Take your Bibles, and we're gonna be in Psalm 136. This morning we're going to be, I've titled this message, Giving Thanks to the Lord. And for obvious reasons, right? Thanksgiving holiday coming up. It's actually one of my, favorite holidays. it's kind of nice to reflect back and thank the Lord for his blessings and especially his spiritual blessings, right? Because I mean, that's one thing, no matter what your condition is, financially or whatever, we can always thank the Lord for our spiritual blessings we have, that we have in the Lord Jesus Christ. And this morning, I want to look at Psalm 136. And we're going to look at it though, of course, in light of Paul's gospel, in terms of the mystery, God's program for today. But there is so much we can learn from this psalm, as you'll see as we go along. But I want to begin this morning with a story about a little boy who told his uncle, thank you for the electric car or the electric, the electric guitar that you gave me for Christmas.
It's the best present I ever got. That's great, said the uncle. Do you know how to play it? Oh, no I don't, he said. My mom gives me a dollar a day not to play it during the day and my dad gives me five dollars a week not to play it at night. He was very thankful you know, he was very thankful I think, for a way to earn a little extra money on the side, right?
The Lord, when we think of thankfulness, if there's one inter-dispensational truth, one thing you can count on is that the Lord wants us to be thankful. He wants his people, whether it was Israel in times past or today as members of the body of Christ. He wants us to be thankful. And we see that so often reflected in Paul's letters. In 1 Thessalonians 5:18, we read there, And everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. Well, that's, that's pretty straightforward, isn't it? And in Ephesians, uh, five 20, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
And in Colossians three 17, we read, and whatsoever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the father. through him. And so, you know, so that means in any situation with, with, with whatever you're doing, maybe one of the hardest things not to do is to not complain, right?
But instead, God wants us to be thankful and to give thanks. We should be thankful for other members of the body of Christ. Just like Colossians 1:3 and in 1 Thessalonians 1:2. You see in those verses. Paul wrote to the church at Colossae, we give thanks to God and the father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you.
So you kind of see the correlation there between being thankful for them and at the same time praying for them as well. Because when you're thankful for someone, you're praising the Lord and you're thanking the Lord for them. And then in one Thessalonians one, two, we give, we give thanks to God always for, for you all making mention of you.
In our prayers, and as believers, we should be especially thankful for our spiritual blessings that we know of from verses like Ephesians one, three, where we see blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who have blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ. And let's face it, you can't read Paul's letters without noticing his thankfulness to God. You see it all throughout all of his epistles. You know, including things like praying and thanking the Lord for our food, of which, at least in our country, in the USA, we have an abundance of. In 1 Timothy 4, verses 4 and 5, Paul wrote, For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving.
For it is sanctified, or in other words, set apart, By, by the word of God and prayer. So we should be thankful for our food. But, you know, the giving of thanks is not limited to Paul's letters. When the Lord fed the four thousand men and their families in, uh, in Matthew 15:36, what did, uh, what do we read there?
He says, and he took the seven loaves and the fish, and what did he do? He gave thanks. When the Lord healed ten lepers, In Luke chapter 17, verse 16. You know, the interesting thing about that account, and, and I'll address it in the notes, in the upcoming study Bible, was that only one came back. Stop and think about that.
There were 10 lepers, but only one came back and he was a Samaritan. And at that time the Samaritans were, were looked down on by the Jews, but we read in Luke 17:16 that he fell down on his face at his feet, at the Lord's feet, giving him thanks. And he was the only one that had a thankful heart about what the Lord did for him.
Now, in the book of Psalms itself, we see in passages like Psalm 92, verse 1, this was a psalm or a song for the Sabbath day. Now, we know we're not under the law. Obviously, and under, and under those, regulations. But still, it is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord, and to sing praises unto, unto thy name, O Most High.
So, whether it's, you know, under the law with the Sabbath days, or in the dispensation of grace where there are no Sabbath days, it is a good thing to give thanks to the Lord, is it not? Amen, right? And this morning, I thought we would, look at one psalm in particular. So, in your Bibles this morning, let's go to Psalm 136, and we are going to look at all 26 verses.
Yeah, and you're thinking, well, how are you going to do that, Jim? Well, there's a method to my madness, so you'll just wait and see here. So we see these, and we'll see when, when we start reading it, I'm not going to read it quite yet, that, but the first three verses begin with giving thanks unto the Lord, and we will read them shortly here.
And the final two verses, or the final verse 26, says, give thanks to the God of heaven. And you're going to notice, too, that each verse ends with the phrase, His mercy. In other words, His kindness endures forever. You're going to see that at the end of each verse. And we're going to see as we go through this psalm, God's kindness to the nation of Israel.
But we're also going to see God's kindness to the body of Christ in the dispensation of grace. You know, the interesting thing about this psalm is that it was most likely a responsive reading psalm. I think probably most of you are pretty familiar with responsive readings. where the, the pastor or the minister would, would read a certain part of the Bible and then the congregation would follow suit and, and read the remaining part.
That's probably how this psalm was used, back in the days of, temple worship where the, where the priest would read God's Word. But anyways, let's go to Psalm 136 and I will read the first three verses here.
Psalm 136 beginning in verse 1. O give thanks unto the Lord, for he is good, for his mercy endureth forever. O give thanks unto the God of gods, for his mercy endureth forever. O give thanks to the Lord of lords, for his mercy endureth forever. So as I had just mentioned when, when we began here, that these first three verses Our thanks to God.
But if you notice though, they're addressed in three different ways. In verse one, it's to the Lord and the, and the spelling for Lord is all, is is in all capitals, in, in most translations of the Bible. In other words, it was to Jehovah, to uh, to Jehovah God, which is his personal name. And we know that that's God's personal name.
So just like we all have personal names. Mine is Jim. My wife's is Missy, you know, Randy. We all have personal names, but we read in Isaiah 42, verse 8, the Lord, the Lord says there, I am the Lord. That is my name. That is the Lord's personal name. In Exodus 15, verse 3, this is the song of Moses. It reads there, The Lord is a man of war.
The Lord is his name. So, God's personal name, just like we have personal names, God has a personal name and his name is Jehovah. He is also the God of small g gods. And he's also the Lord of lords. Or, you know, small l lords. Masters in verses two and three. You know who learned that lesson? King Nebuchadnezzar.
How many of you know about King Nebuchadnezzar or have heard of King Nebuchadnezzar? I'm sure, I'm sure most people have. He was the king of ancient Babylon. In fact, I think he's known for the seven, or he's known for the gardens in Babylon which were one of the seven wonders of the world. But King Nebuchadnezzar, I think he eventually believed in the one true and living God.
And I think someday we'll have an opportunity to meet him in heaven. But anyways, in Daniel chapter 2, verse 47, after Daniel had told the king what his dream was and interpreted it for him, The king answered and said unto Daniel of a truth, it is that your God is a God of gods. In other words, he's better than all those false gods that were out there and all, and the ones that are even out there today and, and a Lord of kings and a revealer of secrets, seeing thou kist reveal this secret.
But even at that time, king Nebuchadnezzar, even though he made this admission. I don't think it was until later on that he believed, really believed in the one true living God. We read, in Daniel chapter 4, King Nebuchadnezzar spent seven years as a beast of the field. Can you imagine that?
Because of his pride. God humbled him. We read in Daniel chapter 4, verse 33, It says there, the same hour was this thing fulfilled upon Nebuchadnezzar. In other words, he was turned into a beast, and he was driven from men, and he did eat grass as oxen. And after that, and after those seven years, after they expired, he finally learned his lesson.
We read in, verse 37 of that same chapter in Daniel 4. He says, Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, Praise and extol and honor the King of Heaven, all whose works are truth, and His ways judgment. And those who walk in pride, as Nebuchadnezzar was, remember he was, if you read that chapter, he was looking at Babylon and saying, Ah, look at the kingdom that I built, and look at all that I have accomplished.
But God humbled him. And he says, and those who walk in pride, He that is God is able to abase and Nebuchadnezzar learned who the God of gods was and he learned who the Lord of lords is. Now also notice in verse 1 what it says about God and who he is. It says that he is good, you know, that God is good.
Now, when a rich young ruler approached the Lord, Jesus Christ, in his earthly ministry, and asked him in Matthew, uh, chapter 19, verse 16, he said, Good Master, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life? And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? There is none good, one, that is God. But if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.
Now notice this rich young ruler. He called Christ good master. So he had an idea that the Lord was a good teacher and Christ responded that there's only one good. And who's that one good? That's God, right? None of us in our, in and of ourselves, are good. Because God's standard of goodness, you know, just to use that term, is different than our standard of goodness.
