Every Member Ministry

Every Member Ministry

Scripture: 1 Peter 2:9
Date: 04/14/2012  Lesson: 2
"Too often evangelism and witnessing are seen as the pastor's job alone this attitude is wrong."

Ministry to the Cities by Ellen White

Ministry to the Cities by Ellen White
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Welcome to Sacramento central seventh day adventist church. We are excited that you are tuning in and joining us for another central study hour coming to you from Sacramento central seventh day adventist church. Those of you who are listening on the radio, watching live on our website at 'saccentral.org', or on the various television networks, it is time to sing! And behind me I have Sacramento central's choir. So it is exciting to have them with us this morning. Hello everybody.

They're ready to sing too, so pull out your hymnals and we are going to start with #1 - 'praise to the Lord' - we will be singing all three stanzas. This is from regina in australia, stewart in the bahamas, Paula and princess in jamaica, eden in the Philippines, gabrielle in trinidad and tobago, fay in england, Philip in California, bob and Paula in Idaho, and Christa in Virginia. #1. We have a lot to praise the Lord for, don't we? Just the fact that we are here in his house ready to worship him - we are worshiping him already with songs of praise. And, of course, those of you at home, I'm sure you have things to praise the Lord for too, even though you're not physically here.

It would be nice if you were, then we could finally meet you face to face but - let's all just praise the Lord this week. Think of something every day that you can be thankful for and it does turn your life around if you - 'I have nothing to be thankful for' - you would be surprised if you start thinking about it, what you can be thankful for. #4 - 'Praise my soul the King of heaven' - continuing with our theme of praise. This is from maretta in australia, halim in Canada, julian in england, katleen and mishael in florida, marilyn in Georgia, keith, mignonette, travis and aleski in grenada, deneil in jamaica, jason in Texas and myrna in united arab emirates. #4 - We'll sing the first, second and fourth stanzas.

Father in Heaven, we praise you this morning. We thank you for blessing us. We thank you for just waking us up this morning, for giving us food to eat and clothes to wear, for comfy pews, carpet, heating - there are so many things that we can be thankful for right here at Sacramento central church. I pray that you would just be with us this morning as we open up our hearts and we ask you to fill us and to be with us as we study Your Word this morning. In Jesus' Name, amen.

At this time our lesson study is going to be brought to us by dr. Derose, who is a physician at weimar institute. Well, good morning to each one of you. It's good to be back at sac central - it seems like I've been on the road quite a bit lately, but it's good to actually be studying together with you and all those who are joining us for today's lesson. Before we move into the lesson study, I want to let you know that we do have a free offer.

It's 'three steps to heaven' - a little book written by Joe Crews - 'three steps to heaven' - it's a great book that explains the simple steps a sinner needs to follow in order to come to Jesus - great for sharing. It's offer #102. Ask for it when you call -866-study-more. That's 1-866-788-3966. We'll give you that offer one more time at the end of today's program.

Well, we're talking about ministry. We're talking about evangelism and today's lesson, that covers the week of April 7 through 13, is dealing with the subject 'every member ministry' - every member ministry. As I was thinking about this topic and here in the setting of a church sanctuary, I was thinking about this question - what would happen if, when you walked into the sanctuary today, someone gave you a radical greeting? Now that might sound like a strange question to ask. What is a radical greeting? There's a radical greeting in the book of Judges. You may remember the story of gideon.

As he comes on the scene the midianites have overrun the land. He's hiding - hiding in a wine press threshing wheat. What kind of radical greeting does the heavenly messenger give him? 'the Lord is with you' - right? - 'You mighty man of valor.' And what's he doing? He's hiding. That's a radical greeting. And when you get a radical greeting - a greeting that talks about qualities that are perhaps things that you don't naturally think of, it has the potential to have a transforming effect on you.

Well let's look at our memory verse together this morning because I believe it is actually a radical greeting. It's a radical statement of who you are. It's actually found in 1 Peter chapter 2, verse 9. Some of you actually committed it to memory. From the new king James version is how it appears in our lesson study book.

Let's read it together, would you please? "But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, his own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light." Now is that a radical greeting or not? I've met a number of people over the years - I could probably maybe count it on one hand - I don't have a vivid recollection of this, but not many - not many who actually identified themselves to me when I met them as a priest. They usually were from a different religious persuasion and they introduced themselves as a priest. But I can't remember ever having met a protestant who, when I met them, said to me that they are a priest. But here, in 1 Peter chapter 2, verse 9, it identifies God's people as what? As priests. I think if we understood what was contained in that designation - in that job description, if you will - at least in that job title, it would change the way we look at ourselves.

