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The Zondervan 2002 Pastor's AnnualAn Idea and Resource Book
By T. T. Crabtree
ZondervanCopyright © 2001 Zondervan
All right reserved.
Chapter OneSuggested preaching program for the month of
* Sunday Mornings
Without a proper response to the Holy Spirit, our lives will be unproductive and our service will be feeble. The suggested theme for the first three messages of the year is "Recognizing and Responding to the Indwelling Spirit."
On the last Sunday of the month, begin a series from John's gospel entitled "Responding to the Living Word."
* Sunday Evenings
The Old Testament prophets were primarily forthtellers rather than foretellers. They communicated the message of God to the needs of the day. The suggested theme is "Listen to the Major Messages of the Minor Prophets."
* Wednesday Evenings
The suggested theme is "Studies in Paul's Letter to the Corinthians."
WEDNESDAY EVENING, JANUARY 2
Title: In All Things Enriched by Him
Text: "That in every thing ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge" (1 Cor. 1:5).
Scripture Reading: 1 Corinthians 1:1-9
The story is told of a tax collector who went to a poor minister in order to determine the amount of tax the minister owed. The minister replied to the tax collector that he was a rich man. He said he was the possessor of a Savior who earned for him everlasting life and who had prepared a place for him in the eternal city. He also said he had a virtuous wife and that the Bible said her price was far above rubies. He added to these possessions healthy and obedient children and a merry heart. When the minister had told of his wealth, the official said, "You are a rich man, but, fortunately for you, your property is not taxable."
I. The source of these riches is found in Jesus Christ.
The passage says, "in him."
A. God wants the best for his children. God's knowledge is such that it covers all of one's life and all lives that each one touches. His power and presence are such that when his conditions are met whatever happens will ultimately always be the very best.
B. God's promises are riches for all. Philippians 4:19 says, "My God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus."
A pastor was having a difficult time in the church where he was serving. Because of certain circumstances, he could expect no forthcoming raise in salary. At just about that time, an automobile dealer came to the pastor and said, "I want to furnish you with a car at my company's expense." The car far exceeded the raise the church would have given him.
II. The promise of these riches is that a person is enriched in everything.
A. Christ makes a difference in every facet of life. He makes a difference in what one wants. Paul said, "Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: everywhere and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need" (Phil. 4:11-12). Christ also makes a difference in what one does with what one has.
B. This enrichment is "in all utterance, and in all knowledge." "All utterance" is the outward expression and "all knowledge" is the inward. These apply to such areas as husband-wife relations, parent-child relations, and relations with friends and acquaintances. They also apply to one's physical welfare, such as blessings and privileges of health and the sufferings and sorrows of illness. Enrichment can also apply to one's economic life, which would include earnings and expenditures. Most of all, enrichment applies to one's spiritual life.
III. To have this enrichment, certain conditions must be met.
A. One must surrender all aspects of one's life to the Lord Jesus.
B. One must have an abiding faith in Jesus and his promises as set forth in God's Word.
C. One must be obedient to God's will after first determining what it is.
For you and me to appreciate the riches of Christ in our lives, we must focus our attention on him and his promises and not on ourselves.
SUNDAY MORNING, JANUARY 6
Title: Another Comforter
Text: "And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever" (John 14:16).
Scripture Reading: John 14:15-18
Hymns: "Holy, Holy, Holy," Heber "Have Faith in God," McKinney "Holy Ghost, with Light Divine," Reed
Offertory Prayer: Holy Father, we thank you for all of your blessings upon us during the past year. We thank you for the privilege of being alive in this new year of 2002. Help us as we bring our financial gifts that we might do so with loving and grateful hearts, eager to share with those in need. Help us to give our total being in order that our heart might be your royal throne. In Jesus' name. Amen.
It is always exciting when a new year arrives before us as a page upon which we will write the history of our life. Let us pray for each other that it might be a good year for our Lord's work, for ourselves personally, and for our families.
When we face the future seriously, we often feel anxious. Particularly is this true if the future looks fearful and if we are plagued with a feeling of our helplessness and insignificance. The disciples of our Lord were horrified at the thought of facing the future without the comfort of his continuing companionship. Our Lord sought to allay their fears and to challenge them to faithfulness with a promise of another Comforter.
Toward the end of his earthly ministry, our Lord concentrated on his twelve apostles. He spent much time with them in seclusion because of his desire to avoid his enemies. At the same time, he wanted to strengthen these men for the task that was before them. He gave them some exceedingly great and precious promises (see John 14:1, 11-14), including the promise that he would give them "another Comforter," a promise they were incapable of understanding at the time. Furthermore, he said, "I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you" (John 14:18). And in John 14:28 he said, "Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I." In order that we might better understand the significance of these promises for the present, let us look at what discipleship meant to these disciples.
I. The call to discipleship is:
A. A call to trust in Jesus Christ.
B. A call to a profound learning experience.
C. A call to leave lesser things.
D. A call that involved the excitement of true fulfillment.
E. A call to partnership and friendship with Jesus Christ.
F. A call to serious self-discipline.
G. A call to high rewards.
II. Jesus invited his disciples to draw close to him.
A. To Philip he said, "Follow me" (John 1:43).
B. To Philip and Nathaniel, Jesus said, "Come and see" (John 1:46).
C. To James, John, Peter, and Andrew, Jesus said, "Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men" (Mark 1:17; see also Matt. 4:19 and Luke 5:10).
