The same is true of us, our time on earth is short. Our earthly “wisdom” is usually shortsighted. God’s Word endures and stands firm in the ups and downs of life. 

The purposes of God, as published in these sacred writings, will never be stopped (cf. Matt. 5:18; 24:25; Mark 13:3; Luke 16:17). Remember the words in Isaiah 55:11, “So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.” So, the Bible is enduring, but it is also trustworthy… 

2) The Bible is trustworthy (Because God is trustworthy) – Psalm 111:7 says, “All he does is just and good, and all his commandments are trustworthy.” In Ezekiel 12:25, “For I am the Lord! If I say it, it will happen.”  

God will fulfill what he says. He will honor his promises. He is faithful and just and we can depend on what he says. You can build your life upon the foundation of the Bible. 

In our world it can sometimes be very difficult to find a trustworthy and reliable person. Whether a car mechanic or a doctor or a plumber, a trustworthy person can be hard to find. People often go back on their word. They fail to live up to their commitments. Have YOU ever been burned by an unreliable person? Have you put your trust in something or someone and they let you down? Most of us have and that makes us a little hesitant to trust. But God has always been and always will be faithful, and because he is faithful, his word can be trusted. Since he has been faithful in the past, he can be trusted to be faith in the present.  

Why am I challenging you to read the Bible? 

Let’s start with the negative: we don’t want to be ignorant of what God has told us.  

  1. Paul often warned his readers that he did not want them to be ignorant about important subjects, like when he wrote to the Romans in 11:25 pleading with them not to be ignorant regarding the dealings of God with Gentiles and the nation of Israel. 
  1. He warned the Corinthians repeatedly about not being ignorant of several different theological subjects. He said in 1 Corinthians 12:1 “Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be ignorant.” He was also disappointed with them regarding their divisions in the church and he was saddened that they were still needing milk like infants when they should have been pressing on to more substantial “meaty subjects.” 
  1. He warned then not to be ignorant concerning the schemes of Satan (2 Corinthians 2:11).  
  1. He warned the Thessalonians to not be ignorant concerning Christ’s second coming (1 Thessalonians 4:13) 

The writer to the Hebrews grieved over their lack of spiritual progress in Hebrews 5:11-12 – “There is much more we would like to say about this, but it is difficult to explain, especially since you are spiritually dull and don’t seem to listen. 12 You have been believers so long now that you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things about God’s word. You are like babies who need milk and cannot eat solid food.” 

Jesus rebuked the Sadducees for their lack of Bible knowledge, like in Matthew 22:29 – “Jesus replied, “Your mistake is that you don’t know the Scriptures, and you don’t know the power of God.” 

Likewise, Jesus rebuked the Pharisees in Matthew 12:3 by saying, “Have you not read in the Scriptures what David did when he and his companions were hungry?” 

God speaks to us through his Word and we dont want to be unaware of what he is saying to us. That is why it is important that we spend time reading His Word. 

Now let’s look at some positive reasons: 

Reading God’s word gives us: Education, Endurance, Encouragement and Hope. 

Look at Romans 15:4 – “For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” 

The Scripture is given for our EDUCATION. That presupposes that we will not only be reading the Bible regularly but that we will also be studying it for ourselves. We can’t rely exclusively on the teaching of others. We need to be in the Word ourselves. Reading, meditating, and memorizing, and digging into the parables and the narrative sections and the doctrine and the theology. We need to be listening to God speaking through his Word. 

The Bible is given for us to ENDURE – We need to read God’s Word in difficult times. When the news is bad. When things are not working out like we had hoped. We don’t need endurance when times are good. Contained within the pages of the Bible are stories of endurance. Check our Hebrews 11 and read about the Hall of Faithfulness.  

These are stories of men and women whose faith endured in the midst of difficult times. We have wonderful records of the prophets who endured all sorts of treatment and lack of results for their effort.  

And coming to the New Testament we see Jesus who endured ill-treatment and abuse and yet he endured. And going further we observe the Apostles and the early church who through faith in God and his Word, they were able to persevere when the whole world seemed against them. 

Knowing the Bible gives us ENCOURAGEMENT – Many times I have been encouraged by the Scriptures and I’m sure that you have as well. There have been times when it seemed like just the right verse came along at the right time to lift me up and to help me keep going. I don’t see how lost people are able to deal with tragedy and difficulty. How does a person who does not know God deal with loss, suffering, and hardship? Many turn to alcohol or drugs or other forms of abuse to deaden the pain. But those things don’t solve the problems, do they? In fact, they make the problems worse. 

