What We Learned Together Sunday February 26, 2023
The Upper Room Discourse is found uniquely in the Gospel of John. The Public Ministry of Jesus presented in chapters 1-12. The private ministry of Jesus presented in chapters 13-17. Again the purpose of the Gospel of John in John 20:30-31. Here in these chapters we read the teaching by Jesus for His disciples in various areas of discipleship. Notice how John begins this section of His Gospel describing the love of Jesus. As one pastor wrote “ . . . bear witness to the divine love in a way which drew in all that had gone before (“having loved His own who were in the world”) and reached forward to the climactic demonstration of love in His passion and self-sacrificing death (“He loved them to the end”). In our Scripture passage this morning we see markers for the progress of the flow of the narrative emphasizing the actions of Jesus “Now before [v.1] . . . So [v. 6] . . . So when [v.12] . . .”
First, The Love of Jesus Demonstrated by His Obedient Sacrifice for His Own in This World [13:1-4]. The word love is found 14 times in chapters 1-12, and then found 34 times in chapters 13-17. In verse one His Obedient Sacrifice Because He Loves His Own. The timing noted by John “Now before the Feast of the Passover . . .” as John had earlier declared the words of John Baptist “behold the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world” [John 1:29]. And also “Jesus knowing His hour had come . . .” [7:30; 8:20; 12:23, 27] Other Scriptures which teach about the love of Jesus including Ephesians 3:18; I John 4:9-11 and John 15:13. The completion of His mission in obedience to the will of the Father “He would depart out of this world to the Father . . .” [v.1] Into the very presence of God the Father in heaven as also revealed in John 1:1-3 [cf. John 13:6 “So He came to Simon Peter”] The depth of the love of Jesus pressed upon the readers of the Gospel of John “ . . .having loved His own who were in the world . . . He loved them to the end.” Such love which drove Jesus to offer Himself in humble service as the sacrifice for sins in the place of sinners. Remember the words of the hymn “O The Deep, Deep Love of Jesus.” In verse two His Obedient Sacrifice Because He Loves His Enemies [13:2]. What a remarkable comment to remind us of all that was happening in the context of this love of Jesus as Judas planned to betray Jesus [cf. 13:10, 18, 27]. The love of Jesus is not dissuaded, confused, limited or distracted. As one commentator wrote, “the maneuvers of hell cannot interfere with the love Jesus has.” In verses 3-4 His Obedient Sacrifice Because He Humbly Loves Others [13:3-4]. Notice the remarks about His garments, towel, “and He girded Himself.” John placed attention on this moment and what he saw so that we would see it also! Jesus took the place of a servant dressed Himself as a slave. These actions in the narrative described also by Paul in Philippians 2:5-8 of the humility of Jesus. What a wondrous condescension! The lowliest service done by a slave here done my Jesus. Where else does John mentioned the garments of Jesus? [cf. 13:12, 19:23-24] It is as if the disciples on that night were waiting and asking, “When is the servant going to show up to wash my feet!”
Second, The Love of Jesus Detailed in His Humble Service for Those Whom He Loved [13:5-11] In verses 5-7 His Humble Service Is A Message of What His Love Does [13:5-7]. The details given by John shows the significance and importance of these actions “by the admiring looking of an eyewitness.” All present verbs here making the scene vivid so that we would not forget or miss what Jesus did that night. Jesus does what none of them would do for each other and yet any one of them could have done it but would not. What Jesus does for those whom he loves! Humbly before them that night in His service for them in the Upper Room then humiliated before them the next day in His sacrifice for them on the cross. In verses 8-10 His Humble Service Has Meaning for Who He Loves [13:8-10] “If not I wash you, not you have any part with Me.” Peter said to Him . . . Jesus answered him . . . The great conversation about such important matters of cleansing by Jesus. An object lesson of cleansing within His humble service of foot washing. We really love someone when we humbly serve them. An object lesson of the degree of the love of Jesus and what His love does for those whom He loves. Jesus’ teaching pointing from the physical to the spiritual. Two kinds of people according to the words of Jesus. There are those who need a bath and there are those who need their feet washed. Also the words of the Apostle Paul in First Corinthians 6:9-11, “but you were washed, but you were sanctified . . .” In verse 11 His Humble Service Was A Ministry of How He Loves [13:11]. Jesus understood what Judas would do and still loves. We would do well to love the Judases in our lives like Jesus loved Judas that night which he was betrayed.
