Moments in the life of a Pastor

Walking with God

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21. James – Unknown but not Unwanted – Part 1

Matthew 10:1-14

Jesus called his twelve disciples together and gave them authority to cast out evil spirits and to heal every kind of disease and illness. Here are the names of the twelve apostles:

first, Simon (also called Peter),
then Andrew (Peter’s brother),
James (son of Zebedee),
John (James’s brother),
Matthew (the tax collector),
James (son of Alphaeus),
Simon (the zealot),
Judas Iscariot (who later betrayed him).

Jesus sent out the twelve apostles with these instructions: “Don’t go to the Gentiles or the Samaritans, but only to the people of Israel—God’s lost sheep.Go and announce to them that the Kingdom of Heaven is near. Heal the sick, raise the dead, cure those with leprosy, and cast out demons. Give as freely as you have received!“Don’t take any money in your money belts—no gold, silver, or even copper coins. 10 Don’t carry a traveler’s bag with a change of clothes and sandals or even a walking stick. Don’t hesitate to accept hospitality, because those who work deserve to be fed.11 “Whenever you enter a city or village, search for a worthy person and stay in his home until you leave town. 12 When you enter the home, give it your blessing. 13 If it turns out to be a worthy home, let your blessing stand; if it is not, take back the blessing. 14 If any household or town refuses to welcome you or listen to your message, shake its dust from your feet as you leave.

There are multitudes of books written by, and about, the ministry efforts of great servants of God, Billy Graham, Rick Warren, Max Lucado. They follow in the footsteps of a long line of big names … a line that began in the New Testament with the 12 disciples: Peter, James and John the Sons of Zebedee. These are the names which come to mind quickly and we know quite a bit about them. But we also know that there are others less known. Last time we talked about Matthew the despised sinning scum and today we are going to talk about the unknowns but not unwanted in the kingdom of God. The next three disciples are the least known and for two of them there is nothing but their names recorded. Because there is so little said about them most pastors lump these three together into one message,but we will be looking at them one at a time focusing this week on James son of Alphaeus. As we search the scripturesfor information on James we find nothing but his name. Four times we find only his name. Four occasions, yet just one name in a list of names. He is a complete unknown, even his name gives us little to go on as James was a common name. In a day and age when everyone displays themselves to the public on Facebookand we long for everyone to know who we are it seems strange that James Son of Alphaeus is given so little attention. Especially when we remember that he is a disciple of Jesus. That’s a pretty important position to hold. Ephesians 2:19-20 tells us that God’s household is built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Jesus Christ Himself as the chief cornerstone. The church is built on his ministry but what did he do? There seems to be nothing distinguishing or special about him, yet in uncovering nothing we discover everything that we really need to know. James may be unknown but he was not unwanted and he was called by Jesus. Today there are many who feel like nobodies, but while you are unknown bymost you are not unwanted by the Master. Today as we discover everything in the nothing we are first reminded that its really all about Jesus.

  1. CALL

Verse 1 tells us that “Jesus called his twelve disciples to him”James significance is not found in his capability or career but in Christ’s call. Our significance is found in the Savior. At the heart of wanting to be known is the desire to be wanted and belong. Jesus calls us to himself, the Creator is calling. Today many of us are working hard to get noticed to be wanted yet for James all he had to do was responded to the Redeemer. What about you will you respond and followed Jesus? It’s not about my performance but the Power of Jesus. James accomplishments were not a result of his own ability but a result of Christ’s authority, “Apart from me you will accomplish nothing” John 15:5. The most important thing to know is that “Jesus wants you.” So, what did James do: He said yes to Jesus! It’s not about our results it’s about the Redeemer. James witnessed first-hand wonders which can only be imagined. He heard the tone of Jesus’ voice … and saw all the facial expressions. He witnessed Jesus’ tears of sadness … His smile. He was there when the miracles happened … the blind seeing, the cripple walking, and the dead coming to life. He lived with the Lord. What about you are you doing life with the Lord? All we know about him is his name … and the name of his dad: James son of Alphaeus. But that is enough because it’s not really about James it’s about Jesus. What about you, are you trying to find your worth in your accomplishments or in the Almighty?



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20. Matthew – Student of Sin or the Savior? – Part 3

Matthew 9:9-13

9 As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at his tax collector’s booth. “Follow me and be my disciple,” Jesus said to him. So Matthew got up and followed him. 10 Later, Matthew invited Jesus and his disciples to his home as dinner guests, along with many tax collectors and other disreputable sinners. 11 But when the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with such scum? ”12 When Jesus heard this, he said, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do.” 13 Then he added, “Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture: ‘I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.’ For I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.”


