Heart Of Worship
7 Therefore do not be unwise but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, 20 giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another in the fear of God.
In the song “The Heart of Worship,” Matt Redman sings, “I’ll bring You more than a song, for a song in itself is not what You have required. You search much deeper within, through the way things appear; You’re looking into my heart.” Worship is so much more than singing a song, the style of music, or our even own preferences, it’s about our heart-attitude before God. Redman continues to sing, “I’m coming back to the heart of worship and it’s all about You, it’s all about You, Jesus.”
This afternoon, as we seek to understand the purpose of worship by looking at two nearly identical passages of Scripture, we’re going to discover that there are many different facets and elements to worship, but they all serve to honor and glorify God, and also edify others. Therefore, when we come into God’s house for worship, “self” should be the last thing on our mind and heart. Hopefully, by the time this message is over, we’ll be able to declare of worship as Matt Redman, “I’m sorry, Lord, for the thing I’ve made it; when it’s all about You, it’s all about You, Jesus.”
In verse 17, we’re told that we need to “understand what the will of the Lord is” concerning worship. In verse 18, we’re commanded to be filled with the Spirit. “To be ‘filled with the Spirit’ means to be constantly controlled by the Spirit in our mind, emotions, and will, and so it must be in our worship, we must be guided by the Holy Spirit. I believe these verses speak to us concerning advance preparation in worship. Submitting to the Spirit takes willingness on our part, which stems from a desire to be ready to enter the throne room of God.
In seeking to be prepared for worship, we must first understand what the Lord requires. In John 4:23-24, Jesus said…
23 But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. 24 God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”
Jesus meant that those who worship Him should do so with all their heart, soul, mind and strength (Mark 12:30) and by “truth,” Jesus meant that He wanted His followers to sincerely desire fellowship with Him.
In John 4:23, the word ‘seeking’ is zeteo in the Greek. It could be compared to carrying the same tone as ‘require’ or ‘demand.’ What does this mean? Our Father is requiring or demanding us to worship Him in spirit and truth.” This means that when we come to church and attend the service, worship has more to do with God than us. When we enter a worship service, the question in our minds and hearts should always be, what can I give today in worship through my singing, listening and participation that will be pleasing to the Lord?
Our singing is to be done “primarily” for edifying and exalting God and His Son, Jesus Christ. Verse 20 speaks of “giving thanks always for all things to God the Father.” So, how do we lift up our thanksgiving unto God? We can do so through songs of thanksgiving, but we can also express our gratitude through “prayer.” In Philippians 4:6, Paul said…
6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.
So, in addition to singing, prayer is a vital element as we seek to worship the Lord in Spirit and truth. Verse 21 speaks of “submitting to one another in the fear of God.” This verse speaks about our attitude toward others whenever we meet for worship, demonstrating acceptance, humility, love and respect. The early church was a church where men honored and respected each other. Paul gives the reason for this mutual honor and respect… it was because they reverenced Christ. They saw each other not in the light of their trades or their professions or their social standing, they saw men in the light of Christ . . . and mutual respect and honor were easy.
In respecting others they were reverencing Christ; meaning that Jesus was the center of their worship and the motivation for their behavior. Once again, I want to point out that worship is all about God and His Son, Jesus Christ. The Lord must be the star player when we come into the church for worship on Sunday morning.
12 Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. 14 But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. 15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. 17 And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.
We left our last passage looking at being considerate toward others when we come together for worship; and here, in verses 12-14, we see a similar admonition. In preparing our heart for corporate worship we must demonstrate mercy, kindness, humility, meekness, patience, forbearance and forgiveness toward one another. The most important quality of all is love. When love rules in our lives, it unites all these spiritual virtues so that there is beauty and harmony, indicating spiritual maturity.
According to verse 15, we will be unable to consider the needs of others unless we are governed by the peace of God, “If we have peace in our hearts, we will be at peace with others in the church . . . [and] when there is peace in the heart, there will be praise on the lips.”
Verse 16 speaks of the need to stir the intellect in worship, saying we must be certain to allow the word of Christ to dwell in us through “teaching the Word” and “admonishing one another through song.” So, let’s look at teaching the Word, or rather, the proclamation of the Scripture in worship.
The preaching of the Word is a vital element in worship, however, there is a danger today, as there was in Paul’s day, that local churches minimize the Word of God. There seems to be a lack of [clear] teaching in Sunday School classes and pulpits. Far more interest is shown in movies, musical performances, and various entertainments than in God’s Word.” Often the lack of deep teaching is done with the goal of reaching the unchurched… however, we should never dilute biblical teachings for the sake of the unchurched.
