I am grateful every time a Sunday rolls around. Regardless of what may have happened during the previous week or what may come up in the weeks and months ahead, we come together around God’s Word to hear from God this morning about His Son Jesus Christ. And we also pray that the Holy Spirit would open up our hearts and apply all that God would have us to know and live.
Last Sunday night, we spend a good amount of time talking about the next steps for Arapahoe Road. It seems that we all were encouraged and excited about the possibilities of what God has for us. One person even said, “This is the best business meeting I’ve ever been to.” How often do you hear something like that? But it’s a reminder that we are to move forward for the glory of God with no hesitation.
When the apostle Paul arrived in western Asia Minor, he knew that his time was coming to a close and that it was time to start that final chapter by going to Jerusalem. Yet, he felt the need to send ahead to the elders at Ephesus to make the twenty-mile trek south along the coast and meet him in the town of Miletus (v. 17). He had already celebrated the Passover and wanted to spend Pentecost at Jerusalem. So he spent a few days in Miletus awaiting the arrival of the elders. This would be his last step in his ministry to the Gentiles.
Be careful, Christians. When you show more venom toward those who disagree with your politics than love toward those far from God, you are giving mixed signals.
You are telling those who disagree with you that you are not worthy of spending time or talking with them. The the name calling commences. The posts toward not only those who aren’t followers of Christ but even those who are trying to build bridges as Christians are maligned.
Then, when our “Jesus hat” is put on, we put out verses about how “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son”–without connecting that the world we say we hate and cut off is that very “world” Jesus came to rescue. ““No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money [or material possessions]” (Matthew 6:24).
We sing on Sunday about God’s amazing grace and how it was shown to us, then turn around and show zero grace to others even in our own camp who do not line up with our way of thinking. “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person” (Colossians 4:6).
Please, all of you who name the name of Christ, think missionally first, not nationally nor politically. For all of our concern about the “cancel culture” in our society, we must be careful as Christians not to engage in our own cancelling. “And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:11).
Be ready to talk with those who disagree with you. You may find out the “thing beneath the thing” they hold and begin to love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you (Matthew 5:43-44).
Breathe before you pass on that meme or that joke or that gossip. Would you like someone representing you that way, and thus fanning the flame? “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” (Matthew 7:12).
This is an opportunity for Christians to show that their citizenship is primarily in heaven where we model Christ (Philippians 3:20-21). Read the NT and see who Christ hung out with. And see who He reserved His most scathing rebukes for.
O Jerusalem, Jerusalem…
Matthew Perry, Lead Pastor Arapahoe Road Baptist Church, Centennial, CO
One may say, “We do not need to worry about the spiritual realm. We have evolved past these things. All that matters is what you see in the here and now.” Yet, we must realize that every generation has their skeptics. Even in Jesus’ time, the religious leaders argued over the existence and role of the supernatural. The Pharisees believed in the supernatural and the resurrection, while the Sadducees did not believe in the supernatural.
Until recently, many believed that truth could be discovered by the scientific method (gather, hypothesis, test, conclusion). Now, truth is personal, subjective, and relative. Someone defined “finding your truth” as “to live in your truth simply means to live as your most authentic self, doing things daily that bring you happiness and joy, living as true to yourself as possible.” The worldview to this is that we do not need anyone else’s help (not even God’s) in order to find our joy. Rather than denying ourselves as Jesus called us to do, we are called to live as true to ourselves.
Jesus has something better. His lordship over our lives is better than our lordship over our lives. He spent three years with his disciples, teaching them all about the Kingdom of God–and getting a front row seat to see the King at work in the world. They had just observed Jesus’ lordship over the natural world by calming the storm with a word. While they were terrified at the storm outside their boat, they couldn’t help but ask with great fear, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him” (Mark 4:41)? Now, rather than having a restful break on the other side of the Sea of Galilee, they have another encounter. Jesus would use this encounter to (1) free someone from Satan’s grip, but also (2) show His disciples that His lordship extends to the spiritual realm–even the demonic realm. Let’s get to work and see what God has to teach us here in 2022.
Pete Seeger. Ever heard of him? In the 1950s, 1960s, and even now the mention of his name can elicit different feelings. Chase by the McCarthey Investigation and the FBI for what they deemed subversive and anti-Vietnam rhetoric and singing. Some saw him as unpatriotic for his lack of support of war in general, and Vietnam specifically. Some saw him as patriotic for expressing his views on injustice and racial discord in the world. His aim, he said, was to bring people together.
Why does Pete Seeger intrigue me? Seeger had a particular habit in his concerts. First of all, he was an extraordinary folk musician who could play about any stringed instrument that came his way—even a fretless banjo (as seen here on The Johnny Cash Show). Second of all, he had such an engaging manner about him as he played and interacted with the audience. He just seemed like a nice guy.
