Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Leading a Rebellion: Jesus Rebelled by the Disciples He Chose

Leading a Rebellion: Jesus Rebelled by the Disciples He Chose
Luke 6:12-16

Rebel: Anyone who goes against authority, control, or tradition.

Introduction: Imagine you were the founder of a new religious movement—this is not a weird cult, but one actually endorsed by God, who would you hand pick as your core leaders? I would pick someone like John Maxwell for his leadership skills. Billy Graham, for his evangelistic zeal. Maybe a Tim Tebow for the pop culture outreach. A John MacArthur for his vast Biblical knowledge. Chris Tomlin for his worship skills. I would choose Bnall for his administrative skills. And I would pick me to reach the youth, because…well because I’m all that.
            You might not pick the same names, or even find the same skill sets to be important as I did, but you would probably identify some needs and see who was best at fitting those needs.
            In its infancy, Christianity was viewed as a sect of Judaism. Sometimes the rulers threw out cases against Christians brought to them by Jews because they viewed it as a squabble about slight variances in their religion. Almost all of the early Christians were Jews first. This meant that they still worshiped in the synagogues, and still would have been able to teach that Christ was the long expected Messiah at the synagogues. Much of this changed as the message went out across the Roman Empire and it was either accepted or rejected. Once a decision was made the synagogues either became Christian churches or were closed to the idea of hearing any more about Jesus.
            We could argue around and around over whether Jesus was starting a new religion or was just the perfection of Judaism, but either way you look at it, we have Christianity and we have Judaism today—two separate entities. Jesus, as the founder of Christianity, had His choice of whoever He wanted to begin His new religion. And He was God so He could kind of make people do it.

The Rebellion: Jesus’ choice of his leaders was in direct opposition to what everyone else probably would have made, but that’s what makes Him such a powerful leader—He could see the depths of people’s hearts and their future potential, whereas we can’t. Jesus rebelled by not choosing the best and the brightest of the day, but actually some low down counter-cultural characters.
            We don’t know the occupations of all 12 of the original apostles but we do know some of them. Five of the twelve were either known to be fishermen or are believed to be fishermen. There were two sets of fishermen brothers: Peter and Andrew, and James and John. Phillip was also believed to be a fisherman.
Scripture: Luke 5:1-11
On one occasion, while the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, he was standing by the lake of Gennesaret, and he saw two boats by the lake, but the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. Getting into one of the boats, which was Simon's, he asked him to put out a little from the land. And he sat down and taught the people from the boat. And when he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.” And when they had done this, they enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking. They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink. But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish that they had taken, 10 and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.”[a] 11 And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him.
            What do we know about fishermen? They were very hard working people. They spent all of their time on boats, and/or cleaning fish. It was a very tasking job. If you have ever seen one of those off shore fishing shows, they probably would have behaved very similarly. They were very coarse and uneducated.
            Matthew, we know, was a tax collector. We studied him a few weeks ago.
Scripture Luke 5:27-32
After this he went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booth. And he said to him, “Follow me.” 28 And leaving everything, he rose and followed him.29 And Levi made him a great feast in his house, and there was a large company of tax collectors and others reclining at table with them. 30 And the Pharisees and their scribes grumbled at his disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” 31 And Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 32 I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”
            Tax collector’s made their living by collecting taxes from their countrymen and giving it to the occupying Roman Empire. If Rome was collecting $100 per person, the tax collector would collect $150 and keep the $50 for themselves. Tax collectors were hated, and viewed as traitors.
            There is little known about the other six apostle’s backgrounds, other than Bartholomew, aka Nathaniel, who was believed to be of noble descent. Perhaps he didn’t have to work. Two of them, Simon and Jude were called Zealots. They may have been part of a rebellious group, whose goal was to overthrow Roman control of Israel.
            It seems like a rag-tag group of people—five fishermen, and a tax collector. I would argue that none of them would make it through the first round of elimination in a pastor search committee today. Here’s a random job requirement for a SBC pastor position. I’ve seen better, and I’ve seen worse.
“Candidates' personal character and financial standing must be above reproach both inside and outside the church. The Candidates must demonstrate a strong commitment to his family.
Candidates must possess at least a Master of Divinity Degree from an accredited theological seminary
Candidate must have at least five (5) years of senior level pastoral experience, including managing a staff. Candidates with at least ten (10) years of significant related ministry experience including experience in church ministry leadership, e.g., Assistant Pastor, Executive Pastor, Associate Minister, Youth Minister, or similar will also be considered.
All Candidates must be licensed and ordained in the Southern Baptist Church and agree with the teachings of the Baptist Faith and Message.
- The ability to prepare and deliver Biblically sound, inspirational, and Spirit-filled sermons
- A heart for discipleship and the ability to provide strong Bible-based teaching and study that is relevant, engaging and understandable
- A strong grasp and passion for doctrine and theology to equip the flock to contend for and defend the faith
- A deep passion for the caring and shepherding of the flock via visitation, prayer, counseling and other needs
- Strong interpersonal skills, including effective conflict resolution
- Accessibility and sensitivity to the physical, spiritual, cultural and socio-economic needs of all members of the congregation
- A vision for developing a church membership that is strongly rooted in the Word of God
- A commitment to growing and encouraging the spiritual development of children, youth, young adults and families in the congregation
- An openness to consider new ideas and approaches; including an openness to different worship styles and non-traditional ministries
- A proven record as a skilled administrator and manager of church staff, programs and resources

