A reminder to everyone we will be reopening this Sunday, May 24, for the Sunday Morning Worship Service at 10:00am.
If you have a fever or flu symptoms, or have recently been in contact with anyone who has recently been sick, please do not attend the service. We can send you a recording of the service to listen to at home if you request it.
The only point of entry into the church is through the main Sanctuary doors. Those with keys to other entrances are reminded to NOT use them.
Please note that the ushers will be seating you as you arrive in order to maintain social distancing between family groups. You will need to wait outside as each family is seated. Please continue to maintain 6 feet distance between you as you wait, and we thank you in advance for your patience.
You are encouraged to wear face masks as per CDC recommendations. Hand sanitizer will be provided as you enter and leave the church.
All hymnals and Bibles have been removed from the pews along with any other shared materials that are difficult to clean, but all lyrics and Scriptures will be displayed on the PowerPoint throughout the service.
Tithes and Offerings
You can leave your tithes and offerings in the plate at the door, either as you arrive or leave. The counters will commence weekly counts in the next week.
While we will have bathrooms available for use on the same level as the Sanctuary, we would recommend you limit use. The service will be kept shorter in order to accommodate this. Please only use the walkway to the left of the stage to access them. All internal and external doors will be left open in order to reduce touching of door handles. If you feel you may need to use the bathroom during the service, please request to be seated on that side of the Sanctuary.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact the Church Office
The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. . . and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ. (Matthew 1:1; 16)
The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. (Mark 1:1)
Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught. (Luke 1:1-4)
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with Go. All things were made through him and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:1-5)
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.” These words are the beginning of the literary classic written by Charles Dickens called, A Tale of Two Cities. A good introduction captures the attention of the audience leaving them to want to hear the rest of the story. Sometimes the introduction is the most compelling element of the story while other times it undersells how important the rest of the story will be. I think the beginning of each gospel account fulfils the latter because of the importance and power of the gospel. We are going to look at the prolegomena of each gospel account as we think about what the author was communicating to his audience.
Matthew: The Genealogy of God’s Fulfilled Promises
Matthew is unique from the other gospel accounts because he begins with a lengthy genealogy divided by 3 sections as he summarizes in Matthew 1:17, “So all the generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations, and from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations, and from the deportation to Babylon to the Christ fourteen generations.” This genealogy seems logical and we could have many lengthy studies on each person as they are notable, but Matthew announces what truly is important.
Matthew 1:1 begins with the phrase “the book of the genealogy,” which is more powerful than one might think. Many people today are interested in genealogies especially as we age and gain a certain perspective. I remember as a child my grandmother telling me stories about my great-grandfather as a young man and his parents whom I never met. I only knew my great-grandfather during the last ten years of his life but was interested in his stories even though I am certain they were not true, and I can barely remember my great-grandmother as she died much earlier than him. Now, we can do so much better than genealogies as you can send a sample of your DNA and then have it tested. If we think the same way about Matthew 1:1; that it is a genealogical account of those who preceded Jesus on this earth, we have missed the main point. The phrase “the book of the genealogy” can be translated as “a book of the genesis.” This is a powerful point as one considers this is a book of the genesis of the gospel being realized in Jesus. Genesis 1:1 is the book of the beginning of God creating the natural order, and Matthew 1:1 is the book of the beginning of God redeeming his creation. What a powerful beginning creation account!
The irony of this genealogy is the son is honored more than the father. In other words, the glory of the familial line is found at the end and not the beginning. Jesus is to be honored more than any of the patriarchs who came before him in the genealogical record. This is an irony in the ancient world because fathers were honored more than their children, and Jewish people held the Patriarchs, namely Abraham to a high honor. This genealogy is not about Abraham, Isaac, or Jacob, but it is about Jesus! Even the Patriarchs knew this fact as they knew it was never about them. Hebrews 11:9-10 describes Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob’s desire in life, “By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder if God.”
