Hot Topics – Summer 2015

The Teaching Team at The Orchard is providing you with this list of Hot Topics we will be addressing in the Summer of 2015. Our hope is that having the topics in advance will open the door for you to invite family or friends who may have asked you questions about some of the current issues in our world and in our community of faith. Please be assured that all of the topics will be addressed in a manner that is appropriate for our Family Worship services.

July 19 – Same Sex Marriage

July 26 – Evolution and the Image of God in Humans

August 2 – The Gospel of Jesus

August 9 – Radical Islam

(August 16 – Old Home Day Worship Service and Picnic)

August 23 – Race Relations

August 30 – Addiction

September 6 – Living in a Post- Christian Culture

September 13 – Consumer Christianity

And… in the months of September, October and early November, The Orchard will be involved in an All-Orchard study of The Jesus Creed. Be looking for more information in the weeks to come.

A People Following Jesus – Week 4.34

Hello Loved Ones,

I have the privilege of delivering the sermon at the Old Home Day service at the Londonderry Town Common. As you read and pray, my prayer is that you not only would be blessed, but be challenged by God’s word to do mighty things for Him in your place of work. On Sunday, August 17, we will be exploring how the Jesus’ Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20) applies to you in your place of work, retirement, home care – and wherever you are. Furthermore, we will learn how you can fulfill His commission there.  Ultimately, we are all ministers in the marketplace. To God alone be the glory! Soli Deo Gloria.

Saturday, August 16 – 1 Peter 2:9-12- Special Agents on a Special Mission

9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

11 Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. 12 Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.

Reflection:

We could spend weeks exploring the meaning of these verses, but in past I have broken these verses down into two bullets as it applies to your marketplace ministry:

  • You are special agents (verses 9-10)
  • You are on a special mission (verses 11-12)

You are special agents in that God has chosen you and called you His own. He has made you a priest to represent Him to others around you, and yet be available to hear the needs of those around you and pray for them. He has made you a holy nation, set apart, pure, and distinct and used for Him. While others engage in fruitless deeds of darkness, you are different in that your conduct, language, and focus are for His glory and pleasure. For you belong to God. He has redeemed you through His son, making you His adopted child to receive mercy through faith in Jesus and His cross-work.

The believer is distinct in the marketplace. We answer to a higher boss, who is gracious and compassionate, who has high standards and yet equips us through His Spirit to honor Him and glorify Him. The believer also displays the glory of God to others.

Our special mission is to be visibly distinct among others, open about our faith, rich in good deeds. We are to not be satisfied with the world and the passions that exist which are opposed to God and war against our soul. And at the same time we outwardly honor God in all that we say and do so that when others see us, hear us, witness us, they may be convicted, repent, and trust in Jesus Christ when Jesus reveals Himself to them.

We are special agents on a special mission. Will you accept this strategic responsibility? Ask yourself this question: Would someone in your workplace be able to identify you as a Christian by your actions, by your words, by your testimony?

Prayer: Father, help me to see my workplace as the mission field, ripe for harvest. Help me through your Holy Spirit to be a royal priest and holy nation so that others may see what I do and hear what I say and know Jesus as a result. Remind me that I am a special agent on a special mission on my commute and as have conversations with my co-workers. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Sunday, August 17 – Matthew 28:18-20 – Jesus in the Marketplace

18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Reflection:

So often, we hear and read the Great Commission and think that it only applies to pastors and missionaries. But Jesus did not make distinctions between believers. All believers are to make disciples. So consider, what does that mean for me in my life? Your workplace is a good place to focus.

Whether you are retired, a stay at home parent, or have a workplace vocation, you have the commandment of Jesus before you; go, make disciples, teach them to obey, baptize them. The encouraging fact of this commandment is that it comes with promises. The first promise (or authority statement which I take as a promise) is that Jesus has all authority over heaven and earth. He reigns over everything and that includes your workplace and the people in it. The second promise is that Jesus is with you till the end of the age when He comes again. If we couple Jesus’ promises of His authority and presence, I wonder how we could fail at ministering in the marketplace? God is the One in control. He knows those who are His. He has set apart people to come to His Son. And as He works it all out, He goes before us and is with us while we enter the doors, work, and then leave the jobsite. So how can we fail?

