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The Zondervan 2007 Pastor's AnnualAn Idea and Resource Book
By T.T. Crabtree
ZondervanCopyright © 2006 The Zondervan Corporation
All right reserved.
Chapter OneSuggested preaching program for the month of JANUARY
* Sunday Mornings
Studying the joys and benefi ts of salvation yields new ways for us to appreciate our Lord. This new year starts with a series designed to accomplish just that. The theme of this set of sermons is "The Good News of Salvation for the New Year," and it is derived from one of the great salvation passages, Titus 2:11-14.
* Sunday Evenings
Often the lives of others can stimulate us to deeper faith and good works. In light of that, a series of biographical messages is suggested. "Personalities from the Past That Speak to the Present" is the suggested theme for this look at four Old Testament characters.
* Wednesday Evenings
Micah spoke hard truths to the people of Judah: their sins were going to be their destruction. Although Micah prophesied more than two thousand years ago, our lives today must be aligned to the truths he spoke. "Mighty Messages from a Minor Prophet" is the suggested theme for the series.
WEDNESDAY EVENING, JANUARY 3
Title: A True Prophet for Our Times
Text: "The word of the Lord that came to Micah the Morasthite in thedays of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, which he saw concerning Samaria and Jerusalem" (Mic. 1:1).
Scripture Reading: Micah 1:1
Harry Emerson Fosdick titled his autobiography The Living of These Days. He asserted that he was who he was because of specifi c experiences in his life coupled with his particular, inherent personality. Fosdick's life and ministry grew out of his social, political, and religious surroundings.
We can come to understand Micah in that way too. He lived in the eighth century BC. The superscription (Mic. 1:1) tells us something about his times. It follows the pattern of the other prophets' introductory verses: (1) "the word of the Lord that came to"; (2) "in the days of"; (3) "concerning."
Micah's message does not belong to only the days of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah. Micah is a prophet for our times. Our age needs to hear the words of a prophet of the Lord. Let us study Micah's superscription closely and see the qualities of a true prophet of the Lord.
I. A true prophet has a unique concept of God's Word.
Notice two expressions in Micah's superscription: "The word of the Lord which came to Micah" and "which he saw concerning Samaria and Jerusalem." These expressions describe the prophet's unique concept of God's Word.
A. The true prophet speaks the word of the Lord. The Hebrews had a high concept of God's spokesperson. They equated the words of the prophet with the Word of the Lord. Micah did not relate any of his experiences of faith, but he did indicate that God's hand was heavy on him when he spoke: "Thus saith the Lord." Micah's message originated from the Lord.
How does this apply to preachers today? When preachers remain true to the Bible, they speak the Word of the Lord.
B. The true prophet has an inward perception through the influence of God's Spirit: "which he saw." Micah's words were not his personal opinions. He disclosed what the Lord showed him.
No prophet arrives at inward perception without intimate fellowship with God. When a person lives close to the Lord, he or she begins to see what God wants.
II. A true prophet has great respect for the Lord.
Micah's great respect for God may be seen in the superscription and throughout the book as well.
A. A true prophet respects the holy character of God. Micah respected the majestic nature of God. He used the name Elohim to describe the power of God. He used the name Yahweh to describe the transcendental God.
No true prophet makes God a "buddy." Micah helps us to see the otherness of God. The proper responses to a holy God are reverence and awe.
B. A true prophet respects the judgment of God. Micah did not view God as a raging tyrant, but neither did he see him as an easy-going grandfather. He knew that God was a God of righ teous judgment.
Being conscious of God's judgment gives one a profound respect for the Lord and his laws.
III. A true prophet has the ability to be himself as he is used by God.
The superscription has some pertinent facts about the personal life of the prophet. From the first verse we learn his name, his hometown, the times in which he lived, and his work.
A. God works with all kinds of people. Micah belonged to the illustrious group of eighth-century prophets. Each one of the prophets was different: Isaiah was a statesman, a city-dweller who prophesied to kings; Hosea learned his message from a domestic tragedy; Amos was a herdsman from the south who prophesied to Israel; Micah was a prophet from a small southern Judean village who prophesied to Jerusalem and Judah. God used each one of these unique prophets.
About all we know of Micah is his name and his hometown. His name means "Who is like Yahweh?" This obviously indicates his relationship to the Lord. Micah was from Moresheth, a small southern village in Judah near Gath.
God does not choose one kind of person to be his spokesperson. He works through all kinds of people.
B. The prophet needs to learn about his or her true self. Micah did not imitate the life and ministry of another prophet. He accepted his background and his personality and used them for the glory of the Lord.
No one can be an effective servant of the Lord while trying to be someone else. Find out who you are, then minister for the Lord out of your true being.
IV. A true prophet has an amazing relevancy to the times.
Two expressions in the superscription tell us about Micah's relevancy to his times. Look at these expressions: "in the days of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah"; and "which he saw concerning Samaria and Jerusalem." Micah spoke to the needs of his age.
A. A true prophet relates to the times. Micah's ministry took place during the reign of three of Judah's kings-Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah. If we are to understand Micah's message, we need to know about the historical events during the reigns of these three kings. It was a time of international crisis. Israel had fallen in 722 BC to the Assyrians. During Micah's time the Assyrians under Sennacherib threatened Judah. Micah gave hope to the people during this crisis.
