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Thursday, July 28, 2011

“Mobilizing the People of God”

(part 2)

“Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Matthew 28:18-20

It is called “The Great Commission”! To be commissioned, like a ship, means that the vessel is placed into a state of readiness for service. Ships that are commissioned for service do not sit dry-docked in the shipyard! They are sent out! These great vessels were constructed to do a “work.” They were designed to carry people and resources all over the world! Like these mighty ships, we too were created to carry something to the whole world… the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We were created to do a work:

“In the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul. While they were worshipping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them. So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and send them off. The two of them, sent on their way by the Holy Spirit, went down to Seleucia and sailed from there to Cyprus. When they arrived at Salamis, they proclaimed the word of God in the Jewish synagogues.”
Acts 13:1-5

Everyone of you has a “work” to which God has called you! It may be serving in the nursery at your church, volunteering at a local food bank, or taking the gospel to the jungles of Ecuador. I cannot tell you where God is sending you, but I can tell you what God has NOT called you to do. God has not called you to go week after week and occupy a pew in your church and never “go” and “make disciples”.

We have made church so comfortable and entertaining that no one wants to leave. Wonderful music, air conditioned sanctuaries, and padded seats are all designed to make those that come in comfortable. Our thinking is…“If we make them feel comfortable here, then they will stay”! Then we preach comfortable messages so that they will come back week after week. We’ll even talk about the importance of the Great Commission and reaching people for Christ as we watch the drama team perform a wonderful illustrated message.

The church, today, looks more like a “staged area” than a staging area. I like to watch the home improvement shows on television and one of things they do to sell somebody on a house is “stage it”. To stage a home is to set it up to make it appear someone lives there. Likewise, we are staging our churches to look like we care about people and taking the Gospel to the nations, when in reality, we are not “going” anywhere! If we are truly going to be Great Commission churches then we must be busy equipping people, training them and sending them out in obedience to God’s Word!

Pastor Scott Burr

“Mobilizing the People of God”

(part 1)

“It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in faith and knowledge of the son of God, and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”
Ephesians 4:11-13

Often times when these verses are studied much of the emphasis is placed on the offices of the apostles, prophets, evangelist, teacher and pastor. Known as the five-fold ministry, entire books highlighting their roles and responsibilities have been written discussing the necessity of these offices in the local church. So much emphasis has been given to them that they have inadvertently become the focal point of the passage. However, upon careful reading, the true focal point of the passage is “God’s people”!

In Ephesians 4, Paul is addressing not the apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers of Ephesus, but rather he is addressing the “body”! Paul urges them to live a life worthy of the calling and encourages them to keep the unity of the Spirit. In order to help them accomplish this God gave them apostles- to set things in order, provide oversight, and safeguard the integrity of Scripture; evangelists- to awaken their faith and proclaim the Good News; prophets- to expose sin, proclaim righteousness, and combat worldliness; pastors- to care for their spiritual needs; and teachers-to expound the Word of God. Each set in place for a common purpose which is to “prepare God’s people for works of service.”

Their function is to train and equip God’s people to be released into ministry. Apostles, evangelist, prophets, pastors and teachers are given to mobilize the people of God to proclaim the Glory of God to all nations. It is that very concept that has seemed to escape us! Paul saw the church as a staging area- equipping and releasing people, finances and resources into the mission field to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The church was fluid and mobile, where in contrast, the church today has become a fixture…a fortress!

Fortresses are permanent. They are stationary structures with thick walls to keep the enemy at bay. They contain all the weapons needed inside, but they are only used to defend those inside its walls and keep the enemy out. The church, in America, has become like a fortress. We have become immovable. We contain all the weapons and resources needed to storm the gates of hell, but most of it remains resting comfortably within the four walls of the church.

The church, however, was not designed to be a fortress, but a staging area! By definition a staging area - is where vehicles, supplies, equipment and people are assembled for use! Everything that comes into the staging area is intended to be used in the mission. Our mission, as the body of Christ, is to take the Gospel to the ends of the earth…and everything in the “staging area” is intended to be used in the mission. Staging areas are not designed to be dwelling places. They are temporary by nature. It is where everything goes to receive its instruction…its operational assignment. Then it is “sent out” to be used in the mission!

Pastor Scott Burr

Thursday, July 21, 2011

“The Samson Syndrome”

(part 3)

“Then the Philistines seized him, gouged out his eyes and took him down to Gaza. Binding him with bronze shackles, they set him to grinding in the prison.”

Judges 16:21

Too many of us, like Samson, are dabbling in sin…knowing that it is crouching at the door, desiring to have us, desiring to destroy our lives. Samson knew that Delilah wanted to know “how he could be subdued!” Yet, He believed He could overcome his enemies, because He had done it before! He confused God’s power with his own strength and found himself in bondage!

Sin is a wicked taskmaster. It blinds us to the truth, shackles us to shame and imprisons us in guilt! Regardless of how harmless it may appear, sin is bent on destroying our lives. Samson was not taken into captivity by Delilah’s deception, he was dragged away by his own sinfulness:

“But each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.”

James 1:14-15

His enemies gloated and rejoiced over his demise. They held a great sacrifice to their god and had Samson brought out in order make a public spectacle of him. Humiliated and left grinding in a prison, Samson’s story of compromise, failure and bondage could equally describe many of us today. Samson’s story would be heart wrenching if not for this verse found in Judges 16:22:

“But the hair on his head began to grow again after it had been shaved.”

