A Glorious Contrast

Scripture: 2 Corinthians 4:16-18,

NLT

1That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. 17 For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! 18 So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.

NASB

Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. 17 For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, 18 While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

 

Introduction

This is a passage that awe’s me. Wow, what insight the Apostle offers to those who will meditate upon it, praying for the Spirit’s help. What we have here are three glorious contrast and I can’t wait to talk about them. Paul introduces this passage with a with the Greek conjunction dio which can be translated: therefore, wherefore, for this reason, consequently. Usually, therefore is a sign to look back at the previous verses but here, I think a good translation would be therefore, for this reason and then Paul gives us the reasons. 

In this passage we have three reasons [contrast] not to give up, lose heart, become discouraged.

I. FIRST CONTRAST–OUTER MAN AND INNER MAN

[v.16] Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day.

As Paul told Timothy, “All who live Godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.” So, there is no doubt that Christians are called to suffer. Paul’s suffering, though not fatal at this time, had taken it toll upon the Apostle’s body. He indeed bore the marks of a suffering servant. There is no question that age and affliction take their toll and inevitably exhaust our strength. There is wear and tear on out bodies.

But we suffer not only the wear and tear of ministry but the curse of sin upon the flesh. These clay pots that we live in are not going to last. They give us temporary shelter but these tents are wearing out. 

This first contrast is so obvious. There is the body, the clay, that is so visible and then there is the treasure, the spirit, that is invisible. These earthy bodies have no future but the inner man, the Spirit is eternal and it is not dying, not subject to death. As a matter of fact, it is being renewed day by day. The word ‘renew’ comes from a Greek compound word that means to ’cause to grow, to make new.’

The amazing thing is that both our wear and tear and our renewal have the same stimulus, affliction. Affliction can hurt the body but it renews the Spirit [inner man]. Suffering can diminish our physical life but it cannot have an adverse affect on our spiritual life. They say that growing old is not for sissies and I do agree that aging presents problems but there are also some benefits.

As we see our bodies decaying, we also realize that the inner man is growing, being renewed daily. Within the inner man is the seed of the resurrection. One day we will jettison this old clay bodies and get a new body designed to tabernacle, clothe the inner man. Then we will see the full impact of Christ resurrection in our life but that process has already began in our daily renewal.

Therefore, Paul does not allow afflictions to get him down. Although he feels the pressure of daily problems, the perplexity of mysteries unsolved, the constant hounding of those who hate the gospel of Jesus Christ and the shock of getting a blow to the head that knocks him down–Paul does not stay down, he does not give into despair, he does not lose heart because the inner man is strengthen by these affliction. They enhance the growth of the inner man like fertilize does to plants.

II. SECOND CONTRAST–AFFLICTION AND GLORY

[v.17] For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!

This second contrast has to do with time and size. Our present afflictions, troubles are small and cannot be compared with our future glory. The Greek word which is translated compared in the NASB is ‘hyperbole.’ We have a glory awaiting us that cannot be exaggerated. 

The LORD has graciously and gently taught me the meaning of this scripture in the last month. We have a daughter in rehab and the past few weeks have been like a roller coaster. One day we think we are making progress and the next it seems like we have taken two steps backward. I will not lie, for the past several weeks I have thought a lot about our problem and I have even expressed to the LORD it’s size. I said to Him more than once, “LORD, no problem is big to you but this is huge to us. It is like a mountain too big to climb, a river too wide to cross.” What did the LORD say in response: nothing immediately but in the days to follow, He spoke very clearly.

To put things in perspective: our daughter is in rehab because she abused prescription drugs and sleep medication. Detoxing proved to be the smallest detail in our recovery. The depression that followed was a weight that seem to be crushing us all. The depression was so bad that she never smiled and a laugh was out of the question. I almost shouted the first time I heard her laugh [a few days ago].

Then a family who had been faithful to pray for us came by to give my wife a gift of love. When I went over to thank them for their trouble. One thing lead to another and I found out that their daughter, who was also arrested, was facing one to ten years in prison. In an instant, my troubles diminished, my afflicted became small. Within 6 hours of that experience, there was a terrible tragedy in our community where two teen age girls were killed. This happened while they were visiting some of our friends. Of course, our friends felt responsible in part because it happened on their watch. When I heard about their agony, my problem shrank even more. Now they are looking minuscule.  

True confession: For years I have read this passage and scoffed, “Light Affliction” my foot, there is no such thing as light affliction but I was wrong. My affliction is light compared to my friends. There is a huge difference between rehab and prison, just as there is a huge difference between the grief suffered from an addiction compared with the grief of two teenagers losing their life while they are at your house.

There is another note of encouragement about our affliction, it is momentary, it will not last forever. It’s like the old Christian saint who favorite verse [found 457 times in KJV] was “And it came to pass…” Everything we see is temporary, sorrow may endure for a night but for the believer, it will not endure forever, it will come to pass.

III. THIRD CONTRAST–MOMENTARY AND ETERNAL

[v.18] While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

The third contrast is about perspective, about how we see things. Perspective will determine your attitude. When you look at me, what do you see? Let me guess: you see a 66 year old man who has a hard time getting around. June and I were leaving our grandson’s baseball game last night and I was carrying two folding chairs. One of our members came up from the rear and grab the chairs. I said, “What are you doing?” He said, “I am helping an old man who is having a hard time just walking.”

With a few rare exceptions, when people look at me, that is what they see–a pot bellied old man who is losing his hair, eyesight, hearing and ability to get around. But not everyone sees me in this light. You see most folks look at the outer man. This is a huge problem. When young people look for a mate, they look at the outer man. They make the huge mistake of assuming that if the outward looks good, the inward must be the same. This is not true.

A handsome man is a vain man [with rare exception] who will love himself and his body more than he will love his wife. A gorgeous gal is the same; she will be high-maintenance, hung up on herself and totally unable to serve and submit to her husband. If you can find someone of the opposite sex who loves you more than they do themselves, marry them.

As I said above, there are rare exceptions: interview one of my 17 year old granddaughters or my sweet daughter-in-law and they will see me in a totally different light. They have a glimpse of the inner man. Most of us focus on the outward instead of the inward. They do no see the real YOU which is your real life is hidden with Christ in God. It might be helpful if we look at this entire passage found in Colossians three.

Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory.