Now you say 'well, this is - this is the theme for this whole lesson, this particular week that we're studying. And you say, 'it seems kind of shaky maybe, to base a whole week's lesson 'every member ministry' on a single verse.' Is this just a single verse in the Bible that speaks about the priesthood of believers? Is it just here in 1 Peter 2, verse 9? No. Actually, this is a theme that runs throughout the Bible. Turn with me to 1 Peter chapter 2, verse 5. If you actually opened in your Bibles - you're already there - to that chapter - but Peter not once but twice - in 1 Peter chapter 2 - mentions this priestly calling that God has given to each one of his children.

Each one of us who've accepted Jesus as our Savior is called a priest. Peter chapter 2 - I'm going to verse 5 right now. Peter 2, verse 5, "you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ." So Peter, twice in this chapter, makes a point that we are what? We are priests. We are a priesthood. One of you has been given another verse - actually has been given the verse that, to my knowledge, is the first mention of a group of people in the Bible being designated as priests.

It's found in Exodus 19, verse 6. Who has that verse for us? Okay, Exodus 19, verse 6. Before we go there, I want to give you just a couple of other verses that relate to this theme. Go with me to the book of Revelation - Revelation chapter 1. Actually, there are multiple verses in Revelation - at least the book of Revelation, if you will, is bounded by this call to priesthood for God's people.

I'm going first to Revelation 1. And Revelation chapter 1 we begin with a greeting. First there's a description of how the book of Revelation was given and then in verse 4 there is this greeting that John gives. It says, "John, to the seven churches which are in asia, grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the Kings of the earth. To him who loved us and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and has made us Kings and" - what? - "Priests to his God and father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever.

Amen." If you were to jump to Revelation chapter 20, we'd find, in the millennium - in the millennium, the believers are described as having a priestly role - that's Revelation 20, verse 6. So at the conclusion of the Bible, God's people are called priests. Let's go to the first commissioning of a group of people. We're going to now hear from Exodus chapter 19, verse 6. Exodus chapter 19, verse 6, "'and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.

' These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel." Revelation speaks of us being priests - God's people. And in that Scripture in Exodus , that's coming before the giving of the Ten Commandments and God is speaking collectively to all the people that he's called out of bondage in Egypt. And so, God calls his people out of slavery and he gives them a role - and what is that role? That role is priests. So before the levites were set apart as priests, the whole nation was designated as a priestly people. So God's plan for us - that's right, God's plan for us is that we are a priestly people.

Now, if you've been called to do a certain job - if you are called as a priest, don't you think it would be a good idea to know what is included in the job description of a priest? And wouldn't that be a good thing? If I said I've got a job for you - maybe you're out of work right now - and I said we've got a job here at central church. You say, 'well that's exciting, we'd love to work here.' But before you sign on the dotted line, you might want to know what that job entailed, wouldn't you? Okay. By the way, we don't, to my knowledge, have any job openings right now, okay? And I'm not in a position to know that so you can check with someone later. But here's the point: there is a job description of the priesthood. If we were to take time to look at it we'd find in the old testament there were at least three functions that the priesthood filled - at least three functions.

And I would suggest to you that they were teaching, preaching, and health ministry. Have you ever thought about that? I mean, if you had leprosy in the old testament, did you go to the dermatologist? Where did you go? You went to the priest. Now, we want to bring this down to the new testament. A lot of my friends in other walks of faith, they don't put too much credence in the old testament although that was the only Bible that Jesus had. That was the Bible that he rooted his ministry in.

You remember in Luke 24, when the disciples were struggling about their faith, Jesus wanted to root them in the old testament. Here he is, the risen Jesus. But many want to look for their calling in the new testament, so we want to go there, and before we do, we're talking about our job descriptions as priests. We're speaking about 'every member ministry', and here's the big question. Before we look at anything else - we've already talked about some of these priestly roles in the old testament, but what was the great purpose of the priesthood? What was the great purpose? What was the reason that God gave his people this charge to be priests? Yeah, I hear a lot of correct answers, but I want to look at one that I think encapsulates all of these.