The second thing we need to notice is that Matthew got up. He stopped sitting, conversion is not complicated it involves responding and repenting. Responding to the Savior and repenting from sin, to turn away from and to turn to. Conversion involves change because it involves Christ. You can’t stay where you are and follow Jesus. A call to Jesus is always a call to action. Jesus called him to follow and that means leaving and loving. Leaving our former life and loving the Lord. Matthew gave up the comforts of money for the cost of following the Master. Where are you at and where are you going? Since conversion have you changed? Some of us are still sitting at the same table of sin we are not serving and following the Savior. Which begs the question have we really responded to the Redeemer? A disciple is a student and follower, so who or what are you learning from and who is leading you? Before Jesus Matthew followed money after he followed the Master. What a contrast between Matthew’s response and that of the rich young Jewish man in Matthew 19:16-22 who asked Jesus what he had to do to inherit eternal life. When Jesus called him to give up all his wealth and follow Jesus, the Scripture records his response: “When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.”Matthew went from collecting taxes for the Romans to sharing the truth about Jesus, he went from Tax to Facts. His life before Jesus reflected a submission to Sin after a submission to the Savior. Are you a student of sin or the Savior? Redemption reveals the freshness and fragrance of the gospel it frees us to repent instead of repeat sin. He was an educated man good at figures, money and accounting. He was used to keeping accurate and detailed ledgers as they related to the books in the tax-collecting offices. He didn’t stand in front of the group of Disciples like Peter did. He didn’t become the emotional ‘in your face’ like James and John. What he could do was compile the facts of the life of Jesus to collect his words and write them down. As a result, for over 2000 years we have benefited from reading what he wrote. That my friends is a changed life for Jesus, it’s not about you becoming like someone else it’s about following Christ the way He created you.


Today we celebrate more and more possessions more power more prestige and the thing that often brings us more is money and like Matthew there have been many who mistakenly believed that money could buy everything important in life. But instead of money bringing success to Matthew it caused him to lose all the things that make life meaningful, his good name, his friends, his public esteem, his place as an accepted member in the community. So, what did Matthew celebrate, Christ! He wanted others to know about Jesus, so he invites them to his home to meet Jesus and when Jesus accepted the invitation Matthew filled his home with the people he knew, sinners! He went from taking to sharing and he shared the Savior with people in his circle of influence. So, who are the people you know? Matthews actions of wanting to reveal Jesus are also reflected in the Book of Matthew the first book in our New Testament written by a tax collector. He wrote about Jesus not Matthew because He wanted to tell his fellow Jews that Jesus was the promised Messiah. He was who the Jews had been looking for throughout their history. Matthew wanted to tell about Jesus’ life and his miracles and his teachings. He wanted to tell about why he died. He wanted to tell about the resurrection. Following Jesus is celebrating a life of looking forward not backward.

  • CRITICISM– Vs 11

But celebrating Christ brought criticism. While Jesus “saw a man named Matthew” the Pharisees saw scum. Jesus saw a man who needed a Savior the Pharisees saw a sinner. The difference between religion and a relationship is that Jesus offers redemption while religion only offers rules that rebuke. The Pharisees had a question about why Jesus ate with sinners so who do they ask? They asked his disciples instead of going and asking Jesus. Notice they don’t get an answer until Jesus hears the question. If you have a question confront the source. The only reason they backdoor the question was because it wasn’t really a question but a criticism wrapped up neatly in the blanket of religion so it could be disguised. The real scandal was over supper with sinners. My question weren’t the Pharisees sinners so what was their problem? They didn’t see themselves as sinners but as self-made saints. Pride will always poison the heart and cause us to promote self while putting others down. Why do we need to see our sins, because when we seeing our sin we see our need for a Savior. Sin is a sickness we all struggle with but they saw themselves as saints because of their own standards. But we are not judged on our own standards but God’s and we all fall short and are in need of a Savior. Do you see the difference between the sick-sinner and the self-righteous, the sinner celebrates Jesus the self-righteous celebrates self and criticizes the Savior.

  • CHASTENING– Vs 12-13

We are not called to shun sinners but show them the Savior. The Pharisees were putting all their energy into shunning not showing. What did Matthew do he showcased the Savior while the Pharisees were shunning sin. Today which are we more like? Matthew is the only Gospel writer to include this quote from Jesus, “Come unto me, all who labor and are heavy-laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly of heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Because Matthew understood the weight of sin and the washing away of that sin by the Savior. What is your life promoting self or the Savior?