The Message, the Man, the Ministry - Jeff Ferguson
I believe that God, through one message, through one moment in time, can revive a heart. All it takes is one verse to melt a heart of stone; and here tonight, I want to be a challenge to you, I want the Holy Spirit to convict. Fairhaven Baptist Church, you have an awesome responsibility. Churches all across America send their young people to you to train. Young people, you have an awesome responsibility; you have been sent to this place to be trained. Hold Fast. In a day and age when compromise is rampant, at every turn we are finding the next big name so-and-so Dr. Big-shot is dropping the standard. Please understand this, that dropping the standard is not the way to achieve personal holiness. Is that not what we are striving for? We are not striving for a big college, we are not striving for big churches-lets get this down to the nuts and bolts of the matter- we are striving for personal holiness. We are striving for a generation that will stand for God-that will not be afraid to boldly proclaim. Is it not what Peter and John did? They came from the prayer meeting, went into the preaching place and proclaimed Jesus Christ. And what was amazing was at the end of that they marveled that they were unlearned and ignorant men! They marveled because they knew they had been with Jesus. I don't care how many degrees you get to your name-you can have more degrees than a thermometer-if you don't spend time with Jesus, it's no avail -
And so tonight, I want to challenge: The Message, The Man, The Ministry.
Titus 1:1 Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God's elect, and the acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness;
The first thing that we are going to take a look at tonight is The Message. What is the message? Where are we to be proclaiming? What are we to be taking to the world? The Bible says right here that His Word was manifested through preaching. God was pleased with the foolishness of preaching! It's not sharing. We share the Gospel, we preach the Word-we've got to have a hunger for Biblical preaching. We do not need soft-soap. Bob Kelly used to say, "When you get soft-soap in the pulpit, you get dirty Christians in the pew. We need some 20-mule Borax." We've got enough soft-soap, it barely gets the germs off your hands. It's not 99.9 percent anti-bacterial. Please understand this, we have a message that God has given to us. He says, Preach! God's command to you, if you are called to the ministry, is to Preach! We are not entertainers. We are not glory hounds. We are not pop stars. We are preachers of the Word.
You may not be flamboyant, you may not be bombastic, you may be methodical-a little monotonous...but preach the Word. Do not shy away from this thing called "preaching". It's the greatest, greatest privilege in the entire world. To proclaim God's Word. The Bible tells us in Isaiah 58:1. Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins. Do you know that George Whitfield, when he was preaching, it has been said that you could hear him from over a mile away? When he got done preaching, his throat was bleeding....because he knew he had a message. He said that people MUST know....what's the message? If we are supposed to preach, what's the message? Jesus. By the acknowledging of the truth-which is after godliness. Jesus said, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. It is through the foolishness of preaching. We are to pray aloud. We are to spare not. Lift up thy voice like a trumpet. Now I'm not a great musician-I play the radio really well-I am notorious for finding static. I don't know a lot, but I know a trumpet is not quiet. As a matter of fact, we have a young man in our church that is a conductor who says that trumpets make him mad - they just try to show off. He plays a string. He says that they can't hear him if there are blaring it out over there. I said, "pride bringeth contentions, brother." But here it is, we are to lift our voices like a trumpet! Praise God for amplification for some people. Some of us are saying, "turn him down please!" But notice this, when Isaiah said this, he said, "Show my people their transgression." Do you know that two-thirds of what we do is negative? "Reprove, rebuke, exhort". "I don't understand why Pastor Damron is always on us"- because God told him to be negative two-thirds of the time! God never gave the status quo: two negatives and a positive-one on a Sunday. "He can wait until Sunday and be all positive". You say, "I just don't like that". Take it up with God, He said it! We have a problem with God's Word. It's amazing to me, we can be bold in everything...we can be bold in politics, like right now, be praying for Iowa, we have a heart-beat bill in the congress coming up for a vote. Pray for us. That life begins at the heart-beat. That's pretty good. It isn't conception, but I'll take it. We can be bold and declare, "Abortion is murder!" But then when it comes to preaching the Bible, the truth after godliness, we get real quiet. We say, "well, who are we going to offend?" Im not trying to be irreverent, but, who cares? The offense of the cross, it's going to be offensive to people. Jesus didn't say, "For those people, let's try to be a little more diplomatic; let's try to be a little more sensitive; if you are a little more sensitive then they will follow me." Did that work for the rich, young ruler? He came to Jesus to say, "hey, I've kept all the commandments." Jesus tells him, "Ok, take all that you have and sell