Third, The Love of Jesus Displayed in Our Christian Obedience for One Another As His Disciples [13:12-17]. In verses 12-14 Our Christian Obedience Is An Obligation to the Lord [13:12-14]. Again, such action of Jesus emphasized in the words given by John. Here “the imprint left of John’s mind was deep indeed” and “an example of true love.” A literal translation of this verse would be, “If I Myself then, the Lord and teacher wash your feet, also you yourselves ought wash one another’s feet.” The Christian life isn’t just sitting back watching Jesus do things. We are His disciples seeing Him and doing the things which He commands us to do because we are His disciples. “Jesus washed all twelve pairs of dirty feet.” He washed the feet of a betrayer, a denier, a deserter, and a doubter. In verses 15-16 Our Christian Obedience Does Show The Example of the Lord [13:15-16]. All present tense verbs pointing to personal emphasis and present effort. Pastor Stephen Davey gives us two principles in these words of Jesus.
Principle #1 is Washing feet means surrendering your privilege to receive a proper response. “We tend to wash the feet of those who will wash our feet in return. If you will wash the feet of only those who will return your acts of service with appreciation, love and acceptance, you will never wash feet. Many Christians will never wash feet because it doesn't return them the kind of dividends they want out of life.”
Principle #2 is Washing feet means surrendering your prerogative to choose whom you serve, when you serve, and how you serve. “If you will only serve at the feet of convenient things, you will never become a servant. If you will only wash at the feet of something that excites you or invigorates you, you will never wash feet for very long. So we fill up our lives with amusement and we have a church filled with dirty feet: we have a roomful of kids downstairs - we need someone to wash their feet. we have rooms filled with infants and toddlers - we need someone to wash their feet. we have a parking lot filled with people who come to worship and need to find a space - we need someone to wash their feet.”
May the Lord raise up many humble servants who are washing feet here at New Life Fellowship! May people who visit and come to this church see such washing of feet because we are the disciples of Jesus. In verse 17 Our Christian Obedience Has Blessing If We Do These Things According to the Words of The Lord [13:17]. Did you notice the two if statements in these words of Jesus. The condition both rarely seen and attained by sinners without the example of Jesus as our model and focus. As one man wrote, “hints at the rarity and difficulty of such high teaching.”
In conclusion two questions for each of us today. The first question is Have you seen His love in humble service for you as one so undeserving & unworthy of such love & sacrificial service? Knowing Jesus died for our sins as the only Savior. The second question is How are you as a disciple of Jesus present active following His example in His love with humble service for others? Believing Jesus Is Both Lord and Teacher who Is Our Savior. The love of Jesus, which you and I did not deserve, should be a reality in my life and your life as disciples of Jesus. Humble service by Jesus, which you and I are so unworthy, should be a reality in my life and your life as disciples of Jesus. These words by Jesus, which you and I have heard, should be a reality in my life and your life as disciples of Jesus. “So I suggest to you as a Christian brother and sister that when we think of the fact that the Lord Jesus became a slave in order that we might be redeemed, is it saying too much to ask you to take the place of a slave and love one another?” That Humble Service for Those Whom Jesus Loved.
O the deep, deep love of Jesus!
Vast, unmeasured, boundless, free
Rolling as a mighty ocean In its fullness over me.
Underneath me, all around me, Is the current of Thy love
Leading onward, leading homeward,
To my glorious rest above.
O the deep, deep love of Jesus!