At Pentecost, the Holy Spirit miraculously translated the message into words each person understood . . . This ability to understand caused them to be converted. Even though God’s presence was evident in the service, they wouldn’t have known what to do if they hadn’t been able to understand the message. In a worship service, the unchurched are not asking for a watered-down message – they expect to hear the Bible when they come to church.
Now, let’s not forget that verse 16 also speaks of the need to stir the intellect by “admonishing one another through song,” not just through preaching and teaching. When we earlier looked at Ephesians 5:19, the only thing I discussed is how our singing is to be directed both “to one another” and “to the Lord.” I intentionally held back from speaking about the styles of music mentioned, so we could look at them in more detail here in Colossians 3:16. We’re told that we should be “teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs”
There are basically three styles of music mentioned here; psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, revealing the need for variety in our music. Jesus only gave two requirements for legitimate worship: ‘God is spirit, and His worshippers must worship in spirit and in truth’ (John 4:24).”
In Psalm 150:3-6, we read…
3 Praise Him with the sound of the trumpet; Praise Him with the lute and harp!
4 Praise Him with the timbrel and dance; Praise Him with stringed instruments and flutes!
5 Praise Him with loud cymbals; Praise Him with clashing cymbals! 6 Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord!
Finally, we come to verse 17, which speaks of our attitude for worship: “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” When we enter the service for worship, we must realize that we’re supposed to be giving it all to the Lord. We must not forget that…the direction of worship is from believers to God. We magnify God’s name in worship by expressing our love and commitment to Him. Worship is expressing our love to God for who He is, what He’s said, what He’s doing and what He has done!
So, as we seek to worship on purpose, there are a few things we should be doing: 1) We need to prepare ourselves in advance for worship; 2) as we sing, we must think about edifying others through a joyful attitude; 3) we should also have it in our heart to exalt the name of Jesus Christ as we sing; 4) when we sing and pray, we need to make certain that we express thanksgiving unto God; 5) whenever we meet together for worship, we must demonstrate love and respect toward others; 6) the worship service must also include deep and clear teaching; 7) our songs must be comprised of a variety of musical styles; and 8) as we worship the Lord, let’s be sure to give it all to Him.
Jesus said, “The hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him” (John 4:24). So, who are these individuals who will worship God in spirit and truth? In Philippians 3:3, Paul said, “For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit [and] rejoice in Christ Jesus.” The circumcision are the chosen of God; or as Paul said, those who “rejoice in Christ Jesus.” Therefore, if you wish to worship God both here and forever in eternity, then you must know Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.
A Mothers Faith
2 Timothy 1:3-8
3 I thank God, whom I serve with a pure conscience, as my forefathers did, as without ceasing I remember you in my prayers night and day, 4 greatly desiring to see you, being mindful of your tears, that I may be filled with joy, 5 when I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also. 6 Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. 7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. 8 Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God.
A drill sergeant was frustrated in his efforts to make a soldier out of a certain recruit. The trainee lagged behind on marches, used any excuse to go on sick call, grumbled constantly about the food, and never made his cot properly. But one day, a noticeable change took place in the young man’s attitude. When asked to what he attributed the soldier’s change in attitude, the drill sergeant explained, "Threats and punishment didn’t work, so I had to resort to the ultimate weapon: I called his mother!"
Did you hear about the three sons who left home, went out on their own and prospered? Getting back together, they discussed the gifts they were able to give their elderly mother. The first said, "I built a big house for our mother." The second said, "I sent her a Mercedes with a driver." The third smiled and said, "I’ve got you both beat. You remember how mom enjoyed reading the Bible? And you know she can’t see very well. I sent her a remarkable parrot that recites the entire Bible. It took elders in the church 12 years to teach him. He’s one of a kind. Mama just has to name the chapter and verse, and parrot recites it."
Soon thereafter, mom sent out her letters of thanks: "Milton", she wrote, "The house you built is so huge. I live in only one room, but I have to clean the whole house." "Gerald", she wrote to another, "I am too old to travel. I stay most of the time at home, so I rarely use the Mercedes. And the driver is so rude!" "Dearest Donald", she wrote to her third son, "You have the good sense to know what your mother likes. The chicken was delicious!"
I want to turn our attention to honoring mothers on this Mother’s Day. Happy Mothers Day, Fil-Am moms.
How many of you guys are mamma’s boys? I think that I can make a solid case that every guy is a mamma’s boy. Whenever you see the TV camera pan over to the bench at a football game what is the first thing that those big mean football players say to the camera? Hi mom.
Whenever you got hurt, who was the first one you ran to? Mom. If you ran to dad… he would just say, “That’s what you get” and then tell you to walk it off or something.
If you are in trouble who is the first one you go to? It’s always mom. She will love you and forgive you no matter what. The importance of a godly mother is something that we all instinctively understand, but I think that it is important for us to take some time and really think about it. What better occasion to focus on the importance of mothers than on Mother’s Day?
