Cherish God’s Word

Preached at Riverview Baptist (798 Santa Fe Pike Columbia Tn)
the evening of May 28, 2017

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Love Is His Answer

Preached at Riverview Baptist (798 Santa Fe Pike, Columbia, Tn) May 28, 2017

1Matthew 19:16-22 And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?  [17]  And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.   [18]  He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness,   [19]   Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.   [20]  The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?  [21]  Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.   [22]  But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.

A man came to Jesus looking for eternal life. He called Jesus “Good Master” or ἀγαθός agathos διδάσκαλος didaskalos, literally “Good Teacher”. Jesus rejected the adjective “Good”. Jesus said “Why do you call Me “good”? There is no one “good” but God”.

Now Jesus Christ is “good”. He is the “Good Shepherd Who gives His life for the sheep” (John 10:11). Jesus applied that term to Himself, so why does He reject this most common adjective now? Because this man did not come to Jesus as He is, but as he THOUGHT Jesus was. You cannot learn or receive eternal life from a mere man. God is the Author of life. God is the Giver of life. If there is eternal life to be had, you must have it from God. It would be like this, if I can use this illustration.

My car starts running badly, skipping and popping and sputtering. I need to get it fixed. So I drive up to the local McDonald’s, and pull my car into the drive through window. “Welcome to McDonald’s – may I take your order”. I respond, “Why yes. My car is sputtering and smoking. I need you to send someone out to look at it.” The person on the speaker says “Do you want fries with that?” No they don’t. They probably call the police, or the people with nets and padded rooms. I’m going to McDonald’s to get my car fixed, I must be out of my mind.

This young man comes to Jesus. “Good Teacher, how can I have eternal life?” Jesus responds “Why do you call Me – just a Teacher – “Good”. Only God is Good”.

Jesus Christ is God incarnate, God become flesh. Among mankind the Bible says – as Jesus responded:

Romans 3:10-12 (ESV)  as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one;  [11]  no one understands; no one seeks for God.  [12]  All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”

Good” is an adjective that belongs only to God. Jesus Christ is Good because Jesus Christ is more than a mere Teacher. Jesus is the Author of life. The Bible declares:

John 1:1-4 (KJV)  In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  [2]  The same was in the beginning with God.  [3]  All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.  [4]  In him was life; and the life was the light of men.

Jesus is not just a Teacher, though no greater Teacher ever existed. Jesus is the Messiah sent of God. Jesus declared:

John 5:24-26 (ESV)   Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.   [25]   “Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.   [26]   For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself.

Jesus is Good. He is the “Author of Life”. Peter preached to the Jews at the Gate Beautiful:

Acts 3:15 (NLT) You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. And we are witnesses of this fact!

Jesus is no mere Teacher. He is good, and holy, and righteous. He is the Author of life and the Granter of eternal life. This young man physically is at the right Source, but spiritually he’s standing at a McDonald’s. Jesus is the Author of life!

In Grace Jesus responds to the young man. Let’s look at what Jesus said.

Matthew 19:17 …. but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.

Those Who Have Eternal Life Lovingly Obey The Father

As Jesus speaks to this young man He has peered into his heart and seen what is most important to him. Jesus’ response is based on where this young man’s heart is pointing. Where is his heart pointing? Jesus tells the young man:

Keep The Commandments

Now I want you to understand that I believe salvation is all of grace. I believe the Scripture when it says:

Ephesians 2:8-9 (KJV)  For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:  [9]  Not of works, lest any man should boast.

Titus 3:3-6 (KJV)  For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another.  [4]  But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour 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 Saviour;

Eternal life is a gift bestowed on those who receive Christ as Lord and Savior. We cannot work our way into Heaven, no more than those who built the Tower of Babel could build a stairway to God. Christ is our Savior. He paid for us, making atonement for us by His Blood shed on Calvary’s Cross.

But once saved, the Child of God wants to do the Father’s will.

The Child of God – born again by faith in Christ – obeys His Commandments.

We who are saved delight to do His Will. We who are saved are relieved of condemnation, headed toward glory, and under His peculiar care. God loves His Children, and His Children love Him.

When a person comes to me and says “I’m saved, but I do not want to obey God’s Word. I want to pick and choose what part of God’s clearly revealed will that I will obey” – it is my duty, and your duty as well, to tell that person they are our of line. Jesus Christ does not save us IN our sins, but He saves us to make us like Him. We who are saved will on occasion fall, but we will NEVER exalt ourselves in sin. Saved by Christ we hear His Word:

2 Corinthians 6:16-18 (ESV)  What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.  [17]  Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you,  [18]  and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.”

There is no Christian who, upon discovering sin in their lives winks at it and hides it. Sin is against our Father’s will.

When Jesus told this young man “Keep the commandments” I want you to notice his response:

Matthew 19:17-18 {Jesus said} … but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.   [18]{the young man” saith unto him, Which?

Which commandments?”
Which commandments are the most important?
God the Father’s commandments are all important.
The will of God is all important.

A man who was a Pharisee and a Lawyer came to Jesus one day and asked:

Matthew 22:36 (ESV)  “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?”

He calls Jesus not the Son of God but διδάσκαλος didaskalos – a Teacher, just like many others who are teachers. That is an honorable profession – thank God for teachers – but Jesus is so much more. But Jesus didn’t challenge the lawyer. He answered:

Matthew 22:37-40 (ESV)  And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.   [38]   This is the great and first commandment.   [39]   And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.   [40]   On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

If you love God the way that you’re supposed to love God, you won’t ask God “which commandments should I obey?” That’s a foolish statement. If you are going to enter into eternal life you’re not going to Heaven to argue with God. You cannot cherry pick commandments.

The Two Greatest Commandments on which all of the Scripture is based is to:

  1. Love God MORE than ourselves, MORE than our things, MORE than our families, MORE than anything.
  2. Love our neighbor as ourselves.

Think about that word “neighbor” for a moment. This is an Old English compound word which is composed of “NAE” meaning NEAR & “BUER” which means “to dwell”. We are to love God Who is above us with a lofty love much greater than we love anything else. But those in proximity to us – our NAE BUERS – these we are to love as we love our own selves.

Even the Ten Commandments are in two parts. The first FOUR of the Ten Commandments tell us to love God. The last SIX of the Ten Commandments tell us to love our neighbor.

When this young man said “Which?” – as in “Which commandments must I obey” Jesus didn’t mention ANY commandments related to loving God. By this man’s response he ALREADY doesn’t love God. If you love God, you will do what He says. If you love God you will obey Him.

This Young Man Loved Himself, Not God

He wanted to enter into eternal life, but God was not his Father. He loved only himself. He loved only his possessions. He is like many in our world today. They have gained the whole world, but lost their own souls (Mark 8:36). This young man is his own god. He worships at the altar of ME, and tithes to a god called “Self”. Jesus responds to the young man’s question with:

Matthew 19:18-19 … Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness,   [19]   Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

Jesus does not mention:

Command 1 – Love God above all else

Command 2 – Do not worship any other gods but God

Command 3 – Do not take God’s name in vain

Command 4 – Remember to worship God at least one day a week

Jesus instead focuses on the commandments that relate to others, to the NAE BUER.

Command 5 – You shall treat your parents with honor

Command 6 – You shall not murder another

Command 7 – You shall not murder a marriage

Command 8 – You shall not steal from another

Command 9 – You shall not besmirch another person’s character with lies

Then Jesus sums it up this way:

You shall love your neighbor as yourself

You cannot have eternal life unless you have love toward your neighbor. Why?

Because God is love. If you are born again into the Kingdom of God, if you have received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, you cannot help but love your neighbor. The Scripture declares:

1 John 4:7-8 (ESV)  Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.  [8]  Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.

That’s very plain. If you are born again, God is in you. God is love. If God is in you, you love your neighbor as you love yourself. We read:

1 John 4:11-12 (ESV)  Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.  [12]  No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.

God resides in His people. Jesus Christ died to bring us to God. When we receive Him, believing that He has paid our sin in full, and that He is worthy to be loved, then God manifests Himself in us. Listen to this:

1 John 4:14-16 (ESV)  And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.  [15]  Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.  [16]  So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.

The love we have to our neighbor is the visible marker that we belong to God, that we have eternal life. If you have a good relationship with God, you will have a good relationship with those around you.

The Scripture goes on to say:

1 John 4:20-21 (ESV)  If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.  [21]  And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.

We cannot see God now, but we see His handiwork. Those who are saved love their neighbors.

We love the neighbor who doesn’t love us back.

We love the neighbor who seeks to harm us.

We love the neighbor who offends us with his sin.

We do not love his sin, but love him as we want to be loved.

We love our neighbor regardless of color.

Jesus did not say “Love your WHITE neighbor or your BLACK neighbor”

All men and women are created in God’s image.

And God will save whosoever will believe in His Son.

We love our neighbor not just by lipservice, but by showing love.

We love our neighbor by reaching out to help, as Good Samaritans.

We do not COMPLAIN but COMMIT to helping others.

We love our neighbors for Christ’s sake, for He has said:

John 13:34-35 (ESV)   A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.   [35]   By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

This young man replied to Jesus:

Matthew 19:20 All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?

If he didn’t love God, he certainly wasn’t loving his neighbor as he loved himself. But his sin and selfishness had blinded him. Sin blinds us to the reality of our lives. So Jesus simply said:

Matthew 19:21-22 Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.   [22]  But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions. 

He had gained the whole world, but lost his soul.

Oh, that every person would come to God to be saved. Oh that every tongue would look to Him Who gave all for you. Oh that we would see that it was the Love of God that sent the Savior, the love of Christ that endured the Cross, and that everlasting life is only received by those who love Christ, love the Father, and love one another. The Lord’s Table reminds us of love.

May God touch your hearts by His Word.

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The Church Together

Preached to Riverview Baptist on May 21, 2017 at 798 Santa Fe Pike Columbia TN

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Matthew 18:15-20 Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. [16] But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. [17] And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican. [18] Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. [19] Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. [20] For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

I was putting on a t-shirt the other day, something light I could mow the grass in. This is a nice print t-shirt my precious wife bought me made by a company called Kerusso. On one side it has a small cross, and on the other a larger cross. I slid it on the way that I thought it should go, but it was very uncomfortable around the neck and shoulders. I tried to wear it that way for a few minutes before I realized I had it on backwards. Sliding my arms out of the shirt I spun it around, and put it back on. Voila! It felt great that way. I just had my shirt on backwards.

You can wear a shirt backwards, but not comfortably. It is made to go on one way and one way only. My son came to the house one day with his shirt on inside out. I could see the seams. I explained to my boy that if othes saw the seams lie I did they would think him mentally challenged, something that is untrue. I think the same thing when I see men wearing their britches down so low that you can clearly see their underwear. That is not the way that you are to clothe yourself, and the only statement this makes is that you need help dressing yourself!

What does this have to do with our text today? The Bible tells us to:

Romans 13:14 But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.

The Christian, saved by faith in Christ, is daily to “put on Jesus Christ”. We are to clothe ourselves in Him. We are to clothe ourselves in His love doing as He did:

Romans 13:8 Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.

Jesus died to make us into new creatures, reconciled to God and to one another. The Scripture declares:

Ephesians 2:13-20 But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. [14] For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; [15] Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; [16] And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: [17] And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. [18] For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. [19] 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;

God took a bunch of broken, godless, unworthy people and saved us. Saving us He brought us into His family, a family of reconciled people, a Church. If you are saved you are daily to:

Ephesians 4:22-24 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; [23] And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; [24] And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.

take off the old man, the old sinful, filthy clothing that you used to wear and put on the Lord Jesus Christ, the new Man, the Way of the Master. We are to …

Colossians 3:8-11 But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. [9] Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; [10] And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him: [11] Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.

We are to be imitators of Christ. Romans 13:14 Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof.

We are to walk in Love. Ephesians 5:2 And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.

We are to follow God. Ephesians 5:1 Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children;

These are not commands given to people so that we can try and save ourselves. These are commands given to the Children of God, a people saved of God.

If you have been saved by faith in Christ you are to walk in harmony with the saved.
If you have been saved by faith in Christ you are to walk in harmony with the saved.
If you have been saved by faith in Christ you are to walk in harmony with the saved.

God gives no commands to the lost, but that they be saved. But to the saved God demands His family be united in love. That is what our text today is about. The family of God is to work TOGETHER in Christian love.

At the beginning of this text Jesus called a little child to Himself, and set him in the midst (verse 2). Jesus said:

Matthew 18:3-4 And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. [4] Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

The little child that Jesus called not only HEARD Jesus but also OBEYED Jesus by DRAWING NEAR to Jesus. The child RESTED where Jesus commanded he rest. A little child doing this is a picture of the Christian. Many little children doing this is a picture of the CHURCH. The CHURCH is a group of CHRISTIANS walking together under the leadership of Christ.

