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Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Sunday, April 26, 2020

LEFC Guide to Worship at Home - April 26, 2020


LEFC Guide to Worship at Home
April 26, 2020

$         Introduction
$         Home Worship Guide
$         More Links to Helpful Resources
                       
Introduction                                                       

Dear Church Family,

You’re going to notice a reoccurring theme in this worship guide–joy. As we dive more deeply together into Paul’s letter to the Philippians in the weeks to come, we’re going to be repeatedly reminded to rejoice in the Lord. So it’s time to get started now!

I hope your family is using these ten step guides for worship at home and viewing the recorded video messages that we’re posting on YouTube and Facebook. Please let us know how they are helping you, and if you have any recommendations for improving them.

Our “Worship in Unity” this week is the most famous question from the Westminster Shorter Catechism. The language is archaic, but its meaning is timeless. When it says “chief end,” it means “greatest purpose or goal,” and by “man,” the framers of the WSC meant “humanity” or “people.” What a succinct statement and powerful thought, that we exist to glorify and to find our joy in the Lord!

We are planning another Family Fellowship Meeting on Zoom (Sunday at 11am), and you and your family are invited. This week, we are going to be joined by Pastor Kerry Doyal and his wife Robin.  Kerry is our brand new Allegheny District Superintendent.The Doyals are excited to get to know our church better.

As before, I will be there on Zoom at 10:45am to help anyone who needs a little practice to get set up. This technology is new to most of us. I hope to see you on Zoom...Lord-willing!

What time are you going to gather your household this weekend to worship the Lord Jesus Christ?

In His Grip,

- Pastor Matt

P.S. I agree with Keith Getty when he says, “During Quarantine, Become a Singing Family.”


Home Worship Guide
                       
1. Call to Worship
           
Read Psalm 100 with glad thankfulness as your family gathers to worship the Lord.

Have someone pray and ask God to bless your time of worship at home.


2. Worship in Singing

As a household sing “Rejoice, the Lord is King” by Charles Wesley (1746).

**Option. Families with younger children might also or instead choose to sing “All My Ways Are Known To You” by CityAlight (2016).

                                   
3. Worship in Unity

Recite together Question #1 of the Westminster Shorter Catechism (1647-1649).
                                               
Q. What is the chief end of man?
A: Man's chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever.


4. Worship in Lament and Thanksgiving

The Bible tells us in the same verse to “rejoice with those who rejoice” and to “mourn with those who mourn” (Romans 12:15). Even as we focus on reasons for rejoicing today, it is always appropriate to lament our losses. Have each family member share something they are mourning and something for which they are rejoicing today.

**Option: During the family fellowship meeting on Zoom today, we are going to ask everyone, especially the kids, to tell us something you are rejoicing in. Prepare a family spokesman to tell us about your family’s current joys.


5. Worship in Bible Memorization

Over the next few months, we’ll be learning Philippians 4:4-9 together as a church family. Today, recite the first of our new “Hide the Word” verses for this Spring:
                                               
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4, NIV84).
  
**Option: Don’t wait until the verses get long and difficult to memorize. Have each family member close their eyes and say the verse out loud. Remind everybody to rehearse it each day this week.

           
6. Worship in Prayer

Take prayer requests and pray for each other.

Read the prayer guide together and pray for the rest of the church family and the requests listed. Rejoice in prayer with those who rejoice and mourn in prayer with those who mourn.


7. Worship in the Word

Watch or read Pastor Matt’s message: “Because Of This I Rejoice.
           
Some families may want to watch/read the message on their own and then have a Bible study and discussion together during this time.

Application Questions for Personal Reflection and Family Discussion:

1. Why did Paul rejoice? Would I do the same if I were in his shoes? Why or why not?
2. How might God be using my current situation in life to advance the gospel?
3. Who could and should I be sharing the gospel with courageously and fearlessly this week?


8. Worship in Singing
                                   

**Option: This song can be sung as an up to four part “canon” with singers starting at staggered intervals. Have your family trying singing it “in the round.”


9. Worship All Week

Have someone pray a prayer of commissioning for your family as you end this time of gathered worship and face a week of new opportunities and new challenges to serve the Lord, the church, and the world in His Name.

