Category Archives: Discipleship

Winning the War – Victory Through Submission


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You are at war! This war is spiritual. Within you and around you this war rages and you are a combatant. There are no neutral parties.

Who does not long for peace? We think that we may find the peace we long for by surrender to the passions that rage within us. As we feed our selfish longings and desires we find ourself in conflict with those around us. You are at war with others.

Not only are you at war within and with others, but you fight with God! As we seek affirmation of the world we desire what the world offers, it looks so good! The world system feeds our passions and affirms our self-centeredness.

The more we feed our selfish desires the greater the raging emptiness. We fail to find satisfaction that was promised and this leads us to anger and ultimately despair.

How many times have you heard of one of God’s beautiful created people who have committed suicide? Perhaps you have contemplated that at some time yourself.

If you want peace – be sure you are fighting the right enemy! Some of us have made friends with God’s enemy the world, thus we make ourselves the enemy of God!

We are at war! Our enemy will not negotiate, our enemy will not surrender, our enemy must be conquered. Victory is the only path to peace. As children of God, we are all engaged in war whether we realize it or not. There are three enemies that war against the Christian the flesh (1-3), the world (4-5), and the devil (6-7).

  • In the NT. the word “Soldier” is used 4x in reference to the child of God.
  • In the NT. the word “war, warfare” is used 5x in reference to the child of God.
  • In the NT. the word “fight” is used 4 x in reference to the child of God.
  • In the NT. the word “resist” is used 4x in reference to the child of God.

In this war there are two types of attack:

Indirect Satanic attack – comes as an “angel of light” through the flesh, world – base of this attack is temptation, to get us to act independently of God. (2 Co. 11:12-15)

Direct Satanic attack – Satan himself – comes as a roaring lion, purpose in this attack is to cause fear, and to render the Christian ineffective in the fight. (1 Pt. 5:8)

NOTE: The design of both attacks is ultimately to destroy the child of God.

This morning I want to pause in our study through the Book of James in order to take a careful look at how we can live a victorious Christian life. “Winning The War – Victory Through Submission.”

There are two parts to winning this war: Submit to God, and Resist the devil (7).

Are you completely surrendered to God in every area of your life? Is there any area of your life where you are holding back from obedience? If so this is the enemy territory in your life from which Satan will launch his attack in an effort to keep you a defeated Christian.

THE BATTLEGROUND IS THE MIND (1-5)

The flesh wants to please itself. (1)

This war is going on in our own flesh (members).

James 4:1 What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you?

The flesh looks for ways to fulfill its own desires (2-3)

James 4:2-3. 2 You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.

  1. Lust – to have affections toward something, to desire, to long after. No matter how you lust the desire of your affections is always out of reach.
  2. Murder – Jesus equated anger with murder (Mt. 5:21-22). The flesh becomes angry at anyone or anything that stands between it and what it desires.
  3. Covet – to desire zealously, aggressively, consumes the whole being. As much as you try you still cannot grasp the illusion. NOTE: These first three are inward. The next three are outward:
  4. Fight – to contend physically in a private quarrel.
  5. War – strife, everyone around is involved in the conflict. You have manipulated every option and been in conflict with everyone around you and you still lack that pleasure you desire. You do not have because you do not ask – you are man-centered, instead of God-centered.
  6. Pray – you ask in an attempt to manipulate God. You still don’t receive because of your motive is impure. Your desire is to consume that thing to please yourself. Pleasure – lust, sensual pleasure, enjoyment, physical pleasure
    ILL: Prodigal son – wasted all his possessions on prodigal living (Lk. 15:13)

What the flesh desires the world claims to have. (4-5)

James 4:4 You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. 5 Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”?

  1. Because the flesh has failed to satisfy its own sensual pleasures it turns to the world, and what the flesh desires the world is happy to provide.
  2. To gain the pleasures we desire, we make friends with the world (Ps. 50:18)
  3. To make the world your friend is to display hostility toward God (I Jn. 2:15). You become God’s enemy!

BATTLE PLAN FOR VICTORY – SUBMIT TO GOD (6-7)

God’s battle plan for victory in this war is two-fold: 1.) Submit to God (7a); 2.) Resist the devil (7b).

Draw near (8a)

James 4:8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

  1. Honestly examine yourself (8, 1:22-25). To “Draw near to God” is to examine yourself in the light of God Himself. (I Co. 11:28,31,32; Ps. 139:23).
  2. Submit is a military term, to place in order, to place in orderly fashion under command.
  3. Submit is to surrender completely to the will of another. To be controlled by another. We are to be controlled by the Spirit of God. (Eph 5:18 be “filled with the Spirit.”)

Get right (8b)

James 4:8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

  1. Cleanse your hands” – Actions – outward sins (8). The outworking of passions.
  2. “Purify your hearts” – Attitudes – inward sins (8). The seat of our passions, the problem of double-mindedness.

Humble Yourself (9-12)

  1. Repent of your sin (9). Become broken-hearted over sin. Mourn over your sin! laughing and joy turn to mourning and gloom. This happens when we catch a glimpse of God and his holiness, we view sin from God’s perspective.
  2. Yield yourself to God (10) “humble yourself”. This is an act of will, yield all areas of your life to God. Obey God’s revealed commands in Scripture. Live in an attitude of submission – “Lord, what do you want me to do?” (Acts 9:6)

VICTORY IS ASSURED TO THOSE WHO ENGAGE IN THE BATTLE (6,8,10)

A Warning! (6)

James 4:6 But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

  1. God resists those who are proud and will not surrender to Him (6)
  2. God fights against them by allowing Satan to work against us in our life (Lk. 22:31)
  3. When we refuse to submit to God we “give place to the Devil” (Eph. 4:27)

A Promise! (6,8)

James 4:6 But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.

God is full of grace and willing to give that grace to those who humble themselves in submission (6).

  1. Grace is available – as much as you need. Grace upon grace. Saving Grace – for by grace you are saved through faith. Sanctifying Grace – grace for living every single day in a way that glorifies Him! Serving Grace – the grace to obey and live for Him regardless of circumstances.
  2. Grace is sufficient (2 Co.12:9). Like a river flowing fully and forcefully is God’s amazing grace!

When we draw near to God in humility, He will draw near to us (8)

James 4:8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

An Evidence! (10)

James 4:10  Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.

When we humble ourselves in submission before Him, He will lift us up (10). This is VICTORY!  A life submitted to God will produce the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-26). As the branch submits to the vine the life flows into it and bears fruit. A spirit controlled life will be bold in its witness / testimony (Acts 4:13,29,31)

CONCLUSION:

You win the war through surrender! Humble yourself today! Come as a wicked, thirsty sinner longing for the water of life!

Only the humble will receive God’s free-grace! The proud will never come to Christ because they refuse to acknowledge that He is the answer to their need.

