Quick Sermon Outline: Ephesians 4:28-30

My Translation

Let the one who is stealing, steal no longer
            But rather let him labor hard by means of working with his hands
                        So that he might have something to share with the one who has need. 
Do not let any corrupt/foul word come out of your mouth, but only what is good
            To build up according to the need
                        In order that it [the word] might give grace to the one who hears
      And do not grieve/pain the Holy Spirit of God
                        By whom you were sealed to the day of redemption
Points from verse 28
1. We earn through hard work, not from theft or chasing pipe dreams. 
2. We earn more so we might have more to give. 
3. There are often legitimate needs in the Body of Christ. Just because someone has a need does not mean they were lazy. 
4. The first line for meeting needs is the individual members of the body, not the deacons. 

Points from verses 29-30
1. Words are powerful. See Proverbs 18:21
2. Our words are to meet need of the moment. This requires wisdom, which in turn requires listening. 
3. Corrupt words grieve the Holy Spirit. One excellent way to not grieve the Spirit is to biblical language. This does not guarantee that your words are not corrupt, but it will help.

Sermon Notes: Ephesians 4:25-28

            Coming down from the mountain can be painful. Remember Moses. He spent forty days in the glory cloud, surround by the Shekinah glory of Yahweh.  had to come down from the mountain. He had been up there with God, getting the Ten Commandments. God’s glory shone all around him. But then he had to come down.
Paul moves from the lofty and abstract, putting off and putting on, to the “nitty gritty specifics of the Christian life.” (J. Stott)
Paul does not just tell what we shouldn’t do, but also what we should do.  We must put off and put on. The absence of weeds does not make it a garden. If you do not put on what is right, while also working putting off the sin, you will not win the battle.
a.     Illustration: Catechism questions
As a church we want to be connected with one another. One aim and goal at Christ Church is that there is deep fellowship with one another. It is the explicit vision of the leaders of Christ Church that you are involved in one another’s lives. We want to hear about you eating with one another. Playing games with each other. Working over at one another’s houses. Why? Because this is the vision of the Scriptures.  This entire section assumes close contact with other believers. It assumes an interconnectedness with one another.  But his interconnectedness does not mean less problems it actually means more.
      Think about when you got married or maybe when you became close friends with someone. From afar people are often a lot more lovable than they are close up.  It is not until we close to someone that we see the warts.
     Do not lie, but instead speak the truth. (Zech 8:16)
a.       Reason: We are members of each other

