Coronavirus Update and Our Church

Dear Upwards Church Family,

We love you and are praying for you. May you experience the presence of God, be drawn closer to Him and your family during this challenging time. We continue to trust that God is bigger than the Coronavirus. Our world has changed quickly and it affects how we can meet as a church. “County Judge Bill Gravell issued orders, effective at 6 p.m. Wednesday, that prohibits gatherings of 10 or more until May 11. He said it applies to weddings, churches, religious services or any other activities where people gather.” For more information about this County order, go here

I think it’s best to cooperate with our county officials and not have large gatherings.  Instead, we will be offering live streaming from the church on regular Sunday worship mornings at 10:30 am via Facebook Live – check with either your Leander or Jarrell Campus for details and updates:  https://www.facebook.com/UpwardsChurch1 or https://www.facebook.com/Upwards-Church-Jarrell-102053128019584/

We will also add service content and announcements through the main Upwards Church website and social media pages.

For the time being, we will broadcast two types of video recordings of the services:

  • Pastor Darrell will conduct his message/pre-recording on Saturday to be edited and uploaded at Upwards.Church for viewing on Sunday morning.
  • Jarrell and Leander will conduct each worship service through Facebook Live for music and message every Sunday. We will also be looking to expand to a church YouTube channel but will keep you posted when we have more information. We will continue our service times from 10.30 to 11.30. Jarrell: Lisa/Andy and Leander Branon/Darrell will conduct live feeds per campus on the same Sunday and time.

In this new season, we anticipate many new opportunities to share the good news of Jesus through this new live streaming arena. Please be in prayer for us as we make these attempts and hard work to carry out the work God has called us to do.

With no sports to watch, no gyms or concerts to attend, no restaurants to sit at, and no school, WHAT IF God is using this time of absence from worldly distractions to seek Him more? We can “be the church” like no other time before.

We ask that you share the social media links with friends and family across your networks to support Upwards Church.

Also please continue giving for the ongoing ministry support of Upwards Church. Give online at: https://upwards.church/give-online   or through the Tithely App.

Finally, please be in prayer for those who have been made ill by COVID 19, those who have been and will be economically affected by COVID 19, for our church and its leaders and for our local, national and global leaders.  We long to experience God’s grace, and prayer is key.

I love you, and God bless you,

Pastor Darrell

http://www.Upwards.Church

 

 

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A Story About Serving – Luke 19 – Part 2

“Do you see yourself as a “gospel entrepreneur?” Are we in business for Jesus?  If we are not thinking that way, we should change our thinking, because …

When Jesus returns, we all will be called to give an account of our business.

The delay in the Jesus’ return does not mean that He will not return. His return is certain. The group of disgruntled citizens in this parable hoped that he would not return. But, clearly, when He returns it will be as King, with full power and authority to reign. He calls His servants to give an account of the business they have conducted in His absence and He orders that His enemies be brought and executed in His presence.

Three groups will give an account:

  1. The Servants Who Have Done Business For Him Will Be Rewarded According To Their Faithfulness.

Only three of the ten servants are mentioned, and these three fall into two categories: two who have made various amounts with the king’s money; and, one who has not done anything with it. Here we are looking at the two who traded and invested the money in such a way that they multiplied it. The first got a ten-fold profit, turning the ten pounds of silver into ten times more. We are not to take this in a literal way, as if he has led ten people to Christ or led ten ministries. Rather, the meaning is that he has taken what the master entrusted to him and used it well, multiplying it.

The master commends him: “‘Well done!’ the king exclaimed. ‘You are a good servant. You have been faithful with the little I entrusted to you, so you will be governor of ten cities as your reward.’  (19:17). Again, this many not be literally, that he will be over ten cities in the millennium. The main idea is that the servant’s responsible use of the master’s treasure will be rewarded with increased responsibility in the future kingdom. The servant has shown himself faithful in a little thing; he will now be faithful in much.

