Sermon Series: GOD USES ORDINARY PEOPLE: Special Stories About Common People
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11-Feb-18 - The Unimpressive 12: How They Impressed Jesus
FROM ORDINARY TO EXTRAORDINARY:
INTRODUCING THE TWELVE
- GOD HAS SPECIAL PURPOSES FOR ORDINARY PEOPLE (Mark 3:13-19)
God chose 12 apostles (3:16-19), out of many disciples (2:15). He appointed them for 2 purposes: (1) to be with him (3:14a) – it’s primarily relational; & (2) to be sent to do 2 tasks (i.e., to preach, & to have delegated authority to cast out demons [6:7-13]), which Jesus Himself modeled to them (1:14, 34, 39). Remember: God makes our ordinary lives extraordinary by giving us His divine purpose for us. Let’s discover & do God’s purposes!
- GOD ALLOWS SPECIFIC TESTS FOR ORDINARY PEOPLE (Mark 14:38, 50)
God strengthens ordinary people through tests in the midst of troubles (14:33-34). The 3 disciples were told to watch (14:34b), as Jesus prayed (14:32b). But they slept thrice (14:37, 40, 41), & did not watch & pray (14:38). Thus, when their test came, they failed by deserting Jesus (14:50). Note: failures come when we don’t watch & pray. Let’s strengthen ourselves by watching & praying!
- GOD BRINGS SPARKLING CHANGES TO ORDINARY PEOPLE (Acts 4:19-20; 5:27-29)
God totally transformed the 12 apostles, as seen in Acts 4:19-20 & 5:27-29. They did not desert Jesus anymore nor stop telling about Him. What made the difference? Aside from the Spirit empowering them (Acts 1:8; 2:4), they were involved in corporate prayer (1:13-14; 2:42; 3:1; 4:24). Remember: corporate prayer transforms people. Let’s pray for transformation together!
18-Feb-18 - God Uses the Hot-Headed & The Thunder-Tempered
Stop, Look, Listen
“A fool gives vent to his anger but a wise man keeps himself under control. “Proverbs 29:11 (NIV)
Why is it so important to keep our anger under control? Because uncontrolled anger can become a habitual way of responding to life. Pretty soon, your anger controls you instead of you controlling your anger.
The Book of Proverbs is filled with practical steps on how to control your anger. Let me share three. The easiest way to remember them is to remember a little phase that you may have learned as a child when you were taught to cross the street: Stop, Look, Listen.
- Stop. Stop and think before you speak. I don’t know why it is but angry words always seem to come easily. I know some people who, when they get angry, are witty, sarcastic, quick! But a sharp tongue is the quickest way to cut your throat.
Proverbs 14:17 (NIV) says, “A quick tempered man does foolish things.” And Proverbs 15:1 (NIV) says, “A gentle answer turns away wrath but harsh words stir up anger.” The starting point in dealing with anger is to stop and watch what you say.
- Look. Look at the situation from God’s point of view, not your point-of-view. That means be mature enough to overlook minor hurts, frustrations and insecurities. If somebody insults you, criticizes you, or puts you down, be mature enough to say, “It’s not going to bother me.” Proverbs 12:16 (NIV) says, “A man’s wisdom gives him patience. It is his glory to overlook an offense.”
Anger, like every other emotion, is caused by the way you see a situation. If you want to control your anger, one way to do it is to change your point-of-view.
- Listen. Listen to the needs and hurts of those people that you’re tempted to be angry against. Any angry person is just a hurting person. They’re hurting inside, they’re frustrated. When you listen to their needs, it’s easier to respond and not get angry.
“Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” (James 1:19 NIV) If you do the first two, the third will come automatically. If you are quick to listen and slow to speak, it is going to be automatic that you are slow to become angry.
– Rick Warren
Ephesians 4:29-5:2 (ESV)
29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
5 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
ANGER GOD’S WAY
What Common tell me
What do you know about anger?
How important is your anger items?
How much is that anger important to you?
Am I responding well?
Where is God in my anger?
