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The Zondervan 2003 Pastor's AnnualAn Idea and Resource Book
By T. T. Crabtree
ZondervanCopyright © 2002 Zondervan
All right reserved.
Chapter OneSuggested preaching program for the month of JANUARY
* Sunday Mornings
January is a time of new beginnings, and an appropriate response is one of celebration and praise for life with all of its opportunities. The theme for the January Sunday morning sermons is "Celebrating the Life That Christ Makes Possible."
* Sunday Evenings
In every congregation there is at least one person with a broken heart. One function of the pastor-shepherd is to help bind up the brokenhearted. The theme for the Sunday evening sermons is "Is There Any Good News for Those Who Suffer?"
* Wednesday Evenings
Every believer needs to know what the Bible says about spiritual issues. For the next three months "What the Bible Says" will be the theme for the Wednesday evening sermons.
WEDNESDAY EVENING, JANUARY 1
Title: What the Bible Says About Itself
Text: "For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, ... and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart" (Heb. 4:12.)
Scripture Reading: Hebrews 4:12
In recent years there has been considerable division among Christians of all persuasions in regard to the Bible and its contents. Some claim that only parts of it are inspired. Others declare that its thoughts are inspired but not its language. Theological terminology has been used to describe certain concepts regarding the Bible and its contents, such as verbal inspiration, plenary inspiration, inerrancy, and so forth.
Perhaps the safest course to pursue is to let the Bible speak for itself. We should always be wary of those persuasions that lead toward bibliolatry, or the worship of the Bible as though it were a good-luck charm. The important thing about the Scriptures is that they reveal to humans what God is like and how we can be reconciled to God through his Son Jesus Christ.
I. What the Scriptures are called.
A. The Word of God (Heb. 4:12). As the Word of God, the Scriptures are an extension of God's being (John 1:1). They are more than just what God "said." They are the essence of his nature.
B. The Word of Truth (James 1:18). Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life." God's Word does not merely "contain" truth; it is absolute truth. Jesus said, "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:32).
C. The oracles of God (Rom. 3:2). Pagans referred to messages from their gods as "oracles." Paul was writing to Roman Christians (many of whom were only recently out of paganism), explaining to them that the messages of the true God (which he calls "oracles") were first given to the Jews.
D. The Word (James 1:21-23). The "engrafted word" suggests the personification of Jesus Christ, who is "in you" in the person of the Holy Spirit.
E. Holy Scriptures (Rom. 1:2). They are holy because they are uniquely God's words.
F. Sword of the Spirit (Eph. 6:17). As the "sword," the Word of God serves as the Christian's defense against Satan. The Holy Spirit makes the Word powerful in the heart of believers. He "activates" it.
II. How the Scriptures are described.
A. They are authoritative (Ps. 19:7-8). Because they are the words of God, they contain absolute authority.
B. They are inspired (2 Tim. 3:16-17). They are God-breathed, and thus they communicate to us the very personality of God.
C. They are "sharp" (Heb. 4:12). "For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit ..." (Heb. 4:12). This means that God's Word is incisive like a surgeon's scalpel. It does not mangle, but opens the heart to reveal its contents.
D. They are pure (Prov. 30:5). "Every word of God is pure...." When people try to add to God's Word, they destroy its purity. One of Satan's ploys is to tamper with God's Word, to make people doubt it and twist its truth.
III. How the inspiration of the Scriptures is proved (Heb. 2:1-4).
A. They were first spoken by the Lord (thundered from Mount Sinai).
B. They were confirmed by those who heard them.
C. They were accompanied by signs and wonders.
D. They were corroborated by the gifts of the Holy Spirit and by the coming of the Spirit in power on the Day of Pentecost.
IV. How the Scriptures are understood.
A. By illumination provided through the indwelling ministry of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 2:10-14).
B. By examination. "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth" (2 Tim. 2:15).
C. By reasoning (Acts 17:2). Paul reasoned with the Jews in the synagogues. Through the prophet Isaiah, the Lord God challenged: "Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool" (Isa. 1:18).