                                                           
10. Participate in LEFC Family Fellowship Meeting on Zoom.

- See one another’s faces and hear each other’s voices.
- Tell the group something your family is rejoicing in right now.
- Interact with our new Allegheny District Superintendent Pastor Kerry and his wife Robin.
- Pray for one another live and online.
  

More Links to Helpful Resources



                                                           
                       



“Because Of This I Rejoice” [Matt's Messages]

“Because Of This I Rejoice”
LEFC Message for Worship at Home
April 26, 2020 :: Philippians 1:12-18

And if you never listened to the first message in this series or if you don’t remember it, you might want to go back and watch that one before you listen to this one. It was on March 22, 2020, and it was entitled, “I Always Pray with Joy.”

In that message we began reading this missionary letter from Paul to the church at Philippi, and we could immediately tell how much he loved them. The Philippians were in his heart even if they couldn’t be together in person.

Just like you, Lanse Free Church, are in my heart even though we can’t all be together in person right now.

But because they had the gospel in common, Paul always prayed with joy.

And he also always prayed with joy because of God’s unstoppable work in them. He who had begun a good work in the church will certainly carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. You can count on that!

So Paul always prayed with joy. And prayed for them to have “smart love.”

Love that is wise. Love that always knows what is truly needed, what is truly best for someone else.
Paul was praying that they would have that kind of love to the glory of God.

And so he always prayed with joy.

Now, that word “joy” is a very important word in this book of Philippians.

It pops up again and again and again.

Paul prays with joy, and today we’re going to see that Paul continues to rejoice.

Our passage for today ends with the words, “And because of this I rejoice.”

Paul is full of joy. And Paul chose to rejoice. And so should we.

Now, of course, that is not always easy.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve struggled greatly at times over the last several weeks to rejoice.

There are a lot of things out there that are current threats to our joy.

And I don’t have to list them to you. You know what they are!

But what might surprise you is that Paul didn’t have it easy himself.

When he was writing this letter, Paul was not on easy street.

He was not sitting comfortably typing on his laptop at a beach-side resort after delicious brunch and quick dip in the pool.

Paul was actually in prison.

And he wasn’t a corrections officer. He was a prisoner. Probably in Rome. And Roman prisons were not nice places. And if his case goes badly, he very well might die. Paul is in prison in danger of execution.

But this guy says, “And because of this I rejoice.”

I want to know what Paul is so happy about, don’t you?

What is worth rejoicing in when these are your life circumstances?

I see two main reasons for Paul’s rejoicing that also apply directly to us today.

Paul rejoiced:

#1. BECAUSE GOD WAS USING HIS CHAINS.

God was using Paul’s chains to accomplish God’s good work.

I love verse 12. Paul wants the Philippians to understand that, yes, Paul is in prison which is not good.

But that prison hasn’t stopped the work of the gospel.

In fact, the gospel is advancing not just in spite of Paul’s imprisonment, but because of it! Through it.

God is turning Paul’s chains into a megaphone. Look down at verse 12.

“Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel. [It’s not a setback at all!] As a result [of my imprisonment], it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ.”

Now, he doesn’t say how that happened.

But the picture I get is that Paul is in prison, perhaps chained a Roman prison guard or with a Roman guard right outside the door.

And Paul is talking to them.

And he’s talking to them about Jesus.

“So what are you in for?”

“I’m in here because of Jesus Christ who came back from the dead.”
“I’m in here because of Jesus Christ who came back from the dead.”
“I’m in here because of Jesus Christ who came back from the dead.”

And that’s true. That’s why Paul was in that prison! You can read about it in the book of Acts chapters 21 to 28 probably tells the story.

Paul is in this prison because He’s been preaching about Jesus Christ dying on the Cross for our sins and coming back from the dead.

And now that he’s in prison, he’s got a captive audience.

You’ve captive preacher, and he’s got a captive audience.

And the change the guard, and he talks to them.

Repeat, repeat, repeat.

Want to guess how many men were in the palace guard?

Up to 9,000 men. I don’t know how many Paul talked to personally, but the word has spread: “Paul is in chains for Christ.”

