The 4000 And The 5000

Photo by Kate Remmer on Unsplash

This Is Not A Re-Run
This Is The Love Of God For All

Please turn with me in your Bibles to …

Matthew 15:30-32 And great multitudes came unto {Jesus}, 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. 32 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.

If you were with me last Wednesday night on Facebook Live, we talked about the Gentile woman (a Canaanite) who came to Jesus, asking that her daughter be healed. I don’t have time to re-preach this text, but I want to re-emphasize something I said during that sermon.

Up to this encounter with the Canaanite woman, Jesus has been concentrating on reaching out to the Jews.

The reason Jesus is doing this is because He is fulfilling the Word of God. God promised Abraham …

Genesis 12:2 ….. I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing:..

…. that He would bless His children, and bring a great nation (Israel) out of that old Saint. God also promised King David …

2 Samuel 7:12-14 … I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He shall build an house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom for ever. 14 I will be his Father, and he shall be my Son.

The Son of God, the Messiah, would come from King David’s lineage. This King of Kings, our Lord Jesus Christ, will sit on the Throne of Israel forever.

Our God always keeps His promises. Always!

Not one of the promises the Lord made to the House of Israel failed; all came to pass” (Joshua 21:45). “Blessed be the LORD, Who has given rest to His people Israel, according to all that He promised; not one word has failed of all His good promise..” (1 Kings 8:56). “For as many as are the promises of God, in Him they are YES ..” (2 Corinthians 1:20). “Let us hold FAST the confession of our hope without wavering, for HE Who promised, He is FAITHFUL!” (Hebrews 10:23).

God made precious promises in Abraham, and David, and throughout the Prophets of the Old Testament that the Messiah would come to Israel. When Christ came, He came to Israel FIRST. As the Apostle said:

Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first

But the Scripture does not say “to the Jew ONLY”, but, praise God, “to the Jew FIRST”. God promised to save Israel. But God also promised something else. We read the rest of the promise God made in Abraham:

Genesis 12:3 ….. and in thee {Abraham} shall ALL families of the earth be blessed.

The Messiah would come to the Jew FIRST, but He came to the world ALSO: “ALL the families of the earth”. When God foretold of Jesus the Messiah coming He said:

Isaiah 42:6-7 I the LORD have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles; To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house.

Jesus Christ did not only come for “the People”, a reference to Israel, but also “for a light of the Gentiles”. God said of His Son Jesus:

Isaiah 49:6 … I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth.

And God told Israel when He spoke of Messiah coming from her:

Isaiah 60:1-3 Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the LORD shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee. And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising.

Jesus Christ came to the Jews first – but ALSO to the Gentiles (Romans 1:16). Our God is a God of order and truth. Our God is NOT the AUTHOR OF CONFUSION (1 Corinthians 14:33). So when Jesus came, the first half of His ministry was focused on Israel. He told His disciples …

Matthew 10:5 … Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not …

He went to the Jews FIRST. But as the Pharisees and Scribes continued to hinder and attack His ministry, in Matthew chapter 15 Jesus begins to turn toward the Gentiles. A few Gentiles had approached Jesus for healing before this, but they had to seek out Jesus, for He was ministering in Jewish territory. The turning point of Jesus’ ministry is flagged in:

Matthew 15:21 Then Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon.

The “thence” is an area called Gennesaret, a region southwest of Capernaum. These are decidedly Jewish areas. Jesus intentionally goes toward Tyre and Sidon, Phonetician or Gentile cities. It is here that Jesus encounters the Canaanite (Gentile) woman, which brings a “the Great Light of God, Jesus Christ, to the Gentiles”. What does this teach us?

Jesus Loves Every Color Of Person Equally

With the Canaanite woman Jesus begins to turn His ministry from a focus on Israel, to a focus on the Gentiles. After Jesus heals this Canaanite woman’s daughter (you can find the sermon I preached on this on my blog bibleteacher.org, entitled “The Prayer God Answers” {https://bibleteacher.org/2020/08/06/the-prayer-god-answers/}) 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.

These are GENTILES that are coming to Jesus. These GENTILES are bringing in lame, blind, dumb, maimed, and many others, and cast them down at Jesus’ feet.

These GENTILES of the Roman Empire, these GENTILES who have captured Israel, these GENTILES who helped place an Idumean named Herod on a Jewish throne, these GENTILES are seeing the Messiah that the Scribes and Pharisees rejected.
THEY are GLORIFYING the GOD OF ISRAEL.

  • A couple of weeks ago we studied the feeding of the 5000 in Matthew 14:14-21. This was a GREAT MULTITUDE of JEWS that Jesus fed in a desert place belonging to the city called BETHSAIDA (Luke 9:10).
  • Tonight we’re going to see Jesus feed different type of multitude. This is a GREAT MULTITUDE of 4000 GENTILES that Jesus fed in the midst of the coasts of Decapolis (Mark 7:31).
  • One commentary I read noted that Jesus fed the 5000 Jews in the spring, and fed the 4000 Gentiles in the summer. Though I cannot say for certain, I can say that Jesus fed Israel FIRST, then the Gentiles LAST. Jesus turned to the Gentiles because the majority of the Jewish Church leaders; the Scribes, Pharisees, Sadducees, and Priests; rejected Him as Messiah. Jesus told His disciples just before He went to Calvary:

Matthew 19:30 … many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first.

Many of the Jews, to whom God sent Jesus first, received Christ as Lord and Savior. Yet the nation itself because of poor and belligerent leaders, would not come to Jesus. The heart of the people was waxed gross, and their ears dull of hearing, and their eyes they had closed, lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. Because of this the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and that they will hear it (Acts 28:27-28).

So many people lose blessing from God, but it is not God’s fault. If you are not blessed it is not because God did not reach out to you. If you are lost, damned for all eternity, it is not because Christ did not try. It is because you hardened your heart to Him Who loves you, and gave His life for you.

Matthew 15:32 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.

I want to note a difference between the LAST and the FIRST. When Jesus fed the Jews, they had been listening to Him teach for ONE DAY. But the Gentiles, Jesus said, they continue with me now three days. The Gentiles were hungry for God. The Apostle Paul spoke of …

Romans 2:14-15 … the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: 15 which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;)

God has given each and every person a conscience, an innate ability to understand what is right and what is wrong. The conscience or the heart can be HARDENED. We live in a day where people harden their hearts. Extreme liberalism and “Progressivism” is a hardening of the heart. The television, the news, the internet, the media all around us, bombarding us, contribute to the hardening of the heart and the dulling of the conscience.

Illustrate Case in point: Years ago when I watched shows like Gunsmoke and someone got shot, they went down – but you NEVER saw any blood. Now we see shows like CSI where bodies are dissected. Or movies like Texas Chainsaw Massacre where people are horrendously cut up. Blood is spraying, and bodies profaned. We have seen so much gore and sex on television that we rarely flinch anymore. This is the hardening of the conscience. When children play vivid video games like Grand Theft Auto, or games where as players they gruesomely blow body parts off of people or Zombies, the heart hardens. Consider your heart to be a container. What you put in it matters. A Catholic Priest named Dwight Longenecker said (and I love this, for it is true):

First we overlook evil, then we permit evil, then we legalize evil,
then we promote evil, then we celebrate evil,
then we persecute those who still call it evil.”

It is not God’s fault when we harden our hearts. It is our fault. The Bible says:

Matthew 15:32 I have compassion on the multitude…

Word Study Jesus had COMPASSION on the Jewish multitude (Matthew 14:14). He healed them. He blessed them. He taught them, and fed them after only one day. But Jesus has COMPASSION on the Gentile multitude. That word “COMPASSION” is the Greek σπλαγχνίζομαι splanchnízomai, {pronounced splangkh-nid’-zom-ahee} which means “to be inwardly and profoundly moved”. Author James R. Edwards writes in his book The Gospel According to Mark:

The Greek word for ‘compassion’, splanchnízomai, comes from splangnon, meaning … vital organs. … splanchnízomai takes on a metaphorical meaning of being moved deeply within… ‘I have compassion for these people’ expresses Jesus’ gut-wrenching emotion on behalf of the crowd …”

Our God desperately loves each and every one of us.

When Jesus fed the Jews “He was moved with compassion (splanchnízomai)” {see Matthew 14:14}. Jesus was as deeply moved with love and care for the Jews, just as He was for the Gentiles.

In the midst of the horrid race wars that seem to be going on in our country today, we need to turn to Jesus, and see how He loved. Though Jesus’ Apostles are all Jews He showed those He groomed for leadership that every life matters, and every person is created in God’s Image and Likeness (Genesis 1:27). The color of our natural skin, eyes, and hair is determined by Melanin. The importance of this color is assigned by sinful prejudice, not by God. God loved both Jews and Gentiles equally. God loves each and every person with a profound, gut wrenching love!

Jesus had compassion for the Jews and the Gentiles, and wants His Apostles and His Disciples to have that same compassion. When Jesus wanted to feed the Jews who had come to Him, His disciples said of the 5000:

Matthew 14:15 … This is a desert place, and the time is now past; send the multitude away, that they may go into the villages, and buy themselves victuals.

Jesus wants His people to understand that our power is weak, but God’s power is infinite. There is nothing our Jesus cannot do, if we would but ask Him. Yet often we fail to ask Him. We think, “What can I do? How can I solve this problem?” We view the problem with our eyes focused on ourselves, not on God our Savior. The God Who saved us, the God Who taught us, is the God Who will provide for us. Jesus told His disciples when He fed the 5000 Jews:

Matthew 14:16 … They need not depart; give ye them to eat.

Jesus told them, “These Jews do not need to leave. YOU give them something to eat!” (see also Mark 6:37; Luke 9:13). What did they have to give these Jews? Jesus. Jesus is what we give. We point them to Jesus. We take what God has given us, and give it to Jesus.

Oh, how gracious our God is! We are all so hard headed and hard hearted! Now, just a short time after Jesus fed 5000 (which is more than 4000), Jesus tells His Disciples as 4000 Gentiles need to be fed:

Matthew 15:32 … I will not send them {these Gentiles} away fasting, lest they faint in the way.

How should the Disciples respond? They should remember the 5000. They should look to Jesus. They should take whatever they have, put it in Jesus’ hands, then serve what Jesus gives them. Beloved, this is the Christian way of life. The reason we are not reaching the world, Church, is because we are relying on our strength.

We must rely on Jesus. We must commit the little He has given to us back to Him, and then let Him work. We must serve the Lord! But did they? Did the first Disciples? No.

Matthew 15:33 … His disciples say unto Him, Whence should we have so much bread in the wilderness, as to fill so great a multitude?

Well guys, you fed 5000 with five little barley loaves and two fish. This is just 4000. How did you feed the 5000? Mark records the Disciples saying of the 4000:

Mark 8:4 … From WHENCE can a man satisfy these men with bread here in the wilderness?

From WHENCE?” How about JESUS? If Jesus fed 5000, Jesus can feed 4000. 5000 is more than 4000.

Matthew 15:34 .. Jesus saith unto them, How many LOAVES have ye? And they said, Seven, and a few little fishes.

I want you to notice our text very carefully. What is the question Jesus asks? How many loaves have ye? Jesus DOESN’T ask about the fish. You remember, when Jesus fed the 5000, He asked the same question. Look it up.

Mark 6:38 {Jesus} saith unto them, How many LOAVES have ye? go and see. And when they knew, they say, Five, AND TWO FISHES.

Jesus never asked about the fish. He asked about the LOAVES of bread. What is the significance of this? Jesus is not a Fish – He is BREAD. Jesus is the Bread of Life.

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 is the Living Bread of God, the Giver of Life.

Matthew 15:34 How many LOAVES have ye?
And they said, SEVEN…

I do not believe in coincidence. I believe they had SEVEN loaves of bread because SEVEN is the Biblical number of completeness and perfection. When God created the world and all that is in it, He rested on the seventh day, because creation was perfect or “very good” (Genesis 1:31; 2:2-3). There was nothing more to do, so God rested.

When Jesus fed the 5000, He had 5 Loaves. 5 is the number of GRACE. Now Jesus has 7 Loaves – the PERFECT and COMPLETE amount of bread to feed 4000 people – that is, if they give it to Jesus!

Matthew 15:35 And {Jesus} commanded the multitude to sit down on the ground.

Just as Jesus had the 5000 Jews sit down (see Matthew 14:19; Mark 6:39; Luke 9:14; John 6:10), He now has the 4000 Gentiles sit down (see Mark 8:6).

Matthew 15:36 And {Jesus} took the seven loaves and the fishes, and gave thanks, and brake them, and gave to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude.

The Disciples gave Jesus the little they had. This mirrors what happens when Jesus fed to 5000. Our Lord gave thanks. Jesus thanked the Father for providing the seven loaves, just as He thanked God for providing the five loaves for the 5000. Jesus “looked up to Heaven” (Matthew 14:19; Mark 6:41; Luke 9:16). As Son of God He represented the Heavenly Father. Jesus looked up to Heaven. He thanked the Father. He broke the bread, then gave it back to His Disciples, who in turn distributed it to the masses.

Matthew 15:37-38 And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the broken MEAT that was left seven baskets full. 38 And they that did eat were four thousand men, beside women and children.

Everyone had plenty to eat. Beloved, I love the King James text, but sometimes the translators of that wonderful text add things that are not exactly right. If you look in your King James text, you will see the word meat is italicized. This is because the translator added the word because he thought it would improve the flow of the text. But in this case the word is not right, nor is it needed. In fact, though I do not doubt the sincerity of the translator, it misleads a little.

When Jesus Fed 5000 Jews, There Were 12 Baskets Of Bread Left Over.
Jesus Is All That The Twelve Tribes Of Israel Need.
When Jesus Fed 4000 Gentiles, There Were 7 Baskets Of Bread Left Over.
Jesus Is All That The Gentiles Need.

Church, dear Church, let us give what He has given us back to Him. Let us entrust the little we have to the Master. He will look up to Heaven, bless it, then give it back to us to give to this terrible sad and empty world. Do not delay. Give it all to Jesus. A singer I have not heard in years, Evie (Evelyn Tornquist Karlsson), sang:

Are you tried of chasing pretty rainbows?
Are you tired of spinning round and round?
Wrap up all the shattered dreams of your life,
And at the feet of Jesus lay them down.
Give them all, give them all,
give them all to Jesus;
Shattered dreams, wounded hearts, broken toys.
Give them all, give them all,
give them all to Jesus;
And
He will turn your sorrow into joy …

If you do not have Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, your life will never be complete. Jesus Christ came to give life, everlasting and wonderful life, to all who believe on Him. Jew or Gentile, bond or free, male or female, red, yellow, black, or white, if you do not know Him, I pray that you will call upon Him today. He is able! He is able! He can take your broken life, and give you abundant life. He can feed your soul. Like a Shepherd, a Good Shepherd, He will never leave you. May Christ take this Word and bring all who read it to a saving knowledge of Him. Amen and Amen.

Posted in Matthew, Sermon Series "Red Letters", Sermons Preached | Tagged , , , ,

Transgressing The Commandment With Human Tradition

Photo by Timothy Eberly on Unsplash

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?

Confusion Reigns When We Add To God’s Word

Two groups of people come to Jesus from Jerusalem. These men are representatives of the Temple and of the High Priest. They are powerful men, sincere in what they believe. One group is called the “Scribes”, men who were trained in the written Law and the oral traditions of Judaism. The “Pharisees” were a religious denomination of Judaism, very strict and conservative. Their name “Pharisee” literally means “separated ones”. They considered themselves to be above reproach in religious service.

These men were bewildered, confused at the ministry of Jesus. They had been observing Jesus’ followers, and noticed that they did not keep certain traditions. Their question to Jesus was:

2 Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread.

What the Scribes and Pharisees are referring to is the oral traditions called the Mishnah. The Mishnah is like a commentary on the Word of God, and the Gemara is a commentary on the Mishnah. The easiest way to understand this is:

The Torah is the WRITTEN Law of God, given to Moses.
The Mishnah is the ORAL Law of God, teachings verbally passed down.
The “Gemara” is the rabbinical commentary on the “Mishnah”.
The Talmud is the Mishnah with the Genara.
There are two Talmuds: The “Babylonian” which dates from 5th Century AD. The “Palestinian” or “Jerusalem”, which is the earlier record.

Are you confused? I admit that I am. Confusion always occurs when we leave the simplicity of the written Word of God and add in other things. My Bible says:

1 Corinthians 14:33 For God is not the author of confusion,
but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.

When humans – even sincere and perhaps good hearted people – begin to add our two cents worth to what God has said, then we bring in confusion. The Christian way of life is one of simplicity, not confusion. We are to live:

2 Corinthians 1:12 … in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have our {way of life} in this world ..

The devil loves to confuse us. He loves to put his twist on things. He did this in the Garden of Eden when he said, “has God really said that when you eat of this tree you shall surely die? (Genesis 3:1). .. “God knows that in the day you eat of this tree you shall be like gods, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:5). When humans begin to put their spin on what God has spoken and recorded in His Word, then confusion sets in. The Apostle addressed this in the early Church, saying:

2 Corinthians 11:3-4 .. I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. 4 For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.

This danger has always been with us. What has God said? He has given us a written record of what He considers right and true. Do we bind to the writings of the Scripture, or do we allow the oral traditions over the years, or even this day, to take precedent?

Jesus at this point is facing the same dilemma that every Pastor faces in every age. The Scribes and Pharisees are asking “Why aren’t your disciples following the oral traditions like we do?”.

Bible Scholar F.F. Bruce notes, “The ‘elders’ here {that the Scribes and Pharisees are referencing} are not the living rulers of the people, but the past bearers of religious authority, the more remote the more venerable”. Their complaint,

they wash not their hands when they eat bread..

has nothing to do with good hygiene. The Mishnah called for people to observe rigid, extensive rituals for washing before eating. The Jewish Rabbi Jose stated, “He sinneth as much who eateth with unwashen hands, as he that lieth with a harlot”. These things – though the Scribes and Pharisees held to them – were never taught in the written Word of God. The Bible says that:

Exodus 30:18-21 Thou shalt also make a laver of brass, and his foot also of brass, to wash withal: and thou shalt put it between the tabernacle of the congregation and the altar, and thou shalt put water therein. 19 For Aaron and his sons shall wash their hands and their feet thereat: 20 when they go into the tabernacle of the congregation, they shall wash with water, that they die not; or when they come near to the altar to minister, to burn offering made by fire unto the Lord: 21 so they shall wash their hands and their feet, that they die not: and it shall be a statute for ever to them, even to him and to his seed throughout their generations.

The Priests were to ceremonially wash themselves – both hands and feet – before they ministered in their office. This did not apply to those in the congregation. God did say that those who touched anything or anyone who was unclean were to wash, not only hands and feet, but their bodies as well (read Leviticus 15). The written Law of God, however, did not mandate washing of hands before eating.

Jesus Referenced Not The Oral Law
But The Written Law

When Jesus Christ came to this earth He upheld the written Scripture alone to be the Word of God. Jesus said:

Matthew 5:17-19 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. 18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. 19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

The Hebrew Bible (our Old Testament) is composed of the Law, the Prophets, and the writings. The Jews called the written Scripture TaNaKh, which is:

Torah – Law
Nevi’im – Prophets
Ketuvim – Writings

The Mishnah was not, to Jesus, a part of the Hebrew Scriptures, the Word of God.

This is why Jesus did not respond to the Scribes and Pharisees question by defending His teachings. Instead Jesus directly asked:

Matthew 15:3 … … Why do ye also transgress the COMMANDMENT OF GOD by your tradition?

The Mishnah is NOT the Commandment of God.
The Commandment of God is the written Word of God,
the
written Holy Scripture.

Jesus’ ministry on this earth is empowered by three words: “It. Is. Written.” When the devil attacked Jesus, our Lord responded with “It is written” (Matthew 4:4, 6, 7, 10). When Jesus chased the money changers out of the Temple, He said “It. Is. Written.” (Matthew 21:13). When Jesus spoke of Judas Iscariot’s betrayal and His crucifixion, He said “It. Is. Written.” (Matthew 26:24). When He spoke of His disciples deserting Him, He said “It. Is. Written.” (Matthew 26:31). When the Scribes and Pharisees attack Him for disregarding the Mishnah, Jesus instead refers to the Torah as the Word of God. Jesus quoted God’s written Word:

Matthew 15:4 For God commanded, saying, Honor thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death.

The texts Jesus is quoting is from

Exodus 20:12 Honor thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee. (see also Deuteronomy 5:16)

Exodus 21:17 … he that curseth his father, or his mother, shall surely be put to death.

Leviticus 20:9 … For every one that curseth his father or his mother shall be surely put to death: he hath cursed his father or his mother; his blood shall be upon him.

God in His written Word, the Holy Scripture, has set out a Law that a person’s parents are to be HONORED. The Scribes and Pharisees were honoring the Mishnah as if it were the Word of God, but were ignoring the Word of God. Jesus quoted them:

Matthew 15:5-6 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 honor 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 were the Scribes and Pharisees doing? As parents age, God required that the parents be taken care of by their children. Honor of the parent was not just when the offspring was a child. The parent is supposed to be honored even into old age. This costs money. It costs money to take care of your elderly parents. But God demands that children care for their parents, loving them even when they have moved from home and made a life for themselves.

The Scribes and Pharisees found a loophole in the Mishnah that they often flaunted. They would set aside money as a “gift to God”. As this money was dedicated to God, the money was unavailable to use for their needing and aging parents. Pastor and Author Chuck Swindoll in his book Insights on Matthew 1-15 quotes R.T. France,

This convenient declaration apparently left the property actually still at the disposal of the one who made the vow, but deprived his parents of any right to it … such a pious fraud is in direct conflict with the will of God as expressed in the fifth commandment”.

The action of abandoning your parents who loved you and raised you to adulthood is a horrible thing, worthy of death according to God’s Written Word. This is the problem that we all have when we substitute human tradition and opinion (Mishnah) over the written Word of God (TaNaKh with the New Testament). The question that Children of God must always ask is,

Is What You Believe Backed By Written Scripture,
Or Is It Human Oral Traditions?

When the Scribes and Pharisees ignored the written Word of God an instead elevated the oral tradition of man, they committed a horrible crime. God’s fifth Commandment is a design detail to be so important that to fail to do it is to commit an act as horrendous as murder (Genesis 9:6), kidnapping (Exodus 21:16; Deuteronomy 24:7), bestiality (Leviticus 18:23), child sacrifice (Leviticus 20:2), idolatry (Leviticus 20:27), or sexual sin (Leviticus 18:22; 20:10) does. To dishonor your parents was a capital crime, punishable by death.

Why is dishonor to your parents such a horrible thing? Because a child learns good citizenship and respect for authority in the home first.

The child that rebels against the parent and who is not corrected grows up to riot, to break the laws of the nation, to become an anarchist. The more good citizens a country has, the more stable that country will be. We are seeing the insanity of wandering away from God’s Word playing out in our country today. The moral code of a citizen is established when that person is a child. When children grow up bereft of parents to honor and guide them, they become bad actors later in life.

And confusion abounds in the nation.

It Was Hypocritical Of “Separate Ones” or Pharisees
To Establish Human Laws As Superior To
The Written Word of God

Jesus did not give the Scribes (the Legal scholars) and Pharisees (the Separate Ones) a chance to answer His question, but immediately indicted them as HYPOCRITES:

Matthew 15:7 Ye HYPOCRITES, well did {Isaiah} prophesy of you, saying, 8 This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoreth 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.

Word Study Jesus quoted Isaiah 29:13 when He indicted the Scribes and Pharisees. They, like ancient disobedient Israel, SAID that they loved the Lord, but turned away from His written Word. “In VAIN do they worship Me”. When we reject the Scripture, the written Word of God in order to embrace human opinion and feels, then our worship of God is VAIN. Jesus uses a Greek word μάτην mátēn, {pronounced mat’-ane}, which means “fruitless, unsuccessful, to no purpose”. God is not in the worship service when His Word is not upheld. God will not honor any Church that departs from the Written Word of God for some type of Mishnah, whether it be a Jewish Mishnah or a Gentile Mishnah.

God and God alone is the final Arbiter of Truth. God is our Creator. He is the Maker of every person. He is the Grand Designer of our planet, and all that are on it. It is God Who defines good and evil. When God told Adam,

Genesis 2:16-17 Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: 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.

This was an absolute. God decreed this, and had it written into Scripture. Jesus stated:

Matthew 19:17; Mark 10:18 … there is NONE GOOD BUT ONE, that is, GOD

Psalm 25:8 Good and upright is THE LORD: therefore will he teach sinners in the way.

God establishes what is good and what is bad. God knows that we as humans are frail and fallible. He knows that we are born crooked, sinners all. There is not a person among us that can measure up to Who God is. All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). We are all products of Adam’s OPINION in the Garden of Eden. Knowing God’s Word, Adam rejected His Word in order to follow his own opinion. His failure to the Word of God brought catastrophe upon the human race.

Our God sets the standard, and his standard is clearly presented in the Word of God. I often hear people challenge the Word of God by saying:

Well, Jesus never said that this lifestyle was wrong. He never addressed it at all.”

Then they stand back and say, “The Old Testament was back then. We are in the New Testament, and if Jesus didn’t say it, then it’s not wrong”. What is wrong with this chain of thought and argument? Jesus often referenced the Old Testament as the Word of God, and directed that it be followed. Here’s a big one that I often encounter. People in SEXUAL SIN – be it heterosexual or homosexual sin – often state:

Jesus never addressed what the Old Testament said was sexual sin – so it’s no longer a sin”.

My reply: “Jesus DID address heterosexual as well as homosexual sin. In Matthew 19 Jesus said:

Matthew 19:4-6 Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, 5 and said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? 6 Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

Jesus quoted the Old Testament Scriptures when He said, “Have you not READ”. It is God Who made man and made woman. It is God Who designed marriage to be one man and one woman. Marriage is not multiple women to one man, nor is it man on man or woman on woman. Marriage is a bond between a man and a woman, the same bond that was from “in the beginning”. This is not popular in our world today, and in many cases the false narratives that the devil pushes have been reinforced by local or national churches that have said, “has God really said that?” Well yes, Jesus has spoken to it, and He speaks to it from “it is written”.

Jesus Now Addresses The MULTITUDES

As Jesus addresses the Scribes and Pharisees I can almost see them, their faces getting redder and redder, their arms crossed, their expressions tight lipped and furious. But Jesus now ignores these sincere men. We read:

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.

Jesus addresses the “multitudes” because what He has said about the written Word is God is so very important. Too often people focus on the external physical things and say that these “defile a person”. It is possible to eat things that defile your bodies. You can defile your body by eating too much food. You can defile your body by drinking too much alcohol. You can defile your body by putting too much or anything into it. You can literally poison your body by taking in the wrong things, the wrong substances, the wrong stuff.

But what defiles a SOUL? Jesus spoke a PARABLE:

11 {it is} not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man.

Words come out of your mouth. What you say comes out of your mouth. And what comes out of your mouth comes from inside you, from your soul. When Jesus told this to the multitudes, His disciples – men that loved Jesus – came up the Master and said:

Matthew 15:12-14 … Knowest thou that the Pharisees were offended, after they heard this saying? 13 But he answered and said, 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.

Jesus was not going to apologize for telling the truth. Too often, dear friends, those who know the Word of God apologize for telling the truth. But what God has said is true, regardless as to what others may say. What His Written Word states is true for every age. That may offend some, but if you love God it will not offend you. If you love God, you will love His Written Word. You will love his Word more than anything or any one else.

Psalm 119:1-3 Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the Lord. 2 Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart. 3 They also do no iniquity: they walk in his ways.

The Scribes and Pharisees had ignored the written Word of God for so long and had lived by the Mishnah, that they were hardened in their hearts. They were plants that the Heavenly Father had not planted. If the Father did not plant them, then who planted them? The devil. The darkness. Those who ignore the written Word of God and in preference turn to the various Mishnahs found in humanity are not of God. They are weeds in the garden. They are false plants, left in place by God to try the righteous, produced by the evil one to attempt to draw us away from the path of righteousness.

Now Peter speaks up. “Declare to us this parable”, the parable that our Lord just spoke. He says:

Matthew 15:16-20 {Jesus said} … Are ye also yet without understanding? 17 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 reason people do evil things is because of what is in their hearts. I often hear people talk about racism, and specifically systemic racism. What is this? It is what God calls “sin”. How does this become nourished in the heart? Because people have rejected the written Word of God for the various Mishnahs that people have accepted as true. When a person’s mouth is filled with poison, you can be certain that the source of this poison is a defiled heart. Jesus told the Scribes and Pharisees:

Matthew 12:34 O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.

Solomon warned us to “watch over your heart with all diligence,

For from it flow the springs of life” (New American Standard used for clarity). What we take into our eyes and ears goes into our hearts. When we spend much time in front of televisions or reading books but little time in the written Word of God, we allow our hearts to be filled with fruitless things. It is the written Word of God that blesses us. Jesus said:

Luke 6:45 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.

Whether your life produces good and godly fruit or bad and useless fruit is determined by what you allow to enter your soul through your eye and ear gates. You can eat bad food, or drink bad things and, in most cases, it will pass from your body within a day or so as waste. But what you feed your hearts will impact your very souls. The great preacher G. Campbell Morgan wrote in his book Searchlights From The Word:

Here, then, we find the test of all human teaching, however well intentioned. If it be not based upon and rooted in the Word of God, or if it depart in any degree from the true intention of that Word, it is without pity to be rooted up. By this test we need ever to try our traditions, customs, habits, rules, regulations. Man is always in danger of destroying the very thing he desires to safeguard, when he adds to the simplest things of the Divine revelation”.

