This past week, as I was thinking through various things (kids starting school, the blitz of a summer, leadership meeting, Sunday gathering, Sovereign Grace Council of Elders, etc.), I was reminded of Paul’s word in 1 Corinthians 4:7 when he wrote, “What do you have that you have not received?” A phrase like this causes you to pause of a moment and truly think about what you have and how you got it. And at the very basic levels of life (like breathing, walking, eating, etc.), there is nothing we have that we have not received. And since we cannot do anything in life without those basic things…that means there is nothing in life we have that we have not received. This caused me to just step back for a few minutes and express lots of gratitude.
My weekend was a culmination of that. Saturday night we spent time honoring our leaders for this past ministry year. Our ministry year runs from September through August, so it was time to look back and thank those who’ve served our church. This has become an annual event that I really look forward to. And even though I was over-planned for the evening, I was reminded…”what do you have that you have not received?” And then Sunday, after a week of being very concerned over the plan I had for the text we were in, experiencing the Lord’s work at CLF, and worshipping with the saints, I was struck again…”what do you have that you have not received?” It was a great culmination to a week where the Lord reminded me of His kindness to us (and specifically me).
About the sermon:
It is a normal activity in our house on Saturday night for me to have some trepidation about the manuscript I have for the next day. But for some reason, there was more this week than normal and it was mainly due with the ending of the sermon. I just felt like that I hadn’t captured the heart of the text and that stuff really bothers me. And what was strange was that I spent ample time in preparation. So, after reading it to Jill (twice) and her encouragement that “it sounded really good”, we left for church on Sunday with me still feeling like there was more there than I was hitting on in my sermon.
What happened when I delivered the sermon was something that happens to me often, when I sense that I’m a little behind the 8-ball…the Holy Spirit begins to give me insights that I had studied, but hadn’t written about and gave me some “ad-lib” moments that seemed to really add to the overall structure. The result…I finished preaching on a very challenging text and had an overall sense that I hit the heart of what the text was about. Further, the Spirit’s work among our people was palpable and very real. Again…I don’t deserve that, but the Lord was very kind.
Let me add one other thing to this, before jumping into the sermon…It is exciting to hear and sing alongside you at church. These past few weeks, the singing portion of the service has been amazing. It’s been loud…not because the sound system or stage noise, but because the voices of the congregation have been flat out going for it. I love it.
From the cutting room floor:
Interestingly, I didn’t have many things I cut out of my manuscript or from my study. But here are the two things that really come to mind:
- One of my favorite stories and examples in the last 50 years of Christendom is what the Lord did in Romania to bring down the Communist government. In the 70’s and 80’s there was a pastor there, Josef Tson, who’s example of how to face martyrdom is really powerful. Here’s what he said about a time when he was faced with an intense interrogation: “I told the interrogator, ‘You should know your supreme weapon is killing. My supreme weapon is dying. Now here is how it works, sir: You know that my sermons are on tape all over the country. When you shoot me or crush me, whichever way you choose, [you] only sprinkle my sermons with my blood. Everybody who has a tape of one of my sermons will pick it up and say, ‘I had better listen again. This man died for what he preached.’ Sir, my sermons will speak 10 times louder after you kill me and because you kill me. In fact, I will conquer this country for God because you killed me. Go on and do it.’ Dying for the Lord is not an accident. It’s not a tragedy. It’s part of the job. It’s part of the ministry. And it’s the greatest way of preaching.” You can see how that fits with “To live is Christ and to die is gain.”
- I didn’t cover how Paul recognized that his deliverance from that jail cell would come by the Philippian’s prayers and the Spirit’s work. It’s a reminder to me that if Jesus saw prayer as needed and depended on the Spirit and so did Paul…how much more do I need to do the same.
Quotes I left out:
- The way Paul combines prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit shows how closely human prayers and God’s provision are related. Our prayers have no power in themselves to help apart from the work of the Spirit. In fact, genuine prayer is possible only with the help of the Spirit (Rom 8:26). While the help of the Spirit is not limited to the extent of our prayers, we cannot presume upon the Spirit’s presence and power when there is not a concerted effort to pray for God’s provision of the Spirit. G.W. Hansen
- Paul’s courageous witness to Caesar’s bodyguard presents an inspiring example. He was not intimidated by the most powerful soldiers in the Roman Empire. Neither should the Christians in Philippi be intimidated by the elite corps of Roman soldiers and other top-ranking Roman officials who resided there. The seemingly insignificant members of the church, the heavenly colony, should not be startled or frightened by opposition from the most powerful persons in the Roman colony. The clash of empire and church will not shake or agitate those who stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together with one accord for the faith of the gospel. G.W. Hansen
- In bereavement every tearful memory waits to be replaced by another, every sharp pang of loss is succeeded by a greater. Tears are proper for believers—indeed they should be all the more copious, for Christians are more sensitively aware of every emotion, whether of joy or sorrow, than those who have known nothing of the softening and enlivening grace of God. J.A. Moyter
- “In all ages—and not least today—the greatest hindrance to the advance of the gospel has been the inconsistency of Christians.” F. Foulkes
From the cheap seats:
- Say it’s not true, Andrew Luck! I don’t think any football fan (or sports fans for that matter) understands what these athletes go through to compete at the highest level. But I applaud those who do and respect them deeply. At the same time, I applaud and respect those, like Andrew Luck, who walk away in the peak of their careers. His 6 years as the quarterback from the Indianapolis Colts were a thing to behold.
- Just around the corner…postseason baseball. Can you hear that song…”It’s the most wonderful time of the year…”?? I know that’s for another season of the year…
- The most brutal “own-goal”. For you soccer fans, this is really funny: https://www.newsflare.com/video/310238/sport/hilarious-moment-defender-blasts-penalty-rebound-into-own-net
- I know that many of you read the local paper, the News Review. Recently there was an article about the work at Legion Field to put down turf. I wasn’t sure if you noticed that our very own, Steve Wilkerson is the guy doing the excavation work. Steve volunteered to do this, just like Pete Pappas volunteered to have Victory Builders remodel the dugouts at Legion. These guys, along with so many more of you, remind me of the incredible servants at CLF. Just amazing to me.
- Finally, be sure to check out all the groups/fellowship options that are available to you this coming ministry year. 3 new community groups; 4 new ladies’ bible studies; and more to things to come. There should be no reason for you to stay unconnected nor for you to be unequipped to grow in your faith.
In Christ,Dave York