Matthew 1:1 gives a summary of verses 2-17 with a single phrase concerning Jesus, “the son of David, the son of Abraham.” Do you notice anything interesting by this phrase? Isn’t it backwards for a genealogy? Yes, it is. We would think it should say the son of Abraham, the son of David, but it does not. He only mentions two names out of this long genealogy, and he does this because he wants us to focus on something about these two men. They were given the promises of God. In one sense, David receives precedence because of the nature of God’s promise to David often called the Davidic Covenant. 2 Samuel 7:12-16 is the text concerning God’s promise, “when your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son. When he commits iniquity, I will discipline him with the rod of men, with the stripes of the sons of men, but my steadfast love will not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you. And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever.” This promised summarized means one will sit on the throne of David forever, and this promised one is no one other than Jesus Christ. This is an incredible promise from God and the one he made to Abraham was also important because the Lord promised him one who would bless the nations. Listen to the great promise of God in Genesis 12:2-3, “and I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” How will the nations be blessed? It will be by the one who will come through Abraham’s line. Revelation 7 describes the fulfilment of that promise as it describes “the multitude no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages” as they worship our Lord in heaven.
Mark: The Beginning of the Gospel
The gospel is synonymous with the birth of Jesus. If Jesus was not born then there would be no gospel, and if we understand the gospel to be the good news then we conclude there is no good news without Jesus’ birth. The gospel must begin with the arrival of God’s Son on the earth and the miracle of his birth is no less amazing than the miracle of his resurrection. They both are incredible and necessary in Christianity. Many people will place a manger scene somewhere in their house or in their yard during Christmas season, but I wonder how many people think about the miracle of God in the virgin giving birth to Jesus, the eternal Son of God?
Mark describes Jesus by two names. He first calls him “Jesus Christ,” which causes the reader to think about the promises of God. The Christ was understood to be the one who deliver his people. The Jews throughout the pages of the Old Testament were looking for this Christ. The promise of the Christ is first found in what is called The Fall. God, speaking to the serpent said, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his hill.” This may sound odd at a first reading, but Satan is being told that he will be destroyed, and the woman will be saved by her offspring. Jesus is the promised offspring and he destroyed Satan on the cross while Satan stroke a blow when Jesus died on that cross. In other words, Satan’s crushing blow to Jesus’ feet led to a crushing blow of his own head. Jesus death was temporary while Satan’s is eternal. Perhaps John Owen said it best when he titled his book, The Death of Death in the Death of Christ.
The second name he assigns to Jesus is the Son of God which shows his belief that Jesus was not an ordinary man but divine. All Christianity affirms that Jesus is the Son of God throughout all generations. This is a non-negotiable and if one does not affirm Jesus as the Son of God, then he or she is not a believer. I believe Peter’s confession must be the confession of every member of the kingdom of Heaven. Jesus was asking his disciples who people say he is and they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” This is a good and honorable list, but it is not enough for salvation. Jesus then turned the question on them, “But who do you say that I am?” They probably looked at each other while God was doing a work in Peter causing him to speak up as he said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus, claiming to be God’s Son after Lazarus’ resurrection caused the Jews to quickly put Jesus on the cross. Jesus announced before the death of Lazarus concerning his friend, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” John never could get over Jesus being the Son of God because at the end of his gospel account he announces the reason why he wrote his gospel, “but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”
Luke: A Doctor’s Perspective on the Gospel
God used imperfect people to communicate his perfect word and Luke’s personality is easily seen throughout the pages of his gospel account. Luke was a doctor by training and his lengthy introduction makes this point clearly as he is logical by training and clear in communication. He states that many people have attempted to organize narratives about Jesus, and he wanted to put together one that is orderly. Of course, many people were writing about what Jesus did, because what Jerusalem beheld was no small thing but a constant conversation discussing the importance of the events surrounding Jesus. Luke summarizes his gospel account when he wrote in Acts 1:1-3, “In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach until the day when he was taken up, after he had given commands through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.”
He doesn’t actually say much about Jesus during his introduction, but he does become very specific as he writes later. He does tell us that he wrote it for Theophilus which has been confusing for me throughout my Christian life. Is this an actual person or does it represent a type of people? Theophilus means lover of God so it would make sense that he is writing this letter for those who love God, but he also might be writing this for one person. Logically, it makes sense that he is writing it for public consumption. Luke/Acts are lengthy books and would seem to be written for Christians and those who would become part of the family of faith. Either way, it doesn’t really matter that much, but God knows.