God’s anger is…
25-Feb-18 - God Uses the Problem-Prone & The 2nd Fiddle
You Don’t Have to be Perfect, Just Pure, to be Used by God
“If you keep yourself pure, you will be a special utensil for honorable use. Your life will be clean, and you will be ready for the Master to use you for every good work” (2 Timothy 2:21 NLT, second edition).
If you want to be used by God, you need to purify your heart.
You don’t have to be a perfect person, but you do have to have a pure heart. The Bible says in 2 Timothy 2:21, “If you keep yourself pure, you will be a special utensil for honorable use. Your life will be clean, and you will be ready for the Master to use you for every good work” (NLT, second edition).
God uses all kinds of people. He uses shy people. He uses outgoing people. He uses all different races, ages, stages of life, and backgrounds. He uses men and women. God will use plain vessels, and he’ll use ornate vessels. He’ll use big vessels and small vessels. But there is one thing that God will not use: He will not use a dirty vessel. You have to be clean on the inside.
How do you do that? How do you purify yourself? You do it through a simple word: confession. Augustine said, “The confession of bad works is the beginning of good works.” The Bible says in 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins to God, he will keep his promise and do what is right: he will forgive us our sins and purify us from all our wrongdoing” (TEV).
The word “confess” in Greek is the word homologeo. Homo means “same,” and logeo means “to speak.” So homologeo literally means “to speak the same about my sin that God does.” It means you agree with him: “God, you’re right. It wasn’t a faux pas. It wasn’t a mistake. It was a sin. It was wrong.” It doesn’t mean you bargain with God (“I’ll never do it again”). It doesn’t mean you bribe God (“I promise to read my Bible every day if you’ll forgive me”).
You just admit it.
That may seem too simple to you. You may say, “All I’ve got to do is admit it, and God will forgive me?” Yes! It’s called grace!
Here’s what I’d suggest you do if you really want to be used by God: Take time this week to sit down with a pad of paper, and say, “God, what’s wrong in my life? Show me. I’m going to write it down, and I’m going to admit it. I’m going to confess it to you.” Then, when God gives you an idea, you write it down.
The first time I did this, I thought I was going to write a book! And I’ve done this many times since. Make a list, and then write 1 John 1:9 over it and say, “God, I admit these to you. These are wrong. I don’t want them in my life.” Ask God to cleanse your life. God will forgive you!
This is the starting point to being used by God. You must purify your heart.
John 21:15-19 (NIV)
15 When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”
“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”
16 Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”
17 The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. 18 Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” 19 Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!”
GOD USES THE PROBLEM-PRONE & THE SECOND FIDDLE
(John 21:15-19; 1:40-42; 6:8-9; 12:20-22)
Today, we learn from Peter & Andrew, the pair of fishermen-brothers from the 12. Peter was a determined man, but he was problem-prone: insightful but reckless (Mk. 8:29-33); speaking before listening (Mk. 9:5-8); overzealous but melts when confronted (Mk. 14:31, 66-72). Andrew, a soul-winner, was a contented & humble “second fiddle” (i.e., someone with a less prominent role). He was satisfied serving in the background, never power-hungry nor prestige-conscious.” What can we learn from these 2 brothers, whom Jesus transformed in an extraordinary way?
1. GOD GIVES SECOND CHANCES TO THE PROBLEM-PRONE (Jn. 21:15-19)
Jesus calls Peter from a life of fishing to a life of fishing for people (Mk. 1:16-18). He highlights this call through a big catch of fish (Lk.5:1-11). Later in his ministry, Peter even walks on water (Matt. 14:22-33). But he fails miserably by denying Jesus 3x (Mk. 14:31, 66-72). Yet, Jesus gives him a 2nd chance, using another miracle of a big catch (Jn. 21:1-14) & reinstating Peter’s call (21:15-19) through the “shepherding” metaphor (transitioning from the “fishing” metaphor). In fact, Jesus encourages Peter even before he denies Jesus (Lk. 22:31-32). Let’s give people 2nd chances!
