Matthew R. Perry

Posts Tagged ‘Boone’s Creek Baptist Church’

Taking Care of How You Hear, Part I

In Church Life on January 26, 2009 at 12:42 pm

(This sermon was preached on January 25, 2009 at Boone’s Creek Baptist Church, Lexington, KY.  You may listen to the mp3 , then go to listen to other sermons in the archive.  Take time to read Luke 8:16-21.)

Would it not be wonderful if large crowds gathered at a  house of worship automatically meant that God’s work was being done? In Luke 8:4, the Word says, “And when a great crowd was gathering and people from town after town came to him.” Yet, great crowds at Christian churches, even the crowds that followed Jesus, did not mean that they would become followers. John 2:23-25 says,

Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many
believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing. [24] But Jesus on his part did not entrust
himself to them, because he knew all people
[25] and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew
what was in man.

People saw what Jesus did, heard what Jesus said, and even followed Jesus’ lead. Did this show saving faith?

In Luke 8, Jesus demonstrates the Spirit power of the Word. From the calming of the storm to the healing of a demoniac, to even raising someone from the day, Jesus showed the authoritative power of the Word because it bears the seal of God. God sends His ambassadors from His heavenly country with His message of deliverance and mercy from his wrath against our sin and into His mercy through Jesus’ work on the cross.

As we look at this passage this morning, Jesus gives us a phrase that we must take to heart. “Take care then how you hear. . . .” Mark 4 in the parallel passage says, “Pay attention to what you hear.” Jesus seems to be making a distinction on how one hears. Apparently, one can hear without hearing. You can have the sound waves hit your eardrum, pass through the small bones in the ear which resonate, sending a signal to your brain so you can hear the words which are spoken. How you hear the word and what you do with the Word you have heard reveals much about the condition of your heart before God.

1.   Hear the Word as a light for your path.

In verses 16-17, Jesus says, ““No one after lighting a lamp covers it with a jar or puts it under a bed, but puts it on a stand, so that those who enter may see the light. [17] For nothing is hidden that will not be made manifest, nor is anything secret that will not be known and come to light.”

Understand where this passage falls. The Sunday before I went to Trinidad, we examined Luke 8:4-15 in looking at the Parable of the Soils. The sower went to plant seed, which Jesus tells us served as the Word of God. The parables served to proclaim the Word, but the message of that Word was hidden to those who not only refused to hear, but from those whose hearts did not have the proper soil for the Word to take hold.

Jesus though goes further. He says basically, “If you have good soil and have received the message, don’t cover the message up! You are
lamps because of the Word that is in you. Now shine!” You see, we as the people of God cannot be lights in the world unless the Word of Christ is dwelling in us richly (Colossians 3:15). In fact, do you recall that Psalm 119:105 tells us, “Your word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.”

What are lamps good for? Lamps light up rooms so people can see where they are and what is located in those rooms. Lamps also
light the way we are going. And His Word moving in us shows the way. While in Trinidad, they had this Christian radio station on the
majority of the time. During one of the breaks in music, the deejay came on and said, “Dear Christian, you just need to dream those big dreams that you have, and when you have faith to believe it will come to pass, God will give you what you want.” I had just read about where Joel Osteen said that you need a life of generosity, and because of your generosity, God will bless you abundantly.

In America and in Trinidad, so many preach the message, “Do this, dream this, smile more, pray more, read more, give more, and God will
bless.” Messages like this are not lamps, but are caution lights blinking for us to move away and detour to the actual gospel. The lamp of God’s Word always shines upon Jesus Christ and Him crucified, who says, “I am extending my grace and mercy to you based upon what I’ve done. You are like sheep who have gone astray, each turning to your own way. What you need is not to chase after dreams by drumming up more faith and doing more so my Father will bless. He has already blessed you with the cross and empty tomb. You can dream and do and act, but you do not have the spiritual furniture arranged in your mind to handle, because even our best dreams drift
away from God.”

James 1:16-18 says:,

Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. [17] Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. [18] Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creation.”

Notice: every blessing we have does not begin with a “dream within,” but from the Father above. Notice that our “dreams” may change with our inner emotions or our outward circumstances, but the Father has “no variation or shadow due to change.” He is steadfast, our rock and refuge. Notice that we become believers not by our own will and decision but “of his own will … by the word of truth.” Notice it is all of him. And once we get away from the Word of God, we stray from the path of God until the Spirit of God convicts us of the truth of God so we will repent and ask forgiveness of God so we will be restored by God.

