The Christmas Story Part 1

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Photo by Mike Labrum on Unsplash

 

Luke 1:18-20 (KJV)  And Zacharias said unto the angel, Whereby shall I know this? for I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years.  [19]  And the angel answering said unto him, I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to shew thee these glad tidings.  [20]  And, behold, thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak, until the day that these things shall be performed, because thou believest not my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season.

Christmas is a special time of the year for me. It is the time we as a people are reminded of the Birth of Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ was uniquely and singularly
born into humanity.

He did not come into BEING when He was born, for the Bible tells us that Jesus is “God With Us”. As God Jesus existed with both Father and Spirit from eternity past (see John 1:1-3). “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. All things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made.”

When Jesus was born His birth brought the immortal into mortality. God fulfilled His Promise to send a Redeemer (Genesis 3:15; Revelation 12:7-9). God fulfilled His promise to Abraham in Christ (Genesis 12:3). God would step down from Heaven to be with us (Matthew 1:21-23; Isaiah 7:14). When we could not touch the face of God, God will come down so He can touch our face and our lives!

Before God as Jesus enters humanity He will need a herald, someone who will go before Him. He will need a Special Messenger, a mortal Man who is uniquely anointed of God. This Messenger was prophesied and promised of God as “The Voice” and “The Messenger”:

Isaiah 40:3 (KJV) THE VOICE of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.

Malachi 3:1 (KJV)  Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts.

This Messenger was prophesied 700 years before the coming of Christ. During the 400 years that God was silent between the Old and New Testament God’s Israel looked for this Messenger daily. When would the Messenger come? In the fullness of time – about 6 months prior to Christ’s supernatural birth.

Christmas Reminds Us Jesus Came For The Broken

If God is going to come to the earth to minister to the broken, who do you think He entered humanity through? The broken.

When God told Abraham that he was going to have a child and ultimately the Messiah would come from that child, God was speaking to a broken man. Neither he nor Sarah had children, nor were they likely by human standards to have children. But God promised this broken man and his wife that He would heal them, and give them a child. God keeps his promises if we but believe in Him. God loves to bless the broken and the hopeless, changing the Abrams of this life into Abrahams. God has no use for the prideful:

Proverbs 3:34 (KJV)  Surely he scorneth the scorners: but he giveth grace unto the lowly.

James 4:6 (and 1 Peter 5:5) (KJV) … God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.

God loves to lavish grace on those in need.
To the humble seeker the Lord gives His greatest treasures.

The Old Covenant started with a childless couple – Abraham and Sarah – whom God would bless with a child. The New Covenant begins in the same way with Zacharias and Elisabeth, two believers who were childless.

Luke 1:6 (KJV) {Zacharias and Elisabeth} were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.

They were believers who loved the Lord our God. Look at how they were described.

Both RIGHTEOUS before God
WALKING in ALL the commandments
WALKING in ALL the ordinances of the Lord.

They placed their faith in God. Do YOU love the Lord? Do YOU put Him first even if life has not worked out the way you plan? If you are of Christ’s Household you are – as the Prophet Habakkuk said (2:4) … the just shall live by his faith.

Zacharias and Elizabeth were broken, but loved the Lord and His Word. Though challenged they did not give up. They put their faith in God and walked according to His Word one day at a time. They praised God with their forefather David:

2 Samuel 22:2-4 (KJV) … The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer;  [3]  The God of my rock; in him will I trust: he is my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my high tower, and my refuge, my saviour; thou savest me from violence.  [4]  I will call on the LORD, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies.

God will use a broken person to do His will, but will not use a person unwilling to walk with Him.

Luke 1:7 (KJV)  And they had NO CHILD, because that Elisabeth was barren, and they both were now WELL STRICKEN IN YEARS.

Though in apparent hopelessness they did not despair. Zacharias kept honoring the Lord by his life.

Luke 1:8-10 (KJV) And it came to pass, that while {Zacharias} executed the priest’s office before God in the order of his course,  [9]  According to the custom of the priest’s office, his lot was to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord.  [10]  And the whole multitude of the people were praying without at the time of incense.

Many people were watching Zacharias and how he dealt with his suffering. Had he let depression and despondency rule he would have quit the priesthood. He kept honoring God with his life – and the fruit of this was a multitude of God’s people praying while Zacharias lit the incense of the holy place.

Psalms 141:1-3 (KJV) …. LORD, I cry unto thee: make haste unto me; give ear unto my voice, when I cry unto thee.  [2]  Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense; and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.  [3]  Set a watch, O LORD, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips.

We need to learn from this dear Christians. What you do in your life effects those around you. Perhaps you are broken. Perhaps weak. Perhaps you struggle with sickness. Continue to do God’s will. What you do will effect others. What you do TODAY will effect others TOMORROW.

If You Are Broken Use Your Lips To Pray And Praise

Luke 1:11-13 (KJV) And there appeared unto him an angel of the Lord standing ON THE RIGHT SIDE of the altar of incense.  [12]  And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him.  [13]  But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John.

The Altar of Incense symbolized to prayers of the faithful going up to God. Notice that the Angel of the Lord appears to Zacharias on the right side of that altar. The right hand in Scripture is symbolic of the place of favor with God. God heard Zacharias’ pleas.

Psalms 16:11 (KJV) {You, O Lord} wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.

Luke 1:12-13 (KJV) … when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him.  [13]  But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John.

God has heard your prayers Zacharias. The child you have long waited for is coming through Elisabeth. This should have caused Zacharias to jump for joy. God heard your prayers. Praise Him! Praise Him!

Oh that we would praise God in the dark, and praise God in the light. Praise Him in the valley, and praise Him on the mountaintop.

We are frail creatures subject to failure ands breaking, but we have a God Who loves us and will be faithful to us. As a priest Zacharias was familiar with the Law which promised:

Deuteronomy 7:9 (KJV)  Know therefore that the LORD thy God, he is God, THE FAITHFUL GOD, WHICH KEEPETH COVENANT AND MERCY WITH THEM THAT LOVE HIM and keep his commandments to a thousand generations;

God will not be unfaithful to His people. He watches what we do. He had watched Zacharias for years as both he and his wife aged. God watched their faithfulness in service, and came to offer a child to Zacharias at a time when only God could have made a difference. Why did God wait?

Isaiah 42:8 (KJV)  I am the LORD: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images.

Faith believes in a faithful God.
Faith trusts God and God alone.

It is not faith to move forward when you have a road map. It is not faith to do a thing when you have all the resources at hand. Faith is to trust God no matter what. Faith is to believe that God is able.

Romans 14:4 (KJV) … God is able to make him stand.

2 Corinthians 9:8 (KJV) And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:

God is able to enable John and Elisabeth to have a child. “Fear not John. You and Elisabeth shall have a child, and his name shall be John”.

John” means “God is Gracious”!

Zacharias, name the baby “John” to remind yourself daily that I the LORD am “gracious”, filled with mercy. I love to fix the broken. I love to reach out to those in need.

This baby would grow up to be special. When God is Gracious, He doesn’t just give a little grace, but a magnificent Grace.

Luke 1:14-16 (KJV)  And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth.  [15]  For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb.  [16]  And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God.

The baby John would bring a blessing to those around him, and would grow up to be blessed and bless others. John would be the greatest Herald ever known.

John would be “filled with the Holy Spirit from his mother’s womb”. This shows us that the filling of the Spirit is not something we earn or deserve, but it is a gracious gift from God.

Luke 1:17 (KJV) {John} shall go before him {the Messiah} in the spirit and power of {Elijah}, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.

John would be as great in ministry as was Elijah, one of the few people in the Scripture that never experienced death.

Confess With Your Mouth The Power Of God

Things were going quite well up to this point when Zacharias did something God cannot stand. He disbelieved God. He should have praised God for this wondrous answer to prayer, but instead said:

Luke 1:18 (KJV)  And Zacharias said unto the angel, Whereby shall I know this? for I am an OLD MAN, AND MY WIFE WELL STRICKEN IN YEARS.

Your mouth reflects what is in your heart. Though Zacharias had been praying for years for a child his heart hid doubt against God. He did as Abraham’s wife Sarah did. God will not bless doubt. Some might excuse Zacharias for he had been a valley a long, long time. Yet the Bible tells us as believers:

Hebrews 11:6 (KJV)  But WITHOUT FAITH IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO PLEASE HIM: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

God calls on us to believe Him, believe that He is faithful, believe that He is a rewarder of those who DILIGENTLY seek Him. When Abraham was told that God would bless him with a child and a nation Abraham did not baulk at the promise, but BELIEVED. Zacharias did what so many other believers have done.

Zacharias looked at the size of the problem,
and not at the size of God.

  • When David stood before Goliath he saw a big man but a bigger God. With that in mind he killed Goliath.
  • When Daniel stood before a lion’s den he saw lots of hungry lions but a bigger God. He rested on the blanket of their fur.
  • When Israel stood before the Promised Land they saw a big people but a little god. They could not enter.
  • When Zacharias stood before his wife he saw big barrenness and made God to be little.

But God is faithful.
God will keep His Word.
The Herald must come so that the Messiah can come.

The path of faith is to believe that God is able.
To magnify Him.
To speak praise and honor of Him.

Luke 1:20 (KJV) … And, behold, thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak, until the day that these things shall be performed, BECAUSE THOU BELIEVEST NOT MY WORDS, WHICH SHALL BE FULFILLED IN THEIR SEASON.

The believer loses his voice when faithlessness reigns. The Church loses its audience when it will not speak life and light to a dying and dead world. Many Churches today do not have a Voice because they do not speak God’s Word but a twisted version of it. God will remove your Lampstand and your Light if you will not speak Christ.

God took Zacharias’ voice away so that he could not minister in the Temple until John was born. Yet God was gracious. Zacharias repented of his unbelief, and named his boy John just as God decreed. God could have taken Zacharias’ life but instead just took his voice.

2 Timothy 2:13 (KJV)  If we believe not, yet HE ABIDETH FAITHFUL: he cannot deny himself.

God is faithful! So how is your faith? Remember that God will not bless faithlessness. He that wavers is like a wave of the sea, driven by the wind and tossed. Let not that man think that he shall receive anything of the Lord! (James 1:6-7). Do not be double minded. Be single minded for God. Or as Joshua said:

Joshua 24:15 (KJV) … choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.

I choose the Lord Jesus. I choose my Heavenly Father. I choose the blessed Spirit. I choose to believe God is able, regardless as to the state of my life.

What do YOU choose?
May God touch your hearts with His Word.

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The Gift Of God

1 Peter 4:10 (KJV)  As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.

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Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

Thanksgiving has passed, and we have all enjoyed the particular blessings of God and His mercy. Not everyone was as blessed as we were. There are homeless people, poverty stricken people who did not have a great Thanksgiving. But by and large throughout America we gathered around the table and ate a little too much. We celebrated. Hopefully you all thanked God for His great bounty, His blessings upon us.

Psalms 9:1-2 (KJV) .. I will praise thee, O LORD, with my whole heart; I will shew forth all thy marvellous works.  [2]  I will be glad and rejoice in thee: I will sing praise to thy name, O thou most High.

Following Thanksgiving many went out on “Black Friday” looking for a bargain. All I have ever found on Black Friday was a crowd of people, dangerous traffic, and heartburn. But people are flocking to every store that Friday and throughout the weekend. Why? Because Christmas is upon us, and we MUST give people we love a Christmas present.

Why must we? Because it’s Christmas. Where was this tradition established? Not to be a Scrooge, but Christmas Present Giving is not particularly Scriptural. If you look up the origin of Christmas gift giving on the internet you’ll find a variety of guesses as to where this tradition started. One place I looked said that Christmas gift giving began with the celebration of the Winter Solstice in Rome. As Christianity became more widespread it began to be done in the name of Christ. Another site stated that Christmas gift giving began with the Wise Men who brought gold, frankincense, and myrrh to Jesus (Matthew 2:11). What is interesting about Christmas and gift giving is that the early Pilgrims (our founding fathers) celebrated Thanksgiving but would not give gifts on Christmas. In 1659 the Massachusetts Bay Colony banned Christmas and gift giving, a ban that stayed in effect for 20 years.

Is it wrong to give Christmas presents? I don’t think so. I think generosity is a Christian virtue. We shouldn’t let Christmas be just about gift giving, but should let our focus be on Christ. The Apostle Paul said:

Acts 20:35 (KJV)  I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.

Christians should be generous and giving. Not just at Christmas, but at all times. But let’s not just give a temporal gift this year. Let’s share Jesus with others, and explain that HE is the reason for this blessed season.

Have You Received The Gift?