Which brings us to our text.

The Church In Harmony Is Empowered

Matthew 18:14-15 Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish. [15] Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.

God does not want anyone to perish. The function of the Church is to reach out with Christ’s Gospel, to call others into this Household of Love, this Family of God. But the devil and the flesh is constantly at war with the Church of Christ. The devil will do his best to stir up trouble in the Church. So how is the trouble to be rectified? Jesus said that each member is to handle trouble at the point where it rears its ugly head.

If thy brother trespass against thee. If you have a brother or sister in Christ who has done you wrong, you as believers in Christ are to FIRST OF ALL not tell others about it. You are not to gossip nor suppose. At the point of offense we are to go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone. This is a one on one conversation, not a confrontation.

Years ago at another Church I pastored I had a deacon at war with another deacon’s wife. Every time each of these two people – both children of God – got alone with me or anyone else they started lambasting the other person. I asked the two to do as Jesus said, to come together one on one, and have a conversation. They came together physically, but nearly came to blows because spiritually neither person was willing to “put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh”. A simple misunderstanding grew and grew until it caused the deacon to gather other deacons around him so as to unlawfully expell this family from the Church. In time the Church itself disintegrated. Why? Because the flesh and the devil took over.

The Bible tells us:

Ephesians 4:23-27 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; [24] And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. [25] Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another. [26] Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: [27] NEITHER GIVE PLACE TO THE DEVIL.

When we give place to the FLESH and let violent emotions take us then it isn’t long before we “give place to the devil”. God’s people in discord are to recognize that the unbilical cord that ties us together is the Blood of Calvary. We are all sinners saved by grace. None is perfect, and all subject to fail. Problems in the fabric of love are to be addressed by CONVERSATION not by CONDEMNATION.

Where the flesh is the Throne, the Devil sits upon it.

Tell your brother his fault. If he wil hear, you have gained your brother.

Matthew 18:16 But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.

If the offended brother refuses to have a conversation in love then you are to approach him and attempt to have the same conversation with one or two witnesses. This is not a new precept in the Scripture, for Jesus is just reiterating what God said in the Old Testament.

Deuteronomy 19:15-19 One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any sin, in any sin that he sinneth: at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established. [16] If a false witness rise up against any man to testify against him that which is wrong; [17] Then both the men, between whom the controversy is, shall stand before the LORD, before the priests and the judges, which shall be in those days; [18] And the judges shall make diligent inquisition: and, behold, if the WITNESS BE A FALSE WITNESS, AND HATH TESTIFIED FALSELY AGAINST HIS BROTHER; [19] THEN SHALL YE DO UNTO HIM, AS HE HAD THOUGHT TO HAVE DONE UNTO HIS BROTHER: so shalt thou put the evil away from among you.

Did you know that the NINTH COMMANDMENT does not forbid lying, but it forbids FALSE WITNESS? Too many people think that the Ninth Commandment says “Thou shalt not LIE”. It doesn’t. We read:

Exodus 20:16 Thou shalt not BEAR FALSE WITNESS against thy neighbour.

A “FALSE WITNESS” is what someone is when they say “So and So did this” but they never saw it happen. False witness is wrong for it besmirches someone’s character. Jesus said to us “if your brother will not make amends, take one or two others with you”. These others are WITNESSES to what transpires, and can be called on later in front of the Church as need be. The Apostle Paul used this method even with Churches. He told the hard headed Corinthian Church:

2 Corinthians 13:1 This is the third time I am coming to you. In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established.

He sent this letter to Corinth with two witnesses (Titus and another Christian brother. See 2 Corinthians 12:18). The false witness destroys the fabric of the Church. Jesus continues:

Matthew 18:17 And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.

If the one who you are trying to address will not restore the peace then tell it to the Church. Have a public meeting. Bring witnesses. In most cases this will not be necessary, but sometimes it is. If that disruptive person refuses to make peace even after it is brought before the Church “let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican. Such a person is apparently not saved.

The saved Love.
The saved Love Christ.
The saved Love one Another.
The saved are indwelt by God, Who loves.
Hatred and fighting does not belong in the Family of God.

I have only seen a matter brought before a Church one time in the way described it in the last 47 years that I’ve been a Christian. In that case a man licensed to minister by that Church was maligning his Church. The Pastor, then the Deacons approached the man, who refused to repent. Finally it was brought before the Church. There the man repented, and we celebrated that day, for we were restored to our brother in Christ. That is what God would have us do. Love one another, and lift up one another.

This is the way of Christ.

Matthew 18:18-20 Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. [19] Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. [20] For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

What Is Essential And Non-Essential?

Jesus tells us that the Church has the power to bind on earth and bind in heaven, to loose on earth and to loose in heaven. What gives the Church power with God and power with man?

It Is Not Big Numbers That Matter Jesus said “if two of you shall agree as touching any thing they shall ask”. This is as small a meeting as you can have. You cannot have a “meeting” with less than two, that is, unless you are insane. When two come together loving God with all their heart, and loving one another as Christ loved them. This tiny meeting is attended by Heaven. When two come together in love to pray together:

Our Father Who art in Heaven,
Hallowed be Thy Name!
Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done,
One earth as it is in Heaven.

God manifests Himself in that prayer meeting. Big numbers do not matter. On the Day of Pentecost 120 believers were gathered together in an upper room loving God and loving one another – and God added 3000 to the Church that day. Billy Graham never had such a day!

Matthew 18:20 For where two or three are gathered

The Type Of Christians Do Not Matter The Lord did not say “Where two or three PREACHERS are gathered together”. The importance of the people is not that they are Seminary educated or well versed in Scripture. It can be two or three of any type of Christian. If these two or three are people who love Christ and who seek to glorify the Father, the Lord is there.

The Location Of The Meeting Does Not Matter Jesus said “WHERE two or three are gathered”. They can meet anywhere, and God will bless them. They can meet in a Church building, or in a home, or even in a barn. I have prayed with Christians before standing in a Walmart, or in the middle of a busy sidewalk. I love the words of William Cowper’s hymn:

Jesus, where’er thy people meet,
there they behold thy mercy-seat;
where’er they seek thee thou art found,
and every place is hallowed ground.
For thou, within no walls confined,
inhabitest the humble mind;
such ever bring thee when they come,
and, going, take thee to their home.

Jesus is with His people when they gather together to worship Him and pray. Jesus told the woman at the well of Samaria:

John 4:21-24 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. [22] Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. [23] But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. [24] God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

I have been in large Church buildings where Christ could not be found. Why? Because the people did not come together in spirit and in truth to seek Christ. God will be found when you seek Him TOGETHER. God has said …

Jeremiah 29:13 And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.

1 Chronicles 28:9 … the LORD searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts: if thou seek him, he will be found of thee; but if thou forsake him, he will cast thee off for ever.

The Time Of The Meeting Does Not Matter Jesus said “Where two or three are gathered together in My Name”. He did not specify a time that was most importrant, but that His people gather TOGETHER and that His people gather IN HIS NAME. This speaks of AUTHORITY and POWER. When we come together in the obedience of love to seek our Savior then Jesus manifests Himself to us. He promises that…

Matthew 18:20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name,
there am I in the midst of them.

Jesus only manifests Himself to His Church when we come together in love to the Father and in love to one another. It doesn’t matter WHEN we meet, but HOW we meet. Jesus is in the MIDST of the loving Church. As C.H. Spurgeon said:

Not up in the corner, but here in the midst of them is the Lord. He is the center to which all saints gather. He is the sun in the heavens lighting all. He is the heart in the midst of the body giving life to all its members. “In the midst of them”. Is that not delightful? The Lord Jesus Christ does not come into theasembly of His people to bless the minister only… Like the center of a wheel from which all the spokes radiate, Jesus Christ is the middle of the company.”

This is why harmony is so important in the Church. Not harmony with error, but harmony with love, with God, with one another. The Church building without love is hell on earth. The Christ gathering with love is heaven on earth. Let us affirm one another and walk with Christ in His Kingdom, for His glory forever.

Amen!

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Take It To Jesus

Preached at Riverview Baptist 798 Santa Fe Pike, Columbia TN May 21 2017

Jesus-Said-What-400x400

Matthew 17:14-18 (KJV) And when they were come to the multitude, there came to him a certain man, kneeling down to him, and saying, 15 Lord, have mercy on my son: for he is lunatick, and sore vexed: for ofttimes he falleth into the fire, and oft into the water. 16 And I brought him to thy disciples, and they could not cure him. 17 Then Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him hither to me. 18 And Jesus rebuked the devil; and he departed out of him: and the child was cured from that very hour.

The story that we’re going to see today is not just in Matthew 17:14-21, but also in Mark 9:14-29 and Luke 9:37-43. In these accounts a father is reduced to tears. His child has been afflicted with a terrible disease since he was very young.

For the young man to get better one thing had to happen.
One truth stands out.
One action must be done.

To find hope in a hopeless situation the only hope was to heed Jesus and do as He commanded in verse 17:

Bring Him Here To Me
What Is The Background Of The Story?

Jesus had been up on the Mount of Transfiguration. If you were here last Sunday night you know that Jesus was up on the Mountain and, while Peter, James, and John watched, Jesus was transfigured. His clothing shine bright light. His face shined, and the very power of God poured from Him. Moses and Elijah appeared with Jesus on the mountain. This was not the first time Moses and Elijah stood with Christ on the mountain.

  • Moses Has Been On The Mountain With God. We are told in the Old Testament that Moses went up on Mount Sinai to receive the Law from God. While on that Mountain Christ gave Israel a Law to live by. This is where the Ten Commandments came from (see Exodus 20). God wrote the Law, and gave it to Moses (Exodus 31:18). When Moses came off the mountain he found the Children of Israel worshiping a golden calf, an idol that they made with the gold and jewelry that God gave them (Exodus 32:19). In a rage Moses threw down the Law, breaking the stone tablets. Moses:

Exodus 32:20 (NKJV) …. took the calf which they had made, burned it in the fire, and ground it to powder; and he scattered it on the water and made the children of Israel drink it.

When Moses came off the mountain he confronted idolatry, the worship of false gods. Moses pointed the people back to the God of the Scripture.

  • Elijah Has Been On The Mountain With God. In 1 Kings 18 Elijah confronted idolatry. Queen Jezebel had introduced worship of the devilish god Baal to Israel, a terrible idol that required the sacrifice of children. Elijah stood on the mountain with Christ, and God proved Himself before the people of Israel. Elijah stood before the people and said:

1 Kings 18:21 (NKJV) “How long will you falter between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.”

Elijah Stood With Christ And Against Idolatry.
Moses Stood With Christ And Against Idolatry.
Peter tried to make idols of Moses and Elijah!
Sometimes we idolize people.
We should not. We should bring everything to Jesus.

While on the Mount of Transfiguration Peter said “Let us build three altars here”. But the Father said:

Matthew 17:5 (KJV) … This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.

Jesus is the Beloved Son of God – HEAR HIM.
This is what the Father has said.
This is what all Scripture declares.
Jesus is the Messiah, the Christ – HEAR HIM.

Now we come to today’s story. Jesus comes down off the mountain what does He see?

Matthew 17:14 (KJV) And when they were come to the multitude, there came to him a certain man, kneeling down to him, and saying,

Matthew mentions a multitude is gathered, a large crowd, and they are all standing around a man. Mark tells us more:

Mark 9:14-16 (NKJV) And when He came to the disciples, HE SAW A GREAT MULTITUDE AROUND THEM, AND SCRIBES DISPUTING WITH THEM. 15 Immediately, when they saw Him, all the people were greatly amazed, and running to Him, greeted Him. 16 And He asked the scribes, “What are you discussing with them?”

There is a CROWD and CONFUSION and EVERY PERSON giving their democratic input on how to fix the problem. The Scribes – often noted in the Gospels as the enemies of Christ – are giving their input. A man has come forward with a problem. What is the problem? We read:

Matthew 17:15 (KJV) Lord, have mercy on my son: for he is LUNATICK, and sore vexed: for ofttimes he falleth into the fire, and oft into the water.

Why that’s not a very politically correct thing to say, is it? “My son is a lunatick”. That word “lunatick” (sic) is the Greek σεληνιάζομαι selēniazomai which means “to be moonstruck or affected by the moon”. Some versions translate this as epileptic, but that is NOT a good translation. Dr. John Hughlings Jackson, a British neurologist, discovered Epilepsy and how it affected the human brain. Epilepsy was not known as such in Biblical times. This man said “My son is moon struck” or “out of his mind”. What else did he say?

He is sore vexed. κακῶς kakōs + πάσχω paschō, miserable with evil suffering badly. How bad was this young man?

Matthew 17:15 (KJV) … for ofttimes he falleth into the fire, and oft into the water.

