Text: Isaiah 26:3-4; Proverbs 3:5-6

New sermon series this November with the Theme: “Traits of a True Disciple” based on the passage:

Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart (1-Trsut) and lean not on your own understanding (2-Dependence); in all your ways submit to him (3-Submission), and he will make your paths straight (4-Listening).”

Week 1: WHOLEHEARTED TRUST

Introduction: We have a lot of Trust Issues. In today’s sermon, the Prophet Isaiah is challenging the people of God to Trust in God Wholeheartedly—without any hint of doubt or hesitation. The Power of Looking Up Before You Look In

Text: Isaiah 26:3-4, “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you because he trusts in you. Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD GOD is an everlasting rock.”

Background: When the kingdom of Judah started not listening to God and trusting on their own, God called Isaiah to prophesy the impending destruction of their kingdom from the hands of Assyrians (modern-day Iraq, Iran, Syria, and Turkey). Still, because of God’s grace, God promised that he will secure those who will wholeheartedly trust in Him.

Illustration: What does it mean to trust Jesus wholeheartedly? I will be using an illustration that will serve as our guide to understand Isaiah’s challenge to Trust God. – The week before I arrived in the US to start my studies in Kentucky, my seminary classmates asked me to join them to hike Mount Pulag (the second highest mountain in the entire islands of the Philippines). Being young, proud, and foolish, I immediately said okay, even without any prior preparation. That started this tragic story of trusting myself. No one told me that it would take at least two (2) days just to reach the highest peak and another day (1) to go. You can do it in one and a half days if you’re a professional hiker.

Main Idea: This might be different from how Prophet Isaiah was telling the kingdom of Judah, but this was the prelude to my journey called “Never Trusting Myself Again.” Indeed, it was an excruciating reality for me. Months after arriving in Kentucky, COVID happened and forced me to be isolated while finishing my second master’s degree. No work, no support, no food, but just fully trusting God. I thought to myself, maybe I was wrong to come here to the States. But fully entrusting God.

  1. Constant Trusting – the keyword in Isaiah’s words is steadfast or whose mind is stayed on you. It presents the same character of God’s love—hesed and emet. It means unwavering, unchanging, committed, uncompromising, and loyal. It is a continual process of trusting God.
    1. Illustration: one major thing that made me survive the hike to the summit of Mount Pulag is when the local guide told me to “just keep walking”—it does not matter how big your steps are or how small it is, as long as you keep walking, there is progress.
    2. Applying that principle, being steadfast in our trust in God is to be constantly trusting God. Unwavering—he was likened to a Rock eternal—never moving, unchanging. Small steps are still steps and produce progress in our lives. Remember, in Matthew 17:20, when the disciples failed to trust God, Jesus said, “For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.” Even when we are going through trials, trust God.
  2. Contrite Heart – another characteristic of having a steadfast attitude is to have a contrite heart. To have a contrite heart means to be broken, repentant, and ashamed of being proud. Simply saying, being humbled. A humble heart is a requirement for trusting God wholeheartedly. No proud person would trust someone except himself.
    1. Illustration: Do you know when I realized that I could not finish the hike to the summit of Mount Pulag? From the very beginning of the hike. Before entering the trail, you need to climb to the visitor center for the final orientation at the foot of the mountain. That 15-minute climb already proved that I could not do the hike. It was a heartbreaking moment because we had traveled far already, and at the same time, it was embarrassing because the natives there were looking at me and laughing. Only a broken, contrite heart can fully trust God.
    2. Having a contrite heart is a requirement. It is also true during the time when Moses, David, and other prophets asked their people to perform sacrificial rites (compare David to King Saul).
  3. Communal Trusting – this might be my own words, but I realized when Isaiah wrote this passage that it is not only limited to one person who is trusting God. But it is also in the context of community. At first, in verse 1, it tells us about a strong city (community). In the second verse, it tells us about the righteous nation (community). Up at the very end, Isaiah is prophesying that there will be a community of believers of God who will be forever secured. What community is this? The church.
    1. The book of Isaiah is prophetic. It is all pointing to Christ. The virgin birth of Christ, the Suffering Servant, and the covenant of redemption. All of these are in the book of Isaiah and point to Jesus Christ. Specifically, in our passage, the call is to trust God communally. Not just by one person but together. (last week’s togetherness)
    2. Illustration: I do believe that I cannot survive the hike to the summit of Mount Pulag alone. I needed my friends, the local guide, and even those hikers whom you’ll encounter during that 3-day hike. (though the picture is the Mount Ulap hike)
    3. We need to trust God and Jesus together. Not only me as the pastor. But all of us. The enemy, the devil, enters through a hole of unfaithfulness and doubt to penetrate and destroy the community of believers—the church.
      1. That is why, I want you to be serious with your small groups, bible studies, prayer groups, and fellowships, because it is there that you cultivate your heart, mind, and life in trusting God—a Wholehearted Trust!

