Lifetime Character Goals

An exercise I like to use in cultivating a leader’s character involves reflection and discussion of John Wesley’s Twelve Rules for Helpers.  I believe there are many salient points for us in ministry today.  Take a moment to reflect through these items and then use the following mini-professional development plan to develop some key areas in your own life.

John Wesley’s “Twelve Rules for Helpers.”

  1. Be diligent. Never be unemployed a moment. Never be triflingly employed. Never while away time; neither spend any more time at any place than is strictly necessary.
  2. Be serious. Let your motto be, “Holiness to the Lord.” Avoid all lightness, jesting, and foolish talking.
  3. Converse sparingly and cautiously with women; particularly, with young women.
  4. Take no step toward marriage, without first consulting with your brethren.
  5. Believe evil of no one; unless you see it done, take heed how you credit it. Put the best construction on every-thing. You know the Judge is always supposed to be on the prisoner’s side.
  6. Speak evil of no one; else your word especially would eat as doth a canker. Keep your thoughts within your own breast, till you come to the person concerned.
  7. Tell everyone what you think wrong in him, and that plainly, as soon as may be; else it will fester in your heart. Make all haste to cast the fire out of your bosom.
  8. Do not affect the gentleman. You have no more to do with this character than with that of a dancing-master. A Preacher of the gospel is the servant of all.
  9. Be ashamed of nothing but sin: Not of fetching wood (if time permit) or drawing water; not of cleaning your own shoes, or your neighbour’s.
  10. Be punctual. Do everything exactly at the time. And in general, do not mend our Rules, but keep them; not for wrath, but for conscience’ sake.
  11. You have nothing to do but to save souls. Therefore spend and be spent in this work. And go always, not only to those that want you, but to those that want you most.
    1. Observe: It is not your business to preach so many times, and to take care of this or that society; but to save as many souls as you can; to bring as many sinners as you possibly can to repentance, and with all your power to build them up in that holiness without which they cannot see the Lord. And remember! A Methodist Preacher is to mind every point, great and small, in the Methodist discipline! Therefore you will need all the sense you have, and to have all your wits about you!
  12. Act in all things, not according to your own will, but as a son in the Gospel. As such, it is your part to employ your time in the manner which we direct; partly, in preaching and visiting from house to house; partly, in reading, meditation, and prayer. Above all, if you labour with us in our Lord’s vineyard, it is needful that you should do that part of the work which we advise, at those times and places which we judge most for his glory.

After reading Wesley’s rules, how should we think about our character as leaders?

Mini-Professional Development Plan

 

Character trait & Competency Skill Lifetime Goals What do I need to start doing this month to have a good legacy in this area?
Humility
Spirituality
Authenticity
Integrity
Courage
Bible Knowledge
Church Leadership Sill
People Skills
Hobby Skills

 

Organizing the Biblical Narrative for Easy Memorization

The following is an exercise that I have utilized several times to gauge my students present an understanding of the Biblical narrative.  According to Barna’s report on spiritual growth in 2017, millennials reported Bible reading as the most important spiritual discipline, but less than 30% noted any reading in a previous month.  I would put forth that in my experience, there is a high level of Biblical illiteracy in every generation.  This issue is something our Church leaders need to address with a more intentional approach.

The tool I use is a simple ten-name framework – five Old Testament individuals and five New Testament individuals.  From each of these names, different narratives and doctrines are attached for more natural referencing and deeper dives into the work of God across history.  To begin, I have my audience try to name five individuals from each group, so that signify the crucial changes in the story.  We then go through them and my suggestions.  So, here are the following names I use to tell the Bible story and some of the doctrines and other narratives attached to them.

Old Testament

Adam

Creation, Marriage, The Fall

Noah

The flood, Covenant, Righteousness

Abraham

Covenant, Faith, Patriarchs and Israel, Salvation by Faith

Moses

Slavery in Egypt, Exodus, The Law, The Promise Land, Judges

David

History of the Kingdoms, the Messiah and David’s throne, the devils attempt to destroy the seed of David on the throne through exile and corruption.

New Testament

John the Baptist

The last Old Testament prophet who reminded the people of the promises of God and provided the final connection to the coming Messiah.

Jesus Christ

Everything the Scripture points toward.  The Gospel and all that includes.  Need I say more?

