Let’s Live To Please Jesus

Photo by Gift Habeshaw on Unsplash

Philippians 2:2-5 Fulfill ye my joy, that ye be like minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. 3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. 4 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. 5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus…

Lifeway Research, one of our Southern Baptist Resources, released a mid-pandemic study May 2021 on the state of the Church in the United States. The study noted that prior to the pandemic “In 2019, approximately 3,000 Protestant churches were started in the U.S., but 4,500 Protestant churches closed…” The information did not just come from the Southern Baptist denomination, but analyzed “congregational information from 34 denominations and groups representing 60% of U.S. Protestant churches to arrive at the church plant and closure numbers for 2019”. In 2014 there were more openings than closings of Churches, but in 2019 the trend reversed.

The American Church is experiencing a demise, though we live in a place of amazing freedoms. However the early Church GREW in a hostile Roman and Jewish world.

Christians were not only persecuted by the Roman Empire for the first 300 or so years that the Church started, but the Jewish religious authorities actively sought out and persecuted Christians as members of a cult. The term “Christian” was not a compliment. The Bible says:

Acts 11:26 … the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.

An article in Relevant Magazine entitled “Where The ‘Christian’ Name Really Came From” notes:

“The early Church never called themselves Christians. In the Bible, the title most often used was “saints.” … The Greek word for “saints” is “hagios” which means “consecrated to God, holy, sacred, pious.” It is almost always used in the plural—“saints.” This reflects not just the individual but the connection to a group of people set apart for the Lord and His Kingdom. … the name “Christian” was given somewhat flippantly or even derogatively by these powers-that-be—a sort of dismissive wave of the hand to those “little Christs.” Technically, the ending “-ian” means “belonging to the party of,” so “Christians” meant those of Jesus’ party. … After Acts 11:26 the word “Christians” is used only two other times in the New Testament: in Acts 26:28 (by Agrippa, an unbelieving King that applied the name he knew as an outsider) and 1 Peter 4:16 (in the context of being oppressed in wider society under that given name). In each reference, the emphasis, inherent in the original Greek, is on the fact that people from outside the faith recognized Christians as a distinct group”.

The Early Church Lived To Please Christ

In the early Church “Christians” lived so as to please Christ. This made them appear weird or “peculiar”. This is what God expects of His people. He told Israel:

Exodus 19:5 … if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people {the rest of the world}

Jesus gave His life for us that we might be peculiar. The Bible says:

Titus 2:14 {Jesus} gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.

The early Christians were blamed for social unrest. The Great Fire of Rome (July 19, 64 A.D.) was blamed on Christians. From PBS:

“Nero himself blamed the fire on an obscure new Jewish religious sect called the Christians, whom he indiscriminately and mercilessly crucified. During gladiator matches he would feed Christians to lions, and he often lit his garden parties with the burning carcasses of Christian human torches.”

Why was the Church so persecuted? Because the early Church was NOT like the world. We are to be “light”, distinctly different from “darkness”(Matthew 5:14-16)

Jesus said in Luke 12:51-53 (ESV) Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. 52 For from now on in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three. 53 They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.

Jesus again said in John 8:12 (ESV) … I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.

And once more, our Lord decreed in John 12:46 (ESV) I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness.

Every early Christian understood the Gospel of Christ. If you ask the average professing Christian today what the “Gospel” is, most will give you a half-answer. What you are likely to hear is:

“The Gospel means I have received Jesus Christ as Savior. He died for my sins. Because I believe in Jesus, I will not go to hell one day, but I’ll go to Heaven.”

This is what most professing Christians believe the word “Gospel” means. But this is not the whole Gospel.

The Forgotten Part Of The Gospel Is That
The Saved Are To Please God, Not Man

Philippians 2:2 Fulfill ye my joy, that ye be like minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind

• As Christians we are to first of all bring God joy. As God the Son Jesus brought the Godhead joy.

This should be our focus. We should desire to please Him with the lives that we live. After all, God suffered immensely to offer us salvation. God suffered by laying down His crown, and by stepping down from His Throne in Heaven to become a part of His own creation. The Scripture tells us of Jesus that:

Philippians 2:6-7 Who {Jesus}, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:

Jesus was “being in the form of God”. The word translated “form” is the Greek μορφή morphḗ, {pronounced mor-fay’}, which means Jesus is equal to God. Jesus is not only equal to God, but Jesus openly declared Himself equal to God. We read:

John 10:30-33 (ESV) {Jesus said} “I and the Father are one.” 31 The Jews picked up stones again to stone him. 32 Jesus answered them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you going to stone me?” 33 The Jews answered him, “It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you but for blasphemy, because you, being a man, make yourself God.”

Jesus is God. Jesus took the holiest Name of God, the name God gave to Moses “I AM” (Exodus 3:14), and applied that holy Name to Himself:

John 8:57-59 (ESV) … the Jews said to {Jesus}, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?” 58 Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.” 59 So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple.

Jesus is God. The Jews sought to stone Jesus because they thought He violated the Law (see Leviticus 24:16) when He presented Himself as God in the flesh. It would be a lie for me to say “I am God”, for I am not. But it was no lie for Jesus to say “I am God” because He is. The early Apostles believed Jesus is God. The Apostle Paul told the Pastors at Ephesus:

Acts 20:28 (ESV) Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.

Jesus is God. Jesus Christ, God the Son, shed His blood for His Church. When the Apostle Thomas saw the resurrected Jesus, he called Jesus “My Lord and My God” (John 20:28). Jesus did not correct Thomas. The Apostle Peter called Jesus God when he wrote:

2 Peter 1:1 (ESV) … of our God and Savior Jesus Christ

Jesus is God. But what does God the Father say about Jesus?

Hebrews 1:8 (ESV) … of the Son {The Father} says, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom.