Paul rejoiced because God was using his chains for the progress of the gospel.

Now, let me ask you this:

Is it possible that God is using our current situation to advance the gospel?

Some of you feel like you are in prison right now.

We are currently under a Stay at Home order in Pennsylvania. And there are a lot of restrictions that we are all dealing with these days. And that’s hard!

But what if we had Paul’s perspective on life? Listen to verse 12 again.

“Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel.”

What has recently been happening to you?

Some of you have health trouble.
Some of you have family trouble.
Some of you have financial trouble.
Some of you have recently lost loved ones and you’re grieving hard.

You are in chains.

And it’s right to be sad about that.

But at the same time, what if God is using your chains for the advance of the good news of Jesus?

I believe He can.

And what if God is using your chains for His glory?

I believe He is.

That’s a reason to rejoice!

It wasn’t just Paul who was getting bold about sharing the gospel.

A lot of other Christians were getting in on the act. Look at verse 14.

“Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly.”

Apparently, they were inspired by Paul’s example.

“I mean, look at Paul. He is in chains, but the gospel is not shackled!”

And if Paul can share the gospel while in prison, do you think that we could share the gospel outside of prison? “Courageously and fearlessly.”

I would love for those words to truly describe you and me.

Now, Paul has another problem.

Not only is he in prison, but there are some other Christians who don’t like him very much. They are probably not happy that he’s in prison. They probably think he’s a bad example.

They agree with his gospel, but not all of his methods.

And they probably wish someone else was the chief spokesman for their faith.

We don’t know much more about them, but we do what Paul says in verse 15.

“It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. The latter [the second group] do so in love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. [Good for them.] The former [the first group] preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains.”

These guys kind of have it out for Paul.

And they are using this moment to preach the gospel, apparently for the wrong reasons. They are hoping to get Paul into even more trouble while he’s in prison.

That’s not good, and Paul is saying that it’s not good.

Remember: Christianity is not a competitive sport!

Churches are not like franchises that are competing for customers. And when they act like that, everybody suffers.

But notice: this competition. does. not. stop. Paul. from rejoicing. Verse 18.

“But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.”

Paul was rejoicing:

#2. BECAUSE CHRIST WAS BEING PREACHED.

That’s what’s important.

It’s not important whether we are in chains or not.
Whether we are in pain or not.
Whether we are going to die or not.

We’ll see that next week, Lord-willing.

What is really important in the grand scheme of things is the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Is Christ being preached?

Well, okay then! Let’s rejoice.

It’s important to point out that these Christians with the false-motives must have had the true gospel.

Because when someone is preaching a false gospel, Paul does not rejoice.

Paul comes out swinging. Remember the book of Galatians!

We’ll see it, Lord-willing, when we get to Philippians chapter 3.

If someone (even someone who calls themselves a Christians or calls themselves a Christian pastor) preaches a false gospel, then we cannot rejoice.

We are in competition with them.

But that’s a competition of truth vs lies.

Not personalities or preferences or programs or practices.

Or different traditions or secondary matters.

If someone is preaching the true gospel, that’s what’s important.

I think that right now as so many churches have gone online, there is probably a lot of competition, a lot of comparing. “Oh, I like how so-and-so’s church is doing it. I like to watch that!”

Some people are binge-watching church services on Sundays these days. And to that I say, “Praise God!” And if you like someone else’s programming, more power to you.

What’s important is that Christ is preached and because of this I rejoice.

The only things I ask are (1) that we be careful about what they are teaching and listen with biblical discernment and (2) that we not pit these churches against each other as if it were a contest!

Paul says, "The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.”

The even more important thing is not what are you watching, but what are you saying?

What are you sharing?

If the important thing is that Christ is being preached, we need to ask ourselves if we are doing that.

Are you talking with people about Jesus?

As verse 14 said, “courageously and fearlessly.”

So often we talk about everything else.

We talk about the weather.
We talk about the government.
We talk about virus.
We talk about our families.
We talk about politics.
We talk about work.

Do we talk about Jesus?

Let me ask it this way:

If someone had been chained to you this week, would they have heard you share the gospel with others?