But what intrigues me most about Seeger is the way he encouraged audience participation in his singing. I honestly don’t care much for his studio work (just him singing alone). But the energy that developed in listening to him sing live—and then when the audience joins him . . . few things are as stirring as this.
Seeger went on tour in 1964, with the first stop of the tour being in Melbourne, Australia. The point of this tour was to share some American folk tunes with the Australian people. In the clip below (approximately eight minutes in length), he shares some backstory on Negro spirituals, then begins singing “Down By the Riverside.” With just his voice and his banjo (how can anyone go wrong with a banjo?), he shares the tune, then helps them with the four parts so they can sing harmony, then he just let’s go (especially on the part of the song that goes, “Ain’t gonna study war no mo’ . . . .”).
Seeger understood that if you could get people from different backgrounds (liberals, conservatives, different races, different creeds) singing together, then (right or wrong) a number of walls would come down. There is something decidedly unifying in a room full of people singing together. And the more passionate one is about the content and subject of that song, the more passionate the singing—and it becomes contagious.
In the church world, we call this ‘congregational singing’, and outside of the preaching of the Word and observance of the ordinances/sacraments, it is the most critical part of our times of corporate worship. Why is this so important? It brings different voices of the body of Christ in one accord. And what do Christians have to sing about?
When my wife and I went on our 10th anniversary vacation to my sister’s time share in Cocoa Beach, Florida, we worship at Sovereign Grace Church in Titusville, Florida. It was a two-hour service. The first hour was singing, the second hour was preaching. What I noticed about that first hour, every time any mention of the resurrection occurred, they would start cheering and the singing would become more energetic! Suddenly, I was shaken out of myself and the newness of the place and just going through the motions and began to focus on the what (or should I say ‘Whom’) we were singing about: a risen Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!
Pete Seeger’s legacy, whatever else may be said, is that of bringing others to sing. In a recent edition of PBS’ American Masters, Seeger noted that the most incredible experiences he’s had at concerts was when the people joined him in singing! May our chu
“Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you? Show us your steadfast love, O LORD, and grant us your salvation” (Psalm 85:6-7).
God has called his people to live a life of love and truth and obedience to him. Yet there are times in the life of individual Christians and churches where the roaring fire of the Christian life is reduced to mere embers. It is here that the church needs revival. What are some things that must happen and will happen when revival occurs among God’s people?
Set your sails. G. Campbell Morgan called his people to set their sails. “We cannot organize revival, but we can set our sails to catch the wind from Heaven when God chooses to blow upon His people once again.” To use another analogy, as we ready ourselves for an outpouring of the Spirit of Christ, we make sure that our vessels, as humble as they are, (2 Corinthians 4:7), are ready to receive what He has. This is why the daily spiritual disciplines of prayer, Scripture study, church attendance, weekly preaching of the Word, and receiving of the ordinance as a daily and weekly rhythm are so critical. Revival readiness includes an awareness of spiritual needs.
A God-infused urgency. A.W. Tozer, in his monumental book The Pursuit of God, reflected on John 6:44 when he wrote, “We pursue God because, and only because, He has first put an urge within us that spurs us to the pursuit. . . . The modern scientist has lost God amid the wonders of His world; we Christians are in danger of losing God amid the wonders of His Word.” While the wonders of His Word need recapturing (see #3), we must not reduce the Bible to a mere book that, in theory, holds authority but not in practice. God gives us an urgency to pursue Him, love Him, obey Him, and share the works of His Son, Jesus Christ. The urgency is Spirit-born. Can we seek fervency?
A renewed desire to pray. Paul’s admonition to “pray without ceasing” becomes a reality, not merely a saying stitched on our pillows. Hebrews 4:16 says, “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” In a soon-to-be distributed article, Joy Raley noted, “When I read or hear statistics that say Christians spend very little time in prayer, I am appalled. How can we have God’s power without prayer? His Word continually encourages, admonishes, and teaches us to pray.” She then shares a word from David Bentley-Taylor: “The power of prayer cannot be diminished by distance; it is not limited by age, infirmity, political changes, or restriction. The power of prayer in the life of an obedient Christian can only be undermined by neglect.” Revival takes us away from neglecting prayer. Our prayer lead, Winn Allison, rightly noted, “The Spirit-quickened heart will recognize the deficit of prayer. Revival focuses on our desire to seek the Lord in prayer communion where we want more of God.”