The young man was self destructive.

Young people today often perform “cutting” on themselves, harming themselves. Many young people take their lives. This is not of God. Why was this young person this way? We don’t know. The Bible doesn’t tell us. We just know that this person has been hopelessly afflicted for many years. Mark tells us that … he hath a SPIRIT …

Mark 9:18 (NKJV) … wherever it seizes him, it throws him down; he foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth, and becomes rigid.

Where Do We Find Hope In Hopeless Cases?

The man, I am sure, has gone from doctor to doctor. He is at the end of his rope. He tells Jesus:

Matthew 17:16 (KJV) And I brought him to thy disciples, and THEY COULD NOT CURE HIM.

The poor young man is in anguish. He is surely frightened. Can you imagine being taken over, wallowing on the ground, self destructive. The father said “he throws himself often in the fire” and at other times “he throws himself in the water”. He is confused, delirious, hurting. The Bible tells us that:

1 Corinthians 14:33 God is not the Author of confusion, but of peace ..

and

2 Timothy 1:7 (NKJV) For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

This thing that afflicts the young man is clearly not of God. It is indeed a hopeless situation. Where do we often go to resolve hopeless situations? Often we do as this father did. He goes to HUMANS, and seeks out HUMAN REMEDIES. Now praise God, there are many remedies that we have discovered over the years. God made man in His image and after His likeness, and that has made us creative.

I was talking to the volunteers at the information desk of the hospital the other day about the changes we have gone through since I was a child. I remember telephones being attached to a wall by a cord. I remember pay phones, records, and compact disks. I remember a lot of things that no longer are because we humans have grown in technology.

But man is not God.
We can fix much, but there are many things we cannot fix.
But God can.

This father brought his son to Jesus’ disciples, and they could not heal him. Well of course they could not heal him. Jesus sent the disciples out earlier in this Book:

Matthew 10:1 (KJV) And when {Jesus} had called unto him his twelve disciples, HE GAVE THEM POWER AGAINST UNCLEAN SPIRITS, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease.

But now the Disciples cannot cast out what is afflicting this young man. Why? Because the Disciples themselves do not have the power to do anything. It is Jesus Who gives the power. It is Jesus that has the authority.

Oh dear friends, so often we forget this. If we will be blessed, then it must be because we are attached to Jesus. Jesus said:

Matthew 18:20 (NKJV) For where two or three are GATHERED TOGETHER IN MY NAME, I am there in the midst of them.

Oh, how we need Jesus!
Our Blessed Hope is the Blessed Savior, Jesus Christ!
We have nothing if Jesus is not with us.

When Jesus went up on the mountain with Peter, James, and John the nine Disciples left in the valley needed to understand that their power was not their power. The only power is that of Christ. Jesus told His Church before He ascended unto Heaven:

Matthew 28:18-20 ALL AUTHORITY HAS BEEN GIVEN TO ME in heaven and on earth. 19 GO therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to OBSERVE ALL THINGS THAT I HAVE COMMANDED YOU; and lo, I AM WITH YOU ALWAYS, even to the end of the age. Amen.

The power is of Christ. You can know doctrine, and you should know doctrine. You can know scripture, and you should know scripture. I have known a lot of people who know a lot of stuff like the Scribes did. But the power is of Christ.

There are many times in our lives when we may be brought to our knees like this father. Things confront us that take away our breath. We perhaps have cried out like Job, saying

Job 7:16 (NKJV) I loathe my life; I would not live forever. Let me alone, For my days are but a breath.

What a horrible thing to be in a place where life is no longer a blessing. To cry …

Lamentations 3:7-8 (NKJV) He has hedged me in so that I cannot get out; He has made my chain heavy. 8 Even when I cry and shout, He shuts out my prayer.

When we are overwhelmed by life, where do we go? We must go to Jesus. We must go to Him Who loved us enough to take our sins on Himself. We must go to Him Who dying on Calvary, died with us in mind. We must go to Him and Him alone.

We Must Bring It To Jesus

When Jesus heard the father’s predicament He said:

Matthew 17:17 (KJV) Then Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him hither to me.

Who is Jesus addressing? Not just the father of the child. He is addressing all who are standing there. He is speaking to the unbelievers in the crowd. He is speaking to the apparent Scribes and Pharisees who are standing there. He is speaking to the disciples that have been with Him for at least two years now. He says to all standing there:

O FAITHLESS and PERVERSE Generation!

“Faithless”? Why are they “faithless”? Did they not try and do something. I tell you America, faith in the wrong person is not faith at all. In order for faith to be valuable it must be placed in the Person of God.

Faith is only as good as WHAT backs it.
Faith is only as good as WHO backs it.
Jesus said “Have faith IN GOD” (Mark 11:22)

Our faith must be in God. The Bible teaches us that

1 Corinthians 2:5 … faith must not rest on HUMAN WISDOM but on the POWER OF GOD

Jesus called the crowd that stood around this poor father “faithless” because their faith was everywhere but up. Jesus also called them “perverse”. This is the Greek διαστρέφω diastrephō which means “that which is distorted or perverse”. That which places faith in man is distorted. It is like worshiping a golden calf or a false god named Baal. Only God is God. Only Jesus is Christ. The problem this young man has will not be resolved by man, but God can fix it if you take it to Him. Jesus said:

Bring him to Me

The great preacher C.H. Spurgeon said: “Jesus Christ expects us to treat Him as a living, powerful, interposing One, and to confide in Him as such. … We leave some cases, and give them up instead of presenting them constantly to Him; we limit the Holy One of Israel; we grieve His Spirit, and vex His holy mind; but if, as children trust their father, we would trust in Jesus unstaggeringly with an Abrahamic faith, believing that what He has promised He is able to also to perform, then we would see even cases as that before us brought into the light of day …”

In the parallel Gospel the father says to Jesus …

Mark 9:22 (KJV) … IF thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us.

Jesus, can You help him? Have compassion on us and help us.” Jesus throws that IF back at the father, saying

Mark 9:23 (KJV) … IF thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.

IF you can believe – have faith in Christ – then all things are possible to him that believes. For years the father has deposited the coin of faith in different banks, just as we do today. We have faith in false gods, humanity, humanism, medicine, technology, idol after idol. But now this father turns to Jesus and puts his faith in Him Who is able to do anything. The father cries out:

Mark 9:24 (KJV) …. and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.

Lord, I believe, but my faith is pitiful. Nevertheless have faith in Christ. The Spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak (Matthew 26:41). Nevertheless have faith in God. Have faith in Christ.

Mark 11:22-26 (KJV) Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith in God. 23 For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith. 24 Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them. 25 And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. 26 But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.

Faith in God is to not only believe He can, but to live His Word. The father brought his son to Christ. What will Jesus do? Jesus will bless him.

Matthew 17:18 (KJV) … And Jesus rebuked the devil; and he departed out of him: and the child was cured from that very hour.

Some say “that wasn’t a devil, but epilepsy”.
Believe that if you will, but the Bible says “the devil departed out of him”.
Others say “but doesn’t the text seem to describe epilepsy?”
Does it? But what does the text say? Where is your faith?
Is it in what the Scripture says, or what someone else says?
Faith in the wrong cup is not faith at all.

Let us believe the Word of God.
Let us put our faith in Jesus.
Have faith in God.

The disciples came to Jesus later and asked:

Matthew 17:19 (KJV) …. Why could not we cast him out?

Jesus said:

Matthew 17:20-21 (KJV) And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. 21 Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.

Misplaced belief is no belief at all. Misplaced faith is perverted. Our focus is to be on Jesus. Our eyes are to be on Him. Do you believe Him for salvation? Have you received Him as Lord and Savior? Do you reckon yourselves to live forever because He died for you? Do you believe He has risen from the dead, ever to live and make intercession for us. Do you believe in Him?

You may say with this father, “Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief.” If you will just bring what you have and invest it in Christ you will be saved. If you will just trust Him and believe what He has said you shall have eternal life. Jesus ends with:

This kind does not go out but by prayer and fasting.

Prayer to Him is answered. Fasting or self denial for His sake is honored. Believe Him. Receive Him. Give all to Him. May Christ bless you richly.

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On The Mountain With Jesus

Preached At Riverview Baptist The Evening Of May 14, 2017
798 Santa Fe Pike, Columbia, TN

1

Matthew 17:1-9  And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart,  [2]  And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light.  [3]  And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elijah talking with him.  [4]  Then answered Peter, and said unto Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah.  [5]  While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.  [6]  And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their face, and were sore afraid.  [7]  And Jesus came and touched them, and said, Arise, and be not afraid.   [8]  And when they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no man, save Jesus only.  [9]  And as they came down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, saying, Tell the vision to no man, until the Son of man be risen again from the dead. 

Jesus took Peter, James, and John to a high mountain with Him.

Why didn’t Jesus take all the disciples with Him?

Because He was grooming LEADERS.

Peter Is The Chief APOSTLE

James will be the PASTOR of the Church at Jerusalem

John would write the majority of the New Testament for Christ

God’s Leaders Must Be With Jesus

God’s Leaders must focus on Jesus. God wants you to be a leader, a world changer, but your focus must always be Jesus. The Apostle wrote:

Hebrews 2:9-10 But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man. [10] For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.

We see Jesus. We follow Jesus. We follow Him through the storm. We keep our eyes on Him. We are His followers – not followers of the world or of popular opinion, but of Jesus.

Jesus Is The Leader, We The Followers

Matthew 17:1 And after six days Jesus TAKETH Peter

Six days prior to this event Peter rebuked Jesus for saying that He was going to the Cross. Jesus told Peter, “Get thee behind Me, Satan, for you do not savor the things that be of God”. Peter failed Jesus, but still when Jesus starts to take a road trip up the Mount of Transfiguration Jesus still takes Peter with Him.

God knows there are going to be times when we fail, but God wants us to keep on trying. After Jesus called Peter “Satan” Peter could have walked away mad. Peter didn’t. He received the rebuke and, though he may not have understood it, he continued to lovingly follow Jesus.

Those who want to be blessed must be willing to lovingly follow Jesus.

Jesus knew that there would be times we would fail. The Bible says that:

1 John 3:20 (KJV) … if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things.

God knows all things. Jesus knew that King David – a man after His own heart – would fail Him with Bathsheba. God knew that Moses would strike the Rock, that Elijah would run in terror from Jezebel, that Samson would get a bad haircut from Delilah, and that Peter would betray Jesus three times before the rooster crowed.

Isaiah 46:9-11 (KJV) … I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, 10 Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure: 11 Calling a ravenous bird from the east, the man that executeth my counsel from a far country: yea, I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it.

Psalm 139:1-6 (ESV) O Lord, you have searched me and known me! 2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. 3 You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. 4 Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether. 5 You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. 6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.

God never gave up on Peter, and He will never give up on you. Peter is mentioned FIRST not LAST. We also read:

Matthew 17:1 And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart,  

Jesus TAKETH Peter, James, and John. Christ takes us to the mountain. We have no power to go into the mountain of God by ourselves. We have no ability to get there but by Christ, but by God.

God must take us by the hand and lead us.

Psalm 3:3 NASB But You, O LORD, are a shield about me, My glory, and the One who lifts my head.

Psalms 40:1-2 …. I waited patiently for the LORD; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry. [2] He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings.

Habakkuk 3:18-19 Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I WILL JOY IN THE GOD OF MY SALVATION. [19] The LORD God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds’ feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places. To the chief singer on my stringed instruments.

Those people who are God’s people are to learn to wait upon the Lord. To listen for His Voice. To heed His direction. Jesus did not MAKE Peter, James, and John come with Him. He bid them come, and they heard His Voice. Peter, James and John did not lead Jesus up the Mount of Transfiguration. He called, and they answered. He led, and they followed.

Psalms 27:14 Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.

Psalms 37:34 Wait on the LORD, and keep his way, and he shall exalt thee to inherit the land: when the wicked are cut off, thou shalt see it.

Waiting on the Lord does NOT mean to lay down and do nothing. It means to seek His face. It means to follow Him and listen to His Voice. It means to let Him lead your hearts as you submit to His Word and His love.

Jesus Is Manifest To Us When We Follow Him

The casual or nominal believer may be saved, but there is no deep blessing for them. To be deeply blessed of Christ you must follow Christ. Peter, James, and John were taken by Jesus up a mountain. We read:

Matthew 17:2 {Jesus} was TRANSFIGURED before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light. 

Did Jesus change, or were their eyes opened?

The word “transfigured” is the Greek μεταμορφόω metamorphoō, which means “to undergo metamorphosis, to change into that which you will be”. When Christ walked among men He seemed as a man, just like us. But it was on the mountaintop of obedience that Christ was revealed as Who He is. This same word is used in:

Romans 12:1-2  I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.  [2]  And be not conformed to this world: but BE YE TRANSFORMED by the renewing of your mind, …

Be ye TRANSFORMED” is also the Greek μεταμορφόω metamorphoō. Did Jesus change, or did the disciples change? I believe that Jesus was always Jesus, but as they followed Him in obedience they began to see Jesus as He is.

