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Sunday, June 15, 2008

Matt's Messages "10 Things I've Been Teaching in the First 10 Years"

“10 Things I’ve Been Teaching in the First 10 Years”
June 15, 2008

We’re continuing our mini-series entitled: “10 Things: Celebrating 10 Years of Ministry Together.”

10 years ago yesterday, was my first official Sunday as Pastor of Lanse Evangelical Free Church. June 14, 1998. My first Sunday “in the pulpit.” How many think (or even remember) that they were here that Sunday? Raise your hand.

Do you remember what my text was? Isaiah 40.

Last week, I spoke about 10 Things I’ve Learned in the First 10 Years.

Today, I want to talk about 10 Things that I’ve taught.

“10 Things I’ve Been Teaching in the First 10 Years.”

A lot has changed here in the last decade. There was no Ark Park out there. There were no banners on the walls in here. There were no soft-cushy chairs in the fellowship hall. I was not a father on my first Father’s Day here as your pastor–which was the next Sunday, June 21, 1998.

Back then, when I wasn’t writing out my sermons longhand on a yellow legal-pad, I was typing them on a green-screen laptop in the basement! Yes, green-screen! And I stored them on little plastic diskettes. Remember those?

A lot has changed.

But, I hope that nothing significant has changed in what I’ve been teaching here. I hope that I have been teaching God’s eternal truth applied to our contemporary lives.

I want to sound like a broken record--playing the same songs over and over again.

That’s what I’ve set out to try to faithfully do: to teach God’s eternal truth applied to our contemporary lives.

This week, I reviewed the content of my first 400 sermons or so. I didn’t read each one, in fact, I barely just looked at the titles.

Here is a list of the major sermon series for the last 10 years. Not every series, but most of the major ones over the last decade:
Major Sermon Series 1998-2008

1998
The Awesome God of Isaiah 40
A Letter: The Book of Philippians

1999
The Journey of Jesus: The Gospel of John (Chapters 1-12)
Called Out According to His Purpose: The Purpose of the Church

2000
The Journey of Jesus: The Gospel of John (Chapters 13-21)
“And God Spoke All These Words:” The Ten Commandments for Today
I Love to Tell the Story
Filled to the Measure of All the Fullness of God: Ephesians 1-3

2001
Live a Life Worthy of Your Calling: Ephesians 4-6
A Summer of Psalms
The Book of 1 Peter

2002
“Death Has Been Swallowed Up In Victory!” The Glorious Message of 1 Corinthians 15
The War on Errorism: 1 Timothy
The Book of Jonah
Stick with Christ: Colossians

2003
Genesis: The Introduction of HIStory

2004
Wholly His: The Message of James
The Christian and Prayer
The Book of Philippians (A Second Time)
The Temptations of Christmas

2005
The Book of Exodus
The Local Church
FOREVER: Heaven & Hell

2006
The Gospel According to Mark
The Book of Hosea
Home Improvement: Building Our Families on the Gospel

2007
Numbers: Life in the Wilderness
Real Christians

2008
The Fellowship of the Holy Spirit
10 Things: Celebrating 10 Years of Ministry Together
That was a lot of ground to cover in 10 years! And it doesn’t include stand-alone messages or shorter two week kind of series.

What I want to do this morning is to summarize these 10 years in 10 points. I want to point out 10 major themes that we’ve emphasized in the last 10 years in many sermons and other kinds of teaching times. Key points of practical biblical theology.

It was hard to boil this list down to 10 points. I could easily make it 25 points long or 400 points long–there is so much to say! But I think that these 10 are 10 things I have been teaching again and again and again and that I want us to really “get.”

And it starts with #1. THE GLORY OF GOD.

Isaiah 40 was my text on that first Sunday. This is what I wanted to communicate–the starting point and the center of my preaching ministry–the awesome gloriousness of God.

[scripture reading, prayer]

I wish I could take a couple of weeks and preach this whole chapter again. I can’t do it justice in 1 little point of 10.

But you get the flavor just from reading it, don’t you, of the sheer glory of God?!!

God is glorious!

Just a couple of the word-pictures here. V.12 “Who has measured the waters in the palm of his hand, or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens?”

God has. All of the oceans of the Earth fit comfortably in the palm of His hand.

With the breadth of his hand, He’s marked off the heavens.

That’s how GREAT He is!

Verse 26, “Lift your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created these?”

You see the Milky Way at night?

“He who brings out the starry host one by one, and calls them each by name.”

He’s got a name for each one! And, “Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.”

That’s God!

And everything in the universe exists for His glory.

When we re-wrote our church’s purpose statement, we started with this phrase:

“Lanse Evangelical Free Church exists to glorify God...”

He is the reason for everything!

He is the center of everything!

He is the sun, everything else is just a planet.

My prayer has been that each and every week we would get a glimpse of the glory of God.

A triune God who is all powerful, almighty, all everywhere, omnipresent, all wise, omniscient, all perfect–holy, independent, immutable, unchanging, infinite, eternal, timeless, good, loving, merciful, faithful, righteous, just, jealous, wrathful, joyful, blessed, beautiful, majestic, kingly, glorious in every way!