My question to you: How might your point of view about work change if you reminded yourself each day that Jesus was with you at work? How might your boldness be encouraged if you knew that Jesus is in control of it all, even the salvation of those around you?

Prayer: Father, thank you for giving me the opportunity to be an outpost of your kingdom in the workplace. I acknowledge that You have set Your Son to reign over heaven and earth and His kingdom extends to where I am. Help me each day to understand that You are present and that my role is to raise the flag of Jesus in my place of work. Grant me Your grace to say the words and live the actions to make Christ known. For I pray this in Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Monday, August 18 – Romans 11:36 – To God be the Glory!

“For from Him, and through Him, and to Him are all things, to Him be the glory forever, Amen” (Romans 11:36).

Reflection:

Geneva, Switzerland is known for being the home of John Calvin, the great Protestant Reformer of the 16th century. Calvin continuously stressed that everything we do in life is to bring God glory. “Protestant work-ethic” is a term that came from the teachings of the Reformers and the concept of “Soli Deo Gloria” had an impact on the Swiss culture. It is no surprise that the finest watches, made with the utmost precision, came from Switzerland. It is no surprise that the strongest educational institutions, charitable and humanitarian organizations, and economic systems came from Switzerland. And yes, the best chocolate comes from Switzerland too! Soli Deo Gloria (To God alone be the glory)!

When we make God’s glory the chief aim of our existence, how does that impact the way we view our vocation? Do we work with all of our might, or do we cut corners and settle for less than our best? Do we see that our daily activities are sacred activities – all of which are “unto God?” In addition to our employment, we can carry this principle to other places in our lives, like our home life. Stay at home moms, parents and grandparents, your children are a heritage to the Lord, how are you glorifying God in the raising of them? God saves us by His grace, but once saved, we do all that we can to give Him glory – at home, at work, and in our recreation.

Prayer: “Father, as I enter into another week of labor, may my labor be unto you. To You alone belongs the glory. Change my heart so that I may view my efforts from Monday through Saturday be acts of worship to the Master I report to, Jesus Christ. Help me by the power of Your Holy Spirit. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.”

 

Tuesday, August 19 – Ephesians 6:5-8 – The Biblical Boss, the Biblical Employee

“Bondservants,obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ, 6 not by the way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, 7 rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man, 8 knowing that whatever good anyone does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether he is a bondservantor is free. 9 Masters, do the same to them, and stop your threatening, knowing that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and that there is no partiality with him”(Ephesians 6:5-8).

Reflection:

Though Paul addresses the relationship between a slave and a master, the principles in this passage apply directly to our employment that has a contractual agreement. What is the principle? Submission. In fact, if we read the end of Ephesians 5 into Ephesians 6, we see the attitude of submission being a key theme. Children are to submit to their parents while parents submit to their children, raising them in the Lord. Wives submit to husbands. And likewise, the employee submits to the employer. The Bible upholds human government and human authority and dismisses anarchy and rebellion. Why? Every authority is established by God (see Romans 13). Therefore our attitude should be of obedience to our employer with fear and trembling because we are ultimately answerable to God. Christians are called to be exemplary employees. We are called to be sincere, loyal, the kind of employee that would instill trust from the employer because we ultimately realize that we serve Christ by serving our employer. In our modern day labor context of strikes, outright disobedience, and passive aggressive behavior, the Christian is to be different. We shall work well when the boss is watching and when the boss is “out of office.” We shall seek not to please the boss in merit or bonus review season (“eye service, as people pleasers”), but instead we recognize our true boss is Jesus Christ and therefore we work with all our might in every season. The reward we receive from our hard work may come in temporal and external forms. But ultimately, Jesus will reward us for our labors on earth in service to Him so that our co-workers and employers may know Jesus Christ.

Paul addresses the “masters” or employers and tells them to do the same. If you are an employer, you shall not threaten, abuse, mistreat, or take advantage of your employee but to respect and care for them. The Lord has no partiality and does not care about your pay grade or what strata you have in the corporation. What the Lord cares about is your witness to those who report to you. If you employ people, are you submissive to God in this way?

A few follower’s questions for you: How would your boss describe you as an employee? Would your fellow co-workers identify you with Jesus, or something/someone else?