When Jesus walked this earth, He was often worshiped – something that no human should receive (see Matthew 2:11; 14:33; 28:9, 17; Luke 24:52; John 9:38). Jesus NEVER stopped anyone from worshiping Him, but received worship as His due. Yet Jesus lowered Himself. Though fully God the Son, Jesus “made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men”. What did Jesus do after this?

Philippians 2:8 And being found in fashion as a man, {Jesus} humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

Jesus did two things. “He humbled Himself”. Though God, with all the rights and privileges of God, He set aside those rights. He “became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross”. Jesus was shamed, willingly shamed, so that we who believe in Him could be saved.

• As Christians, we are commanded to be “like minded”, to have the mind of Christ.

Philippians 2:2 Fulfill ye my joy, that ye be like minded, having the same love…

We are supposed to love like Jesus loved. The Lord told us that the great Commandment of God is:

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

God commands that His Creation love Him above all else, and that as His Creation we love others the way that we want to be loved. This is God’s standard for every part of His creation. The problem in the world today is that – as God’s Creation – we love OURSELVES more than we love God. We also love OURSELVES to the exclusion of others. How many times have you heard on television:
“YOU do YOU”
“Be true to YOURSELF”

In the words of a popular song called “You Do You”:

Who it is that you want me to be? I can’t be
I can only do me
I can only go where life takes me
Now who it is that you want me to be? I can’t be
I can only do me
I can only be how god made me, yeah
You do you and I’ll do me
Together we’ll make harmony
Together we’ll make the world go ’round

That’s what the world believes,
“You do you, and I’ll do me”.

What does Jesus command of His followers? Not “You do you, and I’ll do me”. Jesus teaches us to be like HIM, to do as HE did. We are to be “be like minded, having the same love” that Jesus had. What did our Lord do?

Jesus went to the Cross because He loved us more than He loved Himself. Jesus died an excruciating death for our salvation because He loved God the Father more than He loved Himself.

When Jesus called people to His side, He demanded that we “follow Him”. Jesus said to His Church:

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

Jesus gave us the GREAT Commandment (love God with our all) and the SECOND GREAT Commandment (love others the way you want to be loved). But then Jesus gave those whom He saved ANOTHER Commandment, a NEW Commandment, which is:

“love one another: just as I have loved you”

Jesus, loving us, willing went to a humiliating and horrifying death. Jesus, loving us, gave up every right that He had. Jesus did not follow the narcissistic mantra of our age, “You do You”, but Jesus did “I die for you”. Jesus’ death was not empty and useless, but His sacrifice made it possible for us to be one with God. To make sure we get this, Jesus repeated the command:

John 15:12 … This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.

We are to love as Jesus loved, even if we are hated for it. Jesus said “If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you” (John 15:19). The world will despise you, dear Christian, but you must continue to “speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15) no matter how that truth is perceived.

Matthew 5:44-45 (ESV) Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven.

As Jesus, the Son of God emptied Himself to save us, we are to empty ourselves to save others – even if we are hated. We are to love as Jesus loved.

We are to stand firm in what the Bible affirms as true, but are not to lower ourselves down to the “I’ll just do me” mentality. The Scripture orders us to “Bless those that persecute you, bless and do not curse them” (Romans 12:14). We are commanded to “not repay evil for evil … but bless, THAT YOU MAY OBTAIN A BLESSING” (1 Peter 3:9). As Christians we are not to back away from the Bible, but are to BE the Bible. “Do not be overcome by evil, but OVERCOME EVIL WITH GOOD” (Romans 12:21).

Church, We’ve Got To Do SOMETHING

As our nation gets darker and darker, and as common sense seems to be dead, I hear Christians and Pastors and Churches saying, “We’ve got to do SOMETHING”. Then the leaders in the Church begin to take some type of action – generally the wrong one.

Illustrate A woman was relaxing in her home one day when she saw a black snake slither into the room. Shrieking, she jumped up as the snake slid under the sofa. Running to the bathroom, she interrupted her husband’s shower to tell him to get that snake out of my house! The husband came out of the shower, wrapped a towel around his waist, and headed toward the couch with a broom. Poking around under the sofa, the family dog came in to see what the fuss was all about. Nuzzling the master’s foot with his cold nose, the man thought the snake had bitten him – and he fainted. The wife called an ambulance, and the attendants put the husband on a stretcher to carry him to the hospital. About that time the confused and frightened snake slithered out from under the couch. One of the ambulance attendants saw the snake, and with a yell dropped the stretcher, breaking the patient’s leg. In the midst of the confusion the snake quickly slithered out of that madhouse. There were better places to be!

Church, we do have to do “something”. If the Church is to survive, we MUST do what the Scripture commands. We must love like Jesus loved.

Philippians 2:3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory …

God’s standard for His Church – the gathering of Christ’s believers – is ZERO TOLERANCE for “strife” or “vainglory”. We all know what “strife” is – it is fighting. King Solomon wrote,

Proverbs 20:3 (ESV) It is an honor for a man to keep aloof from strife, but every fool will be quarreling.

The Air Force Mission Came FIRST: It is a FOOL or a LOST PERSON that seeks quarrels. In the Air Force we learned that our mission was to protect this country. We worked TOGETHER to get the mission done. The Church must work TOGETHER to get the mission done. The Scripture says, “A fool’s lips walk into a fight, and his mouth invites a beating” (Proverbs 18:6). James, the stepbrother of Christ, wrote,

James 4:1 (NLT) What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don’t they come from the evil desires at war within you?

Word Study: The word translated “vainglory” is the Greek κενοδοξία kenodoxía, {pronounced ken-od-ox-ee’-ah}, which means “empty glorying or self promotion, self conceit”. It was Lucifer who first illustrated kenodoxía when – looking at himself in comparison to the other angels, said “I will ascend above the clouds of Heaven; I will be like the Most High God” (Isaiah 14:14). We are not supposed to be like the devil. We who are saved are to be Children of God. We who are saved are to be like Jesus.