2. GOD SHOWS CARE THROUGH THE 2ND-FIDDLE SOUL-WINNER (Jn. 1:40-42; 6:8-9; 12:20-22)
Jesus uses Andrew, who is originally a disciple of John the Baptizer (Jn. 1:35-39), in reaching out to others as a “soul-winner.” Andrew serves as an “introducer” to Peter (1:40-42), the boy with 5 loaves of bread & 2 fish (6:8-9), & the Greeks (12:20-22). He is also a humble 2nd fiddle, satisfied serving in the background. He is usually called “Peter’s brother” (Matt. 10:2; Lk. 6:14), appears 4th in the list of the Twelve (outside of Jesus’ “inner circle”), & fails to witness what Peter, James, & John would see (e.g., the raising of Jairus’ daughter; the transfiguration). Let’s gladly use whatever gift God gives to us, & let’s be content with the role He assigns to us!
04-Mar-18 - God Uses the Outcast & The Misunderstood
GOD USES THE OUTCAST & THE MISUNDERSTOOD
(Luke 5:27-32; John 20:24-29)
The 12 apostles were average and ordinary men when Jesus met them. They were not known for their education; they were common. They came from different backgrounds, with different personalities, and yet they were all chosen to serve the Lord in a unique and special way.
Matthew was a tax collector and has become an outcast of society because of his profession. But God used him to write one of the Gospels that we now have. Thomas was misunderstood to be a “Doubter.” But we learn from his story that he was capable of devotion and courage. Let us continue to learn more from these ordinary men that became extraordinary when the Lord transformed them.
I. Matthew, the Outcast (Luke 5:27-32)
- The Call from Jesus (v.27): “Follow Me”
- The Change in Matthew (vv.28-29): “Levi followed him… and held a great banquet.”
- The Complaint of the Pharisees (v.30): “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?”
II. Thomas, the Misunderstood(John 20:24-29)
- The Character of Thomas (vv. 24-26): “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands…”
- The Challenge of Jesus(v.27 ): “Put your finger here; see my hands…”
- The Confession Thomas Made About Jesus (v.28): “My Lord and my God!”
11-Mar-18 - God Uses the Cautious & The Simple
GOD USES THE CAUTIOUS & THE SIMPLE
In our current series on “God Uses Ordinary People,” we have learned how God had changed the ordinary apostles in extraordinary ways. We have seen how God transformed Peter, a fisherman, into a fisher of men, & how God used a low-profile second fiddle like Andrew to introduce souls to Jesus. We have also looked at the 2nd set of brothers, James & John, who were also fishermen by trade & who were transformed from “sons of thunder” with hot heads into slaves of Jesus with humble hearts. Last week, we learned about how God uses the outcast (Levi or Matthew) & the misunderstood (Thomas). Today, we will discuss a 3rd pair of apostles, Philip & Nathanael-Bartholomew, who were presented as good friends in the Gospels. What can we learn from the life of Philip & his friend, Nathanael-Bartholomew?
I. GOD STRETCHES THE FAITH OF THE CAUTIOUS SOUL-WINNER
(Jn. 1:43-46; 12:20-22; 6:5-7; 14:1-14)
“Philip” is a Greek name, which means “lover of horses.” The name of Philip the Apostle appears once in each of the synoptic gospels (Matt. 10:3; Mk. 3:18; Lk. 6:14) & Acts (Ac. 1:13). But aside from the mention of his name, these same NT books contain no record about him. Only in 4 instances in the Gospel of John does Philip become a “person” with “personality.” Two of these occasions show his strength as an approachable soul winner (Jn. 1:43-51; 12:20-22) & the other 2 show his weakness as being cautious to a fault & having the to-see-is-to-believe mentality (Jn. 6:5-7; 14:1-14). Jesus stretches his faith to see God & His miracle. Let’s see with the eyes of faith!