When I am feeling down, I know that I can turn to God’s Word and be lifted up out of that pit. But I need to be regularly in that Word in order for the Holy Spirit to bring out the help that I need.  

Finally, knowing the Bible gives us HOPE – You can live for weeks without food. You can go for days without water. But how long can you live without hope? Ken recently reminded us of the words of Dostoevsky who said, “To live without hope is to cease to live.” Shakespeare said, “The miserable have no other medicine, but only hope”  

Theologian Ken Boa wrote, “People cannot live without hope. Throughout history, human beings have endured the loss of many things. People have lost their health, their finances, their reputations, their careers, even their loved ones, and yet have endured. The pages of history books are filled with those who suffered pain, rejection, isolation, persecution, and abuse; there have been people who faced concentration camps with unbroken spirits and unbowed heads, people who have been devastated by Job-like trials and yet found the strength to go on without cursing God and dying. Humans can survive the loss of almost anything – but not without hope.” 

We live by hope, and when hope is gone, endurance and joy and energy and courage just evaporate. Life itself begins to fade. When hope goes, we start to die. One of the most profound proverbs of the Bible says, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, But desire fulfilled is a tree of life.” (Proverbs 13:12). 

Romans 15:13 says, “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit..” 

Maybe you agree that having the habit of daily Bible reading is a good idea. Maybe you struggle with being able to carry it out long term. In the past maybe you have started out well only to struggle somewhere along the path. 

In previous years, we have challenged you to read the whole Bible in a year. That may be nothing new for you; I’ve begun to read the whole Bible in a year on many occasions… the emphasis is on “begun.” But with all the best intentions, we sometimes aren’t able to finish the whole Bible in a year.  

This year, let’s try something different. Rather than focusing on reading through the Bible in a year, let’s focus on getting to know the God of the Bible. Let’s not read these chapters to check it off our reading list but focus on what God wants to teach us through our daily reading.  

Foundation 260 is all about reading a chapter a day, focusing on that one verse a day that jumps off the page for you, reading Monday through Friday. The New Testament has 260 chapters, and when we read 5 chapters a week, we cover the entire New Testament in the 52 weeks of 2021.  

You can do this on your own, if you choose. I have a few helpful tools in the foyer.  

Or, you might prefer the accountability of reading with other people who will challenge and encourage you to keep up with your reading, and also rejoice with you as you share how God is speaking to you through reading the Bible. Here is a link to join my Monday group.

There is a YouVersion App with an F260 reading plan, what could be easier? You can invite your friends to read with you and to hold each other accountable. I have also developed a few tools to help you succeed. 

1) This one explains the process and gives a lot of information to help you dig into the text.  

2) This one is the reading plan itself, reminding you what you will read each week to stay on track, and  

3) This one is the monthly reading and application guide to record your reading and actually write down what God is teaching you each day.  

This next year, won’t you join me in reading through the New Testament? We all understand that Bible study is so important, but hearing God speak is even greater.  

Let’s do this in 2021. Will you make the commitment to be a part of Foundation 260? Will you read the text each day? Will you join or start a group to discuss what God is teaching you?  

Let’s pray about it. 

Lord Jesus, we need to hear from you. We confess that we have not advanced toward maturity as we first hoped, and that we have become distracted and stagnant in the worries and cares of this life. Father, help us to make this commitment in good faith, and help us to trust you to keep us on track, because you have said through your Word that, “…I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.” Father, we cannot do this on our own, and it would be futile to try to make it happen, but with all praise going to YOU, we can do this together with your help. Lord Jesus, speak to us, and make our lives useful to you. AMEN 

During this next song, seek God’s direction about your involvement in the challenge. 

I won’t shame anyone who is not ready to make this commitment, but perhaps you have been waiting for such an opportunity to do something like this. So, if you are on board with F260, would you stand up right now and show this congregation the desire of your heart to take on this challenge.  

Seriously, if you’re not ready to do this, I understand, people around you understand. Please don’t stand up if you need more time to consider this commitment.  

Closing Remarks: Find out more at the church website, come up and talk to me about it, join the group through the church groups app, and let’s make 2021 the best year ever for your spiritual growth. 