Conclusion: A wholehearted trust consists of constant trusting, contrite heart, and communal trusting. Let us take the challenge of Isaiah to trust God wholeheartedly—that is a trait of a true disciple.

 

Pastor John Paul Arceno

UCBC New Jersey
November 5, 2023

 

 

Text: Luke 18:9-14

Grasping the Heart of Worship (Full Sermon Manuscript)

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Introduction:

SEENZONED: “Seen full” means indifferent or ignoring our sins.

Background:

Pharisee – expert of the law (Torah), respected, faithful

  • serves God seriously by going without food from sunrise to sunset on Mondays and Thursdays and
  • by tithing all their possessions
  • keeping the moral and ritual commandments of the law.
  • Common people admired them greatly.

Tax Collector – outcasts

  • collaborated with the hated Roman oppressors,
  • Fleeced/ tricked their fellow Jews and practiced all sorts of fraud/scam.
  • The common people disliked them.
  • Like, Zacchaeus.

Plot Twist:

The disciples of Christ, after learning or hearing this parable, their default response would be: “Good thing I am not like that Pharisee.” Or maybe we also share a similar reaction, “Oh, I am sure I am not like that Pharisee who looks down on others.” If that was in your thoughts, then you have fallen likewise. You have judged and condemned the Pharisee without looking at examining yourself first.

Main Idea:

  1. Reverent Heart
    • Bowing down; adoration; worship
    • • Jesus is King, we should offer the greatest respect and adoration to our King when worshipping Him. When praying, let us glorify Him with our words. Instead of always asking from God, first, utter praises and adoration to our God.
    • A problem: Demanding Heart
      • As if God owes you a lot. God does not owe you anything, instead, you owe everything to God. Hence, the proper response to God is a humble act of bowing, kneeling, and begging for His mercy, grace, and redemption
    • Entitled Heart: I gave this; I did this
      • Self-centeredness; selfish ambitions do not bring you far to eternal places. Remember in Philippians 2:1-5, having the mind of Christ. It points to humility—a selfless kind of attitude. This Christlike character is the one that “values others above themselves”

2. Repentant Heart 

  • Lord, have mercy
    • We should live in dependence on Him in our daily battles with our sins through prayer as we continually cry out to Him for His power to enable us to obey His will.
  • Forgive me
    • The gospel is a vital gift from God not only for our salvation but also to enable us to deal with the ongoing activity of sin in our lives.
  • Wrong response: blaming God
  • Wrong response: not admitting your sins

3. Receptive Heart

  • recognizing your need for forgiveness
  • Accepting Christ’s finished work
  • Accepting God’s grace

 

Ptr. John Paul Arceno
UCBC New Jersey
November 8, 2021

 

This section is an excerpt only; download the full manuscript here.

 

 

Text: Philippians 1:12-24

Selflessness, Self-Denial, and the Supremacy of Christ (Full Sermon Manuscript)

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Introduction:

Endowment Effect or Psychological ownership is a theory that observes the sense of a person’s valuing his or her own possession. This theory has been traced since the time of the Ancient Philosopher Aristotle; he said, “For most things are differently valued by those who have them and by those who wish to get them: what belongs to us, and what we give away, always seems very precious to us.”