If someone were forced to read all of your texts and emails and messages and social media posts or listened to all of your phone or Zoom calls, would they have gotten the gospel this week?

Paul was in prison and the whole palace guard got an earful:

“I’m in here because of Jesus Christ who died on the Cross for our sins and then came back from the dead.”

I am praying that during this strange and difficult time, we followers of Christ will become bold and dare to share the gospel with those who need it most.

Because in His amazing sovereignty God can even use our chains to advance the gospel.

So we should get busy being courageous and fearless to share the gospel.

So that Christ is preached.

And because of this I rejoice.



***

Previous Messages in This Series:

01. "I Always Pray with Joy"

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Following Jesus - The Gospel of Matthew

Studying a theological biography of the most compelling Person to ever live.

A sermon series through the Gospel of Matthew preached from December 2017 to April 2020.

01. The Genealogy of Jesus
02. The Birth of Jesus Christ
03. The Search for Jesus Christ
04. The Baptism of Jesus
05. The Temptation of Jesus
06. Following Jesus
07. Jesus' Sermon on the Mount
08. The Good Life (Part One)
09. The Good Life (Part Two)
10. You Are The...
11. Jesus and the First 2/3 of the Bible
12. But I Tell You
13. But I Tell You (2)
14. But I Tell You (3)
15. In Secret
16. Choose Wisely
17. Seek First His Kingdom
18. Generous
19. These Words of Mine
20. When He Saw the Crowds
21. When He Came Down from the Mountainside
22. Follow Me
23. Our Greatest Problem
24. Who Does He Think He Is?
25. Special Agents
26. Sheep Among Wolves
27. What To Expect On Your Mission
28. Are You the One?
29. Come to Me
30. The King of Rest
31. So Thankful!
32. Overflow
33. This Wicked Generation
34. Get It?
35. What Is Really Going On Here?
36. Baptizing the Disciples
37. The Treasure of the Kingdom
38. Living the Last Beatitude
39. Five Loaves, Two Fish, and Jesus
40. It Is I.
41. Worthless Worship
42. Great Faith in a Great God
43. The Pharisees and Sadducees
44. The Question and the Promise
45. Take Up His Cross
46. Like the Sun
47. Seed-Sized Faith
48. These Little Ones
49. If Your Brother Sins Against You
50. The Lord of Marriage
51. Drop Everything
52. First and Last
53. The Suffering Serving Son of Man
54. Shouting for the Son of David
55. Expecting Fruit
56. Come to the Wedding Banquet
57. Whose Image?
58. Acing the Test
59. What Do You Think About the Christ?
60. How Not To be A Leader
61. Malignant Religion
62. Fakes and Snakes
63. Birth Pains
64. The Coming of the Son of Man
65. No One Knows
66. Keep Watch
67. Well Done!
68. When Did We See You?
69. A Beautiful Thing
70. "The Passover With My Disciples"
71. "This Very Night"
72. "It Must Happen in this Way"
73. "He Is Worthy"
74. Disowned and Condemned
75. Jesus Stood Before the Governor
76. A Crown of Thorns
77. "If You Are The Son of God"
78. "Surely He Was the Son of God!"
79. "Afraid Yet Filled With Joy"
80. "Go and Make Disciples"

Sunday, April 19, 2020

LEFC Guide to Worship at Home - April 19, 2020


LEFC Guide to Worship at Home
Resurrection Sunday
April 19, 2020

$         Introduction
$         Home Worship Guide
$         More Links to Helpful Resources   
                       
Introduction                                                       

Dear Church Family,

I’ve been praying for all of us to experience “the peace that transcends understanding,” a supernatural and seemingly illogical serenity in the face of anxiety-inducing days. One way to seek that peace is to worship God with our whole hearts. We have prepared another ten step guide for you to use in family worship at home, and I will be recording another video message and posting it to YouTube and Facebook this weekend.

Lord-willing, my message will conclude our 80-part sermon series, “Following Jesus,” on the Gospel of Matthew, and it will highlight the Hide the Word verses we’ve been memorizing this Spring. Our “Worship in Unity” this week draws from our own EFCA statement of faith and emphasizes the disciple-making mission our Lord has entrusted to us.