Lying is any way we shade the truth. We can tell a direct lie. But we also lie when we slander someone’s reputation. When we speak ill or make someone sound worse than they are. When we pretend like we have done something, but we did not. We lie when we make excuses for our sins instead of owning them. We lie when we flatter someone. We lie when we speak the truth, but do it to destroy instead of build up. Speak the best of everyone as far as we can. When we rebuke it must be because we are on their side. Love must precede a rebuke. The intention has got to match the language.
Examples of lying in our culture: Politicians, advertising, coaches.  We live in a culture of liars. Men who shade the truth. Men who refuse to acknowledge they were wrong. Men who make excuses. Classrooms are filled with teachers who lie and students who lie. Why? Because Satan is the father of lies and Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. Advertising is built on lying.  My wife commented the other night that most commercials give the impression that you are young forever. You drink this water every day. You should not assume that you do not lie. You should not assume that you do not shade the truth.
Illustration: Todd Graham, coach at Pitt
Why do we lie? We lie because we have sinned and do not want someone else to know. We lie because we want to look better than we actually or to make someone else look worse. We lie to get what we want.  We lie because we are selfish. Lying is almost always a way of protecting ourselves or elevating ourselves or getting what we want. It is initially helpful. We lied on our resume to get a job. We lied to our wife so she wouldn’t get mad. But really we have shoved the rotting food further back in the fridge. Eventually it will begin to stink.  Also lying is usually expedient. We lie because at first it is the easiest way out. At first, it provides us with an escape.
What does lying to do us? First, it puts a wall between you and spiritual growth. Second, lying is like stabbing your own body.  We are members of one another. When you lie you do not lie by yourself in a room somewhere. You lie with all of us attached to you. Imagine your eye lying for just one moment. Imagine your eye saying the light was green when it was red.
So what are some things you can do to combat lying. First, love God’s people. A deep love for the people of God and knowing that you belong to them will eliminate a lot of sins.
Second, examine your motivation for saying what you are saying. Why are you saying what you are saying? Is it pride? Is it because you are trying to get your way? Is it because you are trying to tear someone down?  Examine your motives. Too often we look at what we do and not why we do what we do.
            Third, take any breach of the truth with the utmost seriousness. We like to make excuses for what we view as small sins, little lies that really do not matter. But they do.  The first step towards a life characterized by truth is refusing to lie about anything, no matter how small. So be completely honest about who you are and what you are doing.
  Do not sin in your anger instead deal with it immediately. (c.f. Psalm 4:4, James 1:19-20)
a.        Reason: If you don’t you will give the Devil a foothold.
The second thing we must put off is unrighteous anger.
What is righteous anger? Anger that has God’s glory at the center of it. Anger that is because we love God and we love the person in front of us. Anger that does not aim to destroy, but aims to restore. That is righteous anger. Anger can often arise because of legitimate reasons. We have at least two examples of Christ becoming angry. These are instructive for us. What did he become upset at?  In Mark 3 Jesus become angry because the Pharisees were upset that he was healing a man on the Sabbath.
Sinful anger is selfish and uncontrolled.  Sinful anger is not out of love for God and love for my neighbor it is out of love for self.
Excuses we make for anger. We like to believe we are the exception to the rule. That we have legitimate reasons, but others do not.  Here are some common excuses we make for getting angry.
1.       Someone has offended us or sinned against us. .
2.       We are embarrassed.
3.       We are tired.
4.       We feel threatened.
5.       Bruce the “subtle temptation to regard my anger as righteous indignation and other people’s anger as sheer bad temper.”
By the way anger does not have to mean big blow up. Anger can be a slow smoldering flame that comes out in subtle, but biting ways. The sharp word spoken very quietly but meant to cut deep. That payback you get to fellow workers when
1.       Anger itself is not a sin, but it is filled with temptation. Your anger is rarely justified.
2.       Deal with your anger quickly. Anger must not be nursed and fed. This will probably mean repenting of it. It is a poison that will rot our souls if we do not eradicate it. For many of us anger is like a smoldering coal that we keep secretly burning so might burn someone. Strive for quick and complete reconciliation.  Remember anger is not always visible. It can simmer below the surface, hidden like a rotting apple.
a.       Illustration: Pear that rots from inside out.
3.       The Devil hangs around angry people. Being angry is like putting a welcome mat out for the Devil.  The Devil is always looking for an opportunity to destroy the unity of the body. Remember he is not so concerned about you, as he is about the name of Christ and his body. When you are angry you become a tool for the Devil to tear apart the body of Christ.
a.       Illustration: Weak part of a defensive line in football.
4.       Unrighteous anger is functional denial of God’s sovereignty. We are saying that God is not in control and I must do something.
The psalmist urges his listeners to not sin in their anger because God is in control and has set them apart for himself.
            So how do we deal with anger? What are we to do when we are angry?  First, we need to trust in God more. Almost all of our anger is a functional denial of God’s sovereignty. We must become God because he has dropped the ball. The lady at the checkout is taking too long. Why? Because God ordained it. Even when someone sins against us we need to be patient. In Romans 12 Paul tell us to
            Second, assume your anger is wrong.
            Third, be very slow to anger.  Proverbs 14:19, 19:11 and James 1:19-20.
            Fourth, deal with any anger quickly and completely
            Fifth, get angry at the things that anger God.
Christ has called us to salt and light. We are the redeemed, the elect of God. We have been called to unity. We have been called to live separate from the world. We cannot do this if our lives are characterized by lying and anger.  Let us fall down before Almighty God, asking him to forgive us for our hardness of heart and stubbornness of will. Let us pray that he will help us to mortify the deeds  of the flesh and put on the fruit of the Spirit. Let us pray this not just for ourselves, but for all his people.

A Second Helping of Ephesians 4:1-16

Pastors are collectors. We collect books, notes, anecdotes, quotes, oddities about the Greek/Hebrew text, etc. Most of this collecting is done during sermon preparation. However, when we preach a lot of this collected data gets left at home.  It seems a shame to let it go to waste. So here are some additional notes on Ephesians 4:1-16 that I scavenged while preparing to preach. If you would like to hear the sermon you can go here.

1. Verses 4-6 have a Trinitarian shape. There is one Spirit, one Lord, one God and Father of us all. This Trinitarian shape is why we can have unity (verses 1-6), but a diversity of gifts (verse 7).