The Bible has a lot to say about this subject. There are many, many examples of godly mothers who were used by God in some amazing ways. God used Sarah in her old age to be the mother of Isaac. Hannah, the mother of Samuel dedicated her son to God before he was even born. God used a young, humble girl to be the mother of Jesus. And as Jesus was dying on the cross he was concerned with the wellbeing of his mom.
In our passage today we will read about a couple of other mothers who had a significant impact on the life of Timothy.
The first thing that we learn from this passage is that godly mothers pass on their faith. I love the way Paul words this section. He says, I know about the sincere faith that lies within you. It didn’t start with you though. It was passed on by your grandmother, Lois, and your mother Eunice.
Paul mentions these ladies by name. He fully understands that faith doesn’t grow in a vacuum. It has a starting place. For every one of us our faith was passed on to us from somewhere. In this case, Timothy was able to inherit the true faith of His mother and grandmother. Through Gods sovereign choice of course.
Timothy’s mother was Jewish and his father was a Greek. Even though this was somewhat of a unique match, Timothy received solid instruction from his mother from an early age. Timothy’s mother had a faith that came from her mother. She had also been instructed well throughout her life.
There is no doubt that families pass on their beliefs from generation to generation. This is true for the good qualities and the bad. But we can also see how other qualities seem to be passed down through the generations. Parents who have anger problems, foul mouths, poor decision making abilities, and a hardness towards life tend to pass those traits on to their children.
And we see many examples of godly families who have passed on positive traits to their children. Things like optimism, creativity, confidence, are transferable. When our children see us praying, reading the Bible, attending church on a regular basis, they will want to do these things as well.
Mothers, you can pass on your faith in four big ways. First, you need to pray for your children. Pray with them, pray for them, and make prayer a regular part of your lives together. Pray before meals, and before bedtime. Pray when they are frightened. Pray with them while they are young and still at home, and then pray for them when they grow old and move out on their own.
The next thing that you can do to pass on your faith to your children is teach them God’s Word. Louis and Eunice passed on a healthy understanding of God’s word to Timothy. We see a glimpse of this a few pages over in chapter 3:14-15…
2 Timothy 3:14-15
14 But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, 15 and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
Paul instructs Timothy here to hold fast to the things that he has learned because he can trust the source. Even though there will be false teachers who will try and lead them astray, Timothy can have confidence that the things he learned from his mother and grandmother are true. He says that from childhood, literally from infancy, you have known the scriptures.
Timothy’s godly mother trained her son up with a deep knowledge of the Bible. The trust and confidence that she had in it was transferred to Timothy. It was an understanding of the scriptures that lead to Timothy’s salvation.
I really believe that it is our responsibility as parents to teach our children about the Bible. Even though you might send your kids to a Christian school and get them in Sunday school classes here. It is up to us as parents to train them up. It has to start at home. Christian schools and church are only a supplement to the Christian education they should receive at home.
That means we have to be scholars of God’s Word. We need to read and understand the Bible ourselves. We can’t pass on what we don’t possess. Read from the Bible after dinner, read before bed, read it to them when they are bored and can’t think of anything else to do.
God’s Word has the power to transform lives, even young lives. 2 Timothy 3:16 is that well known passage that explains that all scripture is God-breathed and useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness. If you children need teaching, correcting, and the occasional rebuking, the Bible can help.
Don’t leave the responsibility of teaching your children to others. They will learn more from you than anyone.
Next, you can pass on your faith by encouraging your children. This is certainly done through prayer and Bible study. But there are so many other ways in which you can encourage your kids. The biggest way is by setting an example for them to follow. They will act the way you act. They will worry about the things you worry about. They will have confidence in the things that you have confidence in.
In verse 6 of our passage here Paul says, because you have a firm foundation from your mother and grandmother, keep the fire burning bright. In 7-8 he says, “7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. 8 Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God.
The faith that has been passed on is of a spirit of confidence, power, love and discipline. Timothy was taught to be strong and steadfast in the Lord. That should be our prayer for our children… that they be confident and strong and disciplined. We want them to be loving people who are proud of their faith.
Encouragement, acceptance, and love are things that godly mothers are very good at. It is almost guaranteed that there will be times in our children’s lives when they are disappointed, or discouraged, or picked on. A mother has the ability to make you feel like you are the most important person in the world.
Along with encouragement comes protection. You can pass on your faith by protecting your children. Not overprotecting them but watching out for them. Not only on the playground, but protecting their time, their education, their development. A mother has a way of making her children feel safe and secure.
Protecting your kids is not simply about keeping them safe right now but helping them to develop healthy habits that will last a lifetime. You want your children to understand that God is their ultimate protection and provider. He is the one who keeps us safe and guards our hearts.
