Free Full Manuscript Sermon — Doing Church God’s Way

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Title: “In God’s Power”

Series: Doing Church God’s Way

 Introduction:

 [1]When a hurricane hit South Florida, Norena’s home was one of many that was severely damaged. The elderly woman received an insurance settlement, and the repair work began. However, when the money ran out, so did the contractor, leaving an unfinished home with no electricity. Norena has been living without power ever since. The astounding part of this story is that the hurricane was not Katrina, but Andrew. Hurricane Andrew struck in 1992. Norena lived in that dark, unfinished house for 15 years. No heat when the winter chill settled over South Florida. No air conditioning when the mercury climbed into the 90’s and the humidity clung to 100 percent – not one hot shower. Without money to finish the repairs, Norena just got by with a small lamp and a single burner. Her neighbors didn’t seem to notice the absence of power. Acting on a tip, the mayor of Miami-Dade got involved. It only took a few hours of work by electrical contractor Kent Crook to return power to the house. Norena said, “It’s hard to describe having [the electricity]…to switch on. It’s overwhelming.” [end of illustration.]

 How many Christians have been living their entire lives without ever knowing what it was like to have the overwhelming power of the Holy Spirit operating within? To be frank, I think some of us have had that power turned off for so long, that we wouldn’t even recognize it if it came back to us. But, of course, it doesn’t have to be that way.

– In this series – Doing Church God’s Way – we are looking to the Bible to find out what specifically God’s intentions were for His church. And there can be no doubt that one of those intensions was for individual Christians and the church as a whole to be filled with the power of the Holy Spirit. Before Jesus left the earth for heaven, He gave us this promise:

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”Acts 1:8 (NLT)

This promise was not limited to those who were gathered with Jesus that day, but was a promise echoing the Great Commission given to the entire church. God intended for His Church to be a church that moved, breathed, and acted in His power. Now there are three specific ways Jesus said that this power from the Holy Spirit was to be applied that we are going to look at today.

  1. POWER RECEIVED

I guess it should go without saying that to receive the power you must first have the Holy Spirit as your guide, but perhaps we should spend a moment on this as a refresher. The power that Jesus promises is given, “when the Holy Spirit comes upon you.” And when does the Holy Spirit come upon us? It is when we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior.

Peter replied, “Each of you must repent of your sins, turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ to show that you have received forgiveness for your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.  This promise is to you, and to your children, and even to the Gentiles—all who have been called by the Lord our God.”Acts 2:38-39 (NLT)

The gift of the Holy Spirit is the Holy Spirit Himself – if you have accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior then you already have the Spirit as your constant companion and guide. And notice that this promise is for all succeeding generations, not just for those these words were originally spoken to. If you are a Christian today then you have the Holy Spirit indwelling you, therefore, you also have the power of the Holy Spirit within. You do not have to be a Christian superstar, a singing sensation, or a well-known speaker to have the Holy Spirit – if you are a Christ follower you already have the Holy Spirit. Now we want to make sure that we understand that the power we are talking about is not our power – It is the power of the Holy Spirit. And we also need to be clear that we are not talking about having some type of super power to fly, leap tall buildings, or anything of that nature. This is the power of God, given by God, to accomplish the things that God wants accomplished. In other words, we are talking here about having something that is holy, precious, and to be used specifically in fulfillment of God’s desires.

  1. POWER APPLIED

It is one thing to realize you have the power of the Holy Spirit, it is quite another to actually apply that power in your everyday life. Consider the woman we talked about earlier who had the electricity turned on at her house after all of those years. What if, after turning her electric on, no one had bothered to tell her? All she had to do was flip the switch, but until she did that, the electricity would have done her no good.

It is the same with the Holy Spirit – we are all promised that we will be empowered by Him, but until we begin to actually use that power, we will continue to live as if we had no power at all. When Jesus speaks to His early disciples, He specifically tells them that this newfound power they have is to be used to, “tell people about me everywhere.”  In other words, the disciples were not given a choice as to how they were to use this power, and the power did not have multiple applications. The power was given so that they could lead other people into the salvation experience they themselves had come to know.