The master also praises the second servant, 19 “‘Well done!’ the king said. ‘You will be governor over five cities.’ Luke 19:19 (NLT)

He rewards him according to his success.  His treasure has earned five more, so he is put in charge of five cities. Why did he have 5 instead of 10? We don’t know but perhaps the difference in results was due to factors beyond his control.

We can learn several things about the doctrine of rewards from the way the master rewards these two servants. While salvation is by grace alone (the master freely gave the treasure to each servant, apart from anything they had done), rewards will be proportionate to our service. Matthew Henry explains, “This intimates that there are degrees of glory in heaven; every vessel will be alike full, but not alike large. And the degrees of glory there will be according to the degrees of usefulness here” (Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible [Scripture Truth Book Company], 5:787, italics his).

While in one sense, the rewards are proportionate to the service, in another sense the rewards far exceed the service. Earning money is “a very little thing” (19:17), but the reward is to be over an entire city, a fairly large responsibility. Spurgeon comments, “The rewards of the millennium will evidently be all of grace, because they are so incomparably beyond anything which the servants’ earnings could have deserved. Their Lord was not bound to pay them anything: they were his bond-servants; but what he gave them was of his overflowing grace” (Spurgeon’s Expository Encyclopedia [Baker], 4:205).

We also learn that the servants’ service here was a test and a preparation for their future service in the kingdom (Spurgeon, p. 204). The master tested them to see if they would be faithful in a little thing. Their performance of their duties in this little thing was preparing them to graduate from servants to rulers, yet still under the Master.

If the thought of sitting on a cloud in heaven, strumming a harp throughout eternity sounds boring, you need not worry! The Lord has prepared meaningful and satisfying activity for us, both in His millennial kingdom and in the eternal state.

We also learn that Jesus notices all of the service of His servants and that all that we do for Him will be richly rewarded. Sometimes when we serve in the church and no one seems to notice what we’ve done, we get angry or depressed. Even more annoying, sometimes someone else gets the credit for what we have worked so hard to do! Of course, when we feel that way, we have our focus in the wrong place. We shouldn’t be serving for the recognition of men.  The good news is that Jesus knows the accomplishments of each of His servants and rewards them accordingly. Our labor in the Lord will not be in vain. Each of us should be laboring so that one day we will hear the Lord Jesus say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

  1. The Servants Who Have Not Done Business For Him Will Be Stripped Of Everything They Had.

The first two servants had made a profit with the master’s silver, but the third servant had simply wrapped it in a handkerchief and he returns it intact to the master. He offers the excuse that he feared the master, knowing that he was an exacting man who takes up what he did not lay down and reaps where he had not sown. The master reprimands the servant for not at least putting the money in the bank, so that it would have earned interest. Then he judges the servant by his own words. He takes the treasure from him and gives it to the man who has earned ten more. When the bystanders express surprise, he explains the principle: “To everyone who has more shall be given, but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away.” The one who has proven himself faithful will have more opportunities for faithfulness. The one who has been unfaithful will be stripped of his responsibilities.

The question is, does this unfaithful servant represent a true believer who loses his rewards, who is saved, yet so as through fire (1 Cor. 3:13-15)? Or, is he a person who professes to know God, but by his deeds he denies him, being detestable and disobedient, and worthless for any good deed (Titus 1:16)?

It seems to most commentators that this third servant does not know the king. He wrongly thinks of him as a harsh man, when in reality he is very generous to the faithful servants. Darrel Bock explains, “The third servant represents people who are related to the king in that they are associated with the community and have responsibility in it. Nevertheless their attitude shows that they do not see God as gracious and that they have not really trusted him…. Such people are left with nothing at the judgment; they are sent to outer darkness, because they never really trusted or knew God” (Luke [Baker], 2:1542). J. C. Ryle observes, “Hard thoughts of God are a common mark of all unconverted people. They first misrepresent Him, and then try to excuse themselves for not loving and serving Him” (Expository Thoughts on the Gospels [Baker], Luke 11-24, p. 305).

