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Excerpt from an Elder Ordination Sermon

July 24, 2006

Acts 20:17-21 Now from Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called the elders of the church to come to him. And when they came to him, he said to them: “You yourselves know how I lived among you the whole time from the first day that I set foot in Asia, serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials that happened to me through the plots of the Jews; how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you in public and from house to house, testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.

Elders are supposed to be blameless.  Which, we learn from Ps 19, means that they are not to be ruled by willful sins.  But, of course, elders are not sinless.  Elders, like all other Christians, sin every day in word, thought, and deed.  Which means that there is ample opportunity for elders to be not only exemplary in their obedience, but also exemplary in their repentance. 

When I think about the people who have been greatly used by God in my life, they are people who talked a lot about their sin.  They didn’t try to look like perfect problem-free people.  They would speak of their deep consciousness of their great sinfulness, sometimes even with tears.  So we should have a disarming brokenheartedness over our own sins that invites others to confess their sins and turn to the Lord for grace and mercy to help them.

The word repentance means “a change of mind”.  Are we changing?  There is a spiritual inertia that resists change, but we must overcome that inertia and let others see us changing, we should let our progress be evident to all.   And I don’t mean a vague gradual imperceptible change.  Yes, sanctification is progressive, but repentance is decisive.  Repentance is not once for all, we must repent again and again, but it is decisive.  Repentance is changing your mind about something.   So ask yourself, what have I changed my mind about in the last year?  Can you give a testimony that sounds something like “I used to think and feel and act this way about such and such a matter, but recently God convicted me that this was sinful, and so now I think this way and I act this way…”   Do you have a testimony like that?  Have you changed recently?   Can you testify about that to other people?  Remember that it is after David’s deep experience of repentance in Psalm 51 that he says “Then I will teach transgressors your ways and sinners will turn back to you.”

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. blondie permalink
    July 25, 2006 1:06 pm

    At the beginning of this year I repented of a judgmental, non-loving heart toward a woman who comes to my home to pray with me every week. How convicting every week in the fall of last year to have her in my home and have these awful prideful thoughts. Thoughts that were filled with an “I am superior ” attitude.

    January 2006 I was repenting of this unloving heart and God brought me to these verses: 1 Peter 1:22- 23 “Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart. For you have been born again , not of perishale seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.” I asked God to give me love for her , to replace my unloving thoughts with words and actions that honor him and show that I have sincere love for her.

    I have seen that happen. I began to take a different kind of interest in her. It showed in the way I conversed with her and even my eye contact with her as she would talk. It is amazing to see a sincere love for her in my life. My concern for her family and my willingness to be a part of what she was doing. I am excited to include her in this prayer group in the fall and know that if I lean toward a superior attitude God will gently whack me upside the head and remind me of these verses that he has placed in my heart for the year.

    Now, I don’t attend CEFC every week. I used to. I have moved away from Champaign; so, do not try and figure out who it is that I was unloving toward. You don’t know her, I promise. But I do know her now and I am excited to see God change me this way.

  2. egana permalink
    July 25, 2006 10:05 pm

    Whooo-hooo Blondie! Isn’t God great! He takes our superior pride, teaches us to throw it in the dust, and gives us tender-hearted love instead. And which one tastes better, in the end, eh? *wink*

    For myself, last year I wanted things to be different, exciting, fun, and eventful. Instead, I got a series of days that had to be the same for the sake of all. yuck.

    Then the Lord changed the way I thought about prayer, and made me want it. I am so goofy-headed, I can’t remember the verses, or where, or how, etc. But I was convinced that MANY of the problems (boredom with housework was one) I was upset about were because of my prayerless, empty thoughts following me around each day. I began to be different, to want to pray more, and to actually DO it, instead of sigh, want it, and then move on to some other activity.

    The more I pray, especially intercessory prayer, the happier I am. I am a changed woman. I even get up earlier than the rest of my household, and go walk around my neighborhood by myself (ENFP choosing to be by herself? WOW!) Actually, the best part is that I am NOT by myself. but Jesus is always there with me. Yep. The Spirit changes me. And I act differently than I did even 6 months ago, and I want Jesus instead of extra sleep.

    Pray that I would continue to want Him more than my nice, warm, soft, cozy bed as the weather turns cold. I mean it. Please pray for me. This is not simply a rhetorical device crafted to end my blog post in a snappy way. I am asking you to pray for me that I will continue to choose Jesus over comfort, not only in this aspect, but in every aspect of my life.

    Thanks!

  3. July 25, 2006 10:19 pm

    seriously, it was a big step in my sanctification a few years back to go out and buy a big ol’ down filled goretex coat. My coping mechanism for winter used to be denial. Now it’s dress for it. dress for it works better. And it fits with putting on the new man and the armor of God. I started my prayerwalking thing last November. November. Planning for winter was a big part of it.

  4. egana permalink
    July 26, 2006 8:45 am

    hmmmmmm…… sounds like a good idea….

  5. blondie permalink
    July 26, 2006 12:18 pm

    Yes! Prayerwalking is such a great way to talk with God. His creation is before us as we walk around the neighborhood: we are reminded to “love our neighbors” as we pass their homes or gardens, we can view the sky and envision how high above us is his love, and that his love is longer than any sidewalk, wider than a million football fields, higher than the highest star in the sky and deeper than any hole man can dig.

    Those are the things that I see as I walk around my neighborhood on my daily… (whoops, it hasn’t been daily lately, it will be again after this discussion) …journey. Most of the time though, I walk around the high school track that is near me. If I see the same things over and over then I don’t get distracted and I can actually talk and listen to my maker. I confess most of my sin there, I am assured that none of my family can hear me. ;-)

  6. July 31, 2006 8:49 pm

    Someone should show me this whole prayerwalking thing. As long as it doesn’t require my getting up at a crazy early hour… … … Or send me something to read about it!

  7. August 2, 2006 10:09 pm

    I get dressed, put my shoes on, go outside, walk around my neighborhood sidewalks, pray, come home, that’s it. Nothing fancy.

    Sometimes I take a little book of psalms and proverbs with me. sometimes I take my Romans memorization with me. sometimes I take the CEFC ministries sheet with me and pray all over you guys. Sometimes I take the prayer requests from Sunday with me. Sometimes I take my son with me. *grin* Sometimes I take a bunch of verses that Piper used in his book Let the Nations Be Glad to show what sorts of things the early church and Jesus Himself prayed about. That last one is what I have been doing recently. yummmm-yummy!

    If I go out empty handed, I will just walk and think. If I take something to focus my thoughts with me, then I pretty much have a conversation with Jesus about whatever I brought with me, and whatever thoughts get triggered.

    It is not complicated! It is really fun!

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