MESSAGE SHARINGS

Sermon Series Summary


End of the World & Human Destinies


Preached at Malvern Baptist Church by Rev. Mark Duesling

Summary

PART 1 - End of the World and Human Destinies: 2 Peter; 2 Thessalonians
   
 When Will the World End? A Mayan Apocalypse?
 How the World Will End: The Day of the Lord—Part 1, 2 Peter 3:1-9
 How the World Will End: The Day of the Lord—Part 2, 2 Peter 3:7, 10, 12-13
 The World’s Gonna Burn—Now What? 2 Pet 3:11-14
 One Choice Determines Your “Forever After” 2 Thessalonians 1:1-12
 Before the End of the World: The Rebellion & Man of Lawlessness Rises—2 Thess 2:1-12
 Saved on the Day of the Lord - 2 Thess 2:13-17
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PART 2 - End of the World and Human Destinies - 1 Thessalonians 4 & 5; Matthew 24-25
   
 Good Grief—1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
 One Minute After You Die: The Intermediate State—Selected Scriptures
 No Fear of the “Thief” - 1 Thess 5:1-11
 Jesus’ Return—Selected Scriptures
 The Olivet Discourse: A Couple Questions—Matthew 24:1-3
 The Olivet Discourse: Living In Troubled Times—Matthew 24:4-14
 The Olivet Discourse: Jerusalem’s Doom—Matthew 24:15-28
 The Olivet Discourse: Coming On the Clouds—Matthew 24:29-35
 The Olivet Discourse: No One Knows the Day or Hour—Matthew 24:36-51
 The Olivet Discourse: If Jesus Takes A Long Time in Coming—Matthew 25:1-13
 The Olivet Discourse: Risk & Production—Matthew 25:14-30
 The Olivet Discourse: The End of the World—Matthew 25:31-46
 

For further study on the rapture theories see: Three Views on the Rapture: Pretribulation, Prewrath, or Posttribulation, 2nd edition, Craig Blaising, Alan Hultberg and Douglas Moo. For those interested in the millennial question (the 1000 years of Revelation 20:16 and it’s 4 key interpretations (Postmillennialism, Historic Premillennialism, Dispensational Premillennialism or Amillennialism) see The Millennial Maze: Sorting out Evangelical Options by Stanely Grenz.

Sermon Series Summary


BIBLICAL FELLOWSHIP


Preached at Malvern Baptist Church by Rev. Mark Duesling
April-May, 2005

Summary

Sermon # 1 Will The True Fellowship Stand Up!
    
  1. Many desire and are hungry for real fellowship, for real care, belonging, and support from one another. Many are not only interested in receiving these things but also to give care, acceptance, support etc., to others.
  2. Despite this longing and hunger, many are stumped as to what real fellowship is.
  3. Common associations with the word 'fellowship' have been food. Many a room next to the church kitchen has been named a 'Fellowship Hall' where people supposedly gather to eat and have fellowship. Others link the word 'fellowship' to an event or group which one attends on a weekly, or monthly basis. The important question is 'Are you going to fellowship?'
  4. However fellowship as associated above basically limits 'fellowship' to Christian social activity. These things in of themselves while they can contribute to fellowship are not in essence fellowship.
  5. Many have been down the road that equates fellowship as a mere social event. Eventually such fellowship is tough to maintain, because after all the exciting things have been done, and when other alternatives that are more attractive pop up, fellowship eventually looses.
  6. How is the word 'fellowship' used in the New Testament? The main Greek word is the various noun and verb forms of koinonia. While many times it is translated into English as 'fellowship', koinonia has a range of meaning and is translated by several English words.
  7. Forms of koinonia translated as 'fellowship' Acts 2:42, Gal. 2:9; 1 John 1:3, 6-7; 1 Cor. 1:9; 2 Cor. 6:14; 13:14; Phil. 2:1; 3:10. (NIV)
  8. Forms of koinonia translated as participants/participation. 1 Cor. 10:20 (NIV)
  9. Forms of koinonia translated as sharing. 2 Cor. 8:4; 9:13; Rom. 12:13; Phil. 4:14-15; Phl. 6; Heb. 13:16; 2 John 11 (NIV)
  10. Forms of koinonia translated as partnership/partners. Phil. 1:5; Lk. 5:10; Phl. 17
  11. The point of the range of the meaning of this word is that it helps us understand what fellowship is using other words that we are familiar with. This word study enables us to know that fellowship is
    1. a sharing or participating together of what we have in common and
    2. a sharing with each other, that is a giving out from ourselves to the other.


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Sermon #2 Fellowship As 'Sharing Together'
    
  1. It is well known that 'no person is an island' and that a person can not survive healthily apart from a community. This is especially true among God's people who are called the church.
  2. God calls his people not just into relationship with Himself as individuals, but calls his people into relation with each other 1 Cor. 1:2; 12:12-13, 27; Eph. 2:11-12; 4:4; John 10:16; 17:21-23; Gal. 3:26-28.
  3. What is it we share together or 'fellowship' together as His disciples/church/Body/Family?
  4. First we share together a personal knowing of the person of Christ. Christianity is about coming to one person, Jesus. John 6:35, 37-40; 7:37;11;25;17:3; 1 Cor. 1:9; Matthew 11:28-30; 1 John 1:1-4
  5. Second we share together the saving work of Christ. This includes everything Christ has done for us through his achieving salvation for us through his suffering and death, his resurrection, and all the benefits thereof given to each of those putting their trust in him. Gal. 2:20; Rom. 6:1ff.; 10:9-15; Col. 2:11ff., 20; Eph. 1:3; 2:1,6; Col. 1:19-22; 2:13; 3:1-3; Acts 4:10-12; 1 Tim. 2:5-6; 2 Tim. 2:11
  6. Third we share together the present life that continues from knowing and relating to Christ now in the present. Col. 2:6; 3:1-3, 17; Eph. 1:17-19a; 4:13; Philp. 3:8,10
  7. Implications:
    1. Fellowship with others originates in our own fellowship with God. Our fellowship with others will be only as strong as our fellowship with God. If you think the Christian fellowship is lousy, before you blame others, check your own relationship with God. If that is okay, then don't run away, roll up your sleeves and show others what sharing, participation, and partnership is! John 17:20-21; 1 John 4:10-11, 19; Eph. 4:32
    2. Fellowship among ourselves is not created by ourselves or by any one person. It is created by God, by the Spirit of Fellowship (2 Cor. 13:14; Phil 2:1) and by all members of His body as they share together and with one another. A common problem in Christian fellowship is that a group elects or appoints a leader and tells them, to make fellowship for them, while they themselves sit back. The responsibility for good fellowship rests on each and every believer participating.
    3. Our personal relating among each other is to be characterized by belonging, acceptance and care of all. Our relations are to be devoid/empty of favoritism, sectarianism and special attention due to other commonalities that do not come from Christ. Often, wrongly we bring the criteria we use in society (personality, status, education, etc.) to determine who we relate with into the church, this prevents fellowship. We fellowship with all other disciples based on what we share together in Christ.
    4. We meet together because of what we share in Christ not because of how many people will be coming or not coming to 'fellowship'.


