Have you discovered the truth that when you face a trial, maintaining an eternal perspective brings hope? They were saying, through many tribulations we will enter the kingdom of God. Yes, you're going to encounter trials and troubles and affliction, but we happen to be moving toward the kingdom of God.
Don't forget that! God is alive! God is trustworthy!
His kingdom is not a mirage! Here's something that I hope is really encouraging news for you today. Certainly, this life does involve trials and struggles, but this life is also moving toward the next.
This is not all there is. When this life is over, we pass into a new and eternal life. The great blessing of eternity in God's kingdom is what's in store for every believer. This is Wisdom for the Heart with Stephen Davey. I'm glad you joined us today because we're going to be encouraged and challenged as we open God's Word together.
Stephen has a message for you today called, Starting with Socks. Well, can you imagine for a moment making the basketball team at UCLA? You're a member of the Bruins.
You're there for your first basketball practice. Imagine you've just made that team. I know some of you can't imagine because you'd never play for anybody but Carolina, but just try to imagine it for a moment. You've made the team and the coaches the legendary John Wooden. He has led his team that you've made, already to four undefeated seasons, ten championships. In fact, if you can imagine the statistics, seven national championships in a row.
Now, whether you're a Carolina or a state fan or even that other school, Duke, you probably appreciate the fact that winning seven in a row is amazing. You're an incoming freshman and you've seen the coach's picture on Sports Illustrated. You're aware probably that he was named coach of the year six times. You might have heard of his intense training method, his building blocks. He had 15 of them. They were sort of summarized in what was called the Pyramid of Success. The coaches have been borrowing that ever since and adapted that in a number of ways.
But back to you. You're sitting on the basketball court floor with the other team members and you're waiting for these first pearls of basketball know-how. You're mesmerized there as you look around. You're mesmerized by the legend, by the coaching staff, Wooden, the stats, the success of the program. And you're waiting for that coach to appear and give his first lesson. And maybe you didn't notice, but the older players are already beginning to smile a little bit at the younger players.
They know what you don't know is coming. John Wooden walks out onto the floor as he did every season as he began the season. And he walks up to you and the other team members and begins his first lesson. How to put on a pair of socks. He holds up a pair and he talks about them. He sits down and he shows how to put them on. And he tells his players that if their socks are put on wrong and not corrected, those little wrinkles and bulges will cause blisters that will hamper their performance at critical times.
So you got to get this down first. Here's a pair of socks and here's how you put them on. When I read that, I couldn't help but think as believers, we so easily forget about things that we never see. We as a church can talk about strategy and philosophy and ministry movement and teamwork and skill, often overlooking such simple underlying things that affect us in the middle of the game.
I would make this statement as strange as it might sound, but what socks are to the Bruins and Coach Wooden, spiritual gifts are to the body. When you come properly suited up to interact, to take that offensive position or defensive position on the court, you're prepared to play well. And you know, if you've been to a basketball game or you've watched one, that none of the players ever took their socks off and waved them at the crowd. They didn't sit on the court and compare them with others. They were just there. They didn't draw attention to themselves. They just did what they were supposed to do. Likewise, we're in the process of discovering we don't compare our gifts to each other. We don't bring attention to them. We don't wave them at the crowd.
They're just there. They just enable us to play the game, to run the race, to honor Christ, to advance the gospel and the mission of the church. The apostle Paul is acting somewhat like an inspired coach as he moves into the arena of Christian living in Romans Chapter 12. You would think that he would immediately begin talking about strategy, you know, the building blocks.
He's going to get to that. In fact, verses 9 to verse 21, he just sort of begins to talk strategically. But first, it's as if he shows us how to suit up for the game. Here are the spiritual gifts.
Wear them well. And now I want to take the first gift in verse 8. He who exhorts in his exhortation.
I want to talk about this one. The gift of exhortation. Now, at first glance, as you look at that word, you probably have the impression, because it sounds harsh, exhortation. Somebody who exhorts, this is something like a lecture.
The gift of exhortation sounds like the gift of scolding, right? Well, in reality, the word is a compound word from para, meaning alongside, and the verb kaleo, which means to call. You put them together and it means to call alongside someone and speak for them. It's no surprise that the Latin translation of this word is advocate, which gives us our word advocate. It was used in ancient times for lawyers, one who came alongside another and spoke on their behalf. So the word then also began to refer to the giving of counsel. It refers to counselors who give advice coming alongside those who need it. And we all need it, do we not?
