The Privilege of Speech

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Speech is an awesome privilege. With the tongue we can direct, destroy, and delight. The tongue can build up and break down. There is a wonderful power in words. The Bible says, “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” But how much of our daily conversation revolves around spiritual things?

The average person has twenty-seven conversations per day. A recent study revealed that both men and women utter an average of about sixteen thousand words each day. We can talk about sports, weather, clothes, shoes, movies, and TV shows. We’re even wiling to debate the nuances of politics, the intricacies of health issues, or the complexities of national economic matters. However, when it comes to bringing up the simple gospel, we shy away. We break out in hives, our palms sweat, our tongues are tied, and we find ourselves talking about everything but the gospel. The idea of injecting Jesus into our conversations causes great anxiety and fear for ordinary believers and pastors alike. (Turning Everyday Conversations into Gospel Conversations, Jimmy Scroggins and Steve Wright, p. 21)

But what if there was another way? What if it was possible to take a simple everyday conversation and transition it into a Gospel conversation? What if it was possible to transition our normal talk into life-changing talk?

On October 28, at 11 AM, Pastors David Johnson and Douglas Turner will be co-teaching a message on how to leverage your language to help reach the lost. They will examine:

  1. The Privilege of Speaking to the Lord
  2. The Privilege of Speaking to the Lord about the Lost
  3. The Privilege of Speaking to the Lost about the Lord

There will be a time in the Word of God, practical illustrations, and a special guest presentation. It’s a time you don’t want to miss. Please join us for this teaching and for tools to help you tell the Good News about Jesus Christ.

Family Talk

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And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deut. 6:6-9)

Many people have a “Family Plan” for the cellphone service. But do you have a “Family Plan” for your spiritual development? Nothing could be more important!

Join Emmanuel Baptist Church for a special talk about the family, Sunday, August 27, at 11 AM. Pastors Douglas and David will be presenting recent findings about the families of EBC, and will point out the pillars upon which to build the home. You don’t want to miss this special service! Everyone is welcome. Please bring a friend!

Transformed

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Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more. For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, your sanctification… (1 Thessalonians 4)

The Christian walk is a process. Slowly God takes us and shapes us until we are Transformed into the image of Christ. Join us for a sermon series, “Transformed,” beginning July 2, 11 AM at EBC. Exploring 1 Thessalonians 4, we will consider:

July 2 — Your Potential
July 9 — Your Progress
July 16 — Your Purity
July 23 — Your Passion
July 30 — Your Perfection

Our music is contemporary. Our atmosphere is friendly. Our messages are relevant. There is a place for you to belong!

The Glory of God

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The modern presentation of the Gospel often becomes a man-centered, save yourself, get out of eternal punishment offer. We have watered down the Gospel to make it nothing more than a cosmic fire-escape. But the Gospel is the story of the love of God for Himself. The gospel, though it extends grace to humanity, is ultimately an expression of the desire to fill the whole earth with the Glory of God. Many say that it was love for the sinner that compelled Christ to climb Calvary’s Mount, but in actuality, it is God’s love for Himself which saw Christ endure the crucifixion.

John 12:27 says, “Now is my soul troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father save me from this hour?’ But for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.”

The word for “troubled” literally means “deeply stirred and agitated.”

  • Jesus did not walk casually to the cross
  • Jesus did not walk coldly to the cross
  • Jesus did not walk callously to the cross

Love for the Glory of the Father compelled Jesus to walk to the cross. So why was Jesus troubled?

  • Was Jesus troubled about the pain to be endured?
  • Was Jesus troubled about the process to be encountered?
  • Was Jesus troubled about the price to be executed?
NO! Jesus was troubled because the Father was not receiving all the glory He deserved! Hear the words of Henry Blackaby: “The story of the Bible is the story of God’s glory! The mission of God is that all people glorify Him. Glorifying God is God-centered, not people-centered. All the wonderful things you experience–your redemption, your salvation, and your understanding of His love–are for the purpose of glorifying Him” (On Mission with God, 21).
Pastor, theologian, and author John Piper has made famous this concept with a phrase that he coined: “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.” In his work Let the Nations be Glad, Piper expanded upon this idea. “God is glorified precisely when we are satisfied in him–when we delight in his presence, when we like to be around him, when we treasure his fellowship” (27).
In John 12:12, the crowds in Jerusalem shouted to receive an earthly Messiah. But just a few days later, these same people would cry, “Crucify him.” This troubled the heart of Jesus, because He knew they were not glorifying the Father.
In John 12:37, it says, “Though he had done so many signs before them, they still did not believe in him…” This troubled the heart of Jesus! The soul of Jesus was troubled because He knew that so many would not accept the truth that God deserves to be glorified! That is why we see two bookends around this section of God’s Word. John 12:28 says, “Father, glorify your name,” then in John 12:43 it says, “They loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.”
Christ was on a mission to glorify the Father. “But for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father glorify your name!” For Jesus, the glory of the Father was preeminent. For Jesus, the glory of the Father to precedence, and priority! But Jesus was saddened by the selfish choice of so many to glorify themselves.
The Son of God, Jesus, came to make God look great in salvation. When man choses to make God great, man is glad! God is glad when sinners are rescued. God is glorified when sinners are saved. God is grieved when sinners chose their own glory over His.
What about you? What are you glorifying? Yourself, or God? The decision makes all the difference in your destiny! Though your heart may be troubled today, do not forget the troubled heart of Jesus who was willing to die so that the glory of the Father might live in you!