You know, when, when we think of good, we compare ourselves, uh, what, you know, we compare ourselves to somebody else. We might say, Well, you know, I'm not as bad as my neighbor. Boy, my neighbor, you should see the things he does, and... The people he hangs out with, he's not very good. But then, you know, we might look at someone and say, Well, that person is really good.
They do all these nice things and they help people. They're very generous with their time and with their finances. But yet, you know what? Compared to God's standard of good, it falls way short. I sometimes like to use the example of Carl Lewis. How many of you remember Carl Lewis, a track and field athlete from the 1980s?
I remember him specifically only because when I was 14 in 1984, I had a bad case of the chicken pox. And because of that, I had to watch the Summer Olympics on the couch, and that's all I could do, you know. That wasn't the days where we had Amazon Prime or movie channels where you could watch movies. I was literally stuck watching the Olympics for a whole week because I couldn't do anything else.
But, you know, the case of Carl Lewis, though, he could long jump, 18 feet and he would win all kinds of medals. But let's suppose for a moment that to cross the barrier to God, He had to jump 20 feet. Would he, would, would he make it? No, he would have fallen short, right? Even if he jumped 19 feet and 6 inches, if God's standard of righteousness is 20 feet away, he falls short.
Now at that time, and you know, even in my younger years, even if I could run and jump, I probably could only make it maybe 10 or 12 feet, right? And, but that was like way short. So, no matter how close you think you can get to God, our goodness, in and of itself, is not good enough. Because God's standard of righteousness is perfection.
So, anyways, you know, Paul, you know, Paul uses this same idea of the word good in Romans chapter 3, verse 12, where he says, They are all gone out of the way. They are together become unprofitable. There is none that doeth good, no, not one. So again, according to God's righteous standards, we fall short, even, even the best of men and women fall short too.
But Christ is the good master, because he met God's, uh, the Father's perfect standard of righteousness for us. And that's why Paul can say, in 2 Corinthians 5 21, about the Lord Jesus Christ, for he that is God. Hath made him Christ to be sin for us who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him, and God is patient with mankind.
He's not giving us what we deserve, despite mankind, sin and unbelief. You know, if you're sitting here this morning or if you're watching on video, either now or later, and if you haven't trusted the Lord Jesus Christ. You need His righteousness. Simply believe the good news that Christ died for your sin, was buried, and that He rose again the third day.
And the moment you trust Christ for your salvation, you're eternally saved. Isn't that something to be thankful for? Amen. It really is. I'm thankful that... That, God sent His Son to pay the penalty for our sin. Now, let's look at, verses 4 through 9 here, because we've got to get moving along in this psalm.
To Him who alone doeth great wonders, for His mercy endureth forever. To Him that by wisdom made the heavens, for His mercy endureth forever. To Him that stretched out the earth above the waters, for His mercy endureth forever. To him that made great lights, for his mercy endureth forever. The sun to rule by day, for his mercy endureth forever.
The moon and stars to rule by night, for his mercy endureth forever. You know, after deliverance from Pharaoh and his armies, in the Song of Moses, we read in Exodus 15, verse 11, Who is like unto thee, O Lord, among the gods? Who is like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders. Many signs and wonders were done by the Lord, in Egypt and in the wilderness.
Remember, for sure, we know about the ten plagues, we know about all the things that the Lord did for them, with the parting of the Red Sea and things like that. You know, even today, you know, speaking of wonders today, isn't there a hymn called, The Wonder of It All? I think those of you who know music might know that one.
And one of the main, one of the main lines of that song goes something like this, Just to think that God loves me. Isn't that one, isn't that something that's, that's wondrous to think about? To think that God loves us? Romans 5. 8 tells us that God commended, or He directed His love toward us. And that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
That's a wondrous thing, if you stop and think about it. You know, He does, just by making salvation available to all, that's a wonder, that's a wondrous thing of the Lord. The Lord Jesus Christ, He gave Himself for us, and we can thank the Lord for His, His wondrous works. Now, the psalm continues, in the part that we just read, that by the Lord's wisdom, He made the heavens.
He stretched out the earth above, the waters, and he made the sun and the moon. The prophet Jeremiah wrote in Jeremiah 32, verse 17, Ah, Lord God, behold, thou hast made the heavens and the earth by thy great power, and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee. You know, so often today, man, they, they look to different theories of evolution as how, as to how things came about.
But we know the answer is so simple. Why spend millions and billions of dollars trying to figure things out, where, when all you have to do is look God's word and you can see how God created all things, the heavens and the earth, they were created by the Lord Jesus Christ. It's not on your sheet, but in Genesis 1:1, we know that in the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. You know what? The Lord Jesus Christ was there. In Colossians 1, verses 16 and 17, we read there, For by Him were all things created that are in heaven and that are in earth, visible and invisible. So there are invisible things that God's created.
Whether they, whether they be thrones or dominions. Or principalities or powers. All things were created by him and for him, and he is before all things. And by him, all things consist. Now when it says that by him, all things are held together and that, they consist. In other words, Christ holds everything together.
The universe as it is right now. God's holding it together. You know, that's probably why we haven't had a big giant asteroid come and destroy the earth. Because the Lord Jesus Christ holds creation together. And today we should thank the Lord for his creation and that we can enjoy his creation. Even when things start dying this time of year in, you know, in, in the fall and going into winter.
I mean, I woke up this morning and there was all kinds of frost all over the car and, and we had to go outside and, and get the vehicle warmed up and, you know, put the defrost on. But yet, this is all part of God's creation and we can take trips out west and south and different parts of the world. And even in the sin, sin condition that the earth's in, God's creation is beautiful.
And we can thank the Lord daily for it. But I can tell you one thing, though. Someday, when God unleashes his wrath on this Christ rejecting world during the time of the Tribulation, things aren't going to be quite so held together, so to speak. A writing of that day, the prophet Isaiah wrote in chapter 13, verse 13, Therefore I will shake the heavens.
And the earth shall remove out of her place in the, in the wrath of the Lord of hosts and in the day of his fierce anger. And we also read in Revelation chapter 6 in verses 12 and 13. And I beheld, when he that opened the sixth seal, and lo, there was a great earthquake, and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood, and the stars of heaven fell unto the earth.
You know, we can thank the Lord today for his mercy, for his kindness, in that the body of Christ, we have not been appointed to that day of wrath. And we'll be raptured out before the fearful day of the Lord takes place. Now, the psalmist continues to thank the Lord for Israel's deliverance from Egypt.
We read in, verse 10 in your Bibles, in Psalm 136, and I'll read through verse 15. To him that smote Egypt in their firstborn, for his mercy endureth forever, and brought out Israel from among them, for his mercy endureth forever, with a strong hand and with a stretched out arm, for his mercy endureth forever.
To him which divided the Red Sea into parts, For his mercy endureth forever and made Israel to pass through the midst of it for his mercy or his kindness. So every time you see that word, mercy here, think kindness, the kindness of God. His mercy endureth forever and finally, verse 15, but over through Pharaoh and his host in the Red Sea, for his mercy, endure it forever.
You know, we know that lamb's blood, that lamb's blood, was used to cover the doorposts in Egypt. when the Lord smote the, firstborn of the Egyptians in, their land. And the Passover, when the Passover feast itself was instituted in Exodus chapter 12, verse 5, we read there, Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first, of the first year.
And that's why John the Baptist said in John 1:29, We read there that the next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him and, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world. And that all ties in, of course, with the Passover feast and with, Psalm 136:10, with the Lord who smote Egypt in their firstborn and what did the Lord use?
He used lamb's blood to protect them at the time. And you might be wondering, well, what in the world does that have to do with the body of Christ today? Well, the Apostle Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 5:7, yeah, in this, at this point of this letter, he was, he was writing to the Corinthian church about their brother in Christ.
Remember, they were approving of his immoral lifestyle. He told them to purge out there for the old, old leaven. That ye, or the group of them, may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ, our Passover, is sacrificed for us. It's because of the shed blood of Christ that God the Father can pass over our sins because he sees the righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Christ was made sin for us and, we just read that verse. in, 2 Corinthians 5, 21, not too long ago. So the Passover, while it is a Jewish feast, but yet we have the spiritual benefits of that as well. Now after that day, back in the time of Moses and the Exodus, the Lord brought Israel out of Egypt. out from the world, so to speak. And today, we know that the Lord calls believers out of the world as well. Because doesn't he command us to be separate from the world? Even though we live in the world and we still have to live life, but yet we're to be separate from the world as well. In 2 Corinthians 6, verses 14 and 17, Paul writes, Be, be not unequally yoked together with unbelievers for what fellowship?