And as we're looking at some of these, someone has been given Hebrews chapter 7, verses 26 and 28. Who's been given that to read? Okay, we have - over here. Hebrews 7:26-28. Turn with me though to Hebrews 4 first of all - in Hebrews chapter 4. Hebrews is actually a book showing that Jesus is really the fulfillment of all that has gone before.

He is the sum. He is the substance of the whole old testament economy and in Hebrews chapter 4 we have that wonderful passage, as that chapter concludes, that identifies what the priesthood really was pointing to. Hebrews chapter 4, beginning with verse 14, "seeing then that we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus The Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

" Here the high priest, the kind of head of the priestly delegation, if you will. The priestly ministry in the old testament economy is being identified. The great high priest is who? It's Jesus. It's Jesus. Let's catch another glimpse of this in the book of Hebrews as our brother reads from Hebrews 7, verses 26 to 28.

"For such a high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens; who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice for his own sins and then for the people's, for this he did once when he offered up himself. For the law maketh men high priests which have infirmity, but the word of the oath, which was since the law, maketh The Son who was consecrated forevermore." So here we have, in a glimpse, the purpose of the priesthood. The purpose of the priesthood ultimately was to reflect Jesus, right? So you say, 'well wait a minute. If the old testament priesthood was to reflect Jesus and Jesus has come in the new testament, the book of Hebrews is basically saying here is the fulfillment of the priesthood, it's in Jesus our great high priest.' In chapter 4 we read that we can do what? We can come boldly to the throne of grace. We can come right to Jesus.

Well then you say, 'well, what do we need human priests for?' What do we need human priests for? Well, actually the lesson study really gets into this on Sunday as it speaks about 'every member ministry' it actually draws our minds to some texts that relate to this calling and the motivation for the calling. One of the Scriptures that is given there is in 2 Corinthians, chapter 5 and I invite you to turn there to 2 Corinthians chapter 5, because 2 Corinthians - Paul is here writing to the church at corinth his second letter. The first letter, you know, is speaking about what a mess that church was and God brought this church, using the counsel of Paul - the Holy Spirit working through his ministry - into a state of unity. They were disunited. They were in factions, and now in 2 Corinthians, Paul is giving some greater spiritual truths.

And in 2 Corinthians chapter 5, beginning with verse 15, we have another passage that deals with this concept of 'every member ministry' and we're looking at it because it answers a question. Why should we have priestly ministry today when we have a high priest? When Jesus has fulfilled the old testament priesthood, why is there a calling for us? So listen carefully, both as we listen for evidence of our call and also a reason for that call, even post-Jesus' earthly ministry. I'm beginning in 2 Corinthians 5 verse 15. It says, "he" - speaking of Jesus - "died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for him who died for them and rose again. Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh.

Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to himself through Jesus Christ, who has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors - ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God. For he made him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in him.

" Do you catch the picture? Do you catch the picture? Yes, Jesus' ministry was all-sufficient. Jesus is the great high priest, but God is wanting representatives of himself. He's wanting his people to extend his priestly ministry of calling people to enjoy the benefits of Christ's saving ministry. Do you catch that wonderful picture? It's not that we don't - it's not that we don't have an all-sufficient Savior, we do. But he entrusts to us this job - as Paul put it - as ambassadors.

Some of you may have already studied Sunday's lesson and the description there it gives us of an ambassador - quite an accurate description, by the way. Ambassadors, as it's put in our quarterly, an ambassador is one who personally represents a sovereign or head of state. This concept emphasizes the personal relationship between Christ and all who have been reconciled as they carry the message of his love and grace into the world. So are you catching the picture? Every one of us, as believers, is called to be what? A priest - and you could say a priest evangelist - a priest ambassador. We are extending Christ's loving ministry by extending that invitation.

So every one of us, as the lesson is entitled, is involved in what? Ministry. We're sharing in Christ's ministry. So let's come back to this concept now. We're asking the idea - we're asking the question what is, then, the job description of the priest, of the minister, of the ambassador? And I suggested to you, at least in the old testament, it included as least three things: teaching, preaching, and healing. How about in the new testament? What are the aspects of the priestly call? What did Jesus model in his own ministry? Let's look at some Scriptures together that give us some answers because that's our call, right? That is our call and so I invite you to turn in your Bibles, first of all, to Matthew.