The Light of the World

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John 8:12-30

I love campfires. It’s not just the smell of burning wood, or the prospect of s’mores. It’s not just the sound of crackling wood or the blast of warm air against my face in the midst of a crisp evening. It’s the light. It’s captivating. It’s mesmerizing. It’s attractive. It brings a sense of safety in the midst of darkness.

Announcing the Light

Watch now. Verse 12 of John 8 declares, “When Jesus spoke again to the people…” At first this may seem as an unimportant introduction to a passage. But I want you to look with me at an important question. Where was Jesus speaking to the people? Let me show you how the context of this passage can shed light onto our text.

Please skip ahead to verse 20 of John 8 with me. “He spoke these words while teaching in the temple area near the place where the offerings where put.” The Scripture tells you that Jesus was speaking in a portion of the temple that was known as the Treasury. The Treasury was located in a part of the temple known as the Court of Women. This Court contained two enormous menorahs. Menorah is the Jewish word for candle stand. It is said that when these menorahs were lit, there was not a court in the Temple of Jerusalem that was not illuminated. In fact, you could see the light of the temple from any part of the city.

The second important question I would like for you to consider is, “When was Jesus speaking to the people.” Please flip back with me to John 7:2. “But when the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles was near, Jesus’ brothers said to him, ‘You ought to leave here and go to Judea..’” But Jesus responded in verse 6, “The right time for me has not yet come…”

John 7:14 says, “Not until halfway through the Feast did Jesus go up to the temple courts and began to teach.”

Skip ahead to John 8:2. “At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people sat down to teach them.” And this brings us back to 8:12. “When Jesus spoke again to the people…”

  • Where was Jesus teaching? The Treasury in the Court of Women.
  • When was Jesus teaching? At the close of the Feast of Tabernacles.

The Feast of Tabernacles was an annual Jewish celebration. The purpose of the feast was to Celebrate God’s miraculous provision in protecting and guiding the Jewish people through the Wilderness during their Exodus from Egypt. During the Feast, the Jews lit enormous candelabras each evening to remember the brilliant pillar of fire that led the Jews through the wilderness by night. “The great candelabra were close behind Him, fifty cubits [6 feet] high and sumptuously gilded. Every night these lights were lit and shed their soft light all over the city. Here, the people joined in festive dances to the sound of the flutes and other music and the Levites chanted the Songs of Degrees [Pss. 120-134].” (J. W. Shepard, The Christ of the Gospels, (Eerdmans: Grand Rapids: 1939), 352.)

On the last night of the Feast, the candelabras were extinguished. With all this as a background, I believe Jesus stood in this court that had been so brilliantly illuminated for days but now was dark and declared, “I am the Light of the World…” This must have been such shock to the senses of the Jews that were gathered there. The light of the candelabras was still fresh in their memories. The darkness of the night was enveloping them. And Jesus declares, “I am the Light of the World.”

My friends there is a darkness that is enveloping the world around us. Immorality, promiscuity, pornography, homosexuality, and all manner of evil casts its shade over the landscape of our nation. But the light of Jesus Christ shines into the darkness!

The Permanence of the Light     

The Lights of the candelabras were extinguished, but Jesus is the Light that shines for eternity. The pillar of fire was extinguished after the Jews reached the Promised Land; the candelabras were extinguished at the end of the Feast of Lights, but Jesus Christ burns brightly for eternity.