Half righteousness hath righteousness with unrighteousness and what? Communion Half light with darkness. And then verse 17, come out from among them and be separate. Now, Paul wasn't only talking just only about marriage, many times we use this. And, you know, for an unbeliever shouldn't marry a believer and vice versa, but, you know, and that is true, but he's also talking about all areas of life.
We want to be very careful with who we associate with in our, you know, in our business dealings and just in our, in our lifestyle in general. And that's why Paul calls us out to be separate. Now, continuing with the wilderness journeys, the psalmist writes in verses, We're going to look at 16 through 24 here. To him which led his people through the wilderness, for his mercy endureth forever. To him which smote great kings, for his mercy endureth forever. And slew famous kings, for his mercy endureth forever. Sihon, king of the Amorites, for his mercy endureth forever. And Og, the king of, of, of Bashan, for his mercy endureth forever.
And gave their land for an heritage, for his mercy endureth forever. Even an heritage unto Israel his servant, for his mercy endureth forever. Who remembered us in our lowest state. Now, when Israel was in the wilderness for those 40 years, the Lord gave them many victories. over their enemies. And you read about that in just, in the psalm we read here, the famous kings, Sihon, king of the Amorites, and Og, the king of, king of, king of Bashan. And there were other kings too that the Lord defeated. It wasn't Israel that defeated them because Israel in and of themselves, they were a small group and these kings were mighty and powerful. But yet the Lord showed His kindness to Israel, to His chosen people, and He led them through the wilderness.
You know, today, we have victory in the Lord Jesus Christ, too. Just like how Israel had victory in the wilderness, we have victory in the Lord Jesus Christ. I want you, in your Bibles, To turn to Romans chapter 8, I didn't put it on the cross reference sheet because it's a bit too long and Randy would have had to print off a third page.
But go to Romans chapter 8 verse 31. So just like how God gave Israel victory in the wilderness over all those kings in the land, We read in Romans chapter 8 beginning in verse 31. What shall we say, or what shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect?
It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died. Yea, rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, Or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long. We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things, We are more than conquerors Through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, That neither death, nor life, nor angels, Nor principalities, nor powers, Nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
So just as Israel had victory in, in the Lord in the wilderness, We have victory in our lives now and in the future because nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. You know, in verse 21 in this psalm, in Psalm 136, in verse 21 we read about how Israel inherits the land. You know, in Israel they can give thanks to the Lord for His mercy, His kindness endures forever.
Well, what's our inheritance as members of the body of Christ? We've inherited the heavens, have we not? That's our heavenly, that's our inheritance. In Philippians 3, verse 20, we read, For our conversation, or our citizenship, is in heaven. From whence also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. So, just as the psalmist writes in verse 21 about Israel inheriting the land, And he thanks the Lord because his mercy endures forever.
We can thank the Lord for our inheritance in the heavens because the Lord's kindness endures forever. Isn't that, isn't that not... You know, God has a plan and a purpose, both for the earth and for the heavens as well. You know, compared to God's vast universe, the earth is... Man, I don't even know if it's even the size of a pinhead.
That's how, that's how small we really are when you think of God's vast universe. And even nowadays, they discover more and more things that are out there. And you would think that man would be like, Oh, there has to be a creator God. But no, man still refuses to believe. that God created all things. You know, someday though, God's gonna bring both the heavens and the earth together in Christ.
Paul writes in Ephesians 1:10, that in the dispensation of the fullness of times, he might gather together in one all things in Christ. Both which are in heaven, and which are on the earth, even in him. And, you know, we can give thanks to the Lord, because His kindness endures forever. In verse 23 in Psalm 136, that verse there, it reminds us of our lowest state.
Now, when you hear that term, lowest state, it means you've been brought to a very low position. If you've ever watched the movie The Christmas Story, you'll hear the father use that, that term lowly estate. And, you know, that's the idea of being brought very low. You know, Paul writes in Romans 5:6, For when we were yet without Christ, in due time, Christ died for the ungodly.
You know, without strength and ungodly. To me, that sounds like a very low estate to be in, doesn't it? It sounds like, it sounds like a position we don't want to be in. But here's the good news, a couple verses later in Romans 5:8, But God commendeth His love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
We can give thanks to the Lord, because His kindness endures forever. In verse 24, it's, in Psalm 136, it speaks of Israel's redemption from their enemies, and At that time, that was Israel's hope, and in the future, that's going to be their hope. As Paul writes about in Romans 11:26, where he says, And so, all Israel shall be saved, as it is written, There shall come out of Zion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob.
But today, in the dispensation of grace, even though we're still waiting, for that final step of redemption that we read about in Romans 8:23, where the, where we read, And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves, we grown within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.
And I know all of us are waiting eagerly for that day. But currently though, we are justified freely by His grace. In Romans 3:24, we know it says being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. And because of that redemption, we are complete in Christ. As it says in Colossians 2:10, that ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power.
So once you're in Christ. You've been redeemed, and you can't get any more complete than what you already are. You can't add anything to it. You can't subtract anything from it. God sees His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. We should give thanks to the Lord for His kindness, because it endures forever. And finally, you know, for our Thanksgiving meal today, and for this Thursday when you're eating with family and friends.
And, you know, and for all the food we enjoy, the final two verses of this psalm, we read there in Psalm 136, verses 25 and 26, Who giveth food to all flesh, for His mercy endureth forever. O give thanks unto the God of heaven, for His mercy, His kindness endures forever. Let's close in prayer. Heavenly Father, Lord, we just thank You for Your kindness to us, Lord.
We're thankful for, as we read this psalm about your kindness to the nation of Israel in their time in Egypt and in their wilderness wanderings, Lord. And we're thankful for your kindness to us today and the dispensation of grace and all the spiritual blessings we have and our position in your Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.
And Lord, just help us to remember that as we live our daily lives, Lord. During this Thanksgiving holiday, Lord, let us, let it be a reminder to us to be thankful. For all that we have in Christ. And it's in His name we pray. Amen.
Pastor Dan Wolgast
Nov 12, 2023
But there's a strange phenomenon in the church in general. And that is the ministry, what I call pastor shuffling. Men who went out, they're welcome at one church and move on. Or men who get tired of the church they're at. Or churches enticing men away from the churches they're serving. Or men who didn't measure up to the church's unrealistic expectations and were shown the door, as well as more. And that article I read recently throws some light on this. It stated that more than 1, 700 pastors leave the ministry every month. And then the article gave 10 reasons why. 50 percent discouragement. 50 percent were discouraged in the church they were at. This is often because of unrealistic expectations. The church isn't moving fast enough to suit me, but other reasons as well, 70 percent failure because of failure. They leave the church and do that, have a lower self image. Folks, I need to tell you right here and now that a man or woman free in the Lord Jesus Christ never has a poor self image.
When they know that, when they believe that, it doesn't matter what other people do or say to them or about them, their self image isn't going to say, isn't going to change. I am a child of God. Nothing can change that image. 70% from loneliness. You know, it's taught and encourages the courage that pastors aren't supposed to make friends in the church.
There's dumb things, but that's a really dumb one.
33 percent moral failure. Moral failure, sometimes from weakness, sometimes because they're targets. This is what we teach our, especially our young, that, uh, when you're in leadership, you can be a real target. To, by the devil, through whatever to, get you into moral failure. Seventy percent is financial. Men, grossly unpaid. And often again from unrealistic expectations. Anger. They really get angry at the way things are going, whatever. 4, 000 churches begin each year. That's interesting, isn't it? And I think this is worldwide, but 7, 000 close their doors. 4, 000 opened and 7, 000 closed their doors. And we see more and more of that, uh, today in churches closing. And unfortunately, we do as well. 90 percent is the workload, 55 to 75 hours a week. 75 percent stress related crises. Plenty of those to go around. 80%, and this is a real heartache, marriage and family problems, often caused by preoccupation with the church. How many families, wives, and children, we don't know who our husband or father is because he's always in church business and with church people. 90 percent of pastors feel they are inadequately trained to cope with the ministry demands. Think about that. 90 percent don't feel like they're adequately trained, and most of these people have at least four years of college and some seminary. Some of them have masters, some of them have doctorates, and they don't feel adequately trained.
Some men experience most of all, all of these and it should run up a red flag that something isn't right. All these things lead up to pastor shuffling and being Marians we need to look to scripture. Without preconceived ideas as to how it's properly done. How is the church to be led? We don't look at it, that's the way the church has always done it. All right. And as grace people, we are very firm and that's what people have always believed. Well, what does the scripture say? And we know all of us have run into that lots of times. So with that, to find out about this pastor shoveling, let's definitely let's turn to Hezekiah 13:3. This is my favorite passage to turn to when we're looking to justify what isn't in the Bible. The book of Hezekiah isn't in the Bible and neither is pastor Shuffling. There have been six to eight churches that folded and gave brain Bible institutes to priests proceeds from selling their property. That is not the way BBI wants to say solve it. And it should tell us something is not right in the way churches are led. One leader of a church told us, in all our existence, Grace Bible Church has never sent us a pastor. And could be the same thing that's said of being, bringing Bible Institute, so I'm not picking on the college. This leads to the question... How many men did you send to the college? Or how many men did you raise up to send to BVI for training? I would imagine, and I know that some wonder why Falls Bible Church has four pastors and many in churches including Oshkosh don't have any.