Spread His praise from shore to shore
How He loveth, ever loveth,
Changeth never, nevermore
How He watches o'er His loved ones,
Died to call them all His own
How for them He intercedeth,
Watcheth o'er them from the throne.
O the deep, deep love of Jesus! Love of every love the best
'Tis an ocean vast of blessing, 'Tis a haven sweet of rest.
O the deep, deep love of Jesus! 'Tis a heaven of heavens to me
And it lifts me up to glory, for it lifts me up to Thee.
Words: Samuel Trevor Francis Music: Thomas Williams
What We Learned Together Sunday February 19, 2023
Here at New Life Fellowship of Graham our purpose is “to cultivate a ministry based upon the Bible which Equips the saints to Glorify God, to Worship Him rightly, and to accomplish His Great Commission through making disciples who lead others to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.” Making Disciples is our mission as disciples of Jesus. Making Disciples is Intentional, Personal, Transformational, and Relational. Discipleship means being disciples making disciples. A disciple of Jesus is someone following Jesus, being changed by Jesus, and committed to the mission of Jesus. In Matthew 28:18-20 we read the words of Jesus directing these matters as disciples of Jesus making disciples is our mission as His church. As H.B. Charles said “the last command of Jesus must be the first priority of the church.” Here in this Scripture passage we see His majesty, His authority, His glory, and His commission. In the context we are told twice that the disciples worshipped Jesus in verse nine “and worshiped Him” and in verse seventeen “they worshiped Him . . .” This means the worship of the resurrected Lord Jesus does produce in His disciples the heart of obedience to His words in the matters of His Great Commission.
First, we see the Foundation for the Mission of Making Disciples Is Our Resurrected Lord Jesus [28:18]. Both His Authority declared And His authority described. Here Matthew places focus upon the content of what He said with the emphasis on the words of Jesus to His disciples. Also the testimony of this reality as a church which shows His authority. [Ephesians 1:20-23; Philippians 2:9-11]
Second, we are told the Instruction for The Mission of Making Disciples by Our Resurrected Lord Jesus [28:19]. Both His Assignment declared And His Assignment described. Jesus’ words communicate one command personally directed about others becoming disciples of Jesus. His command “make disciples of all nations” calling us to go to all peoples. These words are only found here but an expansion and explanation of these words of Jesus included elsewhere further detailing the message, manner, and ministry of making disciples [Mark 16:15; Luke 24:46-49; John 17:13-20; Acts 1:8]. Making disciples of Jesus meaning people become learners, followers, believers, and worshippers. Christlikeness the calling for every Christian also means we would make disciples as He made disciples during His earthly ministry. Every one of our ministries at New Life Fellowship and all of our activities seeking to obey the command make disciples. Making disciples after the pattern of Jesus in the Gospel accounts takes time, requires truth, needs teaching, involves trials all of which are relationships produced by faith, filled with love and covered in prayer. So many examples of Jesus making disciples in the Gospel of Matthew through walking and talking, questions and answers, counsel and comfort, conversations and sermons. Like Jesus and becoming more like Jesus with making disciples as our mission. Jesus’ words emphasize three participles actively concerned about others being disciples of Jesus. “Therefore Go . . .baptizing . . . teaching . . .” Every one of us is here because someone obeyed these words of Jesus! These three activities can be defined as prepared action, public confession, and personal communication. All of the teachings of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew are the basis of our teaching His commands for disciples of Jesus [5-7, 10-12, 13, 15, 16, 18, 20, 21-23, 24-25]. Six areas of the teachings of Jesus can be the emphasis in our making disciples through our focus on believe, love, live, serve, give, and forgive. Making disciples is not the greatest command which is found in Matthew 22:37-39 love the Lord our God and love our neighbor as ourselves. As we obey the greatest commandment we will indeed obey the great commission of our Lord Jesus! Here is the primary mission of the disciples of Jesus making disciples.