The gospel is clearly seen in Luke’s account but not in the introduction, however we quickly see Matthew’s point of Jesus fulfilling the Davidic Covenant and Mark’s emphasis on him being the Son of God in the very first chapter of Luke when the angel named Gabriel spoke to Mary saying, “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
John: The Eternal Son of God
The first truth that should catch the attention of the careful reader is the closeness between the beginning of John and Genesis. Genesis 1:1 says, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth,” and John 1:1 reports, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” The idea being communicated is the eternality of Jesus. In other words, Jesus was in the beginning with God when the material world was being created and he makes the point Jesus was creating it as he says, “all things were made through him.” Jesus’ was not born into existence in 3-5 B.C. when he was born but was always alive even before Abraham breathed his first breath. Jesus is eternal.
Jesus relationship with the Father is seen in his sonship from the very beginning. Jesus called himself the Son of God and this point is made early in the gospel account in John 1:14, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” Genesis 1:26 makes more sense when we understand the Son’s role as Creator with the Father in the beginning as the text says, “the God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.’” The Jews understood this to mean God with the angels, but it makes more sense that it is the Father speaking to the Son.
In summary, John mentions Jesus’ eternality and relationship with God the Father in the beginning as his Son who creates. Lastly, Jesus is also called life and light which describes his ministry. John communicates the connection between light and life in his introduction as he says, “In him was life, and the life was the light of men.” Jesus is life because of the gospel that brings life to those who were dead in their sins and trespasses. Paul makes this point clearly in Ephesians 2:1-2;4-6, “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience. . .But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. . .”
There is so much more we could say about Jesus, but a brief look at these introductions should result in our joy when we consider how great Jesus is and the gospel he brings. Each of these gospel accounts are unique in their own ways, but there are exists so many similarities resulting in praise. Obviously, the good news of the gospel accounts is the gospel itself so in this understanding let us conclude with perhaps the most beloved passage of Scripture describing the glorious gospel in John 3:16-18, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.”
To our Church Family at Fishersville Baptist Church
Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:14-16)
The people of Israel had religious fervor during the time of the great apostasy under the reign of King Ahab. They rebelled against the lordship of God and turned to other gods, particularly Baal, but their religious expression did not change that much. For example, when the great showdown between the Lord and Baal took place, they both had altars, prophets, sacrifices, worshipers, and prayer. The difference is that God answered not the prophets of Baal, although they outnumbered Elijah, but the one prophet who worshiped the true and living God. In other words, God answers the prayer of the one who knows him. Perhaps a great passage that makes this point is found in the first chapter of 2 Kings, when Ahaziah proceeded to reign briefly after the death of Ahab. He angered God because he sought Baal instead of the Lord when he became ill. He arrogantly ordered a large procession to retrieve Elijah who by this time was infamous among the pagans after the death of prophets of Baal. Notice what 2 Kings 1:9-10 proclaims, “Then the king sent to him a captain of fifty men with his fifty. He went up to Elijah, who was sitting on the top of a hill, and said to him, ‘O man of God, the king says, ‘Come down.’ But Elijah answered the captain of fifty, ‘If I am a man of God, let fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty.’ Then fire came down from heaven and consumed him and his fifty.” Elijah informs them that his relationship with God is the reason why the Lord answers his prayers.
Recently, I have heard people say that we need to pray in times like this. Many of us have even heard about the power of prayer before our recent pandemic began. Once I heard an interview of a doctor saying how important faith is for one who is undergoing surgery. He was not specific about which faith but only said faith is important. This philosophy of religion within the medical establishment is dangerous because it replaces the value of God with what he provides. Prayer is nothing but an overflow of one’s relationship with the sovereign Lord of heaven. We do not need books to teach us how to pray but what we truly need is to be closer in the presence of God. I am thankful for the famous song’s lyric that proclaims the truth from Psalm 84:10, “For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere.” It is idolatrous to love the gift God provides more than God himself. Sometimes, a non-believer will pray for God’s help, but that person does not want God but only his power fulfilling the person’s desire. During this pandemic, we do not need Christians praying more, but we need them drawing near to the presence of God. Who will God answer? The person who prays continually all day long, or the person who has been in God’s presence all day and humbly asks for the Lord’s help?
