Open your bibles to the book of Acts chapter 20, verses 28 through the first part of 31 and listen or follow along.
Acts 20:28-31 28 Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. 29 I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30 and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. 31 Therefore, be alert. ESV
My subject is still, ‘care for the church of God’, but today I would like to also look at an application of this care.
You have also heard me quote from another passage of Scripture that has convicted my heart in a major way. For your reference and for you to mark your work Bible, that passage is found in the Old Testament book of Proverbs chapter 3, verses 5 and 6;
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. 6 In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. ESV
· In my care for you, please make note of this first point.
· We have been talking about the way that one becomes a member of the Church of God
· And that way in a word is conversion and it is both faith and repentance together at the same time
· Even though we have been considering initial faith and initial repentance as the two aspects of conversion at the beginning of the Christian life, my brothers and sisters, it is important to realize that faith and repentance are not confined to the beginning of the Christian life or the start of your church membership
· They, faith and repentance, are attitudes of the heart (the very essence of you) that continue throughout your lives as Christian
· Listen, because you know this
o Matthew 6:11-12
11 Give us this day our daily bread, 12 and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. ESV
o And from Luke it is even clearer
o Luke 11:3-4
3 Give us each day our daily bread, 4 and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.” ESV
· When you pray in a genuine way, we are reminded of what 1John says; 1 John 1:8-10 8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. ESV
· And thus your prayers involve daily sorrow for sin and a genuine repentance – Amen
· Before moving to faith, I am reminded that Christ gives this direction to the church in Revelation, for in chapter 3 verse 19 we find these words from our Lord; Revelation 3:19 19 Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. ESV
· Repentance and faith start together and they stay together, and my brothers and sisters, you know that faith must continue as a ‘heart attitude’ throughout your Christian life.
· The Proverb 3, that I quoted earlier says just that but also take note of just two short statements from Paul
o Galatians 2:20 20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. ESV
o 1 Corinthians 13:13 13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. ESV
· I conclude this point with a quote from Wayne Grudem
Therefore, although it is true that initial saving faith and initial repentance occur only once in our lives, and when they occur they constitute true conversion, nonetheless, the heart attitudes of repentance and faith only begin at conversion. These same attitudes should continue throughout the course of our Christian lives. Each day there should be heartfelt repentance for sins that we have committed, and faith in Christ to provide for our needs and to empower us to live the Christian life.
· I ask you now my brothers and sisters, are you in fact doing that? As new knowledge comes to you and as you examine yourself in the light of the Word of God, can you truly, not look me in the eye and say, but fall on your face before the awesome God of this entire universe and say; “Lord, I truly trust you with all of my heart and despite all that I’m hearing, I’m seeing, I’m feeling, I’m even tasting and saying, I will not lean to my own understanding. And Lord in those areas where I have a tendency to lean to my understanding, please bless me with the grace to repent of that and in all my ways to acknowledge you and bless me with the patience to wait on your direction for my path.” – Amen – ‘so let it be’
· Another point before the application, look back at the Acts 20 passage; care for the flock is needed because of stuff from outside and inside that will come along to draw you away.
· I must ask this question New Hope. Do you trust your overseers?
· This seems like a simple question and you may think that it is rhetorical, that it is a question where the answer is obvious. But my question is not directed to you as individuals note I did not say brothers and sisters but I address this question to you as New Hope the fellowship and the flock of God.
· When we are attacked externally and internally, where is your trust? Because this passage says that these twisted things are designed to draw you away after them.
· So do you trust your overseers? Do you trust Brother Brad, do you trust Brother Willie, do you trust me Brother Peter?
· Here is the point, God did this; the Holy Spirit has made us overseers here at New Hope, you and I have been purchased by the blood of Jesus Christ and before the foundations of time God the Father foreknew us, predestined us, called us, justified us, and also glorified us – Amen
· And that is not all, listen
o Ephesians 4:11-1611 And he (referring to Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior) gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers (Brad, Willie and Peter), 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. ESV
· This passage says that the job of the pastor teacher is to equip the saints for the work of ministry. Now let me be very clear about this, my job, Brother Willie’s job and Brother Brad’s job is to equip those of you, New Hope, who are truly saved (saints of New Hope) for the work of ministry. If you are not truly saved, then you can not do the work of ministry.
