Looking Back and Looking Ahead
Sermon by Rick Crandall
Grayson Baptist Church - Dec. 31, 2013
(Brief message for New Year's Eve Devotion)
*I want to thank you all for being here tonight. I can't think of a better time or a better way for us to reflect on our past and our future as a church. And of course the Word of God can help us.
1. First tonight: God wants us to remember.
*God wants us to remember our helpers in the Lord. In vs. 1&2, Paul gave us the great example of a godly woman named "Phebe." Here the apostle said:
1. I commend unto you Phebe our sister, which is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea:
2. That ye receive her in the Lord, as becometh saints, and that ye assist her in whatsoever business she hath need of you: for she hath been a succourer of many, and of myself also.
*Phoebe has been a "succourer" Paul said in vs. 2. That word "succourer" is "helper" in the NKJV, and it means "assistant". It's the word picture of someone who is a guardian and a protector, someone who cares for the affairs of others and helps them with their resources. That's the kind of faithful friend Phoebe had been to Paul, and he trusted her.
*How much did he trust her? -- Well, how important do you think this letter to the Roman Christians was to Paul? It is one of the greatest books of the Bible. It was Paul's God-inspired, love-filled message to the church at Rome. How important was it to Paul? -- Extremely important.
*And down in vs. 27, in the KJV, there is sort of a P.S. that says: "Written to the Romans from Corinthus, and sent by Phebe servant of the church at Cenchrea." Bible scholars verify the truth of this statement. So Paul trusted his faithful friend Phebe enough to deliver this precious letter for him.
*Phoebe was a faithful friend, and God has given us Christian friends like that. I remember what Tommy Parker said about Herman Crowell Sunday morning. And I would like to ask someone else to think back and remember someone in this church who had a big impact on your life. Maybe 5 or 10 or even 20 years ago.
*We need to remember the people who have given us help and support over the years. And as we do, God wants us to commit our lives to being the same kind of people. Looking back, God wants us to remember our helpers in the Lord.
2. Looking ahead, He wants us to rededicate our lives.
*God wants us to rededicate ourselves to live with the highest love. In vs. 3&4, Paul gives us an example of highest kind of love. Here Paul talked about more of his helpers in the Lord, and the Apostle said:
3. Greet Priscilla and Aquila my helpers in Christ Jesus:
4. Who have for my life laid down their own necks: unto whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles.
*We first see Priscilla and Aquila in Acts 18:1-3, where God's Word says:
1. After these things Paul departed from Athens and went to Corinth.
2. And he found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla (because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to depart from Rome); and he came to them.
3. So, because he was of the same trade, he stayed with them and worked; for by occupation they were tentmakers.
*To sum it up, Priscilla and Aquila were Paul's friends. They were Paul's fellow workers for the cause of Jesus Christ. Paul met Priscilla and Aquila in Corinth and wound up living with them for a time. Like Paul, they were tentmakers. And like Paul, they were devoted to the good news about Jesus Christ.
*Verses 3&4 show us that this Christian couple loved the Lord and His servant, Paul with the highest love. Again Paul said:
3. Greet Priscilla and Aquila my helpers in Christ Jesus:
4. Who have for my life laid down their own necks. . .
*Priscilla & Aquila put their necks on the chopping block for Paul. They exposed themselves to great danger to save the apostle's life. And we are able to be here tonight, because many people laid down their lives for us.
*Many more would have been willing to die for us if necessary, because of their love for the Lord and His people. That is a big challenge for us. Paul said: "Priscilla and Aquila have for my life laid down their own necks. . ."
*What have we laid down for our Christian friends? -- What have we laid down for Christ? That's something to pray about. And why did they do it? Again, it was for love.
*This is going to be a short message, but the Guinness Book of Records once listed the shortest sermon ever preached. It was given by an Episcopal pastor in Michigan. His name was John Albrecht. John stood up in the pulpit one Sunday morning to preach. He paused for a moment; then simply said: "Love!" After that, Pastor John sat down.
*Some of his church members said it was the best sermon he ever preached, -- not just because it was short, but because it had a big message: LOVE! (1)
*That's what we should do. Looking ahead, God wants us to rededicate ourselves to live with the highest love.
3. But He also wants us to rejoice.
*God wants us to rejoice in the hope we have in Jesus Christ. He is the only real hope for this world. And Christians: The hope of our lives is in Jesus Christ!
*Paul mentioned Jesus in vs. 3, where the apostle said: "Greet Priscilla and Aquila my helpers IN CHRIST JESUS." By the grace of God, all of us who have trusted in Jesus Christ are spiritually and literally in Christ Jesus.
*This is the best place we could ever be, and the only safe place to be when it comes to escaping the wrath of God. That's because Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins. He took the punishment for every single one of our sins, and rose again from the dead to give us His everlasting life.
*So in Jesus we have eternal hope, and we have an expanding hope. It has reached far beyond Rome, and is still growing around the world, as more people trust in Jesus Christ.
*When Tommy remembered Herman last Sunday, he quoted the verse Bro. Crowell often quoted to the church. That verse is Psalm 118:24: "This is the day which the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it." And no matter what troubles we might have to face in 2014, we can always rejoice in the hope we have in Jesus Christ.
*So tonight we can remember the help God has given us.
*We can rededicate ourselves to live with the highest love.
*And we can rejoice in the hope we have in Jesus Christ.
*Let's go to the Lord in prayer.
(1) Original source unknown