Child of God: Are you surrendered to God in every area of your life, or are you giving Satan opportunity to war against you?

Ask the Holy Spirit to search you, cleanse you and fill you (Eph. 5:18, Lk 11:13). Take God at His word, recognize you are being controlled by the Holy Spirit. Act by faith not feeling, take God at His word. (Ro. 14:23)

Listen to the sermon or download the sermon here.

Christ Our Greatest Treasure


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Today we find ourselves in the third chapter of Paul’s letter to this church in the city of Philippi. Throughout this letter of Philippians Paul has confronted these Christians with the need to embrace right thinking! Our thinking affects our living – what we believe, what our minds are occupied with will determine how we view life, and even our relationship with God.

What we value most will become the driving priority in our life – for some of us that may be fame, for others wealth, for others acceptance by the religious insiders of the day.  There were many in Jesus day who were His disciples secretly for fear of the Jews.

Since the time of Christ there have been many heresies promoted in the church. The word Heresy may be new to you, it simply refers to a belief or teaching contrary to orthodox biblical christianity. Many of these false teachings center upon the person and work of Jesus Christ.

Let me share a few examples of what I am talking about:

On the TrinityModalism, Sabellius (3rd century). What is it?  God is only one divine being, who plays different roles at different times. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are not distinct persons of the same essence, but different modes or expressions of a single person. Modalism naturally leads to Patripassianism—the belief that the Father literally suffered on the cross. Key text? Philippians 2:6: “. . . being in the form of God . . .”

Where does it show up today? Oneness Pentecostalism believes that God’s three modes of existence can act simultaneously, though God is still only one person.  Perhaps the most famous Modalist of our day is Bishop TD Jakes.

Subordinationism – Who taught it? Eusebius of Caesarea (263–339). What is it? The Son and the Spirit are divine persons, distinct from the Father but inferior to him. All three persons are truly God, but they exist in a hierarchy of power and authority. Key text? Matthew 26:39: “. . . not as I will, but as you will.”

Where does it show up today? According to a 2014 LifeWay Research study, 22 percent of evangelicals believe the Father is more divine than the Son.

On Jesus Christ – Arianism, Arius (c. 256–336). The Son as Word (Logos, in Greek) was created by God before time. He is not eternal or perfect like God, though he was God’s agent in creating everything else. Key Text? John 1:14: “The Word [is] the only Son, who came from the Father.”

Where does it show up today? Jehovah’s Witnesses believe Jesus is God’s only direct creation, and that everything else was created by Christ. Jesus died for our sins, but he is not equal with God, who is not part of a Trinity.

Paul battled a different Heresy in his day.  A group of people known as the Judaizers were on Paul’s heels corrupting the gospel by adding to salvation the requirement of circumcision. For hundreds and even thousands of years circumcision had been the cultural symbol of God’s separated people, the uncircumcised were those who were “heathen” outside the bounds of God’s gracious favor. It was unthinkable to these well-meaning Jewish people that converts to Christianity did not need to be circumcised to be accepted by Christ. So they followed Paul throughout his ministry suggesting to the Gentile converts that they needed faith in Jesus plus be circumcised according to the law of Moses. Paul blasts them in vs. 1-3.

We may be tempted to think in similar ways: I will be more accepted by God if I __________. We may feel as though we must perform or that some achievement will firm up our acceptance with Christ. We may feel that the ritual keeping of certain rules or conforming to certain criteria makes us righteous and therein we find our confidence.

In our text Paul is pointing to the fact that mature Christians realize that Christ is our greatest treasure – we love Him, we relate with Him, we live through Him, we have our all in all in Him alone!

Is Christ your greatest treasure?  Three statements to help you evaluate yourself:

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Christ is your greatest treasure when:

YOUR CONFIDENCE OF ACCEPTANCE WITH GOD IS NOT IN INHERITED POSITION, HUMAN ACHIEVEMENTS OR EXTERNAL RELIGIOUS OBSERVANCES (2-7)

My confidence is not in human credentials or achievements to bring me close to God, or to make me spiritual, or to make me more accepted by Christ.

Note Paul’s list of inherited privileges (4-5)

  • Not proselyte from paganism – circumcision, he was an 8-dayer. Insider by birth.
  • Racially a pureblood – People of Israel.
  • Tribe of Benjamin – only tribe to remain faithful to David, also the tribe that returned to the land after the captivity.
  • Hebrew of Hebrews – best education, spoke Hebrew and Aramaic

Note Paul’s list of personal achievements

  • Pharisee – separated one, voluntarily committed to keeping hundreds of commands from the oral law.
  • Zeal – led a terror campaign against the church
  • Blameless – led an exemplary life according to Pharisaic traditions.

All human advantage that I may have achieved is a net loss in gaining acceptance with God (7)

All the above advantages equal zero on the accounting page. The only credit that I have is Christ. My all in all is Christ!

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EVERYTHING ELSE HAS THE VALUE OF RUBBISH IN COMPARISON TO HIM (8-11)

His righteousness is the only righteousness that I am concerned with obtaining. (9)

  • This righteousness is not found by keeping the law
  • This righteousness is found in Christ alone – when I get Christ I get everything!
  • This righteousness is appropriated by faith, not by inheritance or achievements like Paul listed above.
  • He is the treasure that I am willing to sell everything I have to obtain (Mt 13:44-45)!  Imagine renting a field to plant a garden and as you are turing the soil your hoe uncovers the queen’s diamond!  Quickly you cover the diamond and rush to home where you begin to sell everything you own, you house, your car, your appliances even your clothes so you can raise enough money to buy that field.  You wife thinks your are crazy, you friends can’t understand what you are doing, but you know that if you can just buy the field, the treasure is yours! Jesus is that treasure!

The road leading to the college where I work runs behind a local market.  Recently the city place a large dumpster along the road.  You can imagine the smell, flies and rotting food and garbage in that dumpster on these hot October days.  The other day as I drove past on my way home there was a man sitting on the edge of the dumpster with one leg inside leaning over and picking rotten pieces of food.   That is right where we are sometimes – sitting with one leg in the dumpster searching for for significance, acceptance and joy!  What are you doing? Why are you dumpster diving when in Christ you have it all?

My obsession is Christ (10-11)

  • That I may know Him – Christ Jesus my Lord! Speaks of personal, intimate knowledge of Christ not a casual acquaintance or knowledge about Him. (only time used this way by Paul)
  • That I may know His power – in the midst of my weakness.
  • That I may share in His sufferings – this identity carries with it opposition by those who reject Christ – what is meant by carrying the cross.

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ALL YOUR FOCUS AND ENERGIES ARE CONSUMED IN MAKING CHRIST AND HIS PURPOSES THE EXPERIENTIAL REALITY OF YOUR LIFE (12-16)

Passionate grasping after Christ – Lit. To take by force.