it." What? You heard me. He walked away disappointed. Now, I don't know about you, but he had money. I think that could support some missions. You say, "let's go to lunch brother, let's get a chimichanga!" Let me get that ticket for you. Jesus says, "No, no, if you are not willing to forsake all and follow after me...no sir, I'm not going to take your leftovers." We think that God wants our leftovers. You know what, "I'll give to God after I pay all my bills." God is not looking for your leftovers. He owns the cattle on a thousand hills, He can put steak on the plate any time. He doesn't need leftovers. ""When I get a little bit older, I'll serve Jesus." That's a leftover. We've got a message to give. What is that message? II Corinthians 4:5 For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake. II Timothy 4:2 "Preach the word." (John 1:1,2) "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God." Verse number 4 tells us, "In him was life." Who is that? Come on now, I know I'm in the North, and I know you aren't heavy amen-ers and I know you aren't hand-raisers. I know all that, but I'm used to a group that will talk to me. So who is this that He's talking about? Jesus Christ! The One that died on the cross for you! Did you forget that? Did you forget that He shed His precious blood for them? You know, come on, really?, I think He's talking to them. No. No, He's not. He's talking to all of us. We are to preach Jesus Christ. I don't know about you, but I get excited about that. I get excited about being able to preach about Jesus. I get excited about preaching about the One who took my sin away. The One that took my sin as far as darkness is from dawn. The One that said, "you know what? they are down in the deepest sea, never to be remembered again." How is that possible with God? He can never forget anything, yet, He chooses to forget your sin. I was going to say that I don't remember what I ate this morning, but I remember everything I eat. Amen. You can tell, I know. That's why you all say, 'he's a funny guy." But you know, there are some things I forget. God never forgets, but He chooses to say, "I'm not going to remember that anymore." But when the Accuser of the brethren comes to Him and says, "Hey, what about so-and so? What? Huh? "What's on the Books for Jeff on this date? Is there anything there? Nothing but the blood! Amen! If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from ALL unrighteousness. That's Jesus. I love how Jeremiah said it in Jeremiah 20:9, I will not make mention of him. He got mad at God. He said I'm not going to make mention of it. I'm going to keep my mouth shut. For some of you, that would be a good thing. Parents of teenagers are saying, "Amen!" But here it is, He says, " I am not going to make mention of him but His word was in my heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones and I was weary with forbearing and I could not stay." By the way, when you are talking about your bus route, you are talking about missions. What is the entire purpose of this church? It is to preach Jesus Christ! It's not just the preacher that gets behind the pulpit. Just to humor me, how many of you teach a Sunday School class? How many of you work on a bus route? How many of you have any interaction with people that come on the premises of the church? That's everybody. Every single one of us. We have the message of Jesus Christ to give to those people, and we shy away from that. We stop. Now, I'm not saying that Fairhaven does, but do we have to be that intense? Pastor Damron set some pretty lofty goals- does he have to go so hard? Is this worth it? Is not the message we have worth it? I'd say so. The Bible says in IPeter 4:11. "If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God. If any man minister, as we just saw, everybody in this room ministers, Let him do as of this ability which God giveth. Each and every one of us has talents. You may not be the brightest bulb - I think about some of the people in this room, Brother Mitchell is a 120-watt, and I take my little 4-watt, I put it next to his....The Bible says if we compare ourselves among ourselves, we are not wise. The Bible is not asking you to compare yourself amongst each other, He is saying let your light shine. I can let my 4-watt shine as bright as it possibly can, and he can be his 120-watt over there shining - but guess what? We are both shining for Jesus Christ. College student, young man, "well, I just don't have that talent." Who cares? Let me encourage you in this...I know it's our job as administrators to bring the hammer down, "You can't do it" "You are a loser" and you probably are - let's just be honest; but, do you know one of the most damaging things to me in the ministry is when I had three people that I looked up to that said, "You'll never pastor,". "You don't have the ability." "You don't have the talent.". Let's be careful. You are not God. It took me a long time to get over that, to say, "God,I can't do it, I know I can't do it, but you've given me a message, and You've told me to do it, and I've got to do it; but if you will just simply use a snot-nosed bus kid like me, I’ll go!" And He said, "Ok," don't forget that." You know, it's amazing, God just wants to use you. He's got a message to get out. You've been given a responsibility. We are not standup comedians. We are not politicians. We are not pulpit personalities. We are vessels that God wants to use. The Bible tells us in Acts 4:13, "Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, they perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men." They marveled, and they took knowledge that they had been with Jesus. How is your time with Jesus? Do you know who He is? I'm glad that I know who Jesus is. I'm glad I know that I have One that can bear my burden, because they get heavy. We've got a young man, I say young man, I consider myself young, 36 years old, I led him to the Lord on October 23, 2017, who has just been diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. What do you do? You give them Jesus. It's ironic, in 2016, I led a man to the Lord named Michael. Two weeks later, he was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. This is my second round with a guy named Michael with an inoperable brain tumor. God, are you trying to tell me something? “Yes, Jeff, give them Jesus” - the only one that can bear that burden. I can't take it. He brought his MRI - he said, "this is my brain." I said, "it's not on drugs, amen." What are you supposed to say? He said, "do you see the tumor? It's right there. It's affecting this whole section right here." He has mini seizures every three hours. What are you supposed to do? Give them Jesus. You work with people, what are you supposed to do? You've got a message. Give them Jesus. You've got to get past this whole, "Well, I've got Saturday morning soul winning, I'm going to be there to do all my soul winning on Saturday morning.” How about we yield to the Holy Spirit, let Him let our light shine on a daily basis. We've got to get to a point where we are letting Jesus Christ have His will and way in our lives.
Let's look at The Man. We see the message is Jesus Christ. Then we get to the Man. Now, as you begin to read through this, you find that Titus has given the qualifications for a pastor; but I think the qualifications of a pastor are very interesting. Yes, he's to be the husband of one wife; and , by the way, that still holds fast. There's an Internet personality who gives the whole sob story who says, 'My wife has divorced my, but I'm staying faithful to God." Amen! Praise God!
Shame on the Devil! He says, "I'm not resigning my church because my people don't want me to." Can we rewind - your wife has divorced you, you are staying faithful. Amen. You've got Jesus; but we need to go to this whole qualification thing. God is serious about what He wants for His preachers. Young men, get serious about these qualifications. We've got young men disqualifying themselves and they think, "Oh well, God is merciful, God is gracious." Yes, He is, hallelujah, He does forgive. Amen; but He sets qualifications for a reason. "For the bishop must be blameless, as a steward of God." Not self-willed. Now, this is where it gets interesting to me. We have the qualifications for the pastor, but it's interesting how these qualifications overlap for ordinary laymen. Not self-willed. What does that mean? Not self-pleasing. Revelation 4:11 "But thou art worthy O lord to receive honor and glory and power,". Right? What does it say? It says, "For thou hast created all." Not some. Not part. All things. "And for thy pleasure they are and were created." Please understand this: You sitting here tonight have the qualifications set upon you to please the Lord. You have been bought with the price of Jesus' blood. You are no longer your own. The Bible tells us in Romans 12:1 "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, Holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. We are not to be self-willed. We are not to be self- pleasing. We are to bring pleasure unto God. "Well, I don't like those rules." We've got to come to a point where we aren't living by a rule book, but we are ruled by a relationship. Please understand this, my wife and I have been married fifteen years in May, Amen, that's my wife; now, you would get upset with me if I decided to go out and buy flowers for another lady. I hope you would. If you see that, please pick up a 2x4 and smash me in the back of the knee, get me down to your level, grab my face and shake it; and then I'll tell you, "it's for my wife" and you say, "ok, brother. ". Then you can help me up and we will go buy some new flowers. But here it is, I would expect you to be upset that if I'm trying to please another person that is not my wife, please understand this, you are not bringing pleasure to God if you are just living for yourself. We live in a society today that is all about self-gratification. It's all about me. I don't care what so-and-so thinks. I don't care about so-and-so. Our job is to be vessels that are bringing pleasure to God. Please understand, God is not necessarily concerned about your happiness. He is concerned about your obedience; and in your obedience, He gives the desires of your heart- but we've got that all mixed up - God wants me to be happy- maybe not; maybe the happenings that are coming in aren't very happy. There are not happy times. My grandmother just passed away. It wasn't a very happy time. I'm glorifying God because she was saved - she is in heaven. Amen. We are not without hope; but to a lot of people who don't know Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour, they don't know if they are going to see her again. God is not necessarily concerned about your happiness, but He does bring joy. He does bring peace. He does bring the desires of your heart when you are following Him. Young person, let me encourage you in this, get a hold of Jesus Christ. You say, "Well, so-and-so made me mad." I was just with some family members and