Our nation is in tatters because we have, as a people, turned from the written Word of God to the mishmash of politics and social justice. Our families are in disrepair because we have raised our children to disrespect the written Word of God. We need to heed the Psalmist, who said:

Psalm 119:11 Thy word {o Lord} have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.

Oh that we would as His Church cling to His written Word, cherishing it above all else. Oh that we would understand that only the written Word of God can pierce even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit (Hebrews 4:12).

We must get back to the Bible! May God touch your hearts with His Spirit and His Word. Amen and Amen.

Posted in Matthew, Sermon Series "Red Letters" | Tagged , , ,

The Prayer God Answers

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Matthew 15:25 .. Then came {the woman of Canaan} and worshiped {Jesus}, saying, Lord, help me.

Christians ought to be praying people. It is by prayer that we enter the Kingdom of God. We obey the Scripture.

Romans 10:9-13 … if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. 10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. 12 For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. 13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

By prayer the Spirit of God comes to us. By prayer we enter the Family of God. When we fail – and we often fail – it is by prayer we repent and realign ourselves to God.

When Peter stepped out of the boat to walk on water with Jesus, he prayed. “Jesus, may I come?” The Master replies, “Come!” Peter takes a step of faith, and begins to walk on water. Then his humanity shows. He looks at the water and begins to sink. Peter prayed quickly,

Matthew 14:30 … Lord, save me!

And immediately “Jesus stretched out His hand and caught Peter” (Matthew 15:31). Jesus loves to answer prayer. Oh, how our God loves to answer prayer. But we must pray. The Scripture tells us:

James 4:2-3 … ye have not, because ye ask not. 3 Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.

God would answer our prayers, if we actually believed in prayer. You say, “But preacher, I do believe in prayer”. Do you? Do you pray daily, frequently? Do you ask God to accompany you before you begin your journey? Do you hold God in your consciousness asking, seeking, and knocking” (Matthew 7:7-8; Luke 11:9-13)?

Trials Drive Us Into The Arms Of Christ

As I get older, I am more appreciative of the trials that my Lord God allows me to go through. It was through the blessed trial of pain that I endured in 1983 that I learned how sweet it is to pray. If you are a Christian, trials come to prove and strengthen your faith. If you are not a Christian, trials drive you toward the arms of Christ.

Matthew 15:21 Then Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon.

Jesus went thence”. Jesus had been in the area of Gennesaret, a region southwest of Capernaum. While Jesus was in this area the Bible says:

Matthew 14:36 {all that were diseased begged Jesus}, that they might only touch the hem of His garment: and as many as touched were made perfectly whole.

There was no power in the hem of His garment – the power was in Jesus. They believed so much in Jesus that they believed contact with His clothing alone would bring healing. As humans, sometimes we need a physical thing to focus on while believing in God. When Paul preached, the Bible says:

Acts 19:11-12 NKJV … even handkerchiefs or aprons were brought from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out of them.

And when Peter preached:

Acts 5:15 NKJV … they brought the sick out into the streets and laid [them] on beds and couches, that at least the shadow of Peter passing by might fall on some of them.

When you come to God in faith, the Lord rewards with blessing. Many were healed in

{Jesus} departed into the coasts of TYRE AND SIDON”.

Gennesaret and Capernaum are primarily peopled by Jews. It is possible that some Gentiles came to Jesus, but I doubt it based upon what occurs next. Jesus leaves Gennesaret and goes toward the Phonetician cities of Tyre and Sidon. The Phoneticians were unbelievers in God, idolaters. These two Gentile cities, are some 50 miles away from Gennesaret.

Why would Jesus go 50 miles on foot – a long journey – into decidedly Gentile territory? Because Jesus knew there was a woman there that need His help.

I am shocked that anyone who is a Christian would harbor racism in their hearts. Jesus Christ was never racist. If He were racist, then the Gentiles – that’s any of you who are NOT Jews – would have never been saved. Jesus Christ came to this earth for everyone, because everyone is broken. We are all under a sin curse, a universal blemish brought on humanity by Adam’s poor choice.

John 3:16 For God so loved THE WORLD, that he gave his only begotten Son, that WHOSOEVER believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

God gave up His Beloved Son Jesus so that the WORLD would have an opportunity to be saved and adopted into the Family of God. Jesus gave His life on Calvary that WHOSOEVER, regardless of skin color, could have everlasting life. The Jewish crowd probably did not follow Jesus as He headed toward Gentile territory. The Romano-Jewish Historian Titus Flavius Josephus wrote:

Of the Phoenicians, the Tyrians have the most ill-feeling towards us.”

Yet Jesus went that way. He wanted to show us something. We read:

Matthew 15:22 And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto {Jesus}

The Evangelist Mark calls this woman “a Syrophenician by nation” (Mark 7:26), which would mean that she came from southern Lebanon. The woman is not a Jew. The Canaanites were the ancient enemies of Israel. They occupied the Promised Land before Israel came, and were life long enemies.

Trials Bring Us To A Place Of Humility

Matthew 15:22 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.

God bless the trial that brings us to our knees, for here is where we will find our God. God despises pride. There are seven sins that God considers abominations:

Proverbs 6:16-19 These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: 17 a proud look, …

and PRIDE is the first on His list of things despised. God hates pride. God says:

Proverbs 16:5 Every one that is proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord…

God can work with a broken vessel, but He can do nothing with a vessel filled with self, with pride.

Proverbs 8:13 … {the Lord said} Pride and arrogance and the evil way

And the perverse mouth I hate.

God hates pride because it inoculates us against Him. The Scribes and Pharisees were great scholars of the Scripture, but never used it as God intended because of pride.

Pride makes God a man, and man a God.

Pride blinds the one who has it. Pride asks, “Is it I Who will betray You, dear Jesus?” while looking not at oneself but at those around you. Pride deflects the blessings of God, for it is a clenched fist and a stiff and unbowing attitude. The great author C.S. Lewis stated:

According to Christian teachers, the essential vice, the utmost evil, is Pride. Unchastity, anger, greed, drunkenness, and all that, are mere fleabites in comparison: it was through Pride that the devil became the devil: Pride leads to every other vice: it is the complete anti-God state of mind.”

The wicked, in his pride, will not seek after God, nor will he even think of God” (my paraphrase of Psalm 10:4). This Gentile woman has not come to Jesus in pride. She cries out:

Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil.

She did not say, “You’ve healed in Capernaum – now heal us here in Tyre”. She did not demand of God when she asked. She plead her case based on mercy. We have all been blessed by the mercy of God. The Bible says:

Matthew 5:45 … {God} maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

We have neither earned nor deserved the great gift of life that our Creator has given us. Yet many of us will not even acknowledge God in the slightest of ways. This woman was a Gentile from a pagan, idolatrous society. Yet the trial she is going through with her child has given her awareness of need. She needs the Lord. She begs the Lord to help.

Jesus, You are Lord. Jesus, You are the Son of David, the rightful heir to God’s Kingdom. You are, Jesus. Please, my daughter is grievously vexed by a demon. Help me, Lord, I plead”.

When We Pray, There Are Times
When God Seems Silent

Matthew 15:23 But {Jesus} answered her not a word. …

Though this woman pleads with Jesus loudly and repeatedly, for this is the Imperfect Tense which can mean repeated action, Jesus answers her NOT A WORD. He does not acknowledge her in any way. This is very strange.

When Peter walked on the water and, looking away from Jesus, started to sink, he cried out “Lord, save me!”. The Bible says:

Matthew 14:31 … and IMMEDIATELY Jesus stretched forth His hand, and caught him …

This is a pattern throughout the New Testament. When someone in need calls out to Jesus, our Lord acts immediately. There are only two instances that I can think of when Jesus delayed answering prayer: here, and when His friend Lazarus lay dying (John 11:6).

When A Person Prayed To Jesus, Grabbing Hold Of The Mercy Seat, Jesus Usually Responded With Mercy.
Why Does He Ignore This Woman?

Because Jesus wanted His disciples to see what genuine faith is. Genuine faith in God persists in prayer, even when God seems silent. Genuine faith humbles itself before God, willing to love Him even if His response is delayed. We are told in:

Colossians 4:2 … Continue {persist} in prayer …

Jesus even gave us a parable on persisting in prayer. We read:

Luke 18:1-7 {Jesus} spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint; 2 saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man: 3 and there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary. 4 And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man; 5 yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me. 6 And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith. 7 And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them?

If we would be blessed of God, we should ask, and keep on asking until God answers us. Sometimes God will answer our prayers with a “no”. When He does, then “no” is what’s best for us. When God seems silent, however, we should be like this woman. Keep on praying. Keep on asking. Her child was suffering, and she wanted mercy. She continued to pray.

Seek The Heart Of God In Prayer

Matthew 15:23 But {Jesus} answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us.

As this woman is praying, seeking Jesus’ help, those closest to Him were saying, “send her away, Lord. She is disturbing us!”. There is some debate in the commentaries what this statement means. The SonicLight Commentary states:

The disciples probably wanted Jesus to heal the woman’s daughter so she would stop bothering them.”

The easiest thing for Jesus to do would be to grant her wish. Jesus responded not to the woman, but to His disciples when He said:

Matthew 15:24 … I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

In the first half of Christ’s ministry Jesus came to the Jews FIRST. God made a promise to Abraham, the father of the Israelites, and promised to send Messiah through Israel (Genesis 12:1-3). God made a promise to King David that a son would come from His lineage that would be the Messiah (2 Samuel 7). When Jesus Christ entered this world through a Jewish mother, with a lineage that traced back to Abraham and David (Matthew 1:1-17; Luke 3:23-28), this was God’s fulfillment of His promise. When Jesus sent His disciples out, the scripture says:

Matthew 10:5-6 … Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

The Apostle Paul also said:

Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

It was not yet time for Jesus to be healing Gentiles. Though He had previously healed a Centurion’s servant (Matthew 8:5-13) this Gentile woman comes to Jesus while He is in Gentile, not Jewish, territories.

The woman was persistent. She sought the heart of God in her prayer.

Matthew 15:25 Then came she and worshiped him, saying, Lord, help me.

Then came she – she drew near by faith

and worshiped Him – she humbled herself before Christ

and prayed – “Lord, help me”

Did Jesus immediately meet her need? No. Jesus actually belittled the woman. He said:

Matthew 15:26 .. It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs.

Word Study “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 For DOGS have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have enclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet.

Dogs or unbelievers will not be in Heaven one day. John wrote:

Revelation 22:14-15 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 {Heaven} ARE DOGS

If there was any pride in this woman, at this point it would have reared it’s head. Yet the woman plead with Christ.

Matthew 15:27 … And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the DOGS eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.

She did not argue nor demand, but said “Lord, even the dogs get to eat the crumbs that fall from the Master’s table”. She humbled herself before Christ. Jesus wanted His disciples to see and learn from this encounter. The Gospel is not just for one group of people, but for all people. Jesus Christ came for all.

Matthew 15:28 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.

The woman was blessed because she showed GREAT FAITH toward God. When we approach God in faith when we are tried, and call upon Him, claiming His promises as our own, our faith grows from little faith to great faith.

Little faith waits on a sign.

Great faith seeks out the Savior.

Little faith has too high an opinion of itself.

Great faith has the right opinion of God.

Little faith is effected by its surroundings.

Great faith keeps it’s eyes on Christ.

Little faith gives up in discouragement too quickly.

Great faith refuses to be discouraged, but pursues Christ.

This woman’s great faith did something else as well. When her child was healed we are told:

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.

Great multitudes of Gentiles came to Jesus after the healing of this woman’s daughter. Her faith was much like the faith of the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:1-30). Her faith triggered a massive revival among the Gentiles in that area, planting the seed of Christ’s future Church. When we seek God in prayer, and honor Him in our lives, God uses us to bring revival in the land. Brothers and sisters, in these days our land desperately needs Jesus. Let us live for Him, seeking His face in prayer moment by moment, until the day we meet Him in glory.

May God’s Spirit touch your hearts and minds with His Word. Amen and Amen!

Posted in Matthew, Sermon Series "Red Letters", Sermons Preached | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Waiting On The Lord

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Today we’ll expound one of my favorite passages of Scripture:

Psalm 27:14 Wait on the Lord, be of good courage, and He shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.

Christians, We All Need To Learn
How To Wait On God

Pastor Adrian Rogers once said, “You can save a lot of time by waiting on God”. That is such a true statement.

But what does it mean to “wait”?
Does it mean to do nothing?
To just sit at attention until God tells me what to do?

As a nation we have been in a state of “waiting” since March of this year because of the Coronavirus. Most of the local Churches in America shut down at some point as United States citizens were commanded by Governors to quarantine ourselves at home. “Safer at home” became a familiar buzz word, found both on the Internet and on television in advertisements. Citizens were commanded to give up their freedom in order to “flatten the curve” of the Coronavirus. We at Riverview shut down our services for two weeks in respect for our Christian Governor Bill Lee. Our Governor has been respectful of our First Amendment rights. The Governor of California has not been respectful, but has shut down Churches while allowing “essential” businesses to continue unhindered. This past Sunday Pastor John MacArthur of Grace Community Church in unison with the elders of that Church stated that they would not obey the state mandated ban on services. The Pastor quoted the Apostles who were commanded by the state not to preach:

Acts 5:29 … We ought to obey God rather than men.

The elders of Grace Community released a statement, saying:

““Christ is the one true head of His church. For that preeminent reason, we cannot accept and will not bow to the intrusive restrictions government officials now want to impose on our congregation. We offer this response without rancor, and not out of hearts that are combative or rebellious (1 Timothy 2:1-8; 1 Peter 2:13-17), but with a sobering awareness that we must answer to the Lord Jesus for the stewardship He has given to us as shepherds of His precious flock,” the statement said. “To government officials, we respectfully say with the apostles, ‘Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge’ (Acts 4:19). And our unhesitating reply to that question is the same as the apostles’: ‘We must obey God rather than men’ (Acts 5:29).”

To Wait On The Lord Is To
Put Him Above All Others

Beloved, this is an example of “waiting” on God. We “wait” on God when we honor Him, and serve Him above all others. In our Psalm today King David writes:

Psalm 27:4 One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may DWELL IN THE HOUSE OF THE LORD ALL THE DAYS OF MY LIFE, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in his temple.

Word Study Some commentators define “house of the Lord” as either the Tabernacle, the Temple, or the Church building. I do not think this is a good definition. David was the King of Israel, and said “the one thing I asked the Lord to help me do is to DWELL in the house of the Lord”. The word translated “DWELL” is the Hebrew יָשַׁב yâshab, {pronounced yaw-shab’” which means “to remain in, to inhabit, to have my abode in, to abide or rest in”. If David was referring to the Temple then he would have been asking God to let him stay in the Tabernacle all the time, for David said he wanted to yâshab “ALL THE DAYS of MY LIFE”.

David was King over Israel. He cannot do what God has called him to do by staying in the Tabernacle forever.

As King, David must go out with His men to fight battles as God has so commanded. As King, David must go and issue ruling and judgments from his throne. The King has many duties. He can certainly go to Tabernacle to worship the Lord, but cannot do so “all the days of my life”. That is a physical impossibility.

So what is David referring to. The phrase “house of” is found some 880 times in the Bible, 25 of which are in the Psalms. Many times in scripture “house of” refers to a physical dwelling. However, There are other times when it refers to a dynasty or a ruling, to be under the authority of another.

When God called David to be King over Saul, the latter was not so quick to give up his throne. The Bible says:

2 Samuel 3:1 Now there was long war between the HOUSE OF SAUL and the HOUSE OF DAVID: but David waxed stronger and stronger, and the house of Saul waxed weaker and weaker.

Those who recognized the God given authority of David as King were in battle against those who submitted to Saul as King. “House of” is a reference to authority.

Later in history when David and his son Solomon went to be with the Lord in Heaven, David’s grandson Rehoboam ruled Israel. Rehoboam made very bad diplomatic decisions, so bad that they caused ten of Israel’s tribes to walk away from Rehoboam. The Bible says:

1 Kings 12:19 So Israel {the ten northern tribes} rebelled against THE HOUSE OF DAVID unto this day.

Though David was no longer ruling, Rehoboam occupied the throne as a descendant of King David. The throne was therefore called “the house of David”. This is no reference to the Tabernacle or the Temple, but a reference to the God given RULE. In the New Testament the individual Christian and the gathering of Christians we call the “Church” is under the “house of Christ”. We read:

Hebrews 3:5-6 … Moses verily was faithful in all his house, as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken after; 6 but CHRIST AS A SON OVER HIS OWN HOUSE; WHOSE HOUSE ARE WE, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.

If you are a Christian indeed, you are “of the HOUSE of CHRIST”. We are citizens of His Kingdom. What King David was asking God to do for Him:

Psalm 27:4 … that I may DWELL IN THE HOUSE OF THE LORD all the days of my life

was that God would rule David as David ruled Israel. This same heart was in Solomon when he prayed and asked the Lord:

1 Kings 3:7-10 … And now, O Lord my God, thou hast made thy servant king instead of David my father: and I am but a little child: I know not how to go out or come in. 8 And thy servant is in the midst of thy people which thou hast chosen, a great people, that cannot be numbered nor counted for multitude. 9 Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people? 10 And the speech pleased the Lord, that Solomon had asked this thing.

David wanted – and prayed that – God would guide his heart and his hand, that he would NEVER fail the Lord. This is a wonderful prayer that every believer should pray. When we ask God to rule our lives – and we willingly follow Him as “King of Kings and Lord of Lords” (Revelation 19:16; Deuteronomy 10:17; Psalm 136:3; Daniel 2:47; 1 Timothy 6:15, et al) – then God blesses us.

To Wait On The Lord Is To
Hear & Obediently Do His Word

Psalm 27:1 The Lord is my LIGHT and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

David prayed that God would rule him as he ruled Israel. This is a beautiful prayer, and a request that I know please God. David said that YAHWEH is:

  • The LORD is my LIGHT”. When God is present with His people, God brings us LIGHT. The Scripture says:

1 John 1:4-6 And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full. 5 This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:

When God is present with us, we always walk in light, because God is Light. His way is always right. If we are walking in sin we are not walking with God. If we are walking contrary to God’s way, we are not walking with God. What God has said is true is ALWAYS true, no matter what the world may say. Our Heavenly Father loves us, and gives us good things when we walk with Him. The Bible says:

James 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

You cannot walk in the Light of God if you will not read and heed His WORD, the Holy Scripture. The Old Testament directions of God are “light”.

Proverbs 6:23 … For the commandment is a LAMP; and the law is LIGHT;

What God has said in His Bible gives us light, so that we can live in His presence and under His will. When the Coronavirus hit our nation one of the largest search engines called “Google” noted a fifty percent increase of those searching for instruction on “prayer”. In July of 2020 the American Bible Society stated:

In 2019, over one-third of American adults (35%) said that realistically they never use the Bible outside of a large church service. In January [2020], that number was statistically unchanged. However, by June of 2020, that proportion had fallen to 31%. The proportion of Americans who use the Bible daily also fell to fewer than one in ten (9%), the lowest number on record during the ten years of the State of the Bible research study.”

The Scripture tells us in Psalm 119:105, “Thy word {O God} is a LAMP unto my feet, and a LIGHT unto my path.It is the Holy Word of God that establishes the normal Christian life. It is God’s Scripture – His written Word – that draws us to where He is.

Psalm 43:3 O {Lord}, send out thy light and thy truth: let them lead me; let them bring me unto thy holy hill, and to thy tabernacles.

When Jesus Christ walked this earth, He was the Light of God. Jesus was the Light shining in darkness (John 1:5), misunderstood by the world. Jesus said:

John 8:12 … I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life. (also, John 9:5)

When Jesus prepared to leave this world, He promised to send “the Spirit of truth”, the Holy Spirit of God to those who believe on Him. The Spirit of truth “dwelleth with you, and shall be in you” (John 14:17). The Spirit of truth “testifies of Jesus” (John 15:26). This Holy Spirit “will guide you into all truth” (John 16:13). Christ gave us of His Spirit so that we can learn of God’s truth, the Word contained in the Holy Scripture.

King David not only had access to the Word of God, but he cherished it. He sought God’s guidance in that blessed written Word. The Lord was David’s “Light”. David also uses another term to refer to Yahweh:

Psalm 27:1 The Lord is my light and my SALVATION

  • The LORD is my SALVATION”. David had a Savior in the Lord Who was his Light. God spoke through the Prophet, saying:

Isaiah 45:21 … there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Savior; there is none beside me.

When Jesus Christ was “begotten” into this world, Eternal God born of a virgin, the Angel said:

Luke 2:11 … unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.

Yahweh took upon Himself humanity. Christ is the Savior of the world (John 4:42). In a dream the Angel of God told Joseph, Mary’s husband:

Matthew 1:20-21 … fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. 21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save HIS PEOPLE from their sins.

Because David acknowledged the God of Scripture as his Lord and Master, David was saved from His sins. When Christ Jesus is the Lord of your life, and you are members of His Kingdom:

Colossians 1:13 … delivered from the power of darkness, translated into the Kingdom of God’s dear Son (my paraphrase),

then God is indeed your Savior. There are many false teachers today who proclaim that you can be saved by faith in Christ, and yet not be under the authority of that same Christ. This is patently un-Scriptural. It is like the dogmas of penance and Purgatory, foolish concepts taught no where in Scripture. That great Theologian A.W. Tozer wrote:

No Christian believer should ever forget what the Bible says about the Person and the offices of the eternal Son, the Christ of God. “God hath made this same Jesus whom ye have crucified both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36). Jesus means Savior; Lord means Sovereign; Christ means Anointed One. The apostle Peter did not proclaim Jesus only as Savior; he preached to them Jesus as Lord and Christ and Savior, never dividing His Person or His offices. Remember, also, the declaration of Paul: “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, thou shalt be saved.” Three times in the passage to the Roman Christians telling how to be saved, Paul calls Jesus “Lord.” He says that faith in the Lord Jesus plus confession of that faith to the world brings salvation to us!”

When we are submitted to the Kingdom and Rulership of Christ our Lord, we need not fear our enemies. If God is my General, and I His troop, He will insure that I am protected so that I can fulfill His Will. David testified:

Psalm 27:2-3 … When the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell. 3 Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear: though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident.

  • The LORD is my hiding place, my refuge from my enemies. When David faced the fiercest of enemies, even those who wanted to “eat up his flesh” like wild beasts, David trusted in the Lord. Resting in Jesus, David commanded his heart to do three things:
  1. whom shall I fear?” (verse 1). David commanded his soul to “FEAR (יָרֵא yârêʼ, pronounced yaw-ray’) NOT”. If you are walking in the will of God, heeding His Word and doing as He says, fear is not to be your companion.

To Abraham God said, “Fear Not” (Genesis 15:1),I am your SHIELD”. God will protect you.

To Jacob God said, “Fear Not to go to Egypt (Genesis 46:3),I will make you a great nation”.

To Israel God said, “Fear Not, neither be discouraged” (Deuteronomy 1:21).

To Joshua God said, “Fear not, be not dismayed” (Joshua 8:1)I have given them into your hand).

Throughout the Scripture God our Father tells those who have received Him as Lord and Savior to “Fear Not”.

2 Timothy 1:7 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

Let the darkened world dwell in darkness, confusion, and madness. We who are Christ’s will look to Him Who saved us, and live our lives for Him.

  1. of whom shall I be afraid”? (verse 1). The Hebrew פָּחַד pâchad, {pronounced paw-kkad’} means to be in awe of, or to tremble at. Whereas (יָרֵא yârêʼ, pronounced yaw-ray’) speaks to fear in the heart, pâchad refers to physical symptoms that accompany fear or dread. Beloved of Christ, we do not need to tremble in fear at the enemies around us, for God is greater than any enemy.

Psalms 46:1-2 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;

Psalms 56:2-4 Mine enemies would daily swallow me up: for they be many that fight against me, O thou most High. What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee. In God I will praise his word, in God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me.

  1. in this will I be confident”. Where God is, there is no defeat. You and I should be confident with the Psalmist that – though all things do not APPEAR good, they ARE good. Why? The Apostle Paul – a man who suffered imprisonment for preaching the Gospel – declared

Romans 8:28 … all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

If you are saved by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, God has a purpose for every minute of your life. That purpose is not to be defeated by the darkness, but to stand strong, looking unto Him Who loves us and gave His life for us. The Apostle went on to say:

Romans 8:31-39 … What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? 32 He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? 33 Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. 34 Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh 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? 36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. 37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that 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 creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The Psalmist – though not using the same words as the Apostle Paul – voiced the same truths. He said:

Psalm 27:5-6 … For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock. 6 And now shall mine head be lifted up above mine enemies round about me: therefore will I offer in his tabernacle sacrifices of joy; I will sing, yea, I will sing praises unto the Lord.

God will protect His Children. He will set us up upon a rock, for He is our Savior and Lord.

A wonderful Savior is Jesus my Lord,
A wonderful Savior to me;
He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock,

Where rivers of pleasure I see.
He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock
That shadows a dry, thirsty land;
He hideth my life in the depths of His love,
And covers me there with His hand,
And covers me there with His hand.

To Wait On The Lord Is To Pray,
Humbly Expecting His Presence

Psalm 27:7-10 Hear, O Lord, when I cry with my voice: have mercy also upon me, and answer me. 8 When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, Lord, will I seek. 9 Hide not thy face far from me; put not thy servant away in anger: thou hast been my help; leave me not, neither forsake me, O God of my salvation. 10 When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up.

The worst thing that could happen to a Jew in David’s day was for his parents to forsake him. David considered a thing far worst than this to be the LORD forsaking him. So David prayed for the Presence of God. We who love the Lord should pray for His Presence. The greatest thing the believer has is the knowledge that God is with us, and will never forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6).

Hebrews 13:5-6 Let your {way of life} be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for {God} hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. 6 So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.

When we wait on God, God stays with us. He protects us. He guides us. He loves us. Do you know the Lord? Is Jesus Christ your Lord and Savior? If not, today would be a wonderful day to do as Scripture says:

Romans 10:9-11 .. if you would confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved. With your heart you believe in Jesus, and receive His righteousness. With your mouth you make a confession that leads to salvation. Whosoever calls upon the Name of the Lord Jesus shall be saved. (my paraphrase).

Oh, that you would, by faith, enter the Kingdom of God this very day. Give yourselves to Christ, and He will give Himself to you. May each and every person under the sound of this Gospel receive and believe this very day. Amen and Amen.

Posted in Psalms, Sermons Preached | Tagged , , ,

The Christian And Trials

Photo by Zoltan Tasi on Unsplash

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.

Jesus made His disciples get into a ship without Him. This “ship” is a fisherman’s boat, probably one of his disciple’s boats.

Matthew 4:18-22 Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. 19 And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. 20 And they straightway left their nets, and followed him. 21 And going on from thence, he saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he called them. 22 And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed him.

Jesus found His first disciples in a fishing boat. He called them to Himself, and they left their boats to follow Him. Now Jesus is sending them away on a boat.

When Jesus calls us to salvation, He calls us to leave everything and follow Him. But then Jesus sends us back to our lives to serve Him, to honor Him as we go about our lives. He sends us

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.

Word Study The word translated “constrained” is the Greek ἀναγκάζω anankázō, {pronounced an-ang-kad’-zo}, which means “to compel, to force, to drive, to demand as necessary”. Jesus wanted His disciples to get into this boat and go across the water to the other side, while He dispersed the crowd. Jesus would send the multitude away. The disciples did not want to leave Jesus. They wanted to stay with Jesus, and I understand this.

That morning the disciples discovered that John the Baptist had been martyred for the faith(Matthew 14:13). John’s suffering and death reminds us, Beloved, that ..

Christians, YOU Will Suffer In The World
For Following Jesus

John did not die a natural death. John stood up for Biblical truth, and was horribly martyred for it. King Herod, the despot puppet ruler of Israel, had imprisoned John because Herod had taken his brother’s wife to himselfcommitting adultery, a terrible sin that violates the sanctity of marriage. The Bible says:

Matthew 14:4 … John said unto {Herod}, It is not lawful for thee to have her.

Herod! The Word of God says you will not steal your brother’s wife! Herod, like many who are unbelievers, became enraged when called out on his sin. He imprisoned John in a dungeon. John was a holy man, the greatest Prophet ever born according to Jesus (see Matthew 11:11). Nonetheless Herod imprisoned him for honoring God’s Word. Lusting after another family member, Herod’s stepdaughter asked that John be beheaded, and the head be given to her. Herod complied. Though he was sorry for it, he did so anyway, because he told his stepdaughter he would do whatever she asked.

Christian, you can do everything right, follow the Lord as best you can, but if you honor Jesus and the Word of God Jesus said “you will be hated by the world”.

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

John the Baptist is a picture of the faithful servant of Christ living in this fallen world. We, like John, are to live for Jesus regardless as to what others say. John lived his life not for himself, but for Christ. He was

The Voice of one crying in the wilderness, saying, “Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God” (John 1:23; Isaiah 40:3).

The world despises repentance, but we are called to say what John and Jesus said. We are to preach repentance from sin, and pointed all who would hear to the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior, just as John did. We are to be faithful servants of God our Savior.

Beloved, Christianity is not the mega Church Pastor, the rock star Worship Leader. Christianity goes forward when every person lives for Jesus, shining for Him, whether you are recognized or not.