  • Forget the past – don’t look back, failures or successes
  • Focus on the goal – fixed eye on the finish line
  • Strain forward with all energy and effort to reach it

Why do some people fail to press on?

  • Diverted by the the world – confidence in the flesh
  • Discouraged by personal suffering – Paul’s sufferings, stresses could tempt him to quit, but instead he pressed on. (10, 2 Co. 11:18-29)
  • Deceived by misplaced confidences – (12a) I have achieved mentality. Paul affirms that after 30+ years of ministry he has not arrived. He was after all these years still straining to know Christ. (I Co 9:27)

Here is Paul’s conclusion: Mature believers think like Paul thinks! If you don’t think like this then we will trust God to reveal these truths to you. (15)

Is Christ your greatest treasure? If you have placed your confidence and hope of salvation in your family positon, your religion, law-keeping or your zealous good works – recognize this cannot produce righteousness for you. Righteousness comes only through faith in Christ alone.

If you have been striving to be accepted by God – realize that your acceptance is complete in Christ alone.

If you have been living as a Christian in pursuit of other things – pursue Christ alone for He is your greatest treasure! Don’t sift through the rubbish, embrace Christ alone as your greatest treasure.

Press on! Don’t go backward

May we all die running!

The People God Uses To Serve His Church


the-people-god-uses-jpg-001Today in our text Philippians 2:19-30, we see the people God uses to serve His church.

The context helps us understand the environment of the people Paul is writing to.  Paul is calling the Philippian Christians to behave as citizens worthy of the gospel of Christ (1:27). Philippi was a Roman colony with a population of 10,000. It was considered a ‘Little Rome’ with allegience to the emperor. Philippi adopted Roman dress and spoke Latin. A Roman citizen took great care not to do anything that would bring shame to his ‘polis’ (city).  A citizen was one in good standing whose conduct brings honor to the political body to whom he belongs.

Paul’s point: If citizens of Philippi were so devoted to a human kingdom how much more should believers be devoted to a heavenly kingdom.

To live as worthy citizens is to live a life consistent with the revealed Word of God. To live a live consistent with the truth that Christians profess to believe, preach, teach and defend. The focus is the Gospel!

  • Live up to who you are!
  • Live up to who you represent!
  • Live up to the message your proclaim!

God is at work building His church. The church is the called-out assembly of New Testament believers. In the building of His Church God calls and uses people – people like you and me, and people like Timothy and Epaphroditus who we will meet in our text today.

What kind of people does God use to serve His church?

THEY ARE BROTHERS & SISTERS – Brother (19,25)

They individually have a relationship with God through saving faith. These were genuine Christians – they had come to recognize that they were a sinner, and they needed someone outside of themselves to deliver them from the guilt, and the power, and condemnation of God that sin brings

Let me illustrate this way: There is an organization called the FreeMasons – you may have heard of them? By joining this secret organization and going through the rites, you can move deeper into the brotherhood. Free Masonary calls “God “The Great Architect of the Universe.” This is the Freemason’s special name for God, because He is universal. He belongs to all men regardless of their religious persuasion. All wise men acknowledge His authority. In his private devotions a Mason will pray to Jehovah, Mohammed, Allah, Jesus, or the Deity of his choice. In a Masonic Lodge, however, the Mason will find the name of his Deity within the Great Architect of the Universe. Such syncretistic worship through prayer, coupled with specific teachings of salvation, is completely at odds with biblical Christianity.”

There is only one way that anyone and everyone can have a relationship with God – believe in Jesus Christ and trust Him for forgiveness! Jesus is the only way to God and no-one will come to heaven apart from coming through Him!

Because they share the same Spiritual Father (God) they have a relationship with one another
This was not a relationship based on physical similarities:  Paul was a Jew, former “Pharisee of Pharisees”, an OT scholar deeply trained in the Law of Moses (Torah) and the Talmud – the instruction book written by Hebrew scholars to guide people to not transgress the Torah. He was a bold, courageous pioneer for the gospel. (Acts 23:6, Phil. 3:5) Timothy was half-Jew. His mother had broken the Jewish culture and OT traditions by marrying a Gentile husband. This man was an unbeliever, he held to the pagan traditions of the day. His son Timothy was not circumcised, which to an orthodox OT believing Jew was a sign of being outside the covenant and condemned. His mother embraced genuine faith in Jesus, and eventually Timothy did as well. (Acts 16:1, 2 Ti. 1:4-5) Epaphroditus – only mentioned here in Philippians. His name is a common Greek name of the day. A Gentile believer in the church at Philippi. (25, 4:8)

The basis of this relationship is the fact that they shared the same nature as one another! The same Spirit of God dwelt inside them. The were obedient to the Father. God is their father, and they God’s children by faith in Christ thus they were brothers with one another! (2:3,7-8)

THEY ARE LABORERS – Co-Worker (25)

Gospel work is hard work! Hard, back-breaking labor! Sweat, attention, service, sacrifice! (Eph. 4:12, 2 Ti. 2:16)

Gospel work requires commitment and the willingness to sacrifice. Why would we give a deep level of effort and commitment to our own agenda, job, but fail to give God the same level of commitment?

Gospel work is shared work! It is not intended to be done by one! We are “laborers together with Christ” (4:2-3). Every member a minister – we all have a calling, not just the teaching pastor! Each of us have been granted gifts by God for the purpose of co-laboring, working together to accomplish God’s purposes.

THEY ARE WARRIORS – Fellow soldier (25)

We are engaged in a spiritual war. Our enemies: World, Flesh, Devil. Our warfare is spiritual not physical – “Stand against the wiles of the devil…” (Eph. 6:10-12)

  • We fight this battle together
  • We have each other’s back
  • We hold each other accountable
  • We hold each other up

THEY ARE PEOPLE OF CHARACTER (22)

Character is shaped by our relationship to Christ. Reputation is what you are supposed to be; Character is what you are. Your character is what God knows you to be. Your reputation is what men think you are. Reputation is what men say about you on your tombstone; Character is what angels say about you before the throne of God.

Our lives must manifest the transforming power of Christ.

“When church leadership fails morally and are restored to leadership in the church, when members lie, steal, cheat, gossip and fight. When members seem to care little about hypocrisy in their midst, the world is repulsed by the claims to love and serve God.” MacArthur

Character is proved in crisis! Your Character was revealed in how you responded to your last crisis. How did you react when:

  • Your computer crashed and you lost the last 30 min of work
  • Your spouse gets defensive when you share what bothers you.
  • You received a letter or email criticizing you
  • When someone cut in front of you in line or the line stretches out the door and the teller is inattentive.

Timothy was a man of tested character and his character was visible and viewable. Will you do what is right even when everyone else is doing wrong?

THEY ARE CARING (20b-21)

They had genuine concern for others, especially the family of God. This is a care that is not hypocritical. To be genuine means to be real! Sometimes we care and we don’t have an opportunity to do anything, but when we do have opportunity we demonstrate loving care!