Well, for one thing, that's not exactly true. Part of the reason that I, is that I believe Falls is a biblical church and calls men biblically qualified elders or pastors. By the way, Mr. Getsky, you couldn't have gave me a better introduction this morning than what you talked about up here in your elders board. Oshkosh and other churches, like West Bend for example, are biblical churches and they have pastors. They're just not recognized as such. The Bible refers to them as elders. So let's look at an actual book and passage and see what the Apostle Paul calls leaders in the church. Let's turn to Acts 20, because they're all here. Acts chapter 20 and first of all, verse 17. From my litus, he sent to Ephesus. The Apostle Paul called for the elders of the church. All right? He called for the elders of the church. And then in verse 20, same in, in, in verses 27, 28, for I've not shunned to declare you, the whole council of God, therefore take heeded to yourselves, into all the flock among which the Holy Spirit.
Has made you overseers to shepherd the Church of God, which he purchased with his own blood here in the one chapter in the one context, we see in one setting leaders of a church referred to as elders, overseers and shepherds. He didn't separate them. It's all one group of men. This is important for us to renew our minds as to the leadership.
of the church. This leads us to our passage this morning in Titus, where we spend a lot of time in Chapter one. And we just read 5 to 9. For this reason, I left you in Crete that you should set in order the things that are lacking and appoint elders in every city as I commanded you. If a man is blameless, it hit husband of one wife. Having faithful children, not accused of dissipation or insubordination. For a bishop must be blameless, as a steward of God. Not self willed, not quick tempered, not given to wine. Not violent, not greedy for money, but hospitable. A lover of what is good, sober minded, just, holy, self controlled. Holding fast to faithful word, as he had been taught.
That he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict. So Tymoson left in Creek. Titus was left in Crete to sit in order the things that were lacking. I believe order in the church as well as appointing godly men to lead them. Men not perfect, but characterized by the virtues in this passage. So first of all, let's look at what leaders aren't. For this reason, I left you in Crete that you should set in order the things that are lacking and appoint elders in every city as I commanded you. Leaders aren't strangers. Leaders aren't strangers.
Paul did not send pastors to create, to create, he sent Titus to appoint leaders. They were already in the family, they were already there. They were taught in the word, and Titus was to discern who among them met the qualifications listed in this passage. He was then to appoint them. And, and another point here, leaders choose leaders. That's a very important, the church is not a democracy. It's led by godly leaders and leaders choose leaders. Now, you can get the flock to vote on whether the leaders are picking the right men or not, but they're leaders. Though this man is biblically qualified. We've looked at this and we looked at him and we know him and therefore we think that he should be part of the leadership in this church.
They were men from their own fellowship. Leaders are not mini kings or priests or saviors. That should be a given, but that's often what a church is looking for. They aren't to be tyrants, demanding of their children. We're all given the word for us to follow. Every man is called to provide for his family.
And the first church I went to, was called to, they had 12 adults and two teenagers. And that would have been awful dumb to me, and self centered to say you should, you're supposed to provide for my, family. No, God says I am, and that's what I told them. And I'm going to provide for my family regardless of what the church can do.And that's my responsibility. And people are to give according to their means. That's each individual. Each one of you are called on to go to the Lord. And what do I give towards the ministry of my church? That's your responsibility. It's not my or the leader's responsibility to fleece the flock to keep telling you you should give more or whatever. That's yours. And we have one person, at least in our church, that when the money isn't there for our pastors, we just don't take a check that month. We have people get mad at us for that. You go figure that one out. But we're to provide and, the church gives as God leads each individuals.
Leaders aren't surrogate fathers. Most people are looking for a dad, often looking to the pastor to be their dad. I believe this is why Catholic churches are so popular, because they have a dad that they can always look to and blame on and whatever. Bible churches want leaders they can worship, be their dads, do the work of the ministry, praise him for what he does right, condemn him for what they perceive does wrong, blame him for the problems in the church, and shuffle him along when they're tired of him, send us a new victim. We see that over and over. There's a couple in our first church, they met and got married, they were in the middle section of a hospital and they were turned around. They got saved under our ministry and they're turned around and very immature. And finally, after quite a while, they left the church. And as I went over and seen him, talk to them, they said you were supposed to be our dad and you didn't measure up to that. And in a sense, As there are obviously fathers in the faith, but it's to lead to Jesus Christ, not to take that position permanently. And it was sad, they, and we did things. They, their kids asked us to go to school with them and we did on Grand Dad's Day and everything. But obviously we couldn't take over as. I have sons in the faith only because I directed them to the father and there are men almost my age, they call me look to me as a father in the faith, but only because I'd led them to Jesus Christ in a way that they were set free in him. They are dependent upon him alone, not me.
Here's a big disappointing for you. I know leaders are not necessarily dynamic preachers. Some are gifted at preaching and some are not. There's a reason for this, I'm not going to go into it today, but Preaching is what generally scares most men from leadership that they've been called to. I gotta get up and preach before I was set free in the Lord. My pastor asked me to, take a homiletics course, which is a preaching course. And I thought at the time, you know, I was going, I thought, well, this would be good to learn how to preach. I'll just go along with this. Second time there, I realized that he was going to ask me to preach. There was a couple other men in the class.
I never went back and I could have come up with more than 100 excuses never to come back. Because you weren't going to get me up front and make a fool out of myself. I was saved, but I wasn't free and there was no way. It was later when the Lord freed me that then I had to get up and tell people what Jesus Christ had done for me. It didn't matter if there were 40 men or 40, 000, 40 people. I needed to tell others about Jesus Christ and what he'll do in your life if you believe him. I was never much of a communicator, but had to talk about my father. I once got a backhanded compliment, Dan's more of a teacher than a preacher. Does pastor teacher come to mind there? There was one lady in our church, our first church, every Sunday, my wife and I would stand at the back and greet people as they left, and every Sunday, Dan, why'd you quit?
Why'd you quit? And at the same time, she offered to pay my way down to Georgia to get into Charles Stanley's preaching class. She loved what she heard, but she knew I could use a little help in the area of proclaiming the word. A good heart. She meant well. I told her she'd send me to Texas to Tony Evans preaching school, I'd go.
I could preach like Charles Stanly. I'll listen, I'll, I'll listen. I'll listen up. Ha ha ha!
Now today we have the blessing and the curse at times of electronics. And when a church doesn't have a preacher or man in the church that's comfortable with standing up here proclaiming the truth, you have the opportunity to go live stream with another church where they do have preaching and you get good messages.
And it's a substitute, but I think it's a good one. West Bend has some excellent preachers. By the way, there are a lot of people that laugh when West Bend says We need a Pastor . There's six or eight men in the church, more mature than the last pastor they had, and there's several as, pastor Sadler and Dr. Nix. No one preaches better than either one of them. And so we had that opportunity. You know, it takes humility, but you spend time as a family and you can, and you can, um. Tune into one of these, and it can be, you know, even if your time isn't the same, you can, uh, preach it later. We have wonderful pastors in our church as well, and we live stream.
And so, we have that, and we need to think about these things. Because God in time will raise up the men. You have shepherds in this church. I've known them for a long time. You're the elders. And, so it's a matter of time, but most of the time, preaching is just like this, you know, what's the emphasis, what's brought out, and the first church I went to, they were such a gracious flock, probably out of desperation, that though I wasn't a very good communicator, I communicated the truth of Jesus Christ.
And they love what they heard. Our church grew from 12 people to over 100 in the first six years I was there. So, very important is what is the content of the message, not is how eloquent is the speaker. The power in preaching is in the truth, our Lord Jesus Christ, that sets one free. So let's look at what church leaders are again.
Generally homegrown in Paul's idea. They came from the fellowship there to be blameless men of godly character. The flock knows a man's testimony. 1st Timothy 3:7. Moreover, he must have a good testimony among those who are outside less he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil. He's to have a good. Testimony both in and out, and the flock knows the men that they're raising up, and that they're there. And, this story I'm going to tell, part of it is, I have to put to rumor because I didn't get it from the horse's mouth, but part of it's true because I, that I, I know that it's true because it happened.