1 Peter 4:10 (KJV)  As every man hath received the gift …

Have you received “THE Gift”? I’m not talking about some electronic gadget, a game console, shoes and clothing, or jewelry. I’m not talking about something that will perish and fade away, a thing that will end up in the landfills of America in just a few short years.

Have you received “THE Gift”?

This Gift is eternal, and never fades away. This Gift is from God Himself. It is the only Gift that changes a life and makes your life worth living. Jesus spoke of this Gift to a Samaritan woman one day. He said to her:

John 4:10 (KJV) …. If thou knewest THE GIFT of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.

The Gift of God is Jesus Christ.

When Christ is received to oneself then He brings with Him forgiveness of sins and the Holy Spirit of God. The early Apostles preached of The Gift:

Acts 2:38-39 (KJV) …. Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive THE GIFT of the Holy Ghost.  [39]  For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.

To receive this Gift you must put down all other gifts. You must REPENT, turn from following the god of mammon and the gods of human prosperity. You must REPENT and come empty handed to the Master, laying your life down for Him.

This Gift cannot be purchased with money

During the Spanish-American War a number of Teddy Roosevelt’s “Rough Riders” fell sick from undernourishment. Teddy heard of a local lady by the name of Clara Barton who had opened her home to nursing wounded soldiers. He went to Clara and asked, “Will you sell me some supplies for my men. We are desperate need!”. Clara refused. Teddy then asked “Well how then can I get these things. I must have proper food for my sick men.” Clara said “Just ask for them, Colonel”. When he asked, he got all that he needed.

The Gift of salvation is not for sale at any price. Salvation is purchased by the Blood of our Lord Jesus. When you receive Him, believing He died for you and rose again, then you are born again. The Holy Spirit comes to you and you become one of God’s children. This is why the Scripture calls salvation:

the manifold Grace of God (vs 10)

Too many people think that the Grace of God can be purchased. It cannot be, because it has already been purchased. Some come to God with a pledge to turn over a new leaf, to live better, to give more. A confused man named Simon the Sorcerer sought to purchase that great Gift from the Apostles. Peter told this confused man:

Acts 8:20-23 (KJV) … Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money.  [21]  Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God.  [22]  Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee.  [23]  For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity.

The Gift cannot be purchased with money, but it is freely given of God. Yet this Gift was not free to God Himself.

In order for God to offer us this Gift – this marvelous and unparalleled Gift – He had to give up His only Begotten Son. The Apostle summarizes what happened to secure this gift with the words “sent forth”:

Galatians 4:4-5 (KJV)  But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law,  [5]  To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.

The Son of God was “sent forth” from Heaven. He was not born in a palace, but in a manger. He was not born in the Temple, but in a small town called Bethlehem. There was no room at the inn, so Christ was sent forth to the lowest place possible. On the night of His birth into humanity the angels of God marveled. Here is the Gift of God! Who shall attend this great moment? Lowly shepherds.

Luke 2:9-14 (KJV)  And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.  [10]  And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.  [11]  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.  [12]  And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.  [13]  And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,  [14]  Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

The Gift that God gave would change human history forever. Through this tiny Baby God would offering Himself to humanity. The Gift of God offers salvation to all who will believe.

The music group Casting Crowns does a beautiful song about the coming of the Gift of God. Called “While You Were Sleeping” part of the lyrics say:

Oh little town of Bethlehem
Looks like another silent night
Above your deep and dreamless sleep
A giant star lights up the sky
And while you’re lying in the dark
There shines an everlasting light
For the King has left his throne
And is sleeping in a manger tonight
Oh Bethlehem, what you have missed while you were sleeping
For God became a man
And stepped into your world today
Oh Bethlehem, you will go down in history
As a city with no room for its King
While you were sleeping
While you were sleeping

God the Son lowered Himself to come to this earth for you and I. The first Adam was made of the dust of the ground, was kissed of God, and placed in a Paradise. Yet the first Adam sinned and brought sin and death into the world. Given the gift of life and peace the first Adam chose instead the temporal pleasures of life. Rather than love God’s gift the first Adam stole a gift – a forbidden fruit – and brought us all into misery. God could have wiped us out and started fesh, but He did not.

God promised a Great Gift.
That Gift was His Son Jesus.

The Apostle speaks of this free Gift:

Romans 5:15-21 (KJV)  But not as the offence, so also is THE FREE GIFT. For if through the offense of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and THE GIFT BY GRACE, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many.  [16]  And not as it was by one that sinned, so is THE GIFT: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but THE FREE GIFT is of many offences unto justification.  [17]  For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of THE GIFT OF RIGHTEOUSNESS shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.)  [18]  Therefore as by the offense of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one THE FREE GIFT CAME UPON ALL men unto justification of life.  [19]  For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.  [20]  Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound:  [21]  That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.

The Gift that matters is the FREE Gift that God offers to us all. It is Jesus Christ His only Begotten Son. Christ was born of Mary, birthed in Bethlehem, ministered throughout Israel, and crucified for our sins. Jesus died for our sins to take us away from sin.

Ephesians 2:8 (KJV)  For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is THE GIFT of God:

When you receive Christ as Lord and Savior you receive Heaven in place of hell, God’s kingdom in place of a temporal kingdom, and eternal life in place of temporal life. You receive all of the benefits of Heaven along with the companionship of God the Holy Spirit Who dwells within you. What a blessed Gift God has given us in Christ!

The Gift Given Is Meant To Be Re-Gifted

Have you received the Gift of God? If so, then the rest of the sentence applies to you. We read:

1 Peter 4:10 (KJV)  As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.

I’m 60 years old this year, and over the years I have received many gifts that were not exactly what I wanted. I remember one Christmas the youth of the Church I was in gave me a Spongebob Squarepants tie. Preachers receive a lot of ties. I supposed I have about 150 pounds of ties handing in my closet. I’ve worn most of them – but I draw the line at a Spongebob Squarepants tie. Actually I did wear that tie one time while I was preaching, but so many people were focused on the tie it became a distraction to God’s message. I re-gifted that tie to a young lady years ago who loved Spongebob Squarepants.

Have you ever re-gifted anything?

I’ve heard stories of people receiving something they didn’t want who accidentally re-gifted that present back to the original giver. That would be embarrassing. Yet this is exactly what God tells us to do with the Gift that we have received from Him. He said:

1 Peter 4:10 (KJV)  As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.

If you have received The Gift of God’s Grace you have not received it just for yourself, but you have received it to share with others. You are to share this Great Gift by how you behave towards others in the Family of God. We read:

1 Peter 4:8 (KJV) And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.

The word translated “charity” is the Greek ἀγάπη agapē which means “to love as God loved”. We are to fervently (ektenēs) or without ceasing to have the same love for our brothers and sisters in the Lord as Christ had for us. We neither earned nor deserved what God offered us in Christ. Jesus went to the Cross of Calvary not for His sins, but for yours and mine. His Blood was spilled for the whole world:

2 Corinthians 5:15 (KJV)  And that {Christ} died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.

John 3:16-17 (KJV)  For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.  [17]  For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

His free Gift is offered to all, whether the “All” receive it or not.
You are to love OTHERS as He loves YOU.
Love the UNDESERVING for you did not deserve His love.
Neither did I.
Love your enemies, do good to them.
You were once an enemy of God.
His love ministered to you.

Jesus died for the blasphemer, the sinner, and yes, even for you and I. What does the Scripture say?

Romans 5:8 (KJV)  But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

His love to us came to us without strings. We received His great Gift of Grace through His suffering. We are therefore to – without limits – love one another. Christ said:

John 13:35 (KJV)  By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

You are to re-gift His gift.

Have you been sinned against by a professing brother or sister? Was not Christ sinned against? Have you not sinned against Christ this past week, this past month, this past year? Has He not forgiven you for His Blood’s sake? Then forgive others, and have unceasing love – loud and outrageous – toward one another.

1 Peter 4:9 (KJV)  Use hospitality one to another without grudging.

The phrase “use hospitality” is only found here in the New Testament. It is the Greek “φιλόξενος philoxenos” which means “to be generous to others – to make them feel at home”. We are to do this “without grudging”. Not because we are forced into it, but because the Spirit within us wishes it. Jesus said:

Matthew 5:46-48 (KJV) For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? 47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? 48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

Love is the mark of perfection. As we have been loved, let us love. Jesus put it simply when He listed the great Two Commandments of God:

Matthew 22:37-39 (KJV) … Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.  [38]  This is the first and great commandment.  [39]  And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

To those who come to your home, Church, or Business make it your business to treat them with love. Give them your best, as if they were valuable – for they are. That which wins others to Christ is the love of God manifested through His people. You were given a great and gracious Gift in Christ, a Gift you did not deserve. Love others as God has loved you!

1 Peter 4:11 (KJV)  If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

You – dear Beloved Believer – are God’s representative on the earth. Speak as if God were speaking through you. Guard your tongues:

1 Peter 3:9-10 (KJV)  Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing.  [10]  For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile:

Let God be in your speech. Let God be in your hands. You were given the great Gift of Christ so that you can be His hands and feet on this present earth. As the late Billy Graham once said:

It is the Holy Spirit’s job to convict,
God’s job to judge, and my job to love”
.

Do all things to the glory of God. Let your lives share the Gospel of salvation to all who will hear. This is the Gift that keeps on giving.

That God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ,
To Whom be praise and dominion forever and ever.
Amen!

Posted in 1 Peter, Sermons Preached | Tagged , ,

How To Study The Bible Part 2

Purpose & Process of Study

Ephesians 2:19-22 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; {20} And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; {21} In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto a holy temple in the Lord: {22} In whom ye also are builded together for a habitation of God through the Spirit.

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Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

Last week we spoke of the Scripture, and showed that the Bible properly taught – both Old and New Testaments – is the FOUNDATION of the Church. Last week I quoted from our above text:

{you} … are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone

The Apostles wrote the New Testament Scripture that we enjoy, and the Prophets wrote the Old Testament Scripture. The foundation of the Church is the Scripture properly interpreted. And all Scripture points to Christ. As we draw Scripture into our lives the will of God is that we become more like Christ. One of my favorite Scriptures is:

Romans 8:28-29 (KJV) And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. 29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.

All things work together for good to them that love God”. Everything that comes our way has a divine and eternal purpose. What is that purpose? We are told in verse 29 “we are predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son”. We are to be like Christ. We are to imitate Christ. Our thoughts are to be like Christ’s. Our actions are to be like Christ. In Ephesians 2 the Apostle uses two words to describe what we are not:

Ephesians 2:19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God;

Because of Christ we are no more STRANGERS.

This is the Greek ξένος xénos (pronounced Z-nos) which means a person who is not under covenant with God. This word was used of Judas Iscariot who hung himself. The Jews who plotted with him took the thirty pieces of silver that he betrayed Christ with and bought a field:

Matthew 27:7-10 (KJV) And they took counsel, and bought with them the potter’s field, to bury strangers (xénos) in. 8 Wherefore that field was called, The field of blood, unto this day. 9 Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him that was valued, whom they of the children of Israel did value; 10 And gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord appointed me.

Judas was treated as if he were a Gentile, a person who had no covenant relation with God. Before Christ we who are Gentiles had no covenant relation with God. Now in Christ we do. Because of His Blood we are grafted into the Promises of Abraham (Romans 11:17, 24). We are no longer xénos but are “of the household of God”.

Because of Christ we are no longer FOREIGNERS.

The word “FOREIGNERS” is the Greek πάροικος pároikos, (pronounced par’-oy-kos) which means “an illegal alien, someone who lives in a land without right of citizenship”. Everyone knows the problem we have in America with unregistered illegal aliens. Before Christ the unsaved live off of the bounty of God’s goodness, enjoying His sunshine and rain in due season, but were not citizens of the Kingdom of God. Since God grafted us into the Covenant of Abraham by the Blood of Christ we are now citizens of the Kingdom of God. We follow Christ our King. We are “fellow citizens with the Saints”, that is, we have the same birth certificate that Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, David, Elijah, Elisha, Ruth, and all the other saints of Scripture.

The reason that God saved us is so that we can …

(vs 21) In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto a holy temple in the Lord

In Whom” – that is, “In Christ” work together to become a Holy Temple in the Lord. We are God’s Church. TOGETHER we are God’s Church. When the focus of every member in the Church is not Christ but themselves then we stall as a Church, becoming like the Church of Ephesus.

Did you notice our focal text is the letter of EPHESIANS to the Church at EPHESUS?

Jesus warned this Church in Revelation 2:4-5 (KJV) Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. 5 Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.