There are two reason why you may not be seeing the real life, real me. [1] I could be masking the real me. Insecurity prompts us to cover the truth for protection. No one can hurt us if they don’t know the truth about us. This deep insecurity produces a lack of integrity. We use this dishonesty to deceive others. We think it gives us the upper hand. Therefore, we are not known because we choose not to be known. [2] The second reason is stated in the proverb, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” We may not see the real person because we may not be focused on the right thing. A lot of people want to be known, they just can’t find anyone who cares enough to know them. You will not get to know a person by jokes and casual chit-chat. Philosophical rhetoric doesn’t help either. We all know know-it-alls who actually know nothing at all.

 

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Prayer

Scripture: Luke 11:1, NLT

Once Jesus was in a certain place praying. As he finished, one of his disciples came to him and said, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”

INTRODUCTION

One day, after Jesus had finished praying, His disciples came to Him with this request, “LORD, teach us to pray as John taught his disciples to pray.” It is a reasonable request, yea even noble. In my 47 years of ministry, I remember only one person making this request of me. This is not a derogatory comment on those who didn’t ask, it may have more to do with me being a poor model than them have no desire to learn. I think Jesus was thrilled with the request and He began teaching right away.

Furthermore, these guys ask the right question. I might have asked, “Lord, teach me to preach.” To which Jesus would have said, “You need to learn the art of prayer first.” There is no doubt that prayer is first base to ministry, if you miss it, you will not be successful.

I don’t preach many one verse sermons but this one stirred my spirit and I pray that the Ruach ha Kodesh {Spirit of Holiness} will stir me today along with your heart as well.

I. FIRST, JESUS HAD A PASSION [desire] TO PRAY

There is a very popular Greek word used in the N.T. , it is thelō and it is used 212 times which is a lot. It can be translated: to will, have in mind, intend, to be resolved or determined, to purpose, to desire, to wish, to love, to like to do a thing, to take delight in, have pleasure in.

  • It is used of Jesus: {Matthew 8:3} Jesus reached out and touched him.“I am willing,” he said. “Be healed!”And instantly the leprosy.
  • It can be used of God: {Matthew 12:7} But if you had known what this means, ‘I desire compassion, and not a sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent.
  • It is used of us: {Matthew 16:24-25} Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.”

Although thelō is used in reference to God’s desire and will, it is used predominately in reference to man’s will. A couple of examples: [1] In Matthew 18, the parable of the unforgiving servant, it is used…So his fellow slave fell to the ground and began to plead with him, saying, ‘Have patience with me and I will repay you.’ But he was unwilling and went and threw him in prison until he should pay back what was owed.

Why didn’t he forgive his fellow servant? He did not want to, wish to, he had no desire to forgive. Stay with me, this one word disproved 90 percent of what the reforms teach. It is used in reference to the Rich Young Ruler. {Matthew 19:17}  “Why are you asking Me about what is good? There is only One who is good; but if you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.”

Why didn’t the ungrateful servant forgive? He didn’t want to or choose to.

Why did the Rich Young Ruler reject Jesus invitation to be one of His disciples because he choose not to. It was not his {thelō } will, desire to follow Jesus. His passion was for the world.

Why don’t you pray? Because you don’t desire {thelō } to, you don’t want to, you don’t pray because you don’t choose to pray. It is not God’s fault that we don’t pray or know how to pray. He will teach us if only we have the passion to learn. If we boil it down to one thing, it is passion, desire, thelō, we have not because we ask not, and who’s to blame?

If you are ignorant on the subject of prayer it is your fault, you are willfully ignoring the teaching of Christ set forth is this very chapter. I’m not going to say that all ignorance is willful but I would suspect that a great portion of ignorance is our own fault.

We could pray if we wanted to and we could learn more about prayer if we wanted to but that is the problem, we don’t want to and that is on us, not God. I refuse to give God credit for my sin. He is holy. He does not sin and He is not in my sin or your sin. He hates sin and has condemned it in the flesh.

II. SECONDLY, JESUS HAD A PRACTICE OF PRAY

It is easier to preach and teach on prayer than it is to pray. I have all kind of notes on prayer. I have read book after book on prayer. I have attended prayer retreats, prayer conferences but these are not substitutes for true authentic prayer. The most difficult discipline in the Christian life is the habit or practice of prayer. If you aren’t careful, you will do everything on your schedule before you stop and pray. 

I actually enjoy prayer but what I don’t enjoy is getting up at 4:00 a.m. I did it for years but the older I get, the harder it is to go to sleep, stay asleep or wake refreshed. My wake up time and get up time are two different things. After I wake up, the battle between mind and body starts and getting up is struggle.

Sometimes I have headaches that last for two or three days. I had one all day Wednesday and woke up about 4:00 Thursday morning with a splitting headache. I did not intend to get up. Every bone in my body was crying bed, bed, bed! I had to go to the car to get a B.C. powder and the brisk air refreshed me. I took the B.C.’s before going back inside and by the time I got to my study, which is our entrance 90% of time, I was wide awake. So I sat down and began rereading the highlights of an S.D. Gordon book on prayer.

A still small voice whispered, “Why don’t you preview Sunday’s scripture?” So I opened the bible and saw that my text was on prayer. One thing lead to another and by 7:00 a.m. I had a sermon and a prayer time. When I went outside to water the plants, I found myself thanking God for the headache.

I’m confessing my weakness but I am also challenging you to make prayer a priority. You have to make it the most important task of the day. I love Jack Taylor who told of the guy who began a meeting with this comment, “Let’s have prayer and get on with the business.” Dr. Taylor’s response was: PRAYER IS THE BUSINESS. It is sad that people my age who have been in church all their life do not understand what I just said. The most important thing a pastor can do is pray; the same is true with deacons. This is our problem, we want to take care of the business without “finishing” our prayer. Notice, Jesus finished praying. Peter embarrassed himself because he did not “finish” his praying in the garden of Gethsemane. It might not be such a wise idea to get on with the business before we finished praying.

III. THIRDLY, JESUS HAD A PLACE TO PRAY

As I have already stated, prayer is a difficult discipline and we get no help from the flesh, the world or the devil. These three are our foe and they will do anything in their power to keep us from prayer. We need all the help we can get. 