There were two men at the college years and years ago. And, the whoever the leaders of the college, they had these two men before him, and they told one man and say, you're not qualified. You don't think we don't think your passion material and the other man. They put their laid their hand on said you are. This man came to the church that I had served at before I was there. And his testimony was that of, that the church actually had to call the police to have him physically removed from the property. Later, and a good friend of ours told us this, her husband was unsaved and this man now is an insurance salesman rather than leader in the church.
And told her husband, you know what's the matter with that church there? Now, talking to an unsaved man, they don't want her baptized. Now, this is a man graduating from a great school. The other went on and is still faithfully teaching and serving the Lord after, I don't know how many years, but a lot. See, what's, what's the testimony of a man?
What's he made of? He used to be a family man. He needs to see the flock as part of his family. You know, again, we haven't been here for 20 years in this flock and to see so many familiar faces that have been faithful and been here and still are. And, but God uses terms that we can understand. Father, son, children, family.
You know, and that's what we've become. A family, so he needs to see the flock as part of his family, just as the rest of the church sees itself as a family. He has brethren serving with him, not under him with him. You know, in our church, I've been phasing out of the senior position and Andy Kern has been phasing into it.
And when I finally come to the place, okay, I'm stepping out of the senior position. You know what they did? They took the senior and associate out of the bulletin. They didn't want to use it because they didn't want it to look like I was stepping down or diminishing or whatever. What a precious thing that was to me.
The Apostle Paul refers to Titus 4 as a true son in the face serving with him. He used to be a husband of one wife, learning to love his wife as Christ of the church. And not necessarily married, as there should also be godly married men in the ministry with single elders. I have several friends, several men in the, in the pastorate that they're not married.
I have one actually as a student right now, and he says, I just don't feel like I've been called to be married. And right away he started to apologize, or not really apologize, but go into whatever, you know. I said, stop right there. I said, some men are called to singleness. That's biblical, and we need to recognize that.
And, Very important, but family oriented in that this is my family having faithful children, not accused of dissipation, which is basically spending freely on his own lusts. Appetites. The prodigal son was, an example of that or in subordination being unruly. He is trained and encourages families to be trained in godly parenting.
He believes scriptures. Children are a blessing from the Lord, not a curse, a blessing. Falls has a lot of kids. We have a couple of families, two or three families with seven kids and others with quite a number. And every once in a while I get this, you know, I noticed you Couples in your church have a lot of kids and that's my answer to him.
Yeah, they have learned and they believe that kids are a blessing from the Lord, not a curse. That ends the conversation right there and then there. There's all kinds of worldly stuff teaching on not having too many kids, whatever that is. Now, Pastor Sandra says a quiverful, which is what the Bible teaches, is 12.
We're not going to go there. This is between the husband and wife and the Lord. How many kids in the family? And we're not to judge on whether there's none or a bunch of them so he believes scripture. Children are a blessing from the Lord. He knows that godly parents train up godly Children who become godly leaders. Godly homes are the foundation of the church. I was blessed to no end. We had a missionary conference as we often do it at the school. And there was a missionary set up there.
He says, You know, we have 10 kids and all my wife and I knew from the start when we first started having kids was that we were to raise them up. to be Christians. No, that's a given to bring him to the Lord. That's a given to be in dependency of the Lord Jesus Christ to give them a God that when they leave home, he's big enough that they can live by faith in the world that they have to go out into.
Godly leaders are humble. Who is the most public leader in Israel's history? If you think about it, it was Moses. He had the whole nation of Israel and he was their daddy. He was responsible for every direction, every whatever they went through. And I knew that daddy and obviously, but why did God choose Moses to lead his people out of Egypt?
Why did he do that? What was so great about this man who failed big time? Murdering somebody. And sometimes that's what we need, not to murder somebody, but to see our sinfulness. But the clue is in numbers 12:3. Now, the man Moses was very humble, more than all the men who were on the face of the earth.
That's why he chose Moses. More than all the men were on the face of the earth. And in the King James, it says above all Above all the men. See where God puts humility? Up here. We look at it down here. In fact, one term is in, I don't like the King James meekness because it looks like weakness and that's what people take it as.
It isn't that at all. But God puts humility up here. Up here. Above all the men who are on the face of the earth. See, what was the virtue that Paul brought out about God with us in Philippians 2:5? Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider robbery to be equal with God, but made himself in no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men, and being found in appearances of men, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death.
Even the death of the cross, Jesus, God with us humbled himself. And God with us didn't go into his ministry until he was 30. Now, God set it up that way. He set it up that way. Number one, it's difficult for a young man to muster much humility. And, there are plenty of at the same time. There are plenty of old pastors who don't manifest much. One man I know, grew up in a church and he's in his forties now. And he said, my pastor taught about the virtue of humility from the time I knew him right up until this point. I just wish that he would example a little. He taught humility and pride.
Now you can do that. And, he did. I was sad. Timothy was between 30 and 40 years old when Paul admonished him in 1st Timothy 4:12. Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity. Over and over we're finding men in their 30s, usually their 40s, sometimes their 50s, that are sensing the call to be a leader in the church.
There are men that came up through the church and now feel that I need to lead the church. And this is generally where it happens. Two of our men in our church, two of our leaders, they're in our church because they've been out attempting to lead churches. And they got nailed so bad because of teaching, preaching Jesus Christ that they backed away from it.
And one man, especially I need to come home. See, a church is to be that protective place where we train and we bring up men to lead that church. And so important, it's a very important part of leadership is protecting the church, protecting the flock, just as it is the father, to protect his children from the world, from the devil and his ways, until their living in dependency of the Lord Jesus Christ as well.
Time and experience gives a man wisdom.
So, our men need to be taught. They were meant to be taught and believe the whole counsel of God's word, holding fast the faithful word as he had been taught. Ahem. This is a real detriment in the grace movement. And that is we've thrown out the word disciple. Some people get angry at it and it was only used in, in fact, in the chapter we were in in Acts.
But that's what they mean. They need to be taught by word and by example. That's discipleship. And I'm really saddened that that word has been denigrated within the grace movement. It shouldn't be. It's a well rounded education. Our students and Paul's affect your former pastor, Paul, um, for graduation, I was taking the men places.
I said, Paul, what do you want to do? I want to go on a moose hunt. So we took the whole gang and Dr. Nix went up to the U. P. and went on a moose hunt. I actually seen one. We didn't shoot any. You can't shoot them up there.
But we have to remember, so much is caught as well as taught. Does this man know what he's talking about by the life that he lives, by his, does he really care about us?
What's a blessing here is now leaders can take and get trained without leaving home. Dr. Bedore and I couldn't bring our school into this modern technical age. Dr. Madone never had a computer till years after I met him, and but God supplied us with men that could. And now these are the leaders in the school, and now we have online classes, which are almost as good as having the people, the students in front of you.
And then we have distance studies as well. So men never have to leave the church anymore to get educated and to get trained and they don't have to take the whole course. What am I weak in? There's some strong points. What am I weak in? What do I need to hone up on? And we have every class, except for our family classes and our counseling.
I won't do those. I'll do them online, but I won't do them distance study. There's too much of this that has to be passed. Back and forth. And the school has agreed for years. They're the most important classes that we teach our family classes and our counseling. Counseling is merely sanctification, teaching the word of God.
I got one minute, so I only had two pages left. I have to have all my notes because I don't have a memory. So anyway, you are blessed with leaders here. You are blessed with shepherds here. And I just challenge you to keep looking within in this area has continued to build up men that will shepherd your church.
And they have. I can look at them and see it. Been here for 20 some years and I know of. So with that, let's pray. Father, thank you for our time and your word. Thank you, Father, that your ways are not our ways. And too often, Father, we want to get into our ways to do your work. And that's something that, uh, you have a hard time honoring.
Father, what you want and what Paul tells us that, is to know you. And the more that we know you, the more that we can learn to trust you. And the more father you can get done in and through our lives. I thank you for this precious church father, the way you've blessed it for so many years and Ask that you continue to bless the church and all those involved in it, Father, and that they will continue to bring glory to the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
And it's in that wonderful name we pray. Amen.