Give your mother the praise she deserves today. Let her know how much you appreciate her and respect her. The book of Proverbs dedicates an entire chapter to honoring mothers. Let me read just a small part of that chapter…
Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies. 11 The heart of her husband safely trusts her; So he will have no lack of gain. 12 She does him good and not evil. All the days of her life.
Strength and honor are her clothing; She shall rejoice in time to come. 26 She opens her mouth with wisdom, And on her tongue is the law of kindness. 27 She watches over the ways of her household And does not eat the bread of idleness. 28 Her children rise up and call her blessed;
Her husband also, and he praises her: 29 “Many daughters have done well, But you excel them all.” 30 Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised. 31 Give her of the fruit of her hands, And let her own works praise her in the gates.
Every home needs the sunshine that only a godly mother can bring to it. Mothers, will you be the sunshine of your home. If you will, in due time, you will receive your reward.
After one of the battles of the Civil War, a chaplain came to see a man who was dying. He took the young soldier’s hand and said, "Brother, what can I do for you?"
The boy replied, "I want you to kneel down and return thanks for me." This is an unusual request from someone who is dying.
"Thanks for what?" asked the chaplain.
And the soldier said, "Thank him for my mother. Thank him that because of her I am a Christian. What would I do now if I were not a Christian?
Happy Mother’s Day
If Your Brother Sins
15 “Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.’ 17 And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector. 18 “Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. 19 “Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.”
In our lives there are a lot of things we don’t like to do. Yet we have to do them because we are the only ones uniquely qualified to do that particular task. The same is true with Church Discipline. No one likes going through the process. We are dealing with friends and in some cases even relatives who have fallen, and yet the Scriptures state that we as Christians are the only ones who can use this extreme measure in an attempt to restore a brother or sister back to their relationship with the Lord.
It’s also true that very few people like to be told they are accountable and will be held responsible for anything in society today. We can accept it in the workplace because there are tasks for the job that we do. But outside the workplace, we have a difficult time when someone tells us that we have to accept additional accountability and responsibility, especially because of a stand we take, we have no alternative.
Yet this is exactly the position that, as a Christian, we find ourselves in. As a Christian our lives are not our own anymore (2 Cor. 5:14-15; Gal. 2:20). These passages tell us that as Christians our lives are no longer ours to live as we chose. We live our lives according to the Word of God and that Word includes accepting the responsibility and accountability to administer Church Discipline should it be needed.
It’s only when sin is dealt with in a Biblical manner that positive results can follow (Hebrews 12:15).
15 looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled.
Thus, the question must be asked, if we have no alternative should the situation arise but to use Church Discipline, what is our responsibility and accountability in the process? That is what I want to deal with today. If we look closely at the Matthew passage, four different groups of people are established, therefore I would suggest to you today that burdens of accountability and responsibility fall on.
1. The individual Christian in the Church (Verse 15)
2. The fallen brother or sister (Verses 15-18)
3. The witnesses (Verse 16)
4. The Church congregation. (Verse 17)
We will also see that ultimately as a Church we will stand accountable and responsible to God for our actions in attempting to restore a fallen brother or sister.
POINT ONE: THE INDIVIDUAL CHRISTIAN IN THE CHURCH.
Jesus addresses the individual concerning Church Discipline in verse 15. It tells us that if a brother sins against you, it is your responsibility to go to the brother or sister and attempt to make it right. But this is also the tip of the ice berg. There is much to look at before we get to this stage. We must also realize that as a member of a congregation, we also have the responsibility to make sure that the process is done in a just and biblical manner, with restoration the ultimate goal.
Our individual responsibility covers several areas:
POINT TWO: THE FALLEN BROTHER OR SISTER
The fallen brother or sister has several responsibilities in the process of Church Discipline. Some of these are obvious, while others fall by the wayside during the emotion of the process.
1. The first responsibility of the Christian is always to be open to correction (Proverbs 1:1-7; 19:20; 2 Tim.4:2-4; 2 Tim. 3:16).
In saying this, I realize that the levels of correction will be different. It’s one thing to deal with the sin of slander or gossip, it’s another thing to deal with the sin of adultery, or murder. Some people simply may not be aware that they are offending someone or may need to be shown better ways of dealing with situations and the correction is complete. The unique thing that happens here is that when sins such as jealousy, envy, gossip, etc., are dealt with successfully on a private basis, the restoration is complete on a corporate basis. A brother or sister restored privately according to Matthew 18:15 cannot help but become a prized treasure in the Church as people see the transformation in their life.
In other situations, it may be more difficult to remain open to correction. While all sin has consequences, some may be easier to bear than others. If I murder someone for example, I not only effect my life as I spend the rest of it in prison, but I also affect the lives of my family and the victim’s family. My sin effects the church as people are angered, hurt and disillusioned.