John Bunyan wrote the famous book called The Pilgrim’s Progress which is an allegory of a Christian’s life. I believe it is one of the greatest books I have ever read and highly recommend it to all who would ask. Bunyan wrote the book while serving a twelve-year sentence for preaching the gospel. They offered to release him if he would promise to not preach and he told them that if they released him today, he would preach tomorrow. C.H. Spurgeon once said he read The Pilgrim’s Progress at least 100 times in his life and he often quoted it in his sermons. He said regarding John Bunyan, “Read anything [by John Bunyan], and you will see that it is almost like reading the Bible itself. . .Why, the man is a living Bible! Prick him anywhere; and you will find that his blood is Bibline, the very essence of the Bible flows from him” Bunyan defines prayer as “a sincere, sensible, affectionate pouring out of the heart and soul to God, through Christ, in the strength and assistance of the Holy Spirit, for such things as God has promised, or according to his Word, for the good of the church, with submission in faith to the will of God.” Prayer is the supernatural overflow of a Christian’s devotion to the Lord for Bunyan. He knows nothing of a lukewarm Christianity pleading with God in times of trouble.
Hebrews 4:14-16 is often used as a comfort for Christians regarding their prayer lives as the passage declares, “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” It is interesting to note the emphasis of the passage is not on the act of prayer but nearness to the Lord. The only way we are able to have more effective prayers is to draw closer to the Lord in our relationship with him.
The Gospel as the Means to Approach the Lord
God is unapproachable without the power of the gospel applied to the soul of believers through Jesus. We cannot approach God in our own righteousness, and 1 Timothy 6:15b-16 describes this truth, “he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion, Amen.” This truth is not well known among those who proclaim they are good people and God will accept them. In theological terms, they are claiming a certain righteousness that Paul rejected referring to the Jews when he said, “For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness.”
The Christian has an imputed righteousness through Jesus who is called the great high priest. The high priest had the role of approaching God on behalf of the people of God, and now Jesus has that role. There is no longer any need for a human priest because God’s Son fulfills that role today, and he is far superior than any priest in the Old Testament. They all had shortcomings and agendas, but Jesus is called great, which indicates he is better than all of those who were before him. Jesus was tempted just like all the other high priests and humanity for that matter but was perfect without sin. The author of Hebrews argues that Jesus is greater than the prophets, patriarchs, Moses, and the angels. Jesus’ position is also greater because he does not enter the most holy place once a year with great fear, but he sits on the right hand of the Father in heaven. We are reminded of this fact when Stephen is being martyred and he looks up and Jesus is standing in heaven.
The text says concerning Jesus, “has passed through the heavens.” Every believer rejoices in this fact, that Jesus died, was buried, and was raised on the third day. Jesus passing through the heavens is a reminder of the fulfilment of the gospel and the promise of God concerning our own resurrection. Christians rejoice in their future resurrection when they leave this temporal world and enter God’s eternal kingdom. Heaven is the place where we belong and desire throughout our journey in this world. When the passage tells us to “hold fast to our confession,” it means to not let go of the gospel but be reminded by it and believe it with all our heart. The resurrection is essential and is a non-negotiable theological truth. If Jesus was not raised from the dead then there is no gospel and Paul makes this same point in 1 Corinthians 15:14, “And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.”
Confidence in Approaching the Lord to Receive Grace and Mercy
Prayer may not be the act of lifting our voice to heaven as much as it is the response of those who are in the presence of God already. It is a matter of “already but not yet,” because we are not physically in heaven but positionally we are members of his eternal kingdom. In this way, prayer is less about asking God for things, and more about being in his presence. Think about the Psalmist’s prayer life. He asks God for deliverance and protection, but he prays like he is already in the presence of the Lord as he thanks him for his mercy and goodness. One does not have much difficulty seeing this in the Psalms, but one example is Psalm 113:1-3, “Praise the Lord! Praise, O servants of the Lord, praise the name of the Lord! Blessed be the name of the Lord from this time forth and forevermore! From the rising of the sun to its setting, the name of the Lord is to be praised!” It is not difficult to notice the Psalmist’s nearness to the Lord as he praises God for who he is.
The Christian’s life should be described as one that is confident positionally in Jesus, belonging to heaven, as a recipient of the promises of God, and even in God’s love. There is no uncertainty in Christ. We should be confident that we have received God’s grace and it is not based on works but God’s grace. Ephesians 2:8-9 makes this evidently clear, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Our confidence will be evident on the day of Jesus’ return when he separates the sheep and goats. We should be confident because the Lord knows who are his own. Non-believers should also be confident they will not be able to fool God because perceived good works, church attendance, and even records of baptism will not save. Praise God that he saves his unworthy servants and that he calls us to enter into his presence with confidence and boldness.