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Sermon #3 Fellowship As 'Sharing with Another'
    
  1. If fellowship is a sharing with each other what do we share with another?
  2. We share physical things such as money, hospitality, food etc. Romans 12:13; 1 Peter 4:9; 1 John 3:17-18;Acts 2:44-45; 4:32-37; Romans 13:26-27; 2 Cor. 8:1- 9:15; Philp. 4:15-19; 1 Tim. 3:2; Titus 1:8; Hebrews 13:2, 16; James 2:14-17; 3 John 5-8.
  3. We share concern, love and encouragement for each other - in part by sharing burdens, confrontation of and protection from sin. 1 Cor. 12:24b-25; Col. 3:12-14; Gal. 6:2; James 5:19-20; Rom. 12:10; 15:1; Gal. 6:9-10; Phil. 2:3-4; 1 Thess. 5:14; Hebrews 3:12-13; 10:24-25 1 Peter 4:8; Rev. 3:19
  4. Implications of C.
    1. All participate in concern, correction and encouragement. It is not just the Pastor's or the cell group leader's job.
    2. Eliminates slander and gossip. When one part of Christ' body is hurting or fallen, we shouldn't discuss them with indifference and leave them alone, but take the restorative strengths of other members to aid them, just as our natural body does.
    3. It deals with the problem of denial. We do not ignore the hurting and needy, pretending nothing is wrong.
    4. The implication of sharing love and honor as fellowship removes competition and jealousy.
  5. We share prayer together and for each other. Acts 2:42; 4:23-31; 6;3-7;12:5, 12-17; 13:1-3; 14:23; 16:13,16; 16:25; Eph. 6:18; 1 Tim. 2:1-2; Rom. 12:12; Col. 4:2; 1 Thess. 5:17; James 5:13-18.
  6. We share Spiritual truth and what God is doing in our lives. Matt. 28:19-20; Acts 2:42; 2 John 4,7,9-11; 1 John 2:18-27; Jude 3-4, 17-20
  7. Practical Question: Is the goal of fellowship as it relates to sharing to have 'total openness' where everyone shares everything with everyone? The answer is no. Total openness usually leads to conflict, not fellowship. The goal of fellowship is total commitment to share with the other that which builds up the other, enabling us to minister to their needs of belonging and love. As others experience our commitment to their well-being, this builds trust which in turn creates more sharing, etc. Total openness is not appropriate, and Jesus himself did not operate on that idea, but on total commitment to share and do what will build up the other.


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Sermon #4 Fellowship as 'Partnership To Reach The World
    
  1. Fellowship as a 'sharing together' can be represented by a circle, that which we have in common. Fellowship as 'sharing with another' can be represented by an arrow, that which goes out from us to another.
  2. In explaining the 'arrow', I have used mostly a context where disciples of Jesus are sharing with each other. To stop here is to have an incomplete concept of fellowship. We as a group of disciples must fellowship or partner together to share with those beyond, who are not yet disciples of Christ.
  3. Fellowship As Partnership To Reach the World In Philippians. There are two ways in which the Church in Philippi were participating together with Paul and each other in fellowship outward beyond their own group.
    1. They shared in the global mission of Paul to tell the Gospel to the world Phil. 4:14-18.
    2. They shared in local evangelism and defense of the Gospel in Philippi Phil. 1:27-30; Acts 16:19-40.
  4. Fellowship As Partnership To Reach The World In The Letters of John
    1. 1 John 1:1-4 It is very clear from these verses that true fellowship is not possible apart from accepting the one message or testimony about Jesus Christ which has been revealed by the Father , through Christ and is passed on by the Apostles. But those who accept this testimony that was proclaimed and enter fellowship with God, then also have entered a partnership of proclamation of the same testimony. See 2 John 7-11; 3 John 2-8.
  5. In the Great Commission of Matt. 28:18ff, Jesus promised a special fellowship/presence/partnership with those who go and make disciples.
  6. Implications:
    1. The content of the truth matters for fellowship. For true fellowship to happen, there must be a common acceptance and adherence to the basic truth about Jesus Christ, the nature of God, salvation, sin, etc such as which we find in I John or 1 Cor. 15:3-5. Fellowship occurs in response to certain absolute truths about Jesus Christ, change any of those revealed fundamental truths and you have destroyed any way for true fellowship. Some churches today have removed or altered certain revealed truths, because others found it offensive, so in order to gain other people's acceptance and thus to have fellowship with them, they changedthe truth. The letters of John then tell us these people no longer have fellowship with God nor with God's true children. They then are of the devil, they are anti-christs.
    2. Knowing how to defend the truth matters. It is natural that as we fellowship in partnership in spreading the Gospel we will encounter opposition to the truth. Thus, it is imperative that you know how to respond to arguments of doubt, arguments of unbelief etc. Just as an aside, this is one area where fellowship can become a fellowship of suffering. Fellowship is not all fun and games like we usually think. At times fellowship may involve blood, sweat and tears, not just from defending the truth, but also from bearing one another's burdens.
    3. Our cell groups must be participating outward in partnership for the Gospel's expansion to be experiencing the full range offellowship. Simply put, as each cell group, or fellowship plans its gatherings from month to month, you need to plan some that are a collective partnership in outreach into the community. You always need to be as a group open to new members, to expansion, to reproducing and growth by new conversions and new disciples joining. If you do not desire your group in general to grow, nor to change, you may have a cozy little self-serving, self-centered fellowship for a while, but it is really stagnant and not fulfilling God's full purposes for the church as a whole.


Some helpful books for further study on Fellowship:

1. Jerry Bridges - The Crisis of Caring: Recovering the Meaning of Fellowship, Phillipsburg: P&R Publishing, 1987.

2. Bruce Milne - We Belong Together: The meaning of fellowship. Downers Grove: IVP, 1978.

Sermon Series Summary


BIBLICAL WORSHIP


Preached at Malvern Baptist Church by Rev. Mark Duesling
June-Aug. 2005

Summary

Prepare To Meet Your God: Defining & Preparing For Worship
    
  1. Defining 'worship' is a difficult task for 2 reasons: i] there are many different Hebrew and Greek words that are translated or refer to worship, ii] the words used in the Bible for worship cover a diverse range which includes attitudes, service, ritual and behavior.
  2. In order to define worship we need to consider 'Who is the basis for our worship and what is our relationship with the one who is worshiped?' The 'Who' of worship is no less than the personal, holy, sovereign, eternal, unique and only God and Creator of the Universe, Isaiah 44:6-8. The 'Who' of worship is the only Rock, the only Savior, Redeemer of humanity, Revelation 5. The 'Who' of worship is the covenant making God, Revelation 21:3-4. This covenant brings us into a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. These three things,
    1. the nature of God,
    2. the work of God and the
    3. Covenant relationship of God established through Jesus Christ with His people also bear upon our definition of worship.
  3. Worship then is the expression or outworking of a relationship with God in which we respond to God's prior revealing of Himself in deed and word by declaring His worth and giving the glory due Him, through various proper attitudes and resulting actions.
  4. The essence of worship here in this definition is,
    1. Happens in the context of a personal covenant relationship with the ultimate Divine Being, Jesus Christ,
    2. Happens as a response on our part to the prior initiatory action and word of God in our lives
    3. Worship is expressed in both proper attitudes and proper actions worthy of the Deity.
  5. What are the implications of this for our collective worship on Sunday?
    1. The incentive or driving force for our worship on Sunday comes from our previous relating to God, and hearing from God during the week.
    2. Since God is the one worshiped, worship during the Sunday service is primarily about our giving not our getting.
    3. In order to acceptably worship God on Sunday at 9:30 AM demands advance preparation.