Application: Jesus rebelled by the people He intentionally hung out with. He wasn’t shallow. He didn’t care what people thought of His friends. He saw the depths of their hearts and their future potential.
            You can rebel by the people you hang out with. Judge people by their character, not by the front they put on for show.


Friday, May 24, 2013

On the Run--devotional for the King of Kings Chess Tournament

On the Run
Exodus 14:10-14
King of Kings Chess Tournament
May 25, 2013

            A few weeks ago I was playing a good friend of mine on chess.com. We were playing the online correspondence version where we didn’t need to be online at the same time in order to play. I don’t remember much of the details, other than that I had a distinct advantage and was about to promote a pawn. Without thinking I naturally promoted my wimpy pawn to the powerful Queen. Unfortunately, when I promoted my pawn to a Queen it left him with no legal move left to make. My sure victory turned into a stalemate in the blink of an eye.
            A few days later, we were playing again and the same situation arose where I had the advantage and was about to promote a pawn again. This time I learned from my mistake, and very nearly drew the game again by choosing the Queen, but went with the crafty Knight instead. The game went on for a very long time after that. The game ended when I finally cornered his King, but it took me two Queens, two Knights, and a Bishop (I lost a Rook in the process, too). I won with my 74th move. What’s my point? I looked back at the records and he was down to just his King at like move 50. It took me 24+ moves to finally corner him. I had him in check so many times, but just couldn’t put him in check mate.
            There’s a story in the Bible where the Israelites were the slaves to the Egyptians for about 450 years. God sent ten plagues to force Pharaoh’s hand into letting the Israelites go. Pharaoh finally relinquished the slaves, but soon afterwards changed his mind and began charging after them with the entire brunt of his Egyptian army. Just like when I had the full brunt of my army aiming down on my friend and his lone King.
            The Israelites were at a distinct disadvantage because they were travelling with all of their children, wives, elderly, livestock, and all of their personal effects. The Egyptians were attacking with just their chariots and foot soldiers—men trained for travel and battle. Soon the Israelites became trapped with the Egyptians in front of them and the Red Sea behind them. Check.  
Exodus 14:10-14
When Pharaoh drew near, the people of Israel lifted up their eyes, and behold, the Egyptians were marching after them, and they feared greatly. And the people of Israel cried out to the Lord. 11 They said to Moses, “Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us in bringing us out of Egypt? 12 Is not this what we said to you in Egypt: ‘Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.” 13 And Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. 14 The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.”
            You see when you have God on your side, even what appears to be certain defeat, or certain failure never is. It may seem like we’re losing on paper, or if you look at the board of life, it may appear to be one sided, but it’s not. How many of you have ever been routing someone, only to make a mistake and get beat? I do that all of the time.
            But it’s different with Christians. Even when we lose we still win. The great New Testament evangelist used to tick his enemies off all of the time because he’d say things like, “You know what? If you let me live, I’m going to keep preaching. And if you kill me, I’m going to go straight to heaven. So do whatever you got to do, but either way I’m going to win.” His enemies were frustrated because they didn’t want to give him anything he wanted. If they killed him—he was happy. If they let him live—he was happy. And when they eventually just beat him he considered it an honor to suffer for Christ. His enemies were in a “No Win” situation whereas Paul was in a “Can’t Lose” situation.
            Are you sure you would win? The Lord lets some people live a long life. But everyone who lives a long life will have to watch as one by one all of their pieces get taken off the board, and they’re just waiting for the final move. Others don’t get that privilege. Out of nowhere a trap is sprung and they’re taken out before they even know what happened. None of us know how our games will end, but we can know for sure where we will go when we die.
            The Bible says in Romans 10:9-10 “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.   
                If you want to know more about how you can lose everything and still win, please come see me when we’re done here.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Leading a Rebllion: Jesus Ate with Sinners