His face did shine as the sun. Jesus Christ is the manifest Shekinah glory of God, the Dawn from on High Who visits us” as we are told in Luke 1:78.

His rainment (clothing) was as white as the light. Jesus Christ is holy, righteous, and pure. This is no mere Man, but God become Man. The Scripture says:

2 Corinthians 5:21 (ESV) For our sake {God the Father} made {Christ} to be sin who knew no sin, so that in {Christ} we might become the righteousness of God.

(Hebrews 7:26 ESV) … high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens.

Jesus Christ is revealed on the Mountain as Who He is. He is God manifest. He shines. And as He stands on the Mountain, two of His Generals appear by His side:

Matthew 17:3 And, behold, there appeared unto them MOSES AND ELIJAH TALKING WITH HIM.

The Law And The Prophets Are Fulfilled In Christ

Jesus is shining. His clothing – a common one piece robe made probably by His mother – is transformed into a brilliant light such as no one has ever seen. This is highly symbolic. When the common touches the uncommon Christ, it too becomes uncommon. His clothing shines. Then Elijah and Moses show up. Are they shining too? No, the text doesn’t tell us this.

Only Jesus is shining – like He is spotlighted …

and Elijah and Moses are talking with Jesus!!!

They are not commanding Jesus.

They are CONSULTING Jesus.

John 1:17 For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.

The Jews called their Old Testament “The Law and the Prophets”. Elijah represents the Prophets because he was the greatest Old Testament Prophet. When the Jews celebrated the Passover Meal they always set a place for Elijah, for Elijah never died. The Elders taught that the end of time would not be until Elijah came.

Elijah and Moses talking with Jesus is a picture of the Law and the Prophets talking to Jesus. The Law and the Prophets were submitted to Jesus. Jesus is spotlighted, but the Law and the Prophets are not.

The Law and the Prophets pointed to Jesus. All of Scripture points to Jesus. But it is Jesus Who takes us to the mountaintop, to the place where we can hear God. Jesus said:

Luke 16:16 The LAW AND THE PROPHETS were until John {the Baptist}: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it.

The Law and the Prophets spoke of Christ. When Jesus went on that mountaintop the Apostle Paul wrote:

Romans 3:20-25 Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. [21] 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;

When Jesus stood on that mountaintop the mountain did not glow, but Jesus did.

Jesus is the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets.

He is the One that these Two Witnesses testified of.

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

Jesus is the Subject. Jesus is the Son. Jesus is the Christ that the Law and the Prophets witnessed. God drives this point home through the impetuousness of Peter.

Matthew 17:4 Then answered Peter, and said unto Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah.

Peter is like many of us who do not know when to stop talking. There are times when we just need to listen to God. The Law and the Prophets are two witnesses, testifying to the uniqueness of Christ. Peter, James, and John are on the mountain:

not for a business meeting,

not for a church social,

not to fellowship with one another,

nor to be entertained.

They are to SEE JESUS.

Do you know why people come to Church?

On March 9-29 of 2017 the Gallup Organization asked people why they attend Church. People come for a variety of reasons, but the number one overwhelming reason was to hear the Word of God and apply it to their lives.

Matthew_17_1t13_On_The_Mountain

not to get involved in drama,

nor to listen to disruption from unruly members,

nor even to see the cute baby!

People come to see Jesus. They come to hear from God. This is what we all need in this desperate, sin ravaged world. People need the guidance that only Jesus can give through His Word. The top reasons are, and this is directly from Gallup:

Peter said “Jesus, let’s make THREE TABERNACLES”. He didn’t know what he was saying. The Law (Moses) and the Prophets (Elijah) was important, but Christ is the most important. The Law and the Prophets testify of Christ. The Scripture points to Christ.

And the seeking world wants to hear of Jesus.

Almost before Peter stops speaking Another Witness speaks up.

We read:

Matthew 17:5 While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.

The Law and the Prophets cannot be understood apart from Jesus Christ. Jesus is the Father’s Beloved Son. He is the One we come here to hear about. Jesus is the Messiah, THE Messiah. He is the One that the Law and Prophets foretold. He is the One Savior that God promised He would send.

It’s all about Jesus!

Not the Jesus of your imagination, but the Jesus of Scripture, the Jesus Who defines Scripture.

Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: [9] Not of works, lest any man should boast.

The Gift of God is Jesus Christ. To be saved is to receive Jesus as He is. To be redeemed is to love the Redeemer. To worship the Father you must come through the Son. To be well pleasing to God, you must love and obey the Well Pleasing Jesus.

Do you know Him?

Oh that everyone who reads or hears this would receive Him, for only through Him can you be on the Mountain with God!

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Take Up The Cross

Preached at Riverview Baptist May 14, 2017
798 Santa Fe Pike, Columbia, TN

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Matthew 16:21-28 (KJV) From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day. [22] Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee. [23] But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offense unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men. 24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. 25 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. 26 For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? 27 For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works. 28 Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.

Last Wednesday we studied how Jesus asked two questions of His Disciples. Those two questions were:

What does the WORLD say about Me?

What do YOU say about Me?

The world has many ideas about Who Jesus is, and the reason that Jesus ministered. The world sees Jesus in a very limited light. But the Disciple of Christ thinks of Jesus in a very specific way. We agree with the Apostle Peter that …

Jesus is The Christ, The Son of The Living God.

Until you understand that Jesus is THE Christ, THE Messiah sent by THE Only God to save this world; until you understand that Jesus ALONE is – as Jesus said in John 14:6 –

The Way, The Truth, and The Life. No man comes to the Father but by Him.”

There is but one Way to come to God, and that is through the Messiah, Jesus Christ. To come to Christ you must understand the Cross.

There is no Savior without a Cross.

There are no Saved without a Cross.

Christ came to this earth as Messiah to deny Himself and so save us.

We who are Christ’s are called to deny ourselves and take up the Cross.

Peter gave Jesus a great answer when he said You Jesus are the Christ, the Son of the Living God. Following this wonderful answer we are told that …

Jesus Chose To Take Up The Cross

Matthew 16:21 (KJV) From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he MUST go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.

Being the Son of God is a wonderful thing. Jesus is wonderful, awe inspiring. He Who should be enthroned came from Heaven to earth. But He came the first time in His incarnation not to be enthroned, but on a mission to save sinners. Jesus Christ came to save sinners.

If Jesus is going to save sinners Jesus MUST go to Jerusalem!

Jerusalem is where the Temple is. Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29). Mankind has fallen into sin. Darkness abounds. But at the right time:

Galatians 4:4-7 (ESV) But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. 6 And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.

If we would come from a place of lostness to a place where we could be found and brought into the Family of God Christ MUST go to Jerusalem. The Bible says that:

1 Corinthians 5:7 (ESV) … Christ, our Passover Lamb, has been sacrificed.

Jesus did for us what we could not do. He made the only way to save us.

Jesus had to go to Jerusalem. Jesus had to suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes. Religion said that you could work your way to God. Religion has always said that you can work your way to God. The earliest error of man was The Tower of Babel where the people said:

Genesis 11:4 (ESV) … “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.”

Religion does not glorify God, but glorifies man. “Let us make a name for ourselves” is the same thing that every elder, and chief priest, and scribe said in Jesus’ day. They hated Jesus because He came to save, because He came to do the Father’s Will. Jesus must suffer.

Jesus must be killed. He had to deny Himself, to turn away from comfort and what He deserved to die on the Cross. If Christ had not taken up the Cross there would be no salvation. Jesus chose the nails. Jesus said:

John 10:14-18 (ESV) I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. 17 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”

Jesus chose the nails. He took up the Cross to save us. He did this willingly. No one forced Jesus to Calvary.

The Devil Despises The Cross

Peter gave a good account of himself up to this point. But when Jesus begins to explain that He must take up the Cross, we read:

Matthew 16:22 (KJV) Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee.

I am certain that Peter was SINCERE in what he said, but SINCERITY is no measurement of truth. There are many today who are SINCERE in their beliefs but they are SINCERELY wrong. I am certain that Peter spoke out of a sense of EMOTIONAL LOVE for Jesus. He loves Jesus, and doesn’t want Him to die. But again, EMOTIONAL LOVE is no measure of truth. Look at Jesus’ reply to Peter:

Matthew 16:23 (KJV) {Jesus} turned, and said unto Peter, GET THEE BEHIND ME, SATAN: thou art an offense unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.

How harsh those words sound! Get thee behind Me, SATAN! What you have said Peter is not godly but DEVILISH. The Devil hates the Cross. The Devil despises the Way of God unto salvation. The Devil disguises himself in love and care.

The Devil tells us “God is too good to send anyone to hell. God loves everyone. The Cross was a tragic mistake. Just love and you all will be in Heaven on day”.

There is no salvation without the Cross. Jesus MUST die if we are to live. Jesus MUST rise if we will one day rise with Him. There is no Savior without the Cross, and there are no saved without the Cross. Jesus told Peter:

You do not desire the things that be of God, but you desire the things that be of man.

To Be Saved You MUST Take Up The Cross

Matthew 16:24 (KJV) THEN said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

Do you see that word “THEN” in verse 24? We must be careful to note every word in the Bible, even the small words. That word “THEN” is an ADVERB that connects the proceeding verses of text to what follows. “THEN” means “AT THAT TIME”. Jesus has just explained that a denial of the Cross is Satanic, Devilish, of this world and not of Heaven. Then AT THAT TIME – right in this context – Jesus said:

If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his Cross, and follow Me!

To Be Saved A Person First Of All Denies Ones’ Self

The world says “Love yourself”. In 1984 the British American band Foreigner produced a top selling song “I Want To Know What Love Is”. The man who wrote the song Mick Jones said:

I Want To Know What Love Is came up at three in the morning sometime in 1984. I don’t know where it came from. I consider it a gift that was sent through me. I think there was something bigger than me behind it. I’d say it was probably written entirely by a higher force.”

Jones never says what that higher force was. But I do think that God made us in His image and in His likeness not to expend all of our love on ourselves. Genuine love reaches outward and upward. The world is desperately seeking love. The world wants to know what love is. But love is not found in selfishness and self centeredness, but in reaching outside yourself to life others up. Jesus said:

Matthew 16:25 (KJV) For WHOSOEVER will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.

When the world revolves around YOU and YOU ALONE then you will be be very lonely. No marriage survives when each partner believes themselves the center of the universe. No family grows when it’s all about me. I watched the other day as a young mother pushed her child – a precious baby girl – through the supermarket while she ignored that baby to talk on her phone. That is not love!

If you make life about YOU then you are doing the same thing that Adam did in the Garden of Eden. God put man in a perfect environment – gave him every part of his heart’s desire – and said:

Genesis 2:17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof THOU SHALT SURELY DIE.

If Adam loved God he would cherish what God gave him, and despise what God forbade him. Yet when the serpent entered the Garden (a picture of Satan) he whispered:

Love yourself first! God is depriving YOU!

Genesis 3:4-5 You shall surely not die, for God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as godlike the Trinity, knowing good and evil.

The Bible tells us that pride comes before destruction, and an arrogant spirit before a fall (Proverbs 16:18). Adam stopped loving God and loved himself most of all. This is what caused the world to lose Paradise.

Matthew 16:25 (KJV) For WHOSOEVER will save his life shall lose it: and WHOSOEVER will lose his life for my sake shall find it.

Jesus Christ died on the Cross, losing His life for OUR sake. He denied Himself to save us. If we would be saved we must DENY OURSELVES and follow Him. Salvation is a free gift from God, but in order to receive that free gift you must empty your hands.

We stop being our own boss, and DENY OURSELVES while clinging to Christ. Giving our lives to Him, He blesses us. Foreigner and the world said:

I Want To Know What Love Is”

Love is Christ dying in my place, and rising as my Promise.

Love is Jesus willingly reaching outward as the nails were pounded into His hands and feet.

Love is Jesus saying “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do”.

Love is the Blood that dripped from His side

the Blood that ran down that post

the Blood that covered our sins.

Love is the offer of salvation to whosoever will.

As the Scripture declares:

Romans 10:8-11 (ESV) … “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); 9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. 11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.”

To believe in Him means to entrust to Him your everything.

Deny Yourself, Take Up The Cross, Follow Jesus … Or Lose Your Soul

When Adam loved himself rather than loving God he lost Paradise. We lose the hope of Paradise and even our own souls when we do not deny ourselves and take up the Cross. Jesus said:

Matthew 16:26 (KJV) For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?