We're going to Matthew because Matthew wants to give us some insights into this divine calling that every single one of us has. I'm turning to Matthew chapter 4. Matthew 4 - and while we're turning there I think someone has Matthew 9. Does someone have Matthew 9:35? Okay, so we're going to come there in just a minute, but let's go to Matthew chapter 4, initially, Matthew 4, verse 23. There's a number of times that Matthew summarizes Jesus' ministry - a couple of times in his own words and then in Jesus' words - as Jesus is summarizing it - in Matthew chapter 4 we have that first summary of Jesus' ministry and so I'm turning there to Matthew chapter 4 and the 23rd verse.

Matthew 4, verse 23. Remember, Jesus at this point - there's not been too much of his ministry that's been described in the Gospel of Matthew and here's how Matthew summarizes, though, the ministry of our Savior. "Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the Gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people. Then his fame went throughout all syria; and they brought to him all sick people who were afflicted with various diseases and torments, and those who were demon-possessed, epileptics, and paralytics; and he healed them." So based on Matthew 4:23 and 24, what aspects do we see were included in Jesus' ministry? That's right, preaching, teaching, and healing. Just like in the old testament priestly ministry.

Now we're going to hear from our brother as he reads from Matthew 9, verse 35. "And Jesus went about all the cities and the villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the Gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of diseases and all manner of sickness." Okay, there we have it again. So, wasn't it clear enough the first time in Matthew 4? Why is it repeated in Matthew 9? But if you're not content with Matthew just describing it himself, just go a couple of chapters later to Matthew chapter 11. Matthew chapter 11, verses 1-6. In Matthew 11:1-6 we have that story of John the baptist.

John the baptist is imprisoned, his faith is wavering and he sends his disciples - in verse 3 of Matthew 11 - with a question to bring to Jesus: 'are you the coming one? Are you the Messiah or are we to look for another?' And then Jesus gives the answer in Matthew 11, verses 4 through 6. "Jesus answered and said, 'go and tell John the things which you hear and see. The blind receive their sight and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised up - the poor have the Gospel preached to them. And blessed is he who is not offended because of me.'" Do you see it? So there again, Jesus is speaking of this combination of teaching, preaching, and healing ministry. Do you see it there in Matthew 11? If we were to take the time this morning, we would find that every commissioning service in the new testament, every time when Jesus appoints people to go out and represent him, their work includes what do you think? That's right, those same three elements: teaching, preaching, and healing.

When he sent out the twelve they were not just to teach and preach but they were to do what? They were to heal. When he sent out the seventy they were to do what? Teach, preach, and heal. And even the great commission - although we usually read it in Matthew 28 - if you read a similar commissioning in Mark , you'll find that teaching, preaching, and healing were all included. Now, why do you think I would dwell on this subject this morning? You would say, 'yes, you're a physician. So, I mean, your mind is going to gravitate to the medical end of things.

' But, you know, I have to just be honest with you. I haven't read through the whole quarterly for this quarter, but as many times as these themes came up - the priesthood, gifts of the Spirit, a number of these things - every member involved in ministry, it didn't jump out at me that they were emphasizing, at any time, the call that every one of us has to be involved in some type of healing ministry - physical healing ministry. Now, this lesson, I know, is designed to try to get you motivated that you have a ministry. And some of you might say, 'well, this guy is way off. I mean, you got a physician up here and he's trying to tell us we need to be involved in healing ministry.

If I try to do healing ministry in my neighborhood, they'll throw me in jail. I mean, you can't practice medicine - you can't diagnose and treat without a medical license.' Well, we're not talking about that kind of ministry necessarily, but I would like to suggest to you, biblically speaking - biblically speaking, every one of us has a role in healing ministry. Let's continue on in this study - and I want you to keep that in mind because we're going to touch on a number of passages that I believe come to some of the same conclusions and we're going to end up feeling like every one of us can leave here taking ownership of this call to the priesthood. Not because we're so good - you remember, even when God called his people in the old testament he said, 'I didn't call you because you were so great or you were so big, I called you' - why? The idea is that you were so small. Because it's only when we realize how small we are that God can use us.

So if you're starting to get uncomfortable, well this is good. When we're comfortable, that's when God can't use us. Have you ever thought about that? When you think you've got it all together - was Moses ready when he had it all together when he was 40 to deliver the children of Israel? Was he ready? He thought he was. He knew his calling. Now listen carefully, this theme will come up again in this lesson.