Philippians 2:3-4 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. 4 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.

“esteem others better than ourselves”
Is the direct opposite of “
YOU do YOU”.

The English Standard Version renders this scripture,

“in humility count others more significant than yourselves”

Jesus considered us “more significant” than Himself. We are to do the same with our fellow believers. You see, I by myself can do little. Yes, I can do some good for God. But I cannot do the same amount of good unless I band together with other believers who will be like Jesus. When I decide to bind myself together with the Church, not as “me doing me” but as “me doing Jesus”, the more of us there are, the more good we can do.

Humble Love Is Proof Of Life

When Jesus humbled Himself to the death of the Cross, Jesus was proved to be the Messiah.

Philippians 2:8-11 … being found in fashion as a man, he humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. 9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: 10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; 11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

How do we know that Jesus Christ is THE Messiah, and there are no others? Because Jesus Christ humbled Himself unto death to save us. There were many who professed to be Messiah when Jesus walked the earth, and many profess this today. But only Jesus did what the Messiah was supposed to do. He laid His life down for our salvation (John 10:11, 15, 18). Jesus did NOT do “you do you”. Jesus died for you, and for me.

You are sons & daughters of God because you have partnered with Jesus in God. Proof of your sonship is that you lay your life down for others as the Master did. You CANNOT follow “You do You” and be saved!

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

If you are saved, you are saved to be like Jesus. If you are saved, you are called to follow the same marching orders that Jesus had. Are you? The Scripture is clear. Follow the Lord Who saved you. Be like Him in behavior. Do not be like the world. May God the Holy Spirit touch your hearts through this, His blessed Scripture. Amen and amen!

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Give Your Mother The Best Gift Of All

Photo by Liana Mikah on Unsplash

Please turn with me in your Bibles to Romans 3:23. We read:

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

If you came here today to hear a “Mother’s Day” sermon where “mothers” or “grandmothers” are the focus, you’ll be disappointed. One Mother’s Day years ago – at the end of the message – I was chewed out by a “single mother” for not preaching on the value of that type of mother. Listen: I love mothers and grandmothers and great-grandmothers.

I love my mother who, I believe, is with Jesus.
I love my grandmother who is with my Lord.

If my mother and my grandmother were here today, I know they’d expect me to preach focused not on mothers, but on the greatest need of every child – and YOU are someone’s child. I believe our greatest need is GOD.

Sin” Tells Us We Don’t Need God. So, What IS Sin?

Our text tells us …

ALL have sinned”

What is “sin”. We ALL have it according to the Bible, so we need to understand what it is. The longest living Apostle John put it this way:

1 John 3:4 (ESV) Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness.

Sin is to break the law. What law? The law that God established. Sin is rebellion against God, the Creator of all life. Sin began in Heaven. God created all the angels, and made one angel named Lucifer to rule over those angels. But Lucifer forgot who made him, and began to stare at himself in a mirror one day, admiring his own beauty. As the most beautiful angel he was stunning. Lucifer (whose name means “Shining One”) began to believe that he himself was the source of his beauty and power. Lucifer said,

I will make myself like the Most High God” (Isaiah 14:14)

What was Lucifer’s plan? He could not defeat God, could not overthrow God. So losing Heaven, Lucifer led 1/3 of the angels in rebellion (Revelation 12:3-4, 9) to this earth. God had created this earth in perfection, and east of the Garden of Eden God placed the height of His creation – man and woman. God gave man and woman – Ish and Isha –dominion over the earth”.

Genesis 1:28 (ESV) … God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion … over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

Adam and Eve were in a perfect place and a perfect position. God gave them immortality, and God gave them a perfect earth to live in and rule.

The earth and all that was in it was given to Adam and Eve. Lucifer could not take over Heaven. So Lucifer came to the earth. If he could get Adam and Eve to rebel against God, the sin he tried unsuccessfully to seed in Heaven, he could spread it on the earth.

Lucifer convinced Adam to disobey God, and since God gave Adam and Eve dominion of the earth, Adam’s sin – his following Lucifer in rebellion – caused sin to be planted into every human heart that came out of Adam and Eve’s family. Sin is rebellion against God. What does our text say?

ALL have sinned”

ALL” have sinned. All people. Old people. Young people. Infants. Toddlers. “ALL”. I was talking to another preacher one day who told me, “I don’t believe that children sin”. I told him, “Then you don’t have any children – or if you do, you don’t have any sense.” You don’t have to teach a child to lie. Children are born knowing how to lie. “Who broke that?” the parent asks. “Not me!”, the child replies.

Illustrate: One of my earliest memories was of being caught stealing chewing tobacco from the local Piggly Wiggly. I saw what I thought was candy on the shelf at the checkout. It looked good. I looked to see if mamma was watching – she wasn’t – so I grabbed a pack. I couldn’t have been very old – maybe 6 or 7. When we got to the car, I got in the back seat, and once mamma took off I started unwrapping my prize. Smelling it mamma pulled over, and was mortified at what I was doing. We went back to the Piggly Wiggly, where I was made to tearfully apologize to the manager of the store. King David wrote, “I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me” (Psalm 51:5).

All have sinned”

Black, white, red, yellow. Male, female. Jew, Gentile. Rich or poor. It amuses me – and I’m certain amuses Lucifer – when we begin to think “I am better than someone else”.

Look just a few verses away from our focal text:

Romans 3:9-11 What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin; 10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: 11 There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.

Sin is a reality. It is sin that moves people to murder one another. It is sin that causes the addict to steal to support a habit. It is sin that abuses and murders children. It is sin that fills the prisons of every country. It is sin driving the murderous assault on the Ukraine. It is sin that causes bullying in school. It is sin that makes the alcoholic.