Samson’s hair began to grown back! The very thing that he had compromised in order to enjoy the pleasure of sin for a season began to return to him. This time, however, he did not trust in it’s strength. Instead, as he was led out in front of the shouting Philistine crowd, he lifted his head toward heaven and prayed:

“O Sovereign Lord, remember me. O God, please strengthen me just once more, and let me with one blow get revenge on the Philistines for my two eyes.”

Judges 16:28

Samson, with a repentant spirit, acknowledged that the secret of his strength was never his hair, but his God! Renewed in his faith, Samson recaptured his convictions. Be encouraged! God is calling you to break the Samson Syndrome! If you will cry out to God, He will give you strength so that you will not be “tired to death” by sin’s persistence. If you call on Him, He will give you the strength to get up out of “Delilah’s lap!” You may feel that what you have done is unforgivable. You may feel that you have shattered your faith beyond repair! Maybe your enemies are gloating over your demise…but if you will repent and turn back to God you too can recapture your convictions!

Pastor Scott Burr

Thursday, July 14, 2011

“The Samson Syndrome”

(part 2)

“Having put him to sleep on her lap, she called a man to shave off the seven braids of his hair, and so began to subdue him. And his strength left him.”
Judges 16:19

How did this man set apart unto God and empowered by the Holy Spirit end up with his head in the lap of sin being lulled to sleep by worldly compromise? Be certain that it did not happen overnight! I think, like Samson, each of us fall into the trap of thinking, “If I do enough things right, I don’t have to address the things that are wrong!” Although Samson obeyed the voice of the Lord in regards to fermented wine not touching his lips and the razor not touching his head…He wasn’t truly living a sanctified life:

“Samson went down to Timnah and saw there a young Philistine woman. When he returned, he said to his father and mother, “ I have seen a Philistine woman in Timnah; now get her for me as my wife.” His father and mother replied, “Isn’t there an acceptable woman among your relatives or among all or people? Must you go to the uncircumcised Philistines to get a wife?” But Samson said to his father, “Get her for me. She’s the right one for me.”
Judges 14:1-3

Although Samson was diligent about keeping the Nazarite vow, he was not so diligent in following God’s law. Deuteronomy 7:3 instructed the Israelites not to intermarry with those around them “for they will turn your sons away from following me”, however it did not dissuade him from wanting a Philistine woman for his wife. Samson dishonored his parents by disregarding their instruction. Judges 16:1-2 tells us that he was driven by lust and frequented prostitutes, until once again he found himself in the arms of another Philistine woman.

It was a life of gradual compromise that led him to be “lulled to sleep.” He trusted that as long as the Spirit of the Lord was coming upon him…he must be o.k. with God. Until…

“He awoke from his sleep and thought, “I’ll go out as before and shake myself free.” But he did not know that the Lord had left him.”

Judges 16:20

It is what I like to call the Samson Syndrome! When we get so comfortable with our heads in the “lap of sin”, that we will compromise even our deepest convictions. Samson had done a lot of things, but he had not EVER cut his hair! Yet, after years of compromise, in a state of being “tired to death”, he sacrificed one of his life long convictions. Like Samson, many Christian people today are being lulled to sleep in the lap of Delilah, not realizing that she is stealing their strength (the presence of the Lord in their lives). Too many of us, like Samson, are dabbling in sin…knowing that it is crouching at the door, desiring to have us, desiring to destroy our lives. Samson knew that Delilah wanted to know how he could be subdued! Yet, He believed He could overcome his enemies, because He had done it before! He confused God’s power with his own strength and found himself in bondage!

Pastor Scott Burr

Thursday, July 7, 2011

“The Samson Syndrome”

(part 1)

“Now see to it that you drink no wine or other fermented drink and that you do not eat anything unclean, because you will conceive and give birth to a son. No razor may be used on his head, because they boy is to be a Nazarite, set apart to God from birth, and he will begin the deliverance of Israel from the hands of the Philistines.”

Judges 13:4-5

From the moment of his birth God intended Samson to be a Nazarite. The word Nazarite is derived from the Hebrew word ‘Nazar’ which means to “set apart.”
A Nazarite was an individual raised up by God whose life would be a demonstration to others of the highest level of holiness, purity and dedication to the Lord.

Samson was to be a picture of a sanctified life. From the time he was a child, no fermented juice touched his lips and no razor touched his head. The Spirit of the Lord came upon him and he did many exploits for the Lord. He tore a lion apart with his bare hands and struck down a thousand Philistines with nothing but the jawbone of a donkey. The Philistines were desperate to know the secret of his strength. Which brings us to Judges 16! The story of Samson and Delilah:

“Some time later, he fell in love with a woman in the Valley of Sorek whose name was Delilah. The rulers of the Philistines went to her and said, “See if you can lure him into showing you the secret of his great strength and how we can overpower him so we may tie him up and subdue him. Each one of us will give you eleven hundred shekels of silver.”

Judges 16:4-5

Three times Delilah attempts to lure him into a trap. She asked him, “Tell me the secret of your great strength and how you can be tied up and subdued.” She didn’t even try and conceal what she wanted. She was brazen in her approach and for a time Samson alluded her. However, her repeated efforts began to take their toll on Samson:

“With such nagging she prodded him day after day until he was tired to death.”

Judges 16:16

Ultimately he told her everything! He told her about his Nazarite vow and how no razor had ever touched his head and when Delilah saw that he had told her everything, she sent word to the Philistines. She then coaxed Samson to sleep in her lap:

“Having put him to sleep in her lap, she called a man to shave off the seven braids of his hair, and so began to subdue him. And his strength left him.”

Judges 16:19

How did this man, set apart unto God and empowered by the Holy Spirit, end up with his head in the lap of sin being lulled to sleep by worldly compromise?

Pastor Scott Burr