I believe a big part of the reason for this is the fact that it involves a conscious choice on the part of the offender to participate in sin. The action is known to be wrong, and yet the choice is made to participate anyway. Consider Adam and Eve in Genesis 3:4-13. The temptation was presented, and the choice was made. From that point on humanity became aware of several emotions that they had not experienced before. The emotions of sin, embarrassment, inner pain, stress, disappointment, and a host of others. Temptation is always seeded in our mind, and when we nurture it, will always give as its fruit sin (James 1:15).
In situations like this there is often a lack of openness. The person chooses not to accept the correction of the church, and in many cases leaves the church. In cases like this discipline in absence is the only recourse. Although the person is not there, the church acts and the individual is brought face to face with the words of Nathan to David 2 Samuel 12:1-13. Note especially the comments in verse 7 and verse 13. David is confronted with his sin and David acknowledges his sin.
2. There must be signs of repentance on the part of the fallen believer. All known sin is to be confessed (1 John 1:9; James 5:16). If we truly understand that we have wronged someone then our hearts should be convicted until we confess our wrong. But understand this, while our confession is in some cases public, our confession is only to God (Psalm 51:4). We may seek forgiveness, understanding, and reconciliation from the church for the way the sin effected the church, but confession and repentance is made only to God.
3.The fallen believer must accept accountability and responsibility for their action. The type of sin involving Church Discipline of any form, always involves others. It can range anywhere from one person to the entire church. The offender must make a statement accepting responsibility for his or her action and allow themselves to be held accountable to the church during the process of restoration. The offender also accepts accountability for the consequences that arise as a result of his or her sin (Matthew 12:36-37).
A statement of accountability and responsibility is necessary, and it is necessary as it is the offenders admission that they recognize their sin and claim it as theirs, they take possession and ownership of it. The fact is, that it is only by taking ownership of the sin, recognizing we are guilty, that we can be forgiven, and reconciled. Confession is good for the soul.
How that statement is made is divided into three camps, of which I would support two. The first camp follows the formula of Matthew 18:15. It is a private meeting between two individuals. The offending party realizes that he has hurt a fellow brother or sister and apologizes immediately. This then is the end of the incident and nothing more needs to be done.
In cases of sin that deals with others, there are two schools of thought. First there is the school that states that the offending person may speak to a small group of church leaders, i.e.: the deacon’s board, or its equivalent, or possibly a church council which is made up of all the committees of the church. The second school believes the statement needs to be made to the entire church. Under strict conditions I favor the second.
It is the responsibility of the person under Church Discipline to willingly submit to any further action deemed necessary by the church for the process of restoration. Again, there are some responsibilities to which the church is charged in this respect which we shall look at in a moment. Right now, suffice it to say that all action taken by the church should be to the advancement of the fallen member and therefore the fallen member must accept the further actions with grace.
POINT THREE: THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE WITNESSES:
The responsibility of the witnesses is straightforward. Matthew 18:16 tells us that the responsibility of the witnesses is to "establish the matter", or "to bring back a factual account of the confrontation. They are to serve to verify both the position of the offender as well as that of the person offended. They are to bring testimony as to the spirituality of the confrontation, and the attitude of the characters involved.
POINT FOUR: THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE CHURCH:
This aspect of Church Discipline, found in Matthew 18:17 is without a doubt the hardest for us to act on. We aren’t just dealing with people here, but with friends and relatives. We are dealing with people we care for deeply. For the church to have to resort to this extreme measure of Church Discipline our hearts should be breaking and there should be sleepless nights spent in prayer asking for the leading of the Holy Spirit.
In dealing with the responsibility of the church we need to keep in mind that the ultimate goal is restoration of the fallen member. Anything that is done, including the suspension of church membership, must be done with restoration in mind. This leads us then to the responsibilities of the church.
Matthew 18:17 is addressing a different type of individual. Jesus says treat them like a pagan or tax collector. How did Jesus treat the pagans and tax collectors. We can start by realizing that Jesus appointed a tax collector as one of the twelve disciples. Consider Matthew 9:9-13. Jesus ate and stayed with tax collectors and pagans.
Do not allow them the privileges of a believer in that you want to protect them from taking them unworthily (1 Corinthians 11:27; Acts 5:1-11) but we do associate with them. A kind word on the street, checking up on them just to see how they are doing, sharing from your own experiences, keeping the door of communication open is vital in restoration.
Then the second thing a congregation can do is to express love and concern to the individual involved. Urge him to repent, to give up sin, and to give in to the pleadings of the body and of the Spirit of God. Especially is this true of people who are friends of the individual and have known him for a long period of time. The cooperative effort of many to help the one involved see what he or she has done is a very powerful weapon to turn him from evil.