John served the Lord and died alone in a prison, beheaded for his faith. Herod’s stepdaughter danced with his head on a silver charger. Your heart may be asking:

“Where is God in all this?
Why didn’t Jesus have John freed from prison?”

God is still there, but part of our lot in life, our purpose, is to suffer with Jesus. The Scripture declares:

2 Timothy 2:12 If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us..

The Apostle Paul told Timothy:

2 Timothy 3:10-12 But thou hast fully known my … persecutions, afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured: but out of them all the Lord delivered me. 12 Yea, and ALL THAT WILL LIVE GODLY IN CHRIST JESUS SHALL SUFFER PERSECUTION.

If you are living as a Child of God in the Kingdom of God you will be despised by the world. When a Christian tells me “Oh, I get along with everyone”, then my mind goes back to the words of our Lord Jesus:

John 15:18-21 If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. 19 If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. 20 Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. 21 But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me.

If your worldly friends are satisfied with the way of life you both live and speak of, then you are not perhaps walking in the light but in gray and black darkness.

We as Christians are not to be holier than thou, for this is a smoke in God’s nostrils (Isaiah 65:5). But we are also not to call right wrong, or darkness to be light (Isaiah 5:20). Followers of Christ are to follow Jesus, to love God with all our hearts and minds, and to treat others as we want to be treated.

Love is our way of life. But we are never to compromise with darkness. When you walk with Christ in the light, you will anger those bound in darkness. Follow Jesus anyway. Follow Jesus, knowing the world will despise you. Follow and love. John’s death frightened Jesus’ disciples, and they wanted to stay with Jesus. That is a normal response. But Jesus wanted them in the boat.

Trials Grow The Christian’s Faith

After Jesus commands His disciples on the boat we read:

Matthew 14:23 … when {Jesus} had sent the multitudes away, {Jesus} went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, HE WAS THERE ALONE.

Jesus put His disciples in a ship to head across the waters to Capernaum (Luke 6:17). The Jesus Who fed over 5000 with a tiny child’s meal, this Jesus puts us in situations where we must trust Him no matter what may come.

Jesus put His disciples in the boat on purpose, to try them, to grow their faith. The Apostle Peter who was on this boat would later write about trials, saying:

1 Peter 1:3-7 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: 7 that the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.

When we are tried, dear Christian, we still have the assurance of salvation. Every Christian is “kept by the power of God”. God shed His Son’s Blood for our salvation. God sent His Spirit to abide with us. God has invested so much in us that He would not abandon us. No, our salvation was costly to God. The intent of salvation and the heart of our Great Shepherd Jesus (John 10) is to grow our faith, to make us more like Him. Because of this Christ often compels us to get on the boat, to row out to midst of the sea, and to trust Him where ever He may take us. Continuing our text:

Matthew 14:24 But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary.

Where is Jesus when the boat we’re in is tossed, when the winds blow us contrary to the waves, so it seems as if we will sink? Where is Jesus in the midst of this Coronavirus pandemic? Where is Jesus when the Churches in California are being forcibly closed by a despotic governor? Where is Jesus when disease strikes, when death comes to someone I love? Where is He? Jesus is where He always is. He is there with us, if we would but call His name.

The Evangelist Mark tells us in his accounting of this event:

Mark 6:46-48 … when {Jesus} had sent them away, he departed into a mountain to pray. 47 And when even was come, the ship was in the midst of the sea, and he alone on the land. 48 AND HE SAW THEM TOILING IN ROWING; for the wind was contrary unto them: and about the fourth watch of the night he cometh unto them, walking upon the sea, and would have passed by them.

Though Jesus in His humanity was praying on the shore, in His deity Jesus was aware of what His disciples were going through. Our Jesus never takes His eyes off of His Children. He knew what was going to happen when He put them on the boat. Jesus knew what they were going through. Jesus is the Good Shepherd. He said:

John 10:11, 13-14 I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. … 13 The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd ….

Christ Child, Jesus cares for you. He is not caring for us because we are paying Him to do so. He paid for us by dying on Calvary. He suffered for us at the Cross. Jesus will not abandon that which He paid so much for. Never!

Romans 5:6, 8 … when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. … 8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

The Savior Who gave everything for us will not abandon us when trials come. His love binds Him to us. The trials He allows in our lives are to mold us and make us more like Him. The Scripture says:

Romans 8:38-39 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 creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Perhaps the boat you’re in today is being tossed about with waves. Perhaps you are suffering by disease, or age. Perhaps you have lost someone you love. Call upon Jesus. Don’t row against the storm – Call upon Jesus!

The Gospel of Mark tells us in a parallel text that Jesus would have passed by them (Mark 6:48). Why would Jesus pass them by? Because of unbelief.

Earlier in the day Jesus did something that only the Messiah could do. Jesus fed above 5000 people with a child’s meal, and everyone ate to their fill. Furthermore, there were twelve baskets full of bread left over after all had eaten. Jesus is the Messiah. Rather than call out to Jesus, the disciples row harder and harder against the storm. They use their own strength the battle a thing that no human can battle. They rely upon their own strength rather than Jesus Christ. Had they cried out to Jesus sooner, perhaps they would not be so weakened later! But Beloved, how often do we do the same thing? When faced with something overwhelming … something like this Coronavirus … are we fighting it by calling on the Name of Jesus, or are we rowing against the storm.

Jeremiah 17:5-8 Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord. 6 For he shall be like the heath {tumbleweed} in the desert, and shall not see when good cometh; but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land and not inhabited. 7 Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is. 8 For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.

When trials come, we are to cry out to Jesus. Call upon Him Who gave everything to save us. Yet many times we are like these men. When trials come, we pull harder on the oars. We try harder. We will not be defeated! We can DO it! What has God, our Loving Creator, told us?

Psalms 118:8-9 It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man. It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in princes.

Jesus went out on the sea to save His children, but was not going to stop unless they called upon Him. “He would have passed them by”. When we struggle against the trial in our own power, God often “passes us by”. He wants us to rely upon Him, to heed Him, to call out His Name.

Matthew 14:25-27 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.

They are not looking for Jesus in faith, but are allowing the storm to control them. Unbelief has blinded them so much that they now see Jesus as a boogie man, a ghost, a “spirit”. This is no boogie man, no ghost. This is Jesus.

Christ Calls Us From The Boat To Follow Him
Christ Puts Us In The Boat To Test & Grow Our Faith
Christ Bids Us To Leave The Boat With Him

Why was Peter the Chief Apostle? Have you ever thought about that? Jesus called Andrew, Peter’s brother, to salvation before He called Peter. In fact, Peter was introduced to Christ by Andrew his brother. “Peter, come, we have found the Messiah” (John 1:41). Andrew was first. Why wasn’t he the chief Apostle? Because ..

Peter put his faith in action. Faith is not to sit and soak. Faith hears the Lord, and steps out into discomfort because Jesus bids we go.

Matthew 14:27-29 … 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.

I have heard a number of preachers talk about Peter walking on the water. They usually focus on this part,

Matthew 14:30 … But when {Peter} saw the wind boisterous, {Peter} 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?

I hear so many say “Peter shouldn’t have taken his eyes off of Jesus”, and that is true. However, I want you to look at this a different way. I ask you,

How many people in all of human history can say that they ever walked on water like Peter did?
I can’t think of anyone – can you?

Peter walked on water. He asked Jesus if he get out of the boat, then Peter got out of the boat. Peter stepped off of a tossing ship, cast about by wind and waves, to stand in the middle of this same wind and waves with no protection whatsoever.

While the 11 disciples clung to the boat in the midst of the raging sea, Peter stepped out of the boat and Jesus clung to him. Faith exercised is not always perfect.

When you were tiny babies, you at one point took your first step. How many times does a baby fall when it tries to walk? Many times. Yet its parents are there to lift the child up, to encourage that baby to try again. Let me put it this way:

When Jesus said “O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?”, was He looking at Peter, or was He looking at those clinging to the boat? Jesus took Peter back into the boat with Him, and then “the wind ceased” (verse 32). Peter tried and failed, but he at least tried. The other 11 did not.

The Bible says:

Matthew 14:33 … they that were in the ship came and worshiped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God.

Jesus is Who He says He is. We are to love Him, and keep our eyes on Him. Let us look to Jesus and, as He leads us to the boat, let us go where He says. When He bids we leave the boat, let us go where He is. Let us keep our eyes on Jesus. May God’s Holy Spirit touch our hearts to hear and apply this Scripture in our lives this very day. Amen and Amen.

Posted in Sermon Series "Red Letters", Sermons Preached | Tagged ,

Lessons From Job (Various Texts)

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The Book of Job is the oldest Scripture, by date of writing, in the Bible. It is also a book that sadly, few believers study. Job is a book about suffering. I believe that is the reason why this is the oldest written Book in our Scriptures. From the fall of Adam, all throughout human history, and unto the end of time humanity suffers. We all suffer.

Suffering is not limited to the physically ugly, the poor, the uneducated; but beautiful people, rich people, and highly educated people all suffer.

Job was a wealthy man, with a large and prosperous family. Job loved the Lord. He was NOT suffering because of sin in his life.

Job 1:1 Job was was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and {rejected} evil.

In the Book of Job the main character loses his family, his business, and his health. He loses these blessings not because he dishonored God, but because he honored God. The Lord gave Satan permission to afflict Job in the first two chapters of the Book. In all the affliction Job suffered,

Job 2:10 … In all this did not Job sin with his lips

Job maintained his faith in God. Though upset and angered at the loss of all things (especially his children), Job did not outwardly dishonor God.

Even The Best People Suffer, & Sufferers Need
Social Interaction With Others

I believe technology is a great tool, and I love technology. I love social media, and love to use it to spread the Gospel. But technology and social media is no replacement for one on one – personal – interaction.

The Book of Job shows us how even the best people suffer. And even the best people need the compassion of other people. We need a listening ear, a loving touch. Hence Job.

After all these tragedies afflicted Job, three of his friends from three different cities – Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Namaathite – came together to comfort Job. United, these three friends did the best thing they could do:

Job 2:13 .. they sat down with him upon the ground seven days and seven nights, and none spake a word unto him: for they saw that his grief was very great.

Job’s friends were with Job.
Job’s friends were where Job was.
They touched Job.
They waited on Job.
They suffered with Job.

These friends sat down on the ground with Job, and kept him company. They stayed silent, allowing Job to speak first. They just listened, and waited on their friend.

When we go through trials – and we all go through trials – we need friends around us to help us process our trial.

Dr. Vivek Murthy was the Surgeon General of the United States (2014-2017). He wrote a book called Together: The Healing Power Of Human Connections in a Sometimes Lonely World. In the book he noted that strong relationships decrease the likelihood of premature death by 50%. What causes early death, suicide, and depression can be linked to loneliness. Those who have no friends or confidants that they can share burdens with shorten their lives. Loneliness, especially while going through trials, causes heart disease, dementia, strokes, anxiety, insomnia, and immune system problems. We are hard wired for social connection.

MRI scans reveal that our brains have nonsocial and social networks. When you’re filing taxes or washing dishes, your nonsocial network is active. But as soon as the taxes are done or the dishes washed, the brain’s social network automatically comes back online. Seeking out relationships is our brain’s default mode. In any mode not dedicated to a task, we’re looking for someone to connect with. Even among the most introverted and task-oriented among us, our thoughts inevitably drift toward other people.” (quoted from Thinkr newsletter).

Electronic devices cannot take the place of a one on one relationship with other people. You may have scores of Facebook “Friends” online, but these are not true friends. A friend is someone who extends love to you, unselfish love, when you are in need. Solomon said:

Proverbs 17:17 A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.

Proverbs 27:9 Ointment and perfume rejoice the heart: so doth the sweetness of a man’s friend by hearty counsel.

Throughout the Book of Job you will see a pattern. Job will speak, and then one of his friends will speak. When Job’s friends speak they are sincerely trying to help their friend. There is both good advice as well as bad advise that comes from these friends. When you, or a friend, are suffering, the sufferer needs more than just words and opinions.

Minister To The Suffering
With BIBLICAL Counseling

Everyone has opinions and feelings. When we are ministering to the suffering, offer BIBLICAL based counseling. Not your opinions or feelings, but what God’s Word has said.

Job’s friend Eliphaz the Temanite was perhaps the wisest and eldest of his friends. As he gave counsel to Job, Eliphaz said:

Job 5:27 Lo this, we have searched it, so it is; hear it, and know thou it for thy good.

His counsel did not come of God, but was based upon Eliphaz’s experiences as a human. Now some of his counsel may have been right. Eliphaz said some right things. He made the statement:

Job 5:17-18 Behold, happy is the man whom God correcteth: therefore despise not thou the chastening of the Almighty: 18 For he maketh sore, and bindeth up: he woundeth, and his hands make whole.

Eliphaz’s premise was that God is Almighty, and that if a trial comes our way, then it came our way because the Almighty allowed it. This is indeed a Biblical truth. The Psalmist said:

Psalms 94:12 Blessed is the man whom thou chastenest, O LORD, and teachest him out of thy law;

Solomon, the wisest human (other than Jesus) who ever lived, wrote in the power of God’s Spirit:

Proverbs 3:11-12 My son, despise not the chastening of the LORD; neither be weary of his correction: For whom the LORD loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.

The writer of Hebrews quoted this Holy Word when he wrote:

Hebrews 12:5-11 And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.

The Bible teaches that God allows trials to come our way to shape us, and to make us more like Christ, more like a Child of God. Biblical counsel remind the sufferer of God and His purpose, and will lead the sufferer to Jesus.

Human opinion and human counsel often do more harm than it does good. I have heard of women who were going through marital problems who, upon running to their friends for counsel, are told “Just divorce the bum!” But is this what God would counsel us to do? Human opinion is often the opposite of what God thinks is best. God told Israel:

Isaiah 30:1 Woe to the rebellious children, saith the Lord, that take counsel, but not of me; and that cover with a covering, but not of my spirit, that they may add sin to sin:

The Lord our God always knows what is right, and His Word is always right. The Bible says:

Isaiah 28:29 … the Lord of Hosts is wonderful in counsel, and excellent in working..

In Hebrews the Lord tells us that the Word of God ministers to both our soul and spirit, “the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart”. Human opinions vary from person to person, but God’s Word always speaks truth.

Be Very Careful Of Making Assumptions When Ministering To Those Who Are Suffering

When a sufferer comes to us we need to be very careful not to add to their pain. If someone is in agony, we do not want to push the thorn in deeper. Throughout the Book of Job, his friends take turns making judgments as to WHY Job is in this terrible moment of suffering. For instance, Job’s friend Zophar the Naamathite made the assumption that the trials which came to Job were on his friend because of sin in his life. He told Job …

Job 11:14-20 If iniquity be in thine hand, put it far away, and let not wickedness dwell in thy tabernacles. 15 For then shalt thou lift up thy face without spot; yea, thou shalt be steadfast, and shalt not fear: 16 Because thou shalt forget thy misery, and remember it as waters that pass away: 17 And thine age shall be clearer than the noonday: thou shalt shine forth, thou shalt be as the morning. 18 And thou shalt be secure, because there is hope; yea, thou shalt dig about thee, and thou shalt take thy rest in safety. 19 Also thou shalt lie down, and none shall make thee afraid; yea, many shall make suit unto thee. 20 But the eyes of the wicked shall fail, and they shall not escape, and their hope shall be as the giving up of the ghost.

Now that is an easy assumption to make. We are all sinners (Romans 3:23), and fall short of the glory of God. It is also true that sin can bring chastisement or disaster into the life. The Apostle Paul told the Corinthian Church – a church filled with lawlessness – that they were bringing suffering on themselves by taking the Lord’s Table in an unworthy manner. He wrote:

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

The “wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23) even to the believer. So when Job’s friend Eliphaz the Temanite made the same suggestion in Job 4:8:

they that plow iniquity, and sow wickedness, reap the same

It is Biblically true that sin will bring suffering. But to accuse Job of being in this terrible place because he was a sinner is uncalled for. Job’s friends were making assumptions. Though they were sincere in their desire to help Job, we know for a fact that Job was not suffering because of sin in his life. God bragged on Job, telling Satan that:

Job 1:8 … there is none like {Job} in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and {rejecting} evil

Job was not at fault for the trials he was going through, but his friends began to blame him or suggest that he was guilty of secret sin. Though Job was innocent of any wrong doing, their accusations extended and intensified Job’s suffering. Job had no need of additional judgments heaped upon him while he is in this incredibly tortured state. When friends minister to those suffering, we need to be careful that we do not needlessly add to their suffering.

Not all suffering is a result of sin. In Luke 13 we read:

Luke 13:1-5 There were present at that season some that told him of the Galilaeans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 2 And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things? 3 I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. 4 Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? 5 I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.

Jesus’ disciples thought that bad things always happened to people because they were sinning. Jesus corrected that thought by saying we all need to repent – we all fall short of the glory of God. Many of those who suffer are not necessarily suffering because they are worst than others. One day Jesus went to heal a man who was born blind. We read:

John 9:2-3 … his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? 3 Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.

Why was the man born blind? Because God willed it so. Because God wanted Christ’s disciples to see the power of God through His Son. The man was not at fault, nor his parents. Job was not at fault. God just willed it. We are not to be judges. Unless we absolutely know – beyond a shadow of a doubt – that a suffering friend is in sin, we should not make that judgment. We need to lead them to Jesus, and pray for them – not judge them.

When Ministering To The Suffering,
Listen Much And Talk Little

When you look at the Book of Job,

  • Chapters 1 & 2 outline the destruction of Job’s family and way of life.
  • In Chapter 3 Job verbally agonizes over his life, suggesting that he should never have been born.
  • In Chapters 4 – 27 Job’s friends try to analyze what Job has gone through. Each friend speaks, then Job replies, generally defending himself against accusations and supposition.

The long, extended debate that happened between Job and his friends did nothing to alleviate his suffering, nor did it lead him to the Lord. The friends, believing that they were defending God Himself, were intent on blaming Job. Job, while not directly blaming God, was intent on defending himself against charges of unrepentant sin in his life. The friends unwittingly increased, rather than decrease, Job’s suffering.

One of my favorite passages of Scripture is one I know you all well know. It is:

1 Corinthians 10:13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

This text is often misread and misunderstood. People read the text as “God will not put more on you than you can bear”. But that is not the whole of the verse. The text says “with every trial, God will provide a means of escape, so you can bear that trial”. When the Apostle Paul wrote this (under the inspiration of the Spirit) in his first letter the the Corinthians, in his second letter to the Corinthians he wrote of the suffering he was going through. He said:

2 Corinthians 1:3-10 Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; 4 Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. 5 For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ. 6 And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation. 7 And our hope of you is steadfast, knowing, that as ye are partakers of the sufferings, so shall ye be also of the consolation. 8 For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life: 9 But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead: 10 Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us;

The Apostle said in verse 8, we were pressed out of measure, above (our) strength, insomuch that we despaired of life. Paul and those with him were loaded down with more than they could bear. And yet, they did not give way to hopelessness. Why? The answer is in the first part of the text. The Apostle said in verse 3-4, “Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; 4 Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. Trials came on Paul and those with him that were greater than THEY could bear. But Paul relied not on himself, but on the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. He leaned into God, resting in His embrace. When trials come upon us that are greater than we can bear, we are to lean into our Father Who is in Heaven. We are to rest in Him Who is the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort.

When someone is suffering, it is not necessary for us to – like Job’s friends – judge the sufferer. We are to bring the sufferer to Jesus. We are to bring Him to the God Who is faithful, loving, and true. Job was a believer in God, a faithful believer. The Bible says of God:

1 Corinthians 1:9 God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.

Deuteronomy 7:9 Know therefore that the LORD thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations;

Psalms 36:5 Thy mercy, O LORD, is in the heavens; and thy faithfulness reacheth unto the clouds.

When Job’s friends gathered around Job, rather than going through an extended dialogue that offered no blessing – they should have pointed Job to the Faithful Father. Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it. (1 Thessalonians 5:24). The Lord is faithful, who shall (establish) you, and keep you from evil (2 Thessalonians 3:3).

Harriet Sarnoff Schiff is the author of the book The Bereaved Parent. When her young son died on the operating table, her pastor told her “I know that this is a painful time for you. But I know that you will get through it all right, because God never sends us more of a burden than we can bear. God only let this happen to you because He knows that you are strong enough to handle it.” She then asked her pastor, “So if I were a weaker person, my son would still be alive?” When people are suffering, do not ask them to “be strong” or make foolish applications like this pastor did. When ministering to the sufferer, you do not have to talk. Listen. Listen to those in pain.

Do as Job’s friends did at the beginning:

Job 2:13 {Job’s friends} sat down with him upon the ground seven days and seven nights, and none spake a word unto him: for they saw that his grief was very great.

They sat down, and just suffered with Job. The Bible counsels:

Romans 12:15 Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.

The Christian is commanded under the Royal Law to

Galatians 6:2 Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

We are not to add to the burden of the sufferer, but to help him bear his burdens. How do we do this? We carry our friends to Jesus. We suffer with them. We cry with them. We are compassionate toward them, loving them as brethren. We are filled with pity, and courteous (1 Peter 3:8). Do to them as you would have them do to you. I’ll say that again:

Do to them as you would have the sufferer do to you (Mark 12:31; Luke 10:27). This means to empathize, to put yourself in the other person’s place – and act accordingly.

Our Lord Jesus did this. Many say that the smallest verse in the Bible is in

John 11:35 Jesus wept.

Why did Jesus weep? Because His friend Lazarus was dead. But Jesus knew that He was going to raise Lazarus from the grave in just a few moments. He knew that Lazarus would come hopping out of that tomb, covered with old funeral attire. Yet Jesus wept. Why? Because Jesus put Himself in their place. He knew their tears would turn to smiles of joy, but He nonetheless suffered with them. Isaiah said of the Messiah,

Isaiah 63:9 In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them: in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; and he bare them, and carried them all the days of old.

Our Jesus loves us. He weeps with us, when we weep. We need to be afflicted when our brothers and sisters are afflicted, just as our Lord does. Our Jesus is a High Priest that is touched with the feeling of our infirmities (Hebrews 4:15). He suffered with Mary and Martha at the death of Lazarus, and suffers with us today when we are tried. We must bring those suffering to Jesus. That is where peace is.

If The Sufferer Comes To God,
The “Why” No Longer Matters

At the end of the Book of Job, our suffering hero comes face to face with God. In Job chapters 38 – 42 God responds to Job:

As Creator (Job 38-39), and
As Judge (Job 40-41)

When Job meets God, he stops asking “why”. In the presence of God there is peace and joy. When we minister to the suffering, love them. Speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15), and share the Lord Jesus with them. Speak the Gospel to the lost, and remind the saved of the great love that God has for them. Pray with the sufferer. Do not judge, but draw them – through the power of Scripture, personal testimony, and the Holy Spirit – to God. Remember the words of the Psalmist:

Psalm 16:8-11 I have set the Lord always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. 9 Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope. 10 For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. 11 Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.

When we minister to the suffering, we cannot answer the “why”, but we can gently lead them to Jesus Who can give them comfort. May God bless us, and enable us to be the Light that Christ calls us to be. Through His Spirit and God’s Word I plead this – Amen and Amen.

Posted in Job, Sermons Preached | Tagged ,

The Kingdom Of Heaven Is Like

Photo by Johannes Plenio on Unsplash

Matthew 13:24 Another parable put {Jesus} forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened …

Since I was saved at the age of 17 in a little community Church, the Church of God of Prophecy, I have often wondered what Heaven would be like. I suppose every Christian would love to know exactly what Heaven is like. We know a few things about Heaven, based upon what the Scripture has told us. Heaven is God’s Throne, and earth God’s footstool:

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

This means that Heaven is the place where God’s primary presence is. Though He is on earth, earth is but His footstool (Acts 7:49). Heaven is God’s Home, and though He is on the earth it is in Heaven that He is seen face to face. Though God is high and lifted up His people who will dwell with Him are humble and attentive to His rule.

Isaiah 57:15 For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite {דַּכָּא dakkâʼ, dak-kaw’, BROKEN or CRUSHED} and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite {דַּכָּא dakkâʼ, dak-kaw’, BROKEN or CRUSHED} ones.

Those who will be with God in Heaven are not “high and lifted up”, but those who are broken, humble, desperately wanting to follow the lead of their Savior and Lord. Heaven is not for the arrogant, but for the repentant. Heaven is a place where:

Revelation 21:3 … the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.

God was with man in the beginning of creation. When God created the earth, He put a branch of Heaven on the earth called “Eden”.

Genesis 2:8 And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.

The name “EDEN” is the Hebrew עֵדֶן ʻêden, (pronounced ay’-den), which means “delight, pleasure, luxury”). Eden – like Heaven – had a simple order. God ruled, humanity obeyed. When Adam disobeyed God and brought sin into the Garden of Eden, he lost Eden, and the world lost the blessedness of peace with God. Because of sin wars, pain, suffering, thorns, death, disease, everything that is horrid and anti-Heaven came into the world. Yet for God’s people we are told that one day we shall be in Heaven with our Lord.

Revelation 21:4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.

Jesus Explains Heaven In A Series Of Parables

When Jesus Christ, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords (1 Timothy 6:15; Revelation 17:14; 19:16) came to this earth, He came to establish the Kingdom of God on the earth. The Creator put Heaven on earth in Eden.

Jesus came from Heaven to earth, not just to one day bring His followers to Heaven, but in order that He could bring some of Heaven to this present earth.

Today Jesus is going to establish some truths about Heaven that He wants His children by faith to understand. As we established last week, a parable is an earthly story with a heavenly meaning. The intent of the parable is to teach the Child of God, born again by faith in Christ, the deeper truths of God. After Jesus finishes the parables on Heaven we read:

Matthew 13:51-52 Jesus saith unto them, Have ye understood all these things? They say unto him, Yea, Lord. 52 Then said he unto them, Therefore every scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old.

The scribes were the teachers of the Law, scholars of the Old Testament scriptures. Those who are believers in Christ are to teach others these truths about Heaven. The householder is the master of the home. In the Old Testament God commanded the householder to not just hear His Word, but:

Deuteronomy 6:6-9 And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: 7 and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. 8 And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. 9 And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.

Jesus’ teachings on Heaven are to be periscopes by which you view the world around you. These words are to cling to you wherever you go, and be on your hands and ever before your eyes. These words are supposed to be so profound that they mark your home like graffiti, and infiltrate your business dealings.

The business of the believer in Christ is the Kingdom of Heaven! We do what we do to bring others into the Kingdom of Heaven NOW, for there will be no bringing of souls into Heaven THEN!

The Parable Of The Tares Of The Field
And The Battle For The Population Of Heaven

Let’s look at the first parable Jesus speaks on the Kingdom of Heaven:

Matthew 13:24-30 Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: 25 but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. 26 But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. 27 So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares? 28 He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? 29 But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.

This is the longest parable that Jesus speaks on the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus’ disciples understood the simpler parables, but we read:

Matthew 13:36 Then Jesus sent the multitude away, and went into the house: and his disciples came unto him, saying, Declare unto us the parable of the TARES of the field.

Word Study Before I go any further, let us examine what a “TARE” is. This is the Greek ζιζάνιον zizánion, {pronounced dziz-an’-ee-on}, and refers to a false grain, often called a darnel or a wild wheat. The tare resembles wheat, but it has a purplish head that turns black as it ripens, whereas true wheat turns brown. If you are a country boy, you’ve probably had thew stem end of a tare in your mouth! I often pluck the long grass from it’s foundation and pop it in my mouth like a toothpick. That end of the tare is not dangerous. But the HEAD – To eat much of the HEAD of the tare can cause a drunken nausea, or even to death. One scholar named Sarah Laskow writes:

Darnel …(is) definitely not good for us. When people eat its seeds, they get dizzy, off-balance and nauseous, and its official name, L. temulentum, comes from a Latin word for “drunk.” Darnel is a “mimic weed,” neither entirely tame or quite wild, that looks and behaves so much like wheat that it can’t live without human assistance. Darnel seeds are stowaways: the plant’s survival strategy requires its seeds to be harvested along with those of domesticated grasses, stored and replanted next season.”

Farmers have always been aware of Tares, especially in Jesus’ day. We have equipment now that separates the wheat from the tares, but in Jesus’s day it was a painstaking process done by hand. The disciples were familiar with tares.

(they asked Jesus)Declare unto us the parable of the tares of the field.

Matthew 13:37-43 {Jesus}… said unto them, He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man; 38 the field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one; 39 the enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels. 40 As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. 41 The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; 42 and shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.

Word Study The sower in this case is Jesus Christ, the Son of Man. Jesus used the title “Son of Man” of Himself. The title “Son of Man” was used in prophecy to foretell the coming of the Messiah (see Daniel 7:13). Jesus used the phrase “Son of man” to refer to Himself some 80 times in the Gospels. One that leaps to my mind is a favorite text:

Luke 19:10 … For the SON OF MAN is come to seek and to save that which was lost.

Jesus Christ is the Sower of the good seed.

Matthew 13:38 … the field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom

If you are born again by faith in Christ, you are “good seed”. Jesus Christ saved you from your sins, and occupies you by His Holy Spirit. Jesus sowed you into the world not to be infected by the world, but to bear fruit for Him in this field we call the world. But Jesus is not the only One sowing. Jesus said:

Matthew 13:38-39 … the field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the TARES ARE THE CHILDREN OF THE WICKED ONE; 39 the enemy that sowed them is the devil…

There is a battle for the “field” going on all the time. Jesus Christ is sowing “seed”. He, through His Church, is bringing many to salvation by faith in Him.