  1. Start small, just like a fire, you begins with twigs, then sticks, then limbs and then logs. Don’t time your devotion or prayer. I recommend that people begin with Our Daily Bread. You can do you entire QT in 15 minutes. Your goal is not to be brief or lengthy, your first goal is to establish a habit. Focus on consistency but don’t quit when you miss a day.
  2. Second, you need a place where you can’t be distracted. This is why Jesus recommended a closet. He said, “Go in and shut the down behind you.” We must disengage ourselves from the world and this requires a “Certain Place.”
  3. Your place of prayer needs to be a quiet place, away from the traffic, the noise of the world. A soul refreshing prayer time depends on this “Certain Place” away from the noise and distractions. The lady on the movie “War Room” had the right idea. Decorate your closet with bible verses, posters, sticky notes or even a prayer chest. I have a pray chest at home and at the office. I write most of my prayers and I use an open bible to help me. I don’t think these prayers will ever be read by anyone. When I am gone, I am pretty sure my stuff will be burned but I don’t write them for the public, they are personal letter to God. I would actually be embarrassed if you did read them.
  4. I am convinced that every prayer counts; just keep offering them one at a time.

Conclusion

I want to close with a story and one of my all time favorites. I can’t remember where I got it but it makes the point. A young minister went to an old minister and ask him to teach him to pray. The old man told the young preacher, “Prayer begins with a certain place and I have a place where I pray.” The young man said, “Would you show me this place of prayer?” The old man agreed and off they went behind the old man’s house, through the woods from one beaten path to another. Every few hundreds yard the young preacher would ask, “How much further?” The old man would say, “Just a little bit further,” but he would keep going, not even slacking his pace. The young man’s burden to pray was getting heavier by the moment and finally he said, “I can’t go any further, I have to pray now.” The old man stopped and dropped to a knee, then said, “We are here, this is the place.”

Most prayers begin with a burden and if you don’t have one, chances are, you will not do much praying.

One final comment: the key to prayer is a relationship with the Father. Do you have this relationship? You can’t earn this relationship, you have to be born into the family. Would you put your trust in Jesus today?

Three Striking Paradoxes

Scripture: 2 Corinthians 4:7-15

We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.

We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. 10 Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.

11 Yes, we live under constant danger of death because we serve Jesus, so that the life of Jesus will be evident in our dying bodies. 12 So we live in the face of death, but this has resulted in eternal life for you.

13 But we continue to preach because we have the same kind of faith the psalmist had when he said, “I believed in God, so I spoke.” 14 We know that God, who raised the Lord Jesus, will also raise us with Jesus and present us to Himself together with you. 15 All of this is for your benefit. And as God’s grace reaches more and more people, there will be great thanksgiving, and God will receive more and more glory.

Introduction

I will say a couple of things by way of introduction:

  1. This is a great passage of scripture. One that I love to read over and over. It alwaqys encourages me. I put it up there with Isaiah 53, Psalm 23, I Corinthians 13, Romans 8, or any of John 21 chapters.
  2. With that said, as much as I love to read and study this chapter, I have had a difficult time coming up with a sermon outline. I feel rather inadequate because I know at best, I am only scratching the surface.
  3. I see not only comparisons and contrast in this passage but also divine paradoxes. A divine paradox is a statement of truth which on the surface does not seem possibly true. It appears to be a contradiction but in reality, is not contradictory at all but a profound principle. [Example: God is a God of Love and hate. Seems contradictory, how can He be both? Simple: He loves good and hates evil.]
  4. There are three that I want to discuss and the first is more of a contrast than a paradox. It could be converted to a paradox.

 

 

I. GREAT TREASURE IN A CLAY POT

Usually, expensive things come in fancy boxes. Jewelers don’t put diamond rings in a paper bag but God has put an infinite treasure of inestimable worth in a clay jar or pot. The little clay pot that Paul is referring to was the cheap, common, expendable clay lamps that were sold in the market place for one half of a cent, one little copper coin. The oil in the lamp was worth more than the lamp itself. These little clay lamps were very fragile and prone to break or crack.

Our bodies are the clay pots and the treasure is the gospel. God’s purpose in putting a great treasure in an inexpensive and common clay pot is so the attention will be on the treasure and not the pot itself. There is nothing more annoying to me than a so called minister of the gospel carrying his own introduction and expecting me to read it. Who cares where he went to school or how many degrees he holds or what positions he has held in the convention. I don’t congregate on Sunday to admire or worship clay pots and especially cracked pots. It is not about you. It has never been about you and it will never be about you. The focus is on the TREASURE inside the pot, not the pot. This tiny clay pot or lamp is to manifest the light. When I look for a lamb, I don’t get fooled by the decor on the lamp, I want to know how much light it illuminates.

Another passage comes to mind [ I Corinthians 1: 26-29]…26 Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you.27 Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. 28 God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important. 29 As a result, no one can ever boast in the presence of God.

Tasker says, “Wonder of wonders, the treasure of the gospel entrusted to men who are subject to infirmities, limitations, instability and insecurity.”

Why does God choose the weak, the common, the ordinary to carry the precious gospel? It is so that God will get the glory. Men have a tendency to worship other men, especially the ones with think are outstanding, great, popular, awarded, recognized, successful or wealthy. By using the common everyday ordinary, God gets the glory.

II. STRENGTH PERFECTED IN WEAKNESS

Let’s fast forward to chapter 12 where Paul testifies...Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. 10 That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Did you get that…God’s strength is made perfect in human weakness. Unbelievable!

It is hard to glory in your weakness because none of us are fond of weakness. We all admire strength, not weakness. Paul did not want to be weak, He prayed three times that God would take his infirmity and make him strong but God said “No, I want you depending on Me, not yourself. If I made you strong; you would rely in your own strength.” {JEV II Co.12:7}

One of the most amazing things about the gospel ministry is that the devil and his followers [some are members of our churches] are never allowed to do their worst. Actually, God never allows them to know the degree of our weakness. It is a part of the hedge that God has put around us to keep us from being destroyed by the enemy. I love verse 8-9…We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed.

In this series of participles, Paul contrast our constant humiliation with God constant ‘Grace’ which is always sufficient.

  • Although we live under constant pressure from every direction–we are not crushed.
  • We may get perplexed [have doubts] but we never give in to a spirit of despair because of God’s grace working in us.
  • We are hunted, persecuted, watched with critical eyes by those who oppose us but we are never alone. We have God’s abiding presence and the encouragement of friends who are praying for us to succeed not fail.
  • We get knocked down all the time but we get back up. We get knocked down but not out. We get injured but we don’t take ourselves out of the game.