they are bitter. They said, "Well, you don't know Jeff, you weren't there, they did me wrong." Well did you break the rule? "Well, yes." Well, then they were justified in kicking you out! You want to get mad at them, "Who do they think they are? They aren't God! Only God can judge me." Rest assured, He will. I think that's going to be a rude awakening when we get to eternity. " I don't know who you think you are." You just wait - You are going to find out who He is. He keeps His word. We must bring pleasure to Him. We should be a lover of good men. II Timothy 1:16 Onesiphorus, he oft refreshed me. How about your friendships? How are the men you are following-the men you are listening to? The men you are fellowshipping with? Do they refresh you; or do you feel like you need to take a shower after you get away from them? Young person, you are who your friends are. But Amnon had a friend. You say, "Well, they will understand." Who cares? Do you ever read that whole story about Amnon? His friend went and told Absalom what he did. Absalom killed him. "Well, they will stay loyal to me." No, they won't. They are going to look out for themselves. " I've got your back, brother." He's going down! "Snitches get stitches." Not in this house! We must be a lover of good men. We've got to be listening to good, godly preaching. We must be holy. Romans 6:22 But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God.. . Now watch this, when you get saved, you've been freed from your sin - this is interesting terminology, it is not servants OF God, it is servants TO God. That means, when I turn from my sin, I repent and turn to Jesus Christ, I receive Him as my personal savior, I then start to serve God. In Romans 6:22, ...Ye have your fruit unto holiness. We've got to get to a point where we are holy; because it's the right thing to be. Not because I want to impress somebody. You aren't fooling anybody. Young person you aren't fooling anybody. College student, you aren't fooling anybody. This staff has seen me. There is something I learned here: The staff can see through things. I remember getting called in to the office. I had just gotten married. "We are in love, so I am just not going to be able to play ball this semester. I am just in so much love, and I've got to work." I got a job working with some people I should not have been working with- and things just started going down. I thought everything was going good; but after a month, everything was going down. I thought I had it. Pastor Damron pulled me in to the office. I said, "How are you doing, brother?" He said, " You are an idiot." Hammer down. You know what? He was right. I was letting things slide; because I was in Bible college, the Bible becomes a text book. Don't tell me it doesn't, because I was there. I love that Bible-but it got old. After every class having to open your Bible up, "Oh, I'll get my Bible reading in - in Israel history." I learned in Bible college that it takes work to be spiritual. It takes work to be holy, It takes work to get in God's Word. What do we see? We see the Man - we see that we are supposed to be holy.
Then, lastly, we have The Ministry. The ministry is people. As you begin to look through chapter two and chapter three, we find out the message is Jesus Christ. We find out the man is supposed to be holy, he is supposed to be full of the Holy Spirit, he is supposed to be completely given over to God so that the ministry can go forward. What's supposed to be the ministry? People. That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience. Aged men, get this - in patience. Yes, the young man is foolish. Yes, he is going to make dumb mistakes. You are to be patient with him, and help him to grow in those situations. We see that the aged women likewise, they are to be in behavior that becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; that they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, to be chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the Word of God be not blasphemed. The aged women are teaching the young women. The aged men are teaching the young men. It says for the young men to be sober-minded in all things, showing thyself a pattern of good works. Men, we have to show ourselves as a pattern for men to follow. Let no man despise thy youth, but be thou an example of the believers. It says right here, now this is interesting, in doctrine showing uncorruptness. Ministry is to uncorrupt. Where am I going with that? Galatians 6.:7 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: For whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. if a man soweth in his flesh, he shall of his flesh reap corruption. The ministry cannot be done in your flesh. It must be done in the Spirit. You cannot be the man, you cannot be the woman, you cannot be the college student, you cannot be the teenager, you cannot be the person God purposes you to be, if you are in the flesh. We must walk in the Spirit. As he have received Jesus Christ, so walk ye in Him rooted, built up, established in the faith. We must walk in the Spirit. You can never fulfil the ministry that God has for you - you can never be the man, the woman, the college student, or teenager that you are supposed to be, you can never give the message that you are supposed to give, unless you are uncorrupt. The only way that happens is to walk in Christ. My challenge to you: The Message, The Man, The Ministry. God wants to use you. God has something for you to do - but you've got to yield to Him and let Him use you.