I know that some of you become very nervous when we start talking about sharing the gospel, or giving your testimony to others, or becoming involved in evangelism. Not everyone has the ability to speak in front of people, and many of you are shaking in your shoes just thinking about telling someone else about how to become a Christian. But the great news for all of us is this – we are not the ones doing it – it is the Holy Spirit working through us. You’re going to have to trust me on this until you experience it for yourself, but I can guarantee you that once you begin sharing the Good News about Jesus you will find that the Holy Spirit is taking over your speech, and that God is speaking through you. He wants to use you, no matter who you are, as His vessel for evangelism.

Pastor Steve Yeschek, Crystal Lake, Illinois, lost his sister, Judy, after a five-year battle with cancer. She was a woman who, as Steve described her, was a party animal—a big drinker with a self-contented lifestyle. She was someone everybody loved, because she exuded excitement and a thrill for life. When Steve tried to share Jesus with her over the years, she would laugh it off and keep partying. But at the age of 44, her world caved in – she found out she had breast cancer. She later learned her husband had cancer, too. Adding to the devastation of these two blows, she discovered her husband was having an affair. He subsequently announced he didn’t love her anymore and left her. It was in that context that she began to ask eternal questions and soon prayed to receive Jesus as her Savior. From that time until her death, Jesus and his Word and purpose became her priority. With the same gusto she lived life as an unbeliever, she now approached her new life in Christ. Her greatest aim was winning others to Christ. She boldly shared her faith even as she was undergoing surgery after surgery, praying for a miraculous healing from the Lord. Judy ultimately came to see that the greater miracle would be for her friends and family to come to know Christ. Even as she struggled for every breath, she talked her way out of the hospital about ten days before her death so she could be baptized and publicly proclaim Christ as the only way of salvation. Judy invited everyone she knew to come to her baptism service. Under the power of the Holy Spirit, she mightily and urgently shared her testimony. Her 84-year-old father came to faith in Christ that night and was baptized—along with her ex-husband, a number of nieces, a college roommate who was a New Age cultist, her aunt, her sister, and others. Ten days later, Judy died. Even still, more people came to know the Savior. When Steve read the message she had prepared for her own funeral service, another 100 people received Christ that day. [end of illustration.]

Now how did Judy, an ordinary woman, become such a powerful witness? We could speak about her personality, her experiences, and many other things that might have contributed, but most of all we would have to say that she opened herself up to be used by God. She was willing to apply the power of the Holy Spirit in telling others about Jesus Christ. When Jesus spoke to His disciples he told them to go to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. He was covering everything from telling those they knew the best and were most comfortable with, to telling people who were very much unlike them. And His promise was that if they would be willing to share the message, they would receive all the power necessary to deliver it.

Now this is where you and I come in – are we willing to be spokesmen for God? Are we willing, like the early disciples and like Judy Yeschek, to make ourselves available for God’s use? If so, God promises that He will empower us to accomplish His will. It is really as simple as that.

  1. POWER TRANSFERRED

Now when we go into our Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria, what is going to happen? Some of those people that we talk to are going to respond by accepting Jesus as their Lord and Savior and then what is going to happen? They will receive the same Holy Spirit that we have, along with the same power to do God’s will. And that power will be transferred from one generation of believers to the next, until that day that Jesus returns for us. If you will research church history you will find that the Gospel message spread out from Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, to the ends of the earth, just as Jesus instructed His disciples. He made the promise, they acted on that promise, and we are here today as a result of their obedience.