Warren Wiersbe says, “The ministry is not measured by bars and stars, but by scars.” A vessel that gets shaken, broke or cracked spills out, overflows from the blows. It is God’s way: we want Him to use our strengths but He prefers our weakness. Dr. Wiersbe tells the story of he and a friend going to hear a young minister. After the young man had finished a flawless presentation, Dr. Wiersbe’s friend said, “He lacks one thing, he must have his heart broken.” You may not understand this but I do. I’ve heard young and gifted speakers deliver a message like a machine but that is the point. We are too mechanical and the only remedy is a broken heart or cracked pot.

III. LIFE RAISED FROM DEATH

The third contrast or paradox is life from death. Look at verses 10-14….

10 Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.

11 Yes, we live under constant danger of death because we serve Jesus, so that the life of Jesus will be evident in our dying bodies. 12 So we live in the face of death, but this has resulted in eternal life for you.

13 But we continue to preach because we have the same kind of faith the psalmist had when he said, “I believed in God, so I spoke.” 14 We know that God, who raised the Lord Jesus, will also raise us with Jesus and present us to Himself together with you.

Jesus experienced death everyday of His life. The cross was ever on His mind. He completely died to self in order to serve others. Jesus told His disciples, “If you wish to come after Me [follow my example], deny yourself and take up your cross and follow Me daily.” No man can follow Christ who has not taken up his cross and of course, the cross means death to self. But for those few who are willing to die to self, Jesus gives them a life that is far better than the one they died to.

I grew up a sports fiend. Out of seven children, I was the only one who loved sports. I don’t think it is an exaggeration to say that “Sports” was my life. I ran track in Jr. college, played intramural sports in my last two years and loved every minute. Played football, basketball and softball. There were a couple of things that I wrestled with when the LORD began dealing with me about preaching the gospel. One was: “How could I possibly be happy a part from sports?” I knew before I graduated High School that I was not going to be a professional athlete but I was considering a life in coaching. You can’t follow Jesus until you lay all this stuff on the altar which by the grace of God I did and 47 years later and I thankful for God’s grace. I gave him my life and He gave me a much better life than I dreamed was possible. It is a striking paradox but when we die to self, He resurrected a better life in place of our old life.

But Paul is not talking just about that surrender when God calls. Paul is talking about experiencing death every day of our lives. In Paul’s day, travel was very dangerous. Paul literally risk his life to get the gospel to places like Corinth. Plus there was all the riots, jail time, beatings, ship wrecks, etc. Paul faced the threat of death constantly. He lived in the presence of death but in so doing the life of Christ was exuding from his scars, his brokenness, his weakness and his death to self.

Conclusion

Paul was beginning to see the big picture. God was using Paul’s daily death experiences to get the gospel to more and more people which was creating more and more thanksgiving and thus God was getting more and more glory.

In John 9:24, the scriptures read…So a second time they called the man who had been blind, and said to him, “Give glory to God; we know that this man is a sinner.” They are the Jewish Religious leaders and they are telling the man born blind to ‘Give glory to God’ which he was doing. The Jewish Religious Leaders did not believe that Jesus was God. Here they are acting as defenders of the faith, “Give glory to God.” I have learned through the years that those who exhort others to give the glory to God are not doing it themselves. The Jewish religious establishment could not give glory to God because they wanted it for themselves. When you reach that point of seeing your utter depravity and die to self, you will discover the inexpressible joy of giving God the glory. But you can’t do this as long as your carnal self is seated on the throne.

I can assure you that Paul was filled with joy and thanksgiving when he saw God getting glory. This is what makes worship so wonderful.

Courage For The Conflict

Scripture: 2 Corinthians 4:1-6

Therefore, since God in His mercy has given us this new way, we never give up. We reject all shameful deeds and underhanded methods. We don’t try to trick anyone or distort the word of God. We tell the truth before God, and all who are honest know this.

If the Good News we preach is hidden behind a veil, it is hidden only from people who are perishing. Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God.

You see, we don’t go around preaching about ourselves. We preach that Jesus Christ is Lord, and we ourselves are your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ.

INTRODUCTION

In this passage, Paul shares with us some things that “We don’t do,” as Christian ministers.

I. FIRST, WE DON’T GIVE UP 

AV, “We don’t faint.” NASB, “We don’t lose heart.” GNT, “We don’t become discouraged.” Phillips, “We let nothing daunt us.” Daunt means, we don’t let anything intimidate us so that we are ruled by fear.

I love the Good News Translation of verse 1…God in his mercy has given us this work to do, and so we do not become discouraged. All of the above translations are excellent. When we lose our courage, we tend to faint, become discouraged, drop out of the ranks or even hide in the brush because we are intimidated by the foe.

Paul gives us some reason why we do not become discouraged and give up.

  1. God gave us this ministry-Ministry is a gift, a precious gift, a wonderful gift.
  2. God gave us this ministry because He is merciful–we do not deserve to be His ministers.
  3. God gave us a better ministry than those of the Old Covenant. I have a better ministry than Moses. Moses proclaimed the LAW, I proclaim Jesus and GRACE. 

Don’t pass this off as if it is not directed toward you. I’m not talking to myself alone. Every true believer has a ministry. If you do not know what your ministry is, you need to find out. If you don’t have a clue, begin visiting the Nursing Homes once a week and wait for God to speak. I got a beautiful card today from a woman who lives on the other side of the county. Eleven years ago, I ministered to her daughter who was dying of cancer. My last visit with this young lady was an experience that I cherish. I felt a strange compulsion to walk her across the finish line, I had never done this before. I thought that she and I were alone but her mom and aunt we listening outside the door. I held her hand and exhorted her to finish the race and moments after I left, she took her flight to glory.

It was a special moment. I have never had another experience to compare with this precious memory. Her mom and aunt will never forget that day and one or the other sends me an encouragement card two to three times a year. These two precious sisters: Mary and Dana have the gift of encouragement and they use it for the glory of God.

You have a ministry  [a spiritual gift] and it is your fault if you don’t know what it is. If you don’t have a clue, follow your passion until God speaks clearly. The only reason I can be in Ministry is the mercy and grace of God. He gave me this ministry and I dare not quit.