This third servant, then, represents those in the church who know the gospel and should believe it. But they are indifferent and unconcerned about the Jesus’ purpose and kingdom. As a result, they are not using the opportunities He has given them to further His kingdom. They are living for themselves and making up excuses as to why they are not serving the King.

  1. The Rebellious Will Be Punished With Eternal Separation From The King.

The king says, “And as for these enemies of mine who didn’t want me to be their king—bring them in and execute them right here in front of me. (19:27). They hated the king and actively opposed His reign. But their opposition did not stop His being installed as king. While in the parable the penalty is execution, that is mild compared to the eternal judgment that will come upon those who have actively opposed the lordship of Christ.

Note also that the issue is Christ’s lordship. These rebels did not want Him reigning over them. Those who have truly believed in Christ have accepted Him as Lord. There is no category of those who are truly saved, but who opt not to make Jesus their Lord.

There is no neutral position with regard to Christ. Each of us is in one of the three categories. I hope that none of us are actively opposing His right to be King. If you are, repent quickly, before He comes and you face His judgement. There may be some who profess to know Him, but you’re living for yourself. You’re not doing business for the King. You need to begin using the gospel in the Master’s business. If you are faithfully serving Him, you can expect Him to richly reward you when He returns.

There’s a story of Wycliffe missionaries in South America that had been assigned to translate the Bible into one of the Indian tribal languages. As you probably know, this is a lengthy and tedious process. Before computers, it often took as long as twenty years.

During the process, the translators were teaching the Scriptures and seeing a new church emerging among the tribe. But in this case, as they came toward the end of the translation project, the tribal people were becoming more and more involved in producing drugs and less and less interested in the Scriptures. When they finally finished the translation of the New Testament and scheduled a dedication service, not even one person came!

One of missionaries was angry and bitter. She had given twenty years of her life so that these people could have the Scriptures, but they didn’t even want it! Then she said this:

“It is as though God has been washing His Word over my soul and healing me, and He has opened my eyes to see this all from His perspective. I am just beginning to realize now that we did it for Him! That is the only thing that makes any sense in all of this. We did it for God!” (In his book, Finishing Well [Leadership Resources International], p. 190.)

That must be our focus as well. The world may scorn us and reject our message. But we’re doing it for Him. We’ll never lose if we faithfully do business for Jesus! When He comes, He will reward you for everything that you have done for His kingdom.

Darrell

http://www.Upwards.Church

Sources:
Life Application Bible Notes
Bible.Org – In Business for Jesus
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A Story about Serving – Luke 19 – Part 1

I have had a recurring bad dream in which I step on stage to give a Sunday message and mind goes totally blank!  I have no idea what I am supposed to say! In my dream, people are looking at me like I have lost my mind and I have.  Luckily I wake up and realize it’s all a bad dream. I have talked to other public speakers and they say they have similar dreams of being on stage in their underwear.  I think all of us fear not being prepared for a really important event.  But what if it were true? What if you stand before God and you’re not ready? That would be a bad dream from which you would not wake up!

Jesus tells this parable to warn us about this upcoming event that we need to be prepared for. He told the parable because the disciples and others who were journeying with Him to Jerusalem had the wrong notion that He would institute the kingdom of God immediately. They didn’t realize that He would suffer and die, be raised again, ascend into heaven, and that many years would go by before He returned to establish His kingdom. Jesus wanted to let His hearers know what they were supposed to be doing in His absence. They were not supposed to sit around waiting for Him to return. Rather, they were to be actively doing business for Him with what He entrusted to them. The day will certainly come when He will return. At that time, each servant must give an account for what he has done.

Because we all will give an account, we must faithfully do business with what Jesus has given us until He returns.

There was a commonly known historical parallel to this story. Both Herod the Great and his son Archelaus had journeyed to Rome to receive the kingdom of Judea from Caesar. In the case of Archelaus, the people of Judea hated him and sent a delegation after him to Rome to tell Caesar that they did not want this man to rule over them. Augustus compromised by allowing Archelaus to rule, but only with the title ethnarch, on the premise that he would have to earn the title king, which he never did. Archelaus had built a beautiful palace for himself in Jericho, where Jesus was speaking.