Now, here is the big question for each of us to answer individually, as well as our church as a whole – who are we going to transfer this power to? Where is our Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria? Who are the people God has called us to influence, and when are we going to get around to giving them the message that Jesus loves them and will save them for all eternity? The fact is, we can’t wait around for someone else to do it, because that “someone else” might never get around to telling them. It is up to us, in this church, and in this generation, to spread the Good News that has been given to us. We do not want to be guilty of spiritual selfishness, where we are willing to receive the message for ourselves, but unwilling to share that message with others.

Conclusion:

As we spend these weeks learning about Doing Church God’s Way there is nothing any more important than what we have learned today. God is ready to use us for His glory – all we have to do is act. What it really comes down to is this – can God trust me to trust His promise? Am I willing to move out of my comfort zone and allow God to use me for His glory? Am I willing to be His mouthpiece so that future generations can experience the same salvation that God has so generously shared with me? My hope and prayer is that we can all answer, “Yes, I am willing, able, and ready to be empowered by God to tell others about His Son.”

 

[1] KUTV, “Woman Turns Lights on After 15 Years in the Dark,” KUTV.com (2-17-07)

Help! I’m a Pastor!

By Joe McKeever

“In a multitude of counselors there is victory.” (Proverbs 11:14 and 24:6)

I said to Pastor Marion, “I’m glad to exchange notes with you like this. But you need a couple of mentors–older guys with long histories in the ministry–whom you can sit across the table from and talk about these things.”

He named two such, a seminary professor and a retired pastor.

Pastors often find themselves in tough situations.  At the moment, Pastor Marion is leading his church in a massive building campaign, while working night and day to minister to his growing flock.  In the five years he has been there, his church has doubled or more in attendance. And then, this happens….

A deacon who is used to getting his way in the church called a meeting of the key leadership. He was upset about some of what Marion has been preaching, he says. Furthermore–it will not surprise you if you have ever been the target of this kind of abuse–-“many others in the church feel the same way.”

He threatened that steps may be taken to remove the pastor from the pulpit.

What is a pastor to do?

I mentioned a few possibilities, but with the caveat that “these are just some thoughts.” No way do I want to take responsibility for whatever he decides.

 

–a) I said, “You can take it to the church. This Sunday morning, tell the congregation that a couple of deacons are suggesting you need to resign, that they are unhappy with your leadership. And that you are calling a business meeting for Wednesday night to discuss this.”

The upside of doing that is you take the initiative, take the matter out of their hands and put it where it should be, in the hands of the congregation. This tends to stop a bully in his tracks. His anonymity has been a winning technique for him–that is, working on the pastor in the background. But you are now flushing him out.

The downside of this is that anytime you ask a church to affirm your ministry, you should anticipate the possibility that they might just hand you your walking papers. More than one pastor has gone into a church meeting expecting affirmation only to suddenly find himself jobless.

–b) Another possibility, I told Marion, is “You can meet privately with the other deacon or two who had partnered with the bully. Find out if they feel strongly the way he does or are allowing themselves to be pushed along by the force of his personality.  Get them thinking about the cost of forcing you out in the middle of a building campaign.”

–c) “But before you do anything else, Marion,” I said, “I would meet with those two mentors and give them the entire picture. See what counsel they have for you.”

Every pastor needs a few counselors.

Proverbs says, “In a multitude of counselors there is victory” (Proverbs 11:14).  The wonderful KJV says there is “safety.” Not wisdom, necessarily, but surely safety and eventually, if we do it right, victory.

We’re more likely to make the right choice after running the situation by several people whom we respect and considering their take on matters.

One question we would like to ask Marion is, “So, what have you been preaching that would cause this deacon to react this way?” There is always the possibility that the deacon is right. Older mentors could help him look at all angles.

Another question to be asked by the older guys: “In case the church should terminate you, do you have any fall-back support, anywhere you could go, any way to support your family?” If not, this will limit the pastor’s choices.

“Marion, how strongly do you feel that God has placed you there in that church and still has His hand on you?”  This may be the most important question of all.

I once had a deacon take me to lunch with an offer of a lot of money if I would walk away from the church. I said, “I’d love to leave. I’m so tired of this stress. But God won’t let me. I have to see this through.”