This Church – once so promising that God wrote a love letter to it in Ephesians – in Revelation Jesus chastised that Church for leaving its first love. How does a Church leave its first love? By each member neglecting and rejecting personal and corporate or collective Bible study. As you study the Scripture and do as it requires it makes you like Christ. Reject Scripture and study the world and become UNlike Christ and like the world. Our first love is Christ. We follow Him as we intake Scripture. As we absorb God’s Word into our souls we become a place that is becoming to God. That is why the Scripture says:

In whom ye also are builded together for a habitation of God
through the Spirit.

As each member grows spiritually the Word of God increases in the Church. As the Word of God increases the Church increases. We see this in the Book of Acts:

Acts 12:23-24 (KJV) … immediately the angel of the Lord smote {Herod}, because he gave not God the glory: and he was eaten of worms, and gave up the ghost. 24 But the word of God grew and multiplied.

Acts 19:18-20 (KJV)18 And many that believed came, and confessed, and shewed their deeds. 19 Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver. 20 So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed.

As the Church grows spiritually, so does it impact the world around it. The light destroys the darkness! Now what we just did with our focal text is called Bible Study. It is deeper than reading the text, though careful reading is involved in it.

Bible Study Begins With Daily Solitude

A You must get away from the world and its noise if you are going to study God’s Word. You need to get to a place where you can talk alone with God. As we studied last week, meaningful Bible Study is not possible unless God is teaching you. God wrote the Book, and God has to explain the Book. You must get away from the world. Turn off the cell phone, the TV, the computer, and talk to God. Make time for God. I make an appointment with God every day, and guard that time as if it were a gold bar. Our Lord Jesus was the busiest Person ever on the face of the earth. People chased after Him. But look:

Luke 5:15-16 (KJV)15 But so much the more went there a fame abroad of him: and great multitudes came together to hear, and to be healed by him of their infirmities. 16 And he withdrew himself into the wilderness, and prayed.

If the Lord Jesus needed a quiet place, we need a quiet place. Studying the Bible requires quiet – a quiet room, a quiet place, a park, your back yard, where ever you can go to get away for a while. Don’t take your cell phone, or if you do, turn it off. Tell people you have an appointment with an important Person. You do. He is the Lord!

b Before opening the Book, do some personal housekeeping. Confess your known sins to God. The Psalmist David said:

Psalms 66:18 If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me:

Sin becomes a barrier between the Believer and His Lord. If you will study God’s Word, you must purge your conscience before God. Acknowledge your sins to God.

Psalms 32:5 I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the LORD; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah.

Once sin is earnestly confessed – SELAH – REST! Do not fall in the trap of trying to do penance. Admit the sin to God, and believe that God is faithful and just. Claim His promise by faith …

1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

The old time Puritan Preacher Thomas Watson said: “The godly man is ingenuous in laying open his sins. The hypocrite doth veil and smother his sin; like a patient that hath some loathsome disease in his body, he will rather die than confess his disease; but a godly man’s sincerity is seen in this – he will confess and shame himself for sin. … Nay, a child of God will confess sin in particular; an unsound Christian will confess sin by wholesale; he will acknowledge he is a sinner in general, whereas David doth, as it were, point with his finger to the sore: “I have done this evil” (Psalm 51:4); he doth not say I have done evil, but this evil. He points at his blood guiltiness”.

God will never forgive an excuse, but He does forgive confessed sin and purify from all unrighteousness if we would but humble ourselves and confess those sins to Him.

c As you come to the Word acknowledge your total dependence on God. If God will not teach you you shall not be taught. God promises to give us wisdom.

James 1:5 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.

Christians have received the Holy Spirit of Adoption by Whom we cry out Abba, Father! (Romans 8:15). This same Spirit is given to guide us in God’s Truth:

1 Corinthians 2:12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.

We have received the Spirit of God that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. The Spirit is given to …

John 16:13-14 … guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come. {14} He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you.

As believers we humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt us in due time (1 Peter 5:6). We humble ourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He shall lift us up (James 4:10). Doesn’t Scripture teach us that God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble? (James 4:6).

The purpose of Bible study is To Be Like Christ

a As Citizens of the Heavenly Kingdom we are to DO the Scripture. True faith is always accompanied by FOLLOWING. Why did the first generation of Israel die outside of the Promised Land? Because they would not step out on faith. The Bible says:

Hebrews 4:2 For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.

The Land was already theirs, but they would not follow the example of Abraham who believed God:

Hebrews 11:8-9 (KJV) By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. 9 By faith he sojourned in the land of promise

What is the purpose of Bible study? Do we study the Bible for mere knowledge, so that we – like Scribes and Pharisees – can have great knowledge so others will bow before us? No! We study the Word so that we can draw closer to God.

b We study the Word of God so that we can have a “know so” salvation. The Apostle said:

1 John 5:13 (KJV) These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.

God wants us all to have a know so salvation. He wants us to be secure in our place in His family. As you study scripture your salvation is affirmed. You become more confident as a believer, more usable for God.

Prayerfully Read And Study IN CONTEXT!

As we looked at our focal text today we studied the text IN CONTEXT. What does that mean? I tried not to read anything into the text, but took the text as it was and prayerfully considered it. I examined every word of the text, and looked at it as a precious thing placed in my hands.

  • I read all of the Scripture around our focal text, not taking anything out of context.
  • I looked up key words in the original language from which our Bible is translated. There are online resources like www.blueletterbible.org or www.biblegateway.org that allow you to look up the Greek or Hebrew words behind the English translation.
  • I looked up texts in reputable Bible Commentaries and Dictionaries.
  • The greatest resource I have is 43 years of daily reading and study of the Scripture. The more you read daily the better your growth in study.

One of the first translators of the Bible was John Wycliffe, and he advised his students:

“It shall Greatly Helpe Ye to Understand Scripture, If Thou Mark Not only What is Spoken or Written, But of Whom, And to Whom, With what Words, At what Time, Where, to what Intent, With what Circumstances, Considering what Goeth Before And what Followeth.”

The Scripture is to be “rightly divided”:

2 Timothy 2:15-16 Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. {16} But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness.

Avoid human traditions. Jesus chastised the Pharisees who rejected …

Mark 7:9 … the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.

They were not interested in becoming more like Christ, nor were the Pharisees and Scribes interested in being the light of the world. They were interested in justifying their lifestyle – so they pulled Scripture out of context. In doing so they perverted the Word of God.

c As you read the Scripture in context, ask God how to fit it in the context of your daily life. What does God want me to do? Jesus said:

Matthew 7:24-27 Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: {25} And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not; for it was founded upon a rock. {26} And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: {27} And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.

Without personal application your Bible study is useless. Read the text carefully and prayerfully, circling your action verbs. Look at verb tense. Pay attention to the small words – a, an, the, is – because they carry big meaning. Approach the Scripture with no preconceived notions. Be a Biblical Literalist. Ask God to teach you to rest in what He has said, to trust what He has said, and to believe in what He has said – period!

Avoid these pitfalls

  • Do not try and make the Bible say what you want it to say.

  • Do not “spiritualize” the text. Take it literally – unless it makes no sense otherwise.

  • Do not approach Scripture with a settled mind. Ask God to tell you what it means.

  • Do not isolate texts from their contexts. Study your texts in context and be blessed of God.

  • Don’t dismiss a text as applicable today because you’re uncomfortable with it. What God has said stands forever.

  • Do not fail to apply the text to your own life.

May God bless you as you grow in the knowledge and application of His truths. Thank You, dear Lord, for your Unspeakable Gift!

Posted in Bible Study, Sermons Preached | Tagged , , , ,

How To Study Your Bible: Your Perception of Scripture Impacts Your Study of Scripture

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2 Timothy 3:15-17 (KJV)  And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.  [16]  All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:  [17]  That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

I was in the bookstore the other day and noticed a large number of books listed for Dummies or “An Idiot’s Guide to..”. These are all self help books. These books taught how to play card games, how to raise chickens, how to do digital photography. Then I saw two books that blew my mind. They were:

Bible Study For Dummies and
The Complete Idiot’s Guide To The Bible

Lest you be tempted to buy one of these books I want to tell you they just don’t work. Why? Because …

What did the Apostle Paul tell his young student Timothy about the Scripture? He said in verse 16:

All scripture is given by inspiration of God

Let’s examine his words. He said “ALL Scripture”.

What is the Scripture?

Is it just the Old Testament writings, just the New Testament writings, or just the Pauline writings? I went to a Church several years ago that rejected any Scripture that was not written by Paul the Apostle. So what is “Scripture”? The “Scripture” is what the Church is founded upon. The Apostle told the Church at Ephesus:

Ephesians 2:19-20 (KJV)  Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;  [20]  And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;

What is the “foundation” of the Church? the Apostles and Prophets. The writings of the Old Testament Prophets and the New Testament Apostles. This is what the “Scripture” is. So when Paul told Timothy “All Scripture” he was referring to the Old and New Testament writings. Look further:

All scripture is given by inspiration of God

“Inspiration of God” can be translated “God breathed”. God spoke the Scripture into being. Though God used humans to write the Scripture down it was God’s Word, not man’s word, that was recorded. The Bible says:

2 Peter 1:20-21 (KJV)  Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.  [21]  For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

God – using His Prophets and His Apostles – spoke through them, moving them to write as He willed. What is written in the Bible is sure, for God is its Author and the writers His Pen. If I have a paper and pen, the pen doesn’t write on the paper. It sits on the paper until I move it. Once I move it I write on the paper what I will. Now there are different types of pens. There are bold pens, and fine tip pens, and felt tip pens, and pens of all different colors.

God chose the Prophets and Apostles like I or you might choose a pen, and He wrote moving them. Their character shines through in the writing, but what was written is what God wanted to be written.

If the Bible is flawed,
the Church is flawed!

If the Bible were a human written book it would be filled with errors and flaws. If the Bible were a human written book the 66 Books and 40+ writers would be filled with contradictions and errors. But the Bible is God Breathed.

When a truth or a prophecy is given in Scripture, it is absolute truth that must be adhered to or fulfilled. It’s Source is God, and God is never wrong. When Judas betrayed Jesus and the soldiers grabbed Him in Gethsemane the Bible tells us that Peter drew his sword and cut off the ear of the High Priest’s servant Malchus. After the Lord healed Malchus and restored his ear He told everyone there:

Matthew 26:52-56 (KJV)  Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword. [53]  Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?  [54]  But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?  [55]  In that same hour said Jesus to the multitudes, Are ye come out as against a thief with swords and staves for to take me? I sat daily with you teaching in the temple, and ye laid no hold on me.  [56]  But all this was done, that the scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled. Then all the disciples forsook him, and fled.

Jesus testified that the Scripture must be fulfilled. We do not say this of a human written book – but the Bible is GOD’S BOOK.

The Bible is absolutely accurate. When a lie is spoken and recorded by Scripture that lie is recorded faithfully. Parts of the Scripture provide historical coverage of lies made and crimes committed that God in no way condoned, yet these actions are accurately recorded. When the serpent said to Eve:

Genesis 3:4-5 (KJV)  And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:  [5]  For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.

A “serpent” did indeed speak to the woman. Though its words were lies, its lies were recorded faithfully. I do not debate whether a serpent spoke or not. I just accept what my God has told me. This is faith. Jesus said:

Matthew 4:4 (KJV) …. Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.

As the Scripture is “God Breathed” we can trust it implicitly.
Any error in this Book of Book is MINE!

Scripture was written to reveal Christ to us. Jesus said:

John 5:39 (KJV) Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.

The Scriptures tell us about Jesus. The Old Testament told us about the Jesus Christ Who was coming to be a part of our lives. The New Testament tells us about the Jesus Who has come to be a part of our lives. Someone once said both Old and New Testaments are fused together to create a single book with one coherent message, and that message is Jesus Christ. He is the glue that binds both Testaments together.

Scripture Was Written To Bless The Obedient

2 Timothy 3:16 (KJV)  All scripture is given by inspiration of God,
and is profitable

The word profitable (ὠφέλιμος ōphelimos) means “to be advantageous, helpful. To cause to add to or bless”. The Lord told His people:

Deuteronomy 29:29 (KJV)  The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.

There are some things we will never understand, hidden things. But God has revealed many things to us in His Word, and these revealed things belong to us and our children forever. God wants us to understand His Word, and it is to our advantage to understand it.

Understanding God’s Word and feeding our souls on it NOW will help us when we go through the hidden things and dark valleys THEN. There are many things I don’t understand – and don’t mind admitting I don’t understand. I don’t understand why people do the evil things they do to one another. I don’t understand why people practice ethnic cleansing, such as the Bosnians, Serbians, Nigerians, Albanians and other people groups have done. I don’t understand why abortion of babies is not murder in the eyes of the law. I don’t understand genocide, nor do I understand people who say they are Christians who practice hate. The Word of God in our souls is profitable, giving us comfort when we see things that are hidden to our understanding. Paul was imprisoned for preaching the Gospel of Christ. You would expect him to be bitter over the imprisonment. Yet he wrote in Romans 13:1 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. The Word of God taught him that the Lord is always in control, and that “all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). This Word was in his soul, and it sustained him through the bitterest of times.