What do those who are able to approach the throne receive? They receive grace and mercy at an urgent time in life. Grace is God’s gift to those who have not earned it. This certainly describes our salvation. We do not deserve to be saved and we have not earned it, but it is the gift of God. John connects our receiving grace with Jesus’ work in John 1:16-17, “And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God’ the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.” If Jesus never came to the earth, where would we be? We would be lost without any hope but praise the Lord he did come and die creating a people for his possession. We also receive mercy in our time of need. Whereas, grace is an unearned gift, mercy is not receiving what you have earned. We know the cost of sin is death, and so death is what we deserve but we have a merciful God who grants to us eternal life and does not give us the eternal death we have earned. Romans 6:23 sums the idea well, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” In other words, we have earned death, but God has graciously given to us by his grace and mercy eternal life.
In conclusion, what is there to say about prayer? We should definitely pray, but we should also remember that we cannot out-pray our devotion to the Lord. Our prayer life will suffer if we keep God at a distance. The closer we are to the throne of God’s grace and mercy, the more fervent and powerful will be our prayer life. We should not get close to God because we want something from him, but rather we should approach him because we want to be near our Lord. Prayer is not the goal, but the glory of God is, and God is glorified when his people desire to be near him as they lift their voices to him in both their joy and in times of distress.
First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. (1 Timothy 2:1-4)
We are called to live godly lives because we are kingdom citizens regardless of the situation we find ourselves. Christians often celebrate what is often entitled The Christian Hall of Faith in Hebrews 11 but notice all of those saints suffered in their lives and I think the hook is the phrase describing them as “of whom the world was not worthy.” The historical context of those in the past who suffered for the Lord cannot be overlooked when we are called to godly living in the next chapter when it says, “let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us. . .” This is a call to live for the Lord in the midst of great difficulty and we should count it as our joy just as James 1:2 instructs believers, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds. . .”
The missionary’s death was more than a shock to those who knew him best. A void would be left in their lives as he gave to the youth in a camp in China everything he had to give. His death must have been painful as he developed an inoperable brain tumor as he uttered his final words about his full surrender to God which was evident throughout his life. Who was this missionary? His name was Eric Liddell and his story came alive in a 1981 movie called, Chariots of Fire. He was a runner but more than that he was a Christian and he lived what he professed as a member of the body of Christ. To qualify for the Olympics must be a fulfilled dream of many people every four years, and Eric’s joy to run the 100-meter race was soon filled with difficulty when he learned he would have to run on the Christian Sabbath. He refused to run the 100-meter race which he would be the favorite for a gold medal, because of his conscience. He knew why he ran, as he said, “I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run, I feel his pleasure.” He was a middle of the pack 400-meter runner and decided to pursue that distance leading up to the Olympics because none of the races were on Sunday. Who would do this? He wasn’t expected to win anything, but he not only won the gold medal in the 1924 Olympics, but he broke both the Olympic and World records. What a powerful testimony! What is interesting is that a year after the Olympics, he entered missionary service in China until his death. When he spoke about his purpose in that famous quote, it had nothing to do with running, but glorifying God in his life.
Our lives will be filled with difficulty in the future as it has been in the past, but will we take the easy path of disobedience or will we follow the Lord with joy seeking to glorify our great God. Currently, all of us are affected in some degree with this virus being called a pandemic. We have no control over the virus, but we can control how we respond to it. Our lives have been affected by a million decisions we have made throughout the years, but one thing is certain. We should seek to glorify God through these days of fear and uncertainty. How should we live? Paul wrote to Timothy what a godly life looks like, and we would do well to heed his advice as well.
Pray for Everyone
This may be too judgmental, but I think Christians spend more time talking about prayer than praying. It is foundational in our relationship with the Lord and we are called to pray even if we do not have urgent prayer requests, and it is reflective of our relationship with the Lord. Think about it this way. How we pray often is forged by our years with the Lord. If I pray everyday to the Lord and speak to him throughout the course of my life, then I will have far less difficulty than one who only prays when he must.