It is sin that is driving a stake through the heart of common sense in every nation around the world.

It was one fallen angel that planted the seed of rebellion into Adam’s heart. But it was Adam who grasped that seed. Just a few chapters from where our focal scripture is, we read:

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

Sin is a violation of God’s Law. Sin is rebellion against God. But sin is also that which brings DEATH. We as humans die because of sin. God made made humanity “in HIS IMAGE and after HIS LIKENESS” (Genesis 1:27). Humans are made to be immortal. Listen to me – animals die – but God made you to LIVE FOREVER. Your soul is designed to live forever, though your body dies. Your body DIES because of sin.

But your soul will live somewhere forever beyond the grave. Where will your “somewhere” be?

Death comes to us all. Sin is rebellion against God, and we are infected with sin. We all sin. We all die. Death will come to us all when we least expect it. Why? Because the Bible says:

Romans 6:23 … the WAGES of SIN is DEATH …

So we as humans have a big problem. We sin because we are sinners. We are sinners because Adam listened to a fallen angel, and rebelled against God. We are born sinners, born in rebellion against God and His law. Sin causes us to rebel against what God says. Sin not only causes rebellion, but it causes confusion. Rejecting God, the Creator of life, we are vainly trying to be our own creators. The longer we reject God and embrace sin, the more confused we will be.

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

Sin does not bring glory to God, but glorifies MAN while rejecting GOD. This is why we see strange things in the world today.

Illustrate: A transgender MAN is declared “WOMAN of the year” by USA Today. He is a MAN, but identifies as a woman. There is no God – I am my own god”.

Illustrate: A transgender MALE SWIMMER set a new world’s record, winning the NCAA WOMEN’S swimming championship. This must be true, because he identifies as a she. There is no God – I am my own god”.

Pastor Mark Spence, the Senior Vice President of Living Waters Ministries highlights the confusion normalized in our world today.

If gender is fluid, then there is truly no difference between men and women. So {why did}President Biden {come} along and he said, ‘I’m not sure who I’m going to nominate. I’m just going to make sure the person’s black, and the person is a female.’ ?”.

That’s a valid question. If gender is fluid, why make sure a “female” is chosen. This same woman who was nominated to be the first black woman of the Supreme Court (Ketanji Brown Jackson) was questioned by our state Senator Marsha Blackburn as a part of the confirmation process. The Senator asked, “Can you provide a definition for the word ‘woman’ ”? Ms Jackson replied, “Can I provide a definition? No, I can’t. Not in this context. I’m not a biologist.”

The Prophet Daniel wrote of a nation that rejected God, saying:

Daniel 9:8 (ESV) To us, O Lord, belongs open shame, to our kings, to our princes, and to our fathers, because we have sinned against you.

Sin is rebellion. Sin is idolatry. Sin is confusion. Sin brings death. All are under sin. This is the bad news. But there is good news. There is GOD news. Though we all sin, and fall short of the glory of God.

Here’s The GOOD NEWS

Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Sin Is Deadly. Sin Separates Us From God.
But God – not man – Has Provided A Way To Cover Sin.

Illustrate: John Stonestreet in a recent Breakpoint Daily article wrote:

In March, online magazine Vox ran a series of stories under the title “America’s Struggle for Forgiveness. {Quoting that article Stonestreet writes} We wake up mad, we go to bed mad, and in between, the only thing that might change is what’s making us angry. The one gesture that could offer substantive change, or at least provide a way forward—forgiveness—seems perpetually beyond our reach. … As a society (emphasis mine) we have absolutely no coherent story—none whatsoever—about how a person who’s done wrong can atone, make amends, and retain some continuity between their life/identity before and after the mistake. … Grace, the act of allowing people room to be human and make mistakes while still loving them and valuing them, might be the holiest, most precious concept of all in this conversation about right and wrong, penance and reform—but it’s the one that almost never gets discussed {in our world today}.

We have made ourselves gods – and we cannot fix the mess we’ve made.

Illustrate Puny gods: When I was growing up, I loved to read Marvel Comics. If I could get my hand on a comic book, I’d read about Superman or one of the other “super heroes”. When Marvel Studios began to make movies, as an adult I love to go to them and watch them. One of the movies I saw had “The Incredible Hulk” in it. One of the villains, called Loki, begins to brag that he’s a “god” and no one can defeat him. The “Hulk”, who is big and green and has immense and immeasurable power, grabs Loki by an arm, and proceeds to bash him repeatedly into the ground. When the “Hulk” is done – and it only takes a few seconds, Loki with a stunned look on his battered face just says “uhhhhh”. The Hulk walks away, but not before he mutters two words.

Puny god!”

That is a perfect illustration of every one of us today. Professing ourselves to be wise, we became fools. We changed the glory of the uncorruptible BIG “G” God into an image that looked like us fallen humans” (Romans 1:22-23). We are wiser than God. We cannot be defeated. We are greater than anything that has ever been. Like the poem that William Ernest Henley wrote called “Invictus”,

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.”

PREACH! This is what we believe. We crow it on social media, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Parlor, Linked in, Instagram, whatever. We are our own gods. We know what’s best. We need no “God” of the Bible, for we are gods, we are immortal. No one is wrong, especially me! What I say is right, as long as I say it loudly. We believe this.

Then life, like that big, green Hulk, comes along and grabs us by the collar.

It slams us around economically. It beats us back and forth, bruising and battering us through what seems to be an endless pandemic. It hits us with cancers, and confusion. It fills us with fear and dread. And once that monster is done beating us up, it turns and walks away, saying,

Puny god!”