In a real way, this gift is a lot like the gift of coaching. It's a word that represents somebody who says to us, don't forget important things. Don't forget the basics. In fact, go deeper. And before that, don't forget your socks.
Don't forget to get suited up properly. If you went through the scriptures and and you looked at each of the one hundred and seven times, this word appears in some form, park a park places. You would soon understand that when Paul talks about the gift of exhortation, he is referring to someone who who brings encouragement to someone else, someone who helps others see the hard truths of scripture, someone who exhorts the believer to persevere through trials, someone who gives insightful counsel, someone who motivates and urges onward, someone who comforts and offers hope that leads to action. This gift is more than someone coming along and casually slapping you on the back and saying, good going or worse yet, good luck. What Paul wrote in Romans 12 or seven could be amplified to render it this way. Let the person who has the gift of exhortation or getting alongside another person to help them out really get along with someone and help them out.
Do it. This is analogous, as I thought about it, to a father or a mother running alongside their little girl who's learning how to ride a bike. They're running beside her as she pedals along or holding onto the back of the seat and then they'll let go a little bit and then they'll catch it again and ride her.
And all the while they are exhorting her with words like keep pedaling. That's it. Don't don't stop. There you go. I'm going to let go now.
You can do it. Watch out for the car or the pole or whatever and exhorting all along the way. That's that's the analogy of this gift. If I could take the analogy further as it relates to the gifts that we have looked at and once we have yet to look at the gift of prophecy would be the one who says there is coming a day when bicycles will be invented and you need to learn to ride one. The gift of helps would be the one assembling the bicycles when they arrived at the church. They would also make sure that everybody had one.
The gifted teacher would call a meeting, stand up and explain to everybody, probably with three, alliterated points, the principles of balance and motion. And and here are the proper hand signals. And this is what they mean.
And this is the Greek word behind what they mean. The person with the gift of mercy would have arrived early to set up a first aid booth armed with Band-Aids and Neosporin. And they're ready for the first spill.
And they're somewhat disappointed if there aren't any at the end of the day. The gifted exhorter would be the one standing out in the parking lot with a bicycle shouting at the rest of us. Come on. It's time to ride. Get on the bike.
They would help you on it and they would say, now start pedaling. I'll run alongside. There you go. That's good. Keep doing it. Don't give up. Don't stop. Watch out for the pole.
That's great. I'll let you go now. The gift of exhortation then is a ministry of presence. It's hands on. It might be in your face.
It's up close. It should be no surprise to discover that this word translated exhorter is the same word used by Jesus Christ to describe the ministry of the Holy Spirit. You may remember in the gospel accounts, the disciples are in a panic. They have been told by their leader that he is leaving them. He's going away. They're hurt.
They are insecure and afraid. The Lord has only been recently talking in clear terms that he is going to die and they're starting to get it. And now in the upper room, he informs them that he will be denied by their leader, Peter, their disciple leader there. Another disciple will betray him.
He is to be memorialized in his death by these items that he's passing around in the wine and bread. The disciples, as you can imagine, hit the panic button. Peter said, Lord, where are you going? The Lord responded where I am going. You cannot follow me, but you will later. She doesn't sound much like an answer to me. Peter responded by asking the Lord.
Why can't I follow you right now? It's exactly what we would say. Thomas adds a few verses later, Lord, we don't know where you're going and we don't know the way. With childlike fear, so young in their faith, they are responding just like we would have. And often we overlook it because we know the rest of the story. You know, guys, come on.
He's going to resurrect from the dead and everything to be fine. They don't know that now. So just hold on.
They are afraid. Imagine it this way. Imagine telling your children tonight. If you have children, listen, Mommy and Daddy have to leave on a journey and we're going to leave the house. And we can't tell you how long we'll be gone and we can't tell you when we'll be back. But you're going to be alone. You can imagine the trauma of that.
Having had children grow up, we can well remember what it would be like to just turn the light out or close the bedroom door. That's the disciples here. And at just the right time, the Lord informs them of someone they knew little of.
That would be the ministry of the Holy Spirit and this person, this third person of the Godhead. And Jesus says this to them. When I said to the father, I'm going to ask him to send you another helper. That's the same word used in Romans 12. And he will come to you and you will not be left alone, in fact, ever again.
