February 9, 2020
Rose of Sharon Baptist Church February 9, 2020
Church Service Notes
Scripture: Hebrews 12:1-3
All year we have been looking at the vision for our church that originates in these verses. The verses described the race we are running together as a church and our vision is that we will run our race in such a way as to hear well done my good and faithful church. Our race includes worship, fellowship, discipleship, evangelism, and missions. Some days it might be difficult to feel up to the race. It may seem as though everything is uphill, or like running through mud, or the crowds are blocking us and holding us back. When those times come we are going to need to dig deep and push forward, we have to decide to commit and not quit. I ran cross-country in high school. The races would have front runners who finish the race strongly, there would be some who would struggle, some would resort to walking, some would stop to rest before pushing again, and then there would be some who would stop, step off the course, and quit the race. As a church I don’t want any of us choosing to quit – we need to find ways to keeping going onward for the prize that God has for us!
In athletics coaches will often use a certain motivational ploy to encourage their team to press onward and not quit even when the training is hard, or the odds seem too much, or a deficit too large to overcome. The coaches will share with their team pictures, newspaper articles, or video of previous champions. The hope is seeing the other champions will encourage their team to get through it all and proceed.
How about us as a church? Who do we look toward as inspiration? Hebrews tells us: we are to look to Jesus, our glorious and great Savoir, the author and finisher of our faith! It is Jesus we are called to imitate as we run our race together.
When we look to Jesus what do we see in our mind’s eye? For some of us we see the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes. For some maybe we see Jesus performing a certain miracle. Maybe we see Jesus on the cross or Him revealing His nail scarred hands. Today I want us to look Jesus as He ran His race. Jesus’ race ultimately took Him to the cross where He was crucified to pay the price for our sins. It was a supremely difficult race and yet Jesus finished the race. Jesus did so because He was committed to obedience to the Father and He know the joy that would be achieved in the atonement. But the cross was not the only part of Jesus’ race. And while we may not be called to die on a cross as Jesus was, we can look to Jesus’ life to see how He handled other obstacles that we will face and we can learn from His example!
Consider Philippians 2:5-8 Jesus has existed for all time and part of His race was leaving the perfection of Heaven, cloaking the fullness of His Diety, and humbling Himself to be a person. Sometimes our race may take us to places we have never been, places that are uncomfortable, and may require us to humble ourselves. Doing so may be hard for us, but when the time comes we need to look to Jesus!
Luke 2:42-52 Here Jesus as a boy is found discussing the Scriptures with the doctors of the Scriptures for that day. As a boy Jesus was found to be astonishing in His knowledge of the Scripture. If you are a Christian you cannot use inexperience or youth as an excuse, look to Jesus. And Christians, how well are we studying the Scriptures – running our race in a worthy manner demands we learn them!
Matthew 3:13-17 In the text John the Baptist is baptizing his disciples when Jesus comes looking to be baptized. John the Baptist, knowing that Jesus is the Lamb of God, tells Jesus he is unworthy to baptize Jesus. How do respond to compliments and people proclaiming good truths about us? Do we allow pride to set in and believe in our own greatness to the detriment of our obedience to God? Jesus didn’t, Jesus was committed to obeying God and so He insisted John the Baptist baptize Him and it pleased the Lord. Look to Jesus when pride starts to grow!
Matthew 4:1-11 Satan comes and tempts Jesus again and again. And in response Jesus quotes Scripture back to Satan again and again. Jesus never sins, He never succumbs to the temptation. In our race temptations will come – we must look to Jesus and stand firm on God’s Word to resist the temptations!
Matthew 4:17-23 Jesus is recorded as preaching repentance, Jesus goes to people who need help, Jesus helps the people, and Jesus shares the Gospel truth with people. In our race we must also help those in need, we must call for repentance from sin, and we must share the Gospel – God’s plan for people’s salvation!
Matthew 7:28-29 Here Jesus is recording as teaching the Scriptures accurately. Are we prepared to teach the Bible accurately? We must be learning it!
Matthew 9:35-38 Jesus interacts with the crowds and He sees the multitudes and is moved with compassion! How do we see people we encounter in our race? Do we see them with the same compassion as Jesus? Our hearts must break for those who are apart from the Lord.
John 4:3-10 Here Jesus must needs go to Samaria. Why? So He could meet the woman at the well. Keep in mind this was a culturally unacceptable interaction between different people groups. Yet Jesus went and shared the Gospel. How about us? Will we avoid those different from us, will we avoid the places society tells us not to go? Look to Jesus!