Peter

Represents the early church and its growth and struggles.  The day of Pentecost and living under the Holy Spirit.  Begins the transition from grace centered on the Jewish population toward the inclusion to the Gentiles.

Paul

The apostle to the larger Gentile world.  Furthered the expansion of the church, its organization, and practical theology.

John the Beloved

Brings closure to the New Testament by pointing forward to life under the victorious Christ in uncertain times for an undetermined period.  Demonstrates that God is still on the throne, and Christ will make all things right.

Jesus, Risen and Speaking Again

Sermon Notes for Resurrection Sunday 2019

Often we have heard of the last seven sayings of Jesus on the cross.  But, what did Jesus say after the resurrection?

First Seven Sayings of Jesus after the Resurrection in John 20.

The first three sayings were to Mary Magdalene.

 

  • Why Weepest thou? (13 & 15)
    • Rev. 21:4 – God shall wipe away all our tears.

 

 

  • Mary (16)
    • He knows my name.

 

 

  • Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my father: go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God. (Vs. 17)
    • Options A & B: – Taboo or Don’t hold me, go!

 

    • Option C: No need to hang on so tightly.  I am indeed returning to my Father, but not yet.  Go tell my disciples.  I will show myself to them and others soon.

Two sayings to the Disciples without Thomas  

 

  • Peace Be Unto You (Vs. 19)
    • Typical greeting but so much more; John 14:27 – My peace I give to you.

 

 

  • Peace be unto you, As my Father Hath Sent me, even so, send I you, receive ye the Holy Ghost, whosoever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whosoever sins ye retain, they are retained  (Vs. 21-22)
    • Deputizing – Holy Spirit – Messengers of the Gospel to be received by faith.

 

Two sayings to the Disciples with Thomas

 

  • Peace be unto you…Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless; but believing. (Vs. 26-7)
    • Christ will meet you where you are.  He will ease your doubts.

 

 

  • Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.
    • Our belief is assured to be trustworthy by the Word of God alone.  It’s more than a feeling.  It’s settled in God’s Word.

 

Seven Sayings: Into Thy Hands

This sermon outline was more devotional in approach.

Luke 23:44-46

44 And it was about the sixth hour, and there was a darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour.

45 And the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was rent in the midst.

46 And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost.

Psalm 31:5

“ Into thine hand I commit my spirit: thou hast redeemed me, O Lord God of truth.”

Learning to die from Jesus (Points made by John Piper)

  • Remember that God reigns.
  • Remember that God pities
  • Remember that your spirit lives on.
  • Remember that God’s hands are open to you.  
  • Do not murmur, complain, and rage against God.

Into thy hands…

  • What have you committed to God in sanctification?
    • Committed your prayers…
    • Committed your possessions…
    • Committed your family.
    • Committed your time…
    • Committed your life completely…

Seven Sayings – It is Finished

 

How many unfinished projects do you have?   How many finished events still have an effect on you today?

It is finished.

John 19:30

When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.

  • The first recorded words of Jesus when 12-years old: “Did you not know, I must be about My Father’s business?” The work Jesus was doing was the works of His Father.  On the cross, the Father’s business was finished.

Tetelestai

  • Tetelestai – Paid in full
    • Gal. 3:13a, “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law,”
    • Eph. 1:7, “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace”
    • 1 Cor. 6:20, “For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.”
  • Perfect Tense (present + aorist)
  • Finished in a moment
    • Mathew Henry noted all that is finished: “It is finished; that is, the counsels of the Father concerning his sufferings were now fulfilled. It is finished; all the types and prophecies of the Old Testament, which pointed at the sufferings of the Messiah, were accomplished. It is finished; the ceremonial law is abolished; the substance is now come, and all the shadows are done away. It is finished; an end is made of transgression by bringing in an everlasting righteousness. His sufferings were now finished, both those of his soul, and those of his body. It is finished; the work of man’s redemption and salvation is now completed.”
  • Will continue to be finished
    • This indicates the ongoing nature of our salvation. This is so important because it shows a condition, a state of being, a resting place.
    • We are saved at a specific point in time, “it is finished”, our debt is paid, we are ransomed from the kingdom of darkness, and then we confidently rest in the reality that “it will continue to be finished” because we are in a position of grace and stand justified for all time before God.

The thing is finished.  Now go and tell.