And that’s just getting started.

God is glorious and worthy to be worshipped.

We are called to magnify Him.

Not like a microscope. But like a telescope.

Remember back when I had a both a microscope and telescope up here on stage with me? If you don’t, don’t feel bad it was the Fall of 1999.

I said then that there are 2 kinds of magnifying. We are called to magnify God, but not like a microscope that takes something small and magnifies it to seem bigger.

The God of Isaiah 40 is not small!

But we are called to magnify Him (that’s another word for worship) like a telescope–taking something that is unimaginably huge and yet separated from us because of a great distance (in our case, because of the curse, because of the Fall) and making it visible to the eye.

That’s what we are supposed to do as Christians and as church, magnify the glory of God!

#2. THE POWER OF THE GOSPEL. Why would a glorious God like this have anything to do with rebel sinners like you and me?

We were created to reflect the glory of God, but, in Adam, and in each one of us, we have chosen to sin and fall short of the glory of God.

But God had a plan. It was conceived in eternity past and worked out in history, and it is centered on the person of Jesus Christ, God become Man.

The Word became Flesh and dwelt among us.

The fullness of God came to reside in a human. I’ve preached about this wonderful Incarnation for 10 Christmases here.

And then this Jesus lived a perfect life. We’ve watched His life as we’ve studied every verse of both the Gospel of John and the Gospel of Mark, so far.

And what comes at the end of each of the gospels? It takes up at least one third and almost of a half of each one–Jesus’ last week.

Jesus died.

Jesus died on the Cross.

He was crucified.

And as He hung there, He paid the penalty for all of the sins of the world.

We have remembered His death in every baptism and every bite of bread and sip of the cup at the Lord’s Table.

“For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous [Him!] for the unrighteous [Us!], to bring you to God.”

I hope that I’ve talked about the Cross every single Sunday for the last 10 years.

But Jesus didn’t stay dead!

On the third day, He rose from the grave–victorious!

We have celebrated it together for 10 Resurrection Sundays–and every Sunday!

He was resurrected for our justification. We are declared righteous because He lives!

Not because of anything we have done, but because of what Christ and Christ alone has done–we can be saved.

This is the gospel. This is the good news of Jesus Christ–and it’s at the center of our message. We are cross-centered. We are gospel-centered.

This is the Main Thing.

And remember, the Main Thing is the Keep the Main Thing the Main Thing!

And it calls for a response.

It calls for a response from everyone here. If you have not yet responded to the gracious gospel of Jesus Christ, I call upon you to do so today.

Repent. Turn from your sins and put your faith and trust in Jesus Christ and what He did for you on that bloody Cross.

It calls for a response from everyone everywhere. That’s why we have emphasized a love for the lost and reaching out to our community. And that’s why we have such an emphases on global missions here.

We believe in the power of the gospel for everyone who believes–that the nations need to know about Jesus’ death and resurrection.

And we need to daily live in the power of the gospel. The gospel is not just how we get saved. It’s how we live day by day in God’s sight.

That’s why we’ve learned to answer the question, “How are you?” with...what?

“Better than I deserve.” Because of the gospel.

If you came to grasp the gospel here in the last 10 years, would you stand? Thank you. And there have been others. Praise God!

“Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!” (1 Corinthians 9:16).

#3. THE LOVE OF JESUS CHRIST.

That glorious gospel of grace, when believed, brings us into a love relationship with Jesus Christ.

Let me explain what I mean by that phrase. It’s also part of our purpose statement here.

What we mean by it is that we now know that we are loved by God through Jesus Christ and we now love Him back.

We are loved by Jesus!

Our relationship has changed from enemy to sitting at His table.
We have gone from dead to alive.
We have gone from slaves to sin to God’s own children, joint heirs with Jesus!
We follow Jesus Christ as His disciples–men and women who are fully devoted, fully in love, fully passionate about following Him!

We know as Ephesians 3 calls it, we “know this love that surpasses knowledge,” we grasp “how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.”

And we love Him in return. We are growing in our obedience to the great commandment: love the Lord your God.

Do you know how much Jesus loves you? I hope you are knowing that. I’ve been trying to teach it. I know that I have failed at times.

Sometimes, I have probably made it sound like you need to clean up your act or Jesus won’t love you.

But it’s actually like this. Jesus loves you. And He loves you right where you are. But He loves you too much to let you stay there. He will love you into cleaning up your act. Receive His love.

This is especially true when we go through trials. When the hard times come.

One of the emphases of my preaching ministry has been teach on God’s sovereignty over all things–including the bad things that happen to me. Remember the story of Joseph at the end of Genesis?

“You meant this for evil, but God meant it for good.”

Even in the midst of our trials, and I know that some of you are going through trials right now–even in the midst of our trials, we can know the sweet love of Jesus.

And we know this on the authority of God’s Word.

#4. THE AUTHORITY OF THE BIBLE.

All 10 years, all 400 plus sermons have been based on the authority of the Scriptures.

If this isn’t God’s Word, then I’m wasting my time.

I’ve been trying to teach the Big Picture Storyline of the Bible.