It is the LORD Who adds to His Church.
(
Acts 2:47; 1 Corinthians 12:18)

Satan also sows his seed. Satan sowed Judas Iscariot in Jesus’ ministry, Alexander the Coppersmith and Hymenæus in Paul’s ministry, and has sowed and continues to sow tares in opposition to God’s Kingdom. Satan’s seed – like tares – looks genuine. But the fruit of the tare is poisonous. It sickens, weakens, and destroys. In the early Church tares called “Pharisees” crept in, causing much discord. Today tares creep in called “Progressivism”, relabeling that which the Bible defines as sin, ignoring the warnings of God Who said:

Isaiah 5:20-24 Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! 21 Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight! 22 Woe unto them that are mighty to drink wine, and men of strength to mingle strong drink: 23 which justify the wicked for reward, and take away the righteousness of the righteous from him! 24 Therefore as the fire devoureth the stubble, and the flame consumeth the chaff, so their root shall be as rottenness, and their blossom shall go up as dust: because they have cast away the law of the Lord of hosts, and despised the word of the Holy One of Israel.

The Tare co-mingles and hides in among the wheat. The tare has perverted many of the denominations of Christendom, introducing the forbidden into the light of day. Jesus continues:

Matthew 13:39-43 … the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels. 40 As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. 41 The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; 42 and shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.

The Church of Christ is called to bear fruit for Christ, and to trust our Lord, who will separate the wheat from the tares. We who love Jesus are to heed the King of Kings and His Word, upholding His Scripture and doing as He says. You will be fruitful unto God your Savior. We stay in the word and in the world, but do not follow the world. The Christian is to do good toward our enemies, love one another, and tell others about our Lord and Savior. We leave the harvesting to the Master.

Matthew 13:26-30 … when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. 27 So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares? 28 He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? 29 But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.

My job and your job, dear Christ follower, is to bear fruit for Christ, not to harvest and judge. We are not to condone sin, but to commend every person to the Savior. We obey our Jesus, waiting for the harvest. We are to be ever mindful of the Scripture:

1 John 2:15-17 … Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. 17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.

Two Parables On The Seed Of The Kingdom,
The Gospel Of Christ

Matthew 13:31-32 Another parable put {Jesus} forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field: [32] Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof.

The first two parables, The Parable of the Sower which we studied last week (Matthew 13:3-23), and The Parable of the Tares (Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43) which we have just discussed, these parables Jesus explained them to His disciples. But Jesus does not explain these next two parables. Why? Jesus has given us the KEYS to these parables in the first two parables.

The Kingdom of Heaven is a mustard seed, the smallest of all seeds. The Sower of this tiny seed is first of all Jesus Christ, but also His Children, members of His Spiritual family by faith. The field is the world, this present earth.

The Gospel message that we sow is a very small, inconsequential thing according to the world. People say, “How can I fix my life? How can I have purpose and joy, a better life?” For the Christ follower the answer is simple:

Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved, both you and your household! (Acts 16:31)

What! Just believe? “Yes! Repent. Turn from the gods you have been following, and turn to the Messiah, believing He died for your sins.” The world hears this and is OFFENDED. But Jesus said,

Matthew 11:6 … blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me.

The Kingdom of Heaven is not entered into by all people, but only by those who have confessed with their mouths that Jesus is LORD, and believed in their hearts that God has raised Him from the dead (Romans 10:9-10).

Heaven is not for the gods among men, but for the Children of God. Heaven is not for the arrogant and prideful, but for those who know their Creator, and are submitted to HIS Will!

Proverbs 21:4 An high look, and a proud heart, and the plowing of the wicked, is sin.

Word Study The mustard seed is the Gospel. What are the characteristics of a mustard seed? A mustard seed is both TINY and OFFENSIVE.

Illustrate When I was a little boy a country remedy for sickness was the mustard plaster. It was a gooey mixture of water and mustard that was put on your chest to get rid of coughs, colds, and sickness. Within five minutes of application it began to irritate you. You began to squirm, and were very uncomfortable until your parent took it off of you.

The Gospel message is offensive. It makes people squirm.

We think we are good people, that we deserve Heaven. Beloved, the Bible condemns all as sinners. All. Not just the Hitlers and the Stalins, but the David Buffaloes, and whatever your name is.

Matthew 13:32 … {the mustard seed} indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof.

What is interesting about this parable is that Jesus said the mustard seed of the Gospel of the Kingdom is the greatest of all herbs (which is true), and becomes a tree (which is unnatural). If you plant a mustard seed it will be the biggest herb in your garden, but will NOT become a tree. Why did Jesus speak of this seed in this parable becoming a tree? Because He speaks of a supernatural event. The Kingdom of Christ is growing, that tiny seed planted so long ago, and has spread all over the world. The Kingdom of Heaven is being populated now, by those who receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. The Kingdom will continue to grow until the end of time. It will grow supernaturally large enough to where the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof”. The Kingdom of Heaven is

Revelation 7:9-10 …a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; 10 and cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.

The Kingdom of Heaven is populated
by the spread of the SUPERNATURAL Gospel

Matthew 13:33 … The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.

Leaven, or yeast, is a very small fungal, single cell organism works to make bread rise. Leaven cannot effect “three measures of meal”. Leaven needs water and sugar to effect the flour. Yeast can be seen floating in water, but has no means of propulsion on it’s own. The Holy Spirit is the Living Water (John 7:37-39). When we receive Christ as Savior, then He sends His Spirit – the Living Water of God – to live within us. There is power in the Gospel of the Kingdom.

Though Insignificant And Ignored By The World,
The Gospel Is The Greatest Treasure
Ever Given To This World

Matthew 13:44-45 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field. 45 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: 46 who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.

The greatest thing that can happen to you is the Gospel. The Gospel declares we are all sinners in need of a Savior. The Gospel declares Jesus Christ is that one and only Savior. The Gospel calls us to:

Repent of our current lifestyle, and
Receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
Rest in truths of God’s Word,
while
Residing obediently in the Presence of God.

Jesus is calling you to His side this very day. Will you come? He is casting the Gospel net outward, drawing others into His Family. Will you come?

Matthew 13:47-50 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind: 48 which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away. 49 So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, 50 and shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.

Receive Jesus as He is, and He will receive you as you are. Trust in Him. Lean into Jesus Christ. Do not delay. Jesus came to save you from your sins, to adopt you into His Kingdom. Will you come? May God open your eyes to receive Him as both Lord and Savior, and thus be entered into His Kingdom this very day. May God’s Word and His Spirit draw you. Amen and Amen!

Posted in Matthew, Sermon Series "Red Letters", Sermons Preached | Tagged , , , , ,

Jesus, the Only Messiah

Photo by Joel Muniz on Unsplash

This morning we studied the parables that Jesus spoke on “The Kingdom of Heaven”. We were in Matthew 13. Let’s tonight start at

Matthew 13:53-54 And it came to pass, that when Jesus had finished these parables, he departed thence. 54 And when he was come into his own country, he taught them in their synagogue, insomuch that they were astonished, and said, Whence hath this man this wisdom, and these mighty works?

There Are Five Gospels

Word Study There are five “Gospels” tied to our Bible. When we use the word “Gospel”, this is actually a translation of the Greek εὐαγγέλιον euangélion, {pronounced yoo-ang-ghel’-ee-on} which means “good news” or “good tidings”. The bad news found in the Scripture is that we are all sinners, and in and of ourselves are headed toward everlasting damnation, because sinners do not go to Heaven (Romans 3:9-26; Revelation 21:8 & 27). Sin and sinners deserve only the wrath of God (Romans 1:18). That is the bad news. But the good news – the “Gospel” – is that God sent His Only Begotten Son to be our Savior and Lord. When we surrender our lives to Him, Who has surrendered His life for us, then God imputes His righteousness to us. We become covered by the Blood of His dear Son. Our sins are atoned for by what Christ did for us on Calvary. But this atonement is only received when we receive the Atoner – Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.

The “Gospel” is found all throughout the Bible. It is foretold in the Old Testament, and has come to pass in the New Testament. Though the “Gospel” is throughout the Bible (many call it the “Red Thread of Redemption”), the first four books of the New Testament are called “Gospels”. These are eye witness accounts of people who were with the Lord Jesus as He walked this earth.

As I said before, there are five Gospels. What is the fifth Gospel? Why, it is YOU, dear believer, if you have received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

The interesting thing about the Gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John – is that each Gospel gives a different perspective of Jesus’ ministry on earth. Matthew tells us that after Jesus spoke the Parables of the Kingdom of Heaven, Jesus went to His own country and taught them in their synagogue” (Matthew 13:54). But this is just part of the story. The Gospel of Mark gives a little more information:

Mark 6:1-2 {Jesus} went out from thence, and came into his own country; and his disciples follow him. 2 And when the sabbath day was come, he began to teach in the synagogue …

Jesus goes to Nazareth – His home town, the town He grew up in – and goes to the “synagogue” or the local Church, the gathering of Jewish believers. Luke goes a little further, saying:

Luke 4:16 {Jesus} came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read.

Matthew, Mark, and Luke testify that Jesus went to Nazareth to share the Gospel with His hometown. Luke further tells us that Jesus went to the family Church “as was His custom”. I have heard so many young people today make statements like,

I believe in Jesus, but NOT the Church”, or
“I’m saved and a follower of Christ, but I don’t do Church”

Beloved, you are NOT a follower of Christ if you don’t “do Church”. The Fifth Gospel is the believer, lovingly gathering with other believers. The Four Gospels are rarely read by the world, but all see the Church. If you want to find Jesus, you will find Him in Church, where several believers in Him are gathered (Matthew 18:20).

Word Study It was Jesus’ custom (ἔθω éthō, {pronounced eth’-o}) was. Jesus was in the habit of going to Church. Jesus’ disciples followed Him to Church. Why was this? Jesus could have avoided a lot of stress in His ministry had He avoided Church. Church is filled with spiritually and emotionally broken people. Church is filled with sinners. Had Jesus avoided Church (synagogue), His life would have been much more peaceable. And yet, it was Christ’s habit, His manner, His custom to go to Church and teach. Why? Because God never saves a person so they stand alone. When God saves us, He calls us into community. Among the Jews this community was called “synagogue”. Among we today this community is called “church”. Jesus came to build the Church on earth. Jesus came to teach His Church to stand together as light in this dark world. Jesus said:

Matthew 16:18 … upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

The Church is created by God to glorify the Messiah, Jesus Christ our Lord. Israel has been waiting for the Messiah. Jesus is in His hometown Church on the Sabbath, as was His custom, teaching them that He is the Messiah.

The Gospels All Teach Jesus Is The Christ

We’ll be back to Matthew 13 and Mark 6 shortly. But Luke tells us something that is not reported in by either Matthew nor Mark. Luke tells us WHAT Jesus read and said in the Synagogue of Nazareth.

Luke 4:16-17 {Jesus} stood up for to read. 17 And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet {Isaiah}. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written,

The Leader of the Synagogue generally chose which Scripture was to be read on the Sabbath. Jesus had been in this Synagogue many times as a Child, and had probably read Scriptures many times. The Bible in Jesus’ day was in huge scrolls.

I am told that sixteen Scrolls made up the Hebrew Scripture (our Old Testament), called the TaNaKh.

The TaNaKh was composed of the TORAH (The Law: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy), the NEVIIM (The Prophets: Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, 12 Prophets), and the KETUVIM (The Writings: Psalms, Proverbs, Job, Megillot (Song of Songs, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Esther), Daniel, Ezra/Nehemiah, Chronicles). Jesus was handed the Isaiah scroll. Our Lord finds – and remember, this is not as easy as it is for us to do today – He finds Isaiah 61, a passage that prophesies the coming of the Messiah. Jesus reads:

Luke 4:18-20 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, 19 to preach the acceptable year of the Lord. 20 And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him.

As Jesus reads Isaiah 61:1-2 He stops in the middle of verse 2, which reads:

Isaiah 61:2b-3 …. and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; 3 to appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.

The Jewish listeners in the Synagogue were very familiar with the Isaiah text. When Jesus stopped reading in the middle of verse 2, it would be like me saying, “Let’s say the Lord’s Prayer. Our Father, Who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy Name. Thy Kingdom come …” If I stopped at that point, you would all be watching me, wondering why I stopped. Jesus stopped in the middle of the text – and the crowd looked at Him and waited. Then Jesus says something startling. He says:

Luke 4:21 … {Jesus} began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.

Jesus Christ is the long awaited Messiah. Jesus has fulfilled every part of this Isaiah 61 prophecy, up to Isaiah 61:2b.

Luke 4:18 (quoting Isaiah 61:1a) … 18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor …

When the Messiah came, He would PREACH the good news, the Gospel to the POOR. In America, since the time of President Lyndon B. Johnson, we have tried to eliminate poverty. Poverty will NEVER be eliminated. Jesus said “the poor you will have with you ALWAYS” (Matthew 26:11). In America we have, for many years now, coddled our children. We have let them compete in events where everyone gets a trophy, whether they win or not. We have sent our children to colleges and universities that have taught them “social justice”, making them believe that we can somehow legislate a utopia in America by turning to socialism or communism. Beloved, it will never be. The poor you have with you ALWAYS. Some are born into poverty. Others make decisions that cause poverty. We are broken creatures. That’s the bad news. But here’s the GOOD NEWS.

The Messiah came to preach and attempt to reach THE POOR.

Those who have everything will rarely seek the Messiah. When money is your God, when you have been born with beauty, brains, or talent, when you are a success in life, very rarely do these people seek out the Master. Here’s something I hope you will all understand.

Life isn’t fair. Never has been, never will be.

People are born into many different places and states. It is the way it is. Period. You could give everyone a “guaranteed income” and we would still have poverty, because as humans we are broken. But here’s the good news: Jesus’ Gospel will reach the poor a whole lot faster than it will the rich, the beautiful, the brilliant. The Apostle Paul said:

1 Corinthians 1:26-28 For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: 27 but God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; 28 and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: 29 that no flesh should glory in his presence.

The Bible does not say that ALL of the rich, the beautiful, the talented do not receive the Gospel. What it does say is that most of those saved are the broken, the poor, the have nots. Beloved, that is good news! Jesus Christ came for the least and the lesser. Jesus Christ did not come to save the righteous, but to bring sinners – yes, SINNERS to repentance (Matthew 9:13; Mark 2:17; Luke 5:32). If you are broken, Jesus came to fix you – if you would but repent.

Luke 4:18b (quoting Isaiah 61:1b){The Spirit of the Lord} hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,

The Messiah came not for the emotionally stable,

but to HEAL the BROKENHEARTED.

The Messiah came not for the masters,

but to preach deliverance to the SLAVES.

The Messiah came not for those with vision,

but to give Heavenly vision to those who were spiritually blind.

The Messiah came to free the beaten up slave, bound in the unfairness that is life. He came to free all who believe in Him from the slave market of sin. He came to set us free from the darkness that throttles this world.

John 8:34, 36 Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. … If {Jesus Christ} the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.

Praise God for Jesus Christ! If you are hurting, you are in need, then Jesus came for you. If you are uncertain, if you are suffering, Jesus came for you. If you are beaten down by the unfairness and tediousness of life, Jesus came for you.

Luke 4:19 (quoting Isaiah 61:2a) … to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.

The “acceptable year of the Lord” is a reference well understood by the Jews of Jesus’ day. This phrase is found no where else in the Bible. Ellicott’s Commentary notes:

The primary reference was to the year of Jubilee, when land that had been mortgaged returned to its owner, and debts were forgiven, and Israelite slaves released (Leviticus 25:9-10). ”

The “Year of Jubilee” was the fiftieth year where grace dominated the land. There was no sowing nor reaping that year, but every Israelite was to enjoy the bounty of the Promised Land. One day Jesus will come and establish His Kingdom on the earth, and we who believe in Him will be given great blessing and prosperity.

Unbelief Doubts Jesus While Demanding A “Sign”

Jesus told His hometown, “This very day this Scripture is fulfilled in your ears!” Jesus Christ is the One and only Messiah. He came to Nazareth so that His fellow towns people could be the first to receive Him as Messiah. Yet they rejected Jesus. The Gospels tell us:

Matthew 13:54-57 Whence hath this man this wisdom, and these mighty works? 55 Is not this the carpenter’s son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas? 56 And his sisters, are they not all with us? Whence then hath this man all these things? 57 And they were offended in him.

Mark 6:2-3 … many hearing him were astonished, saying, From whence hath this man these things? and what wisdom is this which is given unto him, that even such mighty works are wrought by his hands? 3 Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him.

They were offended in Him”. Jesus’ hometown rejected Him as Messiah. Luke now reports a sermon Jesus preached that caused Him a lot of trouble. In my lifetime I’ve sometimes preached sermons that made people angry. But what Jesus said next made the people of Nazareth want to kill Him. He said:

Luke 4:23 … Ye will surely say unto me this proverb, Physician, heal thyself: whatsoever we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here in thy country.

Jesus knew what was in the minds of His fellow countrymen. They were thinking, “Well, if you’re Messiah, give US a sign. Show US the works You did in Capernaum, and then we’ll believe.” How did Jesus respond? He said:

Luke 4:24-26 Verily I say unto you, No prophet is accepted in his own country. 25 But I tell you of a truth, many widows were in Israel in the days of {Elijah}, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when great famine was throughout all the land; 26 but unto none of them was {Elijah} sent, save unto Sarepta, a city of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow.

Jesus recounts a Bible story found in 1 Kings 17 & 18. In those texts Elijah, one of the greatest of Israel’s prophets, told Evil King Ahab that all of Israel would be under a great drought. God sent Elijah to a hidden place called the brook Cherith, where God gave him both food and water. In time the water, even of this little brook, dried up. God then sent Elijah to the widow of Zarephath (Sarepta), about 8.5 miles south of Zidon (Sidon). Zarephath is not a part of Israel, but is a part of ancient Phoenicia, a place of the Gentiles. Why did God have Elijah go to Zarephath (Sarepta) and not to Israel. Because King Ahab sought to kill Elijah, believing if he killed the Prophet the rains would return. God saved the baby Jesus by having Joseph take Jesus to Egypt to avoid the evil King Herod (Matthew 2:13-23).

What was Jesus’ point in bringing this story out? Beloved, just sitting in Church doesn’t make you saved! God sent Elijah to Zarephath and not to Jerusalem because this Gentile widow was willing to believe in God. When Elijah got to her home the woman was at the end of her rope. We read:

1 Kings 17:10-12 … when {Elijah} came to the gate of the city, behold, the widow woman was there gathering of sticks: and he called to her, and said, Fetch me, I pray thee, a little water in a vessel, that I may drink. 11 And as she was going to fetch it, he called to her, and said, Bring me, I pray thee, a morsel of bread in thine hand. 12 And she said, As the Lord thy God liveth, I have not a cake, but an handful of meal in a barrel, and a little oil in a cruse: and, behold, I am gathering two sticks, that I may go in and dress it for me and my son, that we may eat it, and die.

Phoenicia was not suffering under a drought, so to provide water for Elijah was no problem. The bread, however, was a problem. The widow had just enough flour to make a tiny biscuit – something that could be cooked with two sticks. That’s not much. She was going to use the last of her flour, then last down with her son and die.

The poor you have with you always, Jesus said. God came to bless the broken but believing.

1 Kings 17:13-14 Elijah said unto her, Fear not; go and do as thou hast said: but make me thereof a little cake first, and bring it unto me, and after make for thee and for thy son. 14 For thus saith the Lord God of Israel, The barrel of meal shall not waste, neither shall the cruse of oil fail, until the day that the Lord sendeth rain upon the earth.

In America, just as in Nazareth, the people say “Show us a sign, THEN we’ll believe You, O Lord.” That is NOT faith. FAITH is what THIS WIDOW DID. Elijah said, “Feed me FIRST, and God will increase your flour and oil”. There was just enough flour for a woman and a child – OR just enough flour for Elijah. This widow now has an option. She can

Either make HERSELF and her SON a biscuit, and die, or
Make ELIJAH a biscuit, and trust in God.

Faith does not demand a sign from God, then move upon that sign. “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”. Faith says,

I can’t see it, but God said it.
So I will believe God and do what He said.
For God is faithful (1 Corinthians 1:9)

The widow did as God said, and she and her son were sustained throughout the entire famine. Faith believes and moves! Jesus is not done, though. He says:

Luke 4:27 And many lepers were in Israel in the time of {Elisha} the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, saving Naaman the Syrian.

If Elijah was the greatest Prophet in old Israel, Elisha was the second greatest. Elisha was called to replace Elijah in 1 Kings 19:19-21. Elisha asked God for a double portion of Elijah’s spirit, and God granted that gift to him. One day Elisha was approached by Naaman, a great General who served the King of Syria (a Gentile nation). Naaman was afflicted by leprosy, a terrible skin disease. Naaman wanted to be healed, and Elisha told him:

2 Kings 5:10 … Go and wash in Jordan seven times, and thy flesh shall come again to thee, and thou shalt be clean.

At first Naaman refused to do it. He thought that he knew better than Elisha, better than God. But Naaman’s servant told him:

2 Kings 5:13 … My father, if the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldest thou not have done it? how much rather then, when he saith to thee, Wash, and be clean?

Naaman relented, and went to the Jordan. He “dipped himself seven times in Jordan, and his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean” (2 Kings 5:14). A Gentile was healed, whereas Jewish lepers were not. What was Jesus’s point?

Jesus Christ Came To Save Believers In Him

Jesus came to the Jews first, to His home town first, and offered Himself as Messiah. Nazareth would not believe in Him. Israel – at least, a large part of Israel – refused to believe in Him. Faith believes in Christ. Had the Jews – in this case, Nazareth – believed in Jesus as Messiah, they would have been blessed. But instead they demanded a sign, just as the Pharisees had done in Capernaum. Jesus told them, in effect,

God saved believing Gentiles,
But did not save unbelieving Jews!

How was this message received? Not well.

Luke 4:28-31 And all they in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath, 29 and rose up, and thrust him out of the city, and led him unto the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong. 30 But he passing through the midst of them went his way, 31 and came down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee, and taught them on the sabbath days.

They were “filled with wrath”, so much that they wanted to cast Jesus off a cliff. Why were they so angry? Because they they thought that, as “Jews” and as “Jesus’ hometown”, that they deserved a special status from God. There are many people today who think they have “special status” from God. Beloved, there is NO special status. You either receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and are saved, or reject Him and you are lost. There is no in between.

Mark 6:5-6 … {Jesus} could there do no mighty work, save that he laid his hands upon a few sick folk, and healed them. 6 And he marveled because of their unbelief. …

Beloved, have YOU received Jesus Christ as God’s Messiah? Have you believed that He and He alone is the Savior of the world? Do you follow Him as Lord and Savior? I pray that your answer to these questions is a hearty “YES”. There is no other means of being in a right standing with God. None.

May God the Holy Spirit and this precious Scripture lead you into a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ. Amen and Amen.

Posted in General

The Parable Of The Sower

Photo by Beth J on Unsplash

Matthew 13:1-3 The same day went Jesus out of the house, and sat by the sea side. 2 And great multitudes were gathered together unto him, so that he went into a ship, and sat; and the whole multitude stood on the shore. 3 And he spake many things unto them in parables …

As we learned at Jesus’ feet in Red Letters #32, those who are Christ’s “mother and brothers”, His Family, are those who are born into the Kingdom of God. This is a supernatural event that occurs when one receives Jesus Christ as both Lord and Savior. Jesus has just finished teaching that those who willingly and lovingly follow Him are of His Family.

What Limits The Growth Of The Gospel Seed?

1. The Gospel Seed Must Be Spread To All,
Regardless As To Who Or What They Are

Is it because Jesus only presented Himself to a select few, an “elect” or chosen? In our text we can see this is not true. Jesus did not limit where His message went. We read:

great multitudes were gathered together unto him

There were so many people following Jesus at this point that He could not speak without being mobbed. Now, all of these people were not believers. Many were curiosity seekers. Many came to see if Jesus was indeed the Christ, the Messiah. Others came to be healed of Jesus. They wanted a temporary blessing, a sickness or disease removed, a life made physically whole. Others came to Jesus to watch Him, much like buzzards watch carrion, waiting to jump on Him to disprove His ministry.

Jesus never limited those who received Him. When you are studying the Gospels, it is helpful to study parallel accounts of the same message, as each writer gives a different perspective. In Luke chapter 8, our parallel to Matthew 13, the blessed physician Luke is more detailed about those who were following Jesus. We read:

Luke 8:1-4 And it came to pass afterward, that he went throughout every city and village, preaching and shewing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God: and the twelve were with him, 2 And certain women, which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary called Magdalene, out of whom went seven devils, 3 And Joanna the wife of Chuza Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others, which ministered unto him of their substance. 4 And when much people were gathered together, and were come to him out of every city …

Jesus limited no one.
He spread the same Gospel seed on every ground.

We see that Jesus went throughout EVERY city and village. The cities are large, the villages small. Jesus visited everywhere, regardless as to their size, their economic outlook, or their race. Jesus preached the same message: preaching and shewing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God. Who was with Jesus?

The twelve were with Jesus.

Though all twelve of Jesus first disciples were Jewish, they were from very different backgrounds. Some were common fishermen. One was a hated tax collector. There was a religious zealot, who sought the overthrow of Rome. Some of these men were unmarried, and others, like Peter, were married. James and John were brothers. Judas was greedy, and Thomas doubtful. It was a diverse group of men.

Then there were the women. We are told certain women, which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary called Magdalene were following Jesus. Mary was probably a social outcast because of her demonic affliction now past. Then we read of Joanna the wife of Chuza Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others, which ministered unto him of their substance. Mary was Jewish, but Joanna was a wealthy and powerful Roman woman. Her husband was Herod’s business manager. We know nothing of Susanna other than she was generous with helping Jesus – so I suspect she was wealthy according to the standard of that day.

What Limits The Growth Of The Gospel Seed?

2. The Holy Spirit Must Work The Ground
Where The Seed Is Cast

I heard a preacher once say that “Jesus spoke in parables to make things more understandable”. That is not Biblical. We read:

Matthew 13:10-16 And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables? 11 He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. 12 For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath. 13 Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. 14 And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of {Isaiah}, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: 15 For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. 16 But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear.

This is a very clear text to understand, if you understood the Kingdom Principles (Red Letters #32) that Jesus previously taught in Matthew 12. Jesus said that He spoke in parables:

Because it is given unto YOU to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to THEM it is not given.

Who is the YOU that can understand the parables?

It is those who are born again into the Kingdom of God.
It is those who have intimate access to Jesus, His followers.
It is those where the Spirit has worked and is working.

The Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible states that the parables of Jesus were both works of art as well as weapons of warfare . A person can only understand Biblical Truth if God opens our eyes to it.

Those who are lost and apart from Christ cannot understand Biblical truths. They have hardened their hearts to Christ. Their understanding is darkened by sin and spiritual death. God has clearly presented Himself in nature, and man created a Darwinistic Fantasy to avoid glory to God. The Scripture says …

Romans 1:21 … when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.

God has revealed Himself in nature’s design, and yet, rejecting the proof of God all around, they invent alternate truths and realities which are no more than fairy tales. God must open the eyes of the lost to their lostness. People love sin, and want to stay in darkness. Jesus told Nicodemus in

John 3:16-21 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. 18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. 21 But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.

People love sin and want to stay in the darkness. They do not want Christ. God must open the heart to the truth that a soul without Jesus is both dead and damned. God must intervene, He must convict us of our need of the Savior. Jesus said “Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin” (John 8:34). It is the work of God the Spirit, the Comforter, to awaken a person to their need of Christ as Lord and Savior. Jesus said:

John 16:7-11 … if I depart, I will send {the Holy Spirit} unto you. 8 And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: 9 Of sin, because they believe not on me; 10 Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; 11 Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.

Unless the lost person’s eyes are opened, they cannot be saved. God must anoint them (1 John 2:20, 27). God must reveal Biblical truths to us (1 Corinthians 2:10). Jesus spoke in parables so that the SAVED could understand the deeper truths of Scripture. If you are saved, you are indwelt of God (Romans 8:9). If you are NOT saved, you need to REPENT and come to Jesus. If you refuse to repent and turn, you have no need of deeper truths … salvation must come first.

Jesus quotes Isaiah 6:9-10 … And {God} said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. 10 Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed.

Salvation is not something you can “work your way into”. It is something you can only receive as a gift of Grace. Pastor Allan Descheneau put it best:

For those who want to know God better, who the Spirit is working in them, who are asking, seeking, knocking … they will receive and find and will have the door opened unto them. But those who don’t want to hear it, who love their own sin, their self, who feel justified in their actions, who don’t want to be lorded over by anyone else – the parables will only harden their hearts further.”

The lost do not need the deeper truths of the Kingdom. They first need Jesus, just as we all need Jesus.

The lost desperately need Jesus. And yet, in their blindness and ignorance, they consider the preaching of the Cross to be foolish, unnecessary, the words of superstitious and uninformed people. But to the Child of God, to those who are “Christ’s mother and brothers”, to us the Cross is the very power of God (1 Corinthians 1:18).

What Limits The Growth Of The Gospel Seed?


3. The Genuine Gospel Seed Must Be Deliberately
But Without Prejudice Cast On All Grounds

Jesus spoke the parable of the Sower to explain why it is that so few come to Christ. Read with me:

Matthew 13:3-9 … Behold, a sower went forth to sow; 4 And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up: 5 Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth: 6 And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. 7 And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them: 8 But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixty-fold, some thirty-fold. 9 Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.