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Worship In Spirit - John 4:19-26
    
  1. Comments on the Context of John 4.
    1. The story of the Samaritan woman is only one of six recorded responses to the testimony of who Jesus is.
    2. Specifically in the context of John 3, these verses on worship show us that God is not into head hunting, or mere numbers of conversions. God is not looking just to populate heaven with people who will believe in him. God is looking for true worshippers, people who forever will give him the glory due him.
  2. Background to Woman's Question About Which Temple to Worship In.
    1. Ethnic and Religious Divide Between Jews and Samaritans,
    2. Old Testament Command of God to Worship Him in One Place of God's Choosing.
  3. Jesus's Answer To the Woman.
    1. Geography for worship becomes obsolete in the sense of determining whether worship is right or wrong, unlike the Old Testament system. This is possible because God is Spirit, he is not physically limited to one place, as Spirit, God is omnipresent, thus, can be worshiped anywhere and Jesus the Son by what he has done enables us to approach God at anytime.
    2. True worshippers, who offer acceptable worship, must worship in spirit and truth, because God is spirit.
  4. Implication: External circumstances are irrelevant to your capacity and ability to worship and should not be a stumbling block to you responding to God in declaring his worth in your life. Why, because worship starts in your spirit or with the Holy Spirit affecting your spirit, depending on how you interpret the phrase 'worship in spirit'. Either way worship is not dependent on the external conditions. It starts with your desire to respond and declare God's worth in response to what He has done and is doing for you and what He is telling you. Today we often structure and plan our 'worship' according to what appeals to our senses, eyes, hearing, smell. What we have done is switched the requirement of worship from geography to pleasant atmosphere or circumstances. That is wrong. The implication also frees us up to worship God even when things are going terrible in our lives.


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Integrating Worship In Spirit With Truth - 2 Samuel 6:1-19
    
  1. Context of the Events of 2 Samuel 6,
    1. David's Coronation of King over all Israel,
    2. The Ark of the Covenant where God would actually be present and dwell among His people, but it has been neglected by King Saul and remained in obscurity.
    3. David is therefore in the process of restoring God to the center of the Kingdom of Israel.
  2. David and Worship In Spirit-the text obviously shows David has the inner spirit to worship.
  3. David and Israel: Failure to Worship In Truth. The oxen stumble, Uzzah touches the ark to steady it and is killed by God, entire procession of worship is stopped and abandoned. Notice several things:
    1. How the ark was being transported, on a cart pulled by oxen. This was against the previously revealed law of God, see Exodus 25:12-15, Numbers 4:15, 1 Chronicles 15:13,15.
    2. Thus the people having great spirit to worship God did not worship in truth according to prior revealed instructions.
    3. If God did not severely shock them from being careless in their desire it would only lead to further influence and acceptance of wrong pagan practices in the worship of the true God.
  4. Implications:
    1. Proper knowledge of God and his revelations must be the background and basis for all our worship and action done for or on God's behalf.
    2. Proper worship which is based on the truth about who God really is, then leads us to avoid the twin errors of David, proud anger at God, and then paralyzing fear, neither which are proper worship.
    3. As the Ark of God symbolized the real presence of God and was to be carried on the shoulders of the priests, today God's presence travels on his people, you and I are the priests. Eph. 2:18-22,
    4. Proper worship based on the truth leads to joy in the presence of God. 2 Sam. 6:13-15.


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Worship Is Our Lifestyle, Not A Religious Event - Amos 5:18-27
    
  1. The Day of the Lord instead of being a day of joy, salvation and vindication for Northern Israel would instead be a day of darkness, destruction and experiencing the wrath of God. The reason is their worship is unworthy of God.
  2. Why?
    1. Israel practiced 'Religion in a Box" consisting of religious feasts, sacrifices and offerings and praise and singing before the Lord. But it is all rejected because their ceremonial worship was not connected to ethics and daily life. Various verses from Chapters 2-5 illustrate how they cheat, spurn justice, oppress the poor, mock the righteous, offer bribes, etc. Thus, 5:24 is saying is that for those who worship God, not only should they be participating in spiritual meetings but having met with the Living God their life as a relationship with and response to the Living God should be one ceaseless lifestyle of and fight for righteousness and justice in society!
    2. Israel has a false syncretistic view of God 5:26-27.
  3. Implications:
    1. To live right during the week is to worship right on Sunday.
    2. Expressing love or worship to God can not be separated from loving your fellow humans.
    3. Corporate worship together, in God's presence, as his people is about being transformed to be more like the God you worship and thus, leaving corporate worship to be his witness to the world.


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Interfaith Worship Is Unholy Worship - 1 Corinthians 10:14-22
    
  1. False worship does not have to be outright idolatry where a person rejecting the true God then worships some non-existent deity.
  2. Christians are susceptible to syncretism which is the claim to worship the true God while combining or mixing worship of or worship elements and other beliefs of other pagan Gods or Goddesses.
  3. The question in the Corinthian Church is can the Corinthian Christians eat meat that has been sacrificed to idols? A summary conclusion of Paul's answer is
    1. Buying meat from the market, eating it in one's house, at a neighbors, even if it has been previously offered to an idol before you purchased it, or it is served to you at a neighbors, a person is in principle free to eat that meat. (10:25ff) However if an unbeliever, having invited a Christian over for dinner brings up the fact before they serve dinner the a certain meat dish had been specially offered in sacrifice in honor of a particular God, then for the matter of their conscience, the Christian is to abstain so that the unbeliever's moral expectations of a Christian will not be offended as the unbeliever is trying to actually help the Christian in their view not sin. Since ultimately eating meat from the market is a non-issue, the Christian can for the sake of the unbeliever refrain from eating the meat.
    2. Eating meat in religious feasts, as part of religious ritual at the temple of other Gods is not permitted under any circumstances (8:9-13; 10:14-22). Our passage today, deals specifically with this part of Paul's answer forbidding Christians to eat meat at the temples.
  4. What is an idol? An idol is nothing. An idol is not a God or Goddess. The idol has no personal identity, nor does it represent a personal God or Goddess. 8:4
  5. What is Food? 8:8 tells us food by itself has no inherent, intrinsic or natural quality that brings us closer to or takes us away from God.
  6. Understanding D & E in Corinth led to two problems,
    1. Not every Christian can understand or accept that an idol is nothing, (illustrated from my time in Thailand),
    2. The second problem that since idols and food are nothing in themselves, some Christians claiming to be knowledgeable, but in misapplication of the truth that an idol is nothing, thought it fine not just to eat meat from the market but to go to pagan idol feasts, eating meat at religious festivals at a pagan temple (8:10; 10:21-22).
  7. Paul's Correction to the Two Problems are:
    1. It causes the destruction of the believer who still sees an idol/God as a real being, thus, the person has sinned against their brother (8:9-13).
    2. Behind the idols are demons thus the sacrifices are offered to demons, God's enemies (10:19-20). Though there is no god behind the idol, what many people forget there is an evil malicious demonic presence and influence.
    3. Christians participating in idol feasts are in fellowship with demons, thus the believer is committing the sin of idolatry (10:20-22).
  8. Implications
    1. There is one 'geographical' limit to the truth that Christians can worship God anywhere, anytime, interfaith services and movements are unacceptable and should be avoided by Christians because we can not acknowledge false Gods in joint worship, nor can we affirm the morality, equality or goodness of the other religions which God condemns.
    2. Christians should not be attending or participating in pagan religious rituals or feast in the home, at a temple, funeral, wedding or any other time or places such rituals occur.


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Worship the Lord God Alone A Comparison of God's - Isaiah 44:6-25
    
  1. Note the importance of the theme in Isaiah relating to God's Supremacy and Uniqueness in Isaiah as it relates to the coming exile of Judah and the promises of a deliverer for all nations.
  2. The superiority of Yahweh is seen in the superior nature and quality of existence of Yahweh as compared to other God's. Yahweh is eternal, completely independent of all that is created, yet Lord of History. In contrast the other God's are created from material and psychological elements by humans. 44:10-13.
  3. Yahweh is not limited to the material world, like the idols. 44:14-17
  4. Implications
    1. We give unworthy worship to God when we give him the leftovers of our life, like the idolater in Isaiah 44.
    2. We offer unworthy worship to God when we take the things he has given us and trust them to do His work our way or in away that benefits us most.
    3. We need to be vigilant to see how we have syncretised our lives in worship of modern ideological gods of modern technological societies, where we accept certain cultural values, goals and priorities in place of or above God.


