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The Twelve - Part 3


"2 Now the names of the twelve apostles are these: The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; and James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; 3 Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; 4 Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed Him."
Good Morning my beloved,
We welcome you to worship in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is my honor and great privilege to have you here with us today and share God's Word. We are especially grateful for those of you who have been sharing the ministry website, and social media platforms with all of your family and friends. Your faithfulness and commitment to share God's Word with others. We have seen a dramatic increase of people from all around the world, who are responding to God's Word, with more and more coming to Christ. May God richly bless you for your efforts. I want to let each of you know how grateful I am for you.
If you have recently received Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, please write or text to let us know so that we can pray for you. Also, let us know if you would allow us to share your story. Each one of us have been blessed with a unique testimony. We'd love to hear from you.
In the modern church, we have a structure as to how we do church. Because we are creatures of habit, we have our preferred parking space, our preferred pew, we have our preferred hymns, how long the sermon should be, what type of instruments should be used, et cetera. I mean, that's the way it has always been, obviously that's the way it should be! Our presumption of the way that church happens is the only way for church to happen.
Surprisingly, the Bible gives us little instruction on the way that church is to be structured. We've not told how many worship services a church should, how long they should last, and what time worship service should be.
Unfortunately, the emphasis in the modern church is no longer teaching of sound doctrine, saving souls and making disciples. The emphasis is for the church is to grow in size, for tithing to increase and more programs and more projects. All of this growth ensures that the pastor doesn’t have much time to spend one-on-one with the people of the congregation. You may get a visit at the hospital. The idea that the pastor would know what’s rally going in your life, check you with any frequency or be praying for you by name is not even a consideration. In fact, other than a fifteen minute sermonette and maybe exchanging pleasantries, before or after the service, very little is expected of the pastor, especially a personal relationship.
Today, the emphasis of church is on growth and giving the people what they want. Shorter sermons, more comfort and make them feel good about themselves, and their sin! I dare say, church is no longer about worshiping God, and we can do to serve Him. It's all about us and what God is going to do for us. This has become the default structure of the way we do church in America.
Even though Scripture gives us little instruction on the way that church is to be structured, we are given much information on the way Jesus structured His ministry. He could have chosen to do fifteen minutes of teaching and then sat down, leaving the rest of the service to be singing and testimonies. He could have spent most of time involving himself in every community event, to promote church growth for a larger congregation, but He didn't. 
He could have shared a handful of central truths and then moved on to telling them how God loves them and making them feel better about themselves and continuing in their sin, but He didn't.
He could have declined to spend any time with them individually, instead of teaching all they needed to know to receive salvation and entering into the Kingdom of God, but He didn't. Jesus served the needs of the people by touching their lives, pouring Himself into them, taking every opportunity to teach and talk to people, instructing them in the ways of God's Truths. For Jesus, ministry was an investment and a time of commitment. Oh we have strayed from the ways of Jesus! As those who lead Christ's Church, the weight of the responsibility of the highest calling to which any human has ever been called, on you to ensure that church is done His way. The early church transformed the world. We must therefore, restructure the church by investing ourselves deeply in the God and people we serve!

May this be more than just something we need to ponder. I believe that the Church today must urgently pray and seek to be strengthened in the doctrine and ways of Jesus Christ.
Let's us pray
Heavenly Father,
Father, thank You for Your Word. Thank You for the examples of these men, who were flawed and imperfect, yet able to be used by You to change the world. Lord, thank You for making the message clear, helping us to see that You can use even us, in spite of ourselves, to change the world. Cause us to redirect our focus, from ourselves and what we think ministry should be to You and what You desire from us. Speak to every heart present with us today. May we be willing.
We ask and pray in Christ’s name
Today's Message: The Twelve - Part 3
As we return to our study of Matthew chapter 10, we come back to these men whom Jesus called to stay by His side and be part of His inner ministry circle, the twelve, if you will. I'm sure you have by now figured, that I was unable to resist the opportunity that faced me to take each one of these unique men and study them individually, so that we might learn who the twelve really were. As suspected, it's going to take more than a few messages, in order to get through the entire list. To uncover the key truths for us I believe is in this. Because they are people who have been canonized, transformed and trained for the purposes of God, we fail to realize they are people just like us, who with all of their faults and flaws, messed up. We need to grasp the reality of what God requires of those who serve Him and understand we all have something within us God can use to make a difference.
In our previous messages, we studied Peter, his brother Andrew, James and his brother John. Today, as we come to group two, we'll be looking at Philip, Bartholomew, Thomas and Matthew the tax collector.

Open your Bibles with me if you would to the tenth chapter in the Gospel of Matthew. Matthew 10:2-4. I invite you to follow along with me as I read verses two through four, while we open our hearts for what the Spirit of God is saying to us. Matthew chapter 10, verses 2 through 4. 