It’s not about me; it’s about the Lord.

Get that straight and you’d be surprised how quickly it clears up matters.

No young pastor should ever do anything just because his mentors advised it.  But they can help him reason things out, can pray for him, and can be there in the future when and if things go badly.

Why pastors are reluctant to get mentors

Something inside us wants to go it alone. That feeling is not from God. No one in Scripture was commanded to go into the Lord’s work all by himself. The Lord intended that His people would have partners, co-laborers, advisers and counselors and helpers. Some will be–you will understand the expression–“above” you in ranking and some “below” you.  You need both groups.

Your pride can become your worst enemy. “I don’t need anyone else. The Lord is with me.”  The last part of that is true, the first part is a fatal error in your machinery.  You need lots and lots of people in your life. Check out all the “one anothers” found throughout the New Testament. We are to love one another, pray for one another, encourage one another, rebuke one another, and so forth. At least 31 different such commands are given in the NT. That ought to tell us how strongly the Lord wants us to be part of His team and not long rangers.

Notice how often Paul identifies certain ones as his co-workers, co-laborers, and partners in ministry.

How to get a mentor

First, toss the terminology. When a deacon asked if I would “mentor” him, some 20 years ago, I asked what he had in mind and then declined. He was looking for someone to meet with regularly, with whom he could share his every wayward thought, and who would function as his manager in spiritual things. I was his pastor, admired a hundred things about him, but simply did not have the time or energy for this.

Just call these guys your “friends.” That’s what they are and all they need to be.

Second, if you have had a favorite professor or pastor along the way who lives in the area and is still working in the Lord’s vineyard, call him up for coffee.  That’s how you start. And, under no circumstances should you tell him you want to meet with him like this every week or month or whatever for the rest of your life. That sounds burdensome.  Don’t do that to him or yourself.

Just enjoy the visit. Be sure to ask what he’s doing and what you can pray for concerning his work. And don’t overstay. Thirty minutes may be a tad short. Forty-five minutes is ideal. An hour is pressing it. Two hours is too long and will cause him to hesitate the next time you call inviting him for coffee.

Third, wait two weeks, then call him again. If the meeting place was ideal, stay with it. If it was too crowded or noisy or the chairs were uncomfortable, find another coffee shop. This time, have a situation in your church or your sermons for which you need his advice. Take notes. Jot down his advice, scriptures he mentions, books he recommends.

Then, wait a month before you do it again.  After that, you will know–and so will he–if this should be an ongoing thing.

Remember, it’s fine to have several such friends. You are not betraying the first to do the same thing with one or two others.

Finally, if you are leaning heavily on those two or three friends, at least annually drop them a personal note to say how much you appreciate them. Every couple of years, give each one a gift card to a local bookstore with a note of thanks.

They may make the difference in your ministry.

Now, while you’re at it, look around for some younger minister who may be needing you.  What comes around should indeed go around.


Pastor Joe McKeever
http://joemckeever.com/

Five Marks of a Spiritually Immature Staff Member and What to Do About Them

2 comments

Introducing Our New May Sermon Series

Introducing Our New May Sermon Series

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3 comments

  • The church I’m pastoring right now is stuck! The congregation thinks that things never change and thus change can not happen. We are down to 15-20 and will need to look at that possibility for closing if change does not happen.

    They do not want to help outside of themselves giving to those in need in the community for fear of being taken even when explained the Lord is in control and it is his money people miss use.
    They will not change the 50’s sunday school format because it always works?????
    And Music is an issue as usual.

    I have been in 6 conflictive innercity churches this is a small community church with the same issues I found in the city just looking at them from different window or filters. My conclusion right or wrong is that they need to change not the message but the methods and the mindsets. This will not happen in the environment we presently have.

  • Rev. Robert E. Baker

    Keep up the good work. God blexs.