Prayer: “Father, give me the mindset that my obedience to my employer is obedience to you. Give me the mindset that my care for my employee is my care to you. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.”

Wednesday, August 20Ephesians 2:8-10 – Our Sacred Vocation

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:8-10).

Reflection:

Paul makes it clear that our salvation is the work of God. The very faith that unites us to Jesus Christ is a gift given to us by God’s Spirit. Therefore, there is no boasting – unless we boast in Jesus Christ. As the hymn writer says, “Not the good that I have done, nothing but the blood of Jesus.” But verse 10 tells us about what God purposed for us on the earth. We are His creation, masterfully knit together in our mother’s womb, and sustained by His providential hand. And beyond that, we are God’s workmanship to do good works which were prepared in advance for us to do. God has given each of us a calling and a vocation. That vocation is not secular and profane, but sacred. The very fact that God put us where we are means that our employment is not a mistake, but rather a sacred duty for us.

A question for you: Your good works are certainly an outflow of the Holy Spirit’s transforming power at work in you. But ask yourself, how might viewing all my work as prepared in advance for me to do impact the way I approach it?

Prayer: “Father, help me to view my lot in life as a place where you have called me. Though I may not fully understand your purpose for me to be in this line of work, you did purposefully put me here. Help me through the guidance and comfort of Your Holy Spirit to make the most of this opportunity, redeeming the time and being Your image bearer in this place. For the sake of Jesus Christ I pray, Amen.”

Thursday, August 21 – Acts 18:1-4 – Aren’t we all tentmakers?

March 29: “After this Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. And he found a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to leave Rome. And he went to see them, and because he was of the same trade he stayed with them and worked, for they were tentmakers by trade. And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and tried to persuade Jews and Greeks” (Acts 18:1-4).

Reflection:

Tentmakers?!!! Priscilla, Aquilla, and Paul were tentmakers? Yes. St. Paul, the great apostle of Jesus Christ who is in our “Hall of Faith,” did not work for the church for pay, but was a craftsman and a tentmaker. Though raised with the strongest Jewish educational pedigree and “called an Apostle,” Paul openly chose to not receive money (though he made the case that he could and should be paid the wages if desired (1 Cor. 9)). The Apostle Paul gives us a great example of how we are to conduct our lives. We too are called (not to Apostleship – that ended in the 1st Century) to serve Jesus by His Holy Spirit. Though some of us are called to a paid full time ministry in service to God’s people, it can be easy for the rest of us to downplay our opportunity and responsibility to serve, to reason with others about the faith, and to be marketplace ministers. But if Paul did it, why can’t we? If anyone is in Christ Jesus, then they are equipped by God’s Spirit to witness to Him in word and deed. Therefore, go and be a marketplace minister!

Prayer: Lord, the harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Make me the marketplace minister sowing seeds and being your witness wherever and whenever I can. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

 

Friday, August 22Revelation 21:1-3 – The City of God

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God”(Revelation 21:1-3 ESV).

In the beginning, God placed Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden – a place of peace, beauty, and communion with God. Because of our fall into sin, we have not been able to share communion with God until the coming and work of Jesus Christ. Now, through faith in Him, we have peace with God. At the end of days, when the new heavens and new earth are created, we will be in the midst of the garden again. In Revelation 22, we see the “tree of life” in the center. We see the eternal communion with God that we will enjoy. But what is most surprising to the reader is that this communion takes place in a city, the New Jerusalem. The city is a man made creation, unlike the garden. Cities are economic hubs, places of worldly power, influence, trade and work. In fact, some cities that are in the Bible are depicted as evil or against God (for instance Sodom and Gomorrah in the Old Testament and Rome in Revelation). Yet, God has redemptive purposes for the city. By placing the city in His eternal plan, we see a few things: 1) His redemption is not just for our souls (see Romans 8 for more about the creation longing); 2) He places value in our work.

Your work has value to God and what you do for His glory has eternal purpose. Take hold of this today.

Prayer: Father, thank you that you use what I do in this temporal life for eternal purposes. May the work I do reflect your love, your beauty, and glorify you. May it be wholly yours and to your glory. Amen.

Soli Deo Gloria!

Ryan Leland

Assistant Pastor of Marketplace Ministries

Orchard Christian Fellowship

 

 

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