"Now the names of the twelve apostles are these: The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; and James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed Him."
When we meet Philip, by the way, he is always at the head of the second list. We should not confuse Philip the Apostle with Philip the deacon in Acts 6, who later became an evangelist. Philip was one of the Twelve Apostles. Philippos, in the Greek, the name Philip means "fond of horses or horse-loving." We aren't told what his Jewish name is. Like Peter and Andrew, he too was a native of Bethsaida, near the northern end of the Lake of Galilee, perhaps he grew up knowing them. Most of what we know about Philip comes from the gospel of John before Christ’s ascension. We know that he was among those who followed John the Baptist, who was there when John pointed out Jesus as the Lamb of God.
The first mention of Philip in Scripture is in the gospel of John, which mentions him four times. In chapter 1, when Jesus decided to leave for Galilee, finding Philip, He said to him, "Follow me." It's interesting to mention that Philip was the first individual to whom the Lord expressly said, "Follow Me." From Philip's perspective, he found the Lord. Philip then found Nathanael and said to him "We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph." Allow me to take this opportunity to point out that the first impulse in the heart of one who is truly converted is to share the joy and the blessing of salvation with others. It's interesting that in each of the lists, Philip always appears next to Bartholomew, or Nathanael. 
The next mention of Philip comes in John chapter 6, the story of feeding the five thousand. Jesus addressed the question to Philip, upon seeing the large crowd of people approaching Him, "Where are we to buy bread, so that these may eat?" Verse 6, tells us "This He was saying to test him, for He Himself knew what He was intending to do." It apparently never entered his mind that Jesus had supernatural capabilities, because verse 7 says "Philip answered Him, "Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, for everyone to receive a little." He simply calculated how much they had and that it was not enough. He's pragmatic, even though Jesus had been healing all day, he had a sense of the impossible. I believe that Jesus wanted to teach him that "With God all things are possible."

Both Philip and Andrew had Greek names, and their Hellenistic ancestry may well account for their part in when certain Greeks came for the Passover, they were seeking Jesus, in John 12. Philip relayed their appeal to Andrew, and both of them went and told Jesus. Philip is still living by the Jewish code and these are Gentiles. There was no provision for Gentiles. In verse 23, "And Jesus *answered them, saying, "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified." It was their visit that suggested to Jesus what would be the result of His death, which would lead to the conversion of many from the Gentile nations. I suppose you could say, that Philip became the Greek connection, perhaps it had something to do with his name.  
Philip was a God-fearing religious Jew, who had a seeking heart, he seeking the truth. Three years later, he’s still analyzing everything, in John 14. Philip *said to Him, "Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us." To which Jesus said "Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?" Jesus is saying "Show us the Father Philip, seriously? Where have you been these last years? How could you possibly as Me that, have you learned nothing?" What a relief to all of us that God can use people like that!
Now, let's move on to Bartholomew or Bartholomaíos, he was from Cana of Galilee, It was a little village in Galilee northeast of Nazareth. It was situated on the slope of a hill, said to be one of the nicest towns in Galilee. Jesus performed His first miracle there at a wedding. From the eighth century, it was called Kefr-Kenna. Nathanael was in awe of the supernatural, a seeker of divine truth. His name literally means gift of God or the "son of Tolmai." From the very beginning, he was full of faith. He hungered to know God and wanted to serve Him. He probably spent hours studying the Scripture. I imagine that's why Philip approaches him "Here’s the One whom Moses in the Law and also the Prophets wrote about." Of course the thing we often remember most about Nathanael is in John 1:46, the only one passage in the Bible tells us about him. "Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?" Philip *said to him, "Come and see." It would seems as though there was some sort of competition between the towns but Nathanael revealed something about himself, there was a prejudice against Nazareth, a superiority complex. By the way, prejudice is a sin! 
In verse 47, "Jesus saw Nathanael coming to Him, and *said of him, "Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!" As a footnote, the word indeed is the Greek word "alēthṓs," meaning truly. Jesus knew his heart. Look at verse 48, "Nathanael *said to Him, "How do You know me?" In others words, I just walk up and You know that? Let's read the rest of the verse "Jesus answered and said to him, "Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you." What a powerful statement! You know, Nathanael never asked another question. 
We'll pick up back again next time.
In Closing..
If you're harboring any hidden prejudices and are planning on entering Heaven, best you get rid of it. There won't be any of that allowed in God's Kingdom. Prejudice is a divisive tool used by Satan, I believe it's going to keep a lot of people out of the Kingdom! Yet, even in someone as honest and sincere as Nathanael, is hidden the sin of prejudice. And you know something, He's knows our hearts also. Even the secret things we keep hidden from others. 
Jesus is saying to all of us today, "I see you, even in that secret place." What a blessing it is to know that God can take such raw material and transform it into something He can use. He’s in the business of making something out of nothing! Or as John says "All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being."

May it be so..

And now may the Lord bless you and keep you;

the Lord make His face shine upon you,

And be gracious to you;

The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.

Now and forever, in Jesus' name
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