In 2003, I began a long term project of preaching through the Old Testament. In odd numbered years, I’m taking a major Old Testament book that carries on the storyline and moving us through it.

In 2003, it was Genesis. And we learned among other things...God always keeps His promises.
In 2005, we did Exodus. God rescues His people and lives among them.
In 2007, we preached through Numbers. God is both holy and gracious in the wilderness.
In 2009, we’ll take up the next big book.

I’m doing that because there is a Grand Story in this Book, centered on Jesus Christ and making sense of everything we are going through in our personal stories.

We’re studying it this way to learn that we aren’t the main actors in our life’s plays!

He is the main character.

I’ve tried to emphasize application in my preaching. “All Scripture is God-breathed and is USEFUL for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness” so that we are fully equipped for everything coming our way.

This week is Family BIBLE Week for a reason. It is our ultimate authority.

#5. THE FIGHT AGAINST SIN.

I talked last week about I’ve learned what a big sinner I really am.

God is calling us to repent of our sin and grow in holiness.

Remember when we went through the book of Hosea and I talked about my carpenter ants?

Big little black guys with tool belts on? Well, they’re back this Summer!

They didn’t show up in 2007. But they’re back in 2006.

And if I don’t get around to doing something, we could lose our house!

I think, in the last 10 years, we’ve learned a lot about the exceedingly sinfulness of sin.

We are saved by grace and have a new nature, but the old fleshly nature still hangs around like an insurgent force. And it must be rooted out and taken down.

Peter said, “Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

I pray that the preaching of God’s Word of grace in season and out of season here from this pulpit would produce holy people–zealous for good works.

#6. THE PRECIOUSNESS OF PRAYER.

That love relationship includes access to God through Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit.

We are invited to talk to Him.
To take our burdens to Him.
To ask Him to work in the world and in our lives.

He is the King, but we are invited to boldly approach His throne.

Prayer is precious.

And it’s vital.

We are to live our lives on speaker-phone, staying in touch with God all day long.

#7. THE BLUEPRINT FOR THE FAMILY.

As we’ve studied Ephesians, Colossians, 1 Peter, and 1 Timothy, we’ve learned a lot of biblical principles that relate to the Christian family.

But in the Fall of 2006, I preached an entire Fall series on God’s blueprints for the family.

Husbands and Dads, God has appointed you as servant leaders in your home.

We are reminded of that today as we celebrate Father’s Day.

You are to take the lead.

Wives are called to submit and to support.

Children are called to honor and when still at home obey their parents. We called it “The Family Dance.”

God has a blueprint here in Scripture for us to follow so that our families are built strong–like the house on rock.

Families in our culture are built, for the most part, on the sand.

Which family will get hit with a storm?

Jesus’ story says that both will.

Which one will stand firm? Only the one built on the Solid Rock.

#8. THE IMPORTANCE OF THE LOCAL CHURCH.

I’ve preach several messages and at least 2 series on the Local Church.

I’ve emphasized that the local church is important to the heart of God and it should be important to us, as well.

Our purpose statement here says, “Lanse Evangelical Free Church exists to glorify God by bringing people into a love relationship with Jesus Christ through worship, instruction, fellowship, evangelism, and service.”

We’ve called that doing our purpose through our “WIFES.” WIFES.

The church is the main place where we work out our salvation in community with other people.

The local church is supposed to be Cross-Centered, and purposeful, and joy-fully led by qualified leaders and practice church discipline so that we all enjoy the safety of accountability.

I’ve taught again and again that everyone should be baptized and become members of a local church.

Sometimes, I think that some of you think that I get a signing bonus for each new member! I don’t! I do think that our church gets a bonus when each of you becomes a member.

But I don’t care if you join our church or another of like precious faith.

God is working in the church and wants us to all be a part of it, too.

#9. THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.

We’ve emphasized that a lot in the last several months, but it should be said again.

God is present and living inside of all Real Christians. And, inside of us, He’s re-working us into the image of Christ, applying the New Covenant to our hearts, producing His fruit in us, and empowering us for bold witness and service in the Body of Christ.

Don’t let the Summer go on and forget about the Spirit.

He’s at work in us.

Don’t grieve Him. Don’t quench Him. Don’t resist Him.

Listen to Him.

What’s He saying to you today in the pages of His inspired Word?

What have you been reminded of today that you need to apply to yourself anew?

Perhaps you have grown tired and weary.

The Christian life seems heavy and un-doable to you.

Maybe you’re complaining that your way seems hidden from the Lord and He’s forgotten you.

“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint!”

#10. I’ve been teaching and will continue to teach about THE ANTICIPATION OF CHRIST’S RETURN.

Jesus is coming back. And He’s coming back soon.

We need to be ready.

We need to live lives of constant expectancy.

Reaching out to those who have not yet seen the glory of God or responded to the gospel or fallen in love with Jesus.

And living in constant expectancy of His return.

Following His authoritative, fighting against sin, drawing near in prayer, building our families on the Gospel, linking arm and arm with the family of God, the local church, in fellowship with the Holy Spirit.

Peter says “In keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness. So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.”

I pray that the preaching of God’s word at Lanse Evangelical Free Church would be a part of those efforts now and until we see Him face to face.

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