B. A true prophet needs to commend or condemn a people's way of living. Micah spoke "concerning Samaria and Jerusalem." These were the capitals of the northern and southern kingdoms. Micah spoke against all the evils he observed. And although he condemned sin, he encouraged the people. That is what a true prophet does.
Micah was a true prophet. He spoke to his day, and he still speaks to us today. His authenticity relays a message for us to be genuine before the Lord. His authenticity also demands that we listen to his message.
SUNDAY MORNING, JANUARY 7
Title: Three Great Words from God for the Coming Year
Text: "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope" (Rom. 15:13 RSV).
Scripture Reading: Romans 15:7-13
Hymns: "The Solid Rock," Mote "O God, Our Help in Ages Past," Watts "Lead On, O King Eternal," Shurtleff
Offertory Prayer: Father in heaven, we come to thank you for your blessings upon us during this past year. We come on this first Lord's Day of the new year to offer you the gratitude of our hearts and the praise of our lips. We desire that our offerings and our lives be used to advance your kingdom and to serve a needy world. Help us to be true followers of Jesus. In his name. Amen.
Often we hear people speak disparagingly of making New Year's resolutions. They think these promises are worthless. This cynicism could indicate that they have no hope for the coming year being better than the last. It is certainly easy to give way to despair regarding oneself and others, the world and the church, the present and the future. In fact, Satan would have us do so.
But the words of our text challenge us to maintain an attitude about ourselves and our environs that is the exact opposite of pessimism and cynicism. How? It paints for us a picture of our God, who has high hopes for us and promises to fill us with hope and optimism as we face our present and our future.
I. The God of hope declares that we can abound in hope (Rom. 15:13 RSV).
The Bible speaks repeatedly of our God and his high hopes for us. Our Father is not in despair about our future; he wants us to face the future with hope. He makes his desires come to fruition by giving us all we need.
A. Hope fills us with excitement and optimism. Paul speaks the truth when he says that as Christians we are able to "rejoice in hope of the glory of God" (Rom. 5:2). He also speaks about rejoicing in hope (Rom. 12:12). Hope is one of the great characteristics that endures, along with faith and love, to the very end (1 Cor. 13:13).
B. Hope produces patience and persistence. Without hope, there is little chance of our developing the patience and persistence needed for living the Christian life.
C. Hope helps us face our future. Why should we have hope?
1. Hope is a product of the promises of our Lord to us. 2. Hope is a product of the presence of our Lord with us. 3. Hope is a product of the power of our Lord, which works within us (Phil. 2:13).
II. The God of hope desires to fill us with joy.
It is significant that our text expresses the hope that God might fill us with "all joy." Joy is an elusive and misunderstood concept. First, it is mistaken for happiness. Happiness is linked to what happens to you and to those you love. Joy is something deeper. Second, joy and pleasure are often confused. Pleasure is the pause we experience between two pains.
Christian joy is not dependent on the circumstances of man. Joy is a thankfulness for who God is and for what he has given us through his Son's death.
A. The Father God wishes to fill us with the joy of forgiveness.
B. The Father God wishes to fill us with the joy of eternal life.
C. The Father God wishes to fill us with the joy of belonging in his family.
D. The Father God wishes to fill us with the joy of knowing that we will go to heaven when this life is over.
E. The Father God wishes to fill us with the joy that comes as the result of serving others and helping others enter the life of faith.
III. The God of hope fills us with his wonderful peace (Rom. 15:13).
People have always sought a trouble-free life. The heart longs for serenity. Humans, as sinners, experience inner tension, making serenity impossible. We are distracted by desires and ambitions that are contradictory. We are pulled apart as if we are in a civil war. The minds and hearts of people are battlegrounds on which they become split personalities like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
A. God wants to bring order into the chaos of people's lives. God wants to bring tranquility where there is turmoil. We live in a dangerous world. We need to be comforted by knowing that God will help us and will seek to bring good out of everything that life brings (Rom. 8:28).
B. The Father God wants to give to us the gift of peace that comes through faith in Jesus Christ (Rom. 5:1). The Holy Spirit of God, who dwells within us from the moment of our conversion, seeks continually to bring us into harmony with the will of God, making inner peace possible.
Our text affirms that it is through the power of the Holy Spirit that the life of hope, joy, and peace is made possible. This power of the Holy Spirit and these blessings from God come to us through believing in and trusting in the goodness and the graciousness of our God (Heb. 11:6).
Let us rejoice that God wants to give us hope and fill us with joy and peace. Our God will do this-in us, to us, for us, and through us-by the power of the Holy Spirit if we will respond to him with genuine faith.
In Romans Paul speaks of our God as the God of patience and encouragement (15:5); he is also the God of hope (15:13) and peace (15:33). As we face the new year, let us trust in and commit ourselves to him who gives the gifts of hope and joy and peace.
Excerpted from The Zondervan 2007 Pastor's Annual by T.T. Crabtree Copyright © 2006 by The Zondervan Corporation . Excerpted by permission.
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