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'Wild' Worship - Isaiah 6:1-13
    
  1. Ax Illustration of how we can become too familiar with something causing it to become dangerous. Likewise, we can come to view worship and God in a casual way so that our worship becomes something dangerous, something that harms us. The root of this is because we have forgotten who our God is, making false assumptions about Him.
  2. God is wild in holiness not tame. God's holiness emphasizes two traits, his otherness and his purity. This makes him set apart from us, worshipful and awesome and to be feared.
  3. As Isaiah saw God as he really is, Isaiah saw himself as he really is, sinful and is torn apart.
  4. God's holy wild grace. God even though wild is gracious and cleanses Isaiah from his sin, to which Isaiah responds by volunteering to live a life proclaiming the word of the Lord in gratitude.
  5. Implications:
    1. Our right or wrong concepts of God will either help or hinder our worship,
    2. that worship is a lifestyle is reinforced,
    3. Greater understanding of God's mercy will compel us to worship & serve him, with our life.


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Elements of a Worship Service - 1 Chronicles 16:7-37
    
  1. What are we to do before God in His real presence in our collective worship service?
  2. The Psalm of 1 Chron. 16 is actually a joining together of various other Psalms by the writer. 1 Chron. 16:8- 22 = Psalm 105:1-15; 1 Chron. 16:23-33 = Psalm 96:1-13; 1 Chron. 16:34 = Psalm 106:1; 1 Chron. 16:47-48 = 106:47-48. The purpose of this is to flesh out the activities Asaph and others were to do before the ark in 16:4. This would help the returning exiles from Babylon to know what to do when they rebuild the temple.
  3. The Ministry of Asaph and Associates -
    1. As they enter the presence of God, Asaph and company are to seek Him, seek His face always (16:10-11). Today, Worship is never entertainment for you, instead worship is a seeking of and meeting a personal God. See 1 Chron. 28:9; 2 Chron. 7:14; 15:2.
    2. As they enter the presence of God, Asaph and company are to bring an offering (16:29). Today: What have you brought the Lord yesterday and what will you bring the Lord today and tomorrow? Unacceptable leftovers of your life, as we learned from Isaiah 44? See Colossians 3:17 for the right idea.
    3. Before this personal God in His presence, Asaph and company are to remember the wonders, miracles, judgments, the covenant, his deeds that God has done for them (16:12-22). Today, Listening to God during the week and remembering what he said and has done Mon. to Sat. is a key to vibrant worship on Sunday!
    4. Before this personal God in His presence, Asaph and company are to speak in various ways, call to, praise, witness, confess, etc. Today notice the connection of worship and witness. Glorifying God and exalting him is not isolated from the world, from the unbelieving world, hidden away in some temple. But the worshipper proclaims the greatness of God both in the temple and in the world.
    5. Before this personal God in His presence, Asaph and company are to feel before the Almighty in various ways-awe, rejoicing, tremble, excitement etc. Today, Worship is a meeting of His people with Himself, thus, worship belongs to you, the people, and you are to be active and participating with your whole being, not just your minds, but your will, emotions, body and spirit.


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  1. Call To Worship/Invocation/Opening Prayer This part of the service sets the tone for the entire morning. It's purpose is
    1. to invite God to have His way with the worshippers, to accept our worship and
    2. to call worshippers to recognize the presence and place of God, to help them begin their worship with holy expectation of meeting God, giving him glory and receiving His word.
  2. Singing and Music
    Music is a powerful medium that can affect people deeply. This is a form of direct communication to God, witness of God to others and form of learning truth or expressing truth and faith where we celebrate by singing or using music to tell of the acts and nature of God, to reveal our thoughts and desires to God etc. Properly used, songs and music can enable the joining of biblical truth/intellect and proper emotional expression, causing a whole body response to God.
  3. Prayers of various types
    At the heart of worship is direct communication that is from the entire church body to the Holy One. We are directed to publicly as His people to gather in His name and speak with him, presenting all manners and kinds of corporate thanksgiving, requests, confession, etc. that deal with the entire group or individuals in the groups, our ministry and our relations with the larger society.
  4. Public Reading of Scripture, Creeds, Confessions
    Scripture is read on the conviction that it is our sole authoritative word from God. Reading of Scripture is a declaring of God's direct words and a listening to His direct words. Recitation of Creeds or Statements of Faith promote unity, remind us of and reinforce the basic foundational beliefs we hold central.
  5. Sermon
    For worship to happen, there must be prior revelation from God. The sermon as an exposition of God's revelation enables and feeds our ability to respond in worship to God in two ways. It first continues to inform and explain who God is so that we may further respond to the wonders of God's personal character and acts. Second it exhorts us to live out our worship in service in ethical ways in everyday life. It informs us of and exhorts us to make worship a lifestyle that pleases God as directed and expounded from the authoritative written Word of God.
  6. Announcements
    Worship of God always affects our relationships with other humans and the world around us. Worship should lead to service. Thus, announcements communicate not just what is going on, but opportunities for worshippers to extend their worship among the congregation and community in various forms of fellowship and service.
  7. Offering
    The offering is a time of submission and gratitude. It is a physical expression that God is God, and we are his servants. It is a time of dedication of one's self, not just one's money, to God and to His ministry through the local church in the world. Giving of money that one has worked for and earned is not only a practical way to provide physical resources for God's ministry but is a symbol of our desire that His will be done.
  8. Benediction
    The opposite of malediction, a curse. Thus, a benediction is not a prayer, nor sermonette, nor wishful thinking, but is a pronouncement of a blessing and good words upon a congregation that is to occur as God acted upon the word of blessing in grace towards His people.


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Worship and Communion - 1 Corinthians 11:17-34
    
  1. The definition of worship given earlier really is epitomized in the communion service. Worship is an outworking of a relationship, communion in essence about remembering what Christ did so we can come into a relationship with Him. Worship is based on the prior revelation of God, the communion elements of the juice and bread are symbols reminding us of God's prior words and actions. Worship is a response, participating in communion is an act or response of obedience to Christ's command. Worship involves correct attitudes, communion also requires correct attitudes.
  2. Historical Observations of 1 Cor. 11:17-34.
    1. When the Christians in the city of Corinth gathered to celebrate the Lord's Supper they did so in the context of a full course meal, using the context of a meal to worship.
    2. The supper they ate was condemned by Paul not as communion but their own selfish meal.
    3. There communion meal was not worship but sinful, resulting in judgment, discipline through sickness and death.
  3. The Meaning and Purpose of Communion,
    1. Act of Obedience 11:23-24,
    2. Remembrance/Memorial of Christ 11:24-25,
    3. Review of the New Covenant 11:25,
    4. Proclamation of His Death 11:26,
    5. Anticipation of His Coming 11:26,
    6. Time of Examination and Repentance 11:27-30.
  4. What does it mean to take communion unworthily? Notice 11:7 starts with a therefore, which means because of what has already been said, do this. Essentially the Corinthians were taking communion unworthily due to two things.
    1. Not recognizing the true meaning and purpose of the Supper (therefore its their own supper) and
    2. Ignoring others, despising people at the supper as seen in prior verses. Therefore it is my understanding of the text and context that if the Corinthians want to eat worthily of the Supper they need to examine themselves & see if:
    3. They are remembering Christ, remembering that it is by his death and grace that they gather together to participate in the first place?
    4. Are they recognizing the body of Christ or the church and it's nature that is seen in mutual love, respect and in harmonious relationships with other people. Thus, there are only two Scriptural requirements to take the Lord's Supper,
    5. Must be a genuine believer where Christ is your Lord and a person can genuinely understand and celebrate our Lord's death and resurrection.
    6. We must be in right relationship with other believers, not sinning against them. If neither of these two requirements are meet we bring judgment on ourselves.


