A Letter from Pastor Dave to members and friends of
First Baptist Church in Wallingford, Vermont
March 21, 2014
Dear Church Family,
I hope that you won’t mind if I gush just a little in the affection and appreciation that I have for our church family. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you for your prayers and support. Thank you for your understanding. Thank you for the love that you show to your new pastor and his family in so many ways. Thank you for your commitment to the Lord and His ministry here in Wallingford. You have blessed and touched my heart.
When we started ministry here at the beginning of the year I had already committed to take three challenging classes during this semester at Liberty University. I had no idea, however, how difficult the eight weeks would be, especially the last part of the journey. The past few weeks have put me through the wringer physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Consider:
• Mom and Step Dad with cancer surgery within 10 days of each other
• Three Major Writing Assignments Due in extremely difficult classes
• Stormy weather and slick roads
• Unexpected Car repairs courtesy of “The Grand Canyon” of pot holes
Please believe me when I say, I am not complaining. In fact, this has become an opportunity to praise God for His grace and strength in the midst of difficulty. I know that I could not have managed all that has happened without His presence and your prayers.
I know that, if I had been aware in the Fall what challenges would come in the winter I would have changed my plans dramatically. However, God has allowed me to endure this to remind me of His sufficiency for every circumstance. For example, the classes I took for the first eight weeks of the term were very technical and demanding classes related to advanced grammar and the origin and spread of the English language. The readings were among the most difficult I have ever had to do. The writing required was more than I have ever had to do for any class. In the end I had three major writing assignments due at the close of the courses. I said a number of times in the closing days that I would be fortunate to get a C in the classes because I had not been able to devote the time and effort to them I felt they needed. However, the papers were graded and the final report is as follows.
• On the biggest and most difficult assignment, which I was sure I would just squeak by on, I received a near perfect grade and was heralded as “the best in the class!”
• On the other two assignments, though I wasn’t as concerned with them, I received a perfect score and a near perfect score.
• My final grade was a solid A!
If I sound like I’m boasting it’s because I am. I boast in God who has once again amazed me in taking care of every detail and providing what I needed most exactly when it was needed. I boast in my new church family who has prayerfully supported their new pastor and lifted me up in their prayers. I boast in my wife who has endured several weeks of having me so fully engaged in these writing assignments in every spare moment that I have been of little help to her in her endeavors. I have reason to boast because God is so good, and He has surrounded me with people who are wonderful.
(Part of: MATTHEW SERMON SERIES: THE KING AND HIS KINGDOM)
INTRODUCTION TO SERIES:
Because we are currently in a sermon series, this is essentially a “Series in a Series.”
Typical “When & Then thinking.”
- “When I get a good job, then I’ll be happy.”
- “When I find the right mate, then I’ll be happy.”
- “When I have kids, then I’ll be happy.”
- “When the kids leave home, then I’ll be happy.”
We think outward circumstances bring contentment.
But Jesus tells us the opposite is true. He insists that happiness doesn’t come from the external circumstances, but rather from an internal condition..
IT WILL REQUIRE A SHIFT IN OUR THINKING
I almost titled this series SHIFT because that’s what these verse challenge us to do, to have a shift in our common mind-set, the way that we view things. To change how we think about success, happiness, and blessings. Because, as we will discover in the first message of the series, much of what Jesus says brings us contentment are a complete 180 degree turn from what we often think.
DIRECTIVES FOR DISCIPLES (Part 1)
First, Understanding The Word:
Blessed (Greek: Μακάριοι – Ma-ka-ri-oi)
- The word “blessed” means happiness.
- The Greek word is emphatic, it means “happiness many times over.”
- Refers to a happiness that is not conditional on circumstances
The Basic Outline of Our Messages
- DEFINITION: What Jesus Means in What He Says
- APPLICATION: How It Applies in our Lives Today
- SATISFACTION: The Promise the Directive Offers
“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
· Jesus could of hardly produced a more startling beginning.
· Happy are the poor?
THE DEFINITION – WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
What it Doesn’t Mean:
- · “Blessed in spirit are those who are poor.” Nothing to do with possessions.
- · Not About Self-Debasement
- He’s not saying that happiness comes when you put yourself down. “Oh, I’m no good, I’m junk, I’m lousy.” In fact, Jesus did not die for junk. He went to the cross because you are that important to Him.
What it Does Mean:
- To be totally dependent on God.
- Realizing our spiritual deficiencies.
- It means admitting I am a sinner
- It means emptying ourselves of our selfishness.
- In a word it is humility.
“God blesses those
WHO REALIZE THEIR NEED FOR HIM,
for the Kingdom of Heaven is given to them.
(New Living Translation)
Jesus Said it and Lived It:
Read Philippians 2.5-11
THE APPLICATION – WHY DOES IT MATTER?
Read Luke 18.18-24
Demonstrates Two Problems The Rich Young Ruler Had:
- Thought of Himself as Good (Good teacher…I have done all that…)
- Expected to Buy/Earn Eternal Life (What must I DO)
Elevates Why Jesus Came:
- Pay as you go is not the way it works.
- We don’t need a system, we need a Savior.
- We don’t need a resume, we need a Redeemer.
Illustrates the Dilemma Mankind Faces
- A Recognized Need – Emptiness
- We Want to FIX IT!
- We can’t accept that we NEED someone to do it for us.
Please grasp this principle: you are nothing without God!
THE SATISFACTION – WHAT IS THE OUTCOME?
“We “inherit THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN.”
The kingdom of heaven is not just a physical place of eternity, it is a way of life.
A Way of Life that Experiences God’s Grace.
Read James 4:6
A Way of Life that Reduces Stress.
Read Psalm 131
A Way of Life that Improves my Relationships with Others.
A Way of Life that Provides Contentment.
Take a Look at A Changed Life:
- Saul Had Been: Legalist…Persecutor…Leader
- AND THEN ACTS 9 HAPPENS
- Paul Becomes: Liberator…Pastor…Servant
“Blessed are the poor in spirit
for theirs is the kingdom heaven.”