II. GOD SETS THE SIMPLE FREE OF THEIR CAUSTIC BIAS (Jn. 1:47-51; 21:2)
The names Bartholomew and Nathanael most probably refer to the same person. Here are 3 reasons for this identification: (a) Nathanael never appears in the Synoptic Gospels (i.e., Matthew; Mark; Luke), & equally Bartholomew never appears in John’s Gospel; (b) Bartholomew cannot be a 1st name, since bar means “son of,” & Bartholomew means “son of Tolmai.” Thus, Bartholomew is a distinguishing second name, which needs to be preceded by another name; & (c) in the Synoptic Gospels, Philip & Bartholomew always appear together; while in John’s Gospel, Philip & Nathanael are intimately connected (Jn. 1:45). Nathanael (i.e., “gift of God”) is seen twice in the Gospel of John (1:45-51; 21:2), shown positively as a “true Israelite” in whom there is no guile (i.e., not deceitful or dishonest) & negatively as a biased person (who says, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”). As Jesus affirms his simple honesty, He also opens his mind that Nazareth can produce the “Rabbi,” “Son of God,” & “King of Israel.” Let’s be open-minded that God can bring out something good out of something bad!
18-Mar-18 - God Uses the Unknown & The Disgraced
…change in title but same
GOD’S SOVEREIGNTY AND PURE GRACE
Who was Judas
Jesus and Judas
God’s view and Judas’ actions
Who influenced Judas
God’s love and grace
25-Mar-18 - The U-Turn Factor: How Jesus Turned The Ordinary Into Something Special
THE “U-TURN” FACTOR: HOW JESUS TURNED THE ORDINARY INTO SOMETHING SPECIAL
As we conclude today our “God Uses Ordinary People” sermon series, we will explore the Twelve’s “U-Turn Factor” (i.e., what turned their lives around). When we go to the Book of Acts, we see how transformed the apostles were. Specifically, we will look at Acts 4:13-22, where Peter & John showed astounding evidences of life-change. How did Jesus turn the ordinary apostles into something special?
I. THE SPIRIT BROUGHT COURAGE TO THE FEARFUL (4:13, 19-22)
The Twelve were very timid & fearful at Jesus’ Passion Week (i.e., Peter’s denial & the apostles’ fleeing at Jesus’ arrest). But after Pentecost, Peter & John were very courageous (4:13a; cf. 2:29; 4:29, 31; 28:31). Though they were considered “unschooled” (agrammatoi [“illiterate”]) & “ordinary” (idiotai), they were courageous to teach the people because they have been with Jesus (4:13b). That’s why even if they were told to stop speaking in Jesus’ name (4:18), they still wanted to obey God (4:19) & continue being His witness (4:20; cf. 1:8). Let’s find courage in Jesus!
II. THE SPIRIT BROUGHT POWER TO THE POWERLESS (4:14-18)
There was a time that the apostles could not cast out evil spirits (Mk. 9:18), even though they were given the authority to do so (Mk. 3:15). But after Pentecost, Peter & John had the authority & power to heal a lame man in Jesus’ name (Acts 3:6). People acknowledged that the apostles have done an outstanding miracle (4:16b) through the powerful healing, resulting in praise to God (4:22). Let’s rely on God’s power in our times of powerlessness!
01-Apr-18 - Easter Message
Your RESPONSE TO JESUS CHRIST’S RESURRECTION Matters (Luke 24:1-12)
The Risen Christ is who He claimed to be: came from heaven and lived on earth over 2000 years ago, performed miracles, raised the dead, fed the multitudes, calmed the storm, cast out demons, and died on the cross, bearing our sins in His body so that we can have our hope of heaven realized by believing and trusting in Him. There are many people, however, who only consider Jesus briefly but are kept from trusting Him as their Savior and Lord.
In the Bible text for today we will study three reactions on Jesus Christ’s resurrection. We will be challenged to reflect on our lives in light of that event and be encouraged to respond with hope in the truth of the resurrection. We will also be given the privilege of celebrating Christ through the ordinance of the “Holy Communion.”
I. The WOMEN: From Hopelessness to Excitement (vv. 1-8)
II. The Other DISCIPLES: From Hopelessness to Unbelief (vv. 9-11)
III. Peter and John: From Hopelessness to Expectancy (v. 12; John 20:3-8)
Challenge: What is your response to Jesus Christ’s Resurrection