Third, we are given the Motivation for the Mission of Making Disciples from Our Resurrected Lord Jesus [28:20]. Both His Assurance declared And His Assurance described. Jesus clearly says, “and behold I Myself with you I am even until the end of the age.” The very promise of His presence in these acts of obedience to fulfill the requirement of making disciples as those with the assignment going, baptizing, and teaching. Living in the reality that the Lord Jesus coming again at the end of this age for all things will not continue as they are forever. There is limited time for making disciples with all of us having limited days for making disciples of Jesus. Being disciples of Jesus making disciples is our mission!
So let us consider these words of Jesus. Our purpose as New Life Fellowship of Graham is “to accomplish His Great Commission through making disciples.” How are we fulfilling our purpose in this season of our ministry together as a church body? Who will be the disciples of Jesus on that day when your friends and family have your funeral? Do you want to do what Jesus wants you to do with your passions, in your practices, and for your priorities? Finally, being a disciple making disciples is more than agreement with these words of Jesus but having this mission as our assignment from Him and for His church. Consequently, this activity of making disciples should be our testimony as His disciples because of the reality of His promise. Remember the Parable of a little lifesaving station.
A Parable: Saving Lives October 02, 2015 by Pastor Chuck Swindoll
On a dangerous seacoast notorious for shipwrecks, there was a crude little lifesaving station. Actually, the station was merely a hut with only one boat . . . but the few devoted members kept a constant watch over the turbulent sea. With little thought for themselves, they would go out day and night tirelessly searching for those in danger as well as the lost. Many, many lives were saved by this brave band of men who faithfully worked as a team in and out of the lifesaving station. By and by, it became a famous place.
Some of those who had been saved as well as others along the seacoast wanted to become associated with this little station. They were willing to give their time and energy and money in support of its objectives. New boats were purchased. New crews were trained. The station that was once obscure and crude and virtually insignificant began to grow. Some of its members were unhappy that the hut was so unattractive and poorly equipped. They felt a more comfortable place should be provided. Emergency cots were replaced with lovely furniture. Rough, hand-made equipment was discarded and sophisticated, classy systems were installed. The hut, of course, had to be torn down to make room for all the additional equipment, furniture, systems, and appointments. By its completion, the life-saving station had become a popular gathering place, and its objectives had begun to shift. It was now used as sort of a clubhouse, an attractive building for public gatherings. Saving lives, feeding the hungry, strengthening the fearful, and calming the disturbed rarely occurred by now.
Fewer members were now interested in braving the sea on lifesaving missions, so they hired professional lifeboat crews to do this work. The original goal of the station wasn't altogether forgotten, however. The lifesaving motifs still prevailed in the club's decorations. In fact, there was a liturgical lifeboat preserved in the Room of Sweet Memories with soft, indirect lighting, which helped hide the layer of dust upon the once-used vessel.
About this time a large ship was wrecked off the coast and the boat crews brought in loads of cold, wet, half-drowned people. They were dirty, some terribly sick and lonely. Others were "different" from the majority of the club members. The beautiful new club suddenly became messy and cluttered. A special committee saw to it that a shower house was immediately built outside and away from the club so victims of shipwreck could be cleaned up before coming inside.
At the next meeting there were strong words and angry feelings, which resulted in a division among the members. Most of the people wanted to stop the club's lifesaving activities and all involvements with shipwreck victims . . . ("it's too unpleasant, it's a hindrance to our social life, it's opening the door to folks who are not our kind"). As you'd expect, some still insisted upon saving lives, that this was their primary objective—that their only reason for existence was ministering to anyone needing help regardless of their club's beauty or size or decorations. They were voted down and told if they wanted to save the lives of various kinds of people who were shipwrecked in those waters, they could begin their own lifesaving station down the coast! They did.
As years passed, the new station experienced the same old changes. It evolved into another club . . . and yet another lifesaving station was begun. History continued to repeat itself . . . and if you visit that coast today you'll find a large number of exclusive, impressive clubs along the shoreline owned and operated by slick professionals who have lost all involvement with the saving of lives.
Shipwrecks still occur in those waters, but now most of the victims are not saved. Every day they drown at sea, and so few seem to care . . . so very few. Do you?
