Join us at Walnut Street Baptist Church on May 17, 24, and 31 at 11:00am as we begin our new teaching series, “Finding God In Tough Times.” We are located on the corner of 3rd Street and St. Catherine in downtown Louisville.
New Wednesday Night Study: Join us on Wednesday Night (January 21 & 28 @ 6pm) as we dig deeper in our study of the “Great Commission.”
Key topics we will explore:
-Evangelism as a Discipline
-Is the sinner’s prayer biblical?
-What is the Gospel?
-How do I start conversations about the Gospel?
-How do I share Christ with my children?
-How do I handle hostility, questions and resistance?
-How do I pray for those who do not know Christ?
New Teaching Series: Join us Sunday Mornings at Walnut Street Baptist Church (January 18- February 15) as Pastor Mark teaches on the “Great Commission.” We want to be a “Great Commission” church that is filled with disciples making disciples. In this teaching series, Pastor Mark will take us to God’s Word and challenge us to be intentional about sharing Jesus Christ with those we interact with on a daily basis.
Here is the Teaching Series Schedule:
January 18 “Goin Fishin: The Mandate” (Mark 1:16-20)
January 25 “Goin Fishin: The Motivations” (2 Corinthians 5:9-18)
February 1 “Goin Fishin: The Message (Selected)
February 8 “Goin Fishin: The Method (1 Peter 3:13-15)
February 15 “Goin Fishin: The Maturity (Luke 14:25-35)
Have you ever imagined being in Joseph’s shoes? He is in a predicament. He is a righteous man. He is betrothed to a chaste young woman. His future looks bright as he maps out plans to build a family with his soon-to-be bride.
But then he hears the shocking news, Mary is pregnant. This is no small dilemma for Joseph, especially since he is not the father of the child. What would you do? What happened in his life is worthy of note this morning. It may help you and me when our dreams are shattered. From Joseph we learn some tremendous truths for troubled times.
1. Trust God When You Are Confused.
Matthew 1:18-19= “Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly.”
So, as you can imagine, Joseph has a real problem on his hands. He has a young teenager who is pregnant. But it is not his child. What is he going to do?
According to the law, if a young lady was found to be unfaithful before her marriage took place, one of three things could happen. She could be stoned to death. The husband to be could make a public disgrace of her and a public spectacle of her or he could put her away privately.
At this point, Joseph is full of confusion. He is full of doubt. He doubted Mary. He doubted her character. He doubted her purity. He doubted her virginity. Maybe he doubted God, because even though Mary had by now told him that God was the father of the child, he didn’t believe God could do this. Then, he doubted himself because he didn’t know what to do. Should he break off the engagement? Well, that is exactly what he decided to do.
Verse 19= “And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly.”
Joseph now has a big decision on his hands. Was he going to trust God’s or not? Please don’t think this was easy for Joseph to still go along with what God wanted.
According to History there were three theories concerning Mary’s pregnancy. Some said the baby was Joseph’s and that actually he was a fornicator. Others said the baby belonged to Mary’s secret lover. Still others said Mary had been raped by a Roman soldier. Any of these situations would have brought great shame to them. And though we don’t read about it, we know that Joseph had to endure hostile stares and dirty criticism from people all his life.
Then we read in verses 24-25= “And Joseph awoke from his sleep and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took Mary as his wife, but kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son; and he called His name Jesus.”
Do you know why Joseph both married Mary and kept her a virgin until after Jesus was born? It wasn’t just because he loved Mary, but he trusted God. When you are confused, trust Him.
2. Trust God When You Are In A Crisis
Matthew 2:13-15= “Now when they had gone, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up! Take the Child and His mother and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is going to search for the Child to destroy Him.” So Joseph got up and took the Child and His mother while it was still night, and left for Egypt. He remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet, “Out of Egypt I called My Son.”
That word “flee” is where we get our word “fugitive.” So the angel literally told Joseph, “Go now, Go quickly, Don’t look back, Don’t stop until you are in Egypt.”
Joseph is being told to take a mother and a baby 75 miles (distance from Bethlehem to Egypt) and then another 100 miles into Egypt to get to a place of safety in that country. Traveling with a baby made the trip not only slower, but also more dangerous.
Have you ever taken a small child on a long trip. We went on vacation a couple of years ago and it didn’t take five minutes until some little ones in the back seat saying, “Are we there yet? When are we going to be there? Why is it taking so long? I have to go to the bathroom.”