When we look at Jesus’ parable of the Sower, you can tell that there is one seed sown onto four different grounds.

The sower does not change the seed, nor does he sow with prejudice. The sower is unconcerned about the conditions of the soil, the weather or the wind. The sower just sows. He sows the same seed.

This is where the Church in America has failed. We have varied the seed based on the audience. Jesus never varied His message. What was His message?

Matthew 4:17 REPENT, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.

Jesus told the prostitutes to REPENT. He told the alcoholic and drug addicted to REPENT. Jesus told the Church goers and the self righteous to REPENT. Jesus told the blind, the diseased, the infirm to REPENT. He expected and expects people who have REPENTED to stop being their own gods, and to dedicate themselves to the Messiah.

Matthew 9:13 … I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to REPENTANCE

Matthew 11:20 .. Jesus began to upbraid the cities wherein most of His mighty works were done, because they REPENTED not

Jesus never varied the seed. The message wasn’t changed based on the audience. Jesus didn’t speak the Gospel one way to the rich, and another way to the poor. He didn’t diminish the need to REPENT and turn to Him, regardless as to the “lifestyle” of the persons. Jesus never told the Jews one thing, and the Gentiles another. He chastised the Pharisees, saying:

Matthew 21:32 For John {the Baptist} came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not: but the publicans and the harlots believed him: and ye, when ye had seen it, repented not afterward, that ye might believe him.

The seed, that glorious Gospel seed, demands that a person REPENT, and turn surrendered to Jesus Christ as both Lord and Savior, the King of His Kingdom.

It amazes me that people think they can live their lives ignoring Christ, being horrible Kingdom citizens, and believe that they will enter Heaven upon their deaths. Beloved, if you will not obey the King NOW, what makes you think that you will enter His Kingdom THEN? The Gospel we preach demands REPENTANCE toward God and OBEDIENT FOLLOWING of Christ. No person can save themselves. Jesus Christ saves us, but only when we lean surrendered into Him. My hope of salvation lies in giving up my own life, and in investing my life – worthless as it is – into Christ. If you are indeed a Christian then Christ is your Master and Savior.

Jesus is the Shepherd, and I the sheep
Jesus is the Vine, and I but a branch
Jesus is the Light, and I but a reflector
Jesus is King of Kings, and I but a son of the King

Salvation is only a reality when a person under conviction of sin cries out to Jesus. Both I and you were condemned to damnation, a just damnation, by a righteous God. To REPENT means to take myself off of the throne and to kneel at his Throne. My life belongs to Him. There is absolutely NO salvation to anyone who stands arrogantly and unsurrendered before the Cross of Calvary. If you are a Christian then heed the Word of God:

1 Corinthians 6:19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?

Is Christ in you? Then know that:

1 Corinthians 7:23 Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men.

You are not to be a man pleaser, but a God pleaser. You are to live for Christ. You are to be like Jesus. If you are saved, Beloved, you are to be like Jesus. This radically impacts your life. The saved are to love even their enemies. Jesus said:

Luke 6:27-29 But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, 28 Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you. 29 And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloak forbid not to take thy coat also.

The life that grows out of the Gospel seed …

avoids drunkenness (Ephesians 5:18)
rejects the sins of the flesh (Galatians 5:16-26)
controls anger (Ephesians 4:26)
seeks to be God controlled (1 Peter 4:7)
turns away and cuts off sinful habits (Matthew 5:27-30)
humbles themselves before God (James 4:10)

For the Christian to say “I am a Christian” and yet to wallow in things that Christ would never do is but deception. The Bible reminds those born of the Gospel seed that:

Romans 6:20-22 For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness. 21 What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death. 22 But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.

When a person hearing the Gospel REPENTS, then God the Holy Spirit enters that soul. The life is changed. Whereas before you followed the world in sinfulness, now you follow Jesus, obeying Him for the glory of God.

Only YOU Limit The Growth Of The Gospel Seed

When the disciples are alone with Jesus, He explains His parable. He says:

Matthew 13:18-19 Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower. 19 When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side.

When the good seed of the Gospel is sown by the wayside, this is the Gospel preached to those unenlightened by God. They “understandeth it not”. They hear the “word of Christ’s Kingdom” but do not understand it. The Apostle Paul wrote in …

2 Corinthians 4:3-4 But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: 4 In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.

The devil and his demons are constantly blinding the lost to the Gospel. He cloaks their eyes. He uses methods and means to distract. I have preached the Gospel and seen a lone bee come into the room … and all eyes are on the bee, ears turned off. The seed hits the wayside. A hum, a telephone ringing, a baby crying or a child acting out as children will do. Satan will throw distractions in your direction, anything, to keep the Gospel from going forth.

Matthew 13:20-21 But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; 21 Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.

Then there is the stony, and shallow soil. Many hear the Gospel and apparently receive it, yet their lives are hardened. This is the person who walks the aisle, takes the preacher’s hand, then leaves the Church and the Lord Jesus Christ. Their faith is but skin deep. They do not practice the disciplines of the Child of Christ. They neither pray nor read God’s Word on a regular basis … after all, salvation is free, is it not? To them Jesus Christ is Savior but NOT Lord. Their make believe faith looks good until the trials come – and trials will come. Their faith has no deep roots. Like the pine tree, a strong wind can blow it over. These are like the number of “Christian Contemporary Music Artists” who – it seems like every year – decide to walk away from Christ.

Matthew 13:22 He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.

The thorny ground person loves to ride the fence, never committing fully to Christ, nor even fully committing to the world. They love to stay in the middle, a “moderate”, a person who wants to be saved but who will not repent fully. They fill their lives with worldliness, not with Christ. They avoid anything that might be uncomfortable. I meet these people all the time. Christ calls us to stand for Him in the midst of a sinful and fallen world. If your lifestyle and your faith does not cause others to hate you, perhaps you are a fence rider. Jesus said:

Matthew 10:22 … ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.

John 15:18 If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.

The Christian is to be friendly, but not friends with the world. The stepbrother of Christ wrote:

James 4:4 Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.

God so loved the world that He gave His only Begotten Son” (John 3:16). But if you receive His Son, you will reject the sinful ways of the world. You will affirm that what God says is true, is indeed true. You cannot be half Christian and half worldling. You must choose.

Matthew 13:23 But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.

The Christian is the person who hears and understands the Word of God. The Holy Spirit opens that person’s eyes to the Gospel. Being saved, that Gospel seed causes the believer to be fruitful for God. The amount of fruit varies, but each believer in Christ is to bring forth SOME fruit.

Are you saved, dear one? If you are, you will be bearing fruit, in some capacity, for Jesus. In the Church today too many people sit about waiting to be waited on. Beloved, if you are waiting to be waited on, you are not fruitful – and perhaps not saved. Examine yourselves, whether you be in the faith or not. And if you are, begin sowing the Gospel seed. May God open our eyes and and our hearts to receive His Biblical truth.

Amen and Amen!

Posted in Sermon Series "Red Letters", Sermons Preached | Tagged , , ,

God Owns All Of Me

Photo by NASA on Unsplash

The last time we spoke on Facebook Live, we covered the 23rd Psalm,The LORD is my Shepherd, I shall not want,

This may surprise you, but the Lord owns His people. He is in charge of His people. We, as believers in Jesus Christ, are characterized in the Scripture as sheep ruled by a Shepherd. Case in point:

Psalm 100:3 … we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

Psalm 95:7 … For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand….

The Christian no longer owns himself, but is the child, the obedient child, of the Master. We are not our own – we are bought with a price (1 Corinthians 6:20; 7:23). We belong to God.

The Believer in Christ belongs to God.
The unbeliever also belongs to God.

But what of others who are not saved. What of the rest of the earth? To whom does it belong? Psalm 24 tells us that God owns everything. Read with me.

Psalm 24:1-10 The earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. 2 For he hath founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods. 3 Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? or who shall stand in his holy place? 4 He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully. 5 He shall receive the blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of his salvation. 6 This is the generation of them that seek him, that seek thy face, O Jacob. Selah. 7 Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. 8 Who is this King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle. 9 Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. 10 Who is this King of glory? The Lord of hosts, he is the King of glory. Selah.

To Whom does the earth belong? The earth is the Lord’s. To Whom does the produce and production of the earth belong to? The earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof. What of the people of the earth. We know that the Christian, the believer in Christ, the receiver of the Holy Spirit belongs to the Lord. But what of the unbeliever? We are told that The earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. Everything and everyone belongs to God. God made it, and that which He made, He owns.

God in His Grace gave dominion of the world over to mankind (this is both man and woman) after their creation. God told the first beings:

Genesis 1:28 … Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

Humanity was given a stewardship by God. Humanity – man and woman – were given specific directions on how to manage that which they were given.

Be fruitful”. Reproduce.
“Multiply”. Reproduce often.
“Replenish the earth”. Care for your stewardship.
“Subdue it”. You are God’s sharecroppers.
“Have dominion over”. You are not an animal. You are over animals.

Slavery is wrong because only God owns the person. He owns the believer, and owns the unbeliever. God recognized slavery in scripture, but never justified it. Mankind was to have dominion over animals and the earth itself. It is the stewardship that God has given us.

When a person says, “It’s MY body, I can do what I want with it”, there is an element of truth to this – but this is not the whole truth. Your body is a stewardship from God. Biblically – and I believe the Bible – everything that we see, touch, and are around are God’s possessions. Life itself is a stewardship. Everything you have and hope to have is a gift from God. God graciously allows us to have – albeit temporarily – all that we have. There is but one God and Father of all, Who is OVER all, THROUGH all, and IN all (Ephesians 4:6). The Apostle quoted Psalm 24:1 when he warned the Corinthian believers about greed and pettiness. He writes:

1 Corinthians 10:24-26 Let no man seek his own, but every man another’s wealth. 25 Whatsoever is sold in the shambles, that eat, asking no question for conscience sake: 26 For the earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof.

Listen believers – and I speak to the child of God by faith in Christ:

Believers are sheep, and Christ our Shepherd. We must never allow the world to own us. We must never become slaves to darkness, greed, money, or hatred. The Apostle encourages us to seek to profit others rather than to fill our own pockets. God owns everything.

By God’s Common (universal) Grace He:

Matthew 5:45 … maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

God owns the world. God owns every soul. God owns the soul of that baby carried in the mother’s womb, and owns the soul of the mother as well. God owns the soul of the black man, minimized and often harmed by inconsiderate and racist people. God owns the soul of the red man, the yellow man, the brown man, the white man. When you look at another person remember God’s Words:

Ezekiel 18:4 Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine …

Everything belongs to God.

God Made It, And Owns It. We Are But Stewards.

Psalm 24:1-2 The earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. 2 For {God} hath founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods.

It is God Who makes the land and the land masses. When God first made the earth, the earth was covered with water. There was no land that was not below the water. The Bible tells us that:

Genesis 1:9-12 And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so. 10 And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good. 11 And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so. 12 And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good.

God caused the land to rise up from the waters, and God created what we call the “continents”. When America was founded, it was founded by many people who were aware that God owns everything. America was blessed in it’s founding because the Founders knew God. Were they perfect Christians? No, but none of us are. Yet these Founding Fathers stated in the Declaration of Independence:

We, therefore, the representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name and by the Authority of the good people of these colonies, solemnly publish and declare , that these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be free and independent states …. with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence …”

America, like every nation and every land mass on this entire planet, belongs to God. In a speech given by Patrick Henry on March 23rd, 1775, he stated:

we are not weak if we make a proper use of those means which the God of nature hath placed in our power. The millions of people, armed in the holy cause of liberty, and in such a country as that which we possess, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us. Besides, sir, we shall not fight our battles alone. There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations, and who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us…”

America was an experiment that was supposed to fail. Great Britain was a worldwide super power that the disorganized and poorly equipped colonists certainly could not defeat.

America gained it’s independence. Why? I believe it is because America was founded to glorify God. It was founded to allow religious freedom to every person.

Though America and many of its Founders turned a blind eye to slavery of the black persons {something that was grievous}, in time God used godly men and women to overturn the horror of chattel slavery. As I said before, no human has a right to possess or oppress another human. Only God owns us, and God can do what us as He will, for it is He that made us, and not we ourselves. I spent a large portion of my adult life – 20+ years – in the United States Air Force because I love this nation, and love the concept of freedom embodied in our Constitution and in our laws. Though we are all flawed by sin I can tell you, without a shadow of a doubt, that the United States of America is the most blessed nation in the world. Our blessings are upon us because of God’s Grace.

Having Recognized The Truth That God Owns All,
Can All Enter Into God’s Presence?

If God owns everything and everyone, then it is logical to believe that we shall be with Him. That which I own will stay in my possession. So if God owns all, will all enter Heaven upon their earthly demise? The Psalmist asks:

Psalm 24:3 Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? or who shall stand in his holy place?

To go into the Presence of God is to “ascend”, to move upward from the earthly to the glorious Heavenly. The phrase “hill of the Lord” is a reference to the place where God is.

The Pulpit Commentary notes:

God’s “hill” is, in reality, the highest heaven, wherein he has his dwelling-place. Its representative on earth was, at this time, the Mount Zion, where it was already determined in the Divine counsels that the temple should be built, and whither David was now about to transfer the ark of the covenant …”

We are told by God in Isaiah 66:1, “Heaven is My Throne, and the earth My footstool”. God abides in both Heaven and earth – in fact, everywhere. But God has also said in Matthew 18:20, “Where two or three are gathered together in My Name, there am I in the midst of them”. God is in the midst of His people when they are honoring Him. God will not allow any in His presence who refuse to honor Him in heart and hand. The Psalmist said:

Psalm 24:4 He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully.

Those who have the right to enter the Presence of God is the ones who are clean outwardly (has clean HANDS) and who is pure inwardly (a pure HEART). The Bible tells us that, among the children of Adam,

Romans 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.

1 John 1:8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

No one has clean hands before God unless they have cleansed by God. God the Son said of the human heart:

Matthew 15:19-20 For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: these are the things which defile a man …

and God the Father declared through the Prophet:

Jeremiah 17:9-10 … The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? 10 I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.

God must cleanse us so that we can enter His Presence. God must spiritually change our condition. The Psalmist said in another place:

Psalm 51:10 Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.

Among mankind we often think that “good works” will make us right before God. The Law contained a number of “good works”: animal sacrifices, feast days, dietary laws, circumcision. Yet none of these “good works”, though ordered of God, had the power to change the doer. This is why the Apostle Paul wrote:

Romans 3:19-28 Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: THAT EVERY MOUTH MAY BE STOPPED, AND ALL THE WORLD MAY BECOME GUILTY BEFORE GOD. 20 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; 26 To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. 27 Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. 28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.

No “good work” can bring us into the Presence of God. We need Jesus Christ. The Messiah came to “bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18). The “good works” of the Law were teaching tools to show all that we need a Savior. Jesus Christ did the one absolutely good work when He died on Calvary for our sins. The Scripture says:

Hebrews 9:12-14 Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood {Jesus} entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. 13 For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: 14 How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

Jesus Christ alone is “the Lamb of God Who takes away our sins” (John 1:29).

Dying on the Cross of Calvary for our sins, Jesus in spirit and through the Holy Spirit entered into Heaven, that holy Hill of God, obtaining eternal redemption for us who believe. Jesus died for our sins so that we need no longer be circumcised, we need no longer offer animal and food offerings on a bloody altar. As that blessed song states:

Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe.
Sin had left a crimson stain.
He washed me white as snow!

Who has clean hands and a pure heart? It is the one who has received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. It is the one who has repented of being their own possession, and have agreed with God that “the Lord is my Shepherd”. I no longer belong to me – and neither do you. Christian,

1 Corinthians 6:20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.

By faith in Jesus Christ’s work the Bible says:

Hebrews 10:19-25 Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; 21 and having an high priest over the house of God; 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) 24 and let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: 25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

The believer in Christ is freed from the slavery of sin to follow the Savior. Our hearts are purified daily by our indwelling Savior. Our hands will do the things He has commanded us to do.

Those Who Are Accepted Of God Are Sheep,
Not Pigs or Dogs or Wolves.

When a person is saved by faith in Christ, they are changed both outwardly and inwardly. They do not “lift their soul up unto vanity”:

Psalm 24:4 He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully.

Word Study The word “vanity” is the Hebrewשָׁוְא shâvᵉʼ, shawv; or שַׁו shav which means “that which is empty, false, worthless, godless, destructive or evil”. This word is used to describe idolatry or fake gods. Those who are saved do not speak falsely about others (Exodus 23:1), and do not minimize the glory of God’s name (Exodus 20:7). Those who belong to God do not bear false witness against others (Deuteronomy 5:20), nor do they speak untruths to their neighbors (Psalm 12:2). If you are saved by faith in Christ, born again of His Spirit, you do as Jesus says. You will love God with all your being, and love your neighbor as yourself (Leviticus 19:18; Matthew 22:37-40). Jesus expects those who are His sheep to radically LOVE. He said:

Matthew 5:43-48 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. …

We who belong to the Great Shepherd of our faith are not to lower ourselves to be like the world. Grace saves us, and empowers us to radically love even the unlovable. The Scripture says:

Romans 6:15 What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.

Pastor Anthony Carter wrote:

When Jesus freed the woman caught in adultery, He asked her: “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She replied, “No one, Lord.” Jesus then said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more” (John 8:10–11). When God has freed our consciences, it does not matter how others try to bind them. When Christ has washed our hands and hearts, it does not matter what other people say about them. We only must make sure that Christ has freed us, and that our consciences, hands, and hearts have indeed been washed in His blood.”

A Daily Personal Walk In The Presence Of God
Results in Great Blessing!

Psalm 24:5-6 He shall receive the blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of his salvation. 6 This is the generation of them that seek him, that seek thy face, O Jacob. Selah.

God blesses us, dear believers, when we live as He commands. We keep our hearts pure by heeding and doing what our Savior commands. When we maintain clean hands and pure hearts by following our Savior daily, confessing sin as soon as it rears it’s ugly head, God promises to bless us. How does God bless us? We read:

Psalm 24:7-9 Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. 8 Who is this King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle. 9 Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.

Word Study The “gate” in ancient times was the entry point into the large cities. People often did business at the “gate”. When you, dear ones, walk with the Lord your Savior daily, then “the King of glory shall come in” to your businesses. Do you wish to prosper in business? The let your gates (your businesses) be lifted up to the Lord. You religion must not be just private and in the home, but must permeate your daily walk where ever you are. When we lift our pursuits up to the King of glory, then He will defend us. Our “Lord is mighty in battle”.

Deuteronomy 20:4 … the Lord your God is he that goeth with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you.

King David sang unto God, “The Lord is my Rock, and my Fortress, and my Deliverer; the God of my rock; in Him will I trust: He is my Shield, and the Horn of my salvation, my High Tower, and my Refuge, my Savior; Thou savest me from violence. 4 I will call on the Lord, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies.” (2 Samual 22:2-4).

Beloved, as we come through these difficult times in our nation’s history, let us give ourselves over to the Lord our God. Let us receive Christ Jesus as both Lord and Savior. Let us rely on Him. David ended this wonderful Psalm with:

Psalm 24:10 Who is this King of glory? The Lord of hosts, he is the King of glory. SELAH.

The last word of this Psalm is “Selah”, which means “REST”. Are you resting in the arms of Jesus, or are you still trying to be your own possession. You belong to God, dear one. Rest in the arms of Him Who made you. Rest in the arms of Christ. Remember the wonderful invitation Jesus gives to whosoever will come:

Matthew 11:28-30 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

Here is your Rest. It is in Jesus. It is in Jesus’ control, under His yoke. Give yourselves to Him, so that you can daily be in God’s Presence, and eternally be in God’s Presence. Do not delay. Call upon the Lord today. May the Holy Spirit touch your hearts to give yourselves to the Lord this very day. Amen and Amen!

Posted in Psalms, Sermons Preached | Tagged ,

Praying The 23rd Psalm

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Psalms 23:1-6 The LORD [is] my shepherd; I shall not want. (2) He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. (3) He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. (4) Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou [art] with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. (5) Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. (6) Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

We live in a fallen, sin ridden world. I know when I say this, I’m not telling you anything that you don’t know. All you need to do for proof of this is to just turn on your televisions. Not too long ago an young woman decided that she would hitchhike across Europe to prove her theory that people are, at heart, all “good people”. This has been tried several times over the years, and each time it has not been a good ending. Though other people have tried, and have either been raped and/or killed, this young lady believed that “all people are good”. So she tried. Just a few days into her adventure she was raped and robbed by a person posing as a taxi driver. The young lady claims that she will try again in a few years, that she has not given up on human “goodness”. It is a miracle she was not murdered.

The Biblical narrative (a view that I personally believe) is that God created the earth perfect, but man rebelled against the Creator. When Adam fell, he not only brought corruption to humanity, but he also brought sin and death into the animal kingdom. The Scripture says of humanity:

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

and of the animal kingdom,

Romans 8:20 For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly

Animals had nothing to do with the Fall. However, when one sins, often the innocent suffer. Since creation was bound to Adam’s station in Christ, his willing rejection of God brought death on him, his children, and all of creation.

To lost humans and animals/ creatures, a state of sin and death is considered normal. To the Christian, sin and death are products of a godless choice. To those Children of God (by faith in Christ), to sin is to defy God and light.

We live in an unredeemed and sin filled world, a world that normalizes what God says is wrong and evil. This causes the world to hate the Christian believer (John 15:18-20). Christian, we need to pray, to stay close to our Redeemer.

Let Us Draw Near To God By Praying His Scripture

One method of prayer that Christians have used is to pray Scripture back to God. To read and meditate on His Word while in the prayer closet. The Psalmist David often meditated and prayed through God’s Word.

Psalms 119:14-16 I have rejoiced in the way of thy testimonies, as [much as] in all riches. (15) I will MEDITATE in thy precepts, and have respect unto thy ways. (16) I will delight myself in thy statutes: I will not forget thy word.

I was talking with a brother in Christ the other day, and share with you what he said he learned. My brother said that he was taught to not just hear a sermon, but to internalize it, to apply it to himself. This is the way of Christian growth. David MEDITATED on God’s Word. The word “MEDITATE” is the Qal Imperfect of the Hebrew חיש, siyach, (pronounced see’-akh), which means “to ponder, dwell on, declare or utter in prayer”. David considered prayer and meditation of God’s Word to be more important that sleep:

Psalms 119:148 Mine eyes prevent {stay open during} the night watches, that I might meditate in thy word.

During prayer – especially in prayer using the Scripture – we can apply God’s promises to our current situation. Have you ever had a sleepless night? Then use that time to pray, and use God’s Word in your prayers. Take a Psalm and pray it back to the Lord, applying it to your life. If it does not cure your insomnia, it will at least ease your fears!

Psalms 23:1 The LORD [is] my shepherd; I shall not want.

To Whom do I run when tried and suffering? The LORD is MY SHEPHERD. My trial does not own me, but my God owns me. He is MY Shepherd, and that makes me His sheep. When we are hurt physically or spiritually our first instinct is to curl up, to become defensive, to withdraw into a shell, to go through an emotional roller coaster. Sometimes we even get mad at God, though we should not do so. Some, like Job’s wife, will tell you:

Job 2:9 … Dost thou still retain thine integrity? curse God, and die.

What good comes from this? I am finite, but my God is The LORD. When you see the word Lord IN UPPER CASE in the King James this is the name YHWH, Yahweh, the Eternal Name of God.

My Shepherd is not finite.
My Shepherd is He Who created all things, and yet is created by none.
My Shepherd is the Great “I Am” (Exodus 3:14)
Not the God Who was, but the God Who says:

Revelation 1:8 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.

There is nothing too great for my God – the LORD – to handle. My God, my Shepherd, knows and controls all things. He says:

Isaiah 46:9-10 Remember the former things of old: for 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:

The LORD, He alone is God, and He is MY SHEPHERD. Let us pray to our Shepherd:

You, O God, are my LORD, and my Shepherd. When I look at the beauty and majesty of all things, the immensity of space, the depths of the sea, the intricacy of all You have made, I can only praise You, Precious LORD. You are Infinite. You are worthy of praise. What ever I am going through is no accident. You are The LORD. You have the right to do as you will. “All things work together for good to those who love You, those who are called by Thy Name” (Romans 9:28). Satan has no power over me. You are MY SHEPHERD. You are MY KING. I praise You for Your power, Your majesty, that You are great, and do wondrous things: thou [art] God alone (Psalms 86:10).

My situation is not My LORD – You are!
My situation is not my SHEPHERD. You are!
My hurt is not My LORD – You are!
My pain is not My LORD – You are!
The suffering of my loved ones are not My LORD – You are!
My loss is not My LORD – You are!

You alone are God. You alone are worthy. You alone are majestic. You alone are The LORD, Blessed Be Your Holy Name!

Psalms 23:1 The LORD [is] my shepherd; I shall not want.

You, Oh Great Shepherd, saved me at a terrible price. Your Scripture declares:

1 John 4:9-10 In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. (10) Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son [to be] the propitiation for our sins.

As My Shepherd You laid Your life down for Me. You are the “Door of the Sheep” (John 10:7). You paid a great, an immense price for me at Calvary. As the Door of the Sheep You lay your life down, taking death and sin upon yourself for my sake. You are my beautiful Shepherd!

Psalms 23:2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

It is God Who has given good to me. What I have, I do not have because of my genius, or because of my luck. It is the goodness of God that gives me life (Romans 2:4).

Psalm 130:3-6 If thou, Lord, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand? 4 But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared. 5 I wait for the Lord, my soul doth wait, and in his word do I hope. 6 My soul waiteth for the Lord more than they that watch for the morning: I say, more than they that watch for the morning.

You, O Lord, “make me to lie down”. I am where I am because You have placed me here. Thank You for Your leading!

A sheep is not a wild animal, wandering about, doing as it wishes. A sheep is possessed by the Shepherd. I am God’s property. I am not my own – I am bought with a price (1 Corinthians 6:20). I was purchased by the shed Blood of Jesus Christ. My life is costly to my Master. He will never abandon me – NEVER!

Psalm 23:3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

Sin had destroyed me, but Jesus Christ saved me. The promise of Scripture is:

Matthew 1:21 … {Jesus} shall save his people from their sins

He does not save us IN our sins, but FROM our sins. He makes me complete. Sin tore at my soul, diminishing me, but Jesus brought me from darkness to light. I was not redeemed, purchased from the devil’s clutches with finite means, BUT WITH THE PRECIOUS BLOOD OF CHRIST (1 Peter 1:18-19).

It is in Psalm 22 that we see the prophecy of the Cross of Calvary. It is in Psalm 22 that we see Jesus crying out, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me? (Psalm 22:1; Matthew 27:46). Jesus chose to take the nails for you and I. He will not abandon us now, nor ever. He restores my soul to Heaven, to live with my God.

Psalm 23:3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

As His sheep, I am to live my life for and with my Shepherd. I no longer belong to sin nor Satan. There are many who claim that they are saved so that they can revel in their sin. Oh, no, Beloved. My Shepherd leads me in PATHS of RIGHTEOUSNESS for His name’s sake.

A Christian will not walk in darkness.
A Christian will not rejoice in lying.
A Christian will not pursue the works of the flesh.
A Christian will not engage in heterosexual or homosexual sin.
A Christian will live his or her life with Christ in the Light,
not imitating the darkness. Our Jesus said:

John 8:12 … I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

A Christian will confess his or her sins, relinquishing them to the Cross of Calvary. If we confess our sins, our Lord is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:8-9).

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

We will all go through valleys in our lifetimes. David had many valleys in his life. Chosen by God to replace Saul as King (a mountaintop), David had to be pursued by Saul, who intended to kill him. Two things kept David straight through his valleys:

  • David knew that God had a plan for his life, and
  • David knew and trusted in the faithfulness of God.

Because David focused on the God Who is his Shepherd, the Great God Who saved us, the giants he faced were small in comparison. When David’s Goliaths approached him, David focused on the Lord his Shepherd, the Lord Who would never abandon His sheep. This, Beloved, is our God. Though the valleys often cause our hearts to flutter, we can rest assured that God’s plan for our lives will be fulfilled. Thy rod, O Lord, and Thy staff, they comfort me. If I am chastised of the Lord, He chastises me for my own good. If I am led of the Lord, where He leads me is where I need to be.

Psalm 23:5 Thou {O LORD} preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

O Lord, help me to focus on you, not on the trial. Let me rest at Your table, though enemies are all around me. You anointed David’s head with oil, making him a King over Israel. You, O Lord, anointed me with your holy Spirit. You, O Lord,

Revelation 1:5-6 … loved us, and washed us from our sins in Your own Blood, and hath made us Kings and Priests unto God our Father …

We who love You, O Lord, are a chosen generation …

1 Peter 2:9 … a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people; we are to show forth the praises of our Lord Who has called us out of darkness, and into Your wonderful light!

I may not have everything, and I might suffer needs. Yet because of You, dear Lord Jesus, my cup runneth over! Every day of my life is a blessing because of You. Thank You for being my Shepherd, blessed Savior and Lord.

Psalm 23:6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

The enemy of my joy is a complaining spirit. Lord, as I look upon You, I cannot complain. You have been both good as well as merciful to me. I do not deserve nor have I earned Your blessings. You are my God, and I am not a god, but a sheep, a lowly sheep. Thank You for loving me as you do. And when it becomes time for me to depart, remind me, dear Lord, that one day I will dwell in the House of the Lord … forever! Let me, dear Lord, remember the words of the Apostle, Who said:

2 Corinthians 5:8 We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.

Death is not my enemy, for death has no hold on Me. I belong to my Shepherd, my Jesus. Not to death, but to Him Who has given me eternal life. Praise You, Lord, praise You!