D. Jesus chose the Twelve "that they should be with him" (Mark 3:14; see also Luke 6:13). As these men followed Jesus, they experienced a transforming friendship. They visited together in crowded cities. They sailed and fished together on the Sea of Galilee. They prayed together in the mountains and deserts. They worshiped together in the temple. They watched Jesus and listened to him.
1. They saw in Jesus Christ what it meant to make a complete surrender to the absolute claims of God over one's life.
2. They saw what it meant to completely forsake sin.
3. They saw the perfection of love in all attitudes, all ambitions, and all relationships.
4. They saw a supreme example of one who was willing to deny himself for the sake of others.
5. They witnessed one who demonstrated a unique aloofness from attachment to material things.
6. They saw and experienced one who lived totally for eternity.
Eleven of these apostles became so committed to Jesus Christ that they could not even consider their future existence without his companionship. For him to depart was totally unacceptable and unthinkable to them. It was in that context that Jesus continued to tell them that he must go back to the Father. He sought to comfort them with a promise of "another Comforter" (John 14:16) who would be their counselor and helper.
III. Jesus promises another comforter.
A. Note the word that Jesus used in making this promise. In the original language of the New Testament, two different words can be translated by our English word another. The context determines which of these Greek words is used. Allos is used when "another of like kind" is referred to, while heteros is used when "another of a different kind" is referred to. When Jesus spoke of the Comforter who would come, he used allos. Jesus was saying, "I am going to ask the Father, and he will give you another counselor, another comforter, another helper of exactly the same kind as I am." The word translated "comforter" literally means "one called to walk by the side of." This had been Jesus' relationship with his disciples for three years.
B. "To be with you forever." Jesus' bodily presence with his disciples had been very brief, and now it was necessary that he depart. This was devastating to them. He promised that the Comforter would be with them always, forever.
C. "For he dwells with you." Christ as Immanuel is God "with us." Jesus promises the Holy Spirit who will dwell "within us." The Holy Spirit is a far greater blessing that Jesus' earthly presence, for he can be within each one of his disciples.
As we face the new year, we need to accept by faith the presence of this Comforter who came on the Day of Pentecost to dwell in the church. He came on the day of your conversion experience to dwell in your heart (1 Cor. 3:16). We should with joy recognize the Holy Spirit's indwelling presence and find the strength we need for living effectively in this year 2002 (Eph. 6:10).
With eagerness we should listen for the Holy Spirit's voice as he speaks to our innermost being as we study the Scriptures, as we pray, and as we see a needy world (Heb. 3:7-8). With love for our Lord and his people, let each of us decide to cooperate with this divine Comforter and Counselor as we walk through the days of this new year.
If you have come to this first Sunday in the year 2002 without knowing Jesus Christ as Savior, this would be a wonderful time to respond as the Holy Spirit leads you. Invite Jesus Christ to come and live in your heart as Savior, Lord, Teacher, and Friend.
SUNDAY EVENING, JANUARY 6
Title: What Manner of Man Is the Prophet?
Text: "Now the word of Jehovah came unto me, saying, Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee, and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee; I have appointed thee a prophet unto the nations" (Jer. 1:4-5 ASV).
Scripture Reading: Jeremiah 1:4-10
In the long struggle of the Hebrews to be a people pleasing to God, the prophets, for the most part, appeared in times of crisis as models of what God wanted his people to be. As God's spokesmen for many centuries, they sounded warnings and gave direction to their nation.
In our English Bible we have sixteen books that record the words and deeds of the "writing prophets." Other great prophets in Israel were "non-writing prophets"-they did not write prophetic books. The greatest of these were Moses, Samuel, Elijah, and Elisha. Upon the sole basis of length, the books bearing the names of the writing prophets are classified as "major" and "minor," with Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel called "Major Prophets" and the other twelve "Minor Prophets." The term minor in regard to these twelve books is unfortunate, for there is nothing minor about them. The twelve together cover the whole range of prophecy and illustrate its development from the eighth to the fourth century B.C.
For the following twelve Sunday evenings we will consider this Book of the Twelve, as the Hebrew Bible designates these twelve prophecies, in the order in which they appear in our English Bible. In introducing this series let us ponder this question: "What manner of man is a prophet? Let us consider this from two points of view.
I. First, consider what a prophet is not.
A. A prophet is not a microphone through which God speaks, bypassing the prophet's mind, will, emotions, character, and convictions. Inspiration is not merely mechanical. Revelation does not take place in a vacuum, ignoring the context of history in which the prophet lives and serves.
B. A prophet is not a superhuman being. He does not have near supernatural powers. The prophet is unique but still human. Moses, Samuel, Elijah, Elisha, Jonah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel were indeed human beings with certain faults and frailties despite their unquestioned greatness. James says of the one considered by most Hebrews in Jesus' day to be the greatest of the prophets: "Elijah was a man of like passions with us" (5:17 ASV). Thank God for that word.
C. A prophet is not a windbag. As Moffatt translates it, Jeremiah said of certain pretenders among his contemporaries: "The prophets are but windbags" (Jer. 5:13 MOFFATT). There are many varieties of windbags.
1. For some, the emptiness of their prophecy does not come from the betrayal of their faith; instead, it comes from their failure to have any faith worth proclaiming.
2. Often men who might have been prophets, or even who had been prophets, become windbags just through the process of taking on administrative responsibilities. This is one of the perils of an ecclesiastical hierarchy. Forced to talk unceasingly and feeling the necessity of "judicious" utterance on all occasions, they fall back on wind. Wind is easier and safer than ideas.
Excerpted from The Zondervan 2002 Pastor's Annual by T. T. Crabtree Copyright © 2001 by Zondervan. Excerpted by permission.
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