Follow – a Practical Calling

In keeping with Ken’s theme in this summer 2020 FOLLOW series, the chosen passage today also contains the word FOLLOW – “For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps” from 1 Peter 2:21. The title and emphasis today is very compelling, to follow is… a practical calling. At first glance, I see three things that grab my attention. The first is that we are CALLED.

We are CALLED For a Purpose – From reading the gospels, we easily see that Jesus gives us an invitation to follow him, just as we have seen in the messages and in the passages Ken has unpacked in this series. Jesus shows up in everyday life and offers an invitation to discover that he is someone worth investigating. He has a message for all people and will meet the needs of all those who are willing to allow him to enter into their lives. Upon entering the life of a person, Jesus puts his claim on their life. They are called for a purpose, which is to allow the mission of Jesus to become THEIR mission. It is all about obedience to the one who has called us.

The focus in this verse is on being called for a purpose; salvation not just about going to heaven after we die. So many believers think about heaven as their final destination, but they fail to remember that we have a job to do right here and now. The kingdom is upon us. The King has called us into his service. The King tells us that we are to be his ambassadors, to represent him as we live in this earthy world. We don’t do whatever we desire and pray that Jesus will bless it. We are called for a purpose, to build his kingdom on earth, to spread the message of salvation to those living in darkness, to recruit players to join God’s winning team, showing up at practices, working hard at the drills, getting better at playing our positions. We need to get off the sidelines and into the game, and develop the passion to win, not just be content with wearing the team jersey.

Not only do we have a CALLING with a purpose, we have our CHRIST as our example.

Jesus – He is the example set before us. The text mentions that he left us an example to follow. In context, Peter is talking about suffering in this life, but let me bring in a little theology. Jesus was the God-Man, 100% divine, 100% human. I know the math doesn’t add up but sometimes theology can get a little complicated. The point is that Jesus is the unique Son of God, (as described primarily in the gospel of John) and he is also the unique Son of Man, (as described in Book of Daniel and the four gospels). He lived a life worth imitating. That which Jesus teaches and does, we are to follow in his steps, allowing him to be the example for us. The best way for us to follow his example is to KNOW his example, meaning we are to know his life and his teaching so well that we can believe and behave in a similar fashion. Check out these passages about following the example of Christ…

the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.” – 1 John 2:6 NASB

so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; – Colossians 1:10 NASB

so that you would walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory.” – 1 Thessalonians 2:12 NASB

For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps” – 1 Peter 2:21 NASB

Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.” – 1 Corinthians 11:1 NASB

It’s very difficult to defend that we can say YES to following Jesus just enough to get into heaven, yet still live a life of open rebellion by how we act, the attitudes we possess, the things that we say, how we treat other people, our failure to make disciples. We live in open rebellion when we fail to walk in obedience to the Scriptures, and in some cases, we flat-out embrace sinful activity, promiscuous behavior, racism, sexism, and even mixing American patriotism of God and Country with the authentic gospel of Jesus.

We are called to live and love as Jesus did. Paul says to “be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.” To me, this statement is like saying, “if you want to know what a Christian looks like, what a follower of Jesus looks like, look at ME. Since I am following Christ, you can look at me and see an authentic Christian.” Who among us is ready to make such a claim? Probably none of us because we each know the darkness that resides within. But what if we constantly dealt with that darkness and daily laid our sin at the foot of the cross? What if we confessed our failings and sinfulness as in 1 John 1:9 – “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

What if we look back at our lives over the past year and we see progress toward conforming to the image of Jesus? What if we looked more holy today than we did last month or last year? If you are not ready to say, “be imitators of me,” what is it going to take for you to grow in godliness?

And did you know that you don’t have to do all this on your own, that’s what the church is for. We exist as a community of faith to extend the love of Christ and His Kingdom in Virginia Beach and to the world. We are in this together, helping each other to grow in godliness, eliminating from our lives everything that doesn’t look like Jesus. There is strength in numbers. There is success in numbers. There is sanctification in numbers (becoming more and more like Jesus over a lifetime).

Let me remind you that all of this is simply head knowledge unless we internalize it. The way we internalize our faith is to develop conviction.

We will never follow in his steps without CONVICTION.

Just what is conviction? Is it knowing the right thing to do? That certainly is a good start, but the dictionary defines conviction as “a fixed or firm belief.” But with this definition, we can easily believe something and still not act on it.