The most valuable thing you own is not your homes or your businesses, nor even your bodies. The most valuable thing you own is YOUR SOUL. It is your SOUL that you will have when this old body dies. Your SOUL is the YOU inside of that cage of flesh. And if you gain the whole world, but lose your soul, what value is that?

Jesus said in Matthew 7:13-14 (ESV) “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.

The gate that leads to blessing is to deny yourself, to take up the Cross, and to follow Jesus. The world will not choose that way. The world chooses self love, what pleases self, and in so doing loses its soul. They take the WIDE road of selfishness. Jesus is Who we follow. Jesus is Who we adore!

Hebrews 12:2-3 (ESV) …. looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.

Jesus saw JOY in the Cross because He saw YOU REDEEMED in the Cross. When you believe in Him, receiving Him as Lord and Savior, you enter into the Kingdom of God. And God enters into YOUR life. You in Christ, and Christ in you.

Jesus endured the shame and public embarrassment of the Cross because He looked toward the goal, the saving of many souls. The Christ follower endures the public shame – and there is shame because the world hates the Cross. We endure and carry our Cross so that others might be saved. God called you for a purpose, and your purpose is to do what He has given you to do. This is your Cross. Bear it proudly!

Pastor John MacArthur said: “It is only when you get past that shame, that fear, that embarrassment, whatever it is, that you become useful to God.”

The world does not understand the Cross, but we who are Christ’s bear the Cross. The world calls us fools – but God calls us Kings.

1 Corinthians 1:18 For the preaching of the Cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God

If you are carrying your Cross then you are occupied with carrying it for the Lord.

What If I Will Not Receive The Cross?

Matthew 16:27-28 (KJV) For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works. 28 Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.

Jesus told us that He is coming again, and that He will reward every man according to His works. A judgment day is coming. Jesus ended His teaching on the Cross with a statement:

There be some standing here which shall not taste of death till they see the Son of Man coming in His Kingdom

When the read the commentaries you’ll find a variety of interpretations on this verse, many of which are wrong. I want to focus not on a commentary, but the plain sense of the text. Jesus exhorted His listeners to deny themselves, take up their Cross, and follow Him. Those who do not follow Him will one day “taste of death” when they see Christ coming in His Kingdom. Jesus has promised:

John 8:51 Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, HE SHALL NEVER SEE DEATH.

and to Martha Jesus said:

John 11:25-26 …. I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: [26] And whosoever LIVETH AND BELIEVETH IN ME SHALL NEVER DIE. Believest thou this?

Jesus Christ “by the grace of God tasted death” (Hebrews 2:9) so that we who believe in Him would never have to taste death. So what Jesus is saying in our final text does not apply to His Children by faith – but those who reject Him as Lord and Savior now. There is coming a day when Jesus will return to establish His Kingdom on this earth. Those who reject Him now will one day stand before Him at a Great White Throne, a terrible place where all who reject the love of God will go. The Apostle John wrote …

Revelation 20:11-15 And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. [12] And I SAW THE DEAD, SMALL AND GREAT, STAND BEFORE GOD; AND THE BOOKS WERE OPENED: AND ANOTHER BOOK WAS OPENED, WHICH IS THE BOOK OF LIFE: AND THE DEAD WERE JUDGED OUT OF THOSE THINGS WHICH WERE WRITTEN IN THE BOOKS, ACCORDING TO THEIR WORKS. [13] And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. [14] And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. [15] And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

Those who reject Christ and His Cross of love will one day find themselves reaping what they have sown. This is not what God wants for you. Deny yourself. Take up the Cross. Follow Him. Receive Christ as your Lord and Savior, and He will receive you in love for all eternity. What will it profit you to gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Receive Christ. Receive His salvation.

May God touch your hearts with His Word.

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Beware The Leaven

Preached at Riverview Baptist 798 Santa Fe Pike Columbia Tn
on the evening of May 7, 2017

carbs-bread

Matthew 16:1-12  The Pharisees also with the Sadducees came, and tempting desired him that he would shew them a sign from heaven.  [2]  He answered and said unto them, When it is evening, ye say, It will be fair weather: for the sky is red.   [3]   And in the morning, It will be foul weather to day: for the sky is red and lowring. O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times?   [4]   A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonah. And he left them, and departed.  [5]  And when his disciples were come to the other side, they had forgotten to take bread.  [6]  Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.   [7]  And they reasoned among themselves, saying, It is because we have taken no bread.  [8]   Which when Jesus perceived, he said unto them, O ye of little faith, why reason ye among yourselves, because ye have brought no bread?   [9]   Do ye not yet understand, neither remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets ye took up?   [10]   Neither the seven loaves of the four thousand, and how many baskets ye took up?   [11]   How is it that ye do not understand that I spake it not to you concerning bread, that ye should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees?   [12]  Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.

I was at the local Walmart the other day (I feel like I’m a shareholder there) when I saw an older gentleman wearing a “Vietnam Veteran” hat. Whenever I see a veteran I try and speak to that person and thank them for their service to our country. I walked up to the man and said “Good Afternoon”. He immediately responded “What’s good about it? It’s rained so much that even the ducks are looking for shelter”. The man was pushing a shopping cart filled with food. He himself was three times my size – and I am not little. He’s standing not in the rain, but in a huge climate controlled store with every food item imaginable. He came through one of the worst wars our country ever fought, a miserable war fought by politicians – much like the Korean war – and this man was walking about with all arms and legs.

In short, he is blessed. He is blessed beyond measure, and doesn’t even know it. He is blessed that, though we were having rainy days, we we’re being flooded like much of the northern and eastern United States were. How can we be so blessed and not even notice it? How can we as Americans be so blessed and yet never thank God for those blessings, nor even notice the blessings?

Beware the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

The Pharisees and Sadducees – two religious groups in Jesus’ day – stood in front of Jesus and said:

Show Us A Sign From Heaven

What they were really saying was this:

Jesus, if You are the Messiah, show us a miracle from Heaven”

Now I want you to think about that for a minute. How many miracles had Jesus shown the Pharisees and Sadducees up to this point?

  • The Pharisees saw Jesus cast out demons from people, and said (Matthew 9:34) “He casteth out devils through the prince of the devils.”
  • The Pharisees saw Jesus heal a man with a crippled hand and (Matthew 12:14) “went out, and held a council against him, how they might destroy him.”
  • The Pharisees and Sadducees saw Jesus feed five thousand with two fish and five loaves of bread (see Matthew 14:16-21).
  • The Pharisees and Sadducees saw Jesus feed four thousand with seven loaves of bread and several small fish (see Matthew 15:32-38).

The Pharisees and Sadducees have seen Jesus do miracle after miracle, and they stand before Him and say “Show us a sign from Heaven”. Jesus told them:

Matthew 16:4 A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonah.

This is not the first time Jesus made this statement to the Pharisees and Sadducees. The Scribes and Pharisees asked Jesus back in:

Matthew 12:38  Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from thee.

Jesus told them:

Matthew 12:39-40  But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonah:   [40]   For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

The Pharisees and Sadducees had hardened their hearts against any miracle that Christ could do. The only sign that might be understood by those who had so hardened themselves was the crucifixion, death, and resurrection of Christ. The standing sign that Jesus has given to the world that He is the Only Messiah is that He willingly gave Himself on Calvary. That He suffered the torment of beatings and the nails, and that Jesus hung on that Cross until our sins were paid for.

Jesus died because of our sins.

Jesus could heal the sicknesses caused by sin. He could heal leprosy, blindness, the mute, and the crippled. Jesus even reversed death by calling Lazarus from the tomb, and raising a 12 year girl back to life. There was nothing that Jesus could not do.

Jesus fed five thousand with two fish and five loaves of bread. 5+2=7, the number of God. Only God could do this. Only God could take 7 pieces of food and make it feed 5000. Jesus Christ is God’s Sign from Heaven! Jesus is the Messiah!

Then Jesus did His encore performance. We read:

Matthew 15:30-31  And great multitudes came unto him, having with them those that were lame, blind, dumb, maimed, and many others, and cast them down at Jesus’ feet; and HE HEALED THEM:  [31]  Insomuch that the multitude wondered, when they saw the dumb to speak, the maimed to be whole, the lame to walk, and the blind to see: and they glorified the God of Israel.

Jesus healed person after person, all day long. Then as they day wore on Jesus had compassion on the multitudes:

Matthew 15:32-34  Then Jesus called his disciples unto him, and said, I have compassion on the multitude, because they continue with me now three days, and have nothing to eat: and I will not send them away fasting, lest they faint in the way.   [33]  And his disciples say unto him, Whence should we have so much bread in the wilderness, as to fill so great a multitude?  [34]  And Jesus saith unto them, How many loaves have ye? And they said, Seven, and a few little fishes.

Jesus had seven – five loaves and two little fishes – when He fed 5000. Now there are 4000 to feed. What does He have? Seven. SEVEN. SEVEN Loaves, and a few fish. Jesus has them sit down just as He did before. Jesus gave thanks to God, and broke the bread, and gave it to His disciples, and the food multiplied until all were fed. We are told in:

Matthew 15:38  And they that did eat were four thousand men, beside women and children.

And now the Pharisees and Sadducees want a sign. They want a sign. Oh, they have had sign after sign, blessing after blessing, miracle after miracle, but have seen nothing because their hearts are hardened.

Take The Bread But Beware The Leaven

Matthew 16:4-6 … {Jesus}left {the Pharisees and Sadducees}, and departed.  [5]  And when his disciples were come to the other side, they had forgotten to take bread.  [6]  Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.

Jesus had just performed a miracle where He had fed above four thousand people with 7 loaves of bread and a few fish. So Jesus and His disciples get in a boat and go to the other side of the lake. Now there was bread left over – seven baskets of food was left over following the miracle. Seven baskets, large baskets, plenty of food for later.

And the disciples forget to take bread with them.

Now that’s a bone headed stunt. But I understand. I’m forgetful. I forget things at times. I often go to the store to buy one thing, and end up buying ten other things and forget to pick up the one thing I came for. I did it just the other day. Humans after foolishly forgetful. So when Jesus said:

Take Heed And Beware Of The Leaven Of The Pharisees And Sadducees

They thought Jesus was chastising them for forgetting the bread.

Matthew 16:7 And they reasoned among themselves, saying, It is because we have taken no bread.

Oh, it’s because WE messed up. WE forgot to take bread. WE should have taken those 7 baskets of leftovers, and now WE are out of bread. But Beloved, JESUS IS THE BREAD OF LIFE. He tells His disciples:

John 6:32-35  Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven.   [33]   For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world.   [34]  Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread.  [35]  And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.

The disciples may have forgotten to take the seven leftover baskets of food, but they had not forsaken the Bread of Life. Christ is the Bread of God that comes down from Heaven.

John 6:47-51   Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.   [48]   I am that bread of life.   [49]   Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead.   [50]   This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die.   [51]   I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.

Jesus Christ is the Bread of Life. He was not concerned that His disciples left 7 baskets of bread on the other side. Jesus could raise up baskets of bread from the sand of the seashore. Jesus could speak bread into existence, just as Jesus spoke the earth and all that is in it into existence. The Bible says:

John 1:1-3  In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  [2]  The same was in the beginning with God.  [3]  All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.

It is Jesus Who was with both Father and Spirit in the beginning of creation. It is Jesus Who shaped Adam of the dust of the ground, and with His kiss breathed into Him the breath of life. The Jesus Who made bread enough to feed above 5000 and above 4000 is the Jesus Who gave His life for this world. The Jesus Who healed person after person of corruption could not heal the sins of this world unless He Himself, like bread, was broken. The reason that Jesus came into this world was to give us access to the Father.

John 14:6 (NKJV) Jesus said to him, I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

Jesus entered this world through a manger in Bethlehem, grew up in Nazareth, ministered throughout Israel and Rome, died on a Cross at Calvary, and rose again three days and nights later. Jesus Christ is the Bread of Heaven, the perfect Sacrifice for our sins.

Colossians 1:21-22 (NKJV) And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled 22 in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight—

Jesus died for us. He is the Bread of Heaven in Whom was no sin, but died for our sins. Jesus paid the ultimate penalty so that we would not have to suffer hell through out eternity.

1 Peter 1:18-20 (NKJV) … knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. 20 He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you

Jesus Christ is the Bread of Heaven. If you, by faith, receive Him as He is, then you will live forever with Him.

Galatians 3:22-26 (NKJV) But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. 23 But before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed. 24 Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25 But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. 26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.

The Scripture declares that all are sinners, and that sin is deadly, and that sin is against God. But God Himself came to this earth to pay for our sins, to release us from the power of sin, and to bring us into His Kingdom, the Kingdom of Heaven.