Thirdly, individuals in a congregation can share with this person experiences themselves may have had in finding God’s grace sufficient in their own lives to resist evil, or to turn from it, once it has been discovered or indulged in. That will encourage the individual to realize that the only way out of his situation is to return to the Lord, who will forgive.
The church has the responsibility to restore and forgive if true repentance is shown, and the plan of restoration is being followed. This is sometimes hard to do, but in the church we are called to do some things that may go against everything our natural nature tells us to do. That is one of the things that sets us apart. After restoration takes place the church also has the responsibility to chose carefully the ministry of the individual. The individual needs to be brought back gradually, avoiding positions of great responsibility until well established in the church again. They need time to just be a part of the fellowship again, to just enjoy people caring about them.
The issue of Church Discipline is one that we would all like to avoid, but in some cases cannot.
The ultimate goals of Church Discipline is always the restoration of the individual, the protection of the church with reference to holiness and purity and dealing with a serious situation in an open manner so that there can be closure to the situation.
We have to have faith in the church to be the church. We are not taking matters to the church for gossip’s sake, nor do we take a matter to the church in the hopes of turning the people against one that has fallen. We turn the matter over to the church in an open forum to make sure that we have conducted a thorough investigation, and that we have lived up to our responsibilities to the fallen individual and to God.
We conduct the matter in open forum to make sure that the church realizes that there is no other option but the action taken. We conduct the matter in open forum to give the church the final say, as Matthew 18:17 states we are to "tell it to the church". We take it to the church for the church’s forgiveness of the individual and once that forgiveness is given, then the church has dealt with that matter and it may never be brought up again.
But the best way to avoid the issue of Church Discipline is to lead our lives walking daily with the Lord. Let Him be our guide, even when life is difficult. We are all vulnerable on our own, and only the power and grace of God can sustain us through this life.
Let Us Pray:
Trust In The Lord
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding;
6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.
Does God still guide His people today? Certainly, He guided Abraham, Moses, Samuel and the Apostle Paul. But will He guide us in our daily life and decisions? Can we come to the Lord and expect Him to give us the direction we need in the decisions of life? Here God says He will guide and direct us. He will lead us into a balanced life and proper decisions. The big question though is, will we obey God's will if He reveals it to us? Trusting and obeying is what is absolutely necessary to be guided by God.
The day before his 52nd birthday, ABRAHAM LINCOLN left Springfield, Illinois to become President of the United States. With the threat of civil war looming, he said goodbye to the friends and neighbors who had come to see him off. "I now leave," he told them, "not knowing when, or whether ever, I may return, with a task before me greater than that which rested upon [George] Washington. Without the assistance of the Divine Being who ever attended him, I cannot succeed. With that assistance, I cannot fail. Trusting in Him who can go with me, and remain with you, and be everywhere for good, let us confidently hope that all will yet be well. To His care commending you, as I hope in your prayers you will commend me. I bid you an affectionate farewell."
Many celebrate Lincoln's kindness, integrity, and courage. Yet we can also learn from him how to face a daunting future with confident hope in the Lord. Lincoln's reliance on God for guidance and strength reflects the instruction of Solomon: "Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your path."
I. TRUST GOD, 5a.
II. DON'T FULLY TRUST YOURSELF, 5b.
III. TOTAL OBEDIENCE, 6a.
IV. PROMISED DIRECTION, 6b.
The first step in getting the guidance of God for our lives is admitting we need it. Thus verse 5 begins with the command to trust the Lord. "Trust the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding."
From God alone comes true help and eternal prosperity. He knows the right way to the right ends. He knows what truly benefits us. He is able to free us from that which does us harm. Therefore, it is our daily privilege and safety to place our confidence completely in Him and not in our-own feeble at best- judgment. For living without trust in God is like driving in dense fog.
We are commanded to trust God with nothing less than "all our heart"--and to obey Him in all our ways. That means total commitment to Him. The word translated trust means "to be helpless, face-down." It is the picture of one allowing another to do anything to him and will not oppose it. It is casting all hopes for the present and future upon God and finding shelter and security in Him.
Heart in Hebrew can refer to one's emotions (Prov. 12:25; 13:12; 14:10,13) but more often to the intellect or mind (or understanding-10:8; discernment-15:14; reflection-15:25) or the will (5:12). What God is saying is to cast upon our Lord our total trust. Not holding back in any area of our mind, will or feeling. That my friends is a major assignment.
Man was created to be a trusting being, he is always leaning on some object. His consciousness of dependence is so deep that he dare not stand alone. This trusting instinct, like all other instincts of his nature, has been sadly perverted by wrong direction. Everywhere man is leaning on the unworthy, the unreliable, and the undependable, hence his constant disappointment and further confusion.