D. By human help (Acts 8:27-35). With his limited understanding, the Ethiopian was searching the Scriptures. God provided human help through Philip, who came and interpreted the meaning of the Scriptures to the Ethiopian.
V. How the Scriptures should be received.
A. Let them dwell in us richly (Col. 3:16). In other words, let them be alive and effective in our lives.
B. Search and study them daily (Acts 17:11). Daily reading and studying God's Word is an excellent habit to form.
C. Hide them in our hearts (Ps. 119:11). They provide a "reserve power" that can help us combat sin and temptation. Furthermore, when we hide the Scriptures in our hearts, God will bring them to our remembrance in our time of need.
D. Delight in them (Ps. 1:2).
E. Teach them to our children (Deut. 11:19). This means not just in church or Sunday school, but in our homes as well.
Through the Word of God we learn of our sinful nature and our need for salvation. Because the Word of God is alive and powerful, it is used by the Spirit to probe relentlessly into our hearts. The spiritual nourishment it provides brings about spiritual growth and releases within us a marvelous defense mechanism against sin.
SUNDAY MORNING, JANUARY 5
Title: Finding the Lost Book
Text: "Hilkiah the high priest said unto Shaphan the scribe, I have found the book of the law in the house of the Lord" (2 Kings 22:8.)
Scripture Reading: 2 Kings 22
Hymns: "O Worship the King," Grant
"Word of God, Across the Ages," Blanchard
"Break Thou the Bread of Life," Lathbury and Gross
Offertory Prayer: Heavenly Father, your holy Word tells us to bring our whole tithe into your storehouse so that your work may be accomplished on earth. We humbly and gratefully offer to you our tithes and offerings this day. Thank you for the privilege. May your name be honored through Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.
During the reign of King Josiah a great discovery was made. Hilkiah the priest announced to Shaphan the scribe, during the time that the temple was being repaired, "I have found the book of the law in the house of the Lord" (2 Kings 22:8).
From that simple statement occurs one of the most interesting happenings in the Old Testament. Not only did this discovery have significance then, it has a message for now. Finding the lost book, or rediscovering the Bible, is an especially appropriate message for the beginning of a new year. We can consider this great discovery in two ways.
I. Rediscovering the Bible historically.
A. The discovery of the lost book.
1. The times. Josiah was the grandson of Manasseh, one of the most wicked kings of Judah. During his reign the nation was flooded with idolatry and immorality. The worship of Baal was restored in a land that was filled with sorcerers, mediums, and star worshipers. Violence reigned; the temple of God was neglected. The king and the people had heard the prophets' words, but they rebelled against the God of their fathers.
2. The king. Then along came Josiah. He was eight years old when he was crowned king, and he reigned thirty-one years. He was righteous before the Lord, loyal to his heritage, and dedicated to God throughout his reign. The influence of godly people prompted him to seek the Lord and repair the temple. While this was happening, the lost book was found.
3. The book. The book that Hilkiah found was called "the book of the law" and was either part or all of the book of Deuteronomy. It was God's Word discovered anew! It had been lost for some time under a pile of stones in the temple or in one of the chambers, where it had remained unnoticed for years. Wherever it was, it is quite evident that the people of God had not been reading the Scriptures as they should have been.
B. The dynamic response to its discovery. Josiah's response is described in four ways.
1. Josiah heard it read (2 Kings 22:11). The first step toward a personal discovery of God's Word is a willingness to read it or hear it read. Josiah's heart was tender, and he humbled himself before the Lord.
2. Josiah responded to the message of the book (2 Kings 22:11). He was so moved by what he heard that he tore his clothes in grief and repentance.
3. Josiah read the book to all the people (2 Kings 23:1-2). God spoke to their hearts as he did to Josiah's. They were convicted of forgotten vows, and they renewed the covenant of the nation to the Lord.