Jesus told His disciples:

Matthew 16:9-12 Do ye not yet understand, neither remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets ye took up?   [10]   Neither the seven loaves of the four thousand, and how many baskets ye took up?   [11]   How is it that ye do not understand that I spake it not to you concerning bread, that ye should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees?   [12]  Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.

Jesus IS the Bread – He cared nothing for the leftover bread. He is THE Bread from Heaven.

We Are To Beware The Leaven (Doctrine) Of The Pharisees And Sadducees

Leaven” is yeast. I love to bake bread. There’s nothing better than fresh baked bread. But you cannot make a decent, edible bread without yeast. If you have ever eaten the Lord’s Table with us you know that the bread we serve at the Lord’s Table is UNLEAVENED bread. It is hard to eat. Someone told me they went to a Church one time and ate bread at the Lord’s Table that was soft, like loaf bread. That is NOT unleavened bread. Soft bread is soft because yeast has been mixed into it. When yeast is introduced to flour, water, and sugar the yeast begins to reproduce. One of the byproducts of its reproduction is carbon dioxide, the same gas that humans breath out. If you have ever looked at a piece of sliced white bread you’ll see tiny pockets all through the bread. This is where the carbon dioxide caused bubbles in the dough causing it to rise. That leaven called yeast passes through ALL of the dough, so much so that once it it baked the bread is light and fluffy.

We use unleavened bread at the Lord’s Table because this is what Jesus used. But we use leavened bread in our meals, for sandwiches, for regular eating. The bread that Jesus reproduced to feed the five thousand and the four thousand was LEAVENED bread.

Jesus said “Beware the LEAVEN of the Pharisees and the Sadducees”. The LEAVEN or the DOCTRINE of these religious groups was to REJECT CHRIST in favor of humanism or religion. The Pharisees of Jesus day represented the religious RIGHT without Christ. The Sadducees of Jesus day represented the religious LEFT without Christ. We are confronted with the same attacks today.

  • The Sadducees Were The Religious LEFT Who Minimize Sin And It’s Impact. It looks the other way on what God says is evil. It smiles at sins that are destructive to the fabric of our society. It twists the Scriptures to make it seem as if – since Christ paid for sin – we are now free to sin at will. The Apostle Paul responded to such things in His day by writing:

Romans 6:1-2  What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?  [2]  God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?

Romans 6:11-18  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.  [15]  What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.  [16]  Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?  [17]  But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.  [18]  Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.

Those who are saved by faith in Christ are no longer servants of sin, but are servants of righteousness. We who are saved by Christ live for Christ. We live with Christ.

  • The Pharisees were the religious RIGHT who maximize human effort while rejecting Christ. Salvation is entirely a gift of God. The Pharisees plagued the early Church by telling Gentiles who were never circumcised that they need to be circumcised in order to be saved. This is not true. Salvation is a pearl of great price. It is blessing that God offers to all. The Apostle Peter preached:

Acts 2:38-39 (NKJV) “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.”

The Pharisees add to salvation by adding things which God has never added.

What shall wash away my sin?

Nothing but the blood of Jesus?

What shall make me whole again?

Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Oh precious is the flow,

That makes me white as snow,

No other fount I know,

Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

The doctrine of the Pharisees and the Sadducees robs the world of the joy of salvation. It is …

Titus 3:5-7 (NKJV) … not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

Neither Pharisee nor Sadducee walked with Christ. The Christian way is to walk with Christ. Once saved by Grace, we live in righteousness and love. We live in His Kingdom doing His will until we meet Him in eternity forever.

May God touch your hearts with His Word!

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Lord, Help Me

Preached to Riverview Baptist, 798 Santa Fe Pike, Columbia, TN
on the morning of May 7 2017

Jean-Germain_Drouais_-_The_Woman_of_Canaan_at_the_Feet_of_Christ_-_WGA06696

Matthew 15:21-28 (KJV)21 Then Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon. 22 And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil. 23 But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us. 24 But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 25 Then came she and worshiped him, saying, Lord, help me. 26 But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs. 27 And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table. 28 Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.

Last week we saw Jesus walking on the water in the midst of a storm, and Peter walking with Jesus. Peter asked Jesus if he could come out of the boat and walk on water with Him. Jesus told Peter “Come”. If you’ll remember that story we were told:

Matthew 14:30-31 (KJV) … when Peter saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, LORD, SAVE ME. 31 And IMMEDIATELY Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?

We talked about Peter’s prayer, that it was a good prayer. In trouble Peter prayed simply:

Lord, save me”!

The prayer was a good prayer because the Bible tells us IMMEDIATELY JESUS REACHED OUT and saved Peter. The prayer was simple – only three words. It said all it needed to say:

LORD” – I am not looking anywhere else. My eyes are fixed on Jesus.

SAVE” – Only Jesus can save. I am not looking to those in the boat, but to Jesus only.

ME” – I am sinking, I need Jesus. I don’t care what others think. I need Your touch!

A beautiful three word prayer. A perfect prayer.

Now we come to an interesting account. A woman comes to Jesus. Her daughter is ill. She says:

Matthew 15:22 (KJV) .. Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil.

Notice how the woman pleads with Jesus. She says “Have MERCY on me”. That’s a good starting place for prayer. Our God is merciful. Our God is full of mercy.

Mercy Is Where We Must Meet God In Prayer

The woman did not demand her rights before God. She did not say, “Lord, You’ve healed many others. Now I want MY daughter to be healed”. Too often we come to God demanding.

It’s not fair.

I deserve this.

God, you OWE me.

God owes none of us anything. The Bible tells us that as creatures it is US who fall short of God. God has been good to us all, but most of us give little of ourselves toward glorifying God. The Scripture tells us:

Romans 3:10-18 (NKJV) As it is written:

There is none righteous, no, not one;

11 There is none who understands;

There is none who seeks after God.

12 They have all turned aside;

They have together become unprofitable;

There is none who does good, no, not one.”

13 “Their throat is an open tomb;

With their tongues they have practiced deceit”;

The poison of asps is under their lips”;

14 “Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness.”

15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood;

16 Destruction and misery are in their ways;

17 And the way of peace they have not known.”

18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

God gave us lives, pretty good lives. And God has been merciful to us daily. The Psalmist said:

Psalm 86:15 (ESV) But you, O Lord, are a God MERCIFUL and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.

As sinners, we DESERVE God’s justice, not His mercy.

Romans 3:23 (ESV) for ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

This woman prayed “Lord, have MERCY on me”. A blind man named BARTIMAEUS prayed this same prayer. We read in …

Mark 10:46-52 (KJV)46 And they came to Jericho: and as he went out of Jericho with his disciples and a great number of people, blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, sat by the highway side begging. 47 And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out, and say, Jesus, thou Son of David, HAVE MERCY ON ME. 48 And many charged him that he should hold his peace: but he cried the more a great deal, Thou Son of David, HAVE MERCY ON ME. 49 And Jesus stood still, and commanded him to be called. And they call the blind man, saying unto him, Be of good comfort, rise; he calleth thee. 50 And he, casting away his garment, rose, and came to Jesus. 51 And Jesus answered and said unto him, What wilt thou that I should do unto thee? The blind man said unto him, Lord, that I might receive my sight. 52 And Jesus said unto him, Go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole. And immediately he received his sight, and followed Jesus in the way.

Bartimaeus cried out “Jesus, Thou Son of David, have MERCY on me”. He grabbed hold of the mercy seat. He cried out for mercy, and Christ gave him mercy. Bartimaeus “immediately received his sight, and followed Jesus in the way”. What a beautiful story!

But what of the Canaanite woman? She prayed as Bartimaeus prayed, and the Bible says:

Matthew 15:23 (KJV) But {Jesus} answered her NOT A WORD.

When Peter cried out “Lord, save me!” Jesus IMMEDIATELY reached out and saved him. When Bartimaeus cried out “Jesus, have MERCY on me”! But this woman cried out to the Lord and he answered her NOT A WORD. Why?

Why Did Jesus Delay In Answering Her Prayer?

We have all had times when we have prayed for something, and for what ever reason God has delayed in answering our prayer. Why did Jesus delay in answering this woman’s prayer.

Delays In Answered Prayer Displays Genuine Faith

UNBELIEVERS Need To See Genuine Faith

When we started this account we read:

Matthew 15:21 Then Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts of TYRE AND SIDON.

Tyre and Sidon were GENTILE cities north of Israel. Though Jesus initially came to save the lost sheep of the house of Israel it was His intention to eventually reach out to those who were not Israelites. Tyre and Sidon were cities that God pronounced judgment on in the Old Testament. They worshiped idols rather than the God of Heaven. Queen Jezebel was from Sidon, and it was Jezebel who brought the false worship of the Gentile god Baal into Israel. From gotquestions.org:

Nebuchadnezzar besieged Tyre from 585–572 BC. Alexander the Great conquered Tyre in 322 BC, completely destroying the city. The Persian king Artaxerxes conquered Sidon. In short, God’s prophesied judgment came to pass. Later, both cities became prosperous provinces of Rome.”

The nature of genuine faith is that it LINGERS. Tyre and Sidon needed to see genuine faith. In the crowds that followed Jesus were Pharisees, Sadducees and Scribes that looked good outwardly, but inwardly were ravenous wolves (Matthew 7:15). The people who followed Jesus needed to see genuine faith. The people needed to see the difference between the Pharisee who often prayed:

Luke 18:11-14 (NLT) The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed this prayer: ‘I thank you, God, that I am not like other people—cheaters, sinners, adulterers. I’M CERTAINLY NOT LIKE THAT TAX COLLECTOR! 12 I fast twice a week, and I give you a tenth of my income.’

and the Tax Collector who prayed:

Luke 18:13-14 (NLT) “But the tax collector stood at a distance and dared not even lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed. Instead, he beat his chest in sorrow, saying, ‘O God, BE MERCIFUL TO ME, for I am a sinner.’ 14 I tell you, this sinner, not the Pharisee, returned home justified before God. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

Genuine faith is humble, and PERSISTENT. Though Jesus answered her not a word she would not stop believing.

Believers Need To See Genuine Faith

As this woman cries out to Jesus for mercy how do the disciples respond?

Matthew 15:23 (KJV) But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for SHE CRIETH AFTER US.

The Bible says “HIS Disciples came and besought Him, saying SEND HER AWAY; for she crieth after US”. What a strange statement to make! She is crying AFTER JESUS, but the Disciples, HIS DISCIPLES, are saying “She crieth after US”. She needs to stop this crying, Jesus. It is disturbing to us! How shallow the faith of Christ’s disciples are at times. God has given us unbounding grace. He has blessed us beyond measure. And yet at times our hearts are all about OURSELVES, and not about the Love of God. If we were to do as Christ commands:

John 13:34 (ESV) A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.

If we loved as Christ has loved us then we would join in the prayers of the hurting rather than standing against them. When one member suffers, all the members suffer with it (1 Corinthians 12:26). How arrogant a Child of God can become when we forget that we are all of mercy, that we deserve nothing.

We Who Believe Need To See Our Faith Tested

Matthew 15:22 (KJV) And, behold, a WOMAN OF CANAAN came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil.

This is a “Woman of Canaan”. She comes from Canaan. She is a Canaanite. Canaanites are mentioned over 150 times in the Bible. The Canaanites were a people who were idolatrous, a large race of people who often practiced child sacrifice. They lived in a land of milk and honey, a blessed land, but they turned against the God of Heaven who gave them that land. Because of their idolatry and child sacrifice God gave the land of Canaan to His servant Abraham and his descendants (see Genesis 12:7). God warned Israel when she went into the land to chase the Canaanites out. God told Israel:

Deuteronomy 7:1-5 (NET) When the Lord your God brings you into the land where you are entering to possess it, and clears away many nations before you…you shall utterly destroy them. You shall make no covenant with them and show no favor to them. Furthermore, you shall not intermarry with them…. For they will turn your sons away from following Me to serve other gods. Then the anger of the Lord will be kindled against you and He will quickly destroy you. But thus you shall do to them: You shall tear down their altars, and smash their sacred pillars, and hew down their Asherim, and burn their graven images with fire.

The Canaanites were a horrible people who murdered their own children. This woman is of Canaan. But notice that she does not want to murder her child, but that her child might be saved. She plead for her daughter. And when Jesus answered her “not a word” she continued to plead.

Matthew 15:24-25 (KJV) But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 25 Then came she and worshiped him, saying, Lord, help me.

When Jesus declared “I am only sent to the lost sheep of the House of Israel” the woman did not walk away. She kept on praying. She kept on knocking at the Door of Grace. She didn’t stomp off mad. She DREW NEARER TO JESUS.

Then came she – she drew near by faith

and worshiped Him – she humbled herself before Christ

and prayed – “Lord, help me”

Where was her heart in this? Many are the times that we have prayed “Lord, help me”, but we REALLY wanted to do it ourselves. We wanted God to enable us, but we only wanted Him as a HELPER and not as LORD. Where was this woman’s heart? Jesus told her:

Matthew 15:26 (KJV) But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs.