II. WE DO NOT RESORT TO DECEPTION IN ANY FORM

Look at verse two...We reject all shameful deeds and underhanded methods. We don’t try to trick anyone or distort the word of God. We tell the truth before God, and all who are honest know this. The false teachers were famous for twisting the truth, distorting the truth. They used all forms of subtly and flattery. They were masters of the “Hidden Agenda.”

There is no veil in the New Covenant…nothing hidden in the dark, nothing disguised, but all is simple, plain, open and transparent. Paul said:

  1. We tell the truth and renounce secret and shameful ways. We keep things simple and lay them on the table. No hidden tricks up our sleeves. I talked to a man last Sunday evening about accepting Christ as his savior but I told him the truth…Jesus will save you but you have to be willing to repent of your sins and accept HIM as the LORD [sole authority] of your life.
  2. We don’t distort the word {RSV says “Tamper”}. Literally the Greek word means to adulterate which means to mix lies with the truth.
  3. We don’t try to deceive by masking, veiling the truth. Paul made it clear, that hiding the truth is the method of the god of this world…alias “Prince of the air”“Ruler of the Cosmos.” The devil is a clever con artist. His purpose is to hide the truth or to blind you so you can’t see it. People are hearing about Jesus but they are not seeing His deity, His glory and this is the work of Satan. He wants to blind us so that we do not see the truth about Jesus.

III. THIRD, PAUL SAID, WE DO NOT PREACH OURSELVES

You see, we don’t go around preaching about ourselves. We preach that Jesus Christ is Lord, and we ourselves are your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ.

F.F. Bruce says, “The true herald does not draw attention to himself or devise his own proclamation.” Warren Weirsbe says, “It would have been easy for Paul to have built a fan club because weak people thrive on associating themselves with great men.” Tasker says, “First and foremost, the minister is a servant of Jesus Christ and it is the love and loyalty for His Master that compels him to serve others.”

John the Baptist said,  You yourselves know how plainly I told you, ‘I am not the Messiah. I am only here to prepare the way for him.’ It is the bridegroom who marries the bride, and the bridegroom’s friend is simply glad to stand with him and hear his vows. Therefore, I am filled with joy at his success. He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.

People don’t need to see us, they need to see the light in us.

All my professors in college were moderate to liberal and they questioned every miracle and cast doubt on the atonement. When I got to Seminary, I discovered the same liberal, unbelieving element. One N.T. professor was subtle in doing so, but he was teaching “Identification” instead of “Substitution.” We strive to be like Jesus instead of Jesus resurrecting Himself in us through regeneration and sanctification. The same professor did not believe in hell. I do admit, that no one was more liberal than this man but many doctrines were questioned during my 7 years of higher education. I made up my mind during those days that I would preach the bible and not worry about the things I could not understand or resolve. 

Isaiah 55:10-11 became my watch word: “The rain and snow come down from the heavens and stay on the ground to water the earth.” They cause the grain to grow, producing seed for the farmer and bread for the hungry. It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to,and it will prosper everywhere I send it.

I have been faithful to preach God’s word for 47 years and my goal is to always exalt Jesus and the older I get, the more I understand the truth of this passage, Jesus must be preached. The Gospel must be shared. God has promised to bless it and He will. 

The Good Samaritan

SCRIPTURE: Luke 10:30-37, NLT

30 Jesus replied with a story: “A Jewish man was traveling from Jerusalem down to Jericho, and he was attacked by bandits. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him up, and left him half dead beside the road.

31 “By chance a priest came along. But when he saw the man lying there, he crossed to the other side of the road and passed him by. 32 A Temple assistant walked over and looked at him lying there, but he also passed by on the other side.

33 “Then a despised Samaritan came along, and when he saw the man, he felt compassion for him. 34 Going over to him, the Samaritan soothed his wounds with olive oil and wine and bandaged them. Then he put the man on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of him. 35 The next day he handed the innkeeper two silver coins, telling him, ‘Take care of this man. If his bill runs higher than this, I’ll pay you the next time I’m here.’

36 “Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits?” Jesus asked.

37 The man replied, “The one who showed him mercy.”

Then Jesus said, “Yes, now go and do the same.”

INTRODUCTION

The Jewish Elitist Religious Establishment {JERE} hated Jesus. A part of this hatred stemmed from the fact that Jesus loved everyone: rich or poor, male or female, Jew or Gentile, Tax Collector or Samaritan. I get amused at the ignorant folks in this nation who are always clamoring about racial prejudice. These uneducated morons need to visit the Middle East. Not even Yankees, the most prejudiced of all Americans can hold a light to first century racism in Palestine. The JERE or Jewish elites despised all Gentiles and especially the Romans. They loathed their own poor and those who worked for Rome [Tax Collectors] but they hated [in the deepest sense of the word] Samaritans who were part Jewish and part Gentile [Settlers that the Assyrians transplanted in the holy land].

The JRE thought more of a dog, than a Samaritan and they very lowly of a dog. A stray dog got hit by a car in front of our house the other night and I had to put the poor creature out of his misery and I don’t like to do such things. I can kill a fly without hesitation but it bothers me to have to shot a dog. I am not going to tell you that it kept me up all night because it did not. I simply did what had to be done. An elitist Jew would have no problem conscience wise in putting a Samaritan down.

Jesus tells this story in relationship to the second commandment–Love your neighbor as much as you love yourself. The JERE would love their neighbor if they were elitist Jews, but they would never consider a poor Jew, tax collector, Gentile or Samaritan to be their neighbor.

TRANSITION

There are four groups of people [segments of society] represented in this story and this morning, I want to talk about three of them. Tonight, LORD willing, I will talk about the fourth who are what we would call the “Victims.” A better word might be the “hurting.” In each of the first three groups, we have a creed and a philosophy.

I. THE FIRST GROUP IS THE BANDITS

“A Jewish man was traveling from Jerusalem down to Jericho, and he was attacked by bandits. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him up, and left him half dead beside the road.”

The bandits represent the criminally minded: they are vicious and their creed is violence.

Their philosophy is “What is yours is mine and I am going to take it.”

These are they who respect no laws and seem to get a kick out of shedding innocent blood. This group is prone to violence, they will beat you up and leave you to die. They have no compassion, no sympathy and certainly no love. You and I love to help people, this groups loves to hurt people. The segment of society ruthless and relentless. They enjoy crime.