In the case of Jesus’ parable, He is the nobleman who goes to a distant country to receive the kingdom. He is referring to His departure into heaven after His death and resurrection, where He would sit at the Father’s right hand until He made His enemies His footstool. During His time away, He entrusts to each servant ten pounds of silver, which was about three to six month’s wages. Each servant gets the same amount. This parable should not be confused with the parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30. In that parable, the owner is a businessman who entrusts five, two, and one talent to three different servants during his absence. A talent was worth about twenty year’s wages, so the amount was considerably more. Here, the owner is a nobleman who gives ten servants ten pounds of silver each. When he returns, he asks for an accounting, but we are only told of the responses of three of the servants. After he has dealt with them, he proceeds to judge the citizens who did not want him to rule over them. What can we learn from this parable?

  1. The kingdom of God is not here in its full and final form.

Jesus is correcting the false view of the disciples (and others) that the kingdom of God would be instituted in its full form when Jesus got to Jerusalem. He is showing them that there is both a present form of the kingdom, while the king is away, and a future full sense of the kingdom when the king returns. Jesus has already spoken of the present sense of the kingdom, that it is in their midst because He, the King, is in their midst (11:20; 17:21).

But the disciples struggled with the idea that the kingdom would be delayed. Even after the resurrection, they asked Jesus, “Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?” Acts 1:6 The disciples finally came to clarity on this matter (Acts 3:19-21), but at this point they did not yet understand. They fully expected Jesus to establish His reign over Israel in the immediate future. Jesus wanted them to understand that there would be a delay. In the future, the King will return and will rule in power and glory. In the meanwhile, He is still King, although absent. He wants His followers to know what they should be doing during that time. Rather than sitting around waiting for the king to return, they should do business for Him, actively working to bring people to Christ by sharing the gospel and making disciples.

  1. Jesus has entrusted to all of us the same resource to use for Him.

Again, we must distinguish this parable from the parable of the talents, which teaches a different lesson. That parable shows that different servants have been given different abilities, and that the danger is for the person with relatively smaller ability to do nothing. This parable shows that every servant has been given the same gift.

Since each of ten servants received a bag of silver shows that it was not just the twelve apostles that Jesus had in mind, but instead, all of God’s servants. This parable is not directed just to those in leadership, but to all of Christ’s people. The fact that each was given the same amount shows that it is not referring to differing gifts, but to something that all followers of Christ share in common, the gospel message of Jesus Christ. We all have been given the same gospel and we are told to do business with it for our King during His absence.

If we do not possess the gospel personally, we are not a Christian yet, no matter how often we attend church. A Christian has heard the good news that Jesus Christ is the Savior of sinners and has personally believed that good news as his own. In other words, a true Christian does not just believe in a general sense that Jesus is the Savior. He believes it in a personal sense, that Jesus is my Savior. He died for my sins. When I stand before God and He asks, “Why should I let you into heaven?” my only plea will be, “Because I have trusted in Your Son Jesus who shed His blood in my place on the cross.” If you have personally believed that message, then the gospel has been entrusted to you. And it has not been entrusted to you just for you to treasure for yourself.

  1. While we wait for the Jesus’ return, we must do business with the gospel in a hostile environment.

The servants are to use the Jesus’ treasure in with people around us who angrily protest, “We do not want this man to reign over us.” In the parable, this is a reference to the Jewish nation, which was rejecting Jesus as her King. They protested to Pilate, “We have no King but Caesar” (John 19:15). But beyond that, it also refers to this evil world that is hostile toward God and does not want to submit to Jesus as Lord and King. It is in just such a hostile world that we are to do business with the gospel, multiplying it by investing it in the lives of people.

Clearly, there is always a risk in doing business in a hostile environment. But the greater risk is not to do business at all.  We cannot be like the 3rd servant and carefully wrap up the Master’s treasure in a handkerchief, not employing it for His purposes.