We are all in a pitiful shape, but the God Who created all things is not willing to leave us in this shape. We started at Romans 3:23,

For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God”

Let’s look at the words, the pretext that comes before our focal text:

Romans 3:19-22 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:

God gave us a Law in His Bible to tell us what is right, and what is wrong. Stealing is wrong because God says it is. Sexual sin is wrong because God says it is. God gave us Laws. The Laws He gave us were given to show us what He demands – and how far we fall from what He expects. The Law of God was given to show us that we are all broken, we are all sinners, we are all far from where we need to be – where God says we should be. Look at:

Romans 3:20 “by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin”

Illustrate: Show a tape measure. Show a piece of lumber. Label the lumber “God’s standard”. Label the tape measure, “The Law”. Note, The Law, like a tape measure, tells me what the standard is. The Law shows me where I need to measure up. But the Law cannot save me. The Law is mechanical, but my life is DYNAMIC, not STATIC. I am, and you are, born under sin. We all are. We need to be saved – but we don’t realize it until we use God’s tape measure. When we use God’s tape measure, we realize how far we are from God. We need to be fixed.

Jesus Christ is the Fixer! Jesus is …

the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets

God sent Jesus Christ to this earth. Jesus Christ came for the broken. Jesus said:

Luke 5:31-32 (ESV) “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 32 I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”

Jesus said, “If you’re broken (and you all are), if you’ll come to Me, I can fix that!” Jesus Christ came so that all who have faith in Him – all who surrender their godhood and embrace Jesus as a Savior and God – to those Jesus will fix our sin sickness. We saw the pretext to our focal text – let’s look at the post-text:

Romans 3:24-26 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.

Let’s break this verse down:

Romans 3:24 Being justified freely…

The word justified means to be made right with God. We all fall short of the glory of God. But when we receive Jesus as our Fixer, HE MAKES US RIGHT with GOD THE FATHER. What does God charge for this? It is given freely upon our surrender to Him. We give up our broken life to Jesus. Jesus gives us eternal life. Jesus is the ONLY SOURCE of eternal life. Jesus said …

John 6:38 (ESV) For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me.

God the Father sent Jesus Christ – God the Son – to this earth to fix us. Jesus said:

John 12:46 (ESV) I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness.

And John 18:37 (ESV) … For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.”

Jesus said, I came that you may have LIFE, and have it ABUNDANTLY” (John 10:10).

Romans 3:24-26 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

What is redemption? Remember I told you that the world was given to Adam and Eve, and Adam gave it away to Lucifer. We are born enslaved to sin. We are born pursuing the same path that Lucifer pursues. But Jesus came to REDEEM us from Lucifer and from Sin. He came to buy us back from sin and death. Jesus came to be a PROPITIATION – this is an old word which means to be a covering for sin. Sin separates us from God. Self separates us from God. Jesus came to fix our hearts, and to bring us into the family of God.

But we must have faith in his blood. He died to make payment for my sin, and your sin. He died to cover us, to save us from ourselves. Jesus died to free us from Satan and Self’s grasp. Jesus died for our sins, and rose from the grave to lead us as the children of God.

You Must Decide Your Own Destiny:
Hell
Or Peace With God

God has set Jesus and Jesus alone forth as a covering for sin. The Scripture is quite clear. A very well known scripture says:

John 3:16-18 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.

You have a choice before you today. You can believe that Jesus Christ came to this earth to fix what ails you. You can reach out your hand to Jesus, and say by faith Lord, save Me!” (Matthew 14:30). He will grab your hand. The Scripture says, Whosoever shall call on the Name of the Lord shall be saved” (Acts 2:21). Will you, dear friend, call on Jesus right now? Ask Him to come into your life, to change your heart. Ask Jesus to save you from sin and death. He has promised to do so.

The choice is yours. You can heed the Word of God:

Accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior,
Believing that He and He alone can save you from sin and death, and
Choose to commit your life to Him.

Or you can reject Jesus. The choice is entirely up to you.

If your mother or grandmother is a child of God by faith in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:26), then the best Mother’s Day you could give to her is to give your soul to Jesus.

What do you choose. I close with:

Romans 10:9-13 (ESV) … if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. 11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

May God the Holy Spirit move on the hearts and lives of those under this Word of the Gospel. To grow the kingdom of God, and for the glory of Christ this I pray. Amen and Amen.

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Happy Mother’s Day! Some Thoughts On The Value Of Life

Photo by Adele Morris on Unsplash

Please turn with me in your Bibles to Psalm 127.

When I woke up Tuesday morning, with Mother’s Day just a few days away, I wondered what I would preach on this Wednesday night. As I checked the news God handed me the Wednesday night Bible Study. An article from a magazine called Politico entitled:

Supreme Court Has Voted To Overturn
Abortion Rights, Draft Opinion Shows

I quote: “The Supreme Court has voted to strike down the landmark Roe v. Wade decision, according to an initial draft majority opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito circulated inside the court and obtained by POLITICO.

The draft opinion is a full-throated, unflinching repudiation of the 1973 decision which guaranteed federal constitutional protections of abortion rights and a subsequent 1992 decision – Planned Parenthood v. Casey – that largely maintained the right. “Roe was egregiously wrong from the start,” Alito writes.

We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled,” he writes in the document, labeled as the “Opinion of the Court.” “It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.”

This is a first draft, and the opinion could be changed (according to the reporters). The final document is not expected to be released for about 2 months. Justice Samuel Alito, who wrote the decision to overturn Roe, was joined by Justices Clarence Thomas, Neil M. Gorsuch, Brett M. Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett. Alito said that Roe was “egregiously wrong from the start. Its reasoning was exceptionally weak, and the decision has had damaging consequences. And far from bringing about a national settlement of the abortion issue, Roe and Casey have inflamed debate and deepened division.” If the majority of the Court holds firm, abortion laws would be left to the states – which is where they should be legislated in the first place.