We are planning another Family Fellowship Meeting on Zoom, and you and your family are invited. This week, we are going to be joined by Greg Strand from the EFCA national office. Many of you know Greg as the teacher at our Stay Sharp theology conference. I’ve asked him to share with us some of his thoughts about COVID-19 and Christianity. Bring your theological questions!

[As before, I will be there on Zoom at 10:45am to help anyone who needs a little practice to get set up. This technology is new to most of us.]

I hope you are playing Christian music in your home during this strange season, especially songs about the resurrection. The 50 days after Resurrection Sunday, often called “Eastertide,” are a great time each year to meditate on the resurrection and fill your heart with the truth of the gospel. Tune into Christian radio or television. Find resurrection-themed playlists on YouTube and Spotify. But don’t let everybody else do your singing for you. Make sure that you raise your own voice in praise of the Lord because “His love endures forever!”

What time are you going to gather your household this weekend to worship the risen Lord Jesus Christ?

In His Grip,
- Pastor Matt


Home Worship Guide
                       
1. Call to Worship
           
Read Psalm 136 which is about God’s loyal love for His people.

**Option: Divide up your family into two groups: readers and chorus. Have the readers read the first part of each verse in Psalm 136 and then the chorus shout the refrain together, “His love endures forever!” For even more fun, have the chorus say their part in Hebrew which sounds like, “Key Leholam Hasdo.”

Have someone pray and ask God to bless your time of worship at home.


2. Worship in Singing

As a household sing “Come, Christians, Join to Sing” by Christian Bateman (1843).

**Option. Our church family often adds in this verse by poet Kevin Hartnett:

“Come, praise the risen Lamb,
Alleluia!  Amen!
He died to ransom man.
Alleluia!  Amen!
On that triumphant day,
He took our sins away;
Death could not bid Him stay,
Alleluia!  Amen!”


3. Worship in Unity

Recite together Article 8 of the EFCA Statement of Faith:

“We believe that God's justifying grace must not be separated from His sanctifying power and purpose. God commands us to love Him supremely and others sacrificially, and to live out our faith with care for one another, compassion toward the poor and justice for the oppressed. With God’s Word, the Spirit’s power, and fervent prayer in Christ’s name, we are to combat the spiritual forces of evil. In obedience to Christ’s commission, we are to make disciples among all people, always bearing witness to the gospel in word and deed.”


4. Worship in Lament and Thanksgiving

Psalm 136 recounts God’s faithfulness in both the joys and hardships of life. Have each family member share something they are missing right now and something they are thankful for this week.

**Option: Have everyone shout, “His love endures forever!” after each family member shares.

**Option: During the family fellowship meeting on Zoom today, we are going to ask everyone, especially the kids, to tell us something your family did for fun at home this week. Prepare a family spokesman to tell us about your family’s fun item.


5. Worship in Bible Memorization

As a family recite our “Hide the Word” verse for this Spring: Matthew 28:18-20.
                                               
“Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

**Option: We have reached our goal! Challenge each family member to say the whole thing on their own out loud for the group.

           
6. Worship in Prayer

Take prayer requests and pray for each other.

Read the prayer guide together and pray for the rest of the church family and the requests listed.


7. Worship in the Word

Watch or read Pastor Matt’s message: “Go and Make Disciples.
           
Some families (especially those with teens) may want to watch/read the message on their own and then have a Bible study and discussion together during this time.

Application Questions for Personal Reflection and Family Discussion:

1. Do my choices in daily life demonstrate that Jesus has all authority in heaven and on earth?
2. What am I currently doing to make disciples of Jesus?
3. Have I been baptized? Why or why not?
4. Who am I teaching to obey the things Jesus has commanded?
5. What difference will it make for me this week that Jesus is with me to the end of the age?


8. Worship in Singing
                                   
Sing “All Glory Be To Christ” by Dustin Kensrue (2012) to the tune of “Auld Lang Syne.”


9. Worship All Week

Have someone pray a prayer of commissioning for your family as you end this time of gathered worship and face a week of new opportunities and new challenges to serve the Lord, the church, and the world in His Name.