We need to understand that God’s way is not always the softest way. God’s way is not always the safest way. But God’s way is always the surest way to His blessing and His protection.
God’s will may sometimes lead you to a dangerous place. But the most dangerous place you will ever be is anywhere outside the will of God. The reason why Joseph had to go to Egypt, even though it was a dangerous journey and he was fleeing from danger, is for this simple reason:
Matthew 2:15= “This was to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called My Son.”
Once again we see that God keeps His promise. God had made a promise that out of Egypt, His Son, The Messiah and the Savior of the World would come. God provided a way out of Israel. He provided a place to stay in Egypt and He provided for their needs while they were there. When you are in the middle of a crisis, trust Him.
3. Trust God When Things Are Complicated.
Matthew 2:19-23= “But when Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord *appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, and said, “Get up, take the Child and His mother, and go into the land of Israel; for those who sought the Child’s life are dead.” So Joseph got up, took the Child and His mother, and came into the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. Then after being warned by God in a dream, he left for the regions of Galilee, and came and lived in a city called Nazareth. This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophets: “He shall be called a Nazarene.”
The time for Jesus to come home had arrived. Herod had died and once again for the 3rd time, in a dream an angel tells Joseph to bring the child back to Israel.
According to Bible scholars, there would have been two natural cities for Joseph to have taken Jesus. One would have been Jerusalem. It was Israel’s largest, most advanced city. It was the city of David. It was the city of royalty. It was the center of spiritual life of the nation of Israel. But God did not allow Joseph to go to Jerusalem.
His 2nd choice would have been Bethlehem. And that was where Jesus was born. It was where David was from and since Jesus was a direct descendant of David and Israel’s future king, it would have been natural for God to have sent Joseph to Bethlehem, but He did not.
Instead, He forces Joseph to go to Nazareth. Nazareth is about 55 miles north of Jerusalem and it was inhabited by people who were noted for their cruel and violent ways. Why did He have to live in Nazareth? The reason once again:
“This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophets: “He shall be called a Nazarene.”
As you go through life you are going to find that things are not always going to go according to your plans. The question is, “Will you trust God the way Joseph did?”
Below are six key concepts as part of a theology of forgiveness that I think we need to understand. This is not an exhaustive list, but these are some key truths that we need to understand about what the Bible teaches on forgiveness.
1. The Principle Of The Sixth Commandment. Matthew 5:21= Jesus is teaching and listen to what he says, “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, Raca! Shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘you fool’ shall be in danger of hell fire.”
Jesus Christ brings up the ten commandments and more specifically, the sixth commandment. He says, “Everybody knows, “Thou shall not murder. But if you harbor unforgiveness or bitterness or anger or rage or malice in your heart towards an individual, you are guilty of murder.” One of the things Jesus Christ taught about the law wasn’t just about our actions, but about our thoughts.
He says, “If you come to a place in your life where you refuse to forgive somebody or you hold on to that bitterness or resentment, you are guilty of violating the sixth commandment.” So the first principle or first element is the principle of the sixth commandment.
2. Your Offender Has Offended God Even Greater. In Psalm 51 we find King David has sinned by committing adultery with Bathsheba. He’s murdered her husband and lied about it. Yet in Psalm 51, when David is confessing and getting right with God, what does he say?
“Against You, and You alone, have I sinned.”
He says, “God, the greatest sin I have committed wasn’t against Bathsheba. It wasn’t against Uriah. It wasn’t against my people. It was against You.” Any sin or injustice committed against you or against me is committed against God. And the offence is greater towards God because God is holy. God is perfect. He is without error. God has never made a mistake. That offence toward him is even greater than the offence is toward you. You are not the only one who has been offended in this situation. You are not the only one who has been hurt in this situation. This is an offence to God himself.
3. God Forgives Us As We Forgive Others. In Matthew 6 we have the Lord’s Prayer. The disciples never asked Jesus Christ to teach them anything except how to pray. They never asked him, “Lord, teach us how to preach.” “Lord, teach us how to sing or worship.” But they said, “Lord, teach us how to pray.” As Jesus Christ begins to teach them how to pray, one of the things He says is, “You pray this way…”
“Father, forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.”
“God, use the same measure of forgiveness in my life when I offend you or sin against you that I use in forgiving others when they sin against me.
4. Unforgiveness Undermines The Authority Of God.
Romans 12:14= “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.”