I say, PRAISE GOD! Let’s stop killing babies!

Sadly there are many who are “pro choice”, who want abortion to continue to be funded by American tax dollars. Liberals – in particular liberal news organizations like NPR (National Public Radio) profess that the majority of Americans polled believe abortion should be a “right”. The truth is 22 states have laws in place to trigger a ban on abortion once Roe V Wade is overturned, with Montana expected to join in the ban soon.

Though the word “abortion” is not found in The Southern Baptist Faith & Message, in section XVIII. The Family we read:

Children, from the moment of conception, are a blessing and heritage from the Lord.”

Southern Baptists do not believe in nor endorse abortion.

The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, writing of the Supreme Court’s decision, said:

Assuming it truly remains a majority opinion––which could still change––it means we are one step closer to ending the Roe-Casey abortion framework that has taken over 60 million innocent lives, fractured families, marginalized mothers and harmed this nation for nearly 50 years. If this majority holds, witnessing a day where that regime is ended cannot come soon enough.”

Some who profess to be Christian are pro-abortion, or as they say, “Pro-Choice”. A United Methodist Pastor Dave Barnhart craftily wrote:

You can love the unborn and advocate for them without substantially challenging your own wealth, power, or privilege, without re-imagining social structures, apologizing, or making reparations to anyone. They are, in short, the perfect people to love if you want to claim you love Jesus but actually dislike people who breathe.”

What he is doing is what most people do when they are advocating for wrong. He is redirecting and twisting the truth. This is a common ploy among the lost liberal world.

No genuine Christian hates people who breath. Genuine Christians love all life.Life is a gift from God.

Genuine Christians love all, and consider all made in the “imago dei”, that is, “In the image of God” (Genesis 1:26-27). When God made “man in our image, after our likeness” He made them “male and female”. God gave His command to “man”, which was “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion”. God did not tell mankind to just “satisfy yourself sexually”. There is satisfaction in human sexuality – God made it so. God said:

Hebrews 13:4 Marriage is honorable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.

There is pleasure in human sexuality. But the intent of the pleasure is not just to give us joy, but to “be fruitful and multiply”. What does “fruitful” mean?

Psalm 127:3 Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.

Abortion became popular in America when individual pleasure became the norm instead of procreation. In short, humanity in America ignored the command of God.

In the ancient world abortion was regularly practiced. In Egypt the Pharaoh ordered the mid-wives – those who deliver the babies – that they be aborted once their gender was revealed. The King of Egypt, Pharaoh told the mid-wives who delivered babies:

Exodus 1:16-17 … When ye do the office of a midwife to the Hebrew women, and see them upon the stools; if it be a son, then ye shall kill him: but if it be a daughter, then she shall live. 17 But the midwives feared God, and did not as the king of Egypt commanded them, but saved the men children alive.

When the Pharaoh – representing the government – asked why the male babies were not aborted, the mid-wives said because the Hebrew women do not need mid-wives. They deliver their own babies. The mid-wives feared God more than they feared the government. So then the government of Egypt said, “Every son that is born ye shall cast into the river, and every daughter ye shall save alive”. You can read the whole story in Exodus chapter one.

Thank God that Moses’ mother
did not obey the government!

Abortion Is Murder. It Is Taking A Life.

When you take a life, you rob not just the life from an innocent, but whatever potential that child had to better society. That is the reason that God made murder a capital offense. When Noah got off the Ark God told him – and us:

Genesis 9:3-7 Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things. 4 But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat. 5 And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man’s brother will I require the life of man. 6 Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man. 7 And you, be ye fruitful, and multiply; bring forth abundantly in the earth, and multiply therein.

To murder someone is to shed their blood. If you shed the blood of a human unlawfully, then your blood is to be shed according to God. God says in the Scripture “the life of the flesh is IN THE BLOOD” (Leviticus 17:11). The shedding of blood is murder. Now here’s a question for you:

God said “The life of flesh is in the blood”. God said, “If you shed blood, YOUR blood will be shed”, which is the basis of capital punishment. So here’s the question.

When is BLOOD formed in a fetus?

21 days from fertilization RED BLOOD CELLS are pumped through the heart and blood vessels of the embryo. Once more, God said “The life of flesh is in the blood”. God said, “If you shed blood, YOUR blood will be shed”. 21 days.

The Merck Manual in discussing the formation of the baby notes in the section, “Development of the Embryo”: “Most organs begin to form about 3 weeks after fertilizationAt this time, the embryo elongates, first suggesting a human shape. Shortly thereafter, the area that will become the brain and spinal cord (neural tube) begins to develop. The heart and major blood vessels begin to develop earlier—by about day 16. The heart begins to pump fluid through blood vessels by day 20, and the first red blood cells appear the next day. Blood vessels continue to develop in the embryo and placenta.

King David, writing under the inspiration of God, spoke of his own birth.

Psalm 139:12-17 Yea, the darkness hideth not from Thee {O Lord}; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee. 13 For Thou hast possessed my reins: Thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb. 14 I will praise Thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are Thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. 15 My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. 16 Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in Thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them. 17 How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them!

While still in his mother’s womb, David believed that God not only made him, but designed him to be what he would one day be. Thank God that King David was not aborted by his mother. When the blood of the child is spilled, that life – with all its potential to do good on this earth – is ended forever.

What Did Early Christians Believe About Abortion?

Abortion Doctor Willie Parker has said, “I believe that as an abortion provider, I am doing God’s work”. The man professes to be a Christian, and has insisted – along with others – that early Christians had nothing to say about abortion. But this is untrue. Dr. Albert Mohler in his article “The Real Story of Christianity and Abortion” writes:

The early church was decidedly, vocally, and courageously pro-life and opposed to abortion. … Both abortion and infanticide were common in the Roman Empire. Christians were forbidden to murder any child, born or unborn. … Michael J. Gorman states in Abortion and the Early Church: “All Christian writers opposed abortion.” Every mention of abortion in the early church rejects it forcefully.”