Our bodies are not perfect, they are riddled with sin and corruption. Dr. David Jeremiah, the Pastor of the Shadow Mountain Community Church was diagnosed with lymphatic cancer in the fall of 1994. He wrote: There is a strange idea going around in churches today. Some Christians have the odd impression that being a believer will exempt them from all problems. Somehow they feel, upon conversion, they’re issued the spiritual equivalent of ID cards that say, “This absolves the holder from any kind of pain or trouble while living on this planet.” It simply doesn’t work that way. We Christians have no immunity whatsoever to pain or suffering. It matters not whether you’re a new convert or a wise spiritual giant, you’re still an imperfect human creature living in a fallen world …. When we become part of God’s own family, what sets us apart is not any difference in the sin environment around us, but how we deal with it.”

The Christian must intrinsically change to the point where the trials of life do not destroy us. How do we do this? How do we overcome – even when family and friends betray us? Jesus told us that for Christians ….

Matthew 10:36 … a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.

David Jeremiah survived his hidden time by relying on God’s Word. He wrote: “When we are at our lowest point, a place where even those closest to us cannot walk with us, it is God who walks at our side.”

Psalms 23:4 (KJV)  Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Flight attendants on an aircraft always tell you where the emergency exits are before the aircraft takes off, not after it lands? Why is that? Because it’s hard to brief you on how to escape when the plane is going down. The worst time to try and learn is where the exits are is when the building is on fire, or the plane has hit the sea. Learn prior to the trial, absorb the “Word of God, which liveth and abideth forever” (1 Peter 1:23) before you have to cross the Jordan and confront enemies.

Reading and understanding God’s Word will make us effective and usable as Christians. You cannot be light in darkness unless His Word is in your hearts. It is God’s intent that

2 Timothy 3:17 (KJV)  That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

The Word of God equips you so that you can do good works. Good works are not what we think are good, but what GOD thinks is good. The Bible tells us:

2 Corinthians 5:17-18 (KJV)  Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.  [18]  And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation ..

If we are in Christ – children of God by faith in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:26) – then our old way of life and old way of thinking are past. The NEW Creature must be NEWLY programmed. The Scriptures does this. Many young Christians do not study the Word and therefore keep operating according to the old man, the old way of life. We are to opererate in the New.

Romans 12:2 (KJV)  And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

As we absorb the Word of God God changes how we think. A butterfly starts out as a caterpillar that cocoons itself. A Christian, changed into a son of God by faith in Christ, cocoons himself in the Word of God.

The more you know of God’s Word, the more you will think like Christ. The more you think like Christ, the more you will behave like Christ. The more you behave like Christ, the greater the impact you will have on the world around you.

The Word of God was written by God for the children of God to make us like the Son of God. In order to understand the Book you must be taught by God the Holy Spirit.

1 Corinthians 2:12-16 (KJV)  Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.  [13]  Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. …[16]  For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.

The Christian is indwelt by the Spirit of God. He is the Promise of Christ:

John 14:16-17 (KJV)  And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;  [17]  Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.

The Holy Spirit of God – the Third Person of the Trinity – lives inside of every Christian. Jesus said that the job of the Holy Spirit is to

John 14:26 (KJV)  But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

It is the Holy Spirit that guides us as we study the Word of God. It is His job to teach us the Word of God and remind us of the things that the Word of God wants us to do.

John 15:26 (KJV)  But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:

The Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father to testify of the Son. He teaches us to be more like Jesus through application of the Holy Scriptures. It is the Holy Spirit Who initially opened your eyes to the Gospel, convicting you that you were a sinner, doomed to eternal damnation (John 16:7-15).

In order to understand God’s Word I must first be saved. If I am saved by faith in Christ, then I must be in fellowship with God. If there is active sin in my life I must repent and turn from it.

1 John 1:9 (KJV) If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us [our] sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Before beginning any Bible study we need to confess our sins to God, and then ask God to lead us in our study. We then need to trust God, reading with an accepting heart. When we do not understand something, we do not disbelieve it. Rather we continue to trust God, reading and studying His Word.

John 10:35 (KJV)   … the scripture cannot be broken;

2 Timothy 3:16-17 (KJV)  All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:  [17]  That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

Scripture teaches us. It rebukes us, making the crooked straight. Scripture corrects us, bringing us in line with the mind of God. It trains us in righteousness, keeping us salt and light. We must trust Him as we study His Word. We must be shaped by His Word, not shaping it to us but us by it. Remember the admonition of Solomon:

Proverbs 30:5-6 (KJV)  Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him.  [6]  Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.

Revelation 22:18-19 (KJV)  For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: [19]  And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.

These are solemn words. Let us commit ourselves to heed His Word and be the blank canvases that we should be so that Christ can be formed in us. For His glory. Amen.

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A Borrowed Sermon

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Photo by James Coleman on Unsplash

Ecclesiastes 1:1-2 The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem. [2] Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.

Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. [14] For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.

Today we’re going to look at an ancient sermon. No, I don’t mean one of my old sermons (Grin). The Book of Ecclesiastes is a sermon written by an older believer named Solomon.

Ecclesiastes” actually means “address to the
Congregation or the Church”.

As Solomon begins his address he says:

The Words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem

Notice how Solomon prioritizes what is most important. Though He is the “son of David” and therefore the “king in Jerusalem”, what he considers most important is that he is “preaching”. People call me “preacher”, and I am. I am called to preach the Word of God, and I cherish this calling. But every Christian is a preacher by how they live their lives. Jesus said that. He told His followers:

John 13:35 (KJV) By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye HAVE LOVE one to another.

Everything you say that people can hear is a sermon.
Everything you do with your hands is a sermon.
Everywhere you go with your feet preaches a sermon.
You are preachers too. People watch you.
Your life lived preaches for God or satan.
What message are you preaching?

Solomon was a saved man. The Bible declares:

1 Kings 3:3 (KJV)… Solomon loved the LORD, walking in the statutes of David his father …

God spoke to Solomon. If you are saved God communes with you. God asked Solomon “What do you want Me to give you?” Many would have asked for riches or power or extended life. Solomon showed his love for God and his people by what he told the Lord.

1 Kings 3:7-9 (KJV) And now, O LORD my God, thou hast made thy servant king instead of David my father: and I am but a little child: I know not how to go out or come in. 8 And thy servant is in the midst of thy people which thou hast chosen, a great people, that cannot be numbered nor counted for multitude. 9 Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people?

The Bible tells us to (1 Peter 5:6 )  Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time. Solomon humbled himself, and God gave him what he asked. God told Solomon …

1 Kings 3:12 (KJV)12 Behold, I have done according to thy words: lo, I have given thee a wise and an understanding heart; so that there was none like thee before thee, neither after thee shall any arise like unto thee.

Solomon has wisdom, a wisdom granted of God. God gave him this wisdom when he was a young man. Now Solomon is an old man. His best days are behind him. As he preaches a sermon to us today, will it not be cheerful, blessed, happy? No, it will not be. Listen to his sermon:

Ecclesiastes 1:2 Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.

The word “vanity” means “to be empty or void of blessing”.
To KNOW but not to DO will never bring a blessing.

Solomon had been blessed of God with unparalleled wisdom. Yet at the end of his life Solomon is not preaching a happy message, but a miserable message. Vanity of vanities. Smoke and fog. ALL is vanity. What could bring a man who had everything to such a state?

Solomon looked for fulfillment is anything but God.
Solomon had wisdom, but failed to DO it.
God blessed him when he kept his eyes on God.
But his life was empty when he took his eyes off of God.

Jesus said in Luke 11:28 blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it.You can know God’s Word but if you do not do it, you will not be blessed!

Solomon Sought Blessing In Worldly Knowledge

Solomon wanted to know. He spent much time pursuing wisdom, but little time pursuing a deeper knowledge of God. In his sermon he said:

Ecclesiastes 1:13 And I gave (נָתַן nathan) my heart to seek and search out by wisdom concerning all things that are done under heaven: this sore travail hath God given to the sons of man to be exercised therewith.

Solomon said that he surrendered his heart to seek and search out wisdom. Solomon was wise in the ways of the world. He was an expert in

in zoology (study of animal life)
in botany (study of plant life)
in ornithology (study of bird life)
in entomology (study of insect life)
in ichthyology (the study of fish life)

If there was an -ology Solomon knew it. But he only sought out all things done UNDER HEAVEN.

His mind never drifted to THEOLOGY, the study of God. He knew the stuff that God made – and God made everything – but Solomon did not know the Lord Who made him! You can chase after knowledge. You can have your degrees, your doctorates, your PHd’s. But knowledge apart from God PUFFETH UP (1 Corinthians 8:1). It does nothing for the human soul. What good is life if you don’t really know the One Who made you?

Ecclesiastes 1:14-15 I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and, behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit. [15] That which is crooked cannot be made straight: and that which is wanting cannot be numbered.

Some of the saddest people in the world are those who possess great wisdom and knowledge. They know lots of truths, but not the One Who brought Grace and Truth.

John 1:17 (KJV) … grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.

Knowledge apart from Christ does not resolve anything. Solomon preached:

Ecclesiastes 1:18 For in much wisdom is much grief: and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow.

There is nothing wrong with wisdom – but seek it through God and His Word. Fossils studied apart from what God said about the Noahic Flood brings about a false conclusion. No, we are not glorified monkeys. We are designed of God to walk with God.

James 1:5 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.

Solomon Sought Blessing In Worldly Pleasure

When Solomon failed to find joy in knowledge what did he do? Hear his sermon:

Ecclesiastes 2:1 I said in mine heart, Go to now, I will prove thee with mirth, therefore enjoy pleasure: and, behold, this also is vanity.

More games. More vacations. More time off. This will make me happy. If everyday is Thanksgiving and I eat till I’m gorged I’ll be happy. Solomon thought this. America today thinks this. Video game sales bring in billions of dollars a year in profits. Households that are starving for food often have cable television and high speed internet access. People spend billions on drugs, alcohol, pornography. Every checkout aisle at the grocery store is filled with magazines that let us look into the debauched and sin laden lives of Hollywood stars.

Solomon chased after pleasure, but in finding pleasure he discovered something. Sin always brings diminishing returns. Laughter and entertainment divorced from a walk with Christ in time loses its charms. This also is vanity. Solomon knew what God said about marriage and sex, but ignored the truths of the Word given and instead sought out pleasure. The Bible tells us that Solomon:

1 Kings 11:3-6 (KJV) … had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines: and his wives turned away his heart.  [4]  For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father.  [5]  For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites.  [6]  And Solomon did evil in the sight of the LORD, and went not fully after the LORD, as did David his father.

To depart from God and His Word is a dangerous thing. Sin should be confessed quickly. Solomon did not start out with 700 wives and 300 concubines (prostitutes). He started out with a small departure from God, and from there is grew. Eventually his obsession with pleasure grew until it led him away from God to worship the gods and goddesses of the fallen world. It would have been better that Solomon had listened to his father David, who wrote:

Psalms 16:11 Thou {O God} wilt show me the path of life: in thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures forevermore.

Here is where pleasure is. It is not in the world wallowing in debauchery. Pleasure is at the right hand of God, dwelling in His presence. Blessed be the Name of the Lord! As Jerry Vines once said,

“The Christian faithfully serving Jesus can have more fun accidentally than the world has on purpose!”

When sexual pleasure did not bring him joy, Solomon turned to alcohol. He said:

Ecclesiastes 2:3 I sought in mine heart to give (מָשַׁךְ mashak) myself unto wine, yet acquainting mine heart with wisdom; and to lay hold on folly, till I might see what was that good for the sons of men, which they should do under the heaven all the days of their life.

The Hebrew word for “give” in our text literally means “to stretch oneself out”. Solomon drank to excess. He did so until he was “stretched out”. By doing so he opened himself up to addiction and dependency. He “laid hold on folly” and found that it was empty of pleasure.

Your bodies belong to the Lord.
Do not loan yourselves out to the devil’s library!

The Bible says:

1 Corinthians 6:15-20 (KJV)  Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of a harlot? God forbid.  [16]  What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh.  [17]  But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit.  [18]  Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body.  [19]  What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?  [20]  For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.

If you are a Christian, your body belongs to God. He indwells you. Let your bodies be vessels of honor. If you are not a Christian remember that your body will be what you place in it. Fill it with poison, and it will be poisoned. Turn, repent, and come to Christ. Surrender your lives unto Him. What did our Lord Christ say?