Romans 12:19= “Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.”
God says, “If somebody sins against you or if somebody offends you, you bless those who curse you. You pray for those who sin against you.” He says, “I’ll take care of the revenge. I’ll take care of making things right. I will handle the justice.” But when you and I say, “God, I’m going to handle this one. I don’t trust your authority. I don’t need your authority.”
By our actions, we can kind of say, “God you know what, I just don’t think you can handle this one. God, you are moving too slow. God, you are not just enough. Give me the sword and I will handle it.”
What we do by taking revenge ourselves is we undermine the authority of God and say, “God, I’m going to take this one because you are not doing your job right.”
5. Unforgiveness Makes You Unfit For Worship. In Matthew 5 Jesus says, “If you are on your way to make a sacrifice at the altar as part of your worship and you realize your brother has something against you or they have sinned against you or there is something wrong in that relationship, leave your offering, go back and make things right, then come and give Me your offering.” Unforgiveness hinders our ability to worship.
6. When You Are Offended, That Is An Opportunity. Matthew 5:44= “I say to you, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you in order that you may be the sons of your father who is in heaven.”
He says, “When somebody offends you or wrongs you that is an opportunity for you to display sonship. It is an opportunity to display the fact that you belong to God.
We are never more like Jesus Christ than when we forgive. When you learn to forgive and begin to display that ability to forgive people, you begin to display that fact that you are a son of the King. I believe this ability to forgive when we’ve been hurt deeply is a supernatural process that only the power of God can do. Trials and tribulations are an opportunity for us to grow and to manifest the fact that we do belong to God.
Now, this isn’t a comprehensive theology of forgiveness, but these are some key principles that we need to understand as we deal with conflict in our daily lives.
Unforgiveness can destroy our lives. When we try to get revenge and get even with someone and we hold on to anger and bitterness, if we are not careful it can come back and destroy our life. There are 4 consequences of unforgiveness that we need to consider.
1. Unforgiveness Can Make You A Prisoner Of Your Past. If you make up your mind, “I am not going to forgive this individual. I am not going to let go of what they did to me. You don’t know how much that hurt.” All the sudden, you can put yourself in bondage to what has happened in your past. You cannot get past that and you cannot get beyond that. And you constantly live with the hurt and pain of your past.
2. Unforgiveness Can Produce Bitterness. It can produce bitterness, not just involving you and that other person who has hurt you or that church who hurt you or that group that hurt you, but it can begin to produce bitterness in all your relationships. Have you ever met somebody who has been really hurt? They are bitter and negative about everything that goes on in life. It can produce bitterness.
3. Unforgiveness Can Provide An Opening For Satan. If you make up your mind, “I know what God has to say about forgiveness. I know what God’s Word says, but I refuse to forgive this person. I refuse to let this go….” It can provide an opening for Satan or a foothold for Satan and that can lead to other sins or other areas of failure or weakness or compromise.
4. Unforgiveness Can Prevent Fellowship With God. It can hurt your fellowship with God. God says, “If you won’t forgive your brother, I won’t forgive you.” Did you know that unforgiveness in your life and in my life can hurt our fellowship with God?
God says, “If you come to My altar and you are going to make a sacrifice to Me and you remember when you get to the altar that your brother has something against you, or there is a broken or hurt relationship, you first go make things right with your brother, then you come and make your sacrifice to Me.” It can hurt your worship.
Some of us are praying about the future. We want to know where God is leading us or where He is taking us. We want an answer to this and an answer to that, and we say, “Why isn’t God answering me?” Sometimes it can be that there is an area of disobedience like unforgiveness where God says, “I am not going to tell you anything else until you do what I ask you to do.” We must forgive freely, fully, and finally.
You will never go a day in your life when someway, somehow, your integrity is not going to be put on the line. It may be in a big thing. It may be in a little thing. But every day, big and small, our integrity is tested. You don’t have to study the Bible very long or very hard to realize that integrity is a big deal to God. There is probably no greater need today in our nation, in our churches, in our homes, and in our personal lives than integrity.
Some say the book of Job is about suffering. Some say the book of Job is about patience. I believe the text of Job really points to the fact that the book of Job is about integrity. It is about man’s integrity. But it is also about God’s integrity. The book of Job seeks to answer two primary questions. The first question is this: “Will a man serve God for nothing?” The second question the book of Job seeks to answer is this: “Is God worthy to be served if it costs me everything?” If this year you lose your job, will you serve Him? If this year you lose your kids, will you serve Him? If this year your body is consumed with cancer, will you still serve Him and is He worthy to be served?