This life is not all that we have, dear Christian. We are not dying creatures headed toward death and the grave. We who have believed in Jesus are Children of God moving toward eternal life. We are Heaven bound. Let us take as many as we can to Heaven with us when we go. God is using us who believe to bring others into His Kingdom.

An early preacher by the name of Augustine said:

Death is not to be regarded as a disaster, when it follows on a good life, for the only thing that makes death an evil is what comes after death. Those who must inevitably die ought not to worry overmuch about what accident will cause their death, but about their destination after dying. Christians know that the death of a poor religious man, licked by the tongues of dogs, is far better than the death of a godless rich man, dressed in purple and linen. Why then should those who have lived well be dismayed by the terror of death in any form?”

These are great words! Let us look upward at the Lord our Shepherd, trusting Him with all of our lives. Hallelujah! Hallelujah! In Christ’s name I pray that God touch your hearts with these words. Amen and Amen!

Posted in Psalms, Sermons Preached | Tagged , , , ,

The Kingdom Of God Principles (Red Letters #32)

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash
Audio of Message

Matthew 12:46-50 While he yet talked to the people, behold, his mother and his brethren stood without, desiring to speak with him. 47 Then one said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee. 48 But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren? 49 And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! 50 For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.

A young man came to Jesus one time and asked:

Matthew 19:16 …. Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?

Jesus told this young man simply:

Matthew 19:17 … if thou wilt enter into life, KEEP THE COMMANDMENTS.

Notice that Jesus took the word
“eternal” away from His answer.
If you live life without God, you are NOT living.

He said, “If you will enter into LIFE, keep the commandments”. Those who attempt to live without God and His commandments are not living … they are just existing. You have a choice. You can LIVE, or you can EXIST. There is a big difference between the two. There is no life outside of a living, growing, OBEDIENT relationship to God our Creator.

Many people envision HEAVEN as a place where all of our selfish gratifications are fulfilled. Many envision Heaven as a place where 72 virgins eternally satisfy the sexual selfishness of the victorious male. Muslim scholar Farhana Qazi notes:

Heaven in the Islamic faith does not include 72 wide-eyed sex goddesses. The number ‘72’ does not appear anywhere in the Quran. Nor does the word “suicide” (intihar in Arabic) appear, which is a word used interchangeably with martyrdom.”

Qazi notes that this myth entered Muslim faith from a writing (hadith) from an imam named al-Tirmidhi. Truth be told, the concept that Heaven is a place where our selfishnesses are all satisfied is the devil’s ploy, a whisper from the prince of darkness.

The concept that Heaven is a place where human selfishness and fleshiness is satisfied is not just in non-Christian faiths, but has gradually crept into even the Christian Faith.

On the Tonight Show Johnny Carson once asked a visiting preacher “Will there be golf in Heaven?”. The preacher said “If it is necessary for our joy in Heaven, I’m sure there will be golf”. Many people – even preachers – teach that Heaven and those who will go to Heaven is all about us. We are on the Throne in Heaven, and God is our Eternal Waiter, meeting our every need. Yet this is not what the Bible teaches. Jesus said,

If you would enter into Life, keep the COMMANDMENTS”.

Heaven is about us serving God. It is about us being returned to our rightful Master and Lord. This is not a popular concept in the “Me First” America of today, but it is indeed Biblical. When Jesus defined the Commandments that should be kept, He referred to the Ten Commandments. Jesus said:

Matthew 19:19 … Honor thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.

Honor to your parents. Obedience to those who gave you life, to mother and father and God. Loving others as created beings, created in the image of God for God. As goes the family, so goes the community. As goes the community, so goes the country. Civilized society, especially the Kingdom of Heaven, is NOT about us satisfying our every need and want. It is about US serving OTHERS. It is not about radical freedom and rioting, but about citizenship, good citizenship. Being citizens of the family, of the neighborhood, of the city, of the country, of Heaven.

So Jesus is teaching the Word of the Father. We read:

Matthew 12:46 While {Jesus} yet talked to the people, behold, his mother and his brethren stood without, desiring to speak with him.

Jesus taught that we are to honor our father and our mother (Mark 10:19; Luke 18:20; Ephesians 6:2). Now Jesus mother and brothers are standing outside the door. They want to speak to the Lord. Jesus’ commandments mirror the Father’s commandments. Did our Master not say “If you have seen Me, you have seen the Father” (John 14:9)? Has not our Savior said “You must honor your father and mother, and love your neighbor as yourself”?

Matthew 12:47 Then one said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee.

So how will our Lord respond to this notification? He replies:

Matthew 12:48-50 … Who is my mother? and who are my brethren? 49 And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! 50 For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.

Only Children Of The Kingdom Shall Enter Heaven

Our Lord Jesus is not a hypocrite by any means. He never said one thing, then did another. But Jesus is teaching a Biblical truth. Heaven is not a place where we go to satisfy our selfish needs. Heaven is the Father’s House. Jesus said:

John 14:2-3 In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.

The “Father’s house” is Heaven. Heaven has many rooms. Jesus came from Heaven. He “came from above” (John 3:31; 8:23; James 1:17). He came to this earth. Jesus Christ is THE Son of God. He is eternal God made flesh to dwell among us.

1 John 4:15 Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God.

Jesus Christ is THE Son of God, THE Eternal and Great I AM. Jesus Christ is THE Representative that God the Father sent from Heaven. The Father prophesied of the Son:

Psalm 2:6-7 …. I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion. 7 I will declare the decree: the Lord hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee.

Heaven is where the Father and the Son are. Heaven is God’s home. Heaven is God’s Family. The Father brought the Son into the world, and Jesus only is the eternal Son of the Father from eternity past. The Apostle Paul preached of this Jesus:

Acts 13:30-33 … God raised {Jesus, His Only Begotten Son} from the dead: 31 And {Jesus} was seen many days of them which came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are His witnesses unto the people. 32 And we declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made unto the fathers, 33 God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee.

And the Writer of Hebrews said:

Hebrews 1:5 For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son?

Hebrews 5:5 So also Christ glorified not himself to be made a high priest; but {the Father} that said unto {Jesus}, Thou art my Son, to day have I begotten thee.

Jesus Christ was born into this world, born of a virgin named Mary, according to prophecy. Through Isaiah the Father decreed, “a virgin shall conceive, and bear a Son, and shall call his name Immanuel. {meaning, ‘God with us’}(Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23). The Kingdom of Heaven would come to earth by sending it’s King, Jesus Christ, to this earth. Jesus is the “Only Begotten of the Father”. He is the only Means by which a person may reach rightness with God. Heaven is a place where the Family of God goes. Jesus Christ came from Heaven to this earth to bring others into His Family. Jesus Christ came to bring many sons unto glory”. To best explain this let us turn to the Holy Scripture:

Hebrews 2:3-18 How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; 4 God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will? 5 For unto the angels hath he not put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak. 6 But one in a certain place testified, saying, What is man, that thou art mindful of him? or the son of man that thou visitest him? 7 Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; thou crownedst him with glory and honor, and didst set him over the works of thy hands: 8 Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him. 9 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. 11 For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren, 12 Saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee. 13 And again, I will put my trust in him. And again, Behold I and the children which God hath given me. 14 Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; 15 And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. 16 For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham. 17 Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. 18 For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succor them that are tempted.

Heaven is a place for the Children of God. Jesus Christ, THE Son of God, was born into the human family of a virgin. He was born into this temporal place we call “earth” to bring “many sons unto glory”. Heaven is where God’s family is. Jesus said:

Matthew 12:48-49 … Who is my mother? and who are my brethren? 49 And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren!

Who is in the Family of God? Those who have received Jesus Christ as the ONLY Way unto the Father. Who is in the Family of God? Those who have BELIEVED ON Jesus Christ for salvation. What does the Scripture tell us:

John 1:12-13 But as many as received {Jesus}, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: 13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

Heaven is for the Family of God. When we are born into this life, we are born into the family of man, of mankind. But as Jesus told Nicodemus, “You must be born again”.

1 Corinthians 15:50 … flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.

You must be born again (John 3:3, 7). You must be born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.

Jesus’ “mother and brothers” did not stand outside looking in. Jesus “mother and brothers” are His disciples, those who have received Him as BOTH Lord and Savior. A “disciple” is both a student and a follower.

Heaven Is For Those Who Follow Jesus

Once more Jesus said:

Matthew 12:49-50 … {Jesus} stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! 50 For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.

Jesus said “those who DO THE WILL OF MY FATHER WHICH IS IN HEAVEN” are His family. There are many who PROFESS Christ, but never have DONE the will of the Father which is in Heaven. What is the Father’s will? Jesus tells us in another place:

John 6:38-40 For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. 39 And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. 40 And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.

The Father’s will is that Jesus Christ would draw a people to Himself, a people who believe in Him. It is the Father’s will that this people, a born again people, would have everlasting life so that they can dwell within the Kingdom of God forever. God’s Kingdom belongs not to the PROFESSOR of Christ, but the one POSSESSED by Christ. Jesus said:

Luke 12:32 Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.

The “little flock” are the ones who come to Jesus, who follow Jesus. As Jesus taught on this wonderful day his biological mother and brothers stood outside – OUTSIDE of where He taught. But Jesus’ spiritual family, His spiritual mother and brothers, these are the ones sitting at His feet, thirsting for His word.

Illustrate I have often seen small birds fed worms and crickets and grubs by their mothers. I have seen nature shows where predatory birds will bring pieces of bloody meat to the nest to feed their young. When the elder bird brings the food, the piece of worm or bloody meat, the tiny chicks clamor and fight for a morsel of food. They are thirsty, hungry, desirous of that food. When I see it I think, “Oh, I could never eat that stuff”. And never have I thought to feed such a thing to my baby chicks as they grew up. To do so would be considered child abuse. But for baby chicks … oh, this is the best thing ever!

So it is with Christ and His kingdom.

Those who are Heaven bound are not those looking for 72 eventual virgins, or a river of life fully stocked with waiting trout, nor a wonderful 18 hole holy gold course. Heaven is where family goes. The Family of God loves Jesus, and is found gathered together around Jesus, wanting to hear His every word. The family of God is not of those who seek selfish fulfillment. The Scripture says:

2 Timothy 2:19 Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.

The Family of God does not revel in iniquity, nor chase the darkness with the world. The Family of God finds itself kneeling at the feet of Jesus, hanging on His Word, drinking from the Word of God. Heaven will not be populated with those who, like satan and the angels that follow him, reject the Word and the design of God. Jesus said:

John 10:27-30 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. I and my Father are one.

Who are Christ’s sheep? It is those who hear Him and follow Him? Who have eternal life? Those who are in the hand of Christ. Who will one day be in Heaven? Those who are related to Jesus by birth, by NEW BIRTH. Heaven is yours if you have received, believed, and now follow the Son. Heaven is not for a certain DENOMINATION, but for those BORN AGAIN by faith in Him and only Him. Jesus said:

Matthew 7:21-24 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. 24 Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and DOETH them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:

The Family of God is at the Feet of God, close to God, heeding what God the Son says. Those who are on the outside, though they may claim kinship, are not the Sons of God. The Sons of Gods find themselves at the feet of the Son of God. The Sons of God are obedient to King Jesus, our elder Brother. The Sons of God serve, gladly serve, the Heaven Father. We live for His smile, not for our satisfaction.

How Are You Daily At The Feet Of Christ?

In the next chapter Jesus speaks of a Sower. He says:

Matthew 13:3-9 Behold, a sower went forth to sow; 4 And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up: 5 Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth: 6 And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. 7 And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them: 8 But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some a hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold. 9 Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.

When Jesus came to this earth, born of a virgin, He sowed the Gospel seed. He presented Himself as the only Begotten Son of God. He presented Himself as the only way unto God the Father. Many came to be healed of Jesus, but many others rejected Him as Savior and Lord. Is Jesus your Savior and Lord? If He is, then:

You will enjoy hearing His Word. It will not be a chore, but a joy. You will do as Jesus says. You will follow Him. You will live with Him at the center of your life. You will bring forth fruit. Being “saved” will not be regarded as fire insurance, but as a way of life. Jesus will be at the center of your life.

We will more thoroughly study the parable of the Sower in another message. But let me ask you:

Are you a Child of the King, working daily for His glory? If not, may God open your hearts to follow Him as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Amen, and Amen!

Posted in Matthew, Sermon Series "Red Letters", Sermons Preached | Tagged , , , , ,

Whose Home Are You?

Photo by Gift Habeshaw on Unsplash
Audio of Message

Matthew 12:43-45 When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none. 44 Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished. 45 Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first. Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation.

Our Lord Jesus often spoke parables, spiritual stories with heavenly meaning. In one Gospel we are told:

Mark 4:33-34 with many such parables spake {Jesus} the word unto them, as they were able to hear it. 34 But without a parable spake he not unto them: and when they were alone, he expounded all things to his disciples.

Jesus often spoke parables. A disciple asked Jesus one day “Why do You, dear Lord, speak in parables”? Jesus told them:

Mark 4:11-12 … Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables: 12 That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them.

Those who were “within” the Family of God would be able to understand the parables because the Children of God go to God, and God explains the parables. But those who are “without”, who have not received Christ as Lord and Savior, would not be able to understand the parable. The Apostle Matthew explains why Jesus spoke in parables by quoting a prophet called Asaph (1 Chronicles 25:2), a message he wrote in Psalm 78:2.

Matthew 13:34-35 All these things spake Jesus unto the multitude in parables; and without a parable spake he not unto them: 35 That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world.

The purpose of the parable was to hide Heavenly truths from the unconverted, while at the same time using the same parable to share Heavenly and Kingdom truths with those who are Children of God by faith in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:26).

The Lost Need Jesus, Not Good Works or Theology

The only thing the unbeliever needs to understand is that they are lost, and Jesus can save them. We must all to run to the arms of Jesus. In His arms there is life and hope. Jesus Christ is the Savior Who has conquered death. He has proved to us who believe in Him that He is, and that he is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him Hebrews 11:6. The Bible tells us that we who are saved by faith in Christ have the ability to understand spiritual truths, for the Spirit of God Who indwells us teaches us (1 Corinthians 2:13). This is the primary function of the Blessed Spirit – to guide us into all truth, spiritual truth (John 16:13). Those who are lost cannot full comprehend the spiritual things the Children of God can. The Apostle declared:

1 Corinthians 2:14-15 … the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15 But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.

The “natural” {Greek ψυχικός psychikos, meaning “soulish, fleshly, tied to this world”} person, still dead in trespasses and in sins, cannot understand the things of God – His truths – for these things are spiritually discerned. The Holy Spirit enables we who are saved to understand Biblical truth. The unbeliever (those who are without) are blind to Biblical truth because the god of this world, satan, has blinded their minds. The lost can only understand salvation by faith in Christ, and this only with the Spirit’s assistance.

As Jesus spoke this parable, His audience was scribes and Pharisees. Just prior to this parable Jesus condemned the Pharisees and Scribes in the harshest of terms.

  • Jesus called the religious but lost corrupt trees. We read:

Matthew 12:33 Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by his fruit.

Word Study The word “corrupt” is the Greek σαπρός saprós, {pronounced sap-ros’} which means “rotten, worthless, corrupted, unfit to use”. Jesus used this word earlier in His ministry for false prophets:

Matthew 7:15-20 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. 16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? 17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt (saprós) tree bringeth forth evil (ponērós) fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. 19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. 20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

The Pharisees and scribes, in rejecting Christ, were false prophets. They believed that person could be good enough by keeping the Laws of God, that this person could go to Heaven. Because of this the Pharisees often adopted stricter laws than those placed on the Levitical Priesthood. But Jesus told these people that their fruit was rotten, for their tree was rotten.

Beloved, we are all rotten from birth if we are without Christ. It is rightly said in the most ancient Book of our Bible:

Job 14:4 Who {among humanity}can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? NOT ONE.

And the Prophet Jeremiah wrote, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (17:9) Then there are the words of the Apostle:

Romans 3:10-12 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: 11 There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. 12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.

We are all born corrupt trees, and we all need Jesus. When someone says “I’ll get my life right, then I’ll come to Jesus”, then you might as well try and empty the ocean with a thimble. It is impossible. The Pharisees thought that their external righteousness made them good trees, but Jesus said “make the bad tree good”. How is that done? Only by coming and receiving Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. The Bible is clear: we are all sinners who need Jesus.

Romans 3:21-26 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 {ἱλαστήριον hilastḗrion, {pronounced hil-as-tay’-ree-on} atonement, satisfactory payment} through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; 26 To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that {God} might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.

The Pharisees and Scribes rejected Christ as Lord and Savior, and were therefore bad trees that produced bad and evil fruit.

  • Jesus called the religious but lost vipers or poisonous snakes. We read:

Matthew 12:34-37 O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. 35 A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. 36 But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. 37 For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.

Because the Pharisees and Scribes were self righteous and thought they had no need of a Savior, they did all they could do with their mouths to denigrate and teach against Jesus. They were vipers, poisonous snakes. What is the crucial difference between a harmless garter snaked and a poisonous rattle snake? It is the poison in the mouth of the rattle snake that makes it dangerous. The Pharisees and Scribes, outwardly righteous and inwardly self righteous, used their mouths like a viper would use it’s mouth.

Death is in their mouths, in their teaching!

Jesus reminded the Pharisees – and every self righteous person – that judgment day is coming. The self righteous will stand beside the murderers, the rapists, the child molesters, and the liars at a Great White Throne Judgment. Their words will be the basis of their judgment on that great and terrible day.

Revelation 20:15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

How does one get into the Book of Life? Repent, and believed on the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior. When we receive Christ as Savior He says “I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand” (John 10:28-29). Jesus said “Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 10:32-33). We who are saved are not ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Romans 1:16), for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth! The Apostle Paul told his trainee Timothy:

2 Timothy 1:11-13 Whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles. 12 For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day. 13 Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.

Only One Sign Is Given To The Lost

The Pharisees and Scribes listened to Jesus, but everything He said was to no avail. They proved that by …

Matthew 12:38 … saying, Master, we would see a sign from thee.

Our Lord Jesus Christ loves to say “yes”. A wonderful preacher Ray Pritchard wrote in his sermon Soul for Rent:

When Joseph Parker of London preached on this text over a century ago, he began his sermon by commenting that Jesus rarely said no. He almost always said yes.

He said yes to the hurting.
He said yes to the guilty.
He said yes to the confused.

He said yes to the hopeless.
He said yes to the downtrodden.
He said yes to the rejected.

Jesus nearly always said yes. He delighted to encourage and to console. He fulfilled the words of Isaiah 42:3, “A bruised reed he will not break.” He did not come to heap more pain on those who suffer. He came to lift the load and bear the burdens of those whose lives had been ruined by sin.”

Jesus was always careful to love the sinner, and to meet their needs. It was His desire that all men believe on Him. For this reason Jesus often sought out those in hopeless places. However, with the Pharisees and Scribes, in fact, with all the self righteous, self saved people, Jesus resoundingly said “no”! Jesus said:

Matthew 12:39-40 {Jesus} 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 Jonah 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.

Jesus called the Scribes and Pharisees “an evil and adulterous generation”. Were they guilty of sexual sin? No!

These self righteous Pharisees and Scribes are guilty of spiritual adultery. They know the Word of God, but their hearts are in love with anyone but God.

Both the Scribes and the Pharisees had access to the Scripture. They had access to the Temple. They had seen Jesus do miracle after miracle. Everything that Jesus did pointed to the reality that Jesus Christ is the Messiah. Yet they rejected Jesus Christ. Jesus told them “the only sign you will see – the only sign the lost will ever be given – is the empty but blood stained Cross of Calvary, and an empty tomb. As Jonah the Prophet was swallowed by a great fish for three days and three nights, Jesus Christ will be entombed for three days and three nights. But neither He, nor Jonah, stayed where they were past the third day.

Jonah went to Ninevah, an Assyrian stronghold, and simply preached:

Jonah 3:4 … Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.

The message was simple, and half heartedly delivered, for Jonah hated Assyria. Yet God was behind the message. Their hearts were tender, awaiting the Gospel. The Bible tells us:

Jonah 3:5 So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them.

The Bible says in Jonah 3:10 that God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not. They heard the Word of God and turned to God our Savior (Jude 25). Jesus told the self righteous Scribes and Pharisees:

Matthew 12:41 The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and, behold, a greater than Jonah is here.

Jesus is greater than Jonah, and He preached repentance and salvation by faith in Him, but was rejected by the self righteous crowd. It is sad that unbelieving pagans would surrender to Jonah’s simple message, but Pharisees and Scribes schooled in the Bible would reject the most perfect sermons ever preached. Oh, what sadness! Jesus went on to speak of the Queen of Sheba (1 Kings 10:1-15):

Matthew 12:42 The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for she came from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here.

A great ruler, the Queen of Sheba, traveled miles and miles to hear the words of Solomon. But the Pharisees and Scribes did not have to go far to hear the words of Christ, a Person much greater than Solomon.

Man Made Religion Will Not Last Long

Now we come to our focal text. You cannot understand the focal text unless you understand what precedes it.

Matthew 12:43-44 When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none. 44 Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished.

Man was created to walk with God. Man and woman were made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). It was God’s intention and His will that we be with our Creator every day – that we literally walk as He walks, and talk as He talks. It is God’s intent that God be with us, and we with God. But Adam sinned. By one man sin entered the world, and death by sin (Romans 5:12). On the day day, the very day that Adam ate of the forbidden fruit, he and all creation died spiritually. The vessel made for God, to walk with God, gave itself over to evil and darkness.

But God is not content with this. God loves us. So God promised a Messiah to reunite us with Him. He began His promise as He condemned the serpent in Eden:

Genesis 3:15 {God said} I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.

The woman would have a “seed”. The Messiah would come from the “seed of the woman”. Now, you and I know that no woman has “seed”. She has the egg, and man the seed. But God would come, being born of a virgin.

Isaiah 7:14 … the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

Immanuel (Emmanuel) is God with us (Matthew 1:23). Messiah would come, being born of a virgin. The Messiah is God with us. When we receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior Jesus and the Holy Spirit sweep out our homes.

Hebrews 10:22 … Let us draw near {to God} with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience…

Acts 15:8-9 God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; 9 And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.

It is the Blood of Jesus Christ that cleanses us from all sin (1 Peter 1:2; 1 John 1:7). It is the Holy Spirit Who comes to us at the point of saving faith. We draw near to God, and God draws near to us (James 4:8). When a Christian is saved,

God sweeps out the House, the inner man. God occupies the House. God indwells the believer. God possesses the believer. “We are not our own, we are bought with a price”, the Blood of Jesus Christ.

I could quote numerous verses that teach that, once a person is genuinely saved, the Holy Spirit indwells that person. For instance:

Romans 8:10-11 … if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.

1 Corinthians 3:16 Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?

2 Corinthians 13:5 Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?

The Christian does not “clean himself up” then come to Christ. The Christian comes to Christ to be cleansed. Once cleansed by Christ, covered by the Blood, the Christian is indwelt by the Holy Spirit. The blessed Spirit guides us into all truth (John 16:13). He is in us, representing Christ. We are permanently indwelt by the Holy Spirit.

Christianity is not a self help project, but a work of God. There are, I am afraid, many who profess Christ but have not actually met Christ. They cleaned themselves up. And that is what this parable is about. The Pharisees and Scribes were “self made men of God”. They swept their homes, their lives, and cleaned themselves up. But what happens? We read:

Matthew 12:43 When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none.

The Lord did not say that “the unclean spirit is cast out or exorcised by a priest”. Jesus said that the “unclean spirit is gone out”. The spirit just leaves, wanders off of its own accord. C.H. Spurgeon said “the devil has no objection to his house being swept and garnished”. Some people find morality, or have faith in the false gods of philosophy or Darwinism. They may come to a completely false god such as Allah or the Hindu or Buddhist gods. But their home has not been cleansed by Christ – Jesus has not cleansed out the life, nor sent the Spirit of God to take possession of the home.

Matthew 12:44 Then {the unclean spirit} saith, I will return into MY HOUSE from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished.

Did you notice the unclean spirit’s words? “I will return to MY HOUSE”. He comes back to the good looking but unsaved soul. This person he inhabited was never given to Christ, but his salvation among a forest of good works. It is not the Holy Spirit’s house, but the unclean spirit’s house. What happens when the unclean spirit finds HIS home cleansed?

Matthew 12:45 Then goeth {the unclean spirit}, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first. Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation.

The second occupation is worst than the first. The Apostle Peter put it in these harsh but true words:

2 Peter 2:20-22 … if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. 21 For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. 22 But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.

When you are saved by faith in Christ you are no longer a “dog” nor a “pig”, as the Bible uses these words. You are transformed. You are now “sheep”, Jesus Christ’s sheep. Jesus said “I am the good Shepherd, and know MY SHEEP, and am known of MINE” (John 10:14). The Pharisees could not believe in Christ because they were not His sheep (John 10:26). Those who belong to Jesus, listen Beloved, those who belong to Jesus follow Jesus. Our Lord said:

John 10:27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: 28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.

So I end with this: Whose Home are You? Do you, like so many today, say “My body, my life”? Or are you possessed of Christ. Have you received Him, not just as Savior, but as LORD. For He is LORD of ALL. To Whom do you belong? If you do not belong to Jesus, then you do belong to the darkness. There are no other choices. Please examine yourselves today. If you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s, then you are inhabited by the Holy Spirit, and are to walk as Jesus walked every day. If you are not Christ’s, I beg you, come to Him on bended knee, and receive Him as He is…

both Savior and Lord!

May God bless this Word, and through His Spirit enable all to understand it. In Christ’s name I prayerfully ask this. Amen and Amen.

Posted in Matthew, Sermon Series "Red Letters", Sermons Preached | Tagged , , , , ,

What Can I Do When All Is Broken (Covid-19 Sermons)

Photo by Richard Felix on Unsplash

Nehemiah 1:1-4 The words of Nehemiah the son of Hachaliah. And it came to pass in the month Chisleu, in the twentieth year, as I was in Shushan the palace, 2 That Hanani, one of my brethren, came, he and certain men of Judah; and I asked them concerning the Jews that had escaped, which were left of the captivity, and concerning Jerusalem. 3 And they said unto me, The remnant that are left of the captivity there in the province are in great affliction and reproach: the wall of Jerusalem also is broken down, and the gates thereof are burned with fire. 4 And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven …

I believe our country has lost it’s vision, not to mention it’s mind. Everywhere I look I see more insanity parading about as if it is normal. The news channels are all taken over by madness. Rioting and pillaging along the lines that the Vikings used to do is now considered a First Amendment right. Godliness has taken a sabbatical, and it seems as if darkness reigns. Yet I am not discouraged. I believe when we are in the worst place we can be (and Beloved, we are there), this is the best place we can be.

Now we must rely upon God.

Darkness has assimilated all sanity and rational discourse. In our nation we have First Amendment rights so that all can have free speech. In recent years the colleges and universities have taught our children that the First Amendment only applies to one viewpoint, and if all do not agree with the darkness, they are to be cast out and vilified. If the mob doesn’t get its way, it shouts “Go home, Jacob, Go home!”, and considers itself vindicated. Children running wild in the community are now told that their childish imaginations are more important than what anyone else says. We do not live in a day of tolerance, but of “he (or she) who shouts the loudest must be right”. Insanity and confusion reign. The CHAZ becomes the CHOP which is a microcosm of what used to be the USA. Yet I am not discouraged. I believe when we are in the worst place we can be (and Beloved, we are there), this is the best place we can be.

Now we must rely on God.

Social media is clamping down on anything and everything that does not agree with the darkness. Viewpoints are blocked, fact checked, censored. Fahrenheit 451, a novel published in 1953 by Ray Bradbury, presented a future America where books were outlawed. Offending books were burned by “firemen”. That America is here now. Though books are not being burned by firemen, social media platforms are erasing and blocking any viewpoint that does not agree with the censor. America used to be a place where people could discuss viewpoints. Today the dark mob demands that it’s viewpoint is the only way. Yet I am not discouraged. I believe when we are in the worst place we can be (and Beloved, we are there), this is the best place we can be.

Now we must rely on God.

When Everything Is Confusion And Defeat,
We Must Rely On God

The Bible is the Book of God. Those things that are written in it are things that God our Creator and Father want us to know. The madness that America seems to be gripped in is not unique in the history of the world. God’s Old Covenant people called “Israel” has been in 70 or so years of captivity, first to Babylon and later to Medo-Persia. A nation once blessed by God wandered away from the God Who loved her. The Bible says:

Psalm 33:12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance.

If the nation “whose God is the Lord” is blessed, then the nation that has abandoned God is cursed. Israel was cursed. She had turned her back on God, and had lost her freedom. When we refuse to follow God, and choose to follow self, it is not long before destruction comes. This was Nehemiah’s Israel. Nehemiah himself …

was in Shushan the palace

He is not in Israel, but held captive in the conquering King’s home. He was in a position of cupbearer. Many are those who think – if I stay silent when the darkness comes – I will be spared. Beloved, do not think this to be the case. In Nazi Germany many good Germans were silent as the innocent Jews were systematically murdered. Yet all suffered the error of their ways. As a person sows, that person reaps (Galatians 6:7-8). He that soweth iniquity shall reap vanity (Proverbs 22:8).

If you let the darkness come, it will soon cover you.
Being silent and complacent will not save you!

