January 12, 2020
Rose of Sharon Baptist Church January 12, 2020
Church Service Notes
Scripture: Hebrews 12:1-3
Last week we introduced our vision for Rose of Sharon: that we would run the race God has planned for us in a worthy manner so that when we reach our finish line we will hear “well done”. So what is our race? It is the work of the church: worship, fellowship, discipleship, missions and evangelism. This morning we will consider the different aspects of our race and how our church is engaged in each.
Worship: We are called to worship in the Bible; that is why we offer praise, sing songs, read the Scriptures, give thanks, and rejoice together as a church. Verses of the Word of God that tell us to worship include Hebrews 13:15 which tells us to speaks praises to God, Psalm 149:1 which tells us to praise God and sing together, and Romans 12:1 tells us to present our whole body, our lives, as a sacrifice of praise to God. Clearly, we are commanded to worship as a church. Our church does this primarily through our worship services and the songs, offerings, praise reports, Scripture reading, and praise reports we share in those services. Since we are engaged in worship, the next question for us is if we are worshipping in such a way as to hear “well done”. How do we know if our worship is worthy? Consider Matthew 15:8-9. Jesus tells us that true worship comes from the heart. Worthy worship will be focused on the Lord and come from our heart. We must examine ourselves and seek the Lord first in all things.
Fellowship: Christian fellowship involves us gathering today to share friendship and to encourage each other in the name of Jesus. Hebrews 10:23-25 tells us to gather together as believers and to encourage each other to do good works. Acts 2:442 provides us with an example of the early church fellowshipping together. Our church fellowships often in many ways, but how can we know if our fellowship is worthy or not? 1 Corinthians 11:17-34 provides an example of unworthy fellowship. The unworthy fellowship was not in unity, it was divided, people were being selfish, people were being jealous, and the fellowship was not focused on God.
Discipleship: Matthew 28:19 records Jesus’ instruction to the apostles and to the church for their work moving forward just as He would ascend into heaven. Jesus tells us to make disciples, to teach people all that He had taught. Making disciples involves teaching. Our church teaches through Sunday School, VBS, Wednesday night services. As individuals we need to take advantage of these opportunities to learn and attend the teaching times. And those who teach need to be prepared and ready for their classes. 2 Timothy 2:15 shows us the way to disciple others in a worthy manner; it tells us study the Word ahead of teaching and to teach the Word correctly.
Worship, fellowship, and discipleship are three of the five parts of our church’s race. I believe we are engaged in this aspects, we can always improve how we do them and should be striving to improve them. These three aspects are in many ways inwardly focused on the church. We worship in our church service, we fellowship with church members, and we disciple by teaching others at church. The remaining two parts of our race: missions and evangelism, are outwardly focused and I believe where I church has the most need to grow.
Evangelism is mandated in the Bible in Acts 1:8 which tells us to be Christ’s witnesses to all people and 2 Corinthians 5:20 which tells us we are Christ ambassadors – his representatives to other people. Missions is mandated in James 2:14-20 which describes how faith must be accompanied by faith, James 1:27 which tells us to care for those in need, and Matthew 25:34-40 where Jesus discusses caring for the thirsty, hungry, clothing people, sheltering people, visiting people, and caring for those in need.
How do we improve our race regarding missions and evangelism? Our church engages in these activities as individuals choose to outside of church. We need an organized church approach to evangelism and missions. It is my plan to implement action teams that will reach out to our community and help people and share the Gospel with people. The action teams will include a builder team to participate in an existing association outreach that builds wheelchair access ramps in partnership with the local hospital. A team to reach out to our church members who are home-bound and in nursing homes to maintain relationships and make sure needs are met. A sports team that will promote outreach among families in the different little leagues to introduce the gospel to people. And a prayer team that will support the other teams and lift up their missions in prayer. In the coming weeks we will discuss these teams more and their implementation.
Scripture: James 1:2-12
Last Sunday night we introduced the Book of James and considered its background. Tonight we will begin studying its teachings. As we study through James I want us all to keep James 1:22 in mind which tells us to be not only hearers of the Word but also doers. We must apply what we learn.
James begins his letter by discussing the trials and troubles we will face in life. Trials are things we experience life that enter our lives many times through no fault of our own. For the early Christians receiving this letter they were in the midst of a trial by persecution. The early believers would soon be arrested, imprisoned, and executed for their faith. This causes many believers to scatter and leave Jerusalem for the safety of them and their families. Today we have trials involving family relations, maintaining our homes, our safety, financial security, our health, and the loss of loved ones among other trials. Verse 2 tells us that we will experience the different trials and that when the trials come we should consider them a joy. How do we look for joy during a trial? The key is to look at what awaits in the end of the trial. Our outlook and attitude in facing a trial matter. I think back to John 16:33 which tells us that the overcoming victory of Jesus is already won. I think about Hebrews 12:2 which tells us that for the joy of God’s plan being complete, Jesus endured the cross. God brings about good through trials and we must look for the good when we enter the trial and we must trust the Lord to provide the good and the joy. It gives us the hope we need to experience the trial and to be able to count it as joy.
Verses 3-4 introduce how God brings good through the trial. Verse 3 begins by telling us to know. This is us mentally accepting the God will work good out of the circumstance. We must mentally choose to seek God in the midst of the trial and His good. To help us in knowing we can think back on the past when God has worked good out of impossible circumstances in the lives of the people in the Bible, in the lives of people from history, our church members lives, our own family, and our own life. Verse 4 uses the work let. It is one thing to know that God can bring good out of a trial it is another for us to let God move in our life during the trial. We too often try to take matters into our own hands or depend on others rather than trust God to do what is needed. We must let God work, listen to Him as we seek Him in the Word, and respond to how God leads us.
Verses 5-8 give us help in knowing how to trust the Lord. The verses tell us to ask for wisdom. We need to have the wisdom from God to see His ways in a trial. Many times we ask in prayer for rescue from a trial, relief, encouragement, and strength. How often do we pray for wisdom? God is faithful to grant us the wisdom if we will ask with faith. Many times our prayers are offered without genuine faith. We may say a prayer for God’s help but in our actions look everywhere else possible for the help rather than looking to God. We must ask in faith for God’s wisdom to see us through trials we experience.
Verses 9-11 is used to remind us that anyone and everyone is subjected to trials. In the scattered state of the early church is was easy for the disconnected people to believe they were enduring a trial while others were being spared or to think that others were experiencing trials while the one had somehow made himself safe from the possibility of a trial. Trials come to the rich and the poor, male or female, young or old. The verses refer to what is known in the Mediterranean as the sirocco. The sirocco is a unique weather event similar to el nino we experience. During a sirocco hurricane strength winds develop over the Sahara Desert in Africa. The winds drive the desert sands north into southern Europe and into the area of Israel. Its scorching hot winds devastate crops covering them with desert sand/dust and destroy harvests. The sirocco can destroy mechanical equipment and drive sand through building’s exterior cracks. In Italy the sirocco is known as the blood rain as it results in red colored rains as the sand in the winds mixes with the moisture over the sea as the storm crosses the Mediterranean Sea. No person controls the sirocco; it comes when it wants, it impacts all in its path. And so it is with trials. We will experience no matter our status, it is simply a matter of time.
The passage ends with verse 12. Verse 12 concludes that the person who perseveres though the trial is blessed. If we allow God to work in us through the trial we will experience His love and come closer to Him. We are also told we will receive crowns of life – these are crowns in the present not in the future afterlife, blessings for the now. We must learn to seek God first and trust Him in all things – doing so will bring good for us.
If we can be of help in some way to you, please let us know.
In Christ’s Love,