This text gives us 3 simple reminders for maintaining our integrity.
1. Your Integrity Is Precious In The Mind of God. Chapter 2 opens up with a scene in the courtroom of heaven. It is the second scene in the courtroom of heaven in the book of Job. The angels have presented themselves in the presence of the Lord and Satan comes waltzing in.
God says to Satan, “Where have you been?” Satan says, “From roaming through the earth.” And then God says an interesting thing. Listen to what he says to Satan in verse 3. Verse 3= “Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth.”
John Piper said this would be like a jewelry store owner walking into his jewelry store late at night and catching a thief red handed. And the Jewelry store owner says, “By the way, did you see my most precious jewel near the front of the store? Did you see my most valued diamond?”
Satan says, “I’ve been roaming about on the earth and walking around on it.” And God says, “Have you thought about or considered My servant Job, for there is no one like him on the earth.”
Then God defines this good integrity by beginning to explain what Job is like. It is the third time in the book of Job that Job’s biography is shared. The Bible begins to explain what Job is like. He says, first of all, there is no one like Job.
Verse 3= “a blameless and upright man.”
The root word of the word “blameless” is the idea of an inner quality. This word conveys the idea of completeness or wholeness. He is not only blameless but he is “upright.” If the first word refers to the inner quality of Job, this word “upright” refers to the outer qualities or the behaviors of Job. Job walks straight in line with God, his inside and his outside match. He practices what he preaches. Not only is he blameless and upright, but he “fears God.” Fearing God is rendering unto God what which is a proper response to who He is. Because he feared God, he “turned away from evil.” The idea behind that word is continuous action. It is his lifestyle. Job ran away from evil. He didn’t flirt with it. Job turned away from evil.
Job was a faithful follower. Not only was Job a faithful follower, Job was a faithful father. Job was a man who wanted to be God’s man. He wanted to bless his kids, his business and those around him.
Proverbs 20:7= “The righteous man leads a blameless life, blessed are his children after him.”
Job’s family was blessed because their daddy walked with God. Job’s business was blessed because he walked with God. The folks around Job were blessed because he walked in his integrity. God defines integrity. Job will demonstrate integrity.
2. Your Integrity Is Protected By The Hand Of God. In Job 2:3 God will go on to say to Satan, “although you incited Me against him to ruin him without cause.” God guards our integrity against the accusations of Satan.
Satan’s general accusation is this: “The only reason that Job serves you God is not because of who You are. Not because of Your majesty. Not because of Your holiness. Not because of how good You are or how great You are. But he serves You because of what Job can get out of it.”
So Satan speaks up and says this in verse 4= “Skin for skin! Yes, all that a man has he will give for his life.”
Listen what he goes on to say in verse 5= “However, put forth Your hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh. He will curse you to your face.”
“He has lost all his stuff, but You take his health and Job will look You in the face and he will curse You!” Satan’s two primary strategies are pain and pleasure. But understand, the attacks of Satan are limited by your God.
When Satan first enters the room, God says, “Where have you been?” Satan says, “From walking in the earth.”
Understand this, Satan is not omnipresent. He can’t be everywhere at the same time. He goes from one place to another place
Here in verse 6 God will say this, “So the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, he is in your power, only spare his life.” Then Satan went out from the presence of the Lord and smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. And he took a potsherd to scrape himself while he was sitting among the ashes.”
Satan literally brings Job to his boiling point. But understand, he could only go as far as God would let him. In your life and my life the New Testament reaffirms this.
Luke 22:31= Jesus says to Simon Peter, “Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat.”
He has to get permission. There is no tragedy or no devastation that will come into your life this year apart from God allowing it to come in!
3. Your Integrity Is Pleasing To The Heart Of God. How did Job make it? His wife says to him in verse 9= “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die!”
I mean, after all, that is what Satan said would happen. “God, if it gets bad enough, they will curse you!” Keep in mind, his wife had just lost her home and her 10 kids.
So Job responds to his wife by saying this in verse 10= “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?” He was grateful for the control of God in his life. Job’s rock and refuge when everything else seemed to be crumbling was the absolute sovereignty of God. Job says, “I know God is at work. I don’t understand it and I can’t explain it. But God is at work and when this thing is all said and done, I will come forth as gold.”