Moses knew his calling, didn't he? You read Hebrews 11 - Moses - it was not just circumstances that caused Moses to end up being in a position where God used him to deliver Israel. Moses knew his calling and that's why when he was 40 he thought that if he took some action - took things in his own hands - the people would rally behind him and God would use him to deliver the children of Israel. But he was doing it in his own strength, wasn't he? He thought he had it all together. He needed a 40-year school in the wilderness. So here's the important point that I want you to see.

It's not us feeling equipped this morning, it's hearing the call that equips us. Do you understand? God is the equipper - the Holy Spirit is. So with that in mind, let's go to Monday's lesson because in Monday we're speaking about the need for laborers. You may think that your talents are not needed - you're in a large church - maybe you're in a small church - maybe you're the only one who believes the Bible message viewing this lesson today. No matter what your situation, God needs you and we have a special Scripture that deals with that, it's from John chapter 4.

John chapter 4 is that wonderful story of the woman at the well and these are some of the remarks that followed Jesus' interchange with that woman. John chapter 4, beginning with verse 35. The disciples have come back. Remember, they were going to meet Jesus' physical needs - he had nothing to eat as he was sitting there at that well - and after his dialogue with the woman and her departure, then his disciples come back and his disciples come back with food. And they're quite mystified, because when they bring the food to Jesus and they offer him the food to eat, he says in verse 32 of John 4, "I have food to eat that you don't know about.

" And they're kind of looking around, 'well, did someone bring him something to eat? Did they bring him a meal while - when we had slipped away to get him something?' And then Jesus explains it, beginning with verse 34, he says, "my food is to do the will of him who sent me; and to finish his work. Do you not say, 'there are still four months and then comes the harvest'? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for the harvest! And he who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit for eternal life, that both he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together. For in this the saying is true: 'one sows and another reaps.' I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored; others have labored, and you have entered into their labors." What's going on here in John 4? The disciples were totally oblivious to what was happening around them. They were in a gentile region. They were among the samaritans - the woman was there at the well - Jesus was ministering to her and he sent her on a ministry to share - really - in essence - what he had just revealed to her.

It was her own heart responding to the Gospel message. But the disciples didn't realize that there were people there in samaria that were white - ready to be reaped. They were looking at physical signs. They were letting their physical eyesight tell them what the ministry options were and they said, 'look at - hey, it's not reaping season.' Well, that's true in the agricultural setting of the story, but Jesus is saying, 'don't look with human eyesight, look with divine eyesight. The fields are ready to be reaped.

' What do you need to reap a field? You need laborers. And the laborers, in the context of our study, are priestly reapers. They are priest evangelists. They are priest ambassadors. They are you and me.

So we have this calling to be involved in reaping a harvest - even where a harvest does not look like it is ready to be reaped. Isn't that amazing? So, we are going to look now at another passage that deals with this theme and makes another important connection. It's in 2 Peter chapter 3, verse and I believe someone has that Scripture to read for us. Does someone have Peter 3, verse 9? So as we're getting things ready for 2 Peter 3, we're going to find some amazing things in the context of Peter's second general epistle - some amazing things that relate to this study of 'every member ministry'. So I want you just to turn there, if you would, in your Bibles and as our brother reads Peter chapter 3, verse 9.

"the Lord is not slack concerning his promise as men count slackness, but is longsuffering to usward, not willing that any should perish but all should come to repentance." Amen. It's a powerful verse, isn't it? The context, though, of 2 Peter is actually amazing in light of what we're looking at because if you just hasten down a couple of verses - down to 2 Peter chapter 3, verse - well, actually, why don't we go to the very next verse - just so we have the whole context here. So I'm in 2 Peter, chapter 3, verses 10 and 12. Listen carefully now, we just heard the background. Okay, why is it - why is it that God is waiting for us to join with him in this reaping process? What is the setting in the world? God is not wanting any to perish and he's wanting us to extend his healing ministry - his forgiving ministry.

Look now with me at 2 Peter 3 beginning with verse 10, "but the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and Godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God because of which the heavens will be dissolved being on fire and the elements will melt with fervent heat?" What's going on in 2 Peter 3, verse 12? It's making a statement that is often passed by - a statement that you and I in this priestly role that God's given us - in this 'every member ministry' role we are given the privilege of hastening Christ's second coming. There's other verses that look at this - we're not going to look at it in detail and I know some people raise their eyebrows when we speak about this concept, but I want to share with you a passage - a powerful passage from the book 'education'. Some of you are aware that in addition to being a physician, I'm a teacher. I teach at weimar college and we're very interested in applying principles from this book - this Christian treatise, if you will, on education.