Christianity is a faith that is constantly being put into practice; it is more active than it is passive. There are many things in which we BELIEVE but we are called to OBEY because of our belief. It is not obedience that saves us, because we are saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9). It is not obedience that saves us, but how can we say we are saved without it? (James 2:14) Let me illustrate conviction…

I had a friend in high school that joined the Marines that summer after graduation. He was in the 6-year reserve plan, and Parris Island was his starting point. He learned discipline, how to defend this country, fight, shoot, work as a team, and likely he learned how to kill a man just by using his thumb.

Now, when he came to my college town for work, we roomed together for a while. You would think that a man who learned how to keep his uniform perfect, his shoes impeccable, and his rack neatly tucked in with tightly fitted sheets, that he would not have been such an untidy roommate. I love this guy, but I learned an interesting spiritual lesson – good behavior does not continue without the conviction that it is the right thing to do. You make your bed each day and clean up after yourself only if you have the conviction it is the right thing to do, otherwise, without the threat of a drill instructor, some things just might not get done.

So, we need conviction to do what Jesus has called us to do. And it starts with understanding that you are CALLED for a purpose (and that purpose is NOT just to go to heaven when you die). Jesus has work for you to do no matter what your station in life, or your livelihood, or your chosen career. We are ambassadors for Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20) representing our King, Savior, and Lord. We carry out HIS marching orders!

You know, we cannot carry out his marching orders if we don’t know what those orders are, so without holding up the entire New Testament, let me show you the abridged version. We find it in Matthew 28:16-20, the Great Commission.

But the eleven disciples proceeded to Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had designated. 17 When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some were doubtful. 18 And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

I love the way Jesus looks around and then looks right at the camera, at us, right in the eyes. And then the invitation for join him, to follow after him…

His last words are supposed to be our first concern. What does this Great Commission mean for us today? Let me suggest a few things, because if we want to follow his in his steps, according to 1 Peter 2:21, it might be a good idea to look at what he did with his disciples.

Let me point out a few observations I see in the Great Commission.

First is the TASK in the Great Commission – Matthew 28:19 – we are called to make disciples. That’s what Jesus spent the past three years doing, investing in these 12 men who would in turn spread the gospel and change the world. Because of their obedience, they transformed the lives of billions of people around the world since the first century. Remember that a disciple is a learner. A disciple learns FROM Jesus, learns ABOUT Jesus, and then actively helps others to do the same. It is one thing to receive knowledge and instruction on biblical matters, but we are challenged to be the providers of biblical knowledge and instruction. The writer of Hebrews tells us that there were some who ought to have been teachers by now (Hebrews 5:12). What about you? How are you making disciples? The Great Commission is given because we are CALLED for a purpose. Let’s not stop short.

The second thing to notice is the PROCESS in the Great Commission – Matthew 28:19-20 – we are to make disciples with the aid of three helping words in the text.

We are to GO – but as a participle, this means more accurately, “as you are going…” make disciples. We make disciples as we live out everyday life. It is not about involvement in a discipleship program, it is a part of who we are. We must be disciple-makers. Follow me as I follow Christ. In short, we are to put in a good word for Jesus as we find lost people in everyday life.

Not only are we to go but we are to BAPTIZE – This means to baptize in water but also has the understanding that we will help to establish these new converts in their newfound faith. As followers of Jesus, they now have a new identity and must make progress toward spiritual maturity. Those who are secure in the faith need to help those who are new to the faith. How are you doing this in everyday life?

Not only are we to go and baptize, but we are to TEACH – Many times we think that teaching is the goal, but it’s not. The verse actually tells us to “teach them to OBEY all that I have commanded you.” This verse appears to be all about obedience. Are you obeying Christ? What areas in your life are yet to be surrendered to Jesus?

This also tells us to teach them to obey all THAT HE HAS COMMANDED, so what are the commands of Jesus he expects you to obey? He then gets even deeper because he wants us to teach them to obey all that he has commanded YOU. That makes this very personal. You can’t teach something that you have never experienced. How is Jesus dealing with you? What is he teaching you? Then pass THAT on to others.

The third thing I see in this passage is the SCOPE of the Great Commission – Matthew 28:19 and Acts 1:8 – here it tells us to make disciples of all nations. This is not just to become a missionary to another culture somewhere around the world. For some, that may be exactly what it means, but for many, we are called to reach those in our circles of influence. Who are the people around you who don’t know Christ? Who is unchurched? Who appears to be far from God?