I have come for the Children, not the Canaanites. I can’t take the Children’s bread and cast it to DOGS.” The term “Dog” is used in the Bible to describe the unbeliever. When Jesus was crucified it was prophesied:

Psalms 22:16 (KJV) For DOGS have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet.

It was DOGS or UNBELIEVERS who crucified Christ. It is DOGS who – as unbelievers – will not be allowed into God’s Heaven:

Revelation 22:14-15 (KJV) Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. 15 For WITHOUT ARE DOGS, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.

Jesus called this woman the worst thing a person could call another. He said “You are a DOG. Shall I take the Children’s bread and feed it to the DOGS?” If anyone should have been angered at this, she should. But she wasn’t. She plead mercy from God. She replied:

Matthew 15:27 (KJV)And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.

She did not argue nore demand, but said “Lord, eventhe dogs get to eat the crumbs that fall from the Master’s table”. She humbled herself before Christ.

And she was rewarded.

Matthew 15:28 (KJV)Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.

The woman was blessed because she showed genuine faith toward God.

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The Kingdom Standard

1

Matthew 15:1-3  Then came to Jesus scribes and Pharisees, which were of Jerusalem, saying,  [2]  Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread.  [3]  But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?

I have been thinking a lot lately about STANDARDS.

When I was in the Air Force we were taught about STANDARDS.

In Basic Training there was a STANDARD.

We were taught that it didn’t matter how we FELT, but there was a certain way our clothes were to be folded. We all had to run – in marching order – a certain distance. We all had to climb and overcome certain obstacles. We didn’t tell the Drill Instructor “We just don’t FEEL like this today” or “I was born this way, so it’s natural”. I entered Basic Training with hair down my back, weighing well over 300 pounds. Eight weeks later I was with short hair, less than 170 pounds soaking wet, and able to run a three mile obstacle course. STANDARDS.

I started my military career in Food Services. Contrary to what you might see on television or in the movies, Food Services had STANDARDS. Food was cooked a certain way, stored a certain way, presented a certain way. Inspectors came in periodically and had us touch gelatin in a Petrie Dish, testing the cleanliness of our hands. If stuff began growing in that Petrie Dish you got a verbal, then a written REPRIMAND. Unclean hands and improperly prepared food could kill people. There were STANDARDS. Some young men and women spent time in CORRECTIONAL CUSTODY because they did not meet the STANDARDS. There was a STANDARD, and you maintained it. You didn’t blame others if you didn’t meet the STANDARD, you got it together or got out of the Service dishonorably. We maintained STANDARDS.

After 8 years in the Air Force they placed me in another career field called Electronic Warfare. We worked with highly classified equipment designed to protect the aircraft from enemy fire. Were there STANDARDS? You bet there were.

There were STANDARDS on how we handled and spoke of classified information.

There were STANDARDS on how we worked on aircraft.

Inspectors would come to the flight line and see if we repaired the aircraft according to the STANDARD. If it was not we not only had to redo the repair, but the person responsible was given a written reprimand that had to be explained to the Commander. Wires had to be ran – and repaired – certain ways. There was no excuses made. You couldn’t tell the Commander “Well, I FELT like” because he would burn your house down.

Illustrate One young man I used to know mishandled classified information. The last I saw of him was when two men in suits came, handcuffed him, and took him away from the workcenter in a black limousine. His last words that I heard were “Well I THOUGHT …”. They didn’t care what he thought. There are STANDARDS.

STANDARDS are everywhere.

There are STANDARDS in the medical field.

There are STANDARDS in law enforcement.

There are STANDARDS in business.

Even Garbage Collection people have STANDARDS.

Stores have STANDARDS.

Mechanics have STANDARDS.

One comedian I know told how he took his truck to Sear’s Automotive to get new tires. He said as he drove away he got about two blocks from the store when his tires fell off. They fell off! The mechanic never put the wheel lugs back on. The comedian is in the process of suing Sears for misconduct. There are STANDARDS.

There are STANDARDS IN GOD’S KINGDOM. God sets STANDARDS for His people.

God’s Standards are always greater than man’s standards.

One day the Pharisees – always seeking to find fault with Jesus – noticed that His disciples were not washing their hands before they ate bread. They asked Jesus:

Matthew 15:2  Why do thy disciples transgress the TRADITION of the ELDERS? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread.

Their question was an interesting one.

They were not asking Jesus “Why are Your disciples disobeying GOD’S WORD”.

They were asking

Why are Your disciples disobeying the TRADITION OF THE ELDERS”?

Over time the leaders of Israel had come up with standards that they thought every person should live by. One of those standards was to wash your hands before eating bread.

So why did Jesus allow His disciples to break these man made standards?

Let me be quick to point out that man-made standards are NOT bad.

Jesus never said that man-made standards were bad per se.

Jesus responded Matthew 15:3 …. Why do ye ALSO transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?

Jesus said “My disciples might be breaking a man made standard, but why do YOU break a STANDARD OF GOD?” The highest STANDARD is the COMMANDMENT OF GOD.

Man made standards are fine and are many times

necessary to maintain a civil society.

Man made standards protect people.

In the Air Forces the SANITATION STANDARDS and FOOD PREPARATION STANDARDS protected the people we served from getting sick. The Air Force could be paralyzed if Food Service Standards were not maintained. On the flight line STANDARDS in equipment repair insured that our Pilots were not killed by our own hands. A loose bolt could become a piece of shrapnel in the fast flying F-16 or F-4 aircraft. A loose canon plug could flop a hole in the side of a Bomber, scrapping the mission. Improper handling of classified materials can and does compromise our ability to protect our citizens. A loose high microwave plug can cause a technician to be poisoned with radiation.

Man made standards are not bad things AS LONG AS THEY DO NOT TRANSGRESS THE HIGHEST STANDARD, the Commandment of God.

The Pharisees transgressed the Highest Standard by their man made standards. Jesus told them:

Matthew 15:4-6   For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death.   [5]   But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me;   [6]   And honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have YE MADE THE COMMANDMENT OF GOD OF NONE EFFECT BY YOUR TRADITION.

What is Jesus talking about here?

He is talking about tithes and offerings.

God has a STANDARD in Giving.

God tells us in Malachi: Malachi 3:8-10 (ESV) Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, ‘How have we robbed you?’ In your tithes and contributions. 9 You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me, the whole nation of you. 10 Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the LORD of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.

If You Have Received God’s Gift
God Expects YOU To Give

God expects His to give of their income, to support His Kingdom on the earth. The lights that are burning, the heating and cooling, the water and electricity are not donated to God’s Church by CWPS (Columbia Water And Power System). From the hymnals to the pews, everything you see, and everything you DON’T see (insurance, alarm systems) cost funds to maintain.

But you ALSO have to obey the WORD OF GOD.

Paying the tithe and offering does not remove from the Christian OBEDIENCE

to the OTHER COMMANDS.

This is what the Pharisees were doing.

The Bible says in the Fifth Commandment that we are to “Honor your Father and Mother” (Exodus 20:12). This means forever! As our parents grow older we are STILL to honor them.

I have mowed the grass of in widow’s yards because their children would not do it.

That is a travesty! Parents are to be honored as long as they live. The Pharisees were supposed to take care of their aging parents. But when it came time to financially support them, the Pharisees refused to do so. Why? They said:

The money we have set aside is a GIFT to God’s Temple.

We can’t TITHE and TAKE CARE of our parents as well.

So they let their parents suffer. The reality is that God has promised to bless those who – keeping the standard – help contribute both time and funds to His Kingdom. But the follower of God also expects His Kingdom People to DO HIS WORD. We are to keep His Commandments, not seek loopholes by which we can avoid His Commandments.

God’s Kingdom has STANDARDS.

STANDARDS in Giving.

STANDARDS in Living.

Those Who Try To Manipulate God’s Standards Are Hypocrites

No part of the Word of God abrogates another part of the Word of God. God’s Standard is LOVE. Love God, love one another. Jesus told the Pharisees:

Matthew 15:7-9   Ye HYPOCRITES, well did Isaiah prophesy of you, saying,   [8]   This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.   [9]   But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.

God wants our MOUTH and our HEART to both be dedicated to worshiping and loving Him. When your MOUTH honors God but your HEART dishonors God, this is hypocrisy. Jesus knows those that are HIS, and Jesus knows them that are HYPOCRITES.

The Pharisees are HYPOCRITES. They reject the STANDARD of God in their hearts while looking like they are following the STANDARD OUTWARDLY. Jesus called these Pharisees out before.

They GAVE TITHES To Be Seen Of Men Matthew 6:2   Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

They PRAYED To Be Seen Of Men Matthew 6:5   And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

They FASTED To Be Seen Of Men Matthew 6:16   Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

The hypocrites were not living in God’s Kingdom to please God. They were pretenders. Their hearts were far from God, but outwardly they looked oh so good!

We Are Called To Be HOLY Not HYPOCRITES

Our HEARTS Are To Be God Focused!

Matthew 15:10-11  And he called the multitude, and said unto them, Hear, and understand:   [11]   Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man.

Doctors and nutrition specialists all have a number of foods that we can eat that is supposed to be unhealthy for us. At various times we have been told that the following things were bad for you but are now considered good food – if eaten in moderation:

Foods with FAT

Eggs

Butter

Nuts

Bacon

Potatoes

Whole Milk

Coconut Oil

Red Meat

Coffee

Chocolate

Every one of these foods have – at one time in my lifetime – been said to be bad for you. Chocolate with high cocoa content produces probiotics, which helps your digestive system. Coffee boosts metabolism and helps ward off diabetes. Coconut oil lowers your risk of heart disease. Whole milk – according to the European Journal Of Nutrition – wards off cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. The World Health Organization (WHO?) said bacon and other processed meats can give you cancer. Now nutritionists say bacon is a great source of protein and heart healthy monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAS).

But what does Jesus say? Jesus says “What goes IN the mouth is not what defiles us, but what comes OUT of the mouth”. His disciples told Jesus:

Don’t You know that You offended the Pharisees?

Do you know what Jesus said? He said “Quick, go invite them back to Church. We don’t want to lose them. Go make a deal with them because we need them!” Did Jesus say that? No! Jesus said:

Matthew 15:13-14 …. Every plant, which MY HEAVENLY FATHER HATH NOT PLANTED, SHALL BE ROOTED UP.   [14]   LET THEM ALONE: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.

Those who will not stick with the STANDARD of God should not be chased after. People who are ME focused do not need to be pursued.

The Church is God’s Garden

You are God’s Garden, You are God’s Building

(See 1 Corinthians 3:9)

The Pharisees may have been angered. They may have stomped off. DO NOT CHASE THEM. If God did not plant them in His Church, let them go. So often in my ministry people have stomped off, refusing to follow God’s Standard, and well meaning members have gone and out begged them to come back. STOP IT! I love everyone, and try to love everyone equally. But if a person is determined to reject the STANDARD OF GOD as presented in the Scripture then let them go. Neither I nor you are to PLANT anyone into God’s Kingdom. God adds daily to the Church – you and I are just to SOW THE SEED and TRUST GOD!

1 Corinthians 12:18 (NKJV) … GOD HAS SET THE MEMBERS, each one of them, in the body JUST AS HE PLEASED.

If God sets someone in His Garden then that person will stay. If God does NOT set that plant in the Garden of God, then it shall be rooted up. Those Who are God’s maintain GOD’S STANDARDS – period!

Where Is Your Heart?

Declare Unto Us This Parable

Peter was never shy about asking Jesus questions, so he asked Jesus:

Lord, will You explain this parable to us?

Jesus didn’t hesitate: Matthew 15:17-20   Do not ye yet understand, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught?   [18]   But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man.   [19]   For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies:   [20]   These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man.

The UNCONVERTED HEART is what defiles a person.

The heart that is worldly breaks the heart of God.

The heart filled with …

Evil Thoughts

Murders

Adulteries

Fornications

Thefts

False Witness

Blasphemies

Do you notice something about this list? Every one of the things Jesus mentions except false witness are PLURAL. Sin is PLURAL. There is never just ONE evil thought, but MANY. When sin starts in the heart focused on sin, it produces evil after evil. If your heart is no focused GODWARD it is focused HELLWARD.

Your heart must be dedicated to God.

God’s standard is very simple.

Jesus said: Matthew 22:37-40 (NKJV) … You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.