Mark 8:34-35 (KJV) … Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.  [35]  For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it.

Solomon Sought Blessing In Work

Ecclesiastes 2:4-6 (KJV)  I made me great works; I builded me houses; I planted me vineyards:  [5]  I made me gardens and orchards, and I planted trees in them of all kind of fruits:  [6]  I made me pools of water, to water therewith the wood that bringeth forth trees:

Solomon threw himself into his work. He tried knowledge & wisdom, but this did not satisfy. Solomon tried pleasures of the flesh, but again all was vanity. So he changed his methods and turned to work.

Solomon was rich beyond the wildest imagination. The head of Amazon company – Jeff Bezos – was recently named the richest man in the world. Valued at $112 billion he rose above Bill Gates, who is worth $90 billion. And yet Solomon’s annual income was in excess of 20 BILLION dollars. He was far richer than Bezos and Gates combined. He had all this money and sought to do good with it. He built stuff. He made cities. And then Solomon stood back and looked at what he had. What did he say?

Ecclesiastes 2:11 (KJV)  Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the labour that I had labored to do: and, behold, all was vanity and vexation of spirit, and there was no profit under the sun.

Solomon said there is no profit under the sun – it is all vanity (smoke) and vexation of spirit. For all his riches Solomon was miserable. Riches apart from God are a horrible Master. I am reminded of the parable that our Lord told of the rich farmer.

Luke 12:16-20 (KJV) … The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully:  [17]  And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits?  [18]  And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods.  [19]  And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.  [20]  But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?

Oh it is so much better to be poor and looking upward to God, than to be rich and look downward to this earth! Christ came preaching the Gospel to the poor (Luke 4:18). And though a few rich and powerful people heard the Gospel Christ preached, these of power were the exception rather than the rule.

Beloved Of God – Serve The Lord While You Are Able

As Solomon came to the end of his days this wise man – the wisest man who ever lived – left behind this truth. Throughout Ecclesiastes he preaches that the things of this earth bring emptiness. He tells those who are young …

Ecclesiastes 12:1 (KJV)  Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them;

There is coming a day when your youth shall depart. While you are young learn of God. Learn of His Word. Drink of Him so that when you get older …

Ecclesiastes 12:3 (KJV)
In the day when the keepers of the house shall tremble
The “keepers of the house” are your hands!
and the strong men shall bow themselves
The “strong men” are your arms and legs!
and the grinders cease because they are few
The “grinders” are your teeth!
and those that look out of the windows be darkened
The “darkened windows” are your failing eyes!

Oh young people. Learn of God now. Serve Him now while you can. There will come a day when you, like Solomon, look back on wasted opportunities to serve the Lord. The last words I remember my father saying were:

Oh David, I wasted so much time!

Remember NOW your Creator in the days of your youth. Do not let Satan get you off course of serving the Lord. Because of sin in our bodies we all age, we all corrupt, we all decay. I heard a cute poem that said:

I can live with my arthritis,
My dentures are just fine;
My bifocals serve me well,
But I sure do miss my mind!

Young people, serve the Lord while you can. Run the race for the Lord!

1 Corinthians 9:24-25 Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. [25] And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.

Serve the Lord because you will gain an incorruptible reward, a crown that fades not away. Serve Him because it is rewarding to serve the Lord.

Philippians 3:7-8 But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. [8] Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, (skubalon Pronounced skoo’-bal-on) that I may win Christ,

Everything is useless, worthless, unless it is found in Christ and through Christ. Solomon ended Ecclesiastes by saying:

Ecclesiastes 12:13 Let us hear the CONCLUSION of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.

What does it mean to “fear God”? Solomon wrote:

Ecclesiastes 8:12-13 (KJV)  Though a sinner do evil a hundred times, and his days be prolonged, yet surely I know that it shall be well with them that fear God, which fear before him:  [13]  But it shall not be well with the wicked, neither shall he prolong his days, which are as a shadow; because he feareth not before God.

To “fear God” is to respect Him, to place Him above all else. To cherish Him and His direction. To seek pleasure in our Lord.

Psalms 34:9 (KJV)  O fear the LORD, ye his saints: for there is no want to them that fear him.

Psalms 115:13 (KJV)  He will bless them that fear the LORD, both small and great.

We are to DO what God has said. We are to LIVE for Him. Judgment day is coming – are you ready? Are you in Christ? Have you received Him as Lord and Savior?

Ecclesiastes 12:14 For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.

Living for the Lord brings joy now and eternal joy later. Let us live for Him, doing that which He has commanded. Let us learn of Him.

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America Belongs To God

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Photo by Samuel Branch on Unsplash

Psalms 33:12-14 (KJV) Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance. 13 The LORD looketh from heaven; he beholdeth all the sons of men. 14 From the place of his habitation he looketh upon all the inhabitants of the earth.

As we approach the time of the year where we celebrate Thanksgiving we’ll gather together as families and eat way too much food. Many will watch football on television, snack, gorge themselves, nap, then feed again. It’s “Thanksgiving”. At many of the tables where families gather there will be no thankfulness nor prayer. In many of the opulent homes there will be no recognition of the God Who made the prosperity and blessedness of America possible.

When I was growing up every year in school we heard of the first Thanksgiving in America. There were 102 Pilgrims – Christ followers – who came to Plymouth to establish a colony there. These 102 were seeking freedom and blessing in a new world called America. At the first Thanksgiving there were only 53 Pilgrims. Disease and starvation had taken the rest. A local tribe of native Americans – the Wampanoags – helped the 53 survive the harsh climate. About 90 of the native Americans shared that first Thanksgiving meal with the Pilgrims.

They were thanking God for helping them survive, for blessing them, for loving them.

We don’t hear much of the first Thanksgiving anymore nor the part that Christ played in it. The devil robbed Adam of Eden, and the devil is today robbing Christians of America. And we are allowing him to do it by our silence. The truth of the matter is that we are a nation that has been shaped by the Judeo-Christian ethic found throughout the Bible. We were founded a Biblical nation from our very roots. But..

Are we a Christian nation?

If by “Christian Nation” you mean that everyone is a Christian, then no, we are not a Christian nation. America was founded to be a FREE nation where each person could follow their own conscience as long as they did not hinder the life or conscience of another. Since America was founded by Christians following the freedoms that Christ promoted we enjoy unprecedented liberties. Our founding fathers were not all Christians, but they understood the impact that Christianity had on our nation. For instance, Patrick Henry said:

“It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded not by religionists but by Christians, not on religion but on the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

Thomas Jefferson was certainly not a Christian. He was a Deist who envisioned God as a supreme being Who created the world but no longer intervened directly in daily life. Jefferson made his own Bible by cutting out what he did not agree with. Jefferson said:

“… can the liberties of a nation be thought secure, when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with his wrath? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just: that his justice can not sleep forever.”

Our twenty-eighth president Woodrow Wilson in his famous address, “The Bible and Progress,” stated: America was born a Christian nation. America was born to exemplify that devotion to the elements of righteousness which are derived from the revelations of Holy Scripture.”

Progressive Politics has replaced fact with feeling.

If a child is born with a male anatomy if he feels that he is female then Progressive thought demands that he be affirmed as such. Feeling greater than fact prevails throughout our nation. Feeling got us in trouble in the Garden of Eden. God said “Eat this, and you will die”. Eve in Genesis 3:6 ..

“saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise”

It looked good. It felt good. Let’s eat! And with this humanity fell into sin. We are following the same pathway in America today. To us God says:

Psalms 33:12 (KJV) Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance.

Our Blessings Came Because God Is The LORD

When Italian explorer Christopher Columbus journaled in 1504 why he went out to discover new lands, he wrote:

“I was led of the Holy Spirit to carry the message of the Gospel to undiscovered lands.”

When the Pilgrims of the Mayflower landed in Plymouth they drafted the Mayflower Compact. In that agreement they stated that they were a colony dedicated to “the glory of God and the advancement of the Christian faith.” When our nation declared independence from the tyranny of Great Britain on July 4, 1776 that “Declaration of Independence” stated:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. “

Before Progressivism took over our schools of higher learning nearly every college or university was founded by Christians and Christian Churches. Names I am sure you all know – Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Brown, Dartmouth, William and Mary – all were founded by Christians. The man for whom Harvard University was names is John Harvard. He wrote:

“That every student be plainly instructed and earnestly pressed to consider well the main ends of his life and studies: to know God and Jesus Christ which is eternal life and therefore to lay Christ in the bottom as the foundation of all knowledge and learning, and see that the Lord only giveth wisdom. To let everyone seriously set himself by prayer in secret to seek Christ Jesus as Lord and Master.” Harvard University’s second official seal (still found on Harvard Diplomas today) stated in Latin these words,

“Truth for Christ and the Church”

Whereas their first seal stated “In Christi Gloriam” which means “For The Glory Of Christ”. In 1884 the Board of Overseers modified the logo to say only “Veritas” or “Truth”. Both Christ and the Church were erased from the University’s face.

American’s first schoolbook was the “New England Primer.” Christian truth was a part of American education even at the beginning. Children were taught their ABCs using Adam and the Bible. “In Adam’s fall, We sinned all” taught the letter A. “Thy life to mend, God’s BOOK attend” taught the letter B. Children were taught basic Bible truths.

A law passed in a Joint Resolution by the 84th Congress (P.L. 84-140) and approved by President Dwight Eisenhower on July 30, 1956, declared that our national motto “In God We Trust” must appear on American currency. There is no doubt that America was founded on Christian principles and in a firm belief in God.

A prayer written by Pastor Bob Russell of Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, Kentucky caused a lot of disturbance back in 1996. This prayer was read in the Kansas State House by a guest Chaplain named Joe Wright. Representatives got up and walked out during that prayer. ABC Radio Broadcaster Paul Harvey Aurandt heard of it, and read this prayer on his radio show. He read:

“Heavenly Father, we come before you today to ask Your forgiveness and to seek Your direction and guidance. We know Your Word says, “Woe to those who call evil good,” but that’s exactly what we have done. We have lost our spiritual equilibrium and inverted our values. We confess that:

We have ridiculed the absolute truth of Your Word and called it pluralism. We have worshiped other gods and called it multiculturalism. We have endorsed perversion and called it an alternative lifestyle. We have exploited the poor and called it the lottery. We have neglected the needy and called it self-preservation. We have rewarded laziness and called it welfare. We have killed our unborn and called it a choice. We have shot abortionists and called it justifiable. We have neglected to discipline our children and called it building self-esteem. We have abused power and called it political savvy. We have coveted our neighbor’s possessions and called it ambition. We have polluted the airwaves with profanity and called it freedom of expression. We have ridiculed the time-honored values of our forefathers and called it enlightenment. Search us, O God, and know our hearts today; try us and see if there be some wicked way in us; cleanse us from every sin and set us free. Guide and bless these men and women who have been sent here by the people of Kansas, and who have been ordained by You, to govern this great state. Grant them Your wisdom to rule and may their decisions direct us to the center of Your will… Amen

God is watching us, Beloved.

Psalms 33:13-14 (KJV) The LORD looketh from heaven; he beholdeth all the sons of men. 14 From the place of his habitation he looketh upon all the inhabitants of the earth.

What Is America’s Hope?

Our future as a nation is that we all return back to Christ. Peter told the early Church:

1 Peter 4:17-18 (KJV)  For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?  [18]  And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?

God’s people must be God’s people. We must be vocal and loud, shining for our Jesus. We must not “weary in well doing”. We must not compromise. We must cast off apathy and laziness. We must openly and loudly trust in our God. God is watching us. He is watching this nation. Let the darkness be the darkness – we MUST be the light. We must rejoice in our God.

Psalms 33:1-3 (KJV)  Rejoice in the LORD, O ye righteous: for praise is comely for the upright.  [2]  Praise the LORD with harp: sing unto him with the psaltery and an instrument of ten strings.  [3]  Sing unto him a new song; play skillfully with a loud noise.

Just showing up and doing Church is not what we who are His are to do. The Pilgrims did the hard thing. They stepped out of their comfort zone and took a trip to a new land for the glory of God. They praised God with their lives. We are called to praise God. To magnify Him. To lift Him up. We are to rejoice in the Lord. To find pleasure in Him.

Too many professing believers today are just going through the motions. We need to get our hearts right with God. We need to quit snoozing through the sermons, and give God our best. Some of you give God your least, but at work you give your best. Should you not give your best to God. Do not the firstfruits belong to Him:

Proverbs 3:9-10 (KJV)  Honor the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase:  [10]  So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine.

God does not want our leftovers, but our best. We are to love Him with all our hearts, all our souls, all our minds, and all our being. Give God first place.