The fourth thing I see in this passage involves the RECIPIENTS of the Great Commission – Matthew 28:16 and 1 Corinthians 15:6 – While Jesus is speaking to the eleven disciples, there is evidence that the crowd may have been much bigger. 1 Corinthians 15:6 mentions Jesus being seen by over 500 at one time. Could this be that time? Matthew 28:16 tells us that some who gathered there, “doubted.” Who of the eleven could Matthew be talking about? Thomas doubted for a week but when he saw the risen Jesus, he made the most significant declaration ever, “My Lord and my God.” I can’t imagine that any of the eleven doubted, after what they had witnessed. So, it IS plausible that there were more people present at the Great Commission than just his closest men. Certainly, this is something to think about.

The fifth this I see here is the FUEL for the Great Commission – Matthew 28:16 and Revelation 7:9 – when the eleven saw him, they “worshipped.” The fuel for the Great Commission is worship. I love what I read in the book called, Let the Nations Be Glad, that “missions exists because worship doesn’t.” We are a missionary people because all nations need to hear about the saving message of the gospel. Missions will one day end, but worship will continue into eternity with Jesus!

Finally, we see in this passage the DURATION of the Great Commission – Matthew 28:20 – until the end of the age. He is with us to help us to make these disciples and spread the gospel around the world, and to all those in OUR part of the world. Remember that he is with us, and apart from Jesus we can do nothing (John 15:5).

So, I’ve spent the past 25 minutes talking about how we are CALLED for a purpose, that CHRIST has left us an example to follow in his steps, and that in order to be an effective witness, we must develop a spiritual CONVICTION that people are lost without Jesus. When we finally get this truth, our focus is forever changed.

Perhaps you have been challenged in a new way by the familiar story of the Great Commission. Maybe you now see some things a little differently than you did before. Ken’s series is FOLLOW, which is all about how to better follow Jesus, and my challenge today is to follow the leader, follow Jesus, who has set before us an example for us to follow. Commit to being a disciple and discovering how to better make disciples.

You know, the Bible never calls this commission “great.” This commission is an everyday commission for everyday kind of people who offer themselves to be used by our risen Savior. Will you allow Jesus to use you to do great things in your life and in the lives of those around you?

Let’s pray about it…

Dear Lord Jesus, we humbly come before you to submit to your lordship. Help us to embrace your calling on our lives. May your Spirit shake us out of complacency and burn deep within our souls. Work through us for your kingdom’s sake. Plant deep within us a holy discontent, knowing that we are not fully surrendering to your calling on our lives. May you be glorified as we follow you every day. AMEN

If you need to talk about where you stand with Jesus, I would welcome that conversation, as would any of us on the leadership team here at King’s Grant. Just contact us on our the website you see here, or text the word MORE to our church mobile number. We’d love to hear from you!

I love you a lot. How can we help you grow in your faith? How can we help you get connected to a small group community (even in these days of COVID-19)? How can we help you find a place of service, and live your life on mission for Jesus’ sake? Let us know.

Benefits of Small Group Attendance

Last week and this week are closely linked together because we’re talking about attendance or gathering at church being one of the essentials in the Christian life. Ken talked about Hebrews 10:19-25, the LETTUCE passages regarding this New and Living Way:

19 Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; 24 and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, 25 not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.

Life groups and Sunday School classes are an essential part of church. In a broad sense, these groups and classes are a way to share life together as we travel together on this journey toward Christian maturity. Baptists have discovered that if you want the church to grow, and the gospel to spread, a small groups ministry is the key.

So, this begs the question: what should be the purpose of a small group ministry? Believe it or not, the purpose of a small groups ministry is the same as the church—to make and develop disciples of Christ by reflecting and living out the Great Commandment. Here is Luke 10:27: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’ and ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” These two greatest commandments emphasize three areas that make a strong foundation to any church, small group, or individual Christian: spiritual growth, learning, and serving.

For these three things to happen, it is essential that you show up. Growth, learning, and serving don’t just happen by reading a book, or by accident, or by individual resolve and determination. These happen, and are carried out, in the context of Christian community.