2. Charles Hodge on the unity of the Spirit. “As hatred, pride, and contention among Christians cause the Spirit to withdraw from them, so love and peace secure his presence. And as his presence is the condition and source of all good, and his absence the source of all evil, the importance of the duty enjoined [unity] cannot be over estimated.”

3. Verses 11-12 are  some of the most debated verses in the New Testament. Two problems are presented. Is verse 11 talking about 4 offices (apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastor/teacher) or 5 offices (apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastor, and teacher)? Second, is verse 12 talking about three things the teaching offices do or one the teaching office does (equip) and two things the saints do (the work of the ministry and the building up of the body)? It is interesting how interpretations shift over time. In the reformation era the 5 office view and teaching offices doing all three were the dominant interpretations of the verses.  Today the ground has shifted to exactly the opposite.

4. A diversity of gifts does not harm the Body of Christ, but on the contrary makes it healthy.

5. The only other verse in the New Testament where word for “tossed to and fro” is used is James 1:16. 

6. “Speaking the truth in love” in verse 15 is talking about speaking doctrinal truth. It is connected with verse 14. It is not talking just about lying, but rather about false teaching.  Paul uses “truth” in a similar way in 4:21.

7. The body is built up/edified when each part does its share. (verse 16)

Sermon Outline: Matthew 6:12

Sometimes sermons take on a life of their own. My outline for this past week’s sermon is below. However, if you hear the sermon you will find that at times I deviated from the outline.

Christ Church of Morgantown
7th Sunday of Trinity
July 31st, 2011
Sermon: The Lord’s Prayer: Forgive Us Our Trespasses
Matthew 6:12, 14-15

When things are familiar to us we tend to take them for granted. When I was growing up my father loved to do things with us. He would play soccer with us in the yard. He would play football with us. He worked construction. One day a concrete truck got the wrong instructions. So here you have a concrete truck half full with no place to the put the concrete. So my dad bought the concrete cheap and poured us a concrete pad to play basketball on. I think it was twelve by twelve. Anyway, my dad loved to do things like that. Every time a friend would come over and spend the night or play with us they would always comment about how great my dad was. They would say how neat it was that he would play with us. They would tell me how great my dad was. Of course, I rarely thought this. I thought every father played football and basketball with his boys. I took it for granted what my dad did for us. We do this often with familiar things. We see them so frequently we become dull to how amazing they are.
So it is with the our subject his morning. The Kingdom we needed teaching on. The holiness of God we needed teaching on. Our daily bread we needed teaching on. But the forgiveness of sins, I have that one down pastor. I don’t need a sermon on that.


We sin daily.
Q82: Is any man able perfectly to keep the commandments of God?
A82: No mere man since the fall is able in this life perfectly to keep the commandments of God,[1] but doth daily break them in thought, word, and deed.

Note here the underlying assumption is that we sin and will continue to sin. It won’t be the same sins, but this portion of the prayer argues against the notion of perfection. We carry sin in our hearts until our death. Perfection is not an option.

What we tend to say is, “We don’t sin like those people.” We look at the sins of others and think we are pretty good people. But the standard is not other people. The standard is God. The standard is not my neighbor.

There are two different types of sin that our fathers talked about, sins of commission and sins of omission. Sins of commission are doing those things which we ought not to do. For example, lusting, stealing, getting angry at my children or spouse, and disobeying my parents. We usually think about sin in this category.

But when Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment was he didn’t tell us what not to do, but rather what to do. Love the Lord your God… We sin when we do not love with all our heart. We sin when could have helped our wife, but chose not to. We sin when we could have honored our parents, but chose not to. We sin when we could have glorified God in the work place, but instead shrunk back.

There are two areas we sin, internally and externally. Again we tend to think externally only, that which people see. But sin begins in the heart. Why do we do what we do? Here is the great question. Jesus is teaching us in this large section (Matthew 6:1-18) that we can pray, fast, and give alms and be sinning. How? Our hearts are fixed upon the world.

Love the Word
God’s Word does many things for us. It can comfort when we are downcast. It can encourage us when we have done well. It can show God and his mercy. It tells us the story of God and his Messiah sent to redeem fallen man. But the Bible also shows us our sin. It exposes us to God and his character and his law. Do you read the Bible for information or for transformation? Do you read the Bible so you can see what others are doing or to shape your own life? How often does your Scripture reading

God Grants Forgiveness
Here is where we have to decide if we are going to bored with the same old story or rejoice in the same old story. It should amaze us every time we confess our sins that we are forgiven. Every time we come and plead the blood of Christ is should cause us to wonder. What good reason does he have? Why should he forgive us? What can we give him that he should take away our sins?