But because of the delicate heart that we have, this thought of owning something, making ourselves the center of everything for selfish gains, and entitlement has been a product of a marred view of self-identity, value, and purpose. We just want to put ourselves first. Just as how pop culture portrays and promotes self-love. I mean there is nothing wrong about loving yourself and valuing your life but as a Christian, I think—and biblically speaking, God calls us to go beyond this state.

Background:

Looking back, our passage today in the book of Philippians is a letter of encouragement. Hearing that, it seems that there is nothing special with it. Well… Not unless we see it from the perspective of where he wrote this letter. He wrote this letter in prison. Yes, he was in the moment of his imprisonment when he wrote this letter of encouragement. To add, he actually said “joy” or “rejoice” almost twenty times (16 times to be exact); reminding them about their joy in Christ and to rejoice despite the circumstances and hardships of life.

Main Idea:

Selflessness: To Advance the Gospel of Christ

Despite the status of Paul being imprisoned, he made sure that it is not about himself, or his situation that will be seen but rather how God—in providence—is in control of everything.

Again, even amid that gloomy atmosphere, compared with today’s prisons, prisons during the time of Paul are messier, more miserable, and chaotic. But look at how Paul perceived this kind of situation in his life. In verses 12-14, Paul did not think about himself nor his state but rather the glorious news that the Gospel of Christ is being advanced even inside his prison. The guards were hearing about Christ. This was not the only case that Paul acted in this manner.

Self-denial: To Live and Die for Christ

As Christians, we do celebrate their lives because we know they are already in heaven and experiencing the ultimate joy that we all wait for. Like Paul, being beaten, imprisoned, and mocked—he has longed to “die” and be with Christ because it will be a greater favor for him. Richard Sibbes noted this attitude as breathtaking; he said, “[Paul] knows that Christ is wiser than he; therefore he resigns himself to his disposal, resolving if he lives, he lives to the Lord, and if he dies, he dies to the Lord (Rom 14:8); that so, whether he live or die, he may be the Lord’s.” (read 19-22)

Why did I say that my second point is self-denial? Look at verses 23-24, “I am hard-pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account.”

Paul desired to be with Christ soon because it will be a greater favor but he gave up his will and submitted to the plans of God. Submit your will to God. Listen and pray, be prudent, participate in it.

Supremacy of Christ

With all these characters portrayed by Paul, where did he learn these things? The answer is Jesus Christ. Paul started and ended in this passage making the glory of Christ the core reason (11, 26). Why Jesus? Did Christ demonstrate selflessness and self-denial?

1. Christ emptied himself (kenosis) – Philippians 2:1-11
2. Christ was willing to give up his life for his friend. – 1 John 3:16; John 10:17-18
3. Christ submitted to the will of the Father rather than His will. – Luke 22:42-45
4. Christ suffered for the sake of our salvation.

a. The Suffering Servant – Isaiah 53
b. Scourged – Matt. 27:26
c. Beaten – Luke 22:63-64
d. Spit upon – Matt. 27:30
e. Beard Plucked from His Face – Isaiah 50:6
f. Mocked – Matt. 27:26-29
g. Stripped Naked – Matt. 27:35
h. Nailed to the Cross – Matt. 27:38; John 20:25

Conclusion:

Learning today, the attitude of Paul both the selflessness and self-denial were all motivated and driven by the supremacy of Christ in his life. If only we really let Christ sit on the thrones of our hearts; if only we can put Christ and others first in our deeds; if only we think less of ourselves and think more about the interests of others, only then, we can truly experience true eternal joy in our hearts.

There is joy in submission; there is joy in putting others first; there is so much joy in having Christ and letting Him govern your life. Let us pray

 

Ptr. John Paul Arceno
UCBC New Jersey
August 29, 2021

 

*This section is an excerpt only; download the full manuscript here.