From the very beginning, God called to himself a people; starting with one man and his family that God blessed into a great nation. Ever since Abraham, God has emphasized the community. God doesn’t want rouge individualism, that’s more of an American characteristic. God wants his people gathered as a community of faith; to worship, to live life, to share with and support, to encourage and lift up, to admonish and correct, all in the context of community. For a community to be a community, it is essential that we show up.

Consider the challenge of Hebrew 10:24, “to stimulate one another to love and good deeds.” THAT will not happen by accident. We need others to guide us on this journey. Left to ourselves, we will drift away, and eventually crash and burn. We cannot be an obedient Christian on our own.

Consider this homework assignment: do a word study on all the “one another” passages in the New Testament and see if any of them can be accomplished by staying at home, or even by sitting in a place like this, looking at the back of someone else’s head. It is said that Christianity is best living in circles, not rows. Rows will separate us and allow us to hide from one another, while circles invite everyone into participation.

Let’s get back to the Great Commandment and how small groups attendance is essential:

To love God with all our heart and soul is to love Him with passion, with priority, and with trust. We can’t go out into the world and work at our jobs, and deal with the family, and at the same time keep our passion for God without help.

Think about it, we can’t be bombarded by media, and ads, and strange noises in our car, and keep God first in our priorities. We can’t listen to the news, and to the politicians, and worry about paying our bills, while naturally keeping our trust in God.

We need to see the example of others and receive their encouragement. We need others who know us who can remind us how God has taken care of our needs in the past, so he will take care of us in the future. A small group can provide all of this in a way a large congregation can’t.

To love God with all our mind is to learn about Him through his Word, and to see the world from His perspective. The best preacher in the world is still limited by the fact that sermons have NO interaction.

With a small group, people can ask questions, give illustrations, even express doubts, and know that other people are listening. Loving God with our mind is taking biblical truths and applying them to our lives. While good preachers add application to their sermons, it’s also important to have a fellow believer who can look at our particular situation on a personal level and speak directly into our lives.

To love Him with all our strength and to love our neighbor as ourselves are related. Small groups should be a place where we can freely “love our neighbor,” whether through prayer or meeting a physical need. Small groups also provide encouragement and a place of rest so members can love God with all their strength OUTSIDE the group. When members serve God as a group or as individuals, the small group can be a place to recharge and share how God is working in their lives.

God knows we are fragile and fallen creatures who need constant reminders of what we are supposed to do. Obedience tends to leak out of our buckets.

A small group is a key tool to help us stay focused. Regularly meeting with a committed group of believers allows us to reinforce the core of what we believe so we can live it out, learn more about God, and maintain the strength to serve others. Small groups are the best and most effective way to make and develop disciples of Christ.

King’s Grant Baptist is about building the Kingdom through making disciples, which means helping you to become a devoted follower of Jesus. Small groups are the key in your spiritual growth process. Here, I am going to share some positive benefits in becoming involved in a small group; yep, you actually get something out of being in a small group.

I am going to finish this message by helping us to better understand GROUPS…

G – Gain knowledge and Growth toward maturity.

Gain Knowledge – You will understand the Bible better in a community of faith.

Have you ever listened to a message from the Bible at a worship service and wanted to stop the speaker and say, “But what about?” or “I don’t understand!” If so, then a small group is for you. The message that is taught in our worship service is one-way communication. You listen while the speaker speaks. It’s fine for imparting knowledge, but not as effective for personal application as a small group. In a small group setting, you can ask questions, participate in a discussion of the text, and hear others share their insights and illustrations of the truth you are trying to grasp. The Bible must be applied to your own personal situations and that happens best in small groups.

Growth Toward Maturity – You will grow spiritually faster in a group than when you are alone.

We have been “predestined to become conformed to the image of Christ” (Romans 8:29). Spiritual growth involves life change. Life change is optimized in the context of a small group. 2 Timothy 2:22 teaches that we are to “run after” godly character and “run away” from the passions of youth. This verse instructs us not to do this alone but “with those who call upon the Lord from a pure heart.” God wants us to stop “trying” and start “training.” It’s always easier to exercise physically or spiritually in a group than alone (1 Timothy 4:7b).

R – Relationships

Experiences – You will begin to really feel like part of God’s family.
We believe it is imperative that as a church grows larger, it should also grow smaller at the same time. It should be the desire of growing churches to provide a small group for everyone that wants to get connected. In a society that is increasingly mobile and where families are fragmented, small groups can provide a family atmosphere where no one needs to stand alone.