On these two commandments HANG all the Law and the Prophets. This is God’s standard. Jesus Christ came and HUNG on a Tree, dying for our sins, showing us what love is. Love is focusing your heart on pleasing God the Father. To love the Lord My God with ALL my soul, ALL my heart, ALL my mind. If my ALL is focused on pleasing God then those terrible, strange fruit

Evil Thoughts

Murders

Adulteries

Fornications

Thefts

False Witness

Blasphemies

will not be in my life. Every Child of God is part of God’s Garden, and the fruit of our lives is to be LOVE. Love to God. Love to our neighbor. We are to love our neighbor AS OURSELF. The heart dedicated to God applies God’s Standard.

Do you know Jesus?

Are You saved of Him?

If so, you are God’s plant.

Live to produce His fruit,

For His glory and His Kingdom.

May God touch your hearts with His Word!

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The Boat

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Matthew 14:22-33 And straightway Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him unto the other side, while he sent the multitudes away. [23] And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone. [24] But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary. [25] And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea. [26] And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear. [27] But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid. [28] And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. [29] And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. [30] But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. [31] And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt? [32] And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased. [33] Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God.

The story of Jesus walking on the water is in Matthew, Mark, and John, but the story of Peter walking on the water is found only in Matthew.

Why is that? I really don’t know. There are great truths in the Scripture, and many things that we do not understand. The Bible has many mysteries – but it also has much revealed truth that God wants us to understand. We must always remember when we approach the Bible that it is God breathed, and that God has said:

Isaiah 55:8-9 (NKJV)

8 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts,

Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord.

9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth,

So are My ways higher than your ways,

And My thoughts than your thoughts.

When we read the Word of God we are not reading a newspaper nor a Reader’s Digest. We are reading God’s Word. The story starts with:

Matthew 14:22 And STRAIGHTWAY Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him unto the other side, WHILE HE SENT THE MULTITUDES AWAY.

We read “Straightway” or “right after THIS” Jesus put His disciples in a boat and sent the multitudes away. Who were these “multitudes”. These were the +5000 people that Jesus fed with two small fish and five loaves of bread. After taking a child’s Happy Meal and multiplying it to where it fed +5000 people and had twelve baskets full of leftovers besides Jesus SENT THE MULTITUDES AWAY. Jesus loved the people. He cared for the people. He fed the people. But now He sends the masses away and sends His DISCIPLES out on a boat.

Learning is progression. You don’t start out knowing your ABCs. Someone had to sit with you and show you – over and over again – your ABCs. You had to sing them, say them, write them. The disciples are in the School of Faith. If you don’t understand the Feeding of the Five Thousand then you won’t understand what comes next.

Mark 6:51-52 (NKJV) Then {Jesus} went up into the boat to them, and the wind ceased. And they were greatly amazed in themselves beyond measure, and marveled. 52 For THEY HAD NOT UNDERSTOOD ABOUT THE LOAVES, BECAUSE THEIR HEART WAS HARDENED.

You can harden your hearts. You can sleep through the lesson. You can stay up late the night before and not pay attention and learn nothing. Will your hearts be open to His message?

Jesus Put His Disciples In A Boat

Matthew 14:22-24 … Jesus CONSTRAINED his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him unto the other side, while he sent the multitudes away. [23] And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone. [24] But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary. 

Jesus CONSTRAINED. This is the Greek ἀναγκάζω anagkazō which means “to compel, to force”. Jesus gave them no choice. Jesus said “You get in the boat – You go on without Me – You go to the other side”. Jesus put His disciples in a boat. He went off by Himself to pray, and put them in a boat without Him.

Jesus Put His Disciples In A Boat HEADED TOWARD TROUBLE.

We all have troubles. We all have trials. We all have things that scare us and hurt us. We should never get into a boat headed toward trouble by ourselves. There are times we get into a BOATLOAD OF TROUBLE because we do the things that God tells us not to do. Sometimes we sin, either doing what God tells us NOT to do, or by NOT DOING what God tells us to do. We make peace with sin. No disciple of Christ is to make peace with sin.

The WAGES of SIN is DEATH!

No disciple should get in a boat with sin. We are told in James 4:4-8 (NKJV) Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. 5 Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, “The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously”? 6 But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.” 7 Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

People get in a bad boat when we get in the boat with the world. Christ sent the MULTITUDES away – but the disciples got in the boat of faith. If JESUS puts you in the boat, rest in His love. Trust Him!

God lets storms come to grow our faith. They are not accidents if you are following Jesus! They are not mistakes if you are hearing His voice. Jesus knew the boat would hit a storm, and put them in that boat anyway. Jesus wants us to get our eyes on HIM. If your momma had never released your hand you would never walk. If your daddy had not stopped pushing the bike you would never learn to ride. Our Heavenly Father releases us to the boat so our faith can grow. If Jesus put you in the boat, rest! Learn! Obey!

We are told in: Mark 6:46-48 (NKJV) And when {Jesus} had sent them away, He departed to the mountain to pray. 47 Now when evening came, the BOAT WAS IN THE MIDDLE OF THE SEA; and He was alone on the land. 48 Then HE SAW THEM straining at rowing, for the wind was against them.

When Jesus Puts You In The Boat, He Watches Over You

Jesus does not abandon His Children. Jesus said:

John 10:10-11 (NKJV) … I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. 11 I am the GOOD SHEPHERD. The Good Shepherd gives His life for the sheep.

Jesus Christ came to this earth that we might have abundant life, the life that God designed us to live. He did not come that we might be enslaved to sin and to fear and to death. He came to be our Good Shepherd. Jesus gave His life for you and for me. The Bible declares:

Romans 5:6-8 (NKJV) For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

As Jesus prayed on that mountaintop, He prayed for His people. And as He prayed alone, He still looked out AND SAW HIS DISCIPLES. Jesus makes intercession for those that are His. He prays for us. He never abandons us in the trial, but watches the trial and lets the trial mold us into His image.

Romans 8:34-36, 38-39 (NKJV) Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, WHO ALSO MAKES INTERCESSION FOR US. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? … 37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Jesus was not with them in that boat, but He was not far away. He watched. He saw them straining at the oars. He heard their heart beat rapidly. He saw their fear.

When Jesus Puts You In The Boat, He Will Come To You

Then when the time was right, Jesus went to them. We read:

Matthew 14:24-25 But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary. [25] And in the FOURTH WATCH OF THE NIGHT JESUS WENT UNTO THEM, walking on the sea.

Jesus went to His disciples. He goes to His Children when we are tried. But I want you to notice that He went at the FOURTH WATCH of the NIGHT. They were in the fourth quarter, the last part of the night, a time between three and six in the morning. Someone once said “it is always darkest before the dawn”. That was when Jesus went to them.

Why did Jesus wait so long?

Why did He watch them struggle so?

Because they had not called on Him.

They saw Jesus feed over 5000 people with five biscuits and two fish, and saw 12 baskets full of leftover after everyone was fed. If Jesus could do that couldn’t He save His people? Of course He could. But they never called out for Jesus. They struggled. They rowed. They strained. They did everything they could do to get to the other side, but they couldn’t get to the other side.

They couldn’t have fed the 5000 plus people if Jesus had not been there!

The Psalmist wrote: Psalm 107:24-29 (NKJV) They see the works of the Lord, And His wonders in the deep. 25 For He commands and raises the stormy wind, Which lifts up the waves of the sea. 26 They mount up to the heavens, They go down again to the depths; Their soul melts because of trouble. 27 They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, And are at their wits’ end. 28 THEN THEY CRY OUT TO THE LORD IN THEIR TROUBLE, And He brings them out of their distresses. 29 He calms the storm, So that its waves are still.

If Christ puts you in the boat, rely on Him when the wind and waves come. Had they cried out to Jesus I do not believe they would have had to wait until the fourth watch of the night. When we try to do it ourselves Christ will often stand back and watch until the fourth watch. The depth of their unbelief is seen in their response to Jesus coming.

What did they say when they saw Jesus come?
Praise God, HERE IS JESUS!
No. Look at their response.

Matthew 14:26 And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and THEY CRIED OUT FOR FEAR.

When you let fear and the flesh take control, faith goes out the door. Here was Jesus ready to save them, but they are consumed of fear. They did not cry out in FAITH but in FEAR. But Christ had mercy on them. All three Evangelists report Jesus saying:

Matthew 14:27 But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; BE NOT AFRAID.

Mark 6:50 (NKJV) … immediately He talked with them and said to them, “Be of good cheer! It is I; DO NOT BE AFRAID.”

John 6:20 (NKJV) … But He said to them, “It is I; DO NOT BE AFRAID.”

Fear and pride are twin snakes that will rob your of joy and peace. Someone once said:

When we WALK with the Lord we FOLLOW
When we DANCE with the Lord HE LEADS

Jesus IMMEDIATELY told His disciples “Be of GOOD CHEER. It is I. Do not be afraid”. Christ put them in THIS boat. They need not fear. He is able. He is Lord. He is in control. As long as Christ is with us we need not fear. The Scripture says:

Isaiah 41:10 (NKJV) 10 Fear not, for I AM WITH YOU; Be not dismayed, for I AM YOUR GOD. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’

Isaiah 43:2-3 (ESV) When you pass through the waters, I WILL BE WITH YOU; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. 3 For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.

When Christ is with us we need not fear. Fear must not control us, but faith. Focus on Christ. Follow Him where ever He leads.

To Be Blessed Of Jesus, Follow Him By Faith

Now we come to the part of the story that is exclusive to Matthew. We read:

Matthew 14:28 And PETER answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.

Lord, if it’s REALLY You, let me come to You on the water”. Peter had a twinge of doubt in his heart – at least that’s how it seems to me. Peter said “IF it’s You”. So Peter had a little doubt. But Jesus didn’t hesitate. Jesus simply said:

Come!

And Peter got out of the boat. Peter walked on water. That’s what God wants us to do. He wants us to walk on water. He wants us to go to Him by faith, to reject all fear, and to follow Him where ever He bids us go.

when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus

Peter walked on the water to go to Jesus. His eyes were focused on the Savior. And as long as His focus was Christ, he was boundless. The laws of nature did not apply to Peter. In this moment he did something only Jesus has ever done.

He walked on the water!

But then we read:

Matthew 14:30 But WHEN HE SAW THE WIND BOISTEROUS, HE WAS AFRAID; and BEGINNING TO SINK…

Peter took his eyes off of Jesus and started to sink. I’ve heard preachers talk about Peter, cutting Peter down because he took his eyes off of Jesus and started to sink. But Beloved, Peter MAY have taken his eyes off of Jesus …

…but at least he got out of the boat!

I’ve never heard a preacher talk about those 11 slugs that stayed in the boat!

Peter got out of the boat.

Peter walked on water.

Those who sat on their behinds did nothing of note.

Jesus said of His Church: John 14:12 (ESV) Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.

Peter walked on water because he trusted Jesus just that much. He got out of the boat. He got up off his backside and followed Jesus. And so must be.

As Peter looked away and started to sink he prayed the PERFECT PRAYER.

Matthew 14:30-33 … beginning to sink, he cried, saying, LORD, SAVE ME. [31] And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him

This is the perfect prayer. I have heard preachers pray long and windy prayers, wandering around the outside of the house but never knocking at God’s door. Peter had no time to be eloquent, yet His prayer was effective. How do I know? Because the text tells us “IMMEDIATELY Jesus stretched forth His hand and caught him”. That’s a good prayer that gets an immediate answer from the Savior.

When You’re Drowning, Use Peter’s Prayer

Peter prayed the simplest prayer. This prayer will save a drowning Peter, and convert a Saul to Paul. This is the best prayer ever uttered.

Lord”. Jesus, You are my Lord. I am not Lord of my life, You are Lord of my life. I’m about to drown, but You can save me. You are King of Kings and Lord of Lords. I am not looking to others to save me. I am not crying out to those in the boat. I need You alone. “Lord”.

Save”. Jesus, I’m not asking You to help me, to strengthen my hand. I am unable to save myself. I am drowning in sin. I am lost at sea. Jesus, save me. Grab my hand and pull me up. I need You. I need ALL of You. “Save”

Me”. Lord, I need You. I am drowning. I am not looking at anyone else now. You deal with those in the boat. I don’t care what they think of me. I’m not worried about what someone thinks if I walk the aisle and kneel at the altar. I don’t care if people see my tears. Jesus, You came for me. “Lord, Save Me”.

The Bible tells us that …

Matthew 14:31-33 … And IMMEDIATELY Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt? [32] And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased. [33] Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God.

Did you notice that it was not until “THEY (Jesus and Peter) were come into the ship, the wind ceased”? Someone may be watching you right now. They may be watching to see if YOU get out of the boat. They are perhaps watching to see if YOU will come to altar and pray. Maybe a brother, a sister, a friend, a parent, a child is watching. Peter got out of the boat. But when Peter got back in the boat WITH JESUS the storm stopped, and the others were blessed.

Will you follow Jesus? Will you give yourselves to Him?

May God touch your hearts with His Word.

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