Thursday, November 29, 2012

Redemption, Ephesians 1:3-14

"In him we have redemption through his blood" Ephesians 1:7

 What does this mean?

A story which has captured and informed young imaginations for years is helpful here. In a city on the shore of a great lake lived a small boy who loved the water and sailing. So deep was his fascination that he, with the help of his father, spent months making a beautiful model boat, which he began to sail at the water's edge. One day a sudden gust of wind caught the tiny boat and carried it far out into the lake and out of sight. Distraught, the boy returned home inconsolable.

Day after day he would walk the shores in search of his treasure, but always in vain. Then one day as he was walking through town he saw his beautiful boat—in a store window! He approached the proprietor and announced his ownership, only to be told that it was not his, for the owner had paid a local fisherman good money for the boat. If the boy wanted the boat, he would have to pay the price. And so the lad set himself to work doing anything and everything until finally he returned to the store with the money.

At last, holding his precious boat in his arms, he said with great joy, "You are twice mine now—because I made you, and because I bought you."

Just so! Redemption is payment of a price or ransom. The price was Christ's own blood, and the object was our souls. All humanity was in the slave market of sin and thus powerless to affect self-deliverance, but Christ has purchased his Church with an infinite price as the Scriptures repeatedly attest:

For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. (1 Peter 1:18-19)

[Jesus] entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption. (Hebrews 9:12b)

[Jesus came] "to give his life as a ransom for many." (Mark 10:45)

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Weathering the Storm, Acts 27:33-44, Sunday School Lesson

Section Six.
Expository Notes on Paul's Message to His Shipmates

And while the day was coming on, Paul besought them all to take meat, saying, This day is the fourteenth day that ye have tarried and continued fasting, having taken nothing. Wherefore I pray you to take some meat: for this is for your health: for there shall not an hair fall from the head of any of you. And when he had thus spoken, he took bread, and gave thanks to God in presence of them all: and when he had broken it, he began to eat. Then were they all of good cheer, and they also took some meat. And we were in all in the ship two hundred threescore and sixteen souls. And when they had eaten enough, they lightened the ship, and cast out the wheat into the sea (vv. 33-38).

Paul's Great Wisdom Revealing Concern

It has often been claimed that some people are so heavenly minded they are of no earthly use! That was not true of Paul. He knew his companions had been without nourishment for two weeks and that their bodies were incapable of handling the difficult tasks ahead. It would not be easy to control their drifting vessel; one small error might be fatal. Each individual would need strength to play his part in any landing operation. With infinite concern he looked at the crewmen, many of whom were heathens, and loved them as though they had been his brethren. He knew they were people for whom Christ died; they were as sheep without a shepherd! Therefore, he said, "Take some meat: for this is for your health" (v. 34).

Paul's Gentle Words Restoring Confidence

"For there shall not an hair fall from the head of any of you" (v. 34). Even the centurion must have been amazed when he looked into the face of his prisoner and heard his assuring words. Paul never had any doubts about the outcome of the voyage; he was aware of each and every detail connected with the fate of the ship and its crew. He possessed no visible gods—idols—as did they, and yet somehow he manifested that his God was with him every moment of every day. There had been no need to question his judgment, for what he predicted came to pass. During fourteen days of unprecedented anguish they had been confronted by the possibility of imminent death and had been terrified; yet Paul had no fear. He was assured that, if he died, his eternal destiny would never be in doubt; if he lived, his God would continue to guide him. This was astonishing to any Roman. Soldiers were accustomed to death and faced it in every battle, but it was easier to die fighting than it was to remain calm in a storm when human efforts were useless. The anxious men looked at Paul and became aware of the presence of Another!

Paul's Gracious Witness Regarding Confession

"And when he had thus spoken, he took bread, and gave thanks to God in presence of them all: and when he had broken it, he began to eat. Then were they all of good cheer, and they also took some meat" (vv. 35-36). It would be nice to know if they understood the significance of Paul's action. Very carefully, Paul held the bread and prayed. It was so natural that the men might have been excused if they stared at their companion. He was actually speaking with his God! Then, when Paul ceased praying, he broke the bread as though he were officiating at a communion service. As a result, suddenly the creaking vessel became a cathedral where even the sounds of the storm seemed to be celestial music. "Then were they all of good cheer" (v. 36). Perhaps the food was in short supply, for doubtless most of it had been mined by the water that seeped into every part of the vessel. Was there enough to satisfy all? Somebody counted the number of people on board, and the total figure came to two hundred seventy-six. When this was known, the food was divided among them. Evidently there was enough to satisfy all, for Luke was able to report, "And when they had eaten enough! they lightened the ship, and cast out the wheat into the sea" (v. 38).

Paul's Glorious Work Requiring Carefulness

Evidently, Paul took command of the ship. He had experience of such matters, for he had been shipwrecked on three previous occasions, and had been adrift on the ocean for a night and a day (see 2 Corinthians 11:25). He knew there would be no chance of bringing the vessel alongside a dock. Therefore the ship would have to be beached, which was a very difficult task. Every sailor would need to be ready for emergencies and doubtless, in the hours preceding the dawn, was reminded of what he was expected to accomplish. It would be necessary to make the vessel as light as possible so that it would glide over submerged rocks, since the closer to the shore the vessel could approach, escape would be that much easier. When this was understood by everyone, together they threw their cargo into the sea. Each object that could be moved was thrown away; and, when this had been done, the men waited for the dawn.