Encouragement – You will receive customized care.

Each member of a small group provides care for the other members of the group (1 Corinthians 12:25). The group leader oversees the pastoral care of the group through the sub-group leaders. The group, rather than church staff, becomes the first line of resources. This is accomplished as believers in the group see themselves as contributors and not just consumers, givers and not just attenders.

O – Opportunities.

Example – You will be a New Testament Christian.

The early church met as a large group for corporate worship at the temple and then as small groups from house to house (Acts 2:46; 5:42; 20:20; Romans 16:5; 1 Corinthians 16:19; Colossians 4:15; Philemon 1:2). The New Testament is very clear about how God intended for His people to meet in small groups so they could experience authentic biblical community. The New Testament is also very clear to point out that these were communities with a purpose. They used these small groups to fulfill the Great Commission in a Great Commandment way. They weren’t an end in themselves.

Evangelism – You will have a natural way to share Christ with friends, neighbors, classmates, relatives, and co-workers.

It may be that some of your friends who don’t know the Lord wouldn’t be caught dead in a church. They have a preconceived idea and just the thought makes them defensive. But those same people may be open to an invitation to a casual Bible discussion in a home or office setting. In a small group, your unbelieving friend can ask questions and express honest doubts without feeling “put on the spot”. When your friend sees the love and warmth and honesty of your group, it will make him more receptive to the good news (John 13:35; Acts 5:42).

U – I’ll come back to this one at the end…

P – Prayer will become more meaningful to you.

Many people are hesitant to pray in front of others, especially in a large church. In a small group of 6-12, you will learn to participate in prayer by having a conversation together with God. No one is pressured to pray, but as you become comfortable, you’ll be able to pray sentence prayers and join in. There are many promises in the Bible related to group prayer. In praying together with a few others, we are drawn together, and we find answers to the needs in our lives (Matthew 18:19).

S – Support, Skills, and Service.

Support – You don’t have to go through struggles alone.

It’s not only possible but also probable that you could walk into and out of a large group event with hurts, heartaches, and soul-searching questions but never connect with someone that will show an interest in you or identify with your difficulty. In a small group setting the principle of “commonality” is often experienced. Many of us think our struggles are unique to us, but in a small group we find out that personal problems are universal. It’s exciting to find out that the members of your group have not only struggled with common problems but have found common solutions in God’s Word (1 Corinthians 10:13).

Skills – You will develop leadership skills in a small group.

Many people are scared of the word “leadership.” John Maxwell says, “Leadership is just influence.” Most believers would say without reservation that they want to influence their world for Christ. They would love to be used by God to lead someone to Christ and see that person grow up spiritually and reproduce himself. Acts 4:13 says “Now as they observed the confidence of Peter and John and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed, and began to recognize them as having been with Jesus.” These men had obtained the confidence they needed to lead others to the Savior because they had been discipled in Jesus’ group. Discipleship ultimately produces leadership skills in you. One day you will be discipling a small group of believers.

Service – You’ll have a place to discover and use your spiritual gifts.

When people are born into their physical family, they are given natural talents, but when they are born into the family of God they are given spiritual gifts. These gifts are God-given abilities that enable believers to effectively serve one another. Attending a spiritual gift workshop and taking a gift assessment is a vital step in discovering your gift mix, but it is the members of your group that provide confirmation of your gift after watching you in action. People that have no arena in which to exercise their gifts struggle to identify them. A neighborhood group is a wonderful place to steward the gifts God has sovereignly given you (1 Peter 4:10, 11).

So, these past two weeks at King’s Grant have been about the importance of attendance @ Church. After all this time and teaching, perhaps you now see that your attendance in corporate worship (and some sort of small group) is way more than numbers on a spreadsheet. We are talking about the God’s people moving closer toward conforming to the image of Christ, growing into full maturity.

So, what is missing in the outline? Look at your notes. What blank is left out? U = YOU.

I suppose, there may be really just one question left to ask regarding attendance in a small group: “How are you doing with that?” Are you doing all you can to take advantage of spiritual growth opportunities? Or are you just happy to be where you are? Your staff can’t make you desire spiritual growth or maturity. We can’t make you practice hospitality. We can’t make you invite others into our community, faith, and love here at King’s Grant. I suppose it all comes back to another question, “Are you here because of what you get out of the community, or what you can give back to others?” THIS is the difference between being a consumer and being a contributor.