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Worship Through Suffering - Job 1:1- 2:10
    
  1. Both prosperity (Deut. 8:6-20) and suffering (Psalm 73) can cause us to give up worshiping God.
  2. How could Job worship in all his suffering? He had several foundations which helped him to worship in grief, pain and tragedy which he did not understand.
  3. First, worship was Job's lifestyle. Seen in the words used to describe Job prior to his suffering-blameless, upright, feared God, shunned evil.
  4. Satan accused Job of worshiping God only because God protects Job and gives him good things, not because of simply who God is.
  5. Job's first reaction to loosing everything is worship because Job knew the truth that he and we own nothing, it is all on loan from God. For the believer we, recognized all is from God, and if he takes it away, we say, "My master sees fit to relieve me of my things, he has plans, I will submit to him and offer myself as the living sacrifice to Him in worship, holy and pleasing to God" as Romans 12:1 tells us.
  6. Satan's second accusation is Job still worships God, not because of who God is, but because Job's own body has been spared, Job worships, Satan says, to protect his own body. Thus, afflict his body and Job will curse God is the thinking of Satan.
  7. Job responds to the taunt of Satan through his wife by saying that one should be able to accept both good and trouble from God. Thus, Job knew God is solidly and perfectly in control, knowing what is best for us, and thus he can accept both good and trouble from God. This is a great truth that is a comfort in pain. It is a rock, a solid place to stand when physically we are dying, when emotionally we are battered by the force of a hurricane, snowstorm and earthquake together, mentally when we can't even tie our shoes and spiritually when God seems distant, removed. Is it possible to love and worship God simply because of who God is, is it possible to worship God because of our relationship with Him and that because He is Lord of our Lives, even though our life may be one of mental, physical, emotional poverty. If we make worship our lifestyle, if we recognize God is Sovereign and that we own nothing of this world but have everything in God who loves us more than we can imagine or put into words.

The Book of Joshua - Part 1


Preached at Malvern Baptist Church by Rev. Mark Duesling
Sept-Dec. 2005

Summary

Purposes & Canonical Place of the Book of Joshua: 1:1-3; 5:2-8
    
  1. Purposes of the book:
    1. To be a recording of how the Israelites came into possession of the land of Canaan (chapters 6-12) and how it was divided up among the tribes of Israel (chapters 13-21).
    2. To bring to conclusion the story line of the Pentateuch (Gen. - Deut.). The story line of Joshua starts with Genesis 12:6-7a where God promises Abraham to give Canaan to Abraham's descendents. Then there is the story of Abraham's descendents in Egypt, in slavery, freed from slavery, wandering in the desert and finally 450 years later they come to inherit the land promised. The book of Joshua concludes this long story line.
  2. The Place of Joshua Canonically- is a bridge between the Pentateuch and the book of Judges and what follows. This book provides the foundation of what is coming by
    1. telling what is assumed in the later books, that is, how Israel got into the land,
    2. it contains hints that not all may go well with the Israelites due to rebellion and disobedience where at the end of 2 Kings we find that Israel loosing the land God had given them.
  3. Reasoning for Studying the Book of Joshua- to glean what we can learn from certain parallels between this new generation of Israelites with a large task ahead of them and ourselves who as a congregation are a new generation with a large, but different task ahead of us.
  4. Collective Comparison Between Israel at the beginning of Joshua and the present MBC EM Congregation:
    1. New Generation,
    2. Change in or New Leadership needed,
    3. Monumental Task and Responsibility (take the land of Canaan Vs our witness and be instruments for the Kingdom of God),
    4. Land to be taken God's way Vs church to be built God's way.
  5. Point: What can we, as a new generation, learn from the book of Joshua so that we may be successful and faithful in our inheritance of becoming a main congregation of MBC with all its privileges and responsibilities ?


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Surprise Preparation Joshua 1:1-18
    
  1. In order to conquer and possess the land, the people under Joshua must first spend time preparating for such a task. (Chapters 1-5).
  2. Preparatory Actions of 1:1-9 as Directed by God are:
    1. Commissioning by God of new godly leadership. God has been grooming Joshua, reaffirms the promises,
    2. God gives commands to the new leadership for success, to be strong and courageous and to be obedient to the law of God.
  3. Application:
    1. Don't pin your hopes and trust in the leader but in God as God is the same behind all godly leaders,
    2. Leadership often involves a time of training, Joshua was not new to leadership but going solo was,
    3. Success in life is tied to relating to and obeying God, and as you obey, he grants success for us to be able to complete His will for our life.
  4. Preparatory Actions of 1:10-18 as enacted by Joshua and the people:
    1. commanding of the officers by Joshua,
    2. special command to the Trans-Jordan Tribes,
    3. response of acceptance, unity and loyalty to the task of taking the land is secured.
  5. Application:
    1. Godly leadership should be affirmed by the followers and the followers should actively follow (Heb. 13:7,17),
    2. unity in the church is also to be an evident characteristic in our task today (Jn. 17:20-23; Eph. 4:11-13).


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Spying of Jericho: 2:1-24
    
  1. This chapter contains the human preparation of spying out Jericho in preparation for the conquest.
  2. However God uses this human preparation for accomplishing two actions of his own,
    1. to psychologically prepare Israel as they enter the land and begin the conquest by bringing them into contact with Rahab who tells the spies all the knowledge they could want to know,
    2. to save a pagan Canaanite prostitute who has converted to faith in the one True God and arrange for her inclusion into the people of God who is held up later for all people as an example of a woman of true faith, a convert to the one true God, for all of God's people to follow in example (Hebrews 11:31; James 2:25-26
  3. Implications
    1. True Faith Recognizes God as the Highest Authority (Lordship). Rahab gives God, not other competing authorities (King of Jericho, soldiers, her false religion/gods, family, culture) utmost loyalty. The same is of the people of God today (Matt. 10:32-33, 37-38),
    2. True faith expresses itself in living a new life for God. As Rahab trusted God it led to her protecting the spies, giving up the city of Jericho etc. Same for us (Eph. 4:17-18; 5:5-8),
    3. True faith is expressed in identifying with God's people and God's plans. Rahab renounced Jericho and accepted God's plans for the region and became one of God's people. Eph. 2:1-22 explains the transformation of a person who trusts Christ as Lord and Savior and how he makes them His people, His Church.


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River Crossings & Stone Memorials: Joshua 3:1- 4:24
    
  1. Preparing to Cross the River: The Place of the Ark of God (3:1-13). The Ark reminds Israel of two things about the character of God,
    1. God's fearsome and glorious holiness (as no one could come near or touch it unless they wanted to die, except Aaron & his sons,
    2. God's mercy for the Ark has a mercy seat/atonement cover where through the sacrificial and priestly system God had made it possible for the Israelites to approach Him and God let his presence be with them above the Ark.
  2. Implications:
    1. Keep the doctrine of God in balance-God is both holy and merciful. To emphasize one and not the other is to give a distorted view of God as He really is.
    2. As a new generation taking up our inheritance, where is God? Behind or before us? There is a big difference between us building God's church for him and God building his church through us. We need to follow him and pay attention to the instructions he has given in the Scriptures and prayer.
  3. The Purposes of the Crossing of the Jordan River in a Miraculous Way:
    1. to get the nation of Israel across this raging river running at flood stage,
    2. to be concrete evidence as God was with Moses, God will be with Joshua (3:7-8, 4:14),
    3. to affirm to the people that God will be among them and that He, the Living God will drive out the inhabitants of the land, fulfilling His promise to give it to them (3:9-11).
  4. The Setting Up of the Memorial Stones: 4:1-24. There are 3 purposes:
    1. serve as a sign among the Israelites 4:5-6a,
    2. to serve as an object lesson for teaching the next generation about the acts of God in the past, serving as a memorial from generation to generation 4:6b-7; 21-23,
    3. to be a testimony and memorial to the nations of the earth that there is a One True God, the memorial gave testimony to his existence and nature 4:24.
  5. Implications for today:
    1. Matt. 28:18-God has not changed and He makes himself available to do His work as we submit.
    2. New Testament memorial-Jesus has given us a new memorial-The Lord's Supper remembering his shed blood and broken body,
    3. Memorials on a personal level to the great turning points God has done in our own lives as we walk with God will stimulate us to worship and witness.


