Saturday, June 16, 2018

Father’s Day – Ephesians 6:4; Hebrews 12:7-12

Father’s Day – Ephesians 6:4; Hebrews 12:7-12
By Pastor Lee Hemen
June 17, 2018

Did you have a good father? I had a pretty good dad. He took us fishing, camping, and spent as much time with us as he could. He taught us to be moral, believe in God, and what marital devotion was all about. I still can remember him showing us boys how to cast a salmon egg just right in order to catch the bigger trout in the river. I also remember he was firm on his word and discipline.

Sometimes children can think their parents are unfair or that they do not understand but what I have learned is that parents, especially fathers, do understand and that is why they often have to take the firm stand they do. Too many fathers in our day are AOL (absent without leave) either physically or emotionally or both. Proverbs reminds us that “Discipline your son, and he will give you peace; he will bring delight to your soul. Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint; but blessed is he who keeps the law. (Proverbs 29:17-18 NIV)” Let’s discover what it means to be a father…

READ: Ephesians 6:4; Hebrews 12:7-12

In our world trying to raise children to be independent critical thinkers, moral, and to follow the Lord has become increasingly hard. It is good to know however that the Scripture is not only filled with examples of how not to be a father but it also gives us good advice on how to be great fathers. We discover that…

I. Great fathers consistently discipline their children! (Ephesians 6:4 & Hebrews 12:7-9 NIV)

Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord… Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live!

  1. Paul writes, “Fathers, do not exasperate your children”. The wording here refers to a dad who constantly and deliberately tries to enrage or provoke their children into an ungodly reaction. This is not a reference to teasing a child but rather a dad who deliberately and consistently tries to incite their children to react in anger. This could be done through improper parenting where the father constantly degrades their spouse in front of the kids, uses foul language, or involves their children in ungodly activities such as lying, stealing, drug use, or violent behavior. A father can “exasperate” their children when they are not the consistent godly loving example their children need! However, this can also cover inappropriate discipline that is either too harsh or nonexistent. The writer of Hebrews writes that believers should “Endure hardship as discipline”. This teaches us that as children we can think it is a hardship to be disciplined, but in reality it is a blessing if it is done consistently and correctly! Our discipline in life is “God treating us as sons”! It also reflects the biblical concept that discipline is godly! “For what son is not disciplined by his father?” A lack of consistent discipline by fathers can frustrate a child emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually! Children need parameters in life. They need to know their boundaries. And if they do not have them from their fathers they can feel unloved and unwanted or illegitimate! “If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons.” Children need to feel and know they are loved and one of the ways they do is when they know their boundaries in life because when they do they grow up loving and respecting their fathers! “Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it.” Yet more than this, children who are consistently and compassionately disciplined learn self-discipline! “How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live!” Children learn discipline when great fathers consistently discipline their children!

  EXAMPLE: My father was a consistent disciplinarian. We knew his “yes” was yes and his “no” was no. We also quickly learned that simply going to our mother to get a different answer did not work. I did not understand my father when he once told me that his discipline of me at the time would hurt him more than it would hurt me. My spanking sure hurt! Yet his words came flooding back when I had to spank my daughter for the first time. It actually did hurt me more than her momentary pain. However it did not stop me from trying to be the best father I could be. I did not stop disciplining my daughter simply because it momentarily made feel bad. Children learn discipline when great fathers consistently discipline their children!

I’ve learned that life is not always fun. It is not painless or never filled with hurt. An old pastor was quipped, “Life is hard by the yard but a cinch by the inch!” He was correct. Great fathers learn that directing the lives of their children is not a momentary thing. It is a process. We learn from Paul that…

II. Great fathers keep on keeping on being a father! (Hebrews 12:10-12 NIV)

Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees.