The Didache [pronounced DID-a-KAY]

Around 70-100 A.D. the early Church Apostles wrote a teaching called The Didache” (meaning “The Doctrine or Teaching”). Didache 2:1-2 states “You shall not murder. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not seduce boys. You shall not commit fornication. You shall not steal. You shall not practice magic. You shall not use potions. You shall not procure [an] abortion, nor destroy a newborn child.

It was not just Christians who rejected abortion, but Jews as well. The ESV Study Bible quotes the writing of the first century Jewish historian Josephus:

The law {of God} orders all the offspring to be brought up, and forbids women either to cause abortion or to make away with the fetus” (Against Apion 2.202).

Early Christian writings like The Letter of Barnabas (A.D. 130) states, “You shall not abort a child nor, again, commit infanticide”. There are many other early Christian writings that condemn abortion. Tertullian, a lawyer who became a Christian and a theologian wrote: in his book “Apologeticum”:

Murder being once for all forbidden, we [Christians] may not destroy even the fetus in the womb, while as yet the human being derives blood from other parts of the body for its sustenance. To hinder a birth is merely a speedier man killing; nor does it matter whether you take away a life that is born, or destroy one that is coming to the birth.”

Are There Other Texts In Scripture
That Address Abortion?

Yes, there are. The Prophet Jeremiah wrote:

Jeremiah 1:4-5 Then the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, 5 Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.

God knows us while we are yet in the womb. Some object, saying, “But this just applied to Jeremiah”. Yes, that’s true. But Jeremiah’s mother didn’t know his destiny when she was carrying him. But God did. God has a plan for every life. Every life has potential.

Another good illustration I can think of is the life of John the Baptist. John was born to parents that, like Abraham and Sarah, were childless and past the age when they could have children (Luke 1:7). While the priest Zacharias was fulfilling his duties, the angel of the Lord came to him and told him:

Luke 1:13-17 Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John. 14 And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth. 15 For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb. 16 And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. 17 And he shall go before {the Lord} in the spirit and power of {Elijah}, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.

Before John was ever conceived, God had a plan for John’s life. John was to go before the Lord Jesus, to start ministering 6 months prior to the Messiah. He was to be the Herald of God the Son. John the Baptist fulfilled the prophesies of Malachi 4:5-6 and Isaiah 40:3-5 (see also Mark 1:2-5; John 1:23; Matthew 3:1-3). When the virgin Mary, the mother of the humanity of Jesus Christ heard that Elisabeth her cousin was with child, she quickly went to see her. The Bible says that when Mary called out to Elisabeth:

Luke 1:41 … the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost:

Elisabeth told Mary:

Luke 1:44-45 … lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. 45 And blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord.

Thank God that Elisabeth did not abort John! Thank God that Mary, the mother of Christ’s humanity, did not abort her baby!

Crafty Lies The Devil Tells,
For He Desires To Make Us Fail!

In any discussion of abortion, there is always a wolf in sheep’s clothing (Matthew 7:15) used by the devil to trick the saints. In the Garden of Eden the devil crept in as a serpent, questioning God’s sincerity. Here’s some of the things I’ve been told as a Pastor – little lies from little serpents.

  • Elective abortion should be lawful in the event a woman is raped, or a victim of incest.

This is a favorite of politicians. I received a letter from one candidate who said he was against abortion except in cases of rape or incest. Where abortions are tracked, we discover that 98% of abortions are from consensual sex. Some states track abortion statistics. For instance, in Florida in 2018 there were 70,190 abortions reported. From that report we find that “abortions due to rape composed 0.1 percent of the total in 2018 but have fluctuated from 0.08 percent (2015) to 1.6 percent (2012) of all abortions reported in Florida”.

Rape is a horrible crime against another human, for both men and women have been raped. Rapists were executed in ancient Israel (Deuteronomy 22:25). Rape carries with it a horrible scarring on the soul of the victim. Even so, should the child produced by the rape be punished for the evil? This is something the mother should certainly pray over before taking the abortive step. Killing the child will not kill the memory of the rape. Killing the child will, however, take a human life, while robbing the world of the potential that child had.

  • Elective abortion should be lawful in the event it is necessary to save the life of the mother.

Referring to the same Floridastudy we saw earlier, we are told that “abortions categorized as due to the mother’s physical health jumped from 0.1 percent in 2016 to one percent in 2017 and 1.5 percent in 2018”. Most nations legal systems recognize that treatment to save a mother’s life is not the same as killing an unwanted child. Again, the mother should seek God’s direction through prayer before taking the life of her child. Loving my wife and children, I would gladly take a bullet for them that they might live. I believe that most mothers – if given the choice – would give their lives so that their children might live.

  • When the fetus is aborted, it doesn’t feel any pain.

The Journal Of Medical Ethics produced an article by Neuroscientist Stuart W.G. Derbyshire and Army Physician Assistant John C. Bockmann entitled “Reconsidering Fetal Pain”. They wrote:

Overall, the evidence, and a balanced reading of that evidence, points towards an immediate and unreflective pain experience mediated by the developing function of the nervous system from as early as 12 weeks. That moment is not categorical, fetal development is continuous and not an event, and we recognize that some evidence points towards an immediate and unreflective pain not being possible until later. Nevertheless, we no longer view fetal pain (as a core, immediate, sensation) in a gestational window of 12–24 weeks as impossible based on the neuroscience. … Given the evidence that the fetus might be able to experience something like pain during later abortions, it seems reasonable that the clinical team and the pregnant woman are encouraged to consider fetal analgesia {when performing abortions}. … Fetal analgesia and anesthesia should thus be standard for abortions in the second trimester, especially after 18 weeks when there is good evidence for a functional connection from the periphery and into the brain.