Section Seven.
Expository Notes on the End of the Voyage

And when it was day, they knew not the land: but they discovered a certain creek with a shore, into the which they were minded, if it were possible, to thrust in the ship. And when they had taken up the anchors, they committed themselves unto the sea, and loosed the rudder bands, and hoisted up the mainsail to the wind, and made toward shore. And falling into a place where two seas met, they ran the ship aground; and the forepart stuck fast, and remained unmoveable, but the hinderpart was broken with the violence of the waves. And the soldiers' counsel was to kill the prisoners, lest any of them should swim out, and escape. But the centurion, willing to save Paul, kept them from their purpose; and commanded that they which could swim should cast themselves first into the sea, and get to land. And the rest, some on boards, and some on broken pieces of the ship. And so it came to pass, that they escaped all safe to land (vv. 39-44).

A Frightening Possibility

As the light increased on that memorable morning, the sailors looked through the pouring rain to try to recognize any landmark by which to ascertain their position. The beach that lay ahead was seven miles from the main harbor of the island of Melita (Malta). Through the rain and fog, the men saw the outline of the coast, a headland that ran down to a beach; this seemed to offer their best chance of getting ashore. If somehow they could run their ship aground on that beach, it would not be too difficult to proceed through the pounding surf and reach safety. The torrential rain (28:2) and spray from the relentless surf made visibility almost impossible so that they had no knowledge of what awaited them. Obviously, since the ship would not last much longer, whatever had to be done had to be done quickly. It was therefore decided to take advantage of the winds and beach the vessel.

A Feverish Preparation

The men hurriedly, but carefully, attended to three important de-mils. (1) They cut away the anchors, which had been cast out of the ship. The Greek word perielontesmeans "to cut away," and this signified that the men cut the ropes, leaving their anchors in the sea. (2) They loosed the rudder bands. Ancient ships were steered by two paddles, one on either side of the vessel. The ancients had a contraption by which these could be lifted out of the sea when the ship was in port. Lifting the paddles protected them from damage by anchor chains. Throughout the terrible storm when steering had been impossible, these paddles had been secured to the sides of the ship. Now that there was a possibility of using them again, they were lowered into the sea. (3) The men "hoisted up the mainsail to the wind" (v. 40). This was actually the foresail, which was a smaller sail that had escaped damage in the storm. Thus, with every man waiting to perform his allotted duties, and with the wind filling the sail and propelling the vessel, the crew did their best to reach the shoreline.

A Foolish Purpose

"And falling into a place where two seas met, they ran the ship aground; and the forepart stuck fast, but the hinderpart was broken with the violence of the waves" (v. 41). Today, the guides on the island of Malta proudly escort tourists to the site of the ancient shipwreck. They point out the island of Salmone; as well as the deep channel that separates it from the mainland. They explain the force of the current which, when rushing toward the ocean, makes a disturbance that Luke described as a place "where two seas met." Jamieson, Faussett and Brown, the noted commentators, quoting from th writings of Smith, supply an interesting paragraph. "The rocks of Malta disintegrate into extremely minute particles of sand and clay, which, when acted upon by the currents, or surface agitation, form a deposit of tenacious clay; but, in still waters, where the causes do not act, mud is formed; but it is only in creeks, where there are no currents, and at such a depth as to be undisturbed by the waves, that a creek, with such a bottom, would strike mud, graduating into fast, while the stern was exposed to the force of the waves." (The Bethany Parallel Commentary of the New Testament, p. 875.)

Caught in the very turbulent waters "where two seas met," the ship became uncontrollable. Thus, realizing they could not follow their plan, the men ran their vessel aground, "and the forepart stuck fast." It was then that a new emergency arose. The soldiers drew their swords and prepared to kill their prisoners. Roman law stated that, if a soldier permitted a prisoner to escape, his own life should be forfeited, or at least whatever sentence would have been passed on the criminal would be given to the soldier. The fear of execution frightened the Romans so that selfishly they planned to save themselves from future prosecution. Had they been permitted to carry out their plans, one of the greatest stories in history would have been ruined by a senseless massacre. "But the centurion, willing to save Paul, kept them from their purpose" (v. 43). He knew, as others should have known, that they owed their lives to the courageous Paul, who alone had remained calm when the lives of all were being threatened.

A Favorable Plan

The shore was now only a few yards away. Even though the terrible surf and its undertow presented problems, escape was now possible. It was a case of each man for himself. Obviously, the bands of the prisoners had been unloosed; their chains had been removed. Men able to swim were given the chance to reach the beach. Others who could not swim were advised to cling tenaciously to any plank or wreckage. Swimming was an essential part of the training of Roman soldiers, so they were probably the first to enter the water. By this time, the pounding, shattering waves were smashing the ship. Since the planks were being broken from the vessel, it was obvious that within minutes the ship would go to pieces. With a prayer on their lips and anxiety in their hearts, the rest of the men committed themselves to the water. God assisted them, for Luke was able to write: "And so it came to pass, that they escaped all safe to land" (v. 44).