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Final Ceremonial Preparations Before Battle: Joshua 5:1-12
    
  1. Preparation of circumcision. The significance of circumcision is found in Genesis 17:1-8, God agrees to make Abraham and his descendents into a great nation, His people, giving them the land of Canaan. However as a physical sign of being God's people, in covenant with God, starting with Abraham, all males are to be circumcised. To be circumcised physically showed an inner spiritual reality of obedience, submission and relationship with God.
  2. What is the significance of the circumcision of the Israelites here in Joshua?
    1. as a new generation, obeying God's command through Joshua to take the physical sign of the covenant of God's promises on their bodies shows their inner circumcision of the heart, the inner commitment to obey God and trust in him,
    2. God says the circumcision also is a rolling away of the reproach of Egypt from the Israelites. The Egyptians have to shut their mouths, saying God honored his promises and kept his people, the Israelites.
  3. The Passover-the significance of the Passover here is not just that this new generation of Israelites are being obedient, but the Passover, celebrated here in Canaan marks a transition, a closing of one chapter on Israel's history and the beginning of another. They are now in the land of Canaan.
  4. Implications For Today-Is Circumcision to be practiced today by Christians? No, not on grounds of religious reasoning. Ultimately what is important is the circumcision of the heart, even that was more important in the O.T. Jesus through His work on the cross and in securing our salvation has made this change of heart possible through faith in him and not through any physical circumcision (Col. 2:11-13). Acts 15 records the Church Council at Jerusalem where it was decided non-Jews did not have to submit to physical circumcision. Baptism has replaced circumcision as the outward symbol See also Romans 2:25-29; 4:3, 9-12; Galatians 2; 5:2-12; 1 Corinthians 7:17-20; Colossians 3:11.
    1. If baptism has replaced circumcision of what God does in the heart of a person, when they receive Christ through faith as Lord and Savior, then what is stopping some of you from being baptized?
    2. Likewise with church membership-if through Christ you are part of God's universal church you should show it in commitment to a local church by being a member.
    3. Right relationship with God and each other is what is foundational to our being a healthy growing church rather than all our humanly devised programs, advertising etc. Right in the vicinity of the enemy, Joshua incapacitates his whole army to by circumcision at God's command (See Genesis 34 about the incapacitation of circumcision) and celebrates a national feast! The point is God will give Israel the land, it will not be by their might. Thus, they can trust God.


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Is the Living God A Genocidal Freak? Joshua 5:13-15 and Intro to The Conquest Section (6-12)
    
  1. The Commander of the Lord (5:13-15) Point of this is to emphasize right relationship with God. God is on no side, but His own. Joshua must make sure that he and Israel is on God's side.
  2. Objection: Isn't the command of God to conquer Canaan and slaughter all the people (6:21; chapt. 10, 11 etc.) cruel, unjust and wrong? This objection leads people to say either
    1. the book of Joshua is in error, and not historical, or
    2. it leads people to say I will never believe in God as revealed in the Christian Bible.
  3. The Answer to the Objection is "No". We do not have ethnic cleansing, in the sense of a mass murder of one group by another using war. What we have here as ordered by God, is not mass murder, but a divine execution of guilty parties for sins against God who uses human means (Israel) to punish the guilty. Remember that according to Genesis 15:16, Deut. 9:4 tells us that God told Abraham that his the descendents can't enter Canaan until their sin has reached it's full measure. Israel is not getting the land because God is playing favorites, but because after great patience God has decided the Canaanites after 450 years must face judgment day. The sins of the Canaanites are listed in Leviticus 18. Note also there are very careful limits in Israel being the method of divine judgment. Israel can only exterminate the specific list of Canaanites within the boundaries of land God is giving them. Then they can never use this method again.
  4. Larger Biblical Context: Despite the above it is still disturbing to read of all this hacking and slicing. It should be upsetting, but not because there is something wrong with God, but because this death is the natural consequence of disobeying God (Romans 3:22-23; 6:23). What happened to the Canaanites is part of a larger biblical pattern repeated on both small and large scales over and over again in history (Genesis 6:5-7, 11-12; 18:20-21; 19:12-13,24-25; Matthew 23:31-39; 1 Thess. 2:14-15) What happened to the Canaanites is a micro picture of what will happen in the macro event of God's return when He personally judges all who continue to rebel -Revelation 19:11-20:15. The only way of escape is to repent and trust Christ now for forgiveness and saving from the death penalty of sin.


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The Conquest of Jericho: Joshua 6:1-27
    
  1. Maps: Topographical Regions of Canaan were shown and explained, Jericho was located in this topography showing how Jericho was defending one of the main routes up into the mountainous region of Central Canaan.
  2. God's Instructions are given in 6:2-5
  3. Joshua's Instructions: Joshua in addition to what God commands decides to devote Joshua to God by declaring it 'herem'. In the law, one could either dedicate (Lev. 27:1-27) or devote (Lev. 27:28-29) something to God. That which was dedicated could be redeemed back via a payment. But anything devoted to God was to be destroyed, thus, preventing anyone from using it again. Devoted items could never be redeemed. In destruction (devotion) it became solely God's possession. Thus, Joshua makes Jericho a very special type of offering to God.From Deut. 7:1-3a, 5, 16,25 and 20:16-18, God had previously declared idols, religious paraphernalia and the people 'harem' or 'devoted' to himself. Joshua here is going beyond this, including the buildings, livestock, etc of Jericho. Note that only of all the cities, only Jericho, Ai and Hazor were burned. The reason for leaving the rest is found in (Deut. 20:6:10-11; Joshua 24:13; 6:24; 7:28; 11:13).


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Total Obedience: Joshua 7:1-8:29
    
  1. Achan sinned in regards to taking that which was devoted to God, causing God to not allow the Israelites to have victory at Ai.
  2. The defeat at Ai highlights the key point, that taking the land has little to do with military genius, but everything to do with right relationship with God. God will not give the land to disobedient people. God has no double standards with His people and the Canaanites.
  3. Note also the corporate responsibility and that Achan is the reverse model of Rahab.
  4. Implications: In this life what is the most significant thing you have done to date? From Scripture the most significant thing you can do to date in your life is to be totally obedient to the word of the Lord. The most impressive thing that you can become is a person who obeys God till the end, or fully in that He asks you do be and do.