  • If abortion is not a constitutional “right”, tens of thousands of women will die each year from illegal “back alley” abortions.

When liberals learned that the Supreme Court had overturned Roe V Wade (though this is not settled as of yet), some of the comments were “Amazon is going to run out of coat hangers”. Dr. Bernard Nathanson who was instrumental in convincing America to repeal the abortion laws and to pass Roe, later wrote an essay called “Confessions Of An Ex-Abortionist”:

The number of women dying from illegal abortions {before Roe V Wade} was around 200-250 annually. The figure constantly fed to the media was 10,000. These false figures took root in the consciousness of Americans convincing many that we needed to crack the abortion law. Another myth we fed to the public through the media was that legalizing abortion would only mean that the abortions taking place illegally would then be done legally. In fact, of course, abortion is now being used as a primary method of birth control in the U.S. and the annual number of abortions has increased by 1500% since legalization.”

I could go on and on, for the devil is very good at twisting the truth. The truth is – a truth we in America need to rediscover – is that life matters. ALL life matters. Black lives matter. Red lives matter. Yellow lives matter. White lives matter. Unborn lives matter. Regardless as to how loud the liberal screams and protests, regardless as to whether we see more “peaceful – but fiery protests” on television – life is precious. God has a purpose for every life. I pray daily that we as a nation would come back to this great truth.

Happy Mother’s day! For the glory of God, and the advancement of our great nation, I pray these words would touch your hearts. Pray with me that the Supreme Court will hold the line and overturn Roe V Wade, sending the question back to each state’s legislature. This is where the question should have been dealt with from the beginning. Through His Spirit, Amen and amen!

Posted in abortion, Sermons Preached | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Saving Our Nation

Photo by Dawid Małecki on Unsplash

Turn with me in your Bibles to Jeremiah Chapter Five.

The Book of Jeremiah is the longest book in the Bible. By counting the number of words in Hebrew or Greek, Jeremiah has 33,002 words, whereas Genesis has 32,046. Jeremiah is also a very difficult book to read – and few Christians have ever read or contemplated its words. Most believers look at the Book and think, “This only deals with Israel and Judah – not with the Church. Jeremiah wrote to a people under the Old Covenant of works. The Christian and the Church are under the New Covenant – so there’s nothing here for me”.

I disagree. The Bible tells us in 1 Corinthians 10:11 that the things which happened to Israel and Judah are examples for us in the Church Age (1 Corinthians 10:11). Further, the Apostle wrote:

2 Timothy 3:16-17 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 That the {believer} of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.

When the Evangelist Stephen (Acts 6:8) preached Christ at the “synagogue of the Libertines, and Cyrenians, and Alexandrians” just prior to his martyrdom, Stephen referred to Moses and Israel, saying:

Acts 7:37-38 … Moses … said unto the children of Israel, a Prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; Him shall ye hear. THIS {JESUS} IS HE, that was in the CHURCH IN THE WILDERNESS with the angel which spake to him in Mount Sinai

Israel was the “Church in the wilderness”, God’s Old Covenant people. Jeremiah is speaking directly to Israel and Judah – but his words also apply to God’s people today. Just as Israel and Judah walked away from God in the days of Jeremiah, the Church in America has walked away from God today.

Our nation and our churches are falling apart because we have forsaken the “Way of the Lord”.

Judgment is coming to Israel and Judah because they have forsaken God. I truly believe judgment is coming to America – and the American Church – if we do not return to the “Way of the Lord”.

Jeremiah 5:1-5 Run ye to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem, and see now, and know, and seek in the broad places thereof, if ye can find a man, if there be any that executeth judgment, that seeketh the truth; and I will pardon it. 2 And though they say, The Lord liveth; surely they swear falsely. 3 O Lord, are not thine eyes upon the truth? thou hast stricken them, but they have not grieved; thou hast consumed them, but they have refused to receive correction: they have made their faces harder than a rock; they have refused to return. 4 Therefore I said, Surely these are poor; they are foolish: for they know not the way of the Lord, nor the judgment of their God. 5 I will get me unto the great men, and will speak unto them; for they have known the way of the Lord, and the judgment of their God: but these have altogether broken the yoke, and burst the bonds.

To Save The Nation, Believers Must Follow God

As we watch the news with horror, and see how radical racism and aberrant sexual practices have taken over our nation, the one thing I hear Christians say is “We’ve got to do something”. Yes, we do. The first thing we as Christians need to do is to “fully return to God”.

As God contemplates the destruction of Israel and Judah, He looks for something. What does God look for? Read again:

Jeremiah 5:1 Run ye to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem, and see now, and know, and seek in the broad places thereof, if ye can find a man, if there be any that executeth judgment, that seeketh the truth; and I will pardon it.

God told Jeremiah to go throughout the nation. He said Run ye to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem. Go looking. Look for what? God said, find a man, if there be any that executeth judgment, that seeketh the truth; and I will pardon it. Look for one person. Do you see even one person who executes judgment and seeks the truth. What is God talking about? He is asking Jeremiah to question professing believers, and see if there is even one that agrees with what HE, GOD BELIEVES. God expects the unbeliever to abide in darkness. God will eventually pour out His wrath on those who disregard His Holy Word. The Scripture says:

Romans 1:18-19 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; 19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.

God will pour out His wrath on all ungodliness, that is, against any action that has not been sanctioned by God. God will pour out His wrath on unrighteousness of men, the things that people do that are not right according to God’s Word. God has a standard, and His standard is clearly revealed in this Bible. God has determined what is right and what is wrong. God has decreed righteousness, and godliness.

It is true that we are all broken. It is true that our