I’m not reading between lines, all of this is in the story. Bandits is plural, the Jewish man is singular. The bandits had him hopelessly out numbered [bandits are bullies] so there was no reason whatsoever to beat the man half to death. They could have easily over powered him and taken his valuables: there was no need to beat the man half to death. In spite of the naivety of liberals or flakes, there are mean and violent people in our society. They are not stealing because their children are hungry or because their ancestors were mistreated, they beat people up just for pleasure. No reason to beat him up but it is second nature for a thug and hooligan.

In Chicago, this week [April 1-7], seven people have been murdered [A slow week for Chicago]. Petro Ryman, age 56 [Mixed], Angel Ortiz, age 51 [Hispanic], Anthony Heatherly, age 17 [White], Babette Miller, age 35 [Black], Gerwancy Rambus, age 32 [Black], Aurelio Guzman, age 32 [White], and one Unkown, age 30 [Mixed]. Most of these victims were shot and some were stabbed.

In spite of undeniable evidence that we live in a sin cursed and violent world, we have idiots who declare that “Evil” does not exist and there is no such person as the devil. By the way, this same group of morons have no respect for the word of God.

II. THE SECOND GROUP IS THE JERE [JEWISH ELITIST RELIGIOUS ESTABLISHMENT.

The second group is represented by the Priest and Levite.

There creed is greed and their philosophy is– “What is mine is mine and I am going to keep it.”

As I say often, this group wants “to get all it can; can all they get and then set on the lid so no one else can get any.” They don’t want to owe all the land, just every parcel that connects to their property. This group is selfish and satisfied. They are more concerned about comfort than they are conversions. They are driven by the instinct of self-preservation. This is the group who gives advice but not money. They are all talk and no walk.

These are the folks who should care about the hurting but they don’t. They are driven by their own self-interest and they cannot look out for the interest of others because they are too preoccupied with their own interest. When did you last put your life on hold, so you could help someone else?

These are the religious folks who are more concerned about getting to the temple on time than they are hurting people who liter the roadway. Their religion had failed them.

The greatest problem in the modern church, as I see it, is that we associate church with worship and bible study attendance. This is a part of being and doing church but only a tiny part. A real church gets into ministry, evangelism and missions. The two selfish churchmen in this story were avoiding ministry, even to a fellow Jew.

What has happened to the church? Has our hearts become so hard that we are insensitivity to the hurting among us and around us. The fields are littered with hurting people while we are hiding in a building, soothing our conscience by playing church.

III. THE THIRD GROUP IS REPRESENTED BY THE SAMARITAN.

their credo is–“Whats mine is yours and I am going to share.” These are your good neighbors.

These are the folks who hurt with you; who bind up your wounds and spare no expense. These are the people who care, who are concerned and who show compassion. These are the people who are willing to take risk to help you. The Good Samaritan gave of his time, resources and even committed to long term care. How refreshing in light of the callous, indifferent and self-centered Jews who passed by a fellow Jew and would not help due to the risk involved.

The number one reason people do not get involved in ministry is their self-centeredness; their inability to put others first. No one will ever become a minister when their primary concern is themselves.

A second problem in ministry is fear. Travel was dangerous in ancient times. The same group of bandits who robbed and beat this man half to death could still be in the area, the Priest and Levite were not taking any chances. Folks, there is no such thing as “Risk Free Ministry,” all ministry involves a risk. These two men were lacking in courage: ministry is not for cowards. The Samaritan risk rejection, he risk attack, he took a risk with his investment; would he be thanked by the Jewish community. Would his act of kindness be appreciated. Would he get a thank you note in the mail? Would the man repay him when he got on his feet? 

When people demand answers to all their questions before they involve themselves in ministry, they will never get involved. They may talk about ministry but they will never engage in the act because they want guarantees and there are no guarantees in ministry.

Glory, To See and Reflect

Scripture: 2 Corinthians 3:1-18

 Are we beginning to praise ourselves again? Are we like others, who need to bring you letters of recommendation, or who ask you to write such letters on their behalf? Surely not! The only letter of recommendation we need is you yourselves. Your lives are a letter written in our hearts; everyone can read it and recognize our good work among you. Clearly, you are a letter from Christ showing the result of our ministry among you. This “letter” is written not with pen and ink, but with the Spirit of the living God. It is carved not on tablets of stone, but on human hearts.

We are confident of all this because of our great trust in God through Christ. It is not that we think we are qualified to do anything on our own. Our qualification comes from God. He has enabled us to be ministers of his new covenant. This is a covenant not of written laws, but of the Spirit. The old written covenant ends in death; but under the new covenant, the Spirit gives life.

The old way, with laws etched in stone, led to death, though it began with such glory that the people of Israel could not bear to look at Moses’ face. For his face shone with the glory of God, even though the brightness was already fading away. Shouldn’t we expect far greater glory under the new way, now that the Holy Spirit is giving life? If the old way, which brings condemnation, was glorious, how much more glorious is the new way, which makes us right with God! 10 In fact, that first glory was not glorious at all compared with the overwhelming glory of the new way. 11 So if the old way, which has been replaced, was glorious, how much more glorious is the new, which remains forever!

12 Since this new way gives us such confidence, we can be very bold. 13 We are not like Moses, who put a veil over his face so the people of Israel would not see the glory, even though it was destined to fade away. 14 But the people’s minds were hardened, and to this day whenever the old covenant is being read, the same veil covers their minds so they cannot understand the truth. And this veil can be removed only by believing in Christ. 15 Yes, even today when they read Moses’ writings, their hearts are covered with that veil, and they do not understand.

16 But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.

INTRODUCTION [2 Corinthians 3:1-6]

Although the church at Antioch is the mother church in terms of Missions, the Jerusalem church was considered the mother church in terms of authority and the ‘true’ Apostles carried credentials from the Jerusalem church to validate their authenticity. Evidently Paul had no such letter and did not feel the need for such. I am in full agreement with Paul.

Paul insisted that his credentials was his body of work, the Corinthian church was a testimony to Paul’s work and commitment to the gospel. Why did he need a letter written with pen and ink when he had a far greater letter written by the Holy Spirit in the hearts of the Corinthians believers?

Let me say in passing that letters of recommendation [Resume] are not proof of work. Documents can be altered or falsified but a man’s testimony is the real deal. A man’s body of work is a far greater recommendation than a legal document.