Everyone trust something or someone. Many trusts in a business, a company, a job, home, bank account, lands, friends, government, a spouse, their physical strength or mental ability. These are all good things, but they are not worthy of our primary and supreme trust. God alone is worthy of supreme trust. He is the object of complete trustfulness. The all merciful, all wise, all knowing, all powerful, all loving, Triune Holy God. He alone will stand faithful and true in all the difficulties, tribulations and successes of life. He is the one and only all enduring Faithful One amidst the dissolutions of our existence.
It takes faith to get guidance. Most of us have had the experience of being in a strange place, trying to find an address. Usually, we stop someone and ask for information. We have faith that the stranger we ask is going to lead us to the right place. When we are making decisions about specific problems in life, we go to an expert, a doctor, lawyer, or banker and trust them to give us the right counsel.
Choices, decisions, motives, intentions must all be directed to what God wants and what God can do. "Trust" steps onto the bridge of God's loving power and leaves the shoreline of our own abilities and ambitions behind. Such belief means literally to "bet your life" on God's truth and wisdom.
Trust is natural to us. It is our lot to be dependent. God wants us to trust Him with our lives and He promises never to lead us astray. Our all knowing God loves us and will never give us wrong guidance. He has a perfect plan for our lives and wants us to follow His plan.
You are to trust Him "with all your heart." The green apple does like to be twisted and torn from the tree, but the ripened fruit drops easily off. When the soul attains complete trust in the Lord it can loosen every other bond and easily let go of all that the world offers. To reserve a little in our cleaving to Christ spoils all. It endangers our guidance and destroys our peace.
Note it says all your heart. The trust must be undivided for the double minded man is unstable in all his ways. It is to be supreme, for man cannot serve two masters. Man is to trust but not as in dry dull duty but with the supreme affection and willingness that can only come from the human heart.
II. DON'T FULLY TRUST YOURSELF, 5b.
We are also commanded not to lean on our fallen understanding. The warning is needed because if we lean on our own understanding, we will miss God's will. To lean here is to rest upon it in order to be strengthened or supported by it. Leaning has the sense of putting your whole weight on something, resting on and trusting in that person or thing. God wants us to only lean on Him which will open up His ability to give not just natural but supernatural guidance. This does not mean we do not use our brain for when God guides, He will not by-pass the brain but doesn't want us deepening on our natural way of reasoning.
The warning is that we are not to depend on just our natural reasoning for God is a super-natural God and not limited to our shallow understandings. David would never have fought Goliath (or used armor and weapons that were unsuited for Him) if he reasoned as a man. Noah would have never built an ark in the desert. Abram would have never headed toward the promise land or been willing to offer up his son.
When we have an important decision to make, we sometimes feel that we can't trust anyone - not even God. But God knows what is best for us. He is a better judge of what we need than even we are. We must trust Him completely in every choice we make. We should not omit careful thinking or belittle our God-given ability to reason, but we should not trust our own ideas to the exclusion of God's. We must not be wise in our own eyes. We should always be willing to listen to and be corrected by God's Word and wise counselors. Bring your decisions to God in prayer, use the Bible as your guide, and then follow God's leading. He will make your paths true by both guiding and protecting you.
"Trust in the Lord" means that as we believe, pray, meditate on Scripture we will find the Holy Spirit renewing our minds, creating in us the mind of Christ and enabling us to think God's thoughts and follow God's guidance, all of which may at times be foolishness to the natural man (Isa. 55:8-9).
III. TOTAL OBEDIENCE, 6a.
The truly wise person is called upon to honor and obey God with his life in verse 6. "In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths." Notice the repetition of the often overlooked word all. "All your heart ... and all your way." Our trust in Him must extend to all our ways.
Man's ways are many and men have different ways (determined by family, environment, education, attitude, character, idiosyncracies, mood, etc). Whatever way you walk, in whatever stage of life you're in, you should trust fully.
To receive God's guidance, said Solomon, we must acknowledge God in all our ways. "Acknowledge" is to honor and obey. Acknowledging not merely His existence, personality and power but His sovereign right to direct your way of life and living. This means turning every area of life over to him. You yield your way to be subject to Him in thought, word, deed and aim of life.
About a thousand years later, Jesus emphasized this same truth (Matthew 6:33).
33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.
Look at your values and priorities. What is important to you? In what areas have you not acknowledged Him? What is His advice? In many areas of your life you may already acknowledge God, but it is in the areas where you attempt to restrict or ignore His influence that will cause you grief. Make Him a vital part of everything you do, then He will guide you because will be working to accomplish His purposes.
You are to acknowledge God in all the ways of life. In the great things, to heal the sick, uphold the word, forgive sin and also turn over the management of the minor decisions of life.