  1. Certain things in life only last a short while. This is why as fathers we should cherish every day we have with our families. Sure you may have suffered from making the wrong choices in life but God is a loving father and through his example teaches us guys how to be the fathers we need to be! Paul writes, “Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best”. Training and nurturing your children only lasts a few years. In fact most psychologists will tell you that how a child responds to you at 5 years old will be how they respond to you as a teenager! This is why fathers should spend time with their kids. Reading, playing, talking with and listening to them are extremely important if you want your child to be respectful with you later in life. Remember “God disciplines us for our good that we may share in his holiness.” God is a great example to follow as a father. He always looks at the long haul as fathers should and he loves us in spite of ourselves! Fathers should want the best for their children realizing that the investment they make now in the lives of their children will one day reap a great reward! “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” A good life harvest means that fathers must be willing, ready, and able to do the hard day-by-day and moment-by-moment investment in the lives of their children! It is a matter of consistency again. Just as children are not potty trained, know how to walk or immediately feed themselves it is fathers that help them to become the adults they should be! “Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees.” Godly dads do not complain about having to spend time with their kids. Great fathers keep on keeping on being a father!

  EXAMPLE: I remember the frustration of my father when he sat me down and asked, “How many times am I going to have to ask you to do something before you do it?” I responded, “I guess until it sticks.” To my surprise he reached out and tousled my hair and gently replied, “For your sake I hope not.” Got up and walked away. Some of the greatest moments of my life were spent with my ailing father the last year of his life. We spent the entire summer together. His insights, love, and quiet spirit had a huge impact on me. I learned from him that great fathers keep on keeping on being a father!

Conclusion:

Children learn discipline when great fathers consistently discipline their children! Great fathers keep on keeping on being a father!
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This article is copyrighted © 2018 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

Saturday, June 09, 2018

No matter what, preach the gospel! - Philippians 1:12-17

No matter what, preach the gospel! - Philippians 1:12-17
By Pastor Lee Hemen
June 10, 2018

What is important in your life? I mean to the point where you would be willing to leave your home, family, friends, and do what you knew was the most important thing in the world. For some it is sports, some it is music or writing, for others it might be acting or art but for the believer who has given their life to Christ everything should revolve and focus on him who gave everything for them.

For Paul life was Jesus and Jesus was life and this is why for Paul in his life he considered it the greatest thing in the world to preach the gospel. He gave up family, friends, and everything in life to follow him and following him meant telling others about Jesus’ mission and message. Therefore for Paul it meant that no matter what, preach the gospel! Let’s find out how Paul encouraged others to do the same…

READ: Philippians 1:12-17

Someone once said that “The most important thing you have to realize in your life is: knowing your self-worth and by knowing your self-worth you would finally get to know what you deserve. And then you'll be able to work for what you deserve.” Paul understood his self-worth. He wrote, “Although I am less than the least of all God's people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ” (Ephesians 3:8 NIV).  For Paul it meant…

I. Preaching the gospel to anyone who would listen! (Vv. 12-14)

Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly.

  1. A lot of folks think things happen in life through happenstance but when it is something bad they immediately want to blame God but Paul never did. He knew things happen for a reason and not by mere accident. And for the believer Paul knew that things happen in life for one reason only: to further the gospel. This is why Paul writes, “Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel.” Paul was being persecuted for his faith and especially for his preaching the good news. In fact, he was in prison for doing just that! Now he was held captive under house arrest waiting for his trial in Rome, held prisoner under false accusations by the Roman government for telling others the gospel. However far from discouraging Paul it only reinforced in him the providence of God in a Christian’s life. In fact Paul’s imprisonment became a means for him to testify about Jesus! And Paul writes that “As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ.” Evidently those back in Philippi were concerned for Paul but he was enjoying every moment! Paul was not discouraged at all because his imprisonment meant that from the Roman guard to those in the household of Caesar was now hearing for the first time the gospel of Jesus! Paul the prisoner had a second affect as well, “Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly.” His persecution made others bolder in sharing their faith! Life for Paul was all about Jesus and that meant preaching the gospel to anyone who would listen!