This care is a result of caring for what God cares about. The opposite is to be self-serving, seeking their own advancement.  “They do not seek the things of Christ” – Compassion, care.

THEY ARE LIKE-MINDED (20a)

Genuine agreement in the faith. This is the plea that Paul makes to the Philippians throughout the letter – be of one mind. (1:27, 2:2-3; Eph. 4:1-6). Our source of agreement is found in the Word of God as we “strive together for the gospel.”

THEY ARE SERVANTS (7,26)

We serve God by serving one another. This is love in action, the humbling of our selves to serve the least, the underserving. The love that we have for Jesus Christ constrains us to this service. Jesus having loved his own He loved them to the end, arising from supper he took the basin and the towel and washed their feet. This was done as an example that we should do as He has done. They honestly consider others better than themselves and seek to serve them.

The result of being this kind of person is you become a source for encouragement and joy to God’s people (28b,29a). The church honors those who serve in this way (29)

Are you this kind of man or woman?  What areas do you need to address this week?

Today Marks Two Years Of Ministry For Kitwe Church!


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Kitwe Church exists to glorify God by making gospel-centered, reproducing disciples of Jesus Christ.

Our identification as Christians is not national, ethnic or cultural, our identification is that we are children of the King. The church is the place where the world can see in microcosm what the Kingdom of God looks like.  People from every “tribe, tongue and nation” together in gospel unity for the purpose of bringing glory to God!

There are people in Kitwe and its environs who are not being targeted by any existing church. Some are Zambians who have been turned off by “the church” and have nothing to do with it. There are also people living in our city who are from Chinese, Indian, South American and European backgrounds who are effectively unreached by an intentional gospel witness.

Kitwe Church sprang from a burden to reach out to all of these groups with the gospel. In 2014 Philip Hunt family and the Nathan Washer family banded together with the blessings of Faith Baptist Church of Riverside to begin an evangelistic Bible study outreach. Kitwe Bible Study Fellowship held the first meeting on February 23, 2014 at the Polo Club next to the Agricultural Showgrounds in Kitwe. A small handful of unchurched people attended that first Bible study.

For the first three months an apologetics approach was taken that answered questions and arguments about Christianity. The remainder of the year was Bible studies from the Gospel of John explaining the deity of Christ and the need to submit to Him for salvation. During this same period the children were being taught a survey of the Bible using the various stories from Creation to the return of Christ.

A variety of people began to attend the study, and began to invite their friends and acquaintances. Visitors came to the study from Kitwe, Chingola, Mufulira and Chiliabombwe. Attendance grew during the first year from a handful to between 40-50 people each week.

In December 2014, the executive committee from the M.O.T.H.S Club in Parklands reached out and invited our Bible Study Fellowship to use their hall at no charge. The change in venue coincided with a spike in weekly attendance.

Jamie & Mandy Smith joined the leadership team in December 2014 and plans were made to transition the ministry from a Bible Study Fellowship to a church plant that would be known as Kitwe Church (www.kitwechurch.com). In early 2015 the Bible study transitioned from an informal Bible study to a more structured service format. A music team was organized and congregational singing was incorporated. Attendance continued to grow through the year with a high attendance in 2015 of 135 attendees. By the middle of 2015 Kitwe Church opened a bank account, began to collect offerings, instituted Small Group Bible Studies and began a monthly teen activity and Bible study.

Several people have professed faith in Jesus Christ, and in December 2015 the first baptism service was held with 9 persons following Christ in believer’s baptism. A series of messages were presented the second half of 2015 that dealt with all aspects of local church membership, structure and duties. During the last quarter of 2015 the Elders completed work on a doctrinal statement and adopted a Church Covenant, Mission Statement, Core Values and a Church Constitution.

The first Membership Orientation will be held the first three Sundays of March 2016 followed by a Chartering Service scheduled for Easter Sunday, March 27, 2016.

We are thankful for what God has done over the past two years and eagerly anticipate what He will continue to do in the years to come!  Our goal is to Know Truth, Love God & Serve Others! If you reside in the Kitwe area and do not have a church you call “home” please join us this Sunday!

One Philosophy – To Live Is Christ, To Die Is Gain


One Philosophy

What is your philosophy of life? To what in life would you respond with the words, “Man! This is Living!”?

Everyone lives by a set of values – things you believe are important. These beliefs form your philosophy of life. Your philosophy of life determines how you view the world.  They shape how you view your purpose for living.

Philosophy = core beliefs (values) that guide your decisions and actions.  The world offers many philosophies of life:

1. Life is pleasure – Epicurian View – Person who takes pleasure in fine food and drink. Followers of Epicurius (341-270BC) a Greek Philosopher who promoted the theory of a material universe composed of indestructible atoms moving in a void, unregulated by Divine Providence.

This philosophy of life centers on living rather than life. Life to these people means one round of pleasures after another. They pursue entertainment and pleasure at huge cost and in it seek satisfaction. MTV/Hollywood, recreation, amusement park and holiday. Like a lady I heard of who who wanted to go on a cruise but did not have the money, so she sold her body to science.  After she dies the company gets her remains.  She takes the money she got for the sale of her body and went on a cruise!

This is the successful farmer in Luke 12:19 who after a successful harvest said, “And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.”  What he didn’t know was, that very night would be his last!

2. Life is pain – Stoic View – Life is something that has to be endured. Living means hard endurance in the midst of harshness, suffering and pain. In the midst of it all the stoic is determined to hold on till the end. These people find it hard to smile, no joy in life, they are bitter and cold. They have never learned that the joy of the Lord is strength.

There was an elderly lady I knew as a teenager, her name was Mrs. Morgan.  The thing you learned never to do at church was to say to Mrs. Morgan “how are you today?” because she would hold onto your hand and tell you! Before she launched into her list of aches, and difficulties she would say, “I’m doing pretty good under the circumstances.”

3. Life is hopeless – Cynics View – What is the use of anything? Nothing I do will make a difference anyway. What will be will be, so why try. They believe anyone is motivated by self-interests.

4. Life is people – Humanist View – Man is intrinsically good but in a bad environment. Humanist believes in the potential good in everyone and seeks human means to solve the problems of mankind. Ignorance, prejudice, social injustice, government policies are the evils that must be corrected through education, social programs, and pressure groups.  Christians ought to quickly realize that this is the exact opposite of that God says to be true.  We are depraved.

5. Life is religion – Religious View – Life is the performing religious duties, traditions. Mindlessly going through the motions.

6. Life is family – Average-Man’s View – Life is our family, our home, work, and the activities of life. These things are important but they often become the most important things in life and when they are taken away our life collapses.