Seven Sayings: I Thirst

Soon Jesus would be dead.  The four last statements of Jesus seemed to happen in quick succession.  The fifth word of seven is, “I thirst.”

John 19:28-29

28 After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst.

29 Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar: and they filled a spunge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to his mouth.

  • He did this to fulfill another scripture.  Everything Jesus did was in the will of God and no breath, no action, no word was wasted.
    • John 5:39, “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.
  • The prophecy referenced here is Psalm 69:21, “They gave me also gall for my meat, and in my thirst, they gave me vinegar to drink.”

Two drinks

  • Matthew 27:34; Mark 15:23 speak of a drink offered to Christ at the beginning of the crucifixion that was mixed with gall.  He would not take it. Gall was used to dull pain.
  • The second time, here, it was simply vinegar, the drink of the commoner.
    • Why was vinegar there?  It was popular among the Roman soldiers.  They would mix vinegar and water to prevent scurvy and other water born diseases.  It was also better at quenching thirst. Think of it as the Gatorade of Jesus’ day.
  • Jesus would drink the bitter cup that he asked the Father to let pass from him in the Garden of Gethsemane.

A man like no other.

  • Matt. 27: 48-49, “And straightway one of them ran, and took a sponge, and filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink.  The rest said, Let be, let us see whether Elias will come to save him”
  • Matthew 27:50-54, “Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many. 54 Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God.”
  • 2 Peter 2:22-24, “21 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: 22 Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: 23 Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously:  24 Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.

What do we see and are challenged to follow?

  • Jesus’ physical humanity.
  • Jesus’ knowledge of the scriptures.
  • Jesus’ commitment to fulfilling the Father’s will.

Seven Sayings: My God, My God, Why hast Thou Forsaken Me

Jesus was on the cross for six hours at this point. It was about 3pm (the ninth hour of the day).  Up to this point, we have seen a great bit of detail about the physical side of Jesus’ crucifixion.  In this fourth statement, we are now fully introduced to the deeper anguish pressing down on the Savior.

Matthew 27:46

And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?

Fully God – Fully Human

  • The suffering was very real, it was more than a feeling.  However, it is difficult for us to understand.  Jesus who had always been with the Father for all eternity is now feeling separation with God.
  • He had all power and was without sin being fully God.
  • But, with our full humanity, he bore the weight of our sin and punishment under the intense pressure of cross and the shame and reproach.  He suffered our physical, spiritual, mental, and emotional pains.

Psalm 22

  • Jesus was not speaking random words.  Nothing He said or did was with waster breath.  We find this statement in Psalm 22 and a deeper reading here finds many similarities to what Jesus was experiencing.  I will highlight some of the easier ones to see.

Psalm 22

My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?

O my God, I cry in the day time, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent.

But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel.

Our fathers trusted in thee: they trusted, and thou didst deliver them.

They cried unto thee, and were delivered: they trusted in thee, and were not confounded.

But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people.

All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying,

He trusted on the Lord that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him.

But thou art he that took me out of the womb: thou didst make me hope when I was upon my mother’s breasts.

10 I was cast upon thee from the womb: thou art my God from my mother’s belly.

11 Be not far from me; for trouble is near; for there is none to help.

12 Many bulls have compassed me: strong bulls of Bashan have beset me round.

13 They gaped upon me with their mouths, as a ravening and a roaring lion.

14 I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels.

15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death.

16 For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet.

17 I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me.

18 They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture.

19 But be not thou far from me, O Lord: O my strength, haste thee to help me.

20 Deliver my soul from the sword; my darling from the power of the dog.

21 Save me from the lion’s mouth: for thou hast heard me from the horns of the unicorns.

22 I will declare thy name unto my brethren: in the midst of the congregation will I praise thee.

23 Ye that fear the Lord, praise him; all ye the seed of Jacob, glorify him; and fear him, all ye the seed of Israel.

24 For he hath not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; neither hath he hid his face from him; but when he cried unto him, he heard.

25 My praise shall be of thee in the great congregation: I will pay my vows before them that fear him.

26 The meek shall eat and be satisfied: they shall praise the Lord that seek him: your heart shall live for ever.

27 All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the Lord: and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee.

28 For the kingdom is the Lord‘s: and he is the governor among the nations.

29 All they that be fat upon earth shall eat and worship: all they that go down to the dust shall bow before him: and none can keep alive his own soul.