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Sermon Posted: “That’s a ‘When’ When It Comes to Fasting” (Matthew 6:16-18)

In Church Life, Sermons on September 30, 2008 at 9:46 am

I am thankful for the wonderful response to God’s Word, especially in regards to the issue of fasting.  This sermon was preached on Sunday, September 28, 2008 at Boone’s Creek Baptist Church, Lexington, KY.

Here’s an excerpt:

David Legge noted in a recent sermon that “Prayer is attaching yourself to God, but fasting is detaching yourself from the earth.” Whatever definition you want to put on fasting, few would equal that one. It is a renewed focus away from the things of earth It is a humbling of yourself before God, bringing your body into subjection through discipline.

These particular verses really turned the focus of what fasting was about in transitioning from the Old Testament to the New. In the Old Testament, the Jewish people celebrated various Holy Days. For instance, on Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) there would be a day of fasting and mourning over their own sins and the sins of a nation. The sacrifices offered that day were scene as ways that they may be reconciled to God for their sins. This served as the only time in the OT on which the people of Israel were commanded directly to fast.

Yet other fasts cropped up. We read about them in Joel when national disasters took place. Nineveh fasted after hearing the reluctant preaching of Jonah. Fasting even took place under Samuel as a part of national revival.

Yet for the most part, fasting prior to Jesus’ time was about repentance of sin that transformed the covenant child into selfless human being. Fasting would be undertaken in order to sacrifice for repentance of sin and looking outward for justice among the people. Look at this passage in Isaiah 58:1-7:

Does this mean Jesus did not care for food? Hardly! In fact, the biggest condemnation the Pharisees gave to Jesus was that he eats and drinks with tax collectors and sinners. His most amazing miracle to us is his feeding of the five thousand (Matthew 14:13-21). His focus was on his soul and mind being galvanized to the will of His Father, dependent on nothing in the meantime.

“Cry aloud; do not hold back; lift up your voice like a trumpet;

declare to my people their transgression,

to the house of Jacob their sins.

Yet they seek me daily

and delight to know my ways,

as if they were a nation that did righteousness

and did not forsake the judgment of their God;

they ask of me righteous judgments;

they delight to draw near to God.

‘Why have we fasted, and you see it not?

Why have we humbled ourselves, and you take no knowledge of it?’

Behold, in the day of your fast you seek your own pleasure,

and oppress all your workers.

Behold, you fast only to quarrel and to fight

and to hit with a wicked fist.

Fasting like yours this day

will not make your voice to be heard on high.

Is such the fast that I choose,

a day for a person to humble himself?

Is it to bow down his head like a reed,

and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him?

Will you call this a fast,

and a day acceptable to the Lord?

“Is not this the fast that I choose:

to loose the bonds of wickedness,

to undo the straps of the yoke,

to let the oppressed go free,

and to break every yoke?

Is it not to share your bread with the hungry

and bring the homeless poor into your house;

when you see the naked, to cover him,

and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?

Yet, with Jesus, the issue of fasting became very different. We see in Matthew 4 that Jesus went out and fasted for 40 days and 40 nights. Why? Was it for repentance of sin? We know from Scripture and from clear reason that Jesus never sinned (Hebrews 4:14-16; 2 Corinthians 5:21). So what was he doing? One commentator put it so rightly, “He was gathering strength not by eating and resting but by fasting and praying.”

Yet did Jesus seem outwardly strengthened? No, not at all. In fact, Satan tempted him with food and fame and fortune—the very things that Jesus would have struggled with to get him out of his situation. But he said no. Clearly, through his responses to Satan, he found himself feasting on prayer and the Word.

How Long Is Too Long for a Sermon?

In Preaching on September 19, 2008 at 12:36 pm

One of the standard jokes we have here at Boone’s Creek is the length of my sermons. I tend to preach about 35 minutes on average, which is a bit longer than some. I preach expositionally, which means that whatever the theme of the text is becomes the theme of my sermon. Whatever structure the biblical text is becomes the structure of the sermon. The Holy Spirit laid out the Scriptures this way, so who am I to do otherwise?

But getting back to the “joke,” we have some folks in our church who grew up with a preacher who preached two hours or more. Others grew up with a sermon lasting only 15 minutes or so. In fact, I had one person tell me a number of years ago, “If you preach past 12:00, they’ll tune you out” (this was after a Trinidadian preacher visited us and preached a God-glorifying sermon, but went until 12:30).

John MacArthur has a wonderful article entitled “Preaching and the Clock” (website/pdf) which begins as follows:

I do not think the length of the sermon is as important as its content. At times I have preached fifty minutes and it has been ten minutes too long. Other times, I have preached an hour and twenty-five minutes and it has been just right. The important thing is to cover the main point so that people are convinced of its truth and comprehend its requirements.