The book of Philippians reveals the true Christian mind. In every chapter and every division in the book this word is found.(1.7,2.2,2.3,2.5,3.15,3.19,4.2,4.10.) Paul is literally saying through the Book of Philippians: “Here is how a Christian should think about these various matters.”

So how did Paul think about life and ministry? What were the guiding principles for Paul’s behavior? Paul made many statements throughout his life that offer insights into his thinking:

  1. Necessity is laid upon me, yea, woe to me if I do not preach the gospel. (1Cor. 9:16)
  2. I made it my aim not to preach where Christ was named (Ro. 15.20)
  3. I have become all things to all men that I might by all means save some. (I Cor. 9.22)
  4. Who are we but bond-servants through whom you believed (I Cor 3.5)
  5. Neither count I my life dear to myself. (Acts 20.24)

Today we are looking at Philippians 1:19-26. In our text we discover the foundational theme of Paul’s philosophy of life and ministry : “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” (21)

I fear that if we are not intentional the philosophy statement of many Christians is the reverse of Paul’s; it goes something like this: “For to me, to live is gain, to die is Christ.”  We live for all that we can get out of this life, but we still have Christ as our heavenly insurance policy in the end.

I. THE VALUES THAT SHAPE HIS PHILOSOPHY (20-21a)

Paul what do you mean, “For to me to live is Christ”?

1. My highest affection, my deepest passion, my overriding ambition is Jesus Christ and Him alone. In Him alone I find fulfillment, happiness and joy unspeakable. My worth both personally and in ministry is found in Him alone – in His approval, His smile, His nod. (21a)

What are your priorities in life?

  • How do you spend your leisure time?
  • What do you read?
  • What do you think about?
  • Where do you spend your money?

2. My motive is for His will (20) – nothing more, nothing less, nothing else. Christ is my life and nothing else. His will is my chief concern (Ro. 12.1-2). My great concern is that His eternal purposes might be fulfilled in me and through me in the world. His goals are my goals, His desires are my desires. (20c)

3. My single aim in life is to glorify Christ. Christ lives in me and lives his life through me, thus God is glorified in my body which belongs to Him. (Gal 2.20, I Cor 6.19)

4. My singleness of purpose boils down to this central philosophy of life – To me to live is Christ!

  • • To know as much about Christ as is possible to know.
  • • To imitate Christ, to make Him the model of my life.
  • • To make the gospel of Christ known as far as possible and to as many people as possible in my lifetime.
  • To enjoy Him – to be comforted in trouble, to find my happiness in communion with Him!

5. For me to live is Christ simply means that Christ is the love of my life

Love is always thinking about the object of its love (Mt. 6.21). With Paul his love was Christ,

  • Love expresses the emotion and gives release to the desires within us. Paul’s desire was to know Christ better. (3.10)
  • Love translates into action – A reckless abandon to the object of his love. Paul has spent his time preaching Christ and he was not concerned what might happen to him because Christ was in control. (20b) Whether by life or by death.

2 Cor. 11:22 Are they Hebrews? so am I. Are they Israelites? so am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? so am I. 23 Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. 24 Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. 25 Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; 26 In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; 27 In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. 28 Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.
Acts 20:24 But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.

Paul, what do you mean, “To Die Is Gain”?

1. Death is gain (21b). To attain something greater, more profitable!

Heb. 11:9-10 By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.

2. Death is desirable (23)

  • To depart and be with Christ is far better than living on here.
  • I will however remain and fulfill my ministry because that is what is best for you (24-25)
  • My ultimate joy will be to see him face to face. To be in His physical presence never to depart.

II. THE MEANING OF THIS PHILOSOPHY IN MY LIFE

What will it mean to my life to live by this philosophy “to me to live is Christ”?

1. It means I will make all decisions in my life based upon God’s priorities. It means I will demonstrate my priorities consistently in such a way that it impacts my children. If you wish to see the priorities of Christian parents watch their offspring over time

  • For some, education is the highest priority – all else is willingly sacrificed at her altar. We teach our children it is fine to miss church, neglect godly responsibilities, ignore the call of God to service for the sake of education.
  • For some, the attainment of a good job, the securing of a career is all-important. “Of course I would be happy for your to serve God in ministry, but first you need to have a career to fall back on in case it does not work out.”
  • For some, it is the pursuing of worldly comfort and pleasure. We need the latest fashion, the newest upgrade, the surrounding of our lives with every comfort and ease we can find.
  • Little of the conversation in our Christian homes centers around the character of God, a Christian world-view. Is it any wonder that we are producing a self-centered, self-serving generation of young people who have no interest in serving God with their lives?

2. It means I will gladly sacrifice my all and even my life if required in order to glorify God’s great name!

“People who do not know the Lord ask why in the world we waste our lives as missionaries. They forget that they too are expending their lives … and when the bubble has burst, they will have nothing of eternal significance to show for the years they have wasted.” — Nate Saint, missionary martyr, 1956

What will it mean to my life to live by this philosophy “to die is gain”?

1. It means I must develop an eternal perspective. This life is not the end but merely the path to the greater. To die is gain! (21)

2Cor. 4:18 While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.

2. It means I unwaveringly press toward the mark (20) – earnest expectation = intense desire, anticipation! We have a goal and continually evaluate to determine if what we are doing moves us toward that mark. We must focus on “this one thing.” Shed off the many good things that hinder us from achieving that ‘one thing’. I count all things as dung – in comparison to Christ all the things that can be achieved or acquired are refuse. (Phil 3.7-8)

3. It means I “become all things to all men.” – Willing to step outside our comfort zone for the sake of His name among the lost of the world. (I Co. 9.22)

4. It means I am willing to take risks for God. “Neither count I my life dear.” (Acts 20.24)

5. It means I desire that Christ be magnified above all else at all costs. This means that I am willing for Christ to be magnified at my own expense – by life which is Christ’s or by death only that Christ is glorified. The choice rests with Him. (20). I am willing for God to build His kingdom at my expense?

  • “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church” – Tertullian of Carthage
  • According to “Christians in Crisis” there have been 43 million Christians martyred in the last 2000 years – 50% of those in the last century.

III. THE MANIFESTATION OF THIS PHILOSOPHY IN MY LIFE

Great courage – Boldness, confidence before God and man.

On 12/28/1852 David Livingstone wrote: “Am I on my way to die in Sibituane’s country? Have I seen the last of my wife and children? The breaking up of all my connections with earth, leaving this fair and beautiful world and yet knowing so little of it? O Jesus, fill me with Thy love now, and I beseech Thee accept me and use me a little for Thy glory. I have done nothing for Thee yet, and I would like to do something. O do, do I beseech Thee, accept me and my service and take Thou all the glory…”

On 4/4/1853: “If God has accepted my service then my life is charmed till my work is done. And though I pass through many dangers unscathed while working the work given me to do… Death is a glorious event to one going to Jesus… There is something sublime in passing into the second stage of our immortal lives if washed from our sins.”