Though “cupbearer to the King” is a lowly position, Nehemiah has been largely insulated from suffering. Then he has a visitor.

Nehemiah 1:2 … Hanani, one of my brethren, came, he and certain men of Judah; and I asked them concerning the Jews that had escaped, which were left of the captivity, and concerning Jerusalem.

Nehemiah’s “brother” Hanani along with other men of Judah came to visit. Judah was supposed to be the ruling tribe of Israel, the tribe to whom the Throne belonged. Nehemiah asked this governing delegation about Jerusalem, the Capital city of God’s people. They told him:

Nehemiah 1:3 … And they said unto me, The remnant that are left of the captivity there in the province are in great affliction and reproach: the wall of Jerusalem also is broken down, and the gates thereof are burned with fire.

His homeland is totally destroyed. Those who have not been captured are afflicted and bullied. All of the defenses of the Nation’s Capital are down, destroyed by fire.

Nehemiah 1:4 … And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven …

What did Nehemiah do?

  • Nehemiah SAT DOWN. When trials come we often think, “I’ve got to DO SOMETHING”. Then we run around like the proverbial chicken with its head cut off “doing something”, often just making the water muddier and a bigger mess. We rush to Social Media and post a rant. We call a friend (often an unsaved friend) and complain, marring our testimony. We “do SOMETHING” – what we do does no good whatsoever.
  • Nehemiah WEPT and MOURNED. He cried over what had happened. It is fine to weep and mourn. Our Lord Jesus wept (John 11:35). There is nothing wrong with weeping and mourning, but do not stop there. There are many who, suffering loss, all they can do I weep, whine, and wring their hands. No Beloved, do not stop there. Nehemiah wept CERTAIN DAYS, a determined amount of time. He was not consumed by his anguish, but controlled it. Do not burn up or burn out in the flame of your emotion!
  • Nehemiah FASTED and PRAYED before the God of Heaven. Though alienated from the throne room of Jerusalem, Nehemiah was not alienated from the Throne Room of Heaven. He went to his God in prayer. Our God has promised:

Psalm 32:8 I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye.

Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. 6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

Illustrate We have all heard of the man who gets lost going somewhere. His wife tells him, “Pull over and ask directions”, but the man is so prideful that he refuses to do so. “I know where I’m going” is his creed, as he gets more and more lost. We are all like this on the highway of life. We think we know where we’re going. We don’t. But God does. We need to “pull over and ask directions”. That’s what Nehemiah did. He heeded the Spirit of Truth (John 16:13).

Prayer is when we “Pull over and ask directions”.

Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

Not WITH Christ, nor APART FROM Christ, but THROUGH Christ. I must pray, and seek God’s direction if I will get out of this mess. Notice how Nehemiah prayed:

Nehemiah 1:5-11 I beseech thee, O Lord God of heaven, the great and terrible God, that keepeth covenant and mercy for them that love him and observe his commandments: 6 Let thine ear now be attentive, and thine eyes open, that thou mayest hear the prayer of thy servant, which I pray before thee now, day and night, for the children of Israel thy servants, and confess the sins of the children of Israel, which we have sinned against thee: both I and my father’s house have sinned. 7 We have dealt very corruptly against thee, and have not kept the commandments, nor the statutes, nor the judgments, which thou commandedst thy servant Moses. 8 Remember, I beseech thee, the word that thou commandedst thy servant Moses, saying, If ye transgress, I will scatter you abroad among the nations: 9 But if ye turn unto me, and keep my commandments, and do them; though there were of you cast out unto the uttermost part of the heaven, yet will I gather them from thence, and will bring them unto the place that I have chosen to set my name there. 10 Now these are thy servants and thy people, whom thou hast redeemed by thy great power, and by thy strong hand. 11 O Lord, I beseech thee, let now thine ear be attentive to the prayer of thy servant, and to the prayer of thy servants, who desire to fear thy name: and prosper, I pray thee, thy servant this day, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man. For I was the king’s cupbearer.

Nehemiah prayed:

  • Humbly. He did not demand of God, but prayed “I beseech Thee, O Lord God of heaven, the great and terrible God. The Bible says:

1 Peter 5:6 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:

  • Expectantly. Nehemiah said, “Let thine ear now be attentive, and thine eyes open, that thou mayest hear the prayer of thy servant, which I pray before thee now”. Nehemiah approached the throne room of God and honored the Father as the Father. He did not complain nor whine, but asked humbly, expecting much of God.
  • Responsibly. He prayed to “confess the sins of the children of Israel, which we have sinned against thee: both I and my father’s house have sinned. We have dealt very corruptly against thee, and have not kept the commandments, nor the statutes, nor the judgments, which thou commandedst thy servant Moses”. So often when we find ourselves in trouble we blame God.

God is NOT to blame. WE ARE!

Nehemiah confessed his sins and the sins of Israel before God our Father. The Bible promises:

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

  • Specifically. Nehemiah said, O Lord, I beseech thee, let now thine ear be attentive to the prayer of thy servant, and to the prayer of thy servants, who desire to fear thy name: and prosper, I pray thee, thy servant this day, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man. He asked God to go before him as he went to the earthly King’s chamber. He wanted to ask the Medo-Persian King for help, so he asked God to prepare that man’s heart. Nehemiah did not limit God, but asked for guidance and control in very specific ways.

Though Nehemiah Had A Secular Job,
He Believed His First Responsibility Was To Glorify God

Nehemiah ends this chapter with:

For I was the king’s cupbearer.

Though Nehemiah had a secular job, he believed the job that he did for God his Savior superseded all else. Every believer in Christ has an earthly calling, and a heavenly calling. We are representatives of God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord. The reason that God left us on this earth is to carry His message of reconciliation:

2 Corinthians 5:20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.

Darkness can only be defeated by drawing it toward the Light that is Christ. The Apostle Paul, imprisoned for preaching the Gospel, said:

Ephesians 4:1-3 I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, 2 With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; 3 Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

The primary “vocation” of the Christian is to live our lives for our God. We live to honor Him, to spread the good news of His Gospel to a lost and dying world. We are to be sowers. Jesus said:

Matthew 13:18-23 … Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower. 19 When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side. 20 But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; 21 Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended. 22 He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful. 23 But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.

Jesus spoke of four conditions of the soil of the heart. Some will hear God’s Word, and will not understand it. Others will receive the Word, understand it, but will not dwell on it. A third type of person will hear God’s Word, understand it, but reject it because they prefer the darkness. But that fourth type of soil, the ready heart, will receive the good Word of God, and will bring forth much fruit. It is not the Christian’s place to plow the soil, but it is our place to sow the Gospel seed. We do so only after asking God to prepare the hearer.

We Must Never Lose The Vision

The one thing Nehemiah did NOT do was lose his vision and his hope.

I once read the story of Florence Chadwick, the first woman to swim the English Channel. In 1952 she decided to swim the 26 miles from Catalina Island to the California coast. Her mother accompanied her swim by following in a small boat. On the day that she tried this difficult swim, it was very foggy. She told her mama, “I can’t make it; I can’t go any further”. Her mother told her to keep on going, that she wasn’t far from her goal. But the fog kept Florence from seeing the coastline. Defeated, she gave up.

Florence was less than a half a mile from her goal.

Two months later, Florence tried again. She not only made it, but beat a world’s record, finishing two and a half hours faster than anyone had ever done. How did she do it? she got back in the water, and not only did she swim from Catalina Island to California, but she also beat the women’s world record for that distance. How did she do it? She said:

I kept a picture in my mind of the shoreline. Even though I couldn’t see it with my eyes, it was ever before me. I never lost sight of {my goal}”

Christian, what is YOUR goal in life? A great man, the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr, once said:

The whole concept of the “image of God ” is the idea that all men have something within them that God injected. .. . And this gives [man] a uniqueness, it gives him worth, it gives him dignity. And we must never forget this . . . there are no gradations in the image of God. Every man from a treble white to a bass black is significant on God’s keyboard, precisely because every man is made in the image of God. One day we will learn that. We will know one day that God made us to live together as brothers and to respect the dignity and worth of every man.”

Our nation will not come back to stability until the Gospel of Christ is heard, shared, and magnified. The solution to the problems that ail us as a nation is spiritual. Let us, like Nehemiah, mourn where we have fallen. But let’s not leave it there. You cannot change the world by staying in the salt shaker. Beloved, we are to get out into the world, and love others as Christ has commanded. We need to be salt and light while we can. These are exciting days. Let’s look to God, relying upon Him and His Word. For a better America. In Christ’s name I pray this. Amen and Amen.

Posted in Covid-19 Sermons, Sermons Preached | Tagged , ,

The Godly Must Not Cease

Psalm 12:1 Help, Lord; for the godly man ceaseth; for the faithful fail from among the children of men.

Audio of Message

In my lifetime I have seen many wonders. As a child I remember the tape recorder someone gave me (I think it was my Aunt Dot). It was a reel to reel recorder, large and bulky, with a huge hand held microphone. I felt like a movie star as I recorded my voice on it. It was unbelievable technology. I saw tape recorders go from reel to reel, to cassettes, to the miracle of CDs, then DVDs. Apple and Steve Jobs brought the I-Pod to life, where you could store thousands of songs on a tiny hand held device. Today people stream data from I-Phones and I-Pads, or on computers. I remember my Aunt Dot giving me an old manual Smith Corona typewriter. I was fascinated with it. I used it for my school lessons. Typewriters went to Daisy Wheel Printers, to Jet and Toner Printers. Coupled with computers you no longer can find typewriters. Any record players you find are novelty items, or are used by Disc Jockeys to “rap”. I remember my first computer was a TRS-80 Model 3 from Radio Shack. There is no more Radio Shack. I learned “Basic” programming on that TRS-80. The little computer had 48 kilobytes of RAM, two floppy drives, and an 8 megabyte hard disk drive. I had a dial up to the Internet. By today’s standards, that little computer is laughable. I won’t even discuss telephones … though I remember the old black Bell telephone with the hand-held receiver.

Though technology has moved forward at lightening speed – have any of you ever heard of a Beta video system? – it seems as if civilization has moved backwards. In Seattle citizens of that city have taken over 6 city blocks, and have named it first CHAZ and now CHOP. Police are not wanted in the area, and the Mayor of Seattle along with other leaders are endorsing the lawlessness. People are beginning to kill one another in this rebel community. Across our nation citizens are destroying landmarks and statues because they are considered “offensive” by the mob. American history is being re-written and erased. Aunt Jemima products are being renamed because the brand is supposed to be offensive. Uncle Ben’s rice products are also in the process of being renamed, as are Mrs Butterworth’s syrups. People are easily offended nowadays.

Civility is at an all time low. Gone are the days of Ronald Reagan, an elegant statesman with a great sense of humor. President Reagan was not perfect – no one is – but he was not coarse or vulgar. I no longer watch the news – and recommend that you not watch it either. Though news reporter Walter Cronkite was said to be leaning toward Liberal, he nonetheless just reported the news – he did not color it. You cannot watch news on any channel today without being told by the talking heads what you should believe. America seems to be disintegrating socially, moving away from capitalism and freedom and toward socialism and enslavement.

How do we fix this? How do we stop the downward spiral of a country I greatly love and respect – and I know you do, too? The answer is found in the Kingdom of God. I’m not talking about Heaven. Yes, the kingdom of Heaven is indeed the Kingdom of God. But I’m talking about the Kingdom of God on this earth.

If you are a Christian, you are a citizen of the Kingdom of God. The Gospel that Jesus Christ brought to this earth is a Kingdom Gospel. Listen to the Scripture:

Mark 1:14-15 Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.

Jesus came preaching a Kingdom Gospel message. He came preaching Himself as both the King of this Kingdom, as well as the Door of this Kingdom. Those who received Jesus Christ as Savior were given citizenship in this Kingdom. Once in the Kingdom, Christ’s people were to obey their King. Jesus said:

John 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.

John 15:10 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.

Those who are saved by faith in Christ Jesus are translated from the kingdom of darkness and into the Kingdom of God, a Kingdom of Light. The Scripture says:

Colossians 1:12-23 Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: 13 Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: 14 In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: 15 Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: 16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: 17 And {Jesus} is before all things, and by him all things consist. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. 19 For it pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell; 20 And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. 21 And you, that were {at one time} alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled 22 In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight: 23 If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;

God’s children are a member of Christ’s Kingdom. We are to seek first the Kingdom of God and Christ’s righteousness (Matthew 6:33). Our King of Kings gave His life for us who are His Children, and we in turn give our lives to Him. We do not belong to ourselves anymore – but belong to God.

1 Corinthians 6:20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.

1 Corinthians 7:23 Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men.

We, dear Christians, are the purchased property of God. We belong to Him Who paid for us. We are to live for Him – not for ourselves. We are to live for the smile of Christ, not for the pleasure of man.

As God’s people stand UP and stand TOGETHER, walking in the Light of Christ and not in the darkness of this world, the darkness recedes.

But what if God’s people do NOT stand up and stand together in Christ?

When The Godly Cease Obeying God, Confusion Reigns

Psalm 12:1 Help, Lord; for the godly man ceaseth; for the faithful fail from among the children of men.

The first two words that King David uttered were:

יָשַׁע yâshaʻ, (pronounced yaw-shah)
יְהֹוָה YaHWeH

Which means “save or deliver us, Great and Everlasting God”. The Hebrew yâshaʻ is used in Scripture to declare how God saved His people out of hopeless and helpless situations. For instance:

Exodus 14:30 Thus the LORD (YaHWeH) saved (yâshaʻ) Israel that day out of the hand of the Egyptians; and Israel saw the Egyptians dead upon the sea shore.

Israel had her back up against the Red Sea, with the Army of Egypt bearing down on her. God parted the waters, allowing His people to go through an impossible situation. He destroyed the enemy because Israel heard and heeded His Word, and obeyed what He said. God further promised His people as they entered the land of Canaan – a land held by a vastly superior military force:

Deuteronomy 20:3-4 Hear, O Israel, ye approach this day unto battle against your enemies: let not your hearts faint, fear not, and do not tremble, neither be ye terrified because of them; 4 For the LORD (YaHWeH) your God is he that goeth with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to saved (yâshaʻ) you.

And again, one of my favorite Scriptures is where God says:

Isaiah 45:22 Look unto me, and be ye saved (yâshaʻ) all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.

King David cries out to God because

Psalm 12:1 Help, Lord; for the godly man ceaseth; for the faithful fail from among the children of men.

Those who are “godly” cease. Those who are “faithful” to the Kingdom of God have become less and less. Let me illustrate. All throughout your home you have lights – some bulbs, some tubes or LEDs – but lights. As you walk through the home or perhaps your business, turn off the lights one at a time. As you do so the darkness grows. Darkness comes forward almost as a default. Darkness does not have to do anything to be dark. For Darkness to increase, Light need only cease or decrease.

Why has the Godly person ceased? David said:

Psalm 12:2 They speak vanity every one with his neighbor: with flattering lips and with a double heart do they speak.

The Godly person is speaking “vanity” (שָׁוְא shâvᵉʼ, pronounced shawv), which means “empty words, falsehoods, worthless speech or nothing”. The Godly person is not speaking the Word of God to their neighbors, but is blending in with the darkness. The Godly person is not following the Way of Christ. Jesus prayed for His Church:

John 17:6-11, 14-17 I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word. 7 Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee. 8 For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me. 9 I pray for them… 11 And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are. I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 15 I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.

Jesus Christ – the Living Word of God – came to earth giving us the Written Word of God. Jesus explained the Word. He explained His Kingdom. His Church is supposed to operate based on the Word of God, what God has declared truth.

So what has caused the degradation of American civility and decency. Rather than cling to God’s Kingdom and God’s Word, too many who are supposed to be “light in the Lord” (Ephesians 5:8) are not walking as children of Light. Too many are walking as children of Darkness. The light of God – the Church – is not shining. Rather than speaking Biblical truth, many are speaking empty and flattering words to their neighbors.

with a double heart do they speak..

To have a “double heart” is to be divided in your loyalties. To whom are you loyal? Are you loyal to Christ? Do you pledge fealty to God’s Kingdom? A double minded person will not receive blessing from God (James 1:7-8), and a double hearted person brings themselves under the judgment of God. We read:

Psalm 12:3-4 The Lord shall cut off all flattering lips, and the tongue that speaketh proud things: 4 Who have said, With our tongue will we prevail; our lips are our own: who is lord over us?

God has said that He will “cut off” (כָּרַת kârath, pronounced kaw-rath’) the flattering lips and the proud tongue. The word kârath means to destroy, or make empty. When empty philosophies and foolish words are shared throughout the community as truth, that community stands in judgment from God. When God’s people live by and uphold God’s Word, then blessing comes to them.

Psalm 33:12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance.

But when a people move away from God’s Word and begin to follow the actions of the kingdom of darkness, God warns:

1 Corinthians 6:8-10 Nay, ye do wrong, and defraud, and that your brethren. 9 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, 10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.

1 Corinthians 15:33-34 Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners. 34 Awake to righteousness, and sin not …

Galatians 6:7-9 … Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. 8 For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. 9 And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.

The Christian must not become a part of the darkness. God is Lord over the believer. The Christian belongs to Jesus. Everyone belongs to either God, or the darkness.

Psalm 12:5 For the oppression of the poor, for the sighing of the needy, now will I arise, saith the Lord; I will set him in safety from him that puffeth at him.

As the darkness increases, the poor and needy suffer. To be like Jesus, we who are blessed of Him are to bless others within our bounty. Our God is compassionate, and promises to rise up against those who stand against the needy, who celebrate greed and the darkness. As darkness grows, those who suffer the most are the poor and needy. The godless politicians with their big bank accounts are never hurt, as are the poor and needy. The poor need to hear the Gospel (Matthew 11:5; Luke 4:18; 7:22). All people need to hear the Gospel of the Kingdom.

We Must Get Back To The Bible

Psalm 12:6 The words of the Lord are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.

Beloved, if the Church is going to make a difference, we as believers must get back to the Bible. We must trust and affirm the Word of God. God tells this of His Word:

Psalms 18:30 As for God, his way is perfect: the word of the LORD is tried: he is a buckler to all those that trust in him.

Psalms 19:8 The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.

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

The philosophies and foolishness of this world are not of God. The Way of God is the Word of God, the Bible. We as His Children are called to hear and heed His Word, and to share His way with others. Will we be hated or disparaged for standing on God’s Word? Of course. Jesus said:

John 15:18-20 If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. 19 If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. 20 Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.

Yes, we will be hated, dear Christian. The darkness never loves the light. People reject Christ and His Words because their deeds are evil.

John 3:20-21 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. 21 But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.

Expect to be misrepresented. Expect to be hated. Expect to be slandered. But also expect God to keep His promise. He said:

Psalm 12:7 Thou shalt keep them, O Lord, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever.

God always protects His own words. He fulfills every promise, and does exactly as He has said He will do. Though the word of man changes daily, God’s Word endures.

1 Peter 1:24-25 For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: 25 But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.

God’s Word, often misrepresented and shunned by a lost world and a sometimes wandering Church, His Word will stand. Theologian James Boice wrote:

The French atheist Voltaire … once said, ‘In twenty years Christianity will be no more. My single hand shall destroy the edifice it took twelve apostles to rear.’ He wrote that in fifty years no one would remember Christianity. But in the year he wrote that, the British Museum paid the Russian government five hundred thousand dollars for a Bible manuscript while one of Voltaire’s books was selling in the London book stalls for just eight cents.”

God’s Word will endure. God’s Kingdom will, in time, push back the darkness. And in the end of time, satan and his disciples shall be cast into a lake of fire. But God’s people, saved by faith in His written Gospel, will endure forever. David ends this Psalm with:

Psalm 12:8 The wicked walk on every side, when the vilest men are exalted.

The “wicked” do not pick a side. They walk on EVERY side. It is wicked to compromise with the darkness. Let us who are Christ’s children choose to follow our Master and Savior. Let us be like that great old Saint Joshua. On the day he retired, he addressed the nation Israel, saying:

Joshua 24:14-15 Now therefore fear the Lord, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the Lord. 15 And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

I along with Joshua – and I hope along with you, my blessed brothers and sisters in Christ – choose to serve the Lord. This Bible is true, and I stand firmly upon all that it affirms. May God touch your hearts with His Word and His Spirit this very day. Amen and Amen!

Posted in Psalms, Sermons Preached | Tagged , ,

God Is Not Racist (And You Shouldn’t Be, Either)

God Is Not Racist Audio File

Racism is a sin. As I say these words, I know there are many people of one color who wince when I say it, but many people of another color that will cheer. Please note I did NOT say “Racism is a WHITE sin”, nor did I say “Racism is a BLACK sin”, nor do I say “Racism is a RED sin” or “Racism is a YELLOW sin”. Racism is not tied to a single color. Like all sins, it comes from people of every color.

Racism looks at the outside appearance of a person and makes a judgment about that person because of that outside appearance. Jesus said “judge not according to appearance, but judge righteous judgment” (John 7:24)

God made us in His image and after His likeness. Every person has value. Every one, every color. Racism has hindered the growth of Christ’s Church from the very beginning. Today we’re going to read a true story about the early Church and racism. The story is in Acts 10. As we read through this story I am going to talk about it.

Cornelius Is A Light Skinned Italian Gentile
Who Believes In God But Doesn’t Know Messiah

Acts 10:1-2 There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band, 2 A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God always.

The Bible tells us several things about Cornelius. First, Cornelius was a Centurion. He was a soldier in the Army of Rome. He was a high ranking non-commissioned officer, in charge of up to 600 men. Furthermore, Cornelius was a light skinned man. The Bible does not specifically tell us the color of his skin, but says he is of the Italian cohort. We know from ancient records that the “Italian” cohort was a group of Roman volunteers from Italy. Cornelius was a Gentile, not a Jew. Nonetheless, Cornelius knew of and loved God. The Bible describes Cornelius as:

A DEVOUT or DEVOTED believer
A GOD FEARING believer
A GENEROUS and GIVING believer
, and
A PRAYING believer

The Gospel of Jesus Christ had not yet been preached to Cornelius, and he had not been baptized. Yet Cornelius knew God, and needed to know the Messiah had come. Like many of the Jews he had heard of God through contact with the Temple, but …

Cornelius had not been told of Jesus Christ yet. Why? Because of racism.

Not because of Jesus’ racism, for Jesus was not racist. But because of Jesus’ followers racism. Jesus told His early predominantly Jewish Church:

Matthew 28:19-20 Go ye therefore, and teach ALL NATIONS, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you

Acts 1:8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the UTTERMOST PART OF THE EARTH.

The Gospel was to be preached to the Jews first, but ALSO to the Gentiles. Jesus made this plain. Yet the early Church, led by Peter, confined it’s teaching and preaching to the Temple on Solomon’s Court. Somebody needed to tell Cornelius that the Messiah had come. The Jews in the early Church did NOT go to the Gentiles with the Gospel, and especially NOT to the Roman soldiers. The Jews were prejudiced against the Roman Army, for it was this Army that conquered Jerusalem.

God Himself could have told Cornelius about His Son Jesus. After all, God told Abraham about Jesus.

Jesus said to the Jews, Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad” (John 8:56). God prophesied of the Messiah through Isaiah, Jeremiah, the Psalmist David, and Daniel. Others had learned of Jesus Christ apart from a witness from His disciples. But this is contrary to God’s command. God told the early Church to go and tell the world. The Church initially did not. But God was not silent. Somehow Cornelius came to meet God, and prayed to God.

Acts 10:3-6 {Cornelius} saw in a vision evidently about the ninth hour of the day an angel of God coming in to him, and saying unto him, Cornelius. 4 And when he looked on him, he was afraid, and said, What is it, Lord? And he said unto him, Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God. 5 And now send men to Joppa, and call for one Simon, whose surname is Peter: 6 He lodgeth with one Simon a tanner, whose house is by the sea side: he shall tell thee what thou oughtest to do.

Cornelius was praying about 3 pm, the time when the Jews traditionally prayed their evening prayers (Exodus 29:39, 41; Numbers 28:3-31; 1 Kings 18:29-36; Psalms 55:17; 141:2). As he prayed, God spoke to him through a Heavenly Messenger. He gave Cornelius specific instructions. He was to “send men to Joppa, and have Simon Peter return to speak to you”. Cornelius did not debate with God – he OBEYED God. He sent men to Joppa. God spoke to Cornelius, telling him what to do in a vision. “Peter shall tell you what to do” (Acts 10:6).

Peter Was A Dark Skinned Jewish Believer In Christ
In A Purely Jewish Church

The next day as Cornelius’ men drawn near to Joppa, Peter is in prayer about noon. God has a word – once more – for Peter. God brings the word to Peter because, as the leader of the Apostles, he is in the best place to correct the racist course of the Church.

Acts 10:9-15 Peter went up upon the housetop to pray about the sixth hour: 10 And he became very hungry, and would have eaten: but while they made ready, he fell into a trance, 11 And saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending upon him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth: 12 Wherein were all manner of four footed beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air. 13 And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat. 14 But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean. 15 And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.

Among the Jews there were certain animals that were considered clean, and they could be eaten or even sacrificed in the Temple unto God. Other animals were considered unclean, and were not to be eaten. God lowered an image of both clean and unclean animals before Peter’s eyes, telling him to “Rise, Peter, kill and eat”. Peter says “I’ll not do it, Lord. I have never eaten anything common or unclean”. God’s reply? “What I have cleansed, do not call it common or unclean!” As Peter saw this vision, wondering what it meant, Cornelius’ men showed up at the gate.

Acts 10:17-22 Now while Peter doubted in himself what this vision which he had seen should mean, behold, the men which were sent from Cornelius had made inquiry for Simon’s house, and stood before the gate, 18 And called, and asked whether Simon, which was surnamed Peter, were lodged there. 19 While Peter thought on the vision, the Spirit said unto him, Behold, three men seek thee. 20 Arise therefore, and get thee down, and go with them, doubting nothing: for I have sent them. 21 Then Peter went down to the men which were sent unto him from Cornelius; and said, Behold, I am he whom ye seek: what is the cause wherefore ye are come? 22 And they said, Cornelius the centurion, a just man, and one that feareth God, and of good report among all the nation of the Jews, was warned from God by an holy angel to send for thee into his house, and to hear words of thee.

What did the animals – both clean and unclean – symbolize in Peter’s vision? God made it clear by timing the arrival of the Gentiles to Peter’s home as the vision ended. These animals symbolized the variety found in humanity. In the Old Testament God had people sacrifice clean animals on an altar to atone for sin. These animals represented the One Who would come to save us, the Lord Jesus Christ.

God made all the creatures, and made them diverse. God made all the humans, and made us diverse. God loves all people, and wants all people to come to salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ.

Acts 10:23-27 Then {Peter} called them in, and lodged {these Gentiles for the night}. And on the morrow Peter went away with them, and certain brethren from Joppa accompanied him. 24 And the morrow after they entered into Caesarea {a Roman stronghold}. And Cornelius waited for them, and he had called together his kinsmen and near friends. 25 And as Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him, and fell down at his feet, and worshiped him. 26 But Peter took him up, saying, Stand up; I myself also am a man. 27 And as he talked with him, he went in, and found many that were come together.

Cornelius was not the only person at his house that day. When Peter and several of his friends arrived with Cornelius’ escorts, they found “many that were come together”. When Cornelius saw Peter he fell down at Peter’s feet, and worshiped Peter. Peter told him:

Stand up; I myself also am a man

Peter was right. No man should bow down or worship another man. This is satanic, idolatrous, evil. Only God is to be worshiped, only God is to be knelt to.

Peter was right in his statement … but now he goes on to make a wrong statement. Peter, like all of us humans, is often half right and half wrong. He says:

Acts 10:28 Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation..

Now wait a minute. Think on that statement: It is an UNLAWFUL THING for a man that is a JEW to keep company or come unto (visit) one of another nation. Where is this at in God’s Law? Listen to me:

Peter Was Taught Racism By Fallen Humans,
But Racism Is Not Taught By God

Nelson Mandela, a brother in Christ (now with our Lord) who stood against apartheid in South Africa, once truly said:

No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love.”

Think about Peter’s statement to Cornelius for a moment. Listen to it again:

it is an UNLAWFUL THING for a man that is a JEW to keep company, or come unto one OF ANOTHER NATION

We saw earlier that Jesus gave specific instructions to the early Jewish Church to go into the whole world and tell every nation about the Gospel. But Peter is saying for him to go into a Gentile is “unlawful”. Unlawful based on what. On Scripture? ABSOLUTELY NOT.

There is absolutely nothing in the Scripture that tells a Jew to shun or stay away from Gentiles. Nothing, nowhere. The “Law” that Peter quotes is not from God, but from man.

Deuteronomy 10:17-19 For the Lord your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty, and a terrible, which REGARDETH NOT PERSONS, nor taketh reward: 18 He doth execute the judgment of the fatherless and widow, and LOVETH THE STRANGER, in giving him food and raiment. 19 LOVE YE THEREFORE THE STRANGER: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.

The “stranger” is a direct reference to people not like Israel. When Israel as a nation was going to be blotted out by famine, God sent Joseph into Egypt to prepare the way for Israel. God used Egypt to save Israel, when Israel was “a stranger”. This command is repeated numerous times throughout the Old Testament. God said:

Exodus 22:21 Thou shalt neither vex a STRANGER, nor oppress him: for ye were STRANGERS in the land of Egypt.

Leviticus 19:33-34 And if a STRANGER sojourn with thee in your land, ye shall not vex him. But the STRANGER that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were STRANGERS in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.