Matthew 6:33 (KJV)  But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

Along with PRAISE God also expects our OBEDIENCE to His Word:

Psalms 33:4 (KJV)  For the word of the LORD is right; and all his works are done in truth.

It is not the world that defines right and wrong, but the Word of God.

Proverbs 30:5 (KJV)  Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him.

The lost follow the Word of God as long as it suits their agenda. They are much like the Pharisees of whom Jesus said “you make the Word of God of no effect through your tradition” (Mark 7:13). Progressivism is the false prophet of our day. We must turn from this and ask ourselves:

“What does God’s Word – the Scripture – say about it?”

I am told that the goddess of Progressivism has created 49 genders that humans can be. This is hogwash. There are only two genders – male and female. God made you one way or the other regardless as to how you feel. Jesus told the devil – and we must tell the Progressive:

Luke 4:4 (KJV) … man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.

Feelings are not facts. God’s Word – the Bible – is a fact.

Psalms 33:6-8 (KJV)  By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth.  [7]  He gathereth the waters of the sea together as an heap: he layeth up the depth in storehouses.  [8]  Let all the earth fear the LORD: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him.

The Word of God has not lost its power. His Word is His truth and His promise. We must trust in Him, and point others to Him through His Scripture and to His Gospel. The Salvation of our nation will only come when we trust in Him.

Psalms 33:18-22 (KJV)  Behold, the eye of the LORD is upon them that fear him, upon them that hope in his mercy;  [19]  To deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine.  [20]  Our soul waiteth for the LORD: he is our help and our shield.  [21]  For our heart shall rejoice in him, because we have trusted in his holy name.  [22]  Let thy mercy, O LORD, be upon us, according as we hope in thee.

We need to not only shine for Christ, trusting the Word of God. But as a people we must pray. We must trust Him and pray for our families, our Churches, our communities, and our nation. He tells us in His Word

2 Chronicles 7:14 (KJV)  If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

We must be the light that God has called us to be. May God touch your hearts with His Word.

Posted in Psalms, Sermons Preached | Tagged , , ,

Christ Brings Us To God

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Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

1 Peter 3:18 (KJV) For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:

1 Peter 4:1-3 (KJV) Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; 2 That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God. 3 For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revelings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries:

Why did Christ die for us? Why did He suffer on Calvary being nailed to the tree? Why was He shamed as He was, mocked, and ridiculed?

Christ Died That He Might Bring Us To God

That’s what we are plainly told in our text today,

Christ also hath once suffered for sins,
the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God

Before Christ came all were far from God. We had religion, but we rarely had God. We are told in:

Ephesians 2:1-3 (KJV) And you hath he quickened (made alive), who were dead in trespasses and sins; 2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course (way) of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air (the devil), the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: 3 Among whom also we all had our conversation (way of life) in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.

The natural born state of every person is that we are far from God. Our walk is far from God. That which we emulate is far from God. Prior to Christ we were far from God in our minds, and were therefore far from God in our behavior. This state is what the Bible calls “unjust” or “lost”. We were not right with God. God was far from us. We were spiritually dead.

Jesus Christ suffered for sins – He is just but we were unjust – so that He might bring us to God. What separated us from God? OUR SINS. Our sins stood as a wall between us and God. The Law told us that we were sinners, but in no way could make us right with God. The Law provided a temporary covering at best, but did nothing else.

Jesus paid for our sins – a record of which God maintained – by shedding His Blood in our place. We are told:

Colossians 2:13-14 (KJV) And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; 14 Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;

No longer does our account with God say “guilty” but “forgiven” is stamped in red on it. Jesus brings us to God by taking away the guilt of our sins. He bled and died to take away my sin, and your sin.

that he might bring us to God

How else did Jesus bring us to God? Be brought about an adoption into the family of God by His Spirit. When you receive Christ as Lord and Savior submitting to Him and believing on Him the Bible declares:

Ephesians 2:19-20 (KJV) Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; 20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;

Before we knew Christ we were strangers to God. Oh, we might introduce ourselves to God on special days such as Christmas or Easter. Or else we might sporadically – when forced into it by our circumstances – seek God in prayer. But to us before Christ came God was always God, but never Father. There was no familial relationship in our hearts. God was God and we were foreigners to His Kingdom, strangers to His righteousness. But after Christ what does the Scripture say? You are no more strangers and foreigners. You are citizens of the Heavenly Kingdom with the Saints of Old, FELLOW citizens with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, Daniel, Ruth, Joseph, Mary, the list is long! You are not second class citizens of Heaven but because of Christ you are Children of God. Calling upon Christ for Salvation He has sent His Spirit upon you:

Romans 8:15-16 (KJV) For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. 16 The Spirit {Himself} beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:

Jesus Christ came …

that he might bring us to God

Galatians 4:4-7 (KJV) But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, 5 To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. 6 And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. 7 Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.

What a dramatic thing our Lord did. Whereas before we were lost in darkness, now we have been adopted into the Family of God. What does the Bible declare?

Galatians 3:26 (KJV) For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.

Christ Died That He Might NOW Bring Us To God

Receiving Jesus as Lord and Savior we receive of His Spirit. We are brought near to God by family ties, by the Blood that was shed, by His infinite love. So many undervalue what Christ did, and therefore do not live for Him as they should. The Bible does not say that Jesus came …

that he might bring us to God one day in Heaven

Certainly we have eternal life promised to us in Heaven because of what Christ did. Jesus told Nicodemus:

John 3:36 (KJV) He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.

There is coming a Judgment Day. Those who have not been brought to God by Christ will stand before a God filled with wrath. Their sins shall be judged. They are not just, not upright, for they have rejected the means by which they can be upright. Those without Christ are without God, without hope, and without Heaven. Only hell and a lake of fire awaits. Oh that everyone in this place would come to Christ so that they could receive the promise:

Titus 3:4-7 (KJV) … the kindness and love of God our Savior toward man appeared, 5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; 6 Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior; 7 That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

Certainly faith in Christ brings us to God to where we can be made fit for Heaven, but Jesus did much more than this for us. Our text also doesn’t say:

that he might bring us to God only in times of trial

Again, because of Christ we can lean on Jesus in our times of trial. Doesn’t God promise:

Psalms 18:2-3 (KJV) The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower. 3 I will call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies.

As a child calls upon a parent when in distress, God expects us to call on Him. Yet God does not want us to ignore Him at all times but in the bad times. This is not what a Child of God does. Christ suffered for sins to bring us to God at all times.

that he might bring us to God only on special days

Christ brings us into union with God not just on Sundays, or on special days, but every single day. We walk with God, and talk with God, and are watched over by God. God loves us everyday, and everyday He is our Father. What does God require of us?

Micah 6:8 (KJV) … what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?

Christ Died That He Might Take Us Away From Sin

Jesus died for sin on the Cross of Calvary. He paid for sin because sin separates from God. Bringing us to God, Christ died to take us away from sin.

1 Peter 4:1-2 (KJV) Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; 2 That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God.

We are saved from sin so that we can live in the Will of God. What does the Scripture say?

Romans 6:9-14 (KJV) Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. 10 For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. 11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. 12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. 13 Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. 14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.

Christ died unto sin ONCE. He paid for sin. But now Christ LIVES UNTO GOD. We who are Christ’s are to reckon ourselves to be dead to sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. We walk apart from sin because of Christ. When we see sin in our lives we do not embrace it, but we say:

Out, foul evil! I am dead to you because of Christ.
Christ covers you with His Blood, and I reject you as unfit
For a Child of God!”

The Christian does not let sin reign in his or her mortal body. Christ died for sin because it separates us from God. Sin is no longer my master. I will yield myself to God and His Will, not to sin nor what He condemns.

sin shall not have dominion over you:
for ye are not under the law, but under grace

This is where many denominations of Christians have gone wrong, even among those who profess to be Baptist. They have listened to the siren call of the world, and compromised with sin. Do you not know that Christ has said:

Matthew 7:16-20 (KJV) Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? 17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. 19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. 20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

If Christ has died for you then sin shall not reign over you. Jesus told the cripple:

Take up your bed, and walk”

Jesus told the leper:

Show yourself to the priest, and offer unto God”

Jesus told the blind man:

Go, wash the mud from your eyes in the pool of Siloam”

And Jesus tells those whom He has saved:

Follow God, not sin”

We are called as Christians to live according to the will of God, not according to the will of the world. There was a time when we lived according to the will of the world.

1 Peter 4:2-3 (KJV) That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God. 3 For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revelings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries:

There was a time when we walked in the darkness along with the dead crowd. We no longer follow evil, nor the devil, but our Father to the glory of Christ. He has cleansed us from sin. He keeps on cleansing us from sin. Let us not wallow in the mud that He has died to save us from. Let us live for Him.

As we come to the Lord’s Table we are admonished by the Apostle:

1 Corinthians 11:27-31 (KJV) Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. 28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. 29 For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. 30 For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. 31 For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.

Are you in the bondage of sin? Ask Christ to break those bonds, giving yourselves fully to Him. Receive Him as He is – your Lord and Savior. Repent of your sin, no matter how popular it may be in the world today. If you are Christ’s then you are a Child of God. You do not belong to sin, nor to this world. Love Him. Repent. Trust He has forgiven. Then partake of this Table of Life.

May God touch your hearts with His Word!

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Untroubled Hearts

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Photo by Malcolm Lightbody on Unsplash

John 14:1 (KJV)  Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.

Tonight we’re looking at one of the most familiar passages used in Christian funerals. This text is probably used more than Psalm 23 to comfort those who have seen a loved one depart this life. Of all the times I have preached this text or heard it preached, I don’t think I have ever heard the text carefully examined.

The focus of the text is not the Christian, but it is all about Jesus.
The focus of the text is not Heaven, but the Son of God.

In chapter Twelve Jesus was troubled over what was to come. The shadow of the Cross grew greater over His life each day. He told His disciples:

John 12:27 (KJV)  Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour.

Our Lord was troubled, but He did not want His people to be troubled. He was going to lay His life down for us. So He tells us:

Let not your heart be troubled

The King James obscures what Jesus actually said. As He spoke of His coming crucifixion the disciples became more and more troubled. Other than Judas Iscariot the thief (who only wanted money) the other eleven loved Jesus and did not want Him to go. Their faces reflected what was on their hearts, so Jesus told them:

“Stop being troubled”

Do not let your worry about the Master’s impending death rob you of joy. Peter, don’t let the thought of your betrayal of Me trouble you. Disciples, do not worry about My impending death and departure. Death to Jesus was not an end but a beginning. Then Jesus says something that is radical – and insane – if it is not true. He said:

Ye believe in God, believe also in Me

We skip over this without thinking about what Jesus said. He said:

You BELIEVE IN God

The fool hath said in his heart “there is no God” (Psalm 14:1; 53:1). The atheist is a fool according to God. The evolutionist who believes nature to be God is a fool. The unbeliever who bathes in sin thinks there is no God – or hopes so – because

corrupt are they, and have done abominable iniquity

They will not come to the light that is Christ because …

John 3:19-20 (KJV) …. men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.

Those without God love their sin. Yet those who are saved come to Christ, the Font of Salvation. They come to the Living Waters. They believe in God. Jesus said “You who are My disciples BELIEVE IN GOD” and then said the radical thing:

Believe ALSO in ME

As you believe in God, believe in Me. Have the same faith and obedience to Me that you have to the Father. With these words Jesus elevated Himself above all of the other religious leaders of the world.

Jesus raised Himself above Buddha.
Jesus raised Himself above the leaders of the Hindu faith.
Jesus raised Himself above Mohammad and Islam.
Jesus raised Himself above the Dalai Lama.
Jesus raised Himself above even Moses and Judaism.

The leaders of other world religions all had a beginning and an ending. They all had parents who came together in love to make them. The leaders of other world religions were probably moral. They most likely sought after their concept of God. But Jesus said something no other religious leader dared say. He said:

As you have believed in God, believe IN THE SAME WAY about ME

Though Jesus entered this world through a virgin woman, His Father was The Eternal Father and the Holy Spirit. The Angel told Mary:

Luke 1:35 (KJV) …. The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.

The Angel called Christ “that Holy Thing”. Though born of the line of David, the inheritor of the Throne of Israel, Jesus was both Perfect Man as well as Perfect God. I would never say to you if you believe in God, believe in me in the same way. Why not? Because I know I am a sinner. All who are among mankind are sinners. I try and remind you weekly:

Romans 3:23 (KJV) For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

If Jesus were mere man then to make a statement like He made would have not only been blasphemous, but misleading and dangerous. If Jesus were but man then the best thing He could say was what Paul said:

1 Corinthians 11:1 (KJV) Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.

That’s the best thing any Christian can say to another – follow me as I follow Christ. But Jesus said “Just as you follow God, follow ME!”. This would be a magnificent arrogance if a lie. But it is not. Christ is God. Christ is perfect Man. Christ is always holy, and always righteous. Christ does not get better with age, but is always God.