Magnification of Christ (20c)

1. Chief purpose of man is to glorify God and worship Him forever

Jer. 9: 23 Thus says the LORD: “Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, Let not the mighty man glory in his might, Nor let the rich man glory in his riches; 24 But let him who glories glory in this, That he understands and knows Me, That I am the LORD, exercising loving-kindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight,” says the LORD.

2. Suffering and even death become the verification that we believe what we proclaim.

Mal. 1:11 For from the rising of the sun even unto the going down of the same my name shall be great among the Gentiles; and in every place incense shall be offered unto my name, and a pure offering: for my name shall be great among the heathen, saith the LORD of hosts.

On December 6, 1943, John Stam wrote: “Dear Brethren, My wife, baby and myself are today in the hands of the Communists, in the city of Tsingteh. Their demand is twenty thousand dollars for our release. All our possessions and stores are in their hands, but we praise God for peace in our hearts and a meal tonight. God grant you wisdom in what you do, and us fortitude, courage and peace of heart. He is able – and a wonderful friend in such a time… The Lord bless and guide you, and as for us, May God be glorified whether by life or by death.”

The next day John and Betty Stam were marched to another city stripped of their clothes and paraded through the streets before being shot. Their three-month old baby, Helen, was found in an abandoned in a house thirty hours after the execution. A Chinese evangelist delivered her in a rice basket to a missionary family hundreds of miles away.

Desire to be with Him – To die is gain! (23)

To depart is something desirable, something far better  To die is gain because we depart to receive the full inheritance and eternal reward of heaven. Yet we are willing to stay and faithfully serve God’s people while longing to depart and be with Christ.

When death comes we can say: (II Tim. 4.6-8)

  • I have fought a good fight
  • I have finished my race
  • I have kept the faith.

What is your philosophy of life?

For to me to live is gain and to die is Christ?

Or can you say like the Apostle Paul:

“For to me to live is Christ, to die is gain!”

Note: I am indebted to Martyn Lloyd-Jones for his insights into this text.

ONE PLEA – Glorify God With Your Life


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We have all been guilty of offering habitual prayers, or even casual prayers. You know, the kind of thoughtless prayers like “Lord bless all the missionaries today.”

I will never forget the night Carman was born. It was 9:30 in the evening on April 8, 2002 when Lori said that she thought it was time. Having been through this routine with four other babies I was not in a big hurry.  When Lori was expecting Cherith I remember at the first sign of labor I bolted into motion, grabbed our gear and wisked Lori into the car and raced to the hospital at breakneck speed only to  wait another 12 hours before the baby was born.  Lori came back a few minutes later and said it was urgent that we go now!  We got to the clinic here in Kitwe and at 11:30pm Lori gave birth to a beautiful baby girl who we named Carman.

Carman was a cord birth.  I watched the midwife work frantically and finally get the cord off the baby’s neck.  She was a deep purple color, but slowly gained a more normal shade.  After things had settled down I went back to an empty room to sleep.  After a time, I felt a hand on my shoulder, it was Lori.  She said, you must come quick, the baby is in distress.  I ran back to the room and Carman was taking short little gasps of air.  Each time she exhaled bubbles came out of her nose. She was now an ashen grey color, drowning from the amnionic fluid she ingested during birth.  I grabbed Lori’s hand and began to pray. I remember that prayer, it came from deep in my heart, a cry for God to be merciful and intervene and spare her life.

This is the kind of prayer that we find in our text Philippians 1:9-11.  Paul is laying out his passionate prayer to God for the Philippians. He has spoken of his deep affection for them, “I have you in my heart” he says in v 7.  “I greatly long for you all with affection” he says in v 8. Now he shares with them his prayer.

Passionate prayer is praying from the overflow of a burdened heart with a sense of our own inability. It is the pursuit of God by one man on behalf of another.

“And this I pray!” (9) Here is the content of Paul’s prayer: He longs for them to glorify God with their life, to be the means by which praise and glory is rendered to God!

In these three short verses Paul lays out the essentials for a life that glorifies God! This is essentially a plea to glorify God with your life!

Glorifying God With My Life Begins With A Love That Is Constantly Growing (9a)

How does this happen?

We grow in knowledge of God through His Word.

As we know him our love increases but this overflowing love is more than just a head full of facts about God and His Word, it is the basis for obedience. (John 14:15,21,23)

Love and obedience are not the same thing. You can obey with the wrong attitude. You can obey without love, but you cannot love without obeying. Obedience is the natural expression of love.

The reason that so many Christians are indifferent and careless toward God is that they are in love with the wrong thing. We are prone to love the gifts God gives instead of loving Him!  We love the creation instead of the Creator! (Rom 1:21,25).  We love money, education, our occupation, sports, or entertainment but we do not passionately pursue Christ as greatest end.

The question for you today is not, do you know about Jesus, the question is do you know Him The question is not, “Do you love Jesus?” but, “Do you love Jesus more than anything else in this world?” (Lk. 14:26).

This growing love is the product of a growing knowledge of God and His Son Jesus Christ! It is not only a knowledge of facts but an experiential knowledge gained by walking with Him day by day.

What does this growth look like? How does a growing knowledge of God flesh out in everyday life?

We grow in discernment

Discernment is the ability to distinguish between right and wrong.  This is not a legalistic list of regulations and checklists used to evaluate spirituality, nor is it is it license to do whatever you want. This discernment is based upon a deep heart desire to please the object of our love. It is genuine holiness based upon a deepening knowledge of God through His Word. It is a life in balance, able to discern what is appropriate, what is helpful.

We are called to embrace the knowledge of God that produces holy living! The ability to make proper judgements for everyday living in line with the nature and character of God. The practical application of our knowledge of God to the realities of every-day life!

1Thessalonians 5:21 Test all things; hold fast what is good.
1Thessalonians 5:22 Abstain from every form of evil.
Hebrews 5:14 But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

Glorifying God With My Life Means That I Choose What Is Best Over What Is Merely Acceptable! (10a)

Approve what is excellent

This is not to determine good and evil but to determine what is of real value so that you don’t waste your life!  Determine what is best! Live for what matters most! There are many things that can fill your time each day. There are opportunities that come in life that are not necessarily sinful. Paul is saying that the life that glorifies God evaluates each opportunity to determine what has real value!

Don’t waste your life on rubbish.

Choose the real thing!  A couple years back I was on safari in Chobe National Park in Botswana.  We spent the morning on the Chobe River viewing abundant wildlife.  After a wonderful lunch at the lodge we climbed into the open safari vehicles in search of big cats.  As we moved through the bush the drive suddenly slammed the brakes and pointed.  I missed it at first, but then I saw what the guide was pointing at.  Crossing the trail in front of us was a Dung Beetle. It’s front feet were down in the sand and the back legs were up on a ball of elephant dung.  It was pushing that ball back to wherever it lives.  A dung beetle spends his whole life pushing a ball of animal feces. Dung beetles will attack one another to steal the ball of dung!  As we continued our drive I sat back and prayed, “God, don’t let that be the parable of my life!”  What a tragedy to get to heaven one day and see our Christian life from heaven’s perspective only to realize that we did little more than push around balls of dung!