John 13:3-5, 13-16 Here Jesus washes the disciples’ feet, Jesus as a servant! We will humble ourselves and serve others as Jesus did?
Matthew 26:36-44 The night of the arrest, Jesus prays to the Father for help and declares to the Father His commitment to the Father’s plan. This when Jesus’ race was entering the hardest stretch. What will we do when our race becomes difficult or even dangerous? We will try to go on our own strength? We will try to avoid God’s plan and find our own way? We must obey the Lord, pray like Jesus did for the strength and for our faith to persevere!
Let’s all run our race in a worthy manner and whatever we encounter, let’s look to Jesus – our Awesome Savior for the push and inspiration to run onward!
Scripture: James 2:1-13
In tonight’s passage of James we find a teaching on not showing partiality to certain people over others. Verse 1 tells us not to do it, verse 4 equates considering it with evil thoughts, and in verse 9 the respect of persons is called sin.
The example James uses to depict the teaching is the treatment of a rich man in a congregation compared to a poor man. In the example, the rich man is catered to in hopes of receiving something in return whereas the congregation is embarrassed of the poor man and pushes him aside. James offers reason against such treatment in our passage. Often rich are favored by people in hopes of receiving something in return; the rich does not have to only refer to money but can refer to elite authority, position of influence in politics or economy, rich in power, rich in opportunity, rich in anything we desire. James is writing to a scattered church in his time: the elites of Jerusalem, the Jewish religious leaders and Roman authorities, have persecuted the Christian church and driven people away. Many of the scattered began to establish churches wherever they arrived when they fled the persecution. Some then tried to garner favor from the rich in these new places even though the rich had lead the persecutions in Jerusalem. Why did some turn to the rich in the new places? Because they chose to apply human standards to people and establish value to people based on the person’s capacity to help them. This sis wrong! God does not measure people’s worth by human standards such as wealth, attractiveness, power, authority, position, family, or anything else people use to measure greatness.
Consider the Old Testament examples, Jacob younger than Esau but he becomes the chosen lineage, David the youngest of his family, too young to fight, but he slays the giant Goliath and becomes a great king in Israel’s history. Gideon least of his family and least of the tribes but he will lead the people to victory and battle and freedom from oppressors. Deborah a woman chosen to lead the Israelites to victory in an age of history when women were not supposed to lead. None of these individuals would have been picked by the people of their time to do great things, they would have been passed over for other prominent people – but God loves all and uses all for His glory. God looks for faithfulness, willingness, and obedience in us, not the human standards. The Old Testament also shows us what happens when we blindly entrust ourselves to those rich by human standards. The nation of Israel would repeatedly make alliances with heathen nations that boasted mighty militaries and the Israelites would rely on wealth to buy protection and yet God would humble the Israelites in spite of the earthly riches these others offered. We must learn not to value people over others.
We need to ask ourselves do we favor some and reject others? If so, who are we favoring? Are we valuing the wealthy, politically connected, those we have things in common with, those we are comfortable and familiar with? If we value some and reject others wanting them out of our churches, or refusing our help to them, or refusing to share the Gospel with them then we are guilty of sin. This sin happens today it is manifested in economic groups, racial distinctions, political alignments, age differences, past history, family history, music preferences, clothing choices, appearances, and so many things. What message does it send to people when we, the church reject other people? I believe this type of rejection drives people away from the church, leads them to discount the Gospel, and leads them to turn away from God far more than we realize.
We must stop rejecting people and stop choosing to value human standards. Verses 9-11 give us a truth we must consider and it is a great equalizer. James tells us that if we choose to value people in this wrong way, then we are guilty of the violating the whole law. The whole law that condemns murderers, lairs, and thieves. We must realize we are sinners before God, God doesn’t value one of us over another. God loved us all so much He sent Jesus to die for us all on the cross. Praise the Lord and give thanks to Him that He does not value some arbitrary standard in relation to us and who He extends His saving love towards. The Lord desires all of us to be saved regardless of our human shortcomings.
Verse 12-13 contain a reckoning we must consider. If we choose to value certain people over others and to discriminate with our love then we will be judged accordingly. We will not receive mercy ourselves.
Verse 13 ends with a phrase telling us that mercy triumphs over judgement; over the favoring of the human values. Consider the power of extending love people that have experienced rejection repeatedly. Don’t underestimate the power of sharing God’s love with others as we are told in verse 8. We must love one another!
If we can be of help in some way to you, please let us know.
In Christ’s Love,