Hebrews 13:8 (KJV) Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.

Jesus is going to the Father. He is going Home. He will soon die on the Cross of Calvary. He says:

Let NOT your hearts be troubled”

Why? Because the Bible says that we are to guard our hearts:

Proverbs 4:23 (KJV) Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.

What is in your heart will effect how you live your life. Judas Iscariot had money in his heart, so he is off selling Christ for thirty pieces of silver. The Pharisees – supposedly righteous men – are hiring an assassin in Judas, contrary to the Word of God that they claim to believe. Why do they think this is all right? Because they have allowed the devil to stir and trouble their hearts. Jesus wants our hearts to be filled with assurance that He is equal to God. Now He goes on to prove it.

John 14:2 (KJV) In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.

The “Father’s house” is Heaven.

Isaiah 66:1 (KJV) Thus saith the LORD, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool …

Some versions translate the Greek μονή (monḗ) as “rooms”. I like the King James better here. The word μονή means “a place to stay or a residence”. The same word us used in verse 23 where Jesus says:

John 14:23 (KJV) … If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode (μονή) with him.

Heaven is for those who love Jesus. If you love Jesus you will do what He says. If you love Jesus the Father will love you. And the Father and Son will make a place for you in Heaven. I have flown many times in my life, but only one time in first class accommodations. In coach you have overweight people flowing over onto you, and you are squeezed into a small space with horrible leg room. But in first class you have extra wide seats, wide aisles, and wonderful treatment. I have been in motels many times, but rarely in a first class motel. Regular motels are fine. There are stains on the floor that make you wonder, and ragged sheets on the bed. But they are fine for an overnight stay. But first class has full size bars of soap, not the slivers you get in the common. It has bathrobes, and soft towels, and a paper delivered to the door in the morning.

Heaven is first class. And there is room for everyone who loves Jesus. Heaven is a place of family. As a son of God, both the Father and the Son will come and live with you. Heaven is a mansion, not a Motel 6. And Jesus prepared that place for us by Calvary.

Jesus took the worst and lowest death upon Himself so that we can have the greatest afterlife. We will live with God in Heaven.

We will not live apart from one another in God’s Heaven. There will be room for all, but there will be no “Beacon Hill” or special accommodations for just a few. The Pope will not have a castle for us all to look up to and admire, nor will Saint Peter be guarding the entry gate. We will all be treated with love and respect. We will inherit only the best in glory because of Christ. Jesus can guarantee this because – unlike the other religious leaders – He is equal to God. Jesus plainly told the Pharisees:

John 10:30-33 (KJV) I and my Father are one. 31 Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him. 32 Jesus answered them, Many good works have I shewed you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me? 33 The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God.

Jesus Christ made Himself equal with God. Why? Because He IS equal with God. Jesus Christ is the Co-Owner of Heaven. He said:

I go to prepare a place for you

I go. No one else goes to prepare a place. I am not one of many who are preparing a place. I GO. I AND ONLY I. It is Jesus and Jesus alone Who offered payment for our sins on Calvary. The Scripture boldly declares:

1 John 2:1-2 (KJV) …. if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: 2 And {Jesus} is the propitiation {covering} for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.

As Charles Swindoll said:

Jesus was crucified in order to pay for the sins of all men … and then He was resurrected from the dead three days later. He is fully God and fully Man, the theanthropos [from the Greek for “God” (theos) and “Man” (anthropos)]; yet He is one person.

John 14:3 (KJV) And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.

Gautama Buddha (560-480 B.C.), Mohammed (A.D. 570-632), Confucius (551-479 B.C.), and all other religious founders began their life at birth and cease their lives when they died. Christ alone rose from the grave and is alive forevermore. Jesus’ ministry did not cease when He died. He promised that He would die, go to Heaven, then return to us to take us to Heaven. Why? Because we who are saved belong to Jesus. What does the Bible say?

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (KJV)19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? 20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.

Some of you who profess Christ still think you belong to yourselves. You don’t. Jesus purchased you from damnation and the devil by shedding His Blood for you on the Cross. He willingly did this. No one made Him, but He loved you so much He was willing to pay the price.

I belong to Jesus.
You belong to Jesus.
We are to glorify Him in our lives.
Always! Always! Always!

Christ purchased you so that you can shine for Him.

2 Corinthians 5:21 (KJV) For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

You are called to be a vessel of honor. You are called to shine for God. You are called to walk upright, bring glory to His Kingdom.

Romans 14:8 (KJV) For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s.

Let us live as His! For His glory. Amen!

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Suffering For Jesus

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1 Peter 3:12-16 (KJV)  For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.  [13]  And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good?  [14]  But and if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled;  [15]  But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:  [16]  Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ.

Too many people think that Christianity is a belief system that can be added on to our present lives with little change. This is not what the Bible teaches about the Christian faith. In the majority of the known world to be a Christian is to suffer.

Suffering For The Genuine Christian Is Inevitable

Our Lord Jesus warned those who would follow Him that suffering was inevitable. Jesus said:

Matthew 10:34-36 (KJV) Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. 35 For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. 36 And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.

If you are following Christ and promoting Him as the only way unto God as He has said you will find yourselves at variance with not only the world, but your own family and maybe with some members of the Church. Jesus knew that the Gospel He was teaching was radical, different from what Judaism had drifted to, and certainly different from what the Roman culture believed. What did the Apostle Paul say?

1 Corinthians 1:18 (KJV) For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish FOOLISHNESS; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.

Those who reject Christ’s Gospel say that what we say and teach is foolishness. It is the word of a mad people. The world does not understand living under the Lordship of Christ. The Kingdom of satan does not understand the Kingdom of God nor His righteousness. Jesus promised:

John 15:18-19 (KJV) If the WORLD HATE YOU, ye know that it hated Me before it hated you. 19 If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.

And assured us …

John 16:33 (KJV) …. In the world ye SHALL have tribulation …

Jesus Himself suffered when on this earth. He was constantly attacked by the religious crowd, the Scribes, Pharisees, and Sadducees. The darkness will always push against the light. As long as the light remains light there will be a war between the two. I was watching the war movie We Were Soldiers the other day when Lt. Col Hal Moore (played by Mel Gibson) stated:

A leader must remain cool and calm. And second, he must learn to ignore explosions… the heat and dust, the screams of the wounded. This is normal on a battlefield. Normal!”

Similarly, if you are a genuine Christian it is normal to suffer for Christ. We live insulated lives in America today, but if you study your Bibles you will know that early Christians expected to suffer. Stephen Neil wrote in his History of Christian Missions (pg 43):

“Every Christian knew that sooner or later he might have to testify to his faith at the cost of his life.”

1 Peter 4:12-14 (KJV) Beloved, think it not strange concerning the FIERY TRIAL WHICH IS TO TRY YOU, as though some strange thing happened unto you: 13 But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. 14 If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified.

When Light Compromises With Darkness DESTRUCTION Comes

What happens when we compromise His message
in order to get along?

1 Peter 3:18-20 (KJV) For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: 19 By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; 20 Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.

When I read this text I looked it up in the commentaries because I wondered what it meant that “Jesus went and preached to the spirits in prison”. The text then refers to Noah. The commentaries offered numerous suggestions as to what this passage meant, and some of the suggestions were just off the wall. But I want you to view the passage in the context of suffering.

You see, much of our suffering comes upon us because we ignore the command of God. When we do what God lovingly tells us not to do then we hurt ourselves or others. Many of the diseases we have in our world today that afflict us as humans are brought upon us by willfully disobeying what God has told us to do. For instance, AIDs and HIV as well as other sexually transmitted diseases are upon us because we ignore God’s admonishment against sexual sin and sexual deviation. Did not God say?

1 Corinthians 6:18 (KJV) Flee fornication (sexual sin). Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body.

God told us that sexual sins are against our own bodies. God furthermore said:

2 Corinthians 6:14-15 (KJV) Be ye not UNEQUALLY YOKED TOGETHER WITH UNBELIEVERS: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? 15 And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?

The son of God by faith in Christ is forbidden to marry an unbeliever. Period. Light and dark do not mix. Sin enslaves. Darkness binds. Jesus said:

John 8:34-36 (KJV) … Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever COMMITTETH sin is the SERVANT of sin. 35 And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever. 36 If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.

What caused the Flood of Noah?

If you answer “God did” you would be right. But why did God cause a flood which destroyed all but eight souls? Let’s look at Genesis where the Flood Account is given (and which I believe).

Genesis 6:2 (KJV) … the SONS OF GOD SAW THE DAUGHTERS OF MEN that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which THEY chose.

Now if you read the commentaries some of them will tell you that the phrase “sons of God” refers to fallen angels that intermingled with humans. That’s nonsense. The phrase “sons of God” is no where used in Scripture for demons. It is used for angels in the Book of Job – I believe – three times (Job 1:6; 2:1; 38:7). In the New Testament the phrase “sons of God” is used for those who are born again by faith in Christ who follow Jesus.

Where the phrase “sons of God” is used it denotes someone close to God – not a demon!

What does God’s Word say?

Romans 8:14 (KJV) For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.

Sons of God follow God

Philippians 2:15 (KJV) … be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;

Sons of God shine for God, standing out
from the fallen world

1 John 3:1 (KJV) Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.

Sons of God are rejected by the fallen world

Sons of God are those who are supernaturally close to God. But in the time of Noah we read what?

Genesis 6:2 (KJV) … the sons of God SAW the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.

The sons of God – those who were saved and should have been following God – compromised their faith. They took their eyes off of God. They SAW the daughters of men, the children of Adam. They saw their beauty, and took of them wives of all that THEY CHOSE. They went against the light and did not follow the Lord. These are not angels, but believers who compromised with the darkness. What was the result of their compromise? When light compromises with darkness it can only do so by lowering itself to darkness. James G. Murphy wrote in his commentary:

The godly took them wives not for the godliness of their lives but for the goodliness of their looks.”

The “sons of God” in Genesis are not angelic beings. When God created He made all things to reproduce “after their own kind” (Genesis 1:11, 12, 21, 24, 25). Furthermore Jesus said that “angels do not marry nor are they given in marriage” (Matthew 22:30). In righteousness “Marriage” and “Sex” were synonymous. Not like our age of today, but the righteous Jesus saw both as one and the same.

The late Dr. R.C. Spoul stated: “the concept of divine sonship in the Scriptures is not always linked to a biological or ontological relationship (relationship of being). Rather, it is chiefly used to set forth a relationship of obedience. … Genesis 6 could simply be speaking about the intermarriage of those who manifested a pattern of obedience to God in their lives and those who were pagans in their orientation. In other words, this text likely describes marriages between believers and unbelievers.”

When the sons of God took to themselves daughters of men the righteous intermingled with the unrighteous. They violated God’s Law of the unequal yoke. They attempted to bind light with darkness. And it did not work.

The light that God placed on the earth dimmed!

Genesis 6:5-7 (KJV) … GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6 And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. 7 And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.

When Light compromises with darkness we invite the destruction of God. All of creation was going to be wiped out. But the Bible tells us:

Genesis 6:8 (KJV) But Noah found grace
in the eyes of the LORD.

Praise God for those who stand for the light of God. There were other sons of God before Noah, but they compromised with the darkness. But Noah would not. The Bible says of Noah:

Genesis 6:9 (KJV) … Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God.

You may ask the question “What can one man do?” One man can save the world. Noah was JUST. He was JUSTIFIED, saved by faith in God. The Scripture says:

Habakkuk 2:4 (KJV) … the just shall live by his faith.

Noah lived for the Lord. He was “perfect in his generations”. He walked among men not living as they lived, but lived for the Lord. To make sure we understand this the Bible tells us that Noah walked with God. He consistently did what God told him to do.

We know the story of Noah from Genesis. He built an Ark, and he and his family as well as God’s selection of animals got on that Ark. We are told in Peter that:

1 Peter 3:19 (KJV) {Jesus} went and preached unto the spirits in prison;

Pastor John Piper wrote:

With regard to 1 Peter 3:19 I take these words to mean that Christ, through the voice of Noah, went and preached to that generation whose spirit are now “in prison”, that is, in hell. In other words, Peter does not say that Christ preached to them while they were in prison. He says He preached to them once, during the days of Noah, and now they are in prison.”

After much prayer I believe that this is a good exposition of the text. The sons of God failed to obey the Lord, and by binding with the unbeliever then unbelief grew to a horrible state. This state brought the world under the general judgment of God. But God still had a remnant – however small – in Noah. For 120 years Noah preached as Christ assisted him. God is with you when you do His will. Jesus will not abandon you while you do His will. The Father promised to guide us by His Spirit. Jesus said:

Matthew 10:19-20 (KJV)19 But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. 20 For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.