Leading a Rebellion: Jesus Ate with Sinners
Luke 5:27-32

Rebel: Anyone who goes against any control, authority, or tradition.

Introduction: When I began dating my beautiful wife…I feel a Dr. Doofenschmirtz back story coming on…I went on my first date with Rebekah on April 28th 2006. She, however, did not go on her first date with me until two weeks later, so our first dates don’t line up. My first date had all of the awkward moments. She walked around the track at a Relay for Life event and occasionally blocked her eyes with her hands and said, “I can’t believe so and so saw me with you.” She asked out loud a few times, “Let’s see…who can I set you up with?” And then there was the kicker, “I can’t wait until I die.” I had my share of weird things, too. I knew I was on a date but I didn’t know from all of the confusing dialogue she was putting out there if she was on a date, and I didn’t know if I should buy her dinner, or if she was going to buy her own. So I let her buy her own dinner. But I remember thinking that night, “I am so lucky to be here with Rebekah. She could be anywhere else with anyone else, but she chose to be here with me.”
            Nothing says, “I accept you” like choosing to spend time with someone. Think about walking into a school cafeteria. You have your tray and as you scan the room you see three of your friends sitting at three different tables all waving for you to sit by them. It will probably mean a lot to the person you choose to sit next to. It will also probably hurt the feelings of the two you choose not to sit next to.
            Now flip the situation around. You are one of three people waving to a friend to come sit next to you. How are you going to feel if they choose you? How are you going to feel if they choose not to sit next to you?
            Next question: What if you were the stinky kid at school? You have dirty clothes, no friends, and always have to sit by yourself, when the most popular and friendliest guy or girl in school came out of the lunch line holding their tray, looks around the room, sees you and chooses to sit next to you? How would that make you feel? You’re an outcast, and someone who could spend time with anyone they wanted to, chose to spend time with you.
The Rebellion: Jesus had an earthly ministry of only three years. That means that He had a finite amount of time to spend with people. Actually, we all have a finite amount of time to spend with people. There is sand coming out of all of our hour glasses—some have more sand, some have less, but no one knows how much time we have to spend—and we’re either spending that time with people we want to, or people we don’t want to. When someone is choosing to spend time with you, they are intentionally choosing to spend time away from other people. I intentionally chose to spend time with Cody Berrian over dinner last week. In planning the get together, I knew that I was planning time away from my wife and kids. I had to decide, “At this point in time, is my time and energy more important at home with Rebekah and Caleb? Or with Cody?” Jesus was the Son of God. Think of how hard it was for me to schedule U.S. Representative Jeff Miller to come and spend an hour with us. Now times that by a gadjillion. Jesus could have spent time with whoever He wanted to. Imagine how it would have felt if He had chosen to spend time with you.
            In biblical times, there was no greater sign of acceptance than sharing a meal with someone. In fact it was actually illegal to share a meal with the “sinners” of their society—prostitutes, tax collectors, thieves, scoundrels. It ticked off the religious leaders of the day to no end when Jesus would talk to, eat with, and stay at a sinner’s house. One of the reasons was because it was not something that a good Jew would have done. It was embarrassing. Secondly, Jesus was a very important and popular figure. It would make you look really good if you could get Jesus at your house for dinner. The only problem was that Jesus kept eating with all of these sinners, prostitutes, and tax collectors. It made them angry. So they started coming up with excuses why they didn’t like Jesus    
            Tonight we’re going to read two stories of Jesus eating with sinners and one of Jesus eating with the Pharisees and we will compare and contrast the two events. It is important to note that just because we are only covering two stories of Jesus eating with sinners, it does not mean that Jesus only ate with sinners two times. One of the chief complaints against Jesus was that He fellowshipped with sinners. He did it often.