  EXAMPLE: Christians can be a contrary crowd believing that Jesus is the only means of salvation but only sharing with those they feel comfortable with. A group of teenagers visited a home for the elderly in Montego Bay, Jamaica, one young woman noticed a lonely looking man at the end of the room. He appeared to have little left in this world but a bed to sleep on—a bed from which he could not move because of his disability. She began to share the story of God’s love for us. Responding to his interest, she explained the wonder of Jesus’ sacrificial death for us. “It was hard for this man, who had no hope and no family,” she recalled, “to understand that Someone he’s never met would love him enough to die on the cross for his sins.” She told him more about Jesus—and then about the promise of heaven (including a new body) for all who believe. He asked her, “Will you dance with me up there?” She saw him begin to imagine himself free of his worn-out body and crippling limitations. She helped him pray a prayer of forgiveness and faith. When she asked him if she could get a picture with him, he replied, “If you help me sit up. I’m a new man.” Paul believed in preaching the gospel to anyone who would listen!

People do things in life for different reasons: Some out of pride or for praise; some from a sense of duty while others do certain things because of guilt. Paul knew that…

II. Preaching the gospel is an act of love! (Vv. 15-17)

It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. The latter do so in love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains.

  1. Paul was not stupid. He knew that not everyone who was preaching the good news did so because they loved the Lord like he did. He knew they did it for varying reasons and he writes, “It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill.” Just like today there were those who wanted to make a quick buck off of anything that was new and that folks were attracted to. During Paul’s day it was usually the latest fad in spirituality. There were those like the cults of today whose founder’s only want fame and fortune. Then there were those who sadly while even within the church itself sought personal recognition or they thought they were in some kind of a competition with Paul. Paul did not care as long as the gospel was correctly preached! So he wrote, “The latter do so in love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains.” How sad there were those within the church whose only desire was to outdo Paul or to bring Paul down in some way. Their reasons did not concern Paul because he was happy that Jesus was preached! Make no mistake he disliked factions within the church and wrote the Corinthian church, “For when one says, ‘I follow Paul,’ and another, ‘I follow Apollos,’ are you not mere men? What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe--as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. (1 Corinthians 3:4-7 NIV)” For Paul preaching the gospel is an act of love!

  EXAMPLE: Lee Geysbeek of Compassion International told about a woman who had the opportunity to travel to visit the child she sponsored. She decided to take the child, who was living in abject poverty, to a restaurant. The boy ordered a hamburger and the sponsor ordered a salad. When the food came the boy surveyed the scene. He looked at his huge hamburger and over at his sponsor’s small salad. Then he took his knife and cut the burger in half, offered it to his sponsor, rubbed his tummy, and asked, “Hungry?” A child who had next to nothing his whole life was willing to share half of what he had with someone he thought might need more. This child can be a good reminder the next time we meet someone in physical, emotional, or spiritual need. As followers of Jesus, our faith in him should be mirrored through our actions. We encounter people in need every day; some simply around the corner who need of a warm meal or a kind word. What a difference believers can make by doing good and sharing their faith. Paul knew that preaching the gospel is an act of love!

Conclusion:
Preaching the gospel to anyone who would listen! Preaching the gospel is an act of love!
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This article is copyrighted © 2018 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

Sunday, June 03, 2018

Partners! - Philippians 1:1-11

Partners! - Philippians 1:1-11
By Pastor Lee Hemen
June 3, 2018

Having a good partner is important in life whether it is in marriage or in friendship. A good partner can lift you up when you are down, they can be there for you when you need them to be, and a good partner knows when to correct you so you can be the best you can be. Partners are important.

When we think of partners in history we might think of Orville and Wilber Wright, partners in old time comedy would be Abbot and Costello, and of course partners in the Bible would be Paul and Barnabas. Yet Paul had other partners as well and we see him writing to those he considered to be in close partnership with him in spreading the good news of Jesus Christ. Let’s see what Paul says to his partners in the gospel.