This is a chapter called 'the life work' and I want you to listen carefully, it begins on page 263. It's dealing with this very verse that we just looked at and this call that each one of us has. "Those who think of the result of hastening or hindering the Gospel, think of it in relation to themselves and to the world." Okay, so - you get the picture? When we talk about Christ's second coming we say, 'oh I'd love for Jesus to come back.' Most of us, when we say that, we're thinking of ourselves maybe. We're thinking, 'you know what? This body is not what it used to be. I'd love for Jesus to come back and make it new again.

' I mean, that's a good motivation, isn't it? What about the world? We look at this world - you listen to the news and you say, 'this world is a mess. We need Jesus to come back.' Are these good motivations? Yes, they're good. And this is what's being pointed out here. But there's a greater motivation - as this paragraph goes on - "few give thought to the suffering that sin has caused our creator. All heaven suffered in Christ's agony.

But that suffering did not begin or end with his manifestation in humanity. The cross is a Revelation to our dull senses of the pain, that from its very inception, sin has brought to the heart of God. Every departure from the right, every deed of cruelty, every failure of humanity to reach his ideal brings grief to him. When there came upon Israel the calamities that were the sure result of separation from God, subjugation by their enemies, cruelty, and death; it is said that his soul was grieved for the misery of Israel." That's found in Judges 10:16. And then another quote, this time from Isaiah 63, verse 9, "in all their afflictions he was afflicted and he bear them and carried them all the days of old.

" And with that background then the author quotes, ultimately, a few paragraphs later, the great commission. 'Go ye into all the world then.' So it's framing it - this priestly calling - this 'every member ministry' calling not just because you're tired of this world, not just because I'm tired of it, not just because there's all kinds of problems on this earth, but what is Jesus suffering? And so, can I sit back and say, 'listen, I just don't have any talents. I don't have any ability to be used by God.' Is that true of any of us? Well, if it is true, then God made a mistake - remember because in every commissioning, God commissions everyone to be a priest - to go forth as an ambassador. If God is commissioning you to be an ambassador, who is responsible for the success of your ambassadorship? It's Jesus. It's God himself, isn't it? So basically we're saying 'you have been called to ministry - you've been called to ministry and God is committed to the success of your ministry.

You say, 'well where do we - where does that come from?' Let's go on in the lesson because it does deal with this equipping role that God's given us. And I'm turning over to Monday's lesson. In Monday's lesson we do have a number of insights into this call and it comes up again throughout the quarterly and throughout this particular lesson study. Actually, I'm going to slip over to Tuesday - and Tuesday is speaking about 'individuals but together' - individuals but together. And it highlights there a passage in Ephesians 4 - Ephesians chapter 4.

Did I give that to someone? Ephesians chapter 4 - a reading there? Do we have someone with Ephesians 4? Okay, right over here. As we're going over there, Ephesians 4 - Ephesians is another book that deals with disunity in the church. Remember the jews and the gentiles had come together in Christ, and as Ephesians chapter opens up - you may want to turn there and just get a feel for the pulse of this chapter - Paul is actually speaking there in the first six verses, at length, about this call to unity - in Ephesians 4. He says, 'I beseech you' - really - 'to live like Jesus. To walk worthy of the calling that you've been given.

To be humble like Jesus.' And then in verse three "to keep the unity of the Spirit and the bond of peace." And from that background he continues and he speaks about spiritual gifts - our brother is going to share for us from Ephesians 4. Ephesians 4, verses 11 and 12, "and he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers, for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ." You say now, 'wow, here's a list of gifts of the Spirit.' You see the purpose, right? The purpose is to build one another up. You see, the two dangers when it comes to talents or gifts in the church are this: the biggest one that I've seen - as both a physician and a pastor - is that people, when we talk about giftedness - they're quick to say, 'well, I don't have that gift. You know, I just don't have that gift dr. Derose.

I can't do that, I don't have that gift.' Have you heard that one before? Maybe you've used it yourself. Now, believe me, I'm not saying that everyone is given the same gifts. We're told that the Holy Spirit gives to each man separately - or individually - as he sees fit, or as he wills. So we don't all have every gift, we're to work together - that's the whole purpose of the body. When you see descriptions of the gifts of the Spirit, it's often the context of the body and the unity of the body.