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Covenant Renewal: Joshua 8:30-8:35
    
  1. Various issues were noted:
    1. 4 actions done at the two mountains,
    2. reasoning for the covenant renewal (Deut 27:1-13; 11:29-30, and disobedience of Achan),
    3. Geographical context, Shechem,
    4. the altar is on Mt. Ebal, the site of reciting the curses (Deut. 27:12-13). The point is made by F. Schaeffer that as people are in a state of being cursed and in sin, it is in that situation God provides an alter for those willing to come to God.
  2. Implications: Every human is cursed by God due to our sin and rebellion, but God came into this world and died for us, taking the curse upon himself (Gal. 3:13; Deut 21:22-23). Figuratively speaking each human is on Mt. Ebal, the mountain of death. But in Christ, our altar, we can move to Mt. Gerizim, the mountain of blessing, life with God. Which mountain are we on? 1 John 5:11-12


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The Peril of Human Intelligence: Joshua 9:1-27
    
  1. Canaanite reaction to Israel's defeat at Ai. Many are emboldened, changing from fear to defiance (9:1-2). However the Gibeonites devise a method of deceiving the Israelites to think they are a nation far away, beyond the boarders of Canaan so they will make a treaty.
  2. Israel's fault is not so much being deceived as not seeking God on this matter (9:14).
  3. Unbreakable Oaths: The ultimate issue here is that the oath was given in or by the name of the Lord, God of Israel. To break the oath taken in the name of God did two things:
    1. showed the oath taker did not highly value, nor respect the God who was named in the oath and
    2. breaking the oath brought divine punishment. So killing the Gibeonites then was not an option, but slavery was.
  4. Implications:
    1. we must not behave like naturalists (those who believe that the only way to know is through our five senses and all that exists is physical matter in various combinations) and ignore God or acting as if God did not exist. To neglect God in our lives is to invite disaster.
    2. Two wrongs do not make a right! While Israel was tricked by the Gibeonites, that did not give them the right to sin in return by breaking their oath to God.
    3. Errors can be forgiven but sin often bears life long consequences. God can take away the sin and guilt but forgiveness does not mean a removal of all the consequences of the sin.
    4. The power of reputation is seen-negatively-the Israelites actions in regard to Ai-it degraded God and the Israelites, emboldened their enemies. Positively-a reputation can influence people for God (Rahab and the Gibeonites response to what they knew about the Israelites and God).


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Conquest Achieved: Joshua 10:1-11:23
    
  1. Six Similarities between the Northern and Southern Campaign were listed.
  2. Certain Other Details or Issues Noted:
    1. The focus of marvel of the author in the extending of the day is not the miracle, but that God listened to Joshua and granted his request,
    2. Burning of Hazor only - and how it is important for dating the conquest around 1400 BC and how it fits archaeological evidence.
    3. Correction of the wrong impression that the campaigns only took months when it really took a long time (11:18, 14:10; 10:36-39; 15:13-17; Exodus 23:29-30). From Caleb's speech we can say at minimum it took 5 years,
    4. Hardening of the Canaanites heart/will to fight and be destroyed,
    5. Anakites-postscript. (Numbers 13:28,31-33) which caused the previous generation to fear were destroyed when the new generation trusted God.
    6. Obedience-repeated reference to.
  3. Implications:
    1. God cares enough to listen to us, thus conversation/prayer with God is the greatest undeveloped, unused privilege of the Christian today.
    2. God fulfills his promises and does what he says.

Being A Faithful Generation Part 1


The Book of Judges: Chapters 1-8


Preached at Malvern Baptist Church by Rev. Mark Duesling
June-Sept 2006

An Overview of the Book of Judges 2:8-23

    
  1. A judge is a person selected by God to rescue or deliver God's people from their enemies and call the people to godly living and service for God
  2. The book addresses the time period between the death of Joshua till prior to the 1st king of Israel.
  3. Prior to the events of this book, the people with God's help had conquered Canaan, now they just had to settle it. Their future was bright as long as they obeyed God. But the post-Joshua generations disobey God, committing apostasy and rebellion.
  4. Structure of Judges-Prologue 1:1-3:6 shows the roots of the choices, failure and sin that brought the apostasy. Body-3:7-16:31-illustrates and describes the consequences of their wrong choices and apostasy. Epilogue-climaxes showing the intensity of Israel's self destruction on a broad religious, social and political level.
  5. The body of the book has a series of repeated cycles with the following elements. Israel sins, God punishes them with foreign domination, Israel cries out to God, God raises up a deliverer, land has rest for 'x' number of years. Cycle repeats itself.
  6. Overall progression of the book shows a breakdown of the cycle, judges and nation to utter self destruction.
  7. Purpose of Judges is to show how a nation with such promise and a good future could become so wicked and self-destructing. It illustrates the natural consequences of rejecting God.


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Sowing Seeds of Future Apostasy 1:1-2:5
    
  1. Apostasy is an abandoning, renunciation or giving up a previously held faith. It is usually a process that takes place over time, though a large number of smaller decisions of disobedience from within, hollowing out the faith, leaving nothing but a shell that shatters later.
  2. Chapter one reviews the success or failure of a series of individual military campaigns by the individual Israelite tribes who seek to settle in the land.
  3. Notice the compromise made of allowing Canaanites to live and be slaves, the making of treaties with them.
  4. God judges the Israelites not for not being able to drive out the Canaanites but for making treaties and allowing the worship places to stay intact etc.
  5. The path of apostasy is forgetfulness and ingratitude for what God has done in the past for you, being hearers of God's word but not doer's, compromising with that which God declared sin and off limits, making it a part of your life. To know how to stay off the path of apostasy on the path of faithfulness, make each statement positive ie. Remember and be thankful for God's past acts etc.


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The Lost Generation 2:6-3:6
    
  1. 2:6-3:6 are God's comments and reaction to the historical events of chapter 1.
  2. There arose a generation in Israel that did not know what the Lord had done for Israel. This is the fault of the Levites and parents who were to teach each new generation about God.
  3. The new generation did evil in the eyes of the Lord, committing apostasy and embracing worship of false gods.
  4. God's first response is anger for such treacherous action and thus becomes their enemy. Second response is compassion and grace that he has mercy later and raises a deliver for his people. Third he allows the Canaanite nations to remain in the land to further test the Israelites, giving them a probationary chance to see if they will return to Him wholeheartedly.
  5. Contemporary thoughts on Generations and Faith


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There is no guarantee the next generation will follow God. Each generation is held accountable for its own sin. The present choice we make and the way we live affects the next generation by either encouraging them to be faithful to God or become apostate. Apostasy is only one generation away. What sin is tolerated and excused in the first generation, will be become the norm in the second generation and becomes their right or law in the third generation. (Working on Sunday and divorce was used to illustrate this).
Courage My Friends 3:7-3:31
    
  1. If apostasy is only one generation away, it demands that we will be courageous to break the cycle of deepening sin in our society. Courage is illustrated by the first 3 judges.
  2. Othniel-past history of courage, nothing negative said about him, overcomes Cushan-Rishathaim, possibly the worst oppressor. God is explicitly involved and the breaking of the cycle is God's doing.
  3. Ehud-story is full of irony, Jericho-1st city taken by Israelites was lost to Moab, Ehud being left handed, but from tribe of Benjamin and Benjamin means 'son of my right hand'. Elgon's name comes from bull or calf, thus as he receives tribute/sacrifice, he himself becomes a 'fatted calf' for sacrifice. Ehud is possibly not as moral as Othniel, depending on how one views the assassination.
  4. Shamgar-shortest account, non-Israelite.
  5. 3 Ways to exercise courage in our lives to break the downward cycle of generational sin. One use whatever God has given you (ox goad), even if it seems insufficient or unusual. God can take it and use you. Two-take risks for God, Ehud risked his life, if you are going to prick the demonic delusions people have about truth you will need to take risks. Three, make your own history. Othniel came from a courageous family but he didn't just talk about what others did, he extended the history by performing courageous acts of his own. Edmund Burke says that all evil needs to triumph is for good people to do nothing.