Are you ready to move toward something greater than where you find yourself right now? What will it take to get you out of a row and into a group? What are the barriers that prevent you from getting into a small group? What is holding you back? Are there fears? Issues of time? Not enough Bible knowledge to get into a group with those long-time believers?

Think of it this way, you don’t refuse to go to college because other people know more than you. That’s the whole point of college. You go there to learn new things, experience community, and grow toward proficiency in your profession. Is not your salvation the most important thing ever? Then why do we accept the lie that ignorance is bliss? The more you get involved, the more you realize you have a lifetime of learning ahead of you.

I see a barrier that one day, King’s Grant will have to address: space. We can’t get everyone into a Sunday School class, so, who in our classes is willing to say that space and seats will no longer limit the growth of King’s Grant Baptist Church? Would there ever be a time when half of the people in your class will say, “We are going to meet in homes, to free up space for our classes here on campus to reach people not yet connected”?

Who is ready to start something in your home, using the Life Group model, asking questions about the preacher’s message and text, then seeking to apply the Scripture to real life? THAT is community life. THAT is what Life Groups are about. Not a teacher, then don’t try to be one; allow the Holy Spirit to guide your group. When you run across something you don’t know how to answer, just say, “I don’t know, but I will find out.” Then come talk to me about it.

Attendance @Church – one of the Essentials in the Christian life. If you need to talk about how to get this part of your life straightened out, I’d love to talk with you about it.

May the Spirit of God move in your soul to take seriously the command to Love God and Love People in a community of faith.

The Need for Peace

PEACE that Overcomes and Overwhelms

JESUS CAME TO BRING PEACE – AS FORETOLD AND PROCLAIMED IN THE SCRIPTURES…

  1. By Isaiah, the messianic prophet. And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. – Isaiah 9:6
  2. By the heavenly host, at the birth of Jesus. “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.” – Luke 2:13-14

— The Prince of Peace came to bring peace to men of good will.

What is that peace? Here is where the outline in your bulletin begins…

THE PEACE THAT JESUS OFFERS

According to Luke 2:14, this PEACE is…

Personal – “Peace among men with whom he is pleased” Personal peace can come in two ways…

PEACE WITH GOD…

  1. Romans 5:1 says, “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,” so this reminds us that since we have been made right with God through faith in Jesus Christ, we have peace with God.
  2. James 4:4 tells us that “do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” When you are an enemy of God, there can be no peace. He requires total surrender, coming to him on HIS terms, not our own.
  3. Paul says in Colossians 1:20 – “and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.”

— The bottom line? Without peace with God, no real peace is possible

PEACE WITH MYSELF…

  1. Jesus offers peace inside, unfazed by the world around us. Consider Paul’s teaching in Philippians 4:6-7, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
  2. In a world of trouble and distress, Jesus encourages his followers in John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.”
  3. Also in John 16:33, “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”
  4. Jesus also gives us peace even in the task (or the mission) that he has for us to do, in John 20:21, “So Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.”

— Jesus provides peace that surpasses all understanding

Finally, according to Luke 2:14, this PEACE is also…

Practical – “On earth peace among men…” we are not alone on this planet, rather we love in community.

PEACE WITH OTHERS…

  1. Paul tells us in Galatians 3:28 that Jesus breaks down the barriers between other people. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
  2. Paul tells us the same thing in Ephesians 2:14 he tells to “remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall,”
  3. Peter tells us to “be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; 9 not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing. 10 For, “The one who desires life, to love and see good days, Must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit. 11 “He must turn away from evil and do good; He must seek peace and pursue it.” – 1 Peter 3:8-11

— Jesus makes peace between mankind possible.

CONCLUSION:

So, when the Old Testament Scriptures ascribed to Jesus the title, “Prince of Peace,” He was proclaimed as One who forever has a rule of peace (offering a right relationship with God, with one another, and with ourselves).

The standard of peace becomes a great way to spiritually measure our lives: am I at peace with God, with others, and with myself.

Can you imagine being so affected by the Prince of Peace that you daily walk in peace with God, with others, and with yourself? This is the message of Christmas: Glory to God in the highest, and peace on earth among men…”

If you need peace, I’ve attempted to reinforce that there is only one place to get true peace, in the person Jesus Christ.