Nine Characteristics of the Great Old Testament Revivals
https://counselingoneanother.com/2023/02/17/nine-characteristics-of-the-great-old-testament-revivals/ Posted on February 17, 2023 by Paul Tautges
Recently, our congregation spent time in the Spirit-inspired prayer for revival known as Psalm 85. One of my study resources for this sermon was Revive Us Again: Biblical Principles for Revival Today by Walter Kaiser. In the Introduction to this volume, Kaiser points out nine characteristics of the revivals we find recorded in the Old Testament, which were originally listed by Wilbur Smith.
The simplicity of this phrase given to us by the Lord Jesus Himself in Mark 11:22. It is a command from the words of Jesus Himself. “And Jesus answered saying to them, “Have faith in God.” Jesus teaches His disciples to exhibit the personal fruit of faith in God. Faith is defined “to believe to the extent of complete trust and reliance—‘to believe in, to have confidence in, to have faith in.” [Louw and Nida, 375] Do you have faith in God? The context of the withered fig tree in verses 20-21 was an illustration of the lack of faith in God by the nation of Israel in that day. So few had real faith in God demonstrated by praying, asking, and believing. The Gospel of Mark began with “Jesus Christ, the Son of God” as the message for the people about Jesus. For He restores and renews the faith of His people in God the Father who sent Him as God the Son to be the Savior of all who would believe in Him.
Such faith in God is shown by the words of Jesus in these matters. Jesus teaches His disciples to exhibit the personal fruit of prayer. Jesus said, “Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it will be granted him.” [Mark 11:23] What one is to do in the face of large obstacles! What is insurmountable for us is not for God! Whoever has such faith exercised in prayer to God and therefore Jesus calling His disciples to have such faith. Then Jesus says, “Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you.” [Mark 11:24] How one is to deal with the presence of great needs! Notice the emphasis given in the phrase “Therefore I say to you . . .” The certainty of these matters according to the words of Jesus is the ground upon which we stand praying and asking. Jesus teaches that His disciples will be such people who “pray and ask, believe . . .” So our praying and asking God testifies that we have faith in God by going to Him and looking to Him for all things which are the matters of our praying and asking. Another command here with the word “believe” is a present active imperative meaning present, continuous, personal, active believing. This also means that those around us would say there is one believing through their observing and knowing that we are praying and asking God. Have faith in God in these days of your life as disciples of Jesus! What encouragement in these words of Jesus “Have Faith In God!”
“I'm part of the fellowship of the unashamed. I have Holy Spirit power. The die has been cast. I have stepped over the line. The decision has been made. I'm a disciple of His. I won't look back, let up, slow down, back away, or be still.
My past is redeemed, my present makes sense, my future is secure. I'm finished and down with low living, sight walking, small planning, smooth knees, colorless dreams, tamed visions, mundane talking, cheap living, and dwarfed goals.
I no longer need prominence, prosperity, position, promotions, plaudits, or popularity. I don't have to be right, first, tops, recognized, praised, regarded, or rewarded. I now live by faith, lean on His presence, walk by patience, lift by prayer, and labor by power.
My face is set, my gait is fast, my goal is heaven, my road is narrow, my way is rough, my companions are few, my Guide is reliable, my mission is clear. I cannot be bought, compromised, detoured, lured away, turned back, deluded, or delayed. I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice, hesitate in the presence of the adversary, negotiate at the table of the enemy, ponder at the pool of popularity, or meander in the maze of mediocrity.
I won't give up, shut up, let up, until I have stayed up, stored up, prayed up, paid up, and preached up for the cause of Christ. I am a disciple of Jesus. I must go till He comes, give till I drop, preach till all know, and work till He stops me. And when He comes for His own, He will have no problem recognizing me - my banner will be clear.”― Avery T. Willis Jr
Pastor Timothy J. Atkins
Husband, Father, Grandfather, Pastor, Teacher, Discipler, and Follower of Jesus.