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A Faithful Generation Does Not Hesitate 4:1-5:31
    
  1. In this cycle we have a full explanation of how the judge (Barak) was raised up who receives his call through a prophetess who also was civil judge who settled civil disputes. Deborah is not 'the' judge (military deliverer).
  2. Hazor had been utterly destroyed and burned by Joshua. Israel's sins has allowed Hazor to rise out of the ashes once again.
  3. Barak hesitated to obey the word of God, wanting Deborah to come along. Thus, due to his disobedience Barak will not slay the enemy commander.
  4. Surprise, it is not Deborah who slays Sisera, but a woman whose husband had friendly relations with Hazor!
  5. The Song gives a more emotive figurative picture of the deliverance but notes overall that really it is God who is responsible for the victory
  6. Being a faithful generation means you unquestionably get involved in the priorities and ministry God is doing in the world and commanded you to participate in. The wrong question is 'Should I get involved in ministry?', the right question is "God what are today's orders?" Eph. 2:10; Titus 2:11-14.


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Purging Our False God's From Among Us 6:1-6:32
    
  1. Signs that things have gotten worse in Israel are:
    1. a reversal of the lifestyle of the Israelites (settled to semi nomadic in hiding) and Midianites (nomadic to settling in pillaging).
    2. God does not promise to rescue the Israelites but rebukes them,
    3. Deep prevalence of Baal worship, even in the small communities, when a Baal altar is torn down, the Israelite community wants to kill the one who did it,
    4. the deliverer and his family are Baal worshippers without much knowledge of God.
  2. The Anomaly of Converting the Deliverer. If the Gideon cycle was normal, after Gideon is called to deliver the Israelites the what should happen is a call to arms. But instead God has him tear down the family Baal altars and erect one to God. This is to protect God's glory and truth, convert and purify Gideon for service and show the Israelites the real issue is not the Midianites but their idolatry.
  3. In order to be a faithful generation,
    1. we must not split our loyalties or love for God (Matt. 6:24),
    2. before you can make a godly impact on your own generation and later ones, you must in repentance clean up your own act,
    3. be aware living a life of godliness will bring opposition and hostility from some, thus accept suffering for doing good as a normal part of life (1 Peter 4:12-19).


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A Faithful Generation Believes & Acts On the Word of God 6:11-24, 33-4.
    
  1. The Gideon cycle is much longer than the others because God has to deal with Gideon's background of idolatry and Gideon's doubt and resistance to act and trust God as the chosen instrument to free Israel from the Midianites.
  2. Gideon disbelieves the angel of the Lord's statement 'God is with him' and blames God's lack of care or attention for the mess Israel is in.
  3. Gideon doubts God's authority and wisdom in choosing him. He informs the angel of the Lord that he, Gideon is the least important in the family and his clan is the least important of the tribe.
  4. Gideon doubts the plain word of God-asking for a physical sign to confirm he has God's favor and it is really God who is present. He will not accept God at his word. When God does receive the food offering, Gideon finally believes and then thinks he will die.
  5. Raising of the Army- how did Gideon get the people to follow him, particularly when people of his own clan were wanting to kill him for destroying Baal's alter? The answer is the Spirit of the Lord caused the people to answer Gideon's call. Note that the coming of the Spirit of God on Gideon does not mean Gideon is of high spiritual quality as a person, nor will the Spirit's presence mean Gideon will be moved or changed into a person of high spiritual quality. Rather in Gideon and the remaining judges the Spirit comes to use stubborn and rebellious men accomplish the will of God.
  6. Gideon's testing of God using the fleece to find God's will was sinful then and is not a model to be used today. Gideon's fleecing was not a sign of belief or determining God's will but only a sign of his unbelief. God has already spoken directly to Gideon about God's will. The fleece reveals a deep rooted fear and unbelief in God. Gideon's testing amounts to demanding God, who does not lie, first prove himself before Gideon will obey. Lastly the fleecing could be seen as a method or form of divination forbidden to be used by the Israelites.
  7. Implications For Today
    1. Recognize we have the completed Word of God (2 Tim. 3:16-17). Do you look everywhere but the Scriptures for the will of God?
    2. The Scriptures are the final authority for our lives and determining the will of God. On issues God has already spoken, doing the opposite, no matter what circumstantial or emotional support you offer, is error.
    3. The Scriptures need to be well known by ourselves so we will trust God even when we can not see how it can be done or will cause adverse results like suffering for ourselves. Part of Gideon's doubt came from his ignorance of the past workings and acts and character of God. 'Am I not sending you." should be enough for us.
    4. If the Scriptures have not clearly spoken on an issue we are wanting to know God's input, there are several considerations to keep in mind-God does give freedom of choice- God is more concerned with what kind of person you are and how you relate to him and others, than merely with what you do-God says ask him for wisdom in faith and without doubt and he will give generously.


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A Faithful Generation Seeks First the Glory of God Part I 7:1-8:3
    
  1. The Glory of God is a key issue in the story of Gideon. It comes up again in the shrinking of the army from 32 000 to 300 men so that if Israel wins it will be clear it was God who granted the victory.
  2. Gideon is still afraid, so God in grace sends him to the Midianite camp where he hears a dream and it's interpretation. Ironically if is only after hearing a Midianite's dream and interpretation that Gideon finally believes God.
  3. To annihilate the fleeing remnants of the vast Midianite army, he calls out the men of other tribes to help block escape routes. The result is Midian is left with only 15 000 men out of 135 000.
  4. In the sad confrontation of the Ephraimites with Gideon, we learn that Israel's corporate identity is being shattered. Now in victory, Israel is becoming her own worse enemy.
  5. Moving into the 21st Century- if you are a generation that puts God first, seeking his glory above all things, God can use you, if you will trust him no matter what our circumstances, limitations and weaknesses are. The key qualification for being used by God is a heart in right relationship, not external circumstances. If you have felt limited in how God can use you, don't feel that way anymore, take courage-any jealousy among you betrays a heart seeking your own glory and hinders the work of God. Remember the following things to deal with jealous hostility-whatever you do for the Lord, great or small, public or hidden is a privilege (Eph. 2;1-10) - God for his glory has given each of us different gifts and abilities, ministries etc so that together we may accomplish his total will. (1 Cor. 12:4-7, 14-26).


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A Faithful Generation Seeks First the Glory of God Part II 8:3-35
    
  1. In the less known part of the story of Gideon, as Gideon crosses the Jordan River to pursue the remaining Midianite Kings, he takes a turn for the worst.
  2. Gideon's threats and actions to the towns of Penial and Succoth were wrong for several reasons: it violates his role as deliverer of Israel, the form of revenge is not much different from what the Midianites would have done, if they had won and the towns helped Gideon. Gideon had forgotten that just days earlier he too was a sniveling, doubting, fearful weak man just like these towns people so he should have identified with them and encouraged them.
  3. The discussion with the Kings shows us that Gideon is pursuing them for personal revenge of killing his brothers, so there is a difference between the battle of Chapter 7 (for Israel's deliverance) and chapter 8 (a battle of personal revenge).
  4. The people wrongly offer Gideon a family dynasty. Though Gideon verbally denies it, his actions show he acts like a king (use of army for personal revenge, decides and executes judgment over people who disagree, takes gold, many wives).
  5. Gideon, who at God's command tore down the altar of Baal, establishes his own Israelite from of idolatry, leading Israel into false worship while he is yet alive. Things are getting dark, now that the judge or deliverer of Israel is becoming so wicked.
  6. Implications-Give God glory by remembering the grace God has first given us, then share that grace with others. So often we 'punish' others for the same sins, we ourselves were subject to earlier. Bring glory to God by not substituting his will for our own, both in ministry and in our daily lives. Bring glory to God by telling others that God is our enabler, something that Gideon neglected to do, but took credit for the victory over the Midianites.