If we acknowledge Him, we will be saved from atheism. Atheism is not simple intellectual disbelief in God. There is also practical atheism which is living our life as we desire instead of under the direction of God. There are many people who intellectually and even with heart believe in God, but they are practical atheists.
They give no acknowledgment to God and to the following of His ways in their daily lives. They live godlessly. Godliness is a life lived without reference, or submission to God. This is the insidious peril which threatens us everyday. This is the danger from which this verse seeks to deliver us.
Acknowledgment is seen in the recognition of His directives, and the acceptance of His claims. It will produce obedience. It is to recognize the gifts He has given us and to use them in His will. Instead of leaning on man-made crutches of our own devising, we are exhorted to recognize Him in all our ways.
Acknowledging Him means to take the forces and abilities He has placed in your personality and character and to use them under His design and governance. Do not think that He will bring you to the mountain top of a close relationship with Him if you refuse to climb after Him.
Put Christ into your business. Let godliness be seen in all you do. Let this be true in your recreation and entertainment also. Don't let your fear of the Lord lose its keenness to touch, direct and protect you.
"In all thy ways acknowledge Him." Not just Sundays, but Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Not just Christmas and Easter but all 365 days of the year. Not just when in public view but in the secret and hidden ways of the life, mind and heart. In the light and in the dark, in the shop as well as in the sanctuary, in the valley as well as on the mountain top, at play as well as at work in all thy ways.
IV. PROMISED DIRECTION, 6b.
Now hear in the last clause of verse 6 the word of promise for those who will exercise their faith by honoring and obey. "And He shall direct your paths."
Observe what advantage true trust receives. True trust receives God's guidance by simply following God's leading. He leads those who trust in Him to the right end by making their path plain before them. His guidance secures safety amidst all perils and joy amidst all sorrows.
The word for "direct" in Hebrew means "to make smooth, straight, right." suggest intensity. The Lord will thoroughly direct and protect.
His guidance is there in which car, house or dress to buy. Which school to go to, what college major to consider, which job to take. What to do not only Sunday morning and evening but each and every morning and evening.
He has many ways of directing. He directs by obstacles placed across the way which I cannot overcome, and which drive me into a new way. He directs by clearing obstacles away, which I thought could not be moved. He directs by delay, keeping me waiting long after I have heard His call to service. He directs by immediateness, flinging me out into a new position, wherein I must seek His guidance. He directs by encouragement, by whispers in the soul, which make a man dare, when all men tell him his daring is of no avail. He directs by disappointing, or by realizing our dreams.
The personal pronoun "He", is packed with all the tender love of our Father. No evil can baffle if He directs the path. No enemy can prevent the final realization of His purpose. No obstacles can hinder if He leads. No opposition can overcome if He guides. No crises can overwhelm the wisdom of God, no events surprises Him. Oh, the safety of being in the will of God. "He shall direct thy paths."
Not always in easy or pleasant paths, but always in right paths. Not necessarily in those I would have chosen, but always in paths which lead to eternal success. The paths that He directs lead always, through mist and mystery, through battle and bruising, to fulfill the meaning and purpose of your life.
The final test of life is beyond the things of time and sense. It will be a test of fire and only that which cannot be destroyed will remain. In the light of that final test if we would make our lives successful, we must begin right. What is the first step? Surrender. What is the plan of life, the pathway to the end? Obedience. Confronting everyone of us tonight, God in Christ asks for our lives.
Result in His "directing our paths" by which is meant that He will not only be our guide but our road maker.
Trust in God is what He uses to raises a person up in the likeness of God. Reason can take one only so far. It cannot soar, it cannot rise heavenward. The eyes of the heart, the inward faculty that God has given a person, makes him go onward and upward.
Once you are leaning on God's direction you can have self-reliance. Thank God for your intellect. Respect it, train it, feed it with the choice fruits of the Spirit. At best our intellect's eyes are very dim, its ears heavy and its limbs feeble. The light of any man's reason is far too feeble to guide us safely to the eternal city.
"He will make a way, where there seems to be no way. He works in ways we cannot see; He will make a way for me."
Who are you trusting with your life? Yourself or God? Do you look to your own intellect, abilities, and strength? Or do you trust the Lord?
Most of us would say that we are trying to trust the Lord, but we have trouble resting in that trust. We feel compelled to help God out by rearranging the circumstances. Or at least we feel obliged to do a little sanctified worrying,
There are two problems with trusting ourselves. First, we do not always have enough wisdom to know what is the right thing. Second, we do not have the power or capacity to be in control. God lacks neither wisdom nor power.
God keeps His promises when we obey His precepts, because our obedience prepares us to receive and enjoy what He has planned for us. Heed His warning about leaning on our or any other man's understanding and thus missing God's perfect will for our life.
Let Us Pray:
Pastor Richard Santos
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