  • Alemayehu Regassa

    I am grateful to this page. I am encouraged by your sermons and posts from the Bible. May God bless you all in general and Pastor Davies in particular!

Five Reasons Why Pastors are Getting Fired Because of Their Social Media Posts

Five Reasons Why Pastors are Getting Fired Because of Their Social Media Posts

 

By Thom Rainer

“It’s not fair I lost my job,” the pastor told me.

“My church members post a lot worse things than I do on social media. It’s a double standard.”

He’s right. It is a double standard. But it’s reality. And, with greater frequency, more pastors and church staff are losing their jobs because of what they post, particularly on Facebook and Twitter and, to some extent, their blogs.

By the way, churches will not always tell the pastor the specific reason for the firing. But, once we begin to infuriate our church members with our posts, many will find a myriad of reasons to give us the boot.

I recently recommended a pastor to another church. I think very highly of him. Indeed, the search committee chairman seemed genuinely enthused when I recommended him. He contacted me a couple of weeks later with this comment: “We can’t consider him. He’s just too snarky and sarcastic on social media.”

Of course, this pastor was not fired. But he never had a chance to be considered by another church.

So what are pastors posting on social media that is raising the ire of church members? It typically falls into one or more of these five categories:

  1. Generally combative and sarcastic comments. Do you know someone that seems always to be in debate on social media? They always want to prove their points, and they will take you on personally if you disagree with them. There are now a number of former pastors in this category.
  2. Political comments. If you make a political comment in today’s incendiary environment, you will offend someone. The persons you offend may just be the ones who push you out the church.
  3. Taking on church members. I cringe when I see church members posting critical comments against a pastor or church staff member. I cringe even more when the pastor decides to take them on in a public forum. Most readers have no idea the context of the conflict. They just see their pastor acting like a jerk.
  4. Criticizing other people. I have a friend who served as pastor of four churches. He loved criticizing well-known pastors, celebrities, Christian leaders, and others on social media. He was fired from his last church without a stated cause. I believe I know why. And he has gone three years without finding another place in ministry.
  5. Unsavory comments. A pastor or church staff member making lewd or suggestive comments on social media gains nothing, even if it’s a quote from a movie or someone else. The consequences are always negative.

This post is not about pastors losing their prophetic voices. It’s about pastors and church staff losing their ministries because of their failure to control their digital tongues.

“If anyone thinks he is religious without controlling his tongue, then his religion is useless and he deceives himself . . . (The tongue) pollutes the whole body, sets the course of life on fire, and is set on fire by hell.” (James 1:26, 3:6)

Social media is not the place to vent or to wage petty battles.

The consequences are simply too great.

 

This article was originally published at ThomRainer.com on March 6, 2017. Thom S. Rainer serves as president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Among his greatest joys are his family: his wife Nellie Jo; three sons, Sam, Art, and Jess; and seven grandchildren. Dr. Rainer can be found on Twitter @ThomRainer and at facebook.com/Thom.S.Rainer.

3 comments

  • Great message Tom. I’ve had a couple of them respond to me like that as well. I wondered how could they even be in the minsitry.

  • Brian

    I’m constantly amazed at how some “discernment bloggers” who also pastor churches are able to hang on to a congregation. Based on their podcast output (and the research time required to produce it), they have to spend 20-25 hours a week just on their internet activity. How do they find time to care for their sheep?

  • This was such a blessing to read, especially as I consider future ministry opportunities.
    It is a good think to learn from the mistakes of the past. Thanks

How a Pastor Should, and Shouldn’t, Use Social Media

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GodFAQs — Our New Sermon Series for August

GodFAQs — Our New Sermon Series for August

Dear Pastors,
I’m exciting to announce that the new Sermon Series for August is “GodFAQs.” We are using the common internet term FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) to draw people’s attention to frequently asked questions we have for God.

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*Do You Really Love Me?
*Is Jesus the Only Way to Heaven?
*Why Don’t You Answer My Prayers?
*What Happens When I Die?

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