4. Revival came in response to finding the book. The temple was cleansed of heathen worship, and the land was cleansed of idolatry. Immorality was stamped out. The observance of the Passover was renewed. Rediscovering God's book brought new leadership, new purpose, and a new spirit of worship to the people.
May we remember that the Word of God is powerful! It kindles fire in our hearts. It leads to life and creates light by which to live. It is God's Word to us!
It seems as though many people have lost their Bibles today. Christians can lose their Bibles not just physically but spiritually. If you are not reading your Bible with meaning, it is as lost to you as was the Word of God to the people of Judah. You may "lose your Bible" by turning aside to wealth, pleasure, ambition, or success. But you can rediscover God's Word! Open your Bible and begin to read it, and a new spiritual day will be yours.
II. Rediscovering the Bible presently.
You can rediscover the Bible in three ways.
A. Rediscover the Bible authoritatively. The Bible is not an authority on science or history; it is an authority on spiritual things. It is not just a book of religion; it is divine revelation. It is the book of redemption, the book of divine inspiration. It reveals God to us!
The Bible is our final authority in life, the authoritative basis of our faith. Goethe said, "When I go to hear a preacher preach, I may not agree with what he says, but I want him to believe it." We need something to stand on for our faith and practice. The Bible is the answer.
B. Rediscover the Bible personally. It has the power to speak to us personally. The Holy Spirit will open the Word to our hearts as we open our hearts to the Word. Jesus did this for the disciples on the Emmaus Road as he explained the Scriptures about his coming. When their eyes were opened, they recognized him and said, "Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way?" (Luke 24:32). Jesus still does that today in our hearts through the Spirit.
C. Rediscover the Bible practically. One goal for our lives should be a renewed emphasis on the Bible.
1. Hear it. Proverbs 1:5 says, "A wise man will hear, and will increase learning."
2. Read it. We forget 90 to 95 percent of what we hear. So read the Bible for yourself. Read it with a searching spirit. Read it in faith. Read it for fellowship with the heavenly Father. Read it prayerfully.
3. Study it. We forget 70 percent of what we read. So study the Scriptures personally using a notebook to take notes on what you discover. Study it in Sunday school. Study it whenever you have an opportunity.
4. Memorize it. Hide it in your heart. Memorize verses, chapters, whole sections of Scripture. Set a goal to commit it to memory.
5. Meditate on it. The psalmist said that the person who meditates on the Word day and night is blessed (Ps. 1:2). Get up in the morning thinking about it. Go to bed at night meditating on it.
The Bible becomes a living book to us when we experience its truth and life for ourselves. Bishop E. Berggrav of the Lutheran Church in Norway spent most of World War II in a Nazi concentration camp. It was there that he found Christ in the pages of the Bible. His reading it aloud brought the reality of Christ to his life so that his faith was restored and his spirit renewed.
Discover the Bible for yourself. Commit yourself to God's Word this year. It brings new life!
SUNDAY EVENING, JANUARY 5
Title: How Do You Face Trouble?
Text: "At this Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said: 'Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised'" (Job 1:20-21 NIV.)
Scripture Reading: Job 1:13-22
Is there any good news for those who suffer? In times when trouble strikes, we need to take an inventory to see if there is any good news that can cheer our hearts and help us bear the burden of pain.
Trouble and suffering are facts of life that all of us must cope with sooner or later. An incurable disease may afflict someone we love or even us personally. A financial disaster may wipe out our fortunes. A domestic tragedy may tear apart our home. There are fatal accidents on life's highways. There are dead-end streets where all hopeful expectations are brought to a stop.
How should Christians cope with suffering and trouble?
When trouble comes, some people turn to religion, hoping it will deepen and strengthen their faith. Others turn away from religion in disappointment and despair.
Excerpted from The Zondervan 2003 Pastor's Annual by T. T. Crabtree Copyright © 2002 by Zondervan. Excerpted by permission.
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