Scripture: Luke 5:27-32
After this he went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booth. And he said to him, “Follow me.” 28 And leaving everything, he rose and followed him.29 And Levi made him a great feast in his house, and there was a large company of tax collectors and others reclining at table with them. 30 And the Pharisees and their scribes grumbled at his disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” 31 And Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 32 I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”
            Some items of particular interest: 1) He was a tax collector. This meant that he was extremely rich, making money for the occupying Roman government off the backs of his own people. His income came from his ability to take more money from people than Rome required of them. 2) He threw a great feast, inviting all of his sinner friends to meet Jesus. 3) It made the Pharisees and the scribes grumble.
Scripture: Luke 19:1-10
            He entered Jericho and was passing through. And behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich. And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small in stature. So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.” So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully. And when they saw it, they all grumbled, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.” And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
            Some items of particular interest: 1) Zacchaeus was also a dreaded and hated tax collector. 2) Even if you have never met Jesus, He knows who you are, what your name is, and where you currently are at all times. 3) Zacchaeus joyfully accepted the opportunity to host Jesus. 4) It made the religious leaders grumble. 5) Zacchaeus showed true signs of repentance, confirmed by Jesus when He said, “Today salvation has come to this house.”
Scripture: Luke 7:36-50
                One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee's house and reclined at the table. 37 And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, 38 and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment. 39 Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.” 40 And Jesus answering said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he answered, “Say it, Teacher.”
            41 “A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?” 43 Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.” 44 Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. 46 You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. 47 Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” 48 And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” 49 Then those who were at table with him began to say among[a] themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?” 50 And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
            Some points of particular interest: 1) He was not eating with the “sinners” of society but the so called “righteous”. 2) These “righteous” people failed to follow accepted protocol for having a valued guest in their home. They failed to wash his feet (customary after a journey to clean the dirt off of your sandaled feet). They failed to anoint his head with fragrant oil. And they failed to greet Him with a kiss. In short, they were being intentionally rude to Jesus. A slight that did not go unnoticed. 3) Contrast this with the sinful woman who kissed Him, washed His feet, and anointed Him with fragrant oil. 4) Jesus pointed out the sins of His Pharisee hosts. 5) Jesus, and Jesus alone has the power to forgive you and to save you.
Application: Jesus’ earthly ministry was completed about 2,000 years ago when He died on the cross. He is not currently sharing meals with anybody, except in cheesy movies on TBN. But you can be Jesus to someone. I’m not saying to go out healing people, and forgiving people. I definitely wouldn’t recommend trying to walk on water without a life jacket on, but you can spend time with people who may need a friend. Talk to them about what Jesus has done in your life. Give them some hope in the future. Pray with them. Reach out to the outcasts just like Jesus would have done. When I say, “Think of the outcast at your school” I’m betting each of you has a particular person, or group of people in mind. My challenge to you is to engage that person or group. Start off slow. Say “Hi.” And then progress your relationship from there.