Paul states prayer is an issue of necessity when he writes, “First of all,” which indicates the importance of this spiritual discipline. Paul does not say prayer is a good idea, or if you have time, but rather he assumes they will pray. He strengthens his argument when he describes prayer in four ways. He calls prayer supplication, which has the idea of going to God for the sake of another person. We should be praying for each other and in this way we ought to be a community of faith. We should be praying for those going through difficulty in their lives. In this way, prayer is selfless and not self-centered. Paul also says prayer which reminds us of whom we are speaking. Prayer is our speaking to God who sits on his throne in heaven. We should remember to whom we are praying always and remember he wants us to pray to him. Prayer is also intercession as we intercede for others in our relationship with the Lord. We intercede for others when they are going through times of difficulty. We also intercede for those who do not know the Lord by asking the Lord to convict them of their sins and bring them to the knowledge of the truth. I know I pray that prayer often as I think about people who need the Lord. So often, this type of prayer is for the sake of the one who does not know the Lord. Our prayer should be thankful as Paul uses the word thanksgivings. Prayer is not just telling God what we want but prayer is also thanking God for who he is and what he has done. We should also thank the Lord because of his great promises to us throughout the pages of his Holy Word.
We should pray for our all people which means those we like and those we do not. I think we have an easier time praying for those people we like rather than those we do not. Here, we are called to pray for those in high positions, such as our President, Governor, and all politicians. We should still pray for them even if we did not vote for them. They have a lot of responsibility and must lead in times of difficulty. I do not think this is an easy time to be an elected official as concerns about public safety, economic consequences, and personal freedoms are being addressed.
Live a Godly Life
Our responsibility is clear. Our calling in life is to live godly lives which means we are to live as members of this society while applying the principles of God’s kingdom. We know our time here is short, but one day we will leave this place and shall be in the presence of our Lord. There is much argument among Christians how to live. Some believe we should enforce the Beatitudes on all people, but we cannot ask someone to act like a believer when they are not. We need to make sure we are living a godly life by obeying the principles of Christianity in the Word of God.
We live a godly life by being peaceful which means we do not seek confrontation and war in our lives, but we desire to be at peace. I have seen Christians who do not seek peace but seem to be the happiest when they are in the middle of controversy or at odds with other people. This is not what God has called us to, but we should be people who love peace. We should pay attention to the warning in Hebrews 12:14, “Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.” This means that every Christian should pursue with everyone and peace is a mark of holiness.
The Christian should also identify with a quiet life and not one that is boisterous and aggressive. We should seek peace with everyone and live out our faith in peace with others. Certainly, there are times when this is not possible, but we should seek to not make our leaders jobs more difficult than it has to be. Christians should not bring disrepute upon the kingdom of God. Do you pursue a quiet life? This does not mean we are quiet on issues of the gospel. Rather, we should preach Jesus to those who have never heard. We should always seek a quiet life within the context of obeying the command of God. In other words, we are compelled to obey the Great Commission and the Great Commandment, but we must do it in a peaceful and quiet way. The peace of Christianity will in the end win the day against the militaristic nature of Islam.
Please the Lord
Finally, we live a godly life by pleasing the Lord. We should seek the glory of God by what living as Christians and our faith should be clearly evident to those who do not know him because Jesus changes more than our future home, but he has given to us a new life and this should be evident in every believer. Ephesians 2 tells us we were spiritually dead, but the gospel resurrected us to spiritual life. Listen to the joyful words in Ephesians 2:4-6, “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. . .” In other words, pleasing the Lord means being what he has created you to be, which is the point Paul makes in Ephesians 2:10, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
Eric Liddell sought to glorify God in his life, but I think God was even more glorified in his death as generations of people have been touched by his profession of faith and unwillingness to compromise on his faith. May we seek to please the Lord during this difficult time in our life, because if we do not glorify God during the difficult times then how shall we glorify him during the good times. What does that say? Will we only worship the Lord and glorify him during the good times? Let us conclude by listening to the words of famous preacher, C.H. Spurgeon, “The apostle’s concern is not simply with our talk and conversation with one another, but with the whole course of our life and behavior in the world. The Greek word translated ‘manner of life’ signifies the actions and privileges of citizenship: And in this way we are commanded to let our actions, as citizens of the New Jerusalem, be worthy of the Gospel of Christ.”
To God be the Glory!
Pastor Steven Lookabaugh has been our pastor since 2016 and is passionate about proclaiming the gospel of God through the weekly exposition of God’s Word; believing application is possible when one understands the historical/cultural meaning of the text. He leads our church in fulfilling our purpose toward the Great Commission to make disciples of all nations, and to the Great Commandment as we seek to love one another. He has a Doctor of Ministry degree in Expository Preaching from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary with an emphasis on parabolic exposition. He is married to Jennifer and they have three children, Andrew, Kate and Olivia.