If you have nothing worthwhile to say, even twenty minutes will seem like an eternity to your people. If you are interesting, they will stay with you. Do not mistake persuasion for long-windedness, however. If you preach longer than you should, you will sacrifice persuasiveness.

Now, I will confess freely that I do not preach like MacArthur. God has not called me to preach like John MacArthur (God already gave us one of him), but to preach in the Spirit and His Word using me as his earthen vessel. Even so, I do understand that even with me preaching 35 minutes or so, I am just barely scratching the surface of what the Word is saying.

And fortunately for me, I do not have a “one-and-done” situation– I will have other Sundays! But I am with MacArthur: as a preacher, make sure your people know the principle of the passage on which you preach so they may grow in Christlikeness.

Praying For The Lost — A Lost Duty?

In Church Life, Sermons on September 11, 2008 at 2:55 pm

Last night, we had a time of prayer specifically for the lost—those who do not know Christ as Lord and Savior.  What prompted this prayer meeting was an initiative called “With One Voice” by the Kentucky Baptist Convention to have all Kentucky Baptist churches pray during their Wednesday evening prayer service on Sept. 10.

During this service, we read Scripture, sang some songs dealing with prayer and revival among our people.  Then we passed out what we call a “Five Alive” card where we supplied each person with two names from the 114 names on the “Salvation” portion of our Boone’s Creek Prayer Guide.  With those two names were three blanks for them to fill in names of people they know.   I encouraged them to consider those who were closest to them (family, friends, co-workers) rather than someone they did not know (for more on this, read Oscar Thompson’s Concentric Circles of Concern).

One of my favorite things to do during a prayer service is to have our people spread out over our 50 or so pews and pray for those who may come into our service.  If your church is like most of ours, you know where most of your regular attenders sit.  But it’s a joy not only to pray for them but also to pray for others whom God may have come in.  It really gives our members an outward looking perspective and gives us great anticipation.

The part that meant most to me was when Alex Marshall, Jr., one of our deacons, had Ron Chaffins (our minister of music) and myself kneel at the steps up to the platform, followed by the church coming forward and laying their hands on us as they prayed for us.  It reminded me of Col. 4:2-4 when Paul exhorted the Colossians church:

Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.  [3] At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison— [4] that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak.

This prayer time really lifted my spirit up to heaven. Pastors bear a heavy burden in seeking to strengthen the flock as well as to share the Gospel with a lost and dying community. May our hearts begin to be crafted toward prayer for the lost and for the ministers of the Gospel who share His message. May our heart desire to be equipped to know what this message is so we can share it rightly. May praying for the lost never be lost on us!

Guided By Our Good Shepherd for 222 Years (Introduction)

In Church Life on October 1, 2007 at 6:48 am

Edmund Burke one time noted, “Those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it.” We are here this morning reminding ourselves of history. Not just any general history, but the 222-year history of Boone’s Creek Baptist Church. When you become as old as our church is, every year is an absolute blessing and every year is always a time to remember and to celebrate.

History teaches us many things for sure — the lessons we learn from them would most certainly suit us quite well. Churches — even old, or should I say “historic,” churches such as ours — will not make a lasting impact for eternity unless we are guided by our Good Shepherd. Our history has raised up some incredible men and women from this church. If I were to give all of you who have spent any time at all here in this church a piece of paper and were to ask you this question, “Name three people that God has used in your life here to help you grow in the faith,” we would have dozens of names. Many would be pastors, wouldn’t they? Absolutely — and that would be expected. Others would be deacons, Sunday School teachers, WMU and Baptist Men leaders. Some didn’t have a “title” or “office,” per se. They may have been just a dear saint how shared and told the love of Christ to you.

I recall a time shortly after I came that a longtime member felt he needed to move on to another church. He was a very faithful member of our church whom I had grown to love and respect greatly. Yet, a couple weeks after he left and word had finally gotten around that he was gone to another church in the area, I overheard one member say, “Did you hear he left? He was the cornerstone of this church!” You see, many times we truly believe, no matter how solid and doctrinally sound the church is, that its success or failure lies ultimately with men. Is that to say that men have no say in the matter? No, because God placed his church where he did in order to have obedient men and women serving as a living witness of God’s grace here and now. But what fuels these faithful men and women? Who would these faithful men and women point to?

The fact is, there is only one Cornerstone to our church — the Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ. Yet, will we simply look at our glorious past and take comfort in how well we have served? The truth is, we must learn from the past but not live in it. What are some lessons we can take from the past that we can apply to the future? Let’s look.

(Tomorrow: We Are Who We Are Because He Is Who He Is)

To listen to this sermon in its entirety, click here.