It is an advantage, Jesus said, that I go and he come. The father will send you this helper, this paracletos, an encourager, an exhorter, a comforter, an advocate, a defender. So the person in the body of Christ who has the gift of exhortation needs to develop an understanding of the biblical role of the Holy Spirit because you happen to be imitating his ministry.
Maybe someone has said to you that you've confronted. Well, who do you think you are? The Holy Spirit? He said, well, yeah, as a matter of fact, I am the incarnation, as it were, in the ministry of the Holy Spirit. I am the Holy Spirit to you in your life right now. It is the ministry of provoking and convicting and encouraging and exhorting and challenging.
Fortunately, God never asks us to be something or like someone without giving us concrete illustrations and examples. And we don't have time to cover all of them. And really, we're just going to get started. But in general, you see the illustration of it every time you come to this assembly. In fact, one of the purposes of the assembly is to provoke. That's the ministry of exhortation, one another and the love and good works. It happens here in unseen and unspoken ways where we're told to encourage one another. In other words, we ought to all be involved when we arrive with this ministry of, in effect, telling one another, keep pedaling.
Don't stop. And that happens here, doesn't it? Our home, our first home that we bought in Cary was a fixer upper. We just didn't know it when we bought it. The roof leaked only to find out they'd shingled over rotten wood. The heating system was broken.
The flooring under the master bath had nearly rotted through. If it hadn't been for a builder in our church who came and fixed everything, we would have gone bankrupt. The house had a red brick fireplace and it needed repair and we decided to tear it out. This is before we knew there were any other problems in the house and we spent little money that we had to put in a new fireplace with river stones. Then our first winter arrived and we discovered the heater didn't work and we would build and keep going. A roaring fire, especially in the evening. Our kids who were in elementary school, in fact, kindergarten, first grade, they would take their baths and wrap themselves in towels and run down the hallway and into the living room and sit by the fire.
The stones would get hot. It's funny, I was thinking about this in preparation and I remember then it wasn't all that great. Now I look back on it as what a memory. Back then I griped and complained about the heater and I look at it now with fond memories. Even after the heating system was fixed, I learned to love making a fire in that fireplace. For those of you who have done the same, you know the importance of a fireplace poker, right?
What a key instrument. It's got a steel rod with a black end and maybe a little hook on the end and you can reach into the fire with that and the embers that are beginning to smolder and you can separate some logs and basically inject oxygen into that fire. And those smoldering embers do what? They come back on fire.
That's the ministry of exhortation. If we want to be real with one another, we live in a world that constantly throws water on the fire, doesn't it? And we come in here smoldering, sometimes more than other times.
And it is simply the ministry of presence with you and us together that reignites, that brings some flame back to those embers. I remember reading of F.B. Meyer who pastored several generations ago in England visiting a man who'd stopped going to church and they sat by the fire. Without saying a word, F.B. Meyer took the poker and he pulled the coal out and he pulled it over to the hearth where it sat alone. And then without saying a word, the men watched that coal grow dark and cold. Without saying anything, that man looked at F.B. Meyer and said, I will return to church.
I've been wanting to use that ever since I read that. It's true, isn't it? Let me provoke your thinking with this thought. Kenneth Gangle, a former professor of Dallas Seminary, provoked my thinking when he wrote that there isn't a gift of music specifically mentioned in a strict sense of spiritual gifting. However, the church is commanded to sing, you knew that, with spiritual songs and hymns and psalms and with all the instrumentation right out of the book of Psalms. And theology, he wrote, is powerfully communicated through what we sing. The church then is exhorted through music to these great truths of God's grace and power. That's why I have never viewed music as a preliminary to what I do, but significant all by itself. Dr. Gangle wrote making music that is a way of exercising the gift of exhortation.
And I fear we neglect this perspective. I wonder how many of you were in a choir or an orchestra before you came to Colonial. And there you sit, not exercising a gift because maybe you've looked at the list and you didn't see how God is talented. He was being a ministry of exhortation.
But I can tell you, it's so significant, isn't it? I sit back over here out of sight, which is the plan, and I sit back by the trumpets and the trombones and the day off between the choir and the kettle drums, the timpani, and they get cranking. You can feel the spirit moving back there.
And I get to hear it three times. By the way, if the embers in your heart don't feel the flame, come sit with me some Sunday morning as people literally exhort us to follow after God. So generally speaking, we see the ministry of exhortation occurring all around us. More specifically, we have the ministry of the Holy Spirit, of course, within us. Even more specifically is the ministry of individuals that Paul refers to here, those who are exhorters, those who literally put hands and feet and voice to the ministry of the Holy Spirit, who encourage us and reprove us and rebuke us and motivate and inspire us. This was the ministry of Paul and Barnabas.