  • His Light will never dim
  • His Light will never darken
  • His Light will never diminish

Satan is seeking to do all that He can to snuff the Light of God. But Satan can’t touch, tarnish, or tamper with the Light of God. The brilliant light of Jesus Christ is greater than light for the temple, or light for a city: it is the light of the world! Jesus shines brightly for eternity. He is shining brightly in the World today. I know that there is violence in the Middle East, fighting in Iraq, troops in the Afghanistan, economic difficulty in American, and drugs in our schools, but the Light of God is still shining!

It is shining brightly and brilliantly in the world today. I’ve seen His light in my life, I’ve seen His light in my marriage, I’ve seen His light in my kids, and I’ve seen His light shine in you!

  • His Light has led some of you out of sin
  • His Light has led some of you through suffering
  • His Light has brought some of you sickness

The Extent of the Light

But notice please, that this Light isn’t just for you and me. Jesus says that He is the “Light of the world.” Jesus is not just a Light to the Jews. He is a light to the African, the Oriental, the Westerner, the Easterner, the Northerner and the Southerner. He’s a light to the privileged, and to the poor. He’s a light to the respected, and to the reviled. He’s a light to old and to the young. My Jesus is a Light to the whole world.

Please look at verse 12 again. “Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” Jesus picks up on the symbolism of the people wandering in the wilderness.  Remember, the feast of tabernacles was the celebration of when God brought His people out of wilderness during the great Exodus. Imagine nearly one million people lost in the wilderness, wandering around with no one to guide them, no map to lead them, no cloud to guide them by day and no pillar of fire to guide them by night. They wouldn’t get very far would they. They would have been lost in the wilderness.

Today, it is not 1 million people lost in the wilderness; it is 6 Billion people lost in spiritual wilderness! They are fumbling around aimlessly, hoping to stumble upon a path that will lead them out of the defeat they are experiencing. They are hopeless, hapless, and helpless. Friends, without a light to guide you, you will remain lost in the wilderness. But in the light of God you can have all the guidance and protection that you need. Go and spread His light, for you “are the light of the world!”

#JONAHRAN

JonahImmediately when someone begins to talk about Jonah, someone else is bound to get all worked up about the great ship, or the great storm or the great fish. The message of Jonah is not about a whale; it is a message about witnessing. The message is not about a devouring humungous fish; it is a message about a devoted heavenly father. The truth of the matter is that Jonah is not so much about a reluctant prophet as it is about a compassionate God. You see the message of Jonah is really about a Great God with a Great Love for a Great Big World!

When you study the book of Jonah, the underlying theme is that God loves all the people of the world. The God who loves the world, wants the whole world to hear the message of the Gospel. But it must be said, that Jonah is a disobedient prophet because he was unwilling to tell the people of Nineveh that there was a loving God that wants to save them.

There are three imperatives (commands) that God gives to Jonah. These underscore the urgency of the call of God. It is a very plain call. It is a very clear call found in Jonah 1:1…

  • Arise
  • Go
  • Cry

Stated another way, God said…

  • Get UP
  • Go UP
  • Speak UP!

But what did Jonah do? Jonah RAN! Jonah 1:3 says, “Jonah rose to FLEE to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. He went DOWN to Joppa…” Then Jonah 1:5 says, “But Jonah went DOWN to the inner part of the ship and had laid DOWN and was fast asleep…”

Jonah was so reluctant to see the salvation of Nineveh that he arose and fled. He headed for Tarshish. As far as we can determine, Tarshish was on the coast of Spain. It was thought of as the end of the earth. It was more than 2000 miles in the wrong direction. How foolish is it that a man thinks that he can run from God?

The Bible says that Jonah paid the fare to Tarshish! When you run from God you always pay the price! It is a bit remarkable that a prophet had enough money available for a 2000-mile journey. But listen, whenever you run from the will of God, the devil will always provide the transportation and the fare. Any time you want to run from God, the devil will open the door. Whenever you run from the will of God, you will always pay the fare. There is always a price to pay when you get outside the will of God.

Sin take you farther than you want to go. Sin will teach you more than you want to know. Sin will keep you longer than you want to stay. Sin will cost you more than you want to pay. There are no free rides on the devil’s transportation system. You always pay the fare. On the other hand, when you follow the will of God, HE will always pay the fare.

  • He paid the fare for our sin debt
  • He paid the fare for our salvation
  • He paid the fare for death
  • He paid the fare for the grave

If you will go God’s way, He will pay the fare. He will take care of you.

If you have experienced the mercy of a Great God, He has a call on your life: Get UP, Go UP, and Speak UP to those who have yet to experience His mercy. Don’t run from God. Run with Him, to a world desperately in need of the hope and mercy and grace He offers! Jonah ran…don’t make the same mistake, or you may find yourself in a whale of a mess!