Strangers” were the Gentiles who lived all around Israel (see Jesus remark about the Samaritan in Luke 17:18). In fact, God prophesied that when Messiah came, He would come for the Gentiles as well as the Jews (Isaiah 42:6-7; 49:6; 60:1-3). The Bible is very clear that God loves all people, all nationalities, and all people are made in God’s image. The Scripture is very clear:

John 3:16 For God so loved THE WORLD that He gave His only Begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

2 Corinthians 5:19 … God was in Christ, reconciling THE WORLD unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.

Romans 8:32 {God} spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us ALL,

The “unlawful” thing that Peter had been taught was a part of man’s warped religious racism.

Acts 10:28 Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean.

When we as humans degrade others, we are not doing a Godly thing. We are doing a satanic thing. It is satan’s desire to bring confusion and destruction into our blessed Country, Country I dearly love. Satan is using red, yellow, black, and white people to perpetuate racism. Some are using slanderous words, others are using words like “white privilege” or “white guilt”. These words are as much racist as is the other rhetoric. God does not look at the skin, but at the heart. Do you know Him? Are you a child of God by faith in Christ? Where is your heart? God says:

Romans 2:9-11 Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile; 10 But glory, honor, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile: 11 For there is no respect of persons with God.

To the person marching peacefully, you have that right as an American. Let your voice be heard. But to the person rioting, damaging property, hurting people because of their color or their uniform, you will stand before the Holy and Righteous God one day and give an account. This God is not red, yellow, black, or white. This God is Eternal. This God is the god Who made you, and could care less what your skin tone is. To those who are in charge God says:

Ephesians 6:9 … ye masters, do the same things unto them, forbearing threatening: knowing that your Master also is in heaven; NEITHER IS THERE RESPECT OF PERSONS WITH HIM.

To God, every person has value. Every person is made in God’s image. There were times in the Old Testament when God ordered Israel to destroy certain people groups, but this had nothing to do with skin color but with sin. James, the stepbrother of Christ, warned Christians saying:

James 2:8-9 If ye fulfill the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself, ye do well: 9 But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors.

To treat people as less than or inferior to yourself is NOT part of God’s Law, but a direct VIOLATION of God’s Law. We, like Peter, need to heed what God says in His Word – not what some man made law or custom says.

Godly Love Opens The Door To Sharing & Receiving The Gospel

Continuing our story, Peter asks Cornelius,

Acts 10:29 … I ask therefore for what intent ye have sent for me?

Cornelius tells Peter:

Acts 10:30-33 Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and, behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing, 31 And said, Cornelius, thy prayer is heard, and thine alms are had in remembrance in the sight of God. 32 Send therefore to Joppa, and call hither Simon, whose surname is Peter; he is lodged in the house of one Simon a tanner by the sea side: who, when he cometh, shall speak unto thee. 33 Immediately therefore I sent to thee; and thou hast well done that thou art come. Now therefore are we all here present before God, to hear all things that are commanded thee of God.

Peter did what God told him to do ….. finally! Peter was a leader in the early Church, but was not the first one to reach out to the Gentiles. A deacon named Philip was led by the Holy Spirit to an Ethiopian Eunuch (Acts 8:29-37) and led him to Christ. But Peter, along with the majority of the Jewish Church, stayed where they were comfortable … until now. Cornelius told Peter, in essence, “because you came, we are ALL of us Gentiles present before God. We are ready to hear what God told you to tell us.” Peter says:

Acts 10:34-43 Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: 35 But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him. 36 The word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (he is Lord of all:) 37 That word, I say, ye know, which was published throughout all Judaea, and began from Galilee, after the baptism which John preached; 38 How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him. 39 And we are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree: 40 Him God raised up the third day, and shewed him openly; 41 Not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before God, even to us, who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead. 42 And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead. 43 To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.

As Peter shared the Gospel to the Gentiles, the need of every person for Jesus Christ, God gave the same sign to Peter that He first gave on the Day of Pentecost. The Gentiles believed on Jesus and were saved. In obedience to Christ these men were baptized as Jesus commanded. Praise God! Praise God!

Beloved, we as God’s people must not be drawn into racism. The world relabels racism. Do not fall for words like “white privilege”, “white guilt”, “black lives matter”. If it is popular with the world, you can know it is against God. What is God’s standard? It is to show respect for every person, regardless as to their color or custom. God tells us in Christ that every life matters. If you are treating people of a different color with little respect then, beloved, you are racist. If you are looting and burning things which are not your own, you are a thief and a rioter. God is not the Author of confusion, but of peace (1 Corinthians 14:33). And Jesus demands that every person you meet, you are to treat with respect and love. Jesus said in both Testaments of our Bible:

Leviticus 19:18 … thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself …

Romans 13:9-10 … Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbor: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

We are to love one another. Love for others is what turned the Jewish Church from racism to what Christ intended – a Church that reached out to all people. Jesus died for the world. Let us share Him with others while we have breath. I ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen and Amen.

May God the Holy Spirit touch our hearts with His Word this very day!

Posted in General

A Matter Of Integrity (Life Of Job #2)

Photo by Mika on Unsplash

Job 2:6 And the Lord said unto Satan, Behold, he is in thine hand; but save his life. 7 So went Satan forth from the presence of the Lord, and smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown. 8 And he took him a potsherd to scrape himself withal; and he sat down among the ashes. 9 Then said his wife unto him, Dost thou still retain thine integrity? curse God, and die.

In Trials, Do You FRET or REST?

Last Sunday we looked at the life of Job, a man horribly tested and tried in his faith. We learned a great deal in Job Chapter 1, and, as I promised, we are now in Job chapter 2. In Chapter 1 Job’s home life was attacked by Satan with God’s permission. Job lost all of his personal, prized possessions. Job was struck in FOUR different ways:

  1. The animals of the field (oxen, mules) were taken, and his field workers killed by the Sabeans, an ancient people of Southern Arabia (Job 1:14-15) He lost his cash crops..
  2. Lightening (fire of God) struck, killing both his sheep and shepherds (Job 1:16). Job lost his textile goods, for sheep were used for clothing.
  3. The Chaldeans (Babylonians) took his transportation animals (camels), killing those who watched over them (Job 1:17).
  4. Job’s children were killed by a wind storm (Job 1:19). Job lost his heritage.

When you are reading the Bible, pay attention to the details. There were FOUR horrible occurrences that Satan engineered against Job.

Why FOUR?

Because FOUR is an important number in the Scripture. The Fourth Commandment is to remember the Shabbâth – the Sabbath – a day to rest and reflect on the majesty and love of God (Exodus 20:8-11).

Every Christian – if you are indeed a Christian – are to rest in Christ. The Bible says “there remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God” (Hebrews 4:9). We rest in the power and faithfulness of our God.

Though Job was horribly afflicted he rested in his faith in God. The rested mind does not fret nor curse God when afflicted. The rested mind honors God. “The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord (1:21)”

What did Jesus say? “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28). Job rested in Christ. He trusted his God though everything He had was taken away.

Everything, that is, but his own personal health.

What Will You Do When You Lose Your Health?

Now we come to Act 2 of this story. Job did not curse God though all he possessed was taken away. Satan once more enters the Throne room of God. We read:

Job 2:2 … the Lord said unto Satan, From whence comest thou? And Satan answered the Lord, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.

God asks Satan what has he been doing. Again, God knows what he’s been doing. God knows everything. The Psalmist wrote:

Psalm 139:1-6 O Lord, thou hast searched me, and known me. 2 Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off. 3 Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. 4 For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O Lord, thou knowest it altogether. 5 Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me. 6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it.

God possesses two attributes or traits that we do not have. God is omniscient or all knowing, and God is omnipresent or everywhere simultaneously. There are no secrets from God. He knows. God knows everything, and is every where. He knows that “your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8). God asked the devil where he had been so that we could see his response. He has indeed been out doing evil, and provoking unbelievers to the darkness. Yet there is one person that the devil could not trip.

We come once again to Job.

Job 2:3 And the Lord said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is NONE LIKE HIM IN THE EARTH, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil? and still he holdeth fast his integrity, although thou movedst me against him, to destroy him without cause.

Word Study God tells Satan “there is no one on this earth like Job”. Job is “perfect”. Last time we say that this word תָּםtâm, {pronounced tawm} means “to be complete”. The believer in Jesus Christ is complete in Him (Colossians 2:10). Job “feared God”, which means he respected God as He is. God also noted that Job rejected or departed from (סוּר çûwr, pronounced soor) evil.

You cannot call yourself “God fearing”
if you play in Satan’s sand box!

God notes that, though He allowed Job to lose call things, Job retained his integrity. I looked up the word “integrity” in the Oxford Dictionary, and found:

1. The quality of being honest and having strong moral principles,
moral uprightness.

2. The state of being whole and undivided.

Trials Test Our Integrity And Our Faith. Integrity is what we do in the dark when no one is around but God.

Job 2:3 {Job} holdeth fast his integrity, although thou {Satan} movedst me against him, to destroy him without cause.

Job was true to his faith. He kept his eyes on the Lord, trusting Him, though he was horribly afflicted without cause. Believers suffer. James, the stepbrother of Christ, wrote:

James 5:10-11 Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience. 11 Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.

When you stand up for the Lord, you become a target of Satan. The devil does not care if you come to Church or not, nor does he care whether you tithe, sing in the choir, read your Bibles, or join a Church. He is totally unconcerned as to whatever religious ritual you may perform or may not perform. But to stand up for Jesus, and to reject evil while shining for Christ – the devil hates this. The darkness despises light. Job was the light of God no matter what happened to him. We count them happy which endure, who retain their integrity.

If a person walks away from Christ because of persecution, was that person ever saved in the first place? I don’t know, but I do know that Jesus said:

Matthew 5:10-11 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.

Matthew 10:22 And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.

Jesus never sugar coated our faith – that was the job of many snowflake preachers! Jesus was very clear that those who love Him and live as Jesus says will be targeted by the world and Satan. Satan is specifically targeting Job because the man is living for the glory of his Lord and Savior. In the Book of Hebrews the Scripture often uses the DIVINE IF when speaking of faith. Listen:

Hebrews 3:6 But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, IF we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.

Trials test us. Trials test whether we are genuine Children of God, or Satan’s counterfeits. It is a great thing and very blessed to be tested by trials. Better to discover that my faith is false NOW, rather than pass into eternity without Christ. We are PARTNERS WITH CHRIST IF …

Hebrews 3:14 … IF we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end;

We who have been saved have no confidence in ourselves, but in God. The genuine Christian is “not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul” (Hebrews 10:39). If you have been born again your integrity will endure the test, because God is IN you and WITH you. The Psalmist said:

Psalm 41:12-13 … And as for me, thou upholdest me in mine integrity, and settest me before thy face for ever. 13 Blessed be the Lord God …

Salvation Is More Than Skin Deep. It Is A Profound Inner Change, A Spiritual Genetic Change That Will Not Be Eradicated By Trials – For God Is With You

The Devil knows that there are many who PROFESS God but are not POSSESSED of God. He though Job was of this sort. He told God:

Job 2:4-5 … Skin for skin, yea, all that a man hath will he give for his life. 5 But put forth thine hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse thee to thy face.

The devil tells God that if the attacks were physical, then Job would renounce his faith. “Skin for skin” is a bartering term. It means to compromise with another in order to save your own skin. The devil believes Job’s faith will dissipate, but God isn’t worried. Why? Because …

2 Timothy 2:19 Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.

The Lord knows them that are His, and Job belonged to Jesus. We have all had times when trials or threats have made our faith slip. Many of the greatest Heroes of the Scripture had times when their faith slipped.

  • Before Abram was Abraham he willingly followed God where ever God led. But as Abram passed through unfamiliar territory he became frightened that he might lose his life. He told his wife Sarai to say that she was his sister instead of his wife. “Abram would preserve his life” (see Genesis 12:13). We have all had slips, but those who belong to God stay the course, moving from Abram to Abraham. God knows who are His, and He keeps His child from falling (Psalm 56:13; 116:8; Jude 24).
  • Though David was a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14; Acts 13:22), he had a fall from faith. God had David anointed to be Israel’s next king. But until he came to the throne, the present King Saul chased after David to kill him. As David was running he was caught by the men of Achish the King of Gath. In fear for his life David – the same David who destroyed Goliath “changed his behavior before them, and feigned himself mad in their hands, and scrabbled on the doors of the gate, and let his spittle fall down upon his beard.” (1 Samuel 21:13). Though David temporarily lost his faith, God held on to him. God knows them that are His!
  • Simon Peter told Jesus that he would fight to the death for the Lord. He told Jesus “Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death.” Yet when the time came, Peter denied knowing Jesus (Luke 22:60-62). Jesus knew that Peter would do this (see Luke 22:34). Our Lord saved us knowing we are not perfect. But the Lord knows them that are His. If you have genuinely received Jesus as Lord and Savior, this same God knows you are imperfect, a work in progress. You are the workmanship of God (Ephesians 2:10), and God will not let you go!

The devil does not understand the New Birth of the Christian. He told God that – if he was allowed to personally afflict Job – Job would “curse Thee, O God, to Thy face”. The Child of God cannot curse God to His face. God is our hope, our peace, our possessor, our everything.

Job 2:6 … And the Lord said unto Satan, Behold, he is in thine hand; but save his life.

Why is God allowing this? God loves Job, and using Job to teach the Angels the glory of the Gospel of Christ. Those who surrender to the Gospel – though broken – are destined for greatness in eternity. We who are saved are “all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:26). We are no longer bound to the fallen world. We are bound to God.

Job 2:7 So went Satan forth from the presence of the Lord, and smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown.

Job, faithful Job, son of God Job is suddenly afflicted. He laid down one night to sleep, and woke up in agony. He has “sore boils – from the bottom of his feet to the very top of his head”! That is horrible! I have been told that the Coronavirus is a horrible sickness to get. I have been told that cancer is a horrible disease to suffer. There are terrible things I have seen as a pastor in my lifetime, things I would not wish on my worst enemy. Alzheimer’s, dementia, Polio, Leukemia – all very terrible, and all very painful and crippling. I believe Job suffered the worst. I saw a man once who had a single boil on his neck. He was in agony, and in a bad disposition as long as he had it. Can you imagine being covered with boils?

See The Patience And Love Of Job For Our God

Job 2:8 And {Job} took him a potsherd to scrape himself withal; and he sat down among the ashes.

This has always puzzled me. Why would a suffering man sit down in a pile of ashes, and scrape his skin with a piece of broken pottery. You might find it interesting, but wood ash has a number of helpful benefits.

It removes skunk smell.
It runs off snails, slugs, and ants from the garden.
It melts ice.
You can make soap with it.

Wood ash is also anti-bacterial, and can be used to treat wounds, as well as to clean and exfoliate your skin. Job did what he could to alleviate his suffering. There is nothing wrong with this. Job took positive steps to fix what ailed him – but he did not offend the Almighty.

Satan has the power to attack humanity – but no farther than God will allow him to go. Satan inspires others to be his agents of suffering (see Job 1:14; 1:17), and can bring natural calamity on mankind (Job 1:16, 18-19). In Luke 13 Jesus healed a woman on the Sabbath day, saying:

Luke 13:16 … ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan hath bound, lo, these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the sabbath day?

The devil can afflict – but God can correct. God is in control. Job did what he could to bring comfort to himself, but would not curse God. Sadly, Job had an unbelieving wife that told him:

Job 2:9 … Dost thou still retain thine integrity? curse God, and die.

Job’s reply is classic – and thoroughly Christian. He said:

Job 2:10 Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips.

Job called his wife a “foolish woman”. The term “fool” in the Scripture is a reference to an unbeliever.

The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God!
Psalm 14:1; 53:1

The child of God will not curse his Father in Heaven. Though we may lament and cry out, we who are saved by faith in Christ are like Peter, who said to Jesus:

John 6:68-69 … Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. 69 And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.

Our God has the words of life. Shall we receive blessing from Him, and hate Him for that which does not seem to bless? Our God knows what is best.

Lamentations 3:37-41 Who is he that saith, and it cometh to pass, when the Lord commandeth it not? 38 Out of the mouth of the most High proceedeth not evil and good? 39 Wherefore doth a living man complain, a man for the punishment of his sins? 40 Let us search and try our ways, and turn again to the Lord. 41 Let us lift up our heart with our hands unto God in the heavens.

Our God is always gracious, and good. Our God is faithful. Our God knows what is best for us. Let us be like Job. Regardless as to what may come our way, let us look upward and trust in the One Who saved us and will keep on saving us. Let us trust in our Jesus.

May God touch your hearts with His Word and His Spirit. Amen and Amen!

Posted in Job, Sermons Preached | Tagged

1. The Musts Of The Christian Faith: You MUST Be Born Again!

John 3:3,7 … Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. … 7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.

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Photo by Joshua Reddekopp on Unsplash

The Baptist Evangelist F.B. Meyer once wrote:

“The present decline in Church attendance may be largely due to the failure of the pulpit to meet the demand of the human spirit for a more adequate presentation of the spiritual and eternal aspects of our Christian faith, and for a more powerful dynamic and a clearer analysis of the steps that lead through darkness unto God.”

When I read the long and educated sentence – I’m but a country preacher – I must respectfully say that I agree with the first part of the sentence. The Coronavirus Pandemic has caused a massive decline in Church attendance – and rightly so. As our medical gods and goddesses has not of yet found a cure the best we can do is social distancing until the fire burns out. I pray that the fire does not totally incinerate our national economy. But I digress. Prior to this “Pandemic” declines in Church attendance are, as Brother Meyer said, “largely due to the failure of the pulpit”. I believe that we as God’s preachers have, since the early 60s, drifted farther and farther from that old time religion, what Jude called:

Jude 3 … the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.

The faith that was ONCE delivered – the faith of our fathers – has ceased to be preached in many of the pulpits not just in America, but throughout the world. The faith once delivered was not a welcomed faith when it was delivered. When it was once delivered by God it was rejected by Israel in favor of the Law. When God became Perfect Man the Lord Jesus Christ once more shared the faith ONCE delivered. The faith once delivered was rejected by the established Church of His day, totally repudiated by the liberal Sadducees, despised by the conservative Pharisees and Scribes, and mocked by the political Herodians and Romans. This faith once delivered was so hated that the Lord Jesus – a clearly innocent Man – was nailed to the Cross for it. It was no accident. As Max Lucado once wrote, “He chose the nails”.

There are five MUSTS in the Christian way of life,
five MUSTS that MUST come –
if a person is to be a Christian
indeed!

When Jesus Christ healed, fed, and comforted the masses there was not room to sit in the Church. But when Jesus preached repentance there was room to stretch out on the pews. When today’s preachers speak on prosperity, comfort, healing, blessing from God, salvation from the Coronavirus, the churches fill up. But let that dreaded six letter word “R-E-P-E-N-T” rear up, and crowds fall off.

The cry of the awakened soul – the soul that realizes it is dead in trespasses and in sins – is the same cry that the Philippian “What must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:30). The cry that came to Peter on the Day of Pentecost – when the crowd was “pricked in their heart” (Acts 2:37) was “men and brethren, what shall WE do?”. Our response as humans has always been the same response that Adam had when he failed both God and his children in the Garden of Eden. We hide ourselves from God because we cannot fix the problem. “What shall WE do? How can WE fix ourselves?” The old time religion, the “faith once delivered” has always been the same. “Repent and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. Repent, turn to God. Bring forth fruits showing others you have repented. Be baptized under the authority of Christ. Bow the knee to Jesus! And you shall receive the gift of God!”

You MUST Be Born Again!

There are many who think that Church membership is the way to salvation. Many others believe that being a “pillar” in the local Church will make you right with God. The Sunday School teacher, the Deacon, even the Preacher are certainly headed toward Heaven. But Beloved, this is not true.

The first step toward Heaven is not a step you can take yourself. It is not something you can do, but it is something that God will gladly do if you would but bend the knee and bow your prideful heart to Him.

You must be born again!

The day before our Lord Jesus said “you must be born again”, the Savior went into the Temple to observe the Passover. The Passover was a time for Israel to focus on faith. The Passover commemorated a time when God’s people sacrificed a lamb to God, and took of its blood, and put that blood on the doorway of their homes. God said:

“When I see the Blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be over you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt”
(Exodus 12:13)

God did as He said. He destroyed Egypt, but passed over those who, in faith, did as He commanded. The Pass Over – later combined to be one word “Passover” – looked coming to the coming of Jesus Christ our Savior. The Bible declares that:

1 Corinthians 5:7 … Christ our passover is sacrificed for us

The Passover Lamb slain taught Israel that the Messiah would one day come and be slain for our sins. When we believe in Him, and trust His Blood to cover our sins, God does something in us and to us and through us. God changes us.

When Jesus went into the Temple and saw – not faith in God but human greed – the Bible tells us that “Jesus made a scourge of small cords, and drove them all out of the Temple” (John 2:15). Jesus said “take these things away – you will not make My Father’s House a house of mechandise” (John 2:16). His actions infuriated the Pharisees and the Sadducees, along with the Ruling Council of Elders in Jerusalem called “The Seventy” or “The Sanhedrin”.

Jesus got the Pulpit Committee and the Board of Elders mad!

That is why in John chapter 3 we see a man named Nicodemus – a Ruler of the Jews – a Member of the Sanhedrin – come to Jesus by night. No one tells us why Nicodemus came, but I suspect he was there because the Board of Elders sent him. Nicodemus says:

John 3:2 … Rabbi (meaning “teacher”) WE know that Thou art a Teacher come from God, for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with Him.

Do you notice the “WE”? Nicodemus is not coming to Jesus on his own. He did not say “I know You are a Teacher from God”, but “WE know”. The ruling Council is upset. Jesus overturned their profits from the Passover. So Nicodemus comes to Jesus to delicately address the situation. He probably had a prepared speech, something he rehearsed in the mirror before finding Jesus after sunset. The Bible says of flatterers:

Proverbs 26:28 28 A lying tongue hateth those that are afflicted by it; and a flattering mouth worketh ruin.

The devil flattered Eve in the Garden before tempting our foreparents to betray God. The devil flattered Jesus in the wilderness, trying to get Him to betray the Father. Now Nicodemus comes flattering, fawning, falsely lifting up. Jesus replies simply:

John 3:3 … Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. … 7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.

Jesus begins His statement with the double amen. “Amen, Amen, I say unto you”. Jesus used the double amen 25 times in the Book of John alone. He used it:

To show Himself the Door to Heaven (John 1:51)
To declare that He alone represented the Father (John 5:19)
To promise everlasting life to those who believe in Him (John 5:24)
To teach that He is the True Manna from Heaven (John 6:32)

“Verily, Verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I Am”
(John 8:58)

Jesus used the double amen to speak absolute and non-flexible truth. Amen, amen, I say unto you, unless you are BORN AGAIN you cannot see the Kingdom of God. You MUST BE BORN AGAIN.

The first birth you had is not something that you did. You know you were born the first time because you are, right now, drawing breath. You are thinking, feeling, processing. Yet you did absolutely nothing to be born the first time. The only thing you did was show up. You were there. But you in no way assisted the Doctor nor the Nurse. You caused your mother pain. She suffered so that you could be born. You hurt her who loves you.

Before you were born you had no name, no identity. Your parents thought of names, and loving you, decided that they would bring you into the world. When you were born you were given a name. When you were born you became a citizen of the United States. You took no tests, passed no exams to become a citizen. You were just born. You could not salute the flag, nor pay taxes, nor cite the Pledge of Allegiance. Yet you are an American, a citizen of the United States by birth.

You must be born again!

If you wish to be a citizen of God’s Kingdom, a child of God, a genuine Christian, then you must be born again. You cannot work your way into citizenship in God’s Kingdom, God’s family. You must be born again. Your first birth is insufficient to bring you into union with God. You were born into this world – in your first birth – a lost and undone child of Adam, a sinner by nature. The Apostle, quoting Psalm 14:1-3 and 53:1-3 states:

Romans 3:10-12 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: 11 There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. 12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.

No child born in the flesh is automatically a child of God. That child is a CREATION of God, but not a CHILD of God. That child is a POSSESSION of God, but not a possessor of the Kingdom of God. God says:

Ezekiel 18:4, 20 Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die. … The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.

God told Adam that – “the day that thou eatest thereof THOU SHALT SURELY DIE” (Genesis 2:17). As creations of God we enter this life SPIRITUALLY DEAD though PHYSICALLY ALIVE. Those who are without Christ, without salvation are yet dead in their sins (Ephesians 2:1; Colossians 2:13). Death is the separation that a person experiences from life. In God is life. While we are outside of His family, we are spiritually dead.

We must be born again.

What Work Must I Do To Be Born Again?

“What work then, Preacher, must I do to be born again?” I answer your question with a question. What work did you do to be born the first time? What did you do? This is the very question that Nicodemus asked Jesus.

John 3:4-7 Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born? 5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.

Nicodemus asks the same question that every lost person asks when they hear “You must be born again”. They ask, “What can I DO to facilitate this? How can I go back to my mother’s womb?” What shall I do? Beloved, there is NOTHING you can do but receive and believe. You were “born of water” when you were born into this earth. Every child delivered breaks his or her mother’s water. Jesus speaks of being “born of water AND of the Spirit” to show us that Christ did not come to save angels. He came to save fallen humans, those who were born of water. When Christ says that we are to be “born of the Spirit” He is emphasizing that New Birth is a product of God’s work. God the Holy Spirit moves on the soul that cries out for New Birth. Being born again is to be born of the Spirit of God.

John 3:6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

A Christian is a person who is “born of the Spirit”. A Christian is a person who did the only thing you can do to be born of the Spirit. Solomon said:

Ecclesiastes 7:13 Consider the work of God: for who can make that straight, which he hath made crooked?

The sin nature and spiritual death of man is not something that man – or woman – can eradicate. It is not something that we can purge. It is inherent in human nature that we are sinners, by nature separated from God. Our Lord Jesus said:

John 6:27-28 Labor not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed. 28 Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?

John 6:29 Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.

This is the ONLY work of God that the unbeliever can do to become born again. You must believe on Him, on Christ Jesus, Whom the Father has sent. Jesus Christ alone is the Messiah. Jesus Christ alone is the only Door into the Family of God.

We do not ACCEPT Jesus Christ as Savior (which means to approve of Him) but we RECEIVE what He has done for us. We are promised by Jesus in:

John 1:10-13 {Jesus Christ} was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. 11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not. 12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: 13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

When the soul repents, realizing that he or she is lost and deserves eternal damnation, and when that soul sees Jesus as the only Life Preserver, the Only Way back toward God. When that soul reaches out, crying out, needing Jesus – then God the Holy Spirit acts. The blessed Spirit moves on the physical life of that repentant soul, and moves into that life.

Someone asked me “How can I know that I am saved?” You can know by the promise of Christ.

John 3:14-17 … as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: 15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. 16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

But we can also know we are saved by the Spirit of God. Jesus said:

John 3:7-8 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. 8 The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.

When God the Holy Spirit moves on a person it is like the wind rustling through the trees. You cannot see the wind, but you see the leaves moving in the wind. The same is true of the Spirit. The Spirit comes on a person and changes that person. The Spirit speaks to our hearts, assuring us that we now belong to God.

Those Born Again Walk In The Light

After Jesus told Nicodemus these things he replied:

John 3:9 … How can these things be?

Jesus told Nicodemus:

John 3:11 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness.

When Nicodemus came to Jesus, he came representing the Sanhedrin. He said at the beginning of their dialogue, “WE know that thou art a teacher come from God” (vs 2). Now Jesus begins to use plural pronouns:

WE speak
WE do know
WE have seen
OUR witness

As Nicodemus spoke representing the Sanhedrin, Jesus Christ spoke representing the Holy Trinity. He knows because He has seen, along with both Father and Spirit. Jesus represents a much greater council than Nicodemus came from. Jesus represents God.

How can a person know that they are “born again”? Well, how do you know that a BABY IS BORN? Before we were born physically, we existed in darkness. We ate what mother ate. We drank what mother drank. We went where mother went. This is not a hard concept to understand. Once we were born the first time we came from out of the darkness and into the light. We are no longer bound to mother.

In the same way, before a peson is born again that person is bound to sin and worldliness. But once a person hears the Gospel message and repents, what happens?

1 Peter 1:23 … Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.

The new believer is born again. The Christian is changed. There are five external signs that a person is now a son or a daughter of God:

  • We are no longer in league with the lost world. We are citizens of a higher Kingdom, and we no longer follow the paths of worldliness. This makes us alien to the world. The Church has – since the 60s – attempted to become more worldly to be better accepted of it. Beloved, once saved, we cannot climb back into the womb:Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. (1 John 3:1)
  • We do not continue in known sin, but walk in the light as Jesus is in the light:1 John 3:7-10 Little children, let no man deceive you:he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as {God} is righteous. 8 He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. 9 Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. 10 In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.
  • The person born again loves other born again believers:1 John 3:14 …We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.
  • The born again believer is conscious of God’s life and love, and is obedient to the Lord Who saved us:1 John 5:1-5 5 Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him. 2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous. 4 For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. 5 Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?
  • Those who are born again continue to walk in obedience to the Family of God:1 John 5:19-21 And we know thatwe are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness. 20 And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life. 21 Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.

You must be born again! If you are saved by faith in Christ, you are now children of God. Praise Him! Praise Him! If you are not Christ’s child, then Beloved, call upon Him! Receive Him as Lord and Savior. Come, join the Family of God. May God’s Word and His Spirit move you toward new birth this very day. Amen and Amen!

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