Paul Turner II
Nov. 5, 2023
Take your Bibles and turn to Joshua 23. Let's pray. Father God, thank you for this morning, Lord. Thank you for giving us your word. Lord, we realize that your word is not just something to keep around the house. But that it's something to read and meditate on and study and Lord, I pray that we are all students of your word, that your word guides us in every moment of every day, in every decision, big and small. And Lord, may we find comfort this morning in your words. It's in your son's name. I pray in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
I had you open your Bibles to Joshua 23. That's where you are. Let me begin with something that happened to me when I was probably five or six years old. We lived in a double wide trailer, and between our house and the neighbor's house, there was a row of spruce trees. I don't remember how big they were at the time, but they were big enough for a five or six year old boy to get under. Okay, and they, the branches came all the way to the ground, and behind the row of spruce trees the neighbor's yard kind of went up a hill, and their house sat at the top of the hill, maybe 20 or 30 feet above the spruce trees. The perfect angle for watching what was going on under the spruce trees. And I had discovered a pack of matches in the kitchen drawer, and... absconded with, ran off with the matches to the spruce trees, and I thought this would be fun. I'm going to build myself a little fire and of course, I had no idea that there was a rat in the neighborhood living in the house above me, and she ratted me out. She called my parents. She called my mother and told my mother that her precious little baby boy was out playing with matches underneath The spruce trees. Now, at five or six years old, I had no idea of the danger of playing with matches. I've always given my kids lots of opportunities to light fires and do things like that because I don't want them to want to take the matches and play with them. I would rather do it in a supervised environment. But needless to say, I was out there playing with matches and it was very dangerous and I never did get anything started before my experience was ruined and I was called back in the house and I don't remember if I got in trouble or not or if I just got a talking to.
I don't remember all those details and they're not important. But the thing is, playing with matches is a dangerous thing, isn't it? Especially when you're sitting under spruce trees that are filled with pitch. Man, if those needles had caught on fire, it would have been an epic burndown of the neighborhood. But luckily, the Lord protected me. Wisdom intervenes, at least by others on my behalf. How many of us have been paying attention to what's going on in Israel and Gaza and the Middle East? How many of you are aware that in Europe, in countries, in nations in Europe today, houses and businesses are being marked with the Star of David? Have you heard that? It's happening. I saw a video of it. It's happening. How many of you are aware of pro Hamas protesters in the U.S. college campuses? How many of you are aware of the flood of fighting age men, single men, from across the globe coming across our southern border? Who here thinks we are sitting on a powder keg? Globally, we are sitting on a powder keg. Everywhere lines are being drawn, sides are being taken. I wanted to address this this morning because I don't want it to be the elephant in the room. We're all paying attention to it. We're all watching it. We at least should look at it from a biblical perspective.
We need some biblical perspective to understand what's going on. If you speak about one side, you're accused of of, of supporting, you know, you're supporting that side. If you speak against one side, you're supporting the other. You can't say anything without finding yourself being accused of supporting the other side when it's very possible that there's things that could be said about both sides that need to be said. I remember a preacher who on multiple occasions said that we are reliving 1930s Germany. You remember that guy? He looked very similar to me. Well, I'd like to update that just briefly this morning. I believe right now we are living in late 1930s, early 1940s Germany. You see, on September the 1st, 1939, that was the date that Germany invaded Poland. Boundary lines between nations had been crossed. Anybody familiar with boundary lines being crossed in a country called Ukraine? Anybody aware of boundary lines being crossed in a, in, in what is referred to as Palestine, or coming into Israel, and now Israel going into Gaza? We see these lines, these lines that have been drawn being crossed by, by armies, by missiles, by, by jets, by all of these things.
The next thing that took place after September 1st, 1939, if you are a student of history, you know that in 1940, America was funding and supplying weapons to nations who were involved in the conflict. Does anybody think that's aware, everybody aware that that's happening today? By the billions, that's happening today? By December of 1941. The United States of America was involved in both theaters of war. We are sitting on a powder keg, and the world is playing with matches. It's a little unnerving, isn't it?
How should we as believers, how should we, as the body of Christ, look at everything that's going on around us? That's an important question. You see, the world, it's easy to get caught up in the emotions of everything that's going on. It's easy to react and respond from a position of fear. And, and in case you're unaware of this, the media, the, the, the national media, the online media, the media, they, they, they depend on that. They depend on you responding and reacting in fear. And those fears feed the conversations that take place. Around the dinner table, and in the restaurants, and in the diners, and, and online, things are said back and forth between people. Some of it said it is accurate, some of it said it is absolutely wrong, and absolutely insane. But things are said because people are responding in fear. And fear drives decisions that are not usually...Wise 2nd Timothy chapter 1 and verse 7 says God Have no you stay in Joshua 2nd Timothy 1 7 says God hath not given us the spirit of Fear that's not a hard concept to understand is it and yet how often do ww? Do we find ourselves a little unnerved by everything that's going on in the world? I mean, I have family members that are old enough to, that if, if a war, if a global war broke out, I have a son and a son in law who would be of age.
It's a little, a little unnerving, isn't it? But the Bible says, God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. All three of those are important, but I think that the third one is. Crucial. God has given us a sound mind. In 2 Corinthians chapter 5 and verse 7 it says, We walk by faith and not by sight. Because if we walk by sight, guess what? We will find ourselves enveloped in fear. Absolute terror at what's going on. And that's where the world finds itself today. If you want my 10 second honest opinion, I think the United States of America is just... We're just waiting for the present day sinking of the Lusitania or the present day Archduke Ferdinand incident, the thing, the attack of Pearl Harbor. We're just waiting for that event that sways the court of public opinion into saying we need to be in this conflict.
It's coming. How do we handle that as the body of Christ? How do we respond to that? You see, we walk by faith, not by sight. But that's not a blind faith. Our faith is rooted in truth, or it should be. We don't have to walk blindly into these things. God has given us truth. Truth that we need to lean into hard. For everything, whether it's global, whether it's, whether it's personal, whatever it is, we need to lean into this book. This book must be our guide in every decision, in every attitude, in every, every aspect of everything that goes on in our lives. So with that idea in mind, I had you turn to Joshua chapter 23. How should we look at this situation? You know, when it comes to Israel, there are two schools of thoughts. Generally, there are two schools of thought with the nation of Israel. One school of thought is that Israel is still under that covenant relationship, that God is in this dispensation of grace, that those covenants are still in full effect.
And so that is one view of that. The other view is that God has made a covenant relationship with Israel. And we can go to Romans chapter 11 and we can see where it says that God keeps His promises. He is going to honor His covenant relationship with Israel. But I believe that Scripture bears out the fact that during this dispensation of grace, that Israel has been set aside in unbelief, and with that setting aside, their covenants have been put on hold.
Now, those are two very different views. of Israel. And while while some may hold to the fact that those covenants are still in effect today, and I may hold to based on scripture and what eyes and they're doing that based on scripture, and I'm coming at it from the standpoint that that that they are, they are no longer in effect at this current moment.
But God will resume that covenant relationship with Israel. I would like to say that for what is going on today in the Middle East, that question is irrelevant. And I will show you why that question is irrelevant. I had you turn to Joshua, Chapter 23. Today we walk by faith, not by sight. That's that walk by faith is not a faith that is in ignorance. It is found in truth. And so I thought it would be good to go to the words of a dying man to get some truth. In Joshua, Chapter 22 verse one, then Joshua called. The Reubenites and the Gadites and half the tribe of Manasseh. Now go down to verse 14.
I'm sorry, I'm in the wrong chapter. 23, that didn't sound right. Joshua 23. 1, And it came to pass a long time after that the Lord had given rest unto Ishmael from all the enemies roundabout, that Joshua was, Joshua waxed old and was, and stricken in age. Now verse 15 14 and behold that this day. This is Joshua speaking behold this day I am going the way of all the earth He is dying and he knows it and you know that in all your hearts and in all your souls That not one thing hath failed of all the good things which the Lord your God spake concerning you All are come to pass unto you, and not one thing hath failed thereof.
Isn't that so comforting? He's dying, and he says, you know, God has kept every promise he's ever made to you. How many of you agree with that? Absolutely. God has kept every promise. And at this time, he certainly had as well. Now look at verse 15. Therefore, it shall come to pass that as all good things come upon you, which the Lord your God promised you, To which all those present before Joshua that day were saying, That's right!
Whoo! All right! Semicolon. So shall the Lord bring upon you all evil things, until He hath destroyed you from off this good land which the Lord your God hath given you. Whoo! Whoo! How's that for words of a dying man? Joshua. Joshua comes to these Israelites and he says, Listen, God has kept every promise He's ever made to you.
But you need to remember that he has also promised you that if you break that covenant, there are consequences. So shall the Lord bring upon you all evil things until ye have, until he have destroyed you from off this good land which the Lord your God hath given you. God is going to keep his promises, both the ones you like and the ones you don't like so much.
Look at verse six, Joshua 23 verse six, he says to them, be therefore very courageous to keep and to do all that is written in the book of the law of Moses that you turn not aside therefore to the right hand or to the left hand or to the left. Oh, listen, here's a lesson to learn. I'll do this very quickly.