30 A seed shall serve him; it shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation.

31 They shall come, and shall declare his righteousness unto a people that shall be born, that he hath done this.

  • We so much messianic prophecy being fulfilled from this Psalm in the crucifixion of Jesus.  I believe it also helps us see what is happening.
  • When Jesus went through the temptation in the wilderness and the intensity of the prayer in the garden of Gethsemane, Angels came to minister to Him and restore His strength (Matthew 4:11; Luke 22:43).  Help was always near.
  • Jesus cries out on the cross, and from the content of Psalm 22, speaks of desperation for God’s presence and help.  However, on the cross, it was not there.  Why?

Christ became Sin, who knew no sin.

  • Christ was not forsaken from communion with God.  He did not cease to be the second person of the triune God.  Even Psalm 22 shows a still confident faith in who God is and trust in His character.
  • The sinless Son of God who had been, from all eternity, in an intimate relationship with His Father, is now spiritually separated from Him as we are when sin is present in us. When the sins of the world were put upon Jesus there was, for the first time, a separation between the Father and the Son. The Bible records something happened between them that we can only understand through the eye of faith.
    • That is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself (2 Corinthians 5:19).
  • The Father was placing the sins of the world upon the Son in order that everything in the universe that had been affected by sin could again be made right with God. Jesus was suffering the pain and separation that we deserve:
    • For he made him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in him (2 Corinthians 5:21).
  • In order for this to occur, the Father had to forsake the Son and allow our punishment to fall on Christ as our substitute.  
  • At this time, Jesus is standing not before God as Father (abba), but God (el) the righteous judge of sin.
  • May we grow in greater appreciation of Christ giving His life for us.
  • Christ was forsaken so we can have confidence before God in saying, “…for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.  So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me” (Hebrews 13:5-6).

Seven Sayings: Behold thy…

John 19:25-27

In the previous two statements made by Jesus on the cross, we were given a glimpse into the salvific power of Christ.  The intercessory work was demonstrated through Jesus’ prayer to the Father over the ignorance of the crowds.  The immediate nature of salvation was seen in the words spoken to the penitent criminal on another cross.

Still, at the cross of Jesus we also see the compassion of Jesus and the devotion of many of his Followers.

  • As crowds gather round, Jesus sees five familiar, friendly faces.
    • Jesus’ Mother was there but we don’t see any of May and Joseph’s other children (Matthew 12:46-50; Mark 3:31-35; Luke 8:19-21; John 7:3-5).
    • His aunt – Mk. 15:40 (Salome), Mt. 27:56 – mother of Zebedee’s children (James and John).
    • Mary the wife of Cleophas – mother of James and Joses (Mt. 27:56).
    • Mary Magdalene – the woman who Jesus cast 7 demons out (Lk. 8:1-3)
    • The Beloved disciple, John (John 13:23)

Mary was under Jesus’ Care.  No one cares for us like Jesus.

  • We know the song, “Mary, did you know?”  Let’s talk about what Mary knew.
    • She knew the message of Angel.
    • She heard the words of the magi and shepherds and pondered them in her heart (Lk. 2:8-20)
    • However, when Jesus was 12 years old at the temple in Lk. 2:41-52, she didn’t seem to have a full understanding of who He was and His purpose.
  • All, we can tell is she knew he was special.
    • Wedding at Cana – (John 2:1-5)
  • However, more than Mary’s love, we see Jesus’ love and compassion.  Scripture testifies of His care for us as well.
    • 1 Pet. 5:7, “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.”
    • Phil. 4:19, “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
    • 2 Cor. 12:9, “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

What we also see is how Jesus provides much of our care as He gave the care of Mary to John, a representation of the Church, the body of Christ on Earth today.

  • Why didn’t Jesus entrust Mary to Joseph or their other children?
    • Apparently, Joseph was dead.
    • Also, the step-siblings had not followed Jesus as we seen earlier.  At least not at this point.
  • So, instead of finding care in our physical relations and the world…
    • A new relation was given the responsibility
      • Acts 20:28, “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.
      • Mt. 19: 29, “And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.”
        • How can we have a hundred mothers, or children, siblings, and so forth?  No where but through the Spirit in the Church.  We receive a hundredfold the benefits of our human relationships.  To be bound together through Holy Spirit is something stronger than any relationship outside of the Spirit. 
      • We are not a part of this kingdom, we are part of the church.