You know, Barnabas was known as an exhorter. They were going through Lystra and Iconium in Acts 14, and they were strengthening the souls of the disciples. I love that text, strengthening the souls, encouraging them to continue in the faith.
I read into that encouraging them to keep peddling, don't stop. And they were saying, here's their message, quote, through many tribulations, we will enter the kingdom of God. How's that for a message? The message of an exhorter is perfectly seen in that text. Through many tribulations, we will enter the kingdom of God. I think this provides a model for those who are gifted in this area. Part one of the message is realism. Realism. Hey, disciples of the Lord, you're going to have tribulation.
Why are you surprised? You will have trial. You're going through it. It's part of God's plan.
You're in for the race of your life. By the way, people who have the gift of exhortation don't like pious platitudes. They're the last ones to just sort of throw a verse to say, well, you know, God bless you. They can't stand that kind of small talk. They talk straight. They they cut right to the chase. There are a lot like John the baptizer. Remember, he just appeared dressed rather strangely and he had a message. Basically, repent. You're all hypocrites. And here's how to do it.
That was it. I know in my own life I can look back to see the impact of exhorters. I attended a Christian school, in fact, the same one from kindergarten to graduation. During the summers, I would work for the school with my brothers to help my missionary parents pay tuition. I remember when I was in the 11th grade, I was out on the gym floor sweeping it with those long dust mops.
We would wrap it with wet towels to pick all the dirt and dust up. I was all alone, but I was battling at that point in my life hypocrisy. And because I didn't want to ruin the reputation of my parents, I kept things as close as I could to my vest. I ran with guys who didn't care, but somehow I avoided exposure. There I was, all alone in that big gym, pushing this broom, and the side door opened, and in walked the school administrator, Mr. Garrick.
I remember he was a tall man and had a head of gray hair. I didn't expect to see him, and frankly, I can remember it as the only conversation we ever had, even though I didn't do any talking. He walked onto the gym floor, and I stopped, and I remember being right about center court. And he walked up to me and said, I know you haven't been caught doing anything wrong, but I know who you are. I know you're not living for God. You have not fooled me.
And he turned, and he walked away, and I stood with my broom at center court doing exactly what you're doing right now. That was one of a few things that God used to bring me that summer to a point of surrender to Jesus Christ. I had somebody show up and look me in the eye and say, I know who you are, and you're not right with God. The person who exercises the gift of exhortation will be one who persuades a believer to turn from a sinful behavior or habit. He will or she will admonish believers to obey the Word. They will be the ones to encourage a weak believer who needs to make some commitment. They will be the ones who write a note or make a phone call to encourage someone who is slipping or grieving. They will consider it an honor to inspire a brother or sister to trust God in some career decision, to do the hard thing perhaps, to walk with him. They will be the ones who challenge the status quo in a conversation with a compromising believer. They will be the ones who rebuke a wayward one who needs to be confronted with their sin. Do we ever need this gift today?
Do we ever need it? The message of exhortation modeled by Paul and Barnabas there in that text is not only a message first of realism, but let me quickly go on to part two. It's a message of hope, a message of hope. They were saying through many tribulations, we will enter the kingdom of God.
That's the balanced picture. Yes, you're going to encounter trials and troubles and affliction, but we happen to be moving toward the kingdom of God. And don't forget that God is alive.
God is trustworthy. His kingdom is not a mirage. We're headed for it. It's real. When we get there, you'll find it's real.
It wasn't a fake promise. So as it were, grab a good pair of socks and put them on right. Suit up. It's going to be a race like you've never run.
It's going to be a tough game. And this is the underlying invisible foundation for the way we think and live. And then they will tell us those gifted exhortors, you are needed.
You are so needed. And the body of Christ. I hope this lesson has encouraged you today. You're listening to Wisdom for the Heart with Stephen Davey. Stephen pastors the Shepherd's Church in Cary, North Carolina. Stephen's been preaching and teaching the Bible for over 36 years. We've taken the entire archive of his preaching ministry and posted it to our website, wisdomonline.org.
You can go there anytime to search by topic or book of the Bible. We're going to continue through this series on our next broadcast. Join us back here next time for more wisdom for the hearts. .
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-02-22 01:09:35 / 2023-02-22 01:19:37 / 10