Obedience to God is a courageous thing. Everybody got that? Obeying God takes courage. It takes guts to do what God says. It makes no difference what dispensation you live in. It takes guts to obey God's Word. Make God's Word the authority. Look at Joshua 23, verse 11. Take good heed, therefore, unto yourselves, that ye love one another.
The Lord your God. How are they going to love the Lord their God? He's take heeded that you love him. How are they going to love him? By obeying him, by being courageous and obeying his word. Now look at verse 12 else. If you do in any wise, go back and cleve unto the remnant of these nations. Even these that remain among you and shall make marriages with them and go in unto them and they to you.
Now listen very closely to verse 13. Know for a certainty. You know, when God speaks, when God communicates a message, it's always important. When God says something leading up to the message, know for a certainty. It's one of those moments where you're like, you know. Okay, I'm gonna pay attention here. This might not be good. Know for a certainty that the Lord your God will make, will no more drive out any of these nations from before you.
But they shall be snares and traps unto you, and scourges in your sides, and thorns in your eyes, until ye perish from off this good land, which the Lord your God hath given you. Woo! Wow, that's a great response. Wow! What is he saying? If you're not courageous, if you're not obedient to the covenant relationship which we established, which I, God, have established with you, Israel, if you break that covenant, if you do not love me, if you do not obey me, know for a certainty these 13.
Until ye perish from off this good land which the Lord, your God, hath given you. It says down there in verse 16, When ye have transgressed the covenant of the Lord your God, which he hath commanded you, and have gone and served other gods, and bowed yourselves to them, then shall the anger of the Lord be kindled against you, and ye shall perish quickly from off the good land which he hath given unto you.
God said what he said, didn't he? Under the covenant, there were consequences. In 2 Kings 17, don't go there, we don't have time. 2 Kings 17 verses 22 and 23, you can write that down. I wrote down exactly how it says it. Israel was carried away out of their land. In 2 Kings 25, five chapters later, because the kingdom was divided at that time, 2 Kings 25, 21, Judah was carried away out of their land.
What did God promise them with certainty? If they broke the covenant, if they didn't obey, if Israel was not courageously obeying God and His Word, there would, this was the consequence, this was the outcome. Israel repeatedly throughout their history broke their covenant relationship with God, did they not?
Israel committed murder by which you and I and every person who professes to be Jewish today. Can come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ can be saved. Israel did that. It's what it says in Acts chapter 2. Peter calls them out. Calls out his own people and says, You murdered him.
Now before I go on, I'm going to say this several times. Hamas is wicked. Wicked. And evil. Islam is wicked and evil.
But I will also say that Israel's struggles today are in part due to their disobedience to God's word thousands of years ago. They did not drive out the inhabitants as they were commanded. They did not obey God. They broke the covenant with the one who was their protector. Now let me say, I am not attacking Israel in this.
Christians today disobey God all the time. And I'm going to get to the lessons that we have to learn, that we have to learn. But, but let me continue. And again, let me say, Hamas is wicked and evil. Islam is wicked and evil. I am not giving them a pass. I am not taking their side by any stretch in this. I'm just putting all the facts together as scripture gives them to us.
I believe Israel has every right to defend themselves against this, against this wickedness. They were attacked. They were attacked. They have a right to protect their people. And again, let me say, Hamas is wicked and evil.
But we can look at scripture and see the effects of Israel's disobedience as well. In Joshua 23, 13, God said what he said, didn't he? If they didn't obey the covenant. So you see why I'm saying, if you think Israel is under the covenants. Or if you think Israel is not under the covenant. While that's an important discussion to have for understanding what's going on today.
It's almost irrelevant because if you think they're under the covenant still today in the dispensation of grace, and while I may disagree with you on that, if you think they're under the covenant, then you have to apply Joshua 23 to that understanding and realize that God is not. Going to drive out the inhabitants from before Israel today Israel may drive out the inhabitants they may wipe Hamas from off the face of the planet as they have promised and said because they have a superior army and because they have all these weapons and bombs and Quite frankly because they're receiving a lot of funds and weapons from around the world Specifically from the United States of America that may happen But we can't mistake what Israel is doing with God's hand of protection and keeping his covenant relationship with them.
Because Israel, if you think they're under that covenant, you must also admit that they are not obeying that covenant that they have with Israel. On the other hand, if you think that, if you believe that Israel is not under that unbelief and God will one day. Pick up that dealing with the nation of Israel again.
I'll do this very quickly, rather than having you turn there. In Romans chapter 10 in verse 1, Paul writes that Israel has a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. Romans 10, 1 to 3. And that they walk according to their own righteousness, not according to His righteousness.
And Romans chapter 11 verses 25 to 32 speaks of the fact that Israel was set aside in unbelief, but also says that God will keep and honor his covenant promise with them.
What can we do? What can we do? We can pray for the whole situation. We need to pray for the whole situation. You know why we need to pray? Let me give you the number one reason why we pray. For this situation in particular. Because right now, people are dying. Both on the side of Israel and the side of Hamas.
And on both sides, people are dying and going to a Christless eternity. Because they have not trusted in what Jesus Christ did for them on that cross. We need to pray for the salvation of souls. We also need to pray because there are Christians in Gaza, there are Christians in Israel who are there as missionaries reaching the lost and their lives are in danger.
You need to pray for that whole situation.
Why do I share this though? There are three overlapping reasons why I shared this this morning and I have to move quickly through this. First of all, I think the first reason that I want to share, wanted to share this was this morning was because to give a biblical context to the events that we have all seen in the news.
Romans 15. 4 says, Those things that were mentioned aforetime were written for our learning. We need to make sure that we are in this book, learning from this book, so that we can look at the events of this world in light of this book. And let me just say, too, we need to do it from the point of understanding the Word of God rightly divided.
I can't tell you how many things I've heard on Christian radio and other things this week about how, you know, looking at... Gog and Magog and Armageddon and all of these things because they fail, they're looking at these things that are taking place in the book of Revelation and somehow trying to apply them to today.
We are not living. In the events of Revelation, the rapture of the church, the body, praise the Lord, the rapture of the church, the body of Christ must come first. That doesn't mean we're not going to face difficulties and hardships. That's the other thing I've heard lately that I don't have time to get into this morning, but this idea that, that people who believe in the pre tribulational rapture are just looking for an escape.
That is not true. The only reason, the only way that, that the antichrist can come in at the beginning of the tribulation is an established peace on earth. Is if there is wars going running rampant over the earth when he comes in at the beginning of the tribulation, we are not looking to escape anything.
We're just not promised that we are going to go through the tribulation. The second thing, so we need to learn from scripture about those events because there's much to learn about that. The second thing, and these are, I said these are overlapping. The second thing that we need to learn from what's going on over there today is obedience.
to God and the importance of obedience to God. As I said earlier, we walk by faith. 2 Corinthians chapter 5 and verse 7. Believing that phrase, while there's more to it, believing that phrase begins on the foundation that we are taking God at His word. You can't obey what you don't know. It's important as Christians.
That we know what God's Word says and obey what God's Word says, and we need to learn that by looking at the effects of Israel's disobedience. It should cause us to examine our own personal obedience or lack thereof. And the third overlapping point that I wanted to make this morning is that when we disobey God's Word, it doesn't just affect The person disobeying God's word.
You've heard me through the years speak of multi generational impacts of decisions that have been made. When I look back to Joshua 23, I've come to the conclusion that it's not multi generational, it's multi millennial. Israel's disobedience, way back there, has a multi millennial impact on the world.
Apostasy. Disobedience to God is fatal. At this point, what we're looking at is global fatalities based on the disobedience that took place thousands of years ago. Global fatalities! Man, if that doesn't wake us up and cause us to realize how important it is that we pay attention to what we are doing as it says and has been quoted so many times in Hosea chapter 8 and verse 7.
Speaking of Israel, it says they sow the wind. And they will reap the whirlwind. I don't care who you are. That's a true statement. Said in a more 2023 version. Play stupid games. Win stupid prizes. You know, there are effects. If we sow disobedience to God and His word back here, there will be a ripple effect to that.
How important is it that we obey God's Word explicitly? And that obedience begins with knowing His Word intricately. We must know what the Word of God says.
This is supposed to be a message of encouragement and contentment. It's okay. It's okay.
It's okay. Man. Turn to 1 Corinthians. 1 Corinthians chapter 12. 1
Corinthians chapter 12. I want you to look at this because I know you've all looked at it in the past. You've all read it in the past. You've all heard it in the past. Unless you slept through some of my sermons, you've all heard it and read it and heard sermons on it in the past. 1 Corinthians.
Christine's not here. I can't even call her on it. First Corinthians 12, For as the body is one and hath many members, and all the members of that one body are many, as one, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, bond or free, and all made to drink into one spirit.
For the body is not one member, but many. How many of you are familiar with this?