                                                           
10. Participate in LEFC Family Fellowship Meeting on Zoom.

- See one another’s faces and hear each other’s voices.
- Tell the group something your family did for fun at home this week.
- Interact with Greg Strand from the EFCA national office.
- Pray for one another live and online.


More Links to Helpful Resources  

Since the beginning of the novel coronavirus outbreak, Greg Strand has been providing helpful resources and theological reflection. Consider taking time today to read through a few of them:









           

“Go and Make Disciples” [Matt's Messages]

“Go and Make Disciples”
Following Jesus - The Gospel of Matthew
LEFC Message for Worship at Home
April 19, 2020 :: Matthew 28:16-20

We have reached the end of our journey of Following Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew. This is the eightieth message in our sermon series.

And believe it or not, I preached the first message on December 10, 2017!

I wish that I we were all together for this milestone, but we are not.

There’s another milestone this weekend. It was 22 years ago this Sunday April 19, 1998 when I first preached for this church family. It was our candidating weekend, and this was the bulletin that Sunday.

“Welcome Matt and Heather Mitchell.”

I preached that morning from the book of Habakkuk, we had a fellowship meal together, and then a congregational meeting that evening where I answered questions about my hopes and dreams and ideas for pastoral ministry. And then you called me to come and be your pastor beginning that summer.

And here we are 22 years later. I’m still the pastor, and we’re finishing up an 80 Sunday series on the Gospel of Matthew. Praise God!

We have called this series “Following Jesus” because Matthew wants us to do just that.

Matthew has presented us with a theological biography of the most compelling Person that ever lived. Again and again, Matthew has revealed to us the identity of Jesus answering the question with his eyes on the ball, “Who is this Person Jesus?”

And when you know Who is this Person Jesus and believe in Who this Person Jesus is, you are invited and compelled to follow Him.

So it should come as no surprise that the Gospel of Matthew ends with the Person of Jesus giving His followers a command to make more followers of Jesus.

The title of this message is “Go And Make Disciples.”

Which is what Jesus says in verse 19, “Go and make disciples.”

A disciple is a follower.

So this is a command for followers of Jesus to make more followers of Jesus.

“Go and make disciples.”

Okay. That’s it. That’s the whole message.

“Go and make disciples.”

You can turn off the video now.

If you have that down and you’re doing that, then you’ve got today’s message.

But even though we know this (and I’ve preached this passage many times over the last 22 years, even though we know this), so often we forget that this is our mission, and we forget why we are doing it and how we are to do it and with whom we are to do carry it out.

So let’s look at it a little more closely, starting in verse 16.

“Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.”

I love that last bit!

If I were writing this gospel, I would never include the fact that some of the disciples doubted that Jesus was alive again. But I love that the Apostle Matthew did include it. Because it’s so real. It’s so honest and obviously historical. This happened.

The disciples (minus Judas who has by now killed himself) went to Galilee just as we heard last week Jesus had told the women to tell the disciples, and they have met up with Him on a certain mountainside.

When they saw Him, they worshiped Him.

Just like the women, we saw last week, grabbing His feet.

But some doubted.

Some were hesitant at least at first. Some weren’t sure that this could be true.

But it is!

And Jesus moves towards them. I wonder if some of them stepped back.

My guess is that as He approached them, closer and closer, their doubts ran away.

Notice that Jesus accepts and receives their worship.

He doesn’t turn them away. He takes their worship as rightfully due Him.

Who is this Jesus? He is worthy of worship.

In fact, He has all authority. Verse 18.

“Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.’”

That’s a lot of authority. In fact it’s all the authority there is.

That’s divine authority. That’s total authority.

That’s an audacious claim!

But it’s a claim being made by a once crucified and now resurrected Man.

So, I think we can take it seriously!

And we should.

I have 3 simple points of application for us in this message, and here’s the first one.

#1. FOLLOW JESUS.

Jesus is Lord. He is risen from the dead.

And He has all authority in heaven and on earth given to Him by His Father.

So, yes, follow Jesus.

Are you doing that?

Can other people tell that you and I are followers of Jesus by the way we live our lives?

By the choices we make?
By the decisions we make?
By the way we live our daily lives?