And Paul was concerned about this very thing! Notice what he writes in Philippians 3:3-8!!

For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh, 4 though I also might have confidence in the flesh. If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so: 5 circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; 6 concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. 7 But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. 8 Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as dung, that I may gain Christ

Paul had reached the pinnacle of success in Hebrew culture. He had a stellar pedigree, a Hebrew of the Hebrews.  He was religious and full of zeal.  In the eyes of his contemporaries Paul was to be admired!  But all of this he viewed as dung, compared to the excellencies of having Christ!

What really matters in life is serving God and living a life that brings Him glory. To live a life that is worthy of the gospel. (1:27)

As I come to know Christ, I see Him hanging on the cross in agony, I view His glorious character in the Word, I experience his grace in my life and my perspective changes. I no longer see ugly, unloveable people, I see people who Christ loves. I no longer see thieves and prostitutes and drunkards and rapists I see men and women who God loves and sacrificed His own Son on the cross to save!  When I know Christ my perspective changes. I no longer view people in light of how they affect me, or their impact on my life.  I view them through the eyes of the One who loved them and gave Himself for them! When Jesus saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion because they were wandering like sheep without a shepherd. (Mt. 9:36)

So what is best? Christ Himself! In Him alone the Christian finds satisfaction, fulfillment, love, and joy unspeakable and full of glory! Pursue Christ not for what He can give but for who He is!
Don’t waste your life on rubbish!

Glorifying God With My Life Means That My Life Is Characterized By Integrity. (10b)

Be sincere

Sincerely is to be without hypocrisy. Christ’s most scathing rebukes were reserved for the self-righteous, (Matthew 23:13-15, 23,25,27-28) those who appeared one way but inside they were something totally different.

When life turns up the heat, when your goals and plans begin to crumble, when trials or afflictions come, when people begin to falsely accuse you, you are suddenly presented an opportunity to demonstrate your sincerity. What you really believe about God, his love, his faithfulness and his goodness is actually lived out in the midst of the fiery trial.

Be blameless

To be blameless is to be a person of Christlike character. This is the extent and goal of integrity. (2:14-15). We were chosen by God to be blameless Eph. 1:4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love.
Blamelessness is not only requirement for every pastor and deacon – it is the standard for every child of God. (I Tim 3:2,10)

Glorifying God With My Life Means That My Life Produces Good Works. (11a)

Christ produces in my life “fruits of righteousness.”

This is the external fruit of our internal love for God! This is seen in my response to suffering, in my graciousness when attacked, in my courage when threatened, my ability to suffer and even die if need be for the sake of Jesus Christ. The world is not at all impressed with our business success, with the size of our bank accounts, with our beautiful houses. What impacts the world is our response to suffering, pain, death, bankruptcy, or how we handle the death of our child. A dear friend who recently lost her daughter said to Lori at the funeral, “It hurts so much, but I know God is good!”  This is the genuine fruit that is produced by an overflowing love for God!

Don’t waste your life!

Several years ago someone gave me John Piper’s book entitled “Don’t waste your life!” Let me to borrow those words to press home the urgency of living for the glory of God!

  • Don’t waste your money
  • Don’t waste your influence
  • Don’t waste your education – use it to establish a beachhead for the gospel in some restricted access country in the 10/40 window.
  • Don’t waste your robberies
  • Don’t waste your dis-functional family upbringing
  • Don’t waste your death.  The first Administrator of Faith Children’s Village, Joe Mbewe, lost his wife in tragic circumstances.  I will never forget his testimony at the funeral of his wife. With his two year old daughter in his arms, he gave testimony of his faith and the confidence that he would see her again.  Joe then sang his wife’s favorite song, “When peace like a river attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll; whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say, “It is well, it is well with my soul.”  This is what it means to not waste your death!

Jesus spoke of Peter’s death and then these words, “signifying by what death he should glorify God!” (Jn 21:19)

As God orchestrates the dark valleys and deep trials in your life, Don’t waste them!  Don’t waste these opportunities to magnify Christ (1:20)!  Allow His life to so saturate you that your very presence permeates Christ to the world around you. Whether in life or in death – glorify Christ!

Here is the culmination of Paul’s prayer! (11b) Paul’s passionate plea to God on their behalf all crescendos to this as its highest end: “to the glory and praise of God!”

Paul prayed that the Philippians’ love would increase through a growing knowledge of God that would result in the discernment to spend their lives for what really matters by living as men and women of integrity so that the righteousness of Christ might bear abundant fruit in them to the glory and praise of God.

Are you wasting your life or spending your life for what will count for eternity? Is your life bringing glory and praise to God?

What a tragedy it would be to get to heaven and suddenly realize that all you did was push around balls of dung your entire Christian existence!

Download the audio of this sermon

Building A Life of Stewardship


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What do you own that you did not receive?  You might respond, “But I have worked hard to gain what I now possess!”  Where did you get the ability to learn what you now know that allows you to work hard?  Where did you get the health and strength to carry out the tasks? Luck? Chance – is this whole thing one big crap-shoot like the evolutionist would have us believe?  Is is Karma – a little good a little bad just happens?

Listen to what God says:

To the Israelites God says, “And you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth…” (Deut 8:18)

To those who where trying to find some some leg-up advantage over other people based upon their identification with a prominent preacher God says,

For who makes you to differ from one another? And what do you have that you did not receive?… (1 Cor. 4:7)

Ever wonder why there are those who serve God who prosper, but there are also those who despise God who also prosper in this life?  Listen to Jesus:

“But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who cures you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecutor you, that you may be sons of your Father in heave; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust.” (Matt. 5:44-45)

All of life is entrusted to us as a stewardship:  Our time, our world (creation), our bodies, our families, gifts & talents, knowledge, possessions and money, and the gospel. There is nothing that we have that was not given to us by God

CLARIFYING OUR TERMS:

  • A steward is a servant entrusted with the responsibility of managing someone else’s property. He is expected to discharge his duties in the owners best interest.
  • He has been given the resources and authority to discharge his duties.

CONTEXT:

The gospel of Luke was written so we would know what Jesus was really like.  It is a historical orderly account of Jesus life and ministry. (Lk1:1-4)

Jesus is telling a parable (11). A parable is an earthly story with a heavenly meaning. There are two reasons that Christ told this story:

  1. He was going up to he was going up to Jerusalem – triumphal entry.
  2. Jews thought the kingdom would immediately be established

HISTORICAL BACKGROUND TO THIS PARABLE:

There is an important bit of history behind this parable that would have been fresh in the minds of the people listening to Jesus. Herod the Great was king when Jesus was born. Archelaus the son of Herod the Great was appointed by his father to be King over Judea four days before his death in 4BC.