So we just saw here that gifts are designed to unite us not to separate us, so first problem we have is we say, 'I don't have a gift, I can't be used by God.' The second problem is if we recognize we have a gift, what do we often do? That's right, we often - it's easy to become proud of that gift or to feel like somehow, now we have to do something apart from the rest of the church because they're not recognizing my gift. I mean, can you relate to that? Maybe you're feeling - whether it's here at sac central or whatever church you attend - that your gifts are not being recognized. But what is the purpose of the gifts? Here in Ephesians it's to build one another up. It's for the edifying and the building up of the body. But you look at this list of gifts.

Ephesians 4 is an interesting list of gifts. You know, there are no two lists of spiritual gifts that are the same? Mentioned multiple times in the new testament - no two the same. So here, in Ephesians 4, you look at these gifts - these are pretty much leadership gifts, aren't they? And you look at those - you might say, 'wow, I don't know that I fit into any of those gifts.' Turn with me to Romans, let's look at another list of spiritual gifts - Romans chapter 12. And I know we're going to spend more time on the subject of spiritual gifts in this quarterly, but it's important to connect some of these dots because we've been speaking about spiritual gifts and I'm telling you that it's important in understanding this call, that every one of us has, to ministry. So I'm now in Romans chapter 12, Romans 12.

It's interesting how Paul starts this section out in verse 3 - Romans 12, verse 3. He says, "I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to" - do what? - Yeah, basically, don't be proud. Don't think of himself or herself more highly than he or she ought to think - we would say today - "but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of" - what? - "Faith." - Who has faith? Everyone - every believer has faith. God's given to every man a measure of faith. And then he goes on in verse 4, "for as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.

Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness." Now, let me ask you a question. Can someone say, 'I'm not cheerful today because God has not given me the gift of mercy'? Would that be legitimate? No. The Bible says, 'rejoice' - right? 'And again I say, rejoice'. Paul wanted to make the point in Philippians - he says, 'be thankful in all things.' So, what I'm trying to help you see now in Romans, we're trying to hear about gifts, that sound - some of these things sound pretty ordinary, don't they? I mean, do you see it here? Giving? How many of us are not supposed to give? I mean, we're all called to give something, right? We may not have any money in our pockets, but we're still called to give in response to Jesus' gift for us. Go to one other passage - and I know I'm doing this at risk of you studying the same thing in a short while in the future, but there's no risk in that because these are foundational passages to recall.

I'm now in 1 Corinthians 12 - another list of spiritual gifts. We're trying to make sure that we have this concept - that we understand we're all called to ministry - even though that ministry may not ever include standing at this pulpit or any pulpit - you're called to ministry. And you have an important role in ministry. You can reach people that I can never reach. And, in fact, you can reach people that I can never reach because some people can't be reached by someone who ever stood up front.

They say, 'that person's too distant from me. But it's the person sitting next to them in the pew that can reach them, or sitting next to them on the park bench, or on the bus, or in the workplace. Here I am in 1 Corinthians, chapter 12, verse 7 - Paul is speaking about the diversity of gifts - verse 7, "the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same spirit, to another faith by the same spirit, to another gifts of healing by the same spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy...discerning of spirits...different kinds of tongues...interpretation of tongues." He's got this big long list there "but one in the same spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as he wills." Did you catch that list? Don't ever go through the list of the gifts of the Spirit and say, 'there's some I don't have and some I do have' because some of these things - although you may not have a special giftedness in faith, every one of us - we just read - has a measure of faith, right? It's mentioned as a spiritual gift. How about this one - knowledge? Is that a special - do some people have a special gift of knowledge? Yes. So, can you say, 'well, I just don't know anything, I don't have the gift of knowledge.

' No, I mean, that's not the point at all. So there are some things that all of us are called to have in a certain measure - wisdom, knowledge, right? Giving, compassion, hospitality - we're all to have those to some extent - and I would say, include in that list of things that we're all called to have, to some extent, is healing ministry. You say, 'well how can we do that without going to school? Are you trying to make some kind of appeal for us all to go back to weimar college or someplace and end up with a health degree?' That's not my appeal this morning. Do you know where health ministry starts? That's right, it starts with your own response to what Jesus has done for you. It starts with your own lifestyle.

