He Gave Pastors and Teachers

May 29, 2008

This Sunday we will begin a six-part sermon series entitled “He Gave Pastors and Teachers,” examining the role of pastors and teachers in building up the body of Christ through the local church. The title comes from Ephesians 4:11-14, which says, in part:

He gave the . . . pastors and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

Note that God gives pastors and teachers to the church. They are His gifts, His presents, tokens of His love for the church.

In what sense is this true? Why are pastors and teachers so important? What is their task? How do they help the church? Read more

Responding to Natural Disasters

May 24, 2008

On May 2, Tropical Cyclone Nargis hit Burma, leaving tens of thousands dead. Many more lost their homes and all their possessions. Today survivors remain in grave danger in the absence of shelter, clean water, and food.

Ten days later, a huge earthquake shook Sichuan Province in China, again leaving tens of thousands dead and many more homeless. In addition to lack of clean water and exposure to the elements, the aftereffects of the quake continue to threaten residents; dozens of would-be rescuers have died as buildings collapsed around them.

Yesterday morning, an aircraft laden with relief supplies worth over a million dollars took off from the Charlotte airport, bound for China. The supplies, purchased by donations to Samaritan’s Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, include material for temporary shelters, water filtration systems, blankets, and medical supplies. I had the privilege of attending a gathering of local pastors prior to takeoff. I encourage you to give to these efforts, as we have done.

Why? Some might say, “Many, many others around the world give to help those who have suffered from natural disasters. Christians are the only ones who will give to spread the Gospel. Therefore, all our efforts should focus on the Gospel.”

What is wrong with this argument? Read more

Clean and Unclean

May 15, 2008

Last Sunday’s sermon dealt in part with the Law, the Torah, as a revelation of God’s character. Some in the congregation wondered how certain parts of the law, particularly the dietary laws, serve in this role. Ten years ago I was preaching through Leviticus at Community Bible Church in Williamstown, MA. Several of those sermons might be helpful: The overview, the sermon on the dietary laws and other issues of cleanness, and the first and second sermons on the “holiness code”. This week’s devotion is an excerpt – about 40% – of the sermon on cleanness and uncleanness. May we all see God’s character revealed in all His Word, and respond with wonder, awe, and love for the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Note that I preached this sermon on November 29, 1998, shortly after returning from a four-week trip to several African countries. – Coty

It’s a pleasure to be back after my long trip to Africa.

Whenever I return after a long trip, I am treated to a series of performances at home. Over the course of nearly a month, all of my six children develop new skills or new games that they want to share. So, last Wednesday evening about 6:15, the four youngest boys were presenting a show. The make-up was particularly interesting. All had some black marks on their faces, but the boy playing the Wild Man was the most extreme: dressed only in underwear and a loincloth, the Wild Man was covered from waist to hair with black face crayon. About 6:30, suddenly realizing that we had only twenty minutes to prepare for the Thanksgiving Eve service, I announced, “The show has to end in one minute. We’ve got to clean up and leave for the church by 6:50!” The Wild Man looked at me and said, “Can’t I go like this?”

Now, Community Bible Church has no dress code. Looking around this morning, I see some of us dressed in suits while others are dressed quite casually. But I think more than a few eyes would have turned had the Wild Man walked into church that evening.

Why did we tell the Wild Man to clean his face and arms and torso? Why shouldn’t my sons come to church dressed in loincloths? Read more

Scripture References on Money

May 10, 2008

Scripture references on money:
In the sermon on April 27, I read the following passages (and promised to post them on the web) in partial answer to the three questions:

  • What good things do we deserve in this life?
  • Where do we find security?
  • What do we believe leads to happiness?

Here are the Scriptures. I encourage you to meditate further on them, and explore their context.

  • The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Mt 13:44
  • Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. Ps 73:25
  • God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all contentment in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. 2 Cor 9:8
  • I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ. Phil 3:8
  • The world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. Gal 6:14
  • 8 if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. 9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. 1 Timothy 6:8-10
  • 5 Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” 6 So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?” Hebrews 13:5-6
  • Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, 30 who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life. Mar 10:29-30
  • Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift! 2 Cor 9:15
  • Other Sermons on Money and Giving

    May 8, 2008

    Over the years at DGCC I’ve preached a number of sermons related to money and giving. For those of you who would like to explore this issue further, here are links to some of those:

    2 Corinthians 8:1-8, The Grace of Giving (Preached 1/11/04): text, pdf, audio (7Mb mp3)

    2 Corinthians 8:9, The Rich Became Poor for You! (Preached 1/18/04): text, audio (7Mb mp3)

    2 Corinthians 8:10-9:5, Giving God’s Way (Preached 1/25/04): text, audio (9Mb mp3)

    2 Corinthians 9:5-8, The Joy of Giving (Preached 2/8/04): text, audio (7Mb mp3)

    2 Corinthians 9:9-15, Will God Reward You for Giving? (Preached 2/22/04): text, audio (9Mb mp3)

    1 Timothy 6:6-16 The Tragedy of Desiring Money (Preached 4/23/06): text

    1 Timothy 6:13-19: How to Be Rich and Still Be Happy (Preached 6/22/03): text, audio (11Mb mp3)
    Proverbs 22:1-23:11: Wealth and Poverty (Preached 7/9/06): audio (8Mb mp3)

    Minister, Rejoice, and Pray

    May 2, 2008

    In our small group this week, we considered 1 Thessalonians 5:14-18. On first reading, this passage appears to be a laundry list of isolated commands, but as John Piper argues in When I Don’t Desire God, there is an underlying logic that ties them all together. Here is the passage, followed by an extended paraphrase that elaborates on each command and draws out the logic of Paul’s thought. Meditate on these verses – and minister as God’s agent by His power for His glory.

    1 Thessalonians 5:14-18 And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

    We strongly exhort you, brothers and sisters, to be involved in each other’s lives, responding as each person needs. Here are three examples: Read more