Archelaus was a sensual vain man notorious for not keeping his word.  Once when the Pharisees demanded the removal of the Saduccean High Priest, Archelaus agreed but said only after his kingship had been confirmed by Augustus.  The Pharisees pushed the issue and the day before Passover troops were sent into the court of the temple and 3000 Jews were massacred.

Soon after the massacre Archelaus traveled to Rome to be confirmed by Caesar.  A delegation of 50 Jews from Judea followed him to Rome to petition for the exclusion of the Herodians from government.  These men were joined by 8,000 Jews living in Rome at the time.  Cesar Augustus confirmed Archelaus anyway. When Archelaus returned to Jerusalem he killed all those who had complained against him.

You can see why this parable would have grabbed the attention of the Jews listening to Jesus.

THE COMMAND IS CLEAR (12-13)

The command was given by the proper authority. (12)

Nobleman was going away to get a kingdom.  He had the right to give his servants instructions about what He wanted them to do!  As King, he had the absolute right to rule over his subjects.  the King gave them a job to do before his return.

The command was given to the right people (13)

They are identified as “his” servants.  They belonged to him, and they had pledged their allegiance to him to serve him.  These servants in v13 were different from the “citizens” in v 14.

The word servants is the Greek word doulos.  This was a servant whose life was completely at the disposal of the master.  He owned them.  It speaks of a person who is in a permanent relation of servitude to another, his will altogether consumed in the will of the master.  He has no rights, no will of his own, he is completely given over to the will of another. this is not referring to a hired servant.

In the New Testament there are two Greek words translated Servant:

  • Diakonos – A hired servant, not a slave. The main emphasis of this word is on the service.
  • Doulos – A bondservant, one who is a slave.  The main reference in the use of this word is the relationship to the master and a state of servitude.

NOTE:  The difference in focus of the two words:  service vs. standing.  WHAT we are doing vs. WHO we are doing it for.

For the Jews hearing Jesus refer to a doulos, they would have naturally thought of the law of the Bond-slave found in Exodus 21:5-6.

In the OT there was a common practice of self-sale into slavery.  If the bond-slave was a Hebrew he was to serve six years and then be released.  All slaves were to be released with their families every 50th year – the year of Liberty  (Deut. 15:16).  If however, when the time came to grant the bond-slave his freedom he willingly requested to serve his master for life; he would submit to having a hole bored through the cartilage in his ear.  This was a permanent mark of identification as a slave.  Older people with holes in the ear to identify tribe.

The command was very specific

  1. They each were given the same amount. Received one Mina = 3 months wages.
  2. They were each given the same command – “Do business on my behalf until I get back.”
  3. They each were under the same obligation – This was not optional, if they felt like it or not, if it was convenient or not – he expected complete compliance

Lesson 1 – God is the owner of all assets (13)

Lesson 2 – God entrust us to accomplish His purposes on His behalf. (13)

THE CONTEXT IS CHALLENGING (14)

The Citizens Hate The King 

The citizens absolutely detested the king. In a similar way the world deeply hates Christ.  Jesus said to his disciples:

John 15:18 “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also.

The Citizens Rebel Against The King’s rule

“We will not have” they rebelled, completely refused his rule.  This speaks of an act of violence or open resistance to an established government or ruler. Hatred and rebellion go together!

“Rule” speaks of structure, laws, authority.  They did not want him telling them what to do!

We are commissioned to make disciples by “Teaching them to obey all things that I have commanded you.” (Mt. 28.18-20).  You see we are happy to bow to a host of gods other than the Lord!

“What other gods could we have besides the Lord? Plenty. For Israel there were the Canaanite Baals, those jolly nature gods whose worship was a rampage of gluttony, drunkenness, and ritual prostitution. For us there are still the great gods Sex, Shekels, and Stomach (an unholy trinity constituting one god: self), and the other enslaving trio, Pleasure, Possessions, and Position, whose worship is described as “The lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the pride of life” (1 John 2:16). Football, the Firm, and Family are also gods for some. Indeed the list of other gods is endless, for anything that anyone allows to run his life becomes his god and the claimants for this prerogative are legion. In the matter of life’s basic loyalty, temptation is a many-headed monster.” – JI Packer

Principle 3: Principle of Perseverance – God must be obeyed in spite of circumstances, obstacles or distractions.

HIS RETURN IS CERTAIN (15-21)

Evaluation of the Faithful Servants (15-19)

The hatred of the world has no power over the return of the king… He is coming back! (15a) When he comes there will be a reckoning. Servants will be called to give account of their stewardship.  These servants presented what they had done for the King.  The first 1,000% return the second 500% return (15b-16,18).

Each servant received the same commendation by the King.  “Well done good and faithful servant” (17,19).  They each were reward for their faithfulness (17,19).

Application: Faithful service results in greater opportunity and responsibility in the service of the King!

Lesson 4 – God expects us to be resourceful with what He has given us.

Lesson 5 – God will require that we give an account.

Lesson 6 – God will give greater responsibilities to those who have been faithful in smaller matters.

Evaluation of the Wicked Servant (20-21)

“Another kind of servant” (20)(Estes – another of a different kind.)  He refused to do business for the King  and returned the Mina.

Reasons: Because I feared you. This is from the word we get phobia.  This is a severe fear that is not in keeping with reality.  This servant had a wrong view of God, a wrong attitude toward God which led him to wrong conclusions about God and wrong actions toward God’s commands.

He accused the Master of greed: “you collect what you did not deposit” (21).  Charged him with taking what he did not work for.

THE JUDGE IS SOVEREIGN (22-27)

Wicked servants suffer loss (22-26)

The judge rules with sovereign authority.

The mouth reveals the heart (22). This servant did not live up to what he knew about the Master.  Jesus said, “Out of your mouth I will judge you.” (22)

It is out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks (Lk. 6.45).  If God were to judge you according to what has come out of your mouth this past week how would you fare?  What do you talk about?  What you talk about reveals what you think about!

God called him a wicked servant (22b) Why?  Something is expected of servants they are expected to obey what they have been told!

  • He knew the command – understood
  • He had the resources for the task
  • He had the ability to perform the task

King takes away his Mina and gives it to the one with ten. (24-26)

Lesson 7 – Use God’s resources rightly or loose everything!

Rebellious citizens will be destroyed (27)

  • Complete destruction of those who would not have Him rule over them.
  • Don’t live your life for Material goods that will perish – live your life for the Master!

 

What is required of God’s servants?

1Co.4:1-2 Let a man so consider us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful.)

If Christ returns today will He find you faithful?  How are you using your talents, time and money?