Also, it is implied here  that the power of the gospel is in the message itself, not in the skill of the messenger. The servants do not say, “Master, my great business skill has multiplied your money!” No, they said, “16  Master, I invested your money and made ten times the original amount!’ Luke 19:16 (NLT)

The power is in the master’s treasure, not in the servants. The power of the gospel is not the power of slick salesmanship, but rather God’s power working through His Word.

All of this leads me to ask, “Do we see ourselves in business for the Master with His gospel?” He has entrusted the gospel message to every believer and said, “Do business with this until I come back.” Are you doing business with the gospel for Jesus? Are you using the good news of Christ as Savior to bring others into His kingdom? That is the question Jesus would have us consider in this parable.

If we do not see ourselves as a gospel entrepreneurs we will not be thinking about ways to multiply the Master’s resources for His purpose. The apostle Paul saw this as his aim. He states the governing purpose of his life: “I do everything to spread the Good News and share in its blessings.” (1 Cor. 9:23).  But not just Paul and the apostles, but every believer should be living for the same purpose, to do all things for the sake of the gospel. We should see ourselves in the gospel business, using Jesus’ capital to make a profit for Him in His absence. If we are not thinking that way, we should change our thinking, because …

We will look at why in the next post.

Darrell

http://www.Upwards.Church

 

Sources:
Life Application Bible Notes
Bible.Org, Doing Business for Jesus
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Great Stories – Parables of Jesus (Luke)

Have you heard a great story lately? Everybody loves a good story, especially one we can relate to.  Jesus told stories with a spiritual point better than anyone else has ever done.  Experts in literature, even those without Christian commitment have admired Jesus as a master storyteller.

The stories Jesus told are referred to as Parables.  Each parable tells a story of one of our spiritual needs.  It is common to read a parable and think, “He is telling my story!”  Ken Easley points out, “Jesus’ keen insight into the spiritual needs of people is evident all through the gospels, but nowhere more than in his parables.”

The human spirit is the same in each generation. So we find Jesus’ Parables as relevant today as the day he told them.  This spring our message series will examine some of the most beloved Parables by Jesus as well as some of his toughest.  Pull up a chair and join this storytelling adventure by the Greatest Story Teller ever, Jesus Christ as he tells, “Great Stories”

Below is a list of the parables found in Luke and some that we will cover:

The Parables Of Jesus in Luke

I. Teaching Parables

About the Kingdom of God

  1. The Soils (Luke 8:5-8)
  2. The Mustard Seed (Luke 13:18-19)
  3. The Yeast (Luke 13:20-21)

About Service and Obedience

  1. The Nobleman’s Servants (Luke 19:11-27)
  2. The Servant’s Role (Luke 17:7-10)

About Prayer

  1. The Friend at Midnight (Luke 11:5-8)
  2. The Unjust Judge (Luke 18:1-8)

About Neighbors

  1. The Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37)

About Humility

  1. The Wedding Feast (Luke 14:7-11)
  2. The Proud Pharisee and the Corrupt Tax Collector (Luke 18:9-14)

About Wealth

  1. The Rich Fool (Luke 12:16-21)
  2. The Great Feast (Luke 14:16-24)
  3. The Shrewd Manager (Luke 16:1-9)

II. Gospel Parables

About God’s Love

  1. The Lost Sheep (Luke 15:3-7)
  2. The Lost Coin (Luke 15:8-10)
  3. The Lost Son (Luke 15:11-32)

About Thankfulness

  1. The Forgiven Debts (Luke 7:41-43)

III. Parables of Judgment and the Future

About Christ’s Return

  1. The Wise and Faithful Servants (Luke 12:42-48)

About God’s Values

  1. The Wicked Tenants (Luke 20:9-16)
  2. The Unproductive Fig Tree (Luke 13:6-9)

Get ready for Jesus to tell us some Great Stories!

Darrell

http://www.Upwards.Church

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