Do our choices in daily life demonstrate that Jesus has all authority in heaven and on earth?

If not, what needs to change? And where do we need to start?

Follow Jesus.

Here’s where Jesus wants us to start.

He wants us to:

#2. MAKE FOLLOWERS OF JESUS.

Jesus takes all of that authority and issues this commission. Verse 19

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”

Our mission as followers of Jesus is to make more followers of Jesus.

That’s what it means to “make disciples.”

And we’re supposed to go all over the world doing it.

For some, that means international ministry, like our missionaries.

But for all of us it means going to those who are not yet followers of Jesus and telling them about the Person of Jesus and what Jesus did for them on the Cross and inviting them to follow Jesus, too.

Who have you been going to with the gospel of Jesus Christ?

Who have you been bragging about Jesus to recently?

Matthew has told us Who Jesus is. Now we are supposed to tell the world.

I love that Jesus said “all nations,” and by “nations,” He didn’t mean countries. He meant more like we say “nationalities” or, better, people groups.

The Gentiles. The various kinds of people in the world.

Even people in Central Pennsylvania.

Think about that. Somebody brought us the message.

It came all the way from that mountain in Galillee to Clearfield and Centre County, Pennsylvania.

And now it’s our job to spread it from here.

Who do you need to talk to this week...at an appropriate 6 foot distance or over some amazing technology...who do you need to talk to this week about Jesus?

Because we’re supposed to be making followers.

Now, we can’t force anybody to become a follower of Jesus.

It doesn’t work that way. We invite. We present. We offer.

And then when someone takes Jesus up on His invitation to follow Him, we are not finished. We have more work to do. Listen to verse 19 again.

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”

Making disciples is not just evangelism, sharing the gospel and inviting people to believe the gospel.

It’s also inducting people into the gospel and instructing people in the gospel.

Jesus says make disciples by baptizing them.

That’s when we dunk people in the water as a dramatic picture of inclusion in Christ.

When you go down into the water, you are saying and the church is saying and God is saying, “This person died with Jesus.” In Jesus.

When you come up out of the water, you are saying and the church is saying and God is saying, “This person now lives with Jesus.” In Jesus.

Baptism says to world that you are follower of Christ.

It’s a symbolic induction into the gospel.

Notice that Jesus says that the apostles are to baptize in the name (singular) of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

One name and then three names!

That’s the mystery of the Trinity lurking there. We’ve seen it again and again as we’ve read the Gospel of Matthew.

Think about what an audacious claim this again yet again.

Jesus (Who has said again and again that He is the Son) has now equated Himself with the Father and the Holy Spirit!

He’s saying they are One!

That’s mysterious, but it’s also wonderful and precious.

And what is proclaimed about God whenever we do a baptism.

Have you been baptized?

Have you said to the world that you are a follower of Jesus?

If not, why not?

Because right here the Risen Lord who has ALL authority has told us to do that to all His followers.

But discipleship doesn’t end there.

It begins there.

Jesus said that after baptizing the new followers, it’s our job to be (v.20) “teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”

Making followers of Jesus means instructing them in the obedience of the gospel.

We don’t just want decisions, we want disciples.

So we need to teach each other to obey.

Our job is not done when someone prays a prayer or gets baptized.

Our job is not done until everybody is doing everything that Jesus wants us to.

So who are you teaching what Jesus commands?

Because this is not just a mission for pastors.

This is for the whole church.

This is our mission. We are supposed to be teaching each other Jesus’ commands.

That’s why we’ve been reading the Gospel of Matthew!

To find out what Jesus wants from us.

And to help each other actually do it.

Remember, we’ve learned about 5 major blocks of teaching the Gospel of Matthew.

The Sermon on the Mount.
The Teaching on Missions.
The Parables of the Kingdom.
The Teaching on Relationships.
And the Olivet Discourse, the Teaching on the Last Things and the Coming of the Son of Man.

Jesus wants us to know all of those things and teach each other all of those things.

And not just to know them but to obey them!

Including all of the hard stuff.

We’ve learned that Jesus asks some pretty hard stuff of His followers.

It’s all for our good.

But some of it is really hard.