What can we do as the body of Christ? Sometimes that's said almost in despair. What, what can we do? I mean, I'm not, I'm not anywhere near that tinderbox in the Middle East. I'm not anywhere near anything that's going on. I'm just, I'm just here. I'm just here in Oshkosh, little old me in Oshkosh, little old Grace Bible Church in Oshkosh.
What can we do? I mean, beyond pray. I mean, we, yes, pray. Start with prayer. Everything should start with prayer. What can we do?
I mean, think about it. This church doesn't even have a pastor, do you? How many of you would like a pastor? Yeah. Yeah. Let's have a pastor.
Do you remember when I preached on 1st Corinthians chapter 12 and how I shared from from that passage that no part of the body of Christ is more important than any other? It's a true statement, right? I mean, he goes into great detail demonstrating to them, you know, the eyes not any more important than year.
The foot's no more important than the hand. The hands no more important than the foot. And I said that! I said there is no part of the body of Christ that, that is any more important than any other. And I said specifically, as your pastor, I am not any, any more important when I, when I was your pastor. I'm not any more important than, than anyone.
I am, I am equal member of the body of Christ. I know you would like a pastor. What if it took you as long to get a pastor as it took to get a building?
What if it took that long? I know, I know some are thinking, Oh boy, don't do that. Please Lord, don't let that happen. You know, when I left, I struggled with that decision. Not because I didn't think it was the right decision. But you do go through this emotional response.
And so I wrestled with that decision and I searched this book. Because I needed comfort. I needed clarity.
And I would like to share just a little bit of that very briefly with you this morning, and then tie that together with everything else that we've talked about. This is not a two part message, really. It all fits together. Trust me. But I, I struggled with that. And I did search the scripture, and God brought me to 1 Corinthians chapter 12, and the very comments that I had made.
But I can tell you this, as I began to study 1 Corinthians chapter 12, God made it very real to me. And I praise the Lord for God making it very real to me. It's one thing to preach knowledge about a passage, but God made it very personal for 1 Corinthians chapter 12 and the next things that I'm going to share with you.
I wanted to make sure. I wanted to know. Am I leaving, am I leaving the sheep without a shepherd?
And I'm telling you, God absolutely drilled my heart.
After studying 1 Corinthians chapter 12 and knowing what it said, but needing to understand what it said,
I looked up the word, the Greek word for pastor. Pay attention very closely to this.
The Greek word translated pastor is used 18 times. in the New Testament. 18 times.
17 times it is translated shepherd. Now let's do the math.
Very good. 18 take away 17. One time. Paul uses the Greek word one time. One time in 18 it's translated pastor in Ephesians chapter 4 verse 11. One time in the entire New Testament is the word pastor used. One time. Paul never uses it and it is translated shepherd. Never. He uses it once. He doesn't use the Greek word in every book, in every letter that he wrote.
He literally uses the Greek word once and only once and that one time it is translated pastor.
And as I'm, as I'm, as I'm looking at this, I'm thinking, holy moly, we put a lot of stock in a position, in a man, in a position with a title whose, whose literal title that we give him, that we honor him with is used literally only epistles, one time.
So now I've read 1st Corinthians 12, I understand that no part is more important than another, and now God has brought me to this realization that the term pastor is only used once in Paul's epistles. And so that now I'm curious. Anybody else curious at this point? Yeah, so I keep going. I read the opening of every one of Paul's epistles.
What do we know about those letters? Those letters deal with some pretty heavy stuff, don't they? Immorality,
false teaching, legalism, all kinds of things. Every letter is addressed with the exception of Timothy, Titus, and Philemon. But the church epistles are addressed to the whole body. And I'm looking at this and I'm putting this through the lens of 1 Corinthians chapter 12 and I'm thinking, Wait a minute here.
Every letter is addressed to the whole body, to the saints which are at, to the brethren which are at, with the exception of Philippians, which speaks to the saints which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons. They're all just generally addressed to everybody who is a believer in Corinth, everybody who's a believer in Rome, everybody who's a believer in Ephesus or Philippi or wherever it is.
Not one letter, not one, was addressed to the pastor.
So then I started thinking, well, who is the pastor at these churches? We don't know. We don't have names. Not one of them do we know the name of a pastor. Yes, Timothy or Titus may have gone and preached at a place for a while, but I'll get to them in just a second, and I'm rushing through this. But, but listen.
We don't even know the names of the pastors. God, God did not feel it important enough to include their names.
And here I am looking at this thinking, wait a minute. I'm concerned about leaving. And now you're a church in a world that's on the brink of global war and there's not even a shepherd and yet the name pastor is practically non existent in the New Testament. And certainly practically nonexistent in Paul's epistles.
Every letter was addressed to the, to the body, to everyone to be read. So that they could deal with the heartache, the struggles, the problems, the issues. Was never addressed to the pastor.
Now I'm really curious. So then I go to the pastoral epistles. We all call them the pastoral epistles. Right? You know they're not. They're not really pastoral epistles. Timothy was, was, was not, he was not a pastor. Think about this. If, if, we don't have time, but if you went to, write this down, Acts 16, 1 to 3, Paul shows up in, in what, Lystra and Derby?
And he meets this young man, Timothy. Timothy is, This is a great opportunity. Here's this church with this homegrown young man who could who could be the next pastor of great of Grace Bible of Grace Bible Church. Lystra Grace Bible. They'll nobody has an original thought, right? Grace Bible Church Derby.
You know, everybody uses the Grace Bible Church. You know what Paul does when he leaves town? He takes him with him. I mean, Paul was a different, different bird. You know, you'd think he'd be establishing, he's establishing these churches and here's a, here's a pastor to, to take over to fill that pulpit. He says, now I'm taking him with me.
We think of Titus. Titus is a pastoral epistle. Titus wasn't a pastor. Titus's job was to go to the island of Crete and travel around and establish elders in all of these churches. A hundred cities. There is no way. I was a pastor for 18 years. There is no way that a guy could travel around and establish elders in a hundred churches and be a pastor.
He's not pastoring now, for the crazy part, we, we haven't even gotten to the crazy part yet. And this was all in my study because I like, am I, am I doing the right thing? Paul would travel around and establish churches and he would travel to church a and he would spend between. 20 and 30 years establishing that church and then he would leave there and he would go to the next church and spend 20 or 30 years there grounding those people, establishing those people.
He averaged four months, four months. He spent as little as some could argue two weeks and as much as 18 months establishing every church that he planned, every church that we have a letter written to. Two weeks to 18 months and then he would leave. Some of those churches, we don't know if any of them had pastors.
I can show you that some of them didn't even have elders when he left. He would just leave them. Did, did Paul, did Paul have so much faith in these people? Just knew that they would not fail. Heh, I know that's not true. Cause he wrote letters back to those people saying, Hey, oh foolish Galatians. Right? He knew that they would make mistakes.
He knew that they would make missteps. How could he do that? How could he just abandon them?
You know what I realized when I got to the end of this? I came to the realization. A very simple, but very important realization.
That we all need to come to. And that is this. I realized. That Paul trusted Christ and his grace, working through his body to do what God promised he can and will do. Let me say that again. I realized Paul trusted Christ and his grace. He wasn't trusting the Galatians, he wasn't trusting the Corinthians, he wasn't trusting BOOM!
Oh, sorry. Sorry. Uh, but Paul... was trusting Christ. What a concept. What a concept. We trust Christ for salvation, don't we? Because we have no other option. But to come along and trust Christ
and, and the trust is in Christ doing what God, what God has said He would do through His body. It's about Him. Working, working through us.
I'm gonna leave you with two passages.
I'll just read them to you. 2nd Corinthians chapter 9 verse 8. This is kind of a passage that, we have adopted. We started a YouTube channel called Consumed by Grace and it's from this verse 8. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you. That ye always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work. Isn't that the greatest verse? And God is able. If the verse ended there, how wonderful is that? God is able. But then there are all these absolutes. To make all grace abound toward you. That ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work. Ephesians 3:20 says, Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think. What can I do? What can little old me do? What can grace Bible Church Oshkosh do? I think we're asking the wrong question. It's putting the emphasis on me. It's what can he do? What is he doing? in us. Our job is not so much to do, but to simply get out of the way and let him do. That's how Paul, the Apostle Paul, lived his life and his ministry and it turned the world upside down. Maybe that's what we need to get back to.
Let's pray. Father, thank you for this morning. Thank you for this time. Thank you for your word. Lord, I do pray that we Well, we certainly can't find comfort in the events of this world and the circumstances of this world. May we find comfort and boldness in understanding what Christ can do, what Christ is doing through His body. May we have the wisdom to simply get out of His way. It's in Jesus name I pray, Amen.