Ivor Powell Commentaries - Ivor Powell Commentaries – Amazing Acts.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Late Sunday Morning Rewind 11/04/12

We were blessed by an abundance of God's grace and favor this weekend as He showed His gifts on us lavishly this Saturday and Sunday. We kicked off our 87th Church Anniversary Celebration with our Annual Musical on Saturday. Our Macedonia Gospel Choir was the featured choir and we celebrated with many other vocalists throughout the State of Indiana.

We are blessed with an exceptional Minister of Music, Brother Javon Lewis is an anointed musician who works with the Pastor to set an atmosphere that would be pleasing to God and conducive to worship. Thank you to all of the musicians, vocalists, sound technicians and MC's that helped usher in the Power of God. Special Thanks to the best members anywhere and that would be the members of the Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church Choir.

Side Note: I am still working on my song, maybe next musical.

Sunday morning, I was eager to preach still fresh from the spiritual high of Saturday night. We continued our look into I Kings 17 concentrating on vs 7. 1 Kings 17:7 (ESV) 7  And after a while the brook dried up, because there was no rain in the land. We talked about "The Blessing found in a Dried Up Brook".

Admittedly at first, I had a hostile crowd by facial expressions because no one wanted to hear how God can bless you in a dried up situation. I had to be honest in preaching that I was going against the current of most popular thinking on TV, Radio, or the Best seller Christian Inspiration Book market. These avenues seem to suggest that if you are in the will of God, walking in the way of God, you will have nothing but Sunny days and Clear skies.

I contend that if we keep living, everyone will have an "AND IT CAME TO PASS DAY (KJV) or an AND AFTER A WHILE (ESV) MOMENT. Live long enough and what you have became used to will begin to fade away. Job, Income, Health, Marriage, Support, Strength, it all can dry up.

Dried Brooks are not Accidental Assignments but rather they are Arranged Appointments!

In this text, Elijah's dried brook is not a sign of God's displeasure or disapproval over choices he has made but rather it was appointed by God.
1 Kings 17:2-5 (ESV) 2  And the word of the Lord came to him:
3  “Depart from here and turn eastward and hide yourself by the brook Cherith, which is east of the Jordan.
4  You shall drink from the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there.”
5  So he went and did according to the word of the Lord. He went and lived by the brook Cherith that is east of the Jordan.
Elijah was in the ordered, orchestrated and ordained place that God had for Elijah. It was God's will for Elijah to pass through this Dry Brook to teach him the Blessing Found in a Dried up Brook.

It would be a good place for me to say that we all must go this way. God has place that each of His children must pass through. He has a university, a training experience, for each of those He intends to use. What I am trying to communicate is the truth that before God can use His servants, He must train them. Before He can use us greatly before men, He must first break us before Himself.

I hear A.W. Tozer through Charles Swindoll through A. Glenn Woodberry say "Before God can use a man greatly he must first hurt him deeply. Dried Brooks hurt. When that person that you though you could count on dries up on you, it hurts; when that job that seems so promising fades away and dries up, it hurts, when the strength of your youth is diminished by the age of time, it hurts but there is still a blessing in a dried up brook.

Dried up Brooks teach us to Trust the SOURCE and not our SUPPLY!

The better way of saying what I just said is we need to learn how to trust the GIVER and not the GIFTS. Many of us are consumed by the supply. We watch the supply, we monitor the supply, we brag about our supply. We pray for God to increase our supply. Heaven forbid, the supply runs low and we start panicking but sometimes God has to teach us How to look at the Source.

Supply is finance but the Source owns the cattle on a thousand hills
Supply is health but the Source is a healer that can heal all your diseases
Supply is friends but the Source is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother

Whatever I need, God is, because He is the Source. It doesn't matter what the SUPPLY looks like, as long as I am looking at the SOURCE
The Songwriter helps me here: God is the joy and the strength of my life, He moves all pain, misery, and strife. He promised to keep me, never to leave me. He's never ever come short of His word. I've got to fast and pray, stay in His narrow way, I've got to keep my life clean everyday; I want to go with Him when He comes back, I've come to far and I'll never turn back, GOD IS, GOD IS MY ALL AND ALL

Let me also say Thank you to a wonderful church as we collected an offering on behalf of the victims affected by Hurricane Sandy. We partnered with our National Baptist Convention, USA Inc, Disaster Management office, and the Director Randy G. Vaughn.

As I reminded our church Sunday, in the Bible the people of Macedonia weren't the biggest or had the most money to give but when it came time to help the home church, they begged to participate in the offering. We try and teach that at out church through our motto: WE ARE MACEDONIA AND WE ARE CALLED TO HELP SOMEBODY.

For a spur of the moment, no advance notice offering, I am proud we raised over 1,000 with money still coming in. I am even more proud to say the people didn't rob their tithes to pay in this offering. God be praised.