This argument ignited Paul’s mind and he illustrates this comparison with another comparison. The opening comparison is “Letters of Recommendation,” verses “Body of Work.” From 3:7-18, we have the comparison of the OLD COVENANT verses the NEW COVENANT. Paul’s ultimate point will be, there is no comparison–the New Covenant [Christ] is infinitely superior to the Old [Moses]. As we talk about this comparison tonight, keep in mind that we as believers are to “See and Reflect” the far greater glory of the New Covenant.

Before we get into the heart of the message: let me show you the details of the comparison between the Old Covenant and the New.

OLD COVENANT……………..…………NEW COVENANT

Mediator is Moses                                                    Mediator is Christ

Letters, words engraved in Stone                       Spirit, indwelling the heart         

External                                                                       Internal

Produces Death                                                         Produces Life

Condemnation                                                          Justification

Fading Glory                                                              Unfading Glory

Temporal                                                                    Eternal

Produces Fear                                                            Produces confidence and hope

Veiled {Christ in the Law}                                     Unveiled {Christ in the Gospel}

Results in spirit of slavery                                     Results in spirit of liberty

Obviously, I cannot elaborate on every comparison so I want to make three comments which will hopefully shed some light on all.

I. THE NATURE OF THE COVENANTS

The Old is external and temporal which the New is internal and eternal. The stumbling block for the Jews [Veil] has to do with the Nature of the Covenant. The Jews, as a whole, failed to realize the Temporal nature of the Old Covenant. You and I know that Christ is in the Old Testament [on every page, in every observance, every law, every sacrifice, every offering]. We see this because we repented when we heard the gospel and the veil was removed so that we could see. The veil remains over the eyes of the Jews [as a whole]. They do not see Jesus in Isaiah 53. If you do not see Jesus in Isaiah 53, you have never repented of your sins and the veil is still over your eyes.

God’s plan from the foundation of the world has been Jesus.  Paul said, All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. Even before He made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. {Ephesians 1:3-4}

I began preaching at the age of 19 and serving churches at the age of 20 and I did not know jack squat. I remember preaching a sermon that basically said, “God gave us the law and that failed and so plan B was Jesus.” Wrong! Wrong! Wrong! I could have been tried for heresy and burned at the stake. God has only one plan and that is JESUS. The law did not fail, it did exactly what God intended, he convicted us of our sin and ultimately lead to the crucifixion of Jesus. You protest, “Jesus didn’t break the law.” Right, but He didn’t die for Himself, He died in our place as a curse and law breaker.

Moses foreshadowed Jesus…He was an OT type of Christ. You and I have seen the fulfillment of the Old Covenant and we know that Jesus is infinitely greater than Moses. We respect Moses but we worship Jesus. The unbelieving Jews had no respect for Jesus and worshiped Moses, to this day. They did not see and do not see that Judaism was temporal. Judaism was pointing toward the body of Christ, the church. It was never intended to be an end of itself, it was a cursor pointing to Jesus.

[Aside: although Paul understood the temporal nature of Judaism and the writer of Hebrews really understood the nature of the Old Covenant, the Jewish converts, Paul included, had a hard time letting go of Judaism. This is what got Paul arrested, he was in the Temple, of all places, carrying out a Jewish rite of purification. He had no business in the Temple or trying to fulfill something that Christ had already completed. This simply highlight what a huge problem the Jews had with letting go of their religion and clinging only to Christ]

II. THE PURPOSE OF THE COVENANTS

Keep in mind, God does not see the Old and New Covenants competing. It is not Plan A verses Plan B. God has only one plan, the salvation of man and both covenants have the same end in mind and that is man’s salvation. It is better to think of the covenants as phase one and two but both heading in the same direction, seeking the same end.

The Law revealed through Moses the mediator of the Old Covenant was perfect. The Law has no flaws. The law simply reveals our flaws which is exactly what God intended. The Law was not given to save us although observing the law enhances our quality of life. Due to the fact that we are sinners and have a rebellious nature, the law brought us condemnation. It highlighted our problem but offered no solution. Jesus by His own admission in John 3, did not come to condemn but to save. Jesus was the Law incarnated into flesh, He was perfect and thus fulfilled all the laws demands. He came to live a life we could not live and die a death we deserved to die. The law takes life but Jesus gives life.

This vast superiority of the New Covenant is obvious. What do we get when we preach the law only? You get condemnation because none of us can meet the requirements of the law. BUT now, in the new covenant, we preach the GOSPEL which is good news to those condemned under the law. Had I rather be an OT prophet or a NT evangelist? Hey, I will take the message of the gospel, “No condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus,” to the law of condemnation any day.

Jesus said in Luke 19:10, “For the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost.” In 1 Timothy 2, Paul said, This is right and is acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truthFor there is one God; there is also one mediator between God and humankind, Christ Jesus, himself human, who gave himself a ransom for all. In 2 Peter 3:9, the scripture reads,  The Lord is not slow about his promise, as some think of slowness, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance.

John the Baptist was not sent to save anyone, he was sent to point the Jews to Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. John wrapped up phase one, which is to convict us of sin and lead us to repentance. No one can receive what Jesus has without a repentant heart. The purpose of phase one [old covenant] was to get us ready for Jesus. Everything is about Jesus. This must be at the core of your faith and practice.

III. THE MANIFESTATION OF THE COVENANTS

Both covenants produced glory but the old was a fading glory and the new is an internal and eternal glory. The old covenant glory diminishes with time; the new covenant glory is enhanced by time. The NRSV translates verse 18 like this: And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit.

Paul said in Colossians {and this is a key to your understanding}, For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God.  And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory. This has to be one of the most incredible passages of scripture in the entire bible and it is not believable a part from the work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts.

Everything about the covenants is expressed in verse 18, So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image. You have to “See the glory” before you can “reflect the glory.” The veil was a cloth that Moses used as a mask to hide the true appearance of his face. When he first came from the presence of the LORD, his face would glow but the glory would not last, it would fade so Moses covered his face. F.F. Bruce says there are two possible reasons why Moses wore the veil: [1] It made it possible for the Israelites to look at him without being dazzled and [2] Moses wished to prevent them from seeing that the glory was fading. Bruce believes that it was the latter that was true.