A recapturing of the wonders of the gospel. Of all the revivals in Bible and church history, each is marked by recapturing the wonders of the gospel! The Bible is an interesting book, but if that’s as far as it goes, we will never experience a movement of God in our hearts and lives. The Word must be hidden in our hearts (Psalm 119:11) and serve as a lamp to our feet and a light to our path (Psalm 119:105). The Word is the instrument the Spirit uses to sanctify us (John 17:17). The Word equips us for every good work by the template of teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness (2 Tim 3:16-17). His Word is where we find the good news of how Christ rescues us from our sin and brokenness by repentance and faith in what Christ accomplished for us. Revival is when the gospel comes alive all over again, rising like a Phoenix out of the ashes of our apathy, disinterest, laziness, procrastination, and distracted priorities. In Jeremiah 20:9, when the prophet’s persecution brought him to a breaking point, he exclaimed: “His Word is in my heart like a fire.” Later in Jeremiah 23:29, we read: “My message is like fire or like a hammer that shatters rock, is it not?” declares the Lord.” God brought a fire into John Wesley: “I want to know one thing, the way to heaven–how to land safely on that happy shore. God himself has condescended to teach the way: for this very end, he came from heaven. He hath written it down in a book. O, give me that book! At any price give me the Book of God!” God puts us in a position to put that fire within us.
A realization of hell and the destiny of those without Christ. Bible-believing Christians know hell exists. Yet, a gap (chasm!)–a mental, emotional, and spiritual gap in thinking and feeling–has developed in many over the years that those who do not know Jesus as their Lord will go there for all eternity. The trajectory set in this life goes into the next. If our friends, relatives, co-workers, and neighbors have this destiny, and we have little urgency to have a gospel conversation with them to tell them about the way to escape and know the true and living way, we need revival. We need a revival of compassion for the lost.
A joyful heart and spirit. Revival helps the fruit of the Spirit to bloom in our lives: “Now the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” A critical and cynical nature is now replaced by a joyful, hopeful nature that rejoices in all that God is and will do in Jesus. When our hearts are focused on something besides Christ, this will lessen our joy of Christ and the world and the position he’s put us in. Hebrews 12:15 reminds us, “Let no root of bitterness spring up” (Hebrews 12:15).
In Mark 8:34-35, we read: “And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it” (Mark 8:34-35). Revival says, “Jesus, you are enough! I surrender to you. I will follow you. I will live for you. I will pray to you. I will read and share the gospel for you. I gladly lay my life down for you, for my life counts as nothing except that I take up my cross and follow you.”
Every day, every hour, every second, the world works without a break, tempting you and taking you into their rhythm. Thus, Sundays stand as just one of the seven days of the week and you risk church becoming optional (I’ll go when this season of life is over–until another season takes its place).
Christ fought at the cross and empty tomb to bring us into His rhythm of life–and part of that is communing with the saints at our weekly Worship Gathering. God designed us for community and we grow best when we are together. Satan, on the other hand, wants to isolate us from the flock. Christ, on the other hand, leaves the 99 and goes after the one (see Luke 15:1-7).
If you’re in the South Denver area, come tomorrow to ARBC–whether you come regularly or have fallen out of the habit! God calls us to that which is best! Come together to hear His Word and encourage your walk with Christ. Christ is calling you to Himself and working to put you in the precise position needed for His purpose. That’s what the sermon is all about from Mark 4:35-41.
Do you spend time with God daily? If not, why not? While we certainly have responsibilities with our homes, jobs, school, and other areas, the truth is, we make time for that which we value. Do we value our time with God or do we take Him for granted and just get into our day? Below are some pieces that will help you have that daily time.
It includes a discipleship intentionality.
Luke 9:23: “And he said to all, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.'”
Mark 10:42-45: “And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
It must include prayer.
Colossians 4:2-4: “Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison— that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak.”
Psalm 5:3: “O Lord, in the morning you hear my voice in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch.”
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
1 Peter 4:7: “The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers.”
Philippians 4:4-7: “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
It must include Bible reading.
Matthew 4:4: “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”
1 Timothy 4:16: “Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.”
John 17:17: “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.”
Psalm 119:15-16: “I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways. I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word.”
2 Timothy 2:15; 4:3: “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. . . . For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.”
It could include others.
Acts 2:42-47: “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.”
Acts 17:11: “Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.”
Find a specific time, plan, and place.
Time: What time of day is best for you to have undistracted time in your daily time? Schedule this time like you would any other important event.
Plan: Do you have a Bible reading plan that takes you through all of the Scriptures? Do you have a Bible-centered, Christ-honoring devotional? How do you pray? A recommendation on the latter is using A.C.T.S: adoration, confession of sin, thanksgiving, and supplication/requests.
Place: Find a place that is your holy ground where you meet God every day.