Do you realize that every one of you is a walking sermon by how you live your life? Both your character - Paul calls it our conversation - it's not just what we speak, it's how we live. If what you do - when someone sees you in the restaurant - the foods that you chose - when they see you, at the workplace, open up your lunch - when you go through the cafeteria line - are you preaching a health message? You are. And when we have health programs here at this church, and when you in your church - those of you who are tuning in - have health programs in your church - come out to those health programs if for no other reason - to rub shoulders with people and to enhance your own health journey, because that's going to equip you for ministry - do you see? Well, we need to jump down to Thursday's lesson because there's something very important here that sometimes I'm negligent of, maybe you are as well, because God gives us this giftedness - he calls us to use our talents. We may not realize what they are, but if we're praying to God and asking his Holy Spirit to guide us, he will help you see what your ministry is as one of the members of this priestly call. And then we have this privilege - in Thursday's lesson we speak about reporting to the church - reporting of the church - very interesting passage.

And we're going to look at acts 14 - acts 14 is at the conclusion of Paul's first missionary journey - acts chapter 14 - and one of the things, by the way, I really enjoyed about this quarterly we won't have a chance to look at it, but very practical - if you look at the end of this week's lesson study, you'll see some special things that encourage you to pray about what God's calling you to do, talk with people in leadership at your church, be involved - get involved. If you're not being involved, seek for ways to be involved. But I would caution you, don't just do those things that seem to come most naturally, because often God is calling you to do something that's out of your comfort zone, you know? So let's look at Paul and barnabas here - acts chapter 14 - they're concluding their missionary journey. And it says in verse 27 of acts 14, it says, "and when they had come and gathered the church together, they" - did what? - They reported - "they reported all that God had done with them and that he had opened the door of faith to the gentiles. So they stayed there a long time with the disciples.

" What were they doing? They were reporting - they were praising what God had done. You know, sometimes we think, 'well, you know, this would be pride - to tell what God is doing in my life.' But, you know, we need to encourage one another. And some of you might say, 'well that's part of the problem we have in a class like this - we don't get to interact as much.' But we have many classes where we interact here at sac central, okay. And in this particular class we don't have the opportunity to dialogue, but after the service we often can - now, as irony would have it, I have to rush off to another appointment, so if you're wanting to interact with me today, I'm not modeling very well this aspect of ministry - but the Lord willing, I'll be back here next Sabbath. But here's the point - here's the point.

Part of this power of ministry comes in sharing what God's doing in your life. You know when Paul, in Hebrews chapter 10, is talking about coming together - by the way, do you know many people in today's culture, they can watch many wonderful things by way of television - on the air - and they say, 'well I don't need - I get a better blessing just watching the messages on television.' You know what? It's wonderful that we have these resources - we're glad that central study hour comes into homes through the medium of television and through the internet, but I have to tell you, if you're going to minister, you've got to physically interact with people. And that's one of the reasons Paul said 'coming together as you see the day approaching to' - do what? - 'To encourage, to exhort one another.' And you exhort one another by reporting what God's doing - don't you? Sharing what God's doing in your life, praying together, and encouraging one another. Well, we need to close - and before we do, I just want to tell you it's a wonderful choice that was made for the free offer this week, because it's something to help equip you for 'every member ministry'. It's this book by Joe Crews - 'three steps to heaven' - ask for offer #102 - that's offer #102 - and you can get that simply by calling -866-study-more.

-866-788-3966. So whether you take advantage of the free offer, or whether you share other materials, or whether you just come close to people in your community, in your own home, God has called you to a what? Priestly ministry. You're called as a priest evangelist, a priest ambassador. Mommy! Daddy! Help me! No. I don't think so.

You didn't do very well on your report card this last quarter so...no. You haven't been pulling your weight around here lately. You want help? Well, I wanted help with the dishes last night. Help yourself! Huh? Honey, did you bring the marshmallows? In six days God created the heavens and the earth. For thousands of years man has worshiped God on the seventh day of the week.

Now, each week, millions of people worship on the first day. What happened? Why did God create a day of rest? Does it really matter what day we worship? Who was behind this great shift? Discover the truth behind God's law and how it was changed. Visit Sabbathtruth.com. If you've missed any of our Amazing Facts programs, visit our website at amazingfacts.org. There you'll find an archive of all our television and radio programs including Amazing Facts presents.

One location. So many possibilities. Amazingfacts.org.

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