Think of the sun as the ‘glory’ and clouds as the ‘veil.’ Remember, we have to see the glory to reflect the glory. There can be no obstruction or veil. When a cloud comes between us and the sun, we can neither see nor reflect the sun’s glory. The same is true with the ‘SON,’ we must have a clear view with no obstructions to see HIS GLORY or reflect HIS GLORY. When I look at the Christ of scripture, I see clearly the GLORY but when I look inward, I don’t see any glory and I am lead to question, “Does anyone else see HIS GLORY in me?” No one ever tells me that they see His glory in me so what am I to believe?

It is at this point that Colossians three comes into play: Paul said, “His glory is hidden in us.” He echoes the same principle in 2 Corinthians 4…

You see, we don’t go around preaching about ourselves. We preach that Jesus Christ is Lord, and we ourselves are your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ. We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.

It is evident that we can reflect very little glory if our lives are eclipsed with sin and rebellion. We have to have clear view of His glory in order to reflect it to others. The true church will not be know until Christ is revealed and these clay jars are broken. The only one who sees our future potential or glory is Jesus. I don’t see yours and you don’t see mine but it is there if you are in Christ and Christ in you. He is our only hope of glory.

CONCLUSION

Seeing and reflecting; this is what it is all about. We must have an unobstructed view of Jesus in order to reflect His glory. The only way to remove the veil is to repent of sins and turn to Christ.

Senior Adults

Scripture: Ecclesiastes 12:1-5, Good News Translation

So remember your Creator while you are still young, before those dismal days and years come when you will say, “I don’t enjoy life.” That is when the light of the sun, the moon, and the stars will grow dim for you, and the rain clouds will never pass away. Then your arms, that have protected you, will tremble, and your legs, now strong, will grow weak. Your teeth will be too few to chew your food, and your eyes too dim to see clearly. Your ears will be deaf to the noise of the street. You will barely be able to hear the mill as it grinds or music as it plays, but even the song of a bird will wake you from sleep. You will be afraid of high places, and walking will be dangerous. Your hair will turn white; you will hardly be able to drag yourself along, and all desire will be gone.

INTRODUCTION

We are going to do something rare today–we are going to recognize our Senior Adults. First, I want to recognize our Senior of Seniors, Mrs. Jewel Roberts, age 49 [inverted]. Mrs. Jewel, I want you to come to the front and stand by me. Now I want everyone 80 years old and above to come stand with me. [Applause] Now if you are 65 or above, come stand with us. Note two things: In the above 80 group, the women out number the men and two, the senior adult population is about to boom because of baby boomers. 

Project 10 years from now, 2026: how old will you be, I will be 76 Lord willing. In ten years Senior Adults will double teenagers. There are 74 million baby boomers and 10,000 of them are retiring every day until 2028, only 12 years away.

Let me ask you a question: if you were going to speak to a group of Senior Adults, what would you choose as a topic? Would you use Dr. Adrian Rogers outline on the three major life decisions: Life’s Master, Life’s Mate and Life’s Mission? I didn’t think so. Would you talk to them about “Temptation?” Of course not, old folks cannot be tempted! Wrong! The devil does not give Senior’s a pass. Our temptations may not be the same as the younger generations but there are just as real.

Now I do admit that things change for Seniors and this includes temptation. We are tempted to go to wild late night parties, we don’t have enough energy for a party, a dinner at a fine restaurant will do just fine. It takes us longer to rest than it does to get tired and twice as long to get ready. I get exhausted getting ready and it takes women twice as long to look half as good. It was a joke a few years ago but now my back does go out more than I do. Everything hurts and what does not hurt, does not work or either it is dried up or leaks. A major challenge for me is not to float a creek after a flood which was once fun; I am challenged now by finding my car in a parking deck. In spite of all this disabilities we can still be tempted.

A recent survey of 300 Senior Adults reveal that Senior Adults have many temptations [more of a spiritual nature] but the top five are:

  1. A CRITICAL SPIRIT–Like Naomi, we become bitter and cynical with time. Age can turn a lot of things sour and sometimes we allow the disappointments to sour our attitude. Instead of us being encourages to the younger generations, we become highly critical. They don’t need our critical analysis, they need our prayerful support. I’ve made mistakes I cannot recover from: I’m sure my son observed my ways and saw the errors and decided he wasn’t going to make the same mistakes. I call this progress. I don’t want to discourage him, I want to encourage him. We cannot give in to this cynical and critical spirit though the temptation is strong.
  2. A SPIRIT OF RESIGNATION OR DEFEATWe are tempted to quit, to throw in the towel, we are tempted to be lazy and pass the buck with alibis like, “Its time for the young folks to step up.” They are stepping up but we don’t need to quit. Note our text for today…Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, so that you will be tested, and you will have tribulation for ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. Note the scripture says ‘unto death’ not until 65. There is no reason a Senior Adult cannot go to Montgomery for a 1 hour prayer rally. What are you going to be doing that is more important? We want to make key decision for others to follow but we are not setting the proper example by following ourselves. We don’t retire from ministry.
  3. INFLEXIBILITYThis one surprised me at first but the more I thought about it, the more it made sense. We don’t want to change and we resist change with a vengeance. We are dealing with VBS right now: Mandy and I have yielded to change because we want to have a VBS and we are not going to be able to do it if we are inflexible. It may be a battle if we are flexible. I don’t recommend that Seniors go on Guatemalan Mission Trips because you have to be flexible. If you are not you will get bent out of shape. Seniors are prone to yield to this temptation.
  4. LIVING IN A STATE OF REGRET–We’ve all made mistakes and some of us have made more than others. We must accept the forgiveness we have in Christ. We cannot give in to the remorse of our regrets. This will lead to a perpetual pity party. We will spend the majority of our time feeling sorry for ourselves.
  5. ANXIETY–I’m not at all shocked by number 5, worry is a huge temptation for Seniors. Do we have enough money for retirement? What if we outlive our savings? Who is going to take care of us if we get to a point that we can’t take care of ourselves? Which nursing home will our children choose? Will they come to see us or forget us? What if I have a stroke and it doesn’t kill me? What if my body outlives my mind?

CONCLUSION

Speaking of anxiety, let me tell you what you should be worried about and that’s where you are going to go after the nursing home? Where are you going to spend eternity? This question is not just for Senior Adults. Personally, I would not want to die without Jesus.