God enables His children to be light. God empowers us in the midst of darkness. For 120 years Noah preached and built an Ark. He was ridiculed, mocked, minimized. Throughout his entire ministry – day after day – week after week – month after month – year after year for 120 years Noah preached. No one came. The only ones there was his immediate family, but no others. No converts. No one saved. Yet Noah kept his eyes ever upward, knowing that the Father was looking down on him.

1 Peter 3:12-13 (KJV) For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil. 13 And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good?

Matthew 10:28 (KJV) … fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

120 years and no fruit of salvation would have discouraged many, but not Noah. He just kept on following the Lord our God. Why did God wait 120 years before destroying the world by water? Because God is patient. The Ark could have held many more than the eight humans that were on it. Many more. We are told …

2 Peter 3:9 (KJV) The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

God makes no snap judgments. He is patient, and longsuffering, and loving. Yes, eventually the flood will come. Yes, eventually the Ark will be sealed. But until that time we see Christ working through Noah, encouraging him, lifting him up. We see Noah as the moon reflecting the Son of His Righteousness.

We Are Called To Be Like Noah When Suffering For God

The world hates Christianity, and hates Christians. Yet we must stand in His light, or else our nation will die under the flood of evil. How did Noah stand in this dark age?

1 Peter 3:14 (KJV) But and if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled;

First, Noah made sure that what he was doing was in accordance to the will of God. He was suffering not because of sin in his life, but for righteousness sake. He did not lower himself to compromise with evil.

Isaiah 8:12-13 (KJV) Say ye not, A confederacy, to all them to whom this people shall say, A confederacy; neither fear ye their fear, nor be afraid. 13 Sanctify the LORD of hosts himself; and let him be your fear, and let him be your dread.

Noah feared God much more than he feared the darkness.

Jeremiah 1:8-9 (KJV) Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the LORD. 9 Then the LORD put forth his hand, and touched my mouth. And the LORD said unto me, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth.

Noah let the Word of God be HIS Word. He spoke what God said. He did what God said. He did not add to nor take away from God’s revealed Word. Furthermore Noah did as Peter tells us to do:

1 Peter 3:15-16 (KJV) But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: 16 Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ.

Noah kept a good conscience before God. His heart was clean. He had no hidden sin in his life, but confessed sin as he discovered it, putting it under the covering of Christ. Hidden sin like weed seeds can spring up and destroy the garden of God. Many Christians do not speak out against evil because they themselves are guilty of the same thing. Many who profess Christ indulge in secret sins that shame their Creator. Repent! Confess your sins before God. The Calvary Road that we walk is not just one repentance unto salvation, but it is one repentance unto salvation and MANY repentances unto sanctification. We are to sanctify the Lord God in our hearts. Make your heart a good home for the Holy Spirit within you.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (KJV) What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? 20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.

Reject sin and darkness, and live for Jesus. Do you not remember singing?

Living for Jesus a life that is true,
Striving to please Him in all that I do;
Yielding allegiance, glad-hearted and free,
This is the pathway of blessing for me.
Living for Jesus who died in my place,
Bearing on Calv’ry my sin and disgrace;
Such love constrains me to answer His call,
Follow His leading and give Him my all.
O Jesus, Lord and Savior,
I give myself to Thee,
For Thou, in Thine atonement,
Didst give Thyself for me;
I own no other Master,
My heart shall be Thy throne,
My life I give, henceforth to live,
O Christ, for Thee alone.

1 Peter 3:17 (KJV) For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing.

1 Peter 3:18 (KJV) For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:

It is the will of God that we suffer for Him. Jesus suffered for us to bring us to God. We suffer for Jesus to bring others to God. The way of compromise will save no one, but it will possibly damn all. Let us live in the light, loving one another, glorifying our Lord.

No compromise!
Christ alone!

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God My Joy

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Isaiah 61:10 (KJV) I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels.

Last week I was sleeping peacefully when my phone started screaming at me. It wasn’t a ring, but a clarion call! I jumped up and checked the phone. The National Weather Service had just sent me a message:

Tornadoes are in your area. Take shelter now!

I knew it was raining and lightening, but it didn’t seem that bad. My heart was beating from the rude awakening. I stepped outside. Where should I take shelter?

I looked upward and realized the
best shelter I could take was my God

My God has promised to protect me where ever I go.

Isaiah 41:10-11 (KJV) Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness. 11 Behold, all they that were incensed against thee shall be ashamed and confounded: they shall be as nothing; and they that strive with thee shall perish.

Praise Him! So I went back to sleep. The next morning I arose, and found not even a tree branch on the ground.

Who do you trust?
Where have you placed your faith?
Where is your joy?

I meet very few happy people in our world today. I think the reason for widespread unhappiness and sadly, misery, is because people have sought happiness in all the wrong places.

Do you know God?
Do you know the God Who created all things, including you?

I don’t mean to ask if you know Him like the History Channel knows Him, or to know Him like the encyclopedia knows Him. Are you acquainted with Him Who wrote the Bible for you? Do you know His Son, and are you indwelt by His Spirit?

Do you know that He loves you as you are, and will fill you with His joy?

The Only Permanent Place For Joy Is Our God

Where are you looking for joy and peace? I find joy in my grandchildren. But my grandchildren will grow up. Last time Sherry and I were in Valdosta we had a lot of joy with our grandchildren, playing with them, giving them gifts. But the last day we were there none of our family followed us out to the van to say goodbye. In fact, I could barely get them to acknowledge us as we left the house. What was the problem? The television was on, and their show was playing. This was more important than Pops and Gigi who had driven 8 hours to see them. Oh, we love our kids and grandkids, but any joy in them is but temporary.

Our joy is best found in God.

What about our spouses? Shall we find joy there? Absolutely! I love my wife, and she is a joy to me. If I had to do it all over again I would do exactly the same. She is the love of my life, and a joy to me. Yet one day I will lose my wife. One day either I will leave this life or she will leave this life. Jesus said that when we get to Heaven:

Matthew 22:30 (KJV) … they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven.

She will not be my wife in Heaven. I find joy in her now, but my joy cannot be vested in her for that is only temporary.

Our joy is best found in God.

Shall I find joy in a full bank account, or good health? Shall I find joy in my good looks or my abilities? Certainly we can find joy in these other things, but bank accounts fluctuate. Money comes and goes. The tax man cometh. Health gets weaker as we age.

Our joy is best found in God.

Isaiah 61:10 (KJV) I will greatly rejoice in the LORD …

Joy – overflowing joy – is not found in the temporary things of this world. It is found in our God. We need to resolve to find joy in our relationship with God. The Scripture says:

I WILL greatly rejoice.

Not “I am” rejoicing. We have times when life brings things our way that are not joyous. The Bible tells us that we are to resolve to keep our eyes on the Lord Who loves us. I WILL greatly rejoice. Not in what I have, but in Who has me.

I WILL greatly rejoice IN THE LORD.

The circumstances of this life should not rob me my joy. If my home were to burn to the ground – if an earthquake were to swallow this facility whole – will I despair? Where is my dwelling place? Is it a place of mortar and brick? Do I find safety like the three little pigs did, building homes of straw, wood, then brick? What keeps the wicked wolf away from grandma and grandpa? Is it a better lock on the door? Or is it God?

Deuteronomy 33:27 (KJV) The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms: and he shall thrust out the enemy from before thee; and shall say, Destroy them.

If you have God, then you have enough. You may not be a very rich person, but if you have the Lord with you then you have all that you need. You may not be very strong. Your health may be declining. And yet hasn’t God promised that there is a life beyond this one?

Psalms 73:26 (KJV) My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.

You may have lost the love of your life. Isaiah had been through all of those things, and yet he said I WILL rejoice in the LORD. If you are God’s, if you have received Christ as the Messiah, then God is with you. Few men suffered as Jeremiah did in ministry and yet he wrote:

Lamentations 3:24-26 (KJV) The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him. 25 The LORD is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him. 26 It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD.

And King David often declared:

Psalms 119:57 (KJV) … Thou art my portion, O LORD: I have said that I would keep thy words.

We serve an awesome God Who has promised “I will never leave thee nor forsake thee” (Hebrews 13:5). Have you grasped how tremendous this promise is to you?

I Will GREATLY Rejoice

Those with little joy have a little god.
Our God is an AWESOME God.

How much does God love you? He loves you enough to save you, if you will hear His voice.

Isaiah 61:10 (KJV) I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation …

God placed Adam and Eve in a perfect Garden, and in it no weeds, nor poisons, nor thistles. The weather was beautiful every day, so beautiful that they needed no clothing. God gave mankind a wonderful place to be, and wonderful love. Only one thing was forbidden – only the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

And Adam disobeyed God.

Before you judge Adam harshly for disobeying God, consider how many times we have disobeyed God. And yet God in His great love would not leave Adam where he was. Having disobeyed God Adam tried to cover up his sin with fig leaves. But God said no. The Bible tells us that …

Genesis 3:7 (KJV) … the eyes of {Adam and Eve} were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.

As humans we are always trying to sew
fig leaves together to make aprons.

We are trying to cover up our shortcoming and our sins. When God saw Adam and Eve in these flimsy coverings the Bible says:

Genesis 3:21 (KJV) Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.

You cannot makea “coat of skins” without killing an animal. This is a beautiful picture of what God has done for us in Christ. Adam sinned, and brought in into the world.

Romans 5:12 (KJV) Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:

Adam sinned and tried to cover his sin with fig leaves. But God took away the fig leaves and replaced it with coats of skin. The innocent died to cover the sin of the guilty. We have all sinned before God.

Romans 5:18-19 (KJV) Therefore as by the offense of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. 19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.

Romans 3:21-25 (KJV) But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; 22 Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: 23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; 24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: 25 Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;

Jesus Christ is the propitiation or the covering for sin.
I will GREATLY rejoice in the LORD.
My soul shall be joyful in my God.
HE hath clothed ME with the garments of salvation.

My sin is not covered by my abilities. But He, like a great and generous Parent, took me to the storehouse and purchased what I could not purchase. He took me there, and unclothed me – taking my fig leaves. And He clothed me with Christ. Jesus Christ died for me. Jesus Christ died for you. He wraps us in His arms, and His blood provides a covering for our sins.

He has given us the best He has in Christ. He clothed me with the garments of salvation, but He also:

Hath COVERED ME with the robe of righteousness!

He has not only saved the inner man, but is working on the outer man. The overcoat or robe that God gives to His Children is righteousness, that we ACT right, that we BE right as God is right. What has the Scripture said?

Romans 1:16-17 (KJV) For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. 17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.

We are saved by faith in our God. But once saved God REVEALS righteousness in us. We become HIS WORKMANSHIP:

Ephesians 2:10 (KJV) For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

Where inner salvation is, the outer robe of righteousness will always be! When the inner man is saved the outer man BEHAVES saved!

Our God clothes us completely. Everything that comes your way – not matter whether pleasant or unpleasant – is controlled by God. If you are His then He is at work in you to make a masterpiece.

Philippians 2:12-13 (KJV) Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. 13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.

We do not have to work FOR our salvation, but if we are saved we will work OUT. That outer robe of righteousness is there. The Holy Spirit works in us and through us. If we are His then …

Romans 8:4 (KJV) That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

We do not become lawless, but righteous. God has covered us with the robe of righteousness. Oh, God save us from the sort of godless Christianity that has gripped the Church today! Oh, God show us that the faith which does not change the heart is no faith but farce.

I Will Rejoice In The Lord For My Life Is Secure

Isaiah 61:10 (KJV) I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels.

If you are born again by faith in Christ – if you are saved by believing Him and Him alone to be your Lord and Savior – then He has clothed you with the garments of salvation, and covered you with the robes of righteousness. You are not wearing street clothes, but Heaven’s clothing. He has given you wedding apparel – you are Wed to Christ. You are bound to Him with an eternal vow for His glory and honor. God has promised to you:

Isaiah 61:3 (KJV) … to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.

Your very existence is assured because you are His and He is yours. You are bound to Christ by a blood oath. You belong to Him, and He will never abandon you.

Do you know Jesus? Have you been clothed upon? Has His Blood been applied to your life? Has His robe of righteousness – like Elijah’s mantle – been placed upon you? Many today in local Churches are like the Sadducees, of whom Jesus said:

Matthew 22:29 (KJV) … Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.

You need Jesus. Do you have Him? Have you received Him? If you have then He has given you many great and precious promises, the greatest of these being eternal life. Do you know Him? Have you received Him? If so, you are wed to Him both now and into eternity.

May God bless your hearts with His Word!

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