Jesus wants you to do the hard stuff.

The Sermon on the Mount was not optional.

And we need to help each other to follow Jesus in obedience to everything that He has commanded us.

That’s our mission!

For 22 years, that’s what I’ve been trying to do to you!

But the good news is that we don’t have to do this mission ALONE.

Jesus doesn’t just send us on a mission.

He goes with us on that mission.

We get to follow Jesus and make followers of Jesus...

#3. WITH JESUS. V.20

“And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."

I love that, don’t you?

Matthew ends his Gospel just like he started it.

Remember what the angel told Joseph back in chapter 1?

They will call Jesus, “Immanuel” which means, “God with us.”

And now in chapter 28, Jesus says, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."

I love how total this last paragraph of Matthew is.

Jesus has ALL authority.
He wants us to make disciples of ALL nations.
We are teach ALL the things He has commanded.

And He promises to be with us ALL of the days we are on this mission until He comes again.

That is so encouraging to me.

Because I would be afraid to do this mission on my own.

Just going for groceries right now is a major mission these days, right?

You have to get all suited up.

Get your mask on.
Don’t touch your face.
Remember everything you touched.
Maintain your spacing.
Sneeze into your elbow.
Wash your hands when you get back.

You are not alone.

You are not being sent on this mission on your own.

The Lord Jesus by His Holy Spirit is WITH YOU.

Jesus is with you.

So you can go to the grocery store.

Because Jesus is with you.

And you can follow Jesus with your whole life.

Because Jesus is with you.

And you can make disciples of all kinds of people.

Because Jesus is with you.

This may be the end of the Gospel, but it’s not the end of the story.

It’s the beginning of the mission!

Follow Jesus.
Make Followers of Jesus.
With Jesus!

Because Jesus is with you.



***

Previous Messages in This Series:01. The Genealogy of Jesus
02. The Birth of Jesus Christ
03. The Search for Jesus Christ
04. The Baptism of Jesus
05. The Temptation of Jesus
06. Following Jesus
07. Jesus' Sermon on the Mount
08. The Good Life (Part One)
09. The Good Life (Part Two)
10. You Are The...
11. Jesus and the First 2/3 of the Bible
12. But I Tell You
13. But I Tell You (2)
14. But I Tell You (3)
15. In Secret
16. Choose Wisely
17. Seek First His Kingdom
18. Generous
19. These Words of Mine
20. When He Saw the Crowds
21. When He Came Down from the Mountainside
22. Follow Me
23. Our Greatest Problem
24. Who Does He Think He Is?
25. Special Agents
26. Sheep Among Wolves
27. What To Expect On Your Mission
28. Are You the One?
29. Come to Me
30. The King of Rest
31. So Thankful!
32. Overflow
33. This Wicked Generation
34. Get It?
35. What Is Really Going On Here?
36. Baptizing the Disciples
37. The Treasure of the Kingdom
38. Living the Last Beatitude
39. Five Loaves, Two Fish, and Jesus
40. It Is I.
41. Worthless Worship
42. Great Faith in a Great God
43. The Pharisees and Sadducees
44. The Question and the Promise
45. Take Up His Cross
46. Like the Sun
47. Seed-Sized Faith
48. These Little Ones
49. If Your Brother Sins Against You
50. The Lord of Marriage
51. Drop Everything
52. First and Last
53. The Suffering Serving Son of Man
54. Shouting for the Son of David
55. Expecting Fruit
56. Come to the Wedding Banquet
57. Whose Image?
58. Acing the Test
59. What Do You Think About the Christ?
60. How Not To be A Leader
61. Malignant Religion
62. Fakes and Snakes
63. Birth Pains
64. The Coming of the Son of Man
65. No One Knows
66. Keep Watch
67. Well Done!
68. When Did We See You?
69. A Beautiful Thing
70. "The Passover With My Disciples"
71. "This Very Night"
72. "It Must Happen in this Way"
73. "He Is Worthy"
74. Disowned and Condemned
75. Jesus Stood Before the Governor
76. A Crown of Thorns
77. "If You Are The Son of God"
78. "Surely He Was the Son of God!"
79. "Afraid Yet Filled With Joy"