· Saints, it’s work not play and I am here to remind you that it is a good work
· But also be reminded of the difference play is about amusement or recreation (fun as opposed to seriousness), whereas work is exertion or effort directed to produce or accomplish something
· And the work of ministry accomplish the building up the body of Christ and that’s bigger than this local fellowship
· So saints, are you a working fellowship or a playing fellowship
· This is caring for the flock of God
· I said that my subject today deal with the application of this care and that is what this point is about
· We have been bombarded by much at the start of 2007 but one event has had a very strong effect on some of you, my brothers and sisters
· The passing of Bill Bright and all of the information and knowledge you have received is effecting some of you. And because we are ‘one’ it effects all of us in one way or another, whether you know all of the details or not.
· Now I am going to ask you to do something that I don’t think I have ever done this way before but, I care for you and this is about the application. So find a red hymn book and I would like for you, not to sing, but to read along with me two hymns one is Hymn 223 and the other is Hymn 106
· Read these hymns
· Now 1 Corinthians 13:13, I read it earlier says; “So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”
· It does not matter how depresses the saint gets, hope will remain, it may need renewing but it will remain
· And you need to be equipped with that knowledge as you deal this situation and others that will come upon you.
· Allow me to illustrate this with just one of many passage of Scripture. Open your Bible to Psalms 32 and listen
· Psalm 32 1 Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. 2 Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit. 3 For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. 4 For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Selah 5 I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah 6 Therefore let everyone who is godly offer prayer to you at a time when you may be found; surely in the rush of great waters, they shall not reach him. 7 You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble; you surround me with shouts of deliverance. Selah 8 I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you. 9 Be not like a horse or a mule, without understanding, which must be curbed with bit and bridle, or it will not stay near you. 10 Many are the sorrows of the wicked, but steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the Lord. 11 Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart! ESV
· This Psalm of King David parallels Psalm 51
· Verse 1 and 2 points out the good thing by saying who the blessed one is.
o 1 Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. 2 Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.
· It is in verses 3 and 4 where depression is at.
o 3 For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. 4 For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer.
· For the saint sin is depressing. For the unsaved sin is depressing. For the regular church going person, sin is depressing. For the one who don’t attend church on a regular basis, sin is depressing. Change membership, go to a different fellowship, take up a new discipleship, I don’t care what ship, sin is depressing. For the king, for the servant, for the rich, for the poor, for the educated, for the uneducated, sin is depressing
· So what are you going to do about it?
· Repent and confess, look at verses 5 and 6
o 5 I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah 6 Therefore let everyone who is godly offer prayer to you at a time when you may be found; surely in the rush of great waters, they shall not reach him.
· Have faith and trust, look at verse 7
o 7 You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble; you surround me with shouts of deliverance. Selah
· Do you see it? Repentance and Faith continuing and on going in your life.
· Nest minister to someone, that is help your brother or sister
o 8 I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you. 9 Be not like a horse or a mule, without understanding, which must be curbed with bit and bridle, or it will not stay near you.
· The conclusion
o 10 Many are the sorrows of the wicked, but steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the Lord. 11 Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!
· Steadfast love surrounds the one who trust in the Lord so be glad in the Lord, New Hope and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy all you upright in heart
· Do the work of ministry and minister to each other.
I end with the word to this old hymn by J. D. Bushell
Father, I stretch my hand to Thee, no other help I know; if thou withdraw Thy-self from me, Ah! Whither shall I go?
I will trust in the Lord, I will trust in the Lord, I will trust in the Lord till I die… I will trust in the Lord, I will trust in the Lord, I will trust in the Lord till I die
Some times you have to keep on repeating it until you began to live it.
Trust the Lord with all your heart and do not lean to your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.
Let us pray!
Wayne A. Grudem, Systematic Theology : An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine, 717 (Leicester, England; Grand Rapids, Mich.: Inter-Varsity Press; Zondervan Pub. House, 1994).