READ: Philippians 1:1-11

Here we discover that…

I. Paul understood where his partnership came from! (Vv. 1-2)

Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

  1. Here in these opening verses we see that Paul addresses the Philippian church, who he considered his partners in the gospel, by telling them about his partnership with Timothy: “Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus”. Paul understood what his partnership was based on with his young pastoral apprentice and friend Timothy, namely that it was founded in their being “servants of Christ Jesus”; literally Messiah Jesus. Paul was asserting the fact of who their Master was and he was the Messiah the world had longed for and who had made those he was addressing “saints”! Paul uses the word hagios which meant that they were made pure and holy because of their faith in “Christ Jesus”! All Christians are made holy and pure because of Jesus and this is why all who believe in Jesus are considered “saints” in the Lord! But Paul’s letter was not just to the mainstream congregation at large because Paul had some specific things he wanted to share with “the overseers and deacons”, the pastors and leadership within the church itself. Within Paul's opening remarks we read the love and devotion he had for these folks at Philippi. Paul desires they know “grace and peace” which was a common enough opening for letter of the time but here we discover that this grace and peace Paul wanted for them was to be from “God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” What a wonderful thing to write your partners in Jesus! Paul understood where his partnership came from!

  EXAMPLE: It has been said that “Christians shoot their wounded” meaning that they allow themselves to criticize or ridicule fellow believers when they are spiritually hurt or wounded. This should never happen instead like the writer of Hebrews we should “encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness. (Hebrews 3:13 NIV)” And Paul would write that Jesus “died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. (1 Thessalonians 5:10-11 NIV)” Paul understood where his partnership came from!

We now learn that…

II. Paul was grateful for his partners! (Vv. 3-6)

I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

  1. I heard an old time preacher state that “Christians should develop an attitude of gratitude” and he was right on in his insight. In reading the letters of the Apostle Paul you can immediately tell who he had struggles with and who he was grateful for and he was grateful for the Philippians! Paul writes, “I thank my God every time I remember you.” What a wonderful thing to have written about you by someone else! For all of history this church will be known as the church Paul was truly thankful for! But even more than that he thanked God for them every time he remembered them! Wow! But even more than that Paul thanked God every time he remembered them “In all [his] prayers for all of {them]”! When Paul prayed, which I believe was quite often, he remember his partners in Philippi and thanked God for ALL of them! How many believers are truly that thankful for their church? I pray most are because they should be. Paul was so glad to have this church as his partners in Jesus that when he prayed for them he “always pray[ed] with joy because of [their] partnership in the gospel from the first day until now”! How in the world could Paul pray this way for these folks? He writes it was because “being confident of this, that he (meaning Jesus) who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus”! Paul was grateful for his partners!

  EXAMPLE: Too often pastors or other believers can become impatient with new believers but they should not because it is God’s job. And Paul reminds us of this when he writes to his new partners in Jesus at Philippi that he was confident God would complete what he had started in them just as he does for all believers. Perhaps we should develop that attitude of gratitude for fellow believers and see them as our partners in Christ. How wonderful to learn that Paul was grateful for his partners!

Finally we find out that…

III. Paul desired the very best for his partners! (Vv. 7-11)

It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart; for whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God's grace with me. God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus. And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ--to the glory and praise of God.

  1. In this letter we discover that Paul knew that “It is right for me to feel this way about all of you”. He not only felt this way about his partners in the gospel in Philippi “since I have you in my heart”. Paul kept his partners close in his thoughts and prayers. Paul cared about them deeply and he meant it. He tells them “for whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me”. When we share our faith, when we pray for one another, and when we fight the good fight for the sake of the gospel we as believers share in each of these things. We are truly partners in Jesus and we “share in God’s grace”. The mere fact Paul wrote this testifies to his deep godly affection for his fellow believers. This is why Paul writes that “this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ”. Paul wanted them to not only experience God’s love as he did but Paul desired that heir love “abound more and more”. Paul wanted them to grow in “knowledge and depth of insight” so that they “may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ”! Shouldn’t this be all believers’ desire for one another? Like Paul all Christians should deeply want one another to be “filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ--to the glory and praise of God”! Paul desired the very best for his partners!

  EXAMPLE: When one Christian witnesses we all share in that witness as we pray, encourage, and lift one another up. When one of us suffers we all suffer because we are all one in him who saved us. In speaking about the observance of the Lord’s Supper Paul writes “Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf. (1 Corinthians 10:16-17 NIV)” In fact he would write, “You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:26-28 NIV)” And Paul desired the very best for his partners!

Conclusion:

Paul understood where his partnership came from! Paul was grateful for his partners! Paul desired the very best for his partners!
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This article is copyrighted © 2018 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.