His forgiveness is continual. We get so tired of forgiving others, don’t we? Our children come back with the same sin and ask forgiveness again. But God doesn’t. His forgiveness is continual. Matthew 18:21-22

His forgiveness is complete. I John 1:8-9. He does not partially forgive. It may be worthwhile to ask here, what is forgiveness.

His forgiveness is unconditional. That means all we have to do is ask. I remember this movie “The Mission” where Robert DeNiro plays a soldier who is converted to Christianity and decided to join a monastery in South America. The head priest decides to make DeNiro show is allegiance by hauling a cross up a mountain. It is a thought provoking movie and worth your time. However, the point I want to make is that we don’t need to haul a cross up a mountain. God does not forgive because of what we do. We don’t get in because do this or do that. We get in because God draws us and we request forgiveness.

Love the Cross-Sometimes I get tired of people who talk about the cross and nothing else. Why? Because that is not what the Bible does. The Bible talks about a lot of things. It talks about sheep and goats, parenting, wisdom and chariot wheels with eyes. But if someone rarely talks about the cross, if Jesus’ death is an afterthought then their theology is warped. Something has gone awry in their thinking. The cross must be something we glory in. Why? Because at the cross our sins were forgiven.

We Should Forgive Others Daily
We should expect to be sinned against.

Does this mean we must forget the sins of others? Does God forgive and forget? If this is the criteria then we cannot forgive because it is hard to forget. But that is not the point. God does not forget. Forgiveness is not holding someone’s sins against them anymore.

Does this mean we earn forgiveness?
Why can this not be true? Jesus seems to be saying here that God will forgive us, if we forgive others.

Our debt is too large. Your sins are so numerous that you could spend thousands of years seeking to earn your way in and still not atone. Your sins are not just many they are against God.
If we do that undermines the entire Gospel. Why because the Gospel is the forgiveness of our sins?
Alas and Did My Savior Bleed- But drops of grief can ne’er repay the debt of love I owe

Forgiveness is free, not earned. Paul makes this explicit throughout his epistles, Romans and Galatians. Romans 6:23 is a great example. Ephesians 1:7 is another example. Titus 3 is another example.

We can never forgive exactly as God forgives. If what Jesus is saying is that you must forgive just like God does then we are hopeless.

So what does this mean? Christ is telling us here that one of the clearest proofs of our own salvation is our willingness to forgive others. He is telling us that if we want to know whether we are saved or not, whether we understand our salvation or not we must look at how we forgive others.

WLC Q105: What do we pray for in the fifth petition?
A105: In the fifth petition, which is, And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors, we pray, That God, for Christ’s sake, would freely pardon all our sins;[2] which we are able to be rather encouraged to ask, because by his grace we are enabled from the heart to forgive others.[3]

HC Q: 126. Which is the fifth petition?
A: “And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors”; that is, be pleased for the sake of Christ’s blood, not to impute to us poor sinners, our transgressions, nor that depravity, which always cleaves to us; even as we feel this evidence of thy grace in us, that it is our firm resolution from the heart to forgive our neighbor.

Sermon Outline: Matthew 6:11

Christ Church of Morgantown
6th Sunday of Trinity
July 24th, 2011
Sermon: The Lord’s Prayer: The Fountain of All Good
Matthew 6:11

(The audio can be found here.)

So far our Lord has led us through the most mighty aspects of our prayer. We have ascended the heights and looked out. What do we see? God name’s should be a great priority in our prayers. We see his mighty Kingdom and we give thanks that we are in it and pray for it to grow through evangelism and discipleship. Finally, we saw that God’s will should be a great priority in our prayers. We saw that are many obstacles to God’s will being done. When we pray, “Thy will be done,” we are praying that these obstacles would be removed. We pray that we would renounce our will and seek that which pleases God.

It is easy after these first three petitions to fall into a trap of thinking that God is so high and mighty that he does not care about our daily existence. His name is so holy that he has no time for us. His Kingdom is so great that we are a but a particle of dust in the great and mighty Kingdom of Heaven. His will so perfect and good that we are mere mortals who cannot compare. This feeling is good. God is Mighty and exalted.

But we run the risk of forgetting he is also our Father. He has drawn near to us. He dwells with us. He cares for us. The next petition Christ gives to us reminds us that God is not just a King, but he is also a Father.

Remember as we move forward that we are not leaving God behind. We are not leaving God’s name and Kingdom and will behind us and now focusing on our needs. We begin with God’s name and kingdom and will and then the requests we make must fit into what we have already prayed.

Example: Give me my daily bread in a way that hallows your name, builds your kingdom and accomplishes your will.


Theological foundations/assumptions for this prayer request. (Prods to prayer.)

Our Father Cares About the Most Mundane Aspects of Our Lives
Nothing was as normal as bread in Israel. It was the staple food.

Bread [is a symbol] for everything necessary for the preservation of this life, like food, a healthy body, good weather, a house, home, wife, children good government and peace. Martin Luther

The early church fathers felt this too mundane and thus interpreted this as referring to the Lord’s Supper. But this surely misses the point, not just of this verse, but of this entire chapter.

Psalm 104
I Peter 5:7

Our Father Cares for Us Continually.
His attention to our lives does not waver and does not grow slack. Day by day he looks down upon us and provides for our needs. His eye never wanders from us.
Illustration: Losing sight of my children.
Illustration: Psalm 139

We may not feel like his care for us is continual. We may feel that he has forgotten us, but that is why God’s Word directs us not our feelings. There is never a moment when God is not overseeing our lives.

Our entire life from beginning to end is dependent upon God.
God alone sustains our lives. Not men, not money, not possessions, nor our bosses, but only God keeps us. This fact is easy to forget because our lives are so easy.

John Calvin: It is indeed the true proof of our faith when we ask nothing but from God, and not only acknowledge him to be the only fountain of all blessings, but feel that his fatherly kindness extends to the smallest matters, so that he does not disdain to take care even of our flesh.

Our prayer life will grow as our dependence upon God grows. If we think we earn things. If we think our bank accounts and health are there because we have earned them. If we think that our next paycheck is dependent upon us then we will not pray.
Illustration: George Mueller

We pray daily because we so easily forget the kindness of God. If Christ told us to pray for our yearly bread, we would forget God. And we do don’t we.

What if God takes away our daily needs, such as food, money, health and home? What if God does not answer this prayer?
Remember your daily necessities are gifts, not rights. You are not owed them. You have no right to them. God can and does take them away.

But why? Why would God remove these most basic necessities? Well, if God takes away one gift from his children he intends on giving them another. God removes something from our lives to give us something better, usually a deeper walk with Him. God never removes things to tear us into pieces. His point is never to destroy.
1. Josh’s bike accident.
2. Job and the Apostle Paul

We pray daily that God would provide for our needs.
This is not a prayer for luxury. It is not a prayer for mansions and cars and big, fat bank accounts. It is a prayer for our daily needs. When we understand who God is then will not fear bringing before him our needs. You should never be ashamed of asking God for things that you need. If Christ tells us to ask for our daily bread then all else is there for the taking. What do you need day by day? Bring it before his throne. He wants to hear and provide for you. He wants to see you depending upon him.
Proverbs 30:7-9
Here is a great difference between our God and the gods of the ancient world.
As your learn to pray do not neglect either aspect. Do not forget the great aspects of the Christian life. Pray big prayers. Teach your children to pray great prayers. But also learn to pray for the normal things of life. God wants us to pray for both.

We daily thank him for his provision.
Americans are notoriously ungrateful. We have so much, so very much. Our homes are outfitted with things the Emperor could not have imagined. Yet we grumble, we complain. Why? We think it is earned or deserved instead of a gift from God. If we are dependent upon God for our daily bread then we are dependent upon him for everything. But we don’t view things that way.

Thanksgiving and gratitude will flow naturally when we know that all things from his hand. He is the fountain of all good.

WLC: Q104: What do we pray for in the fourth petition?
A104: In the fourth petition, which is, Give us this day our daily bread,[1] we pray, That of God’s free gift we may receive a competent portion of the good things of this life,[2] and enjoy his blessing with them.[3]

HC Q: 125. Which is the fourth petition?
A: “Give us this day our daily bread”; that is, be pleased to provide us with all things necessary for the body, that we may thereby acknowledge you to be the only fountain of all good, and that neither our care nor industry, nor even thy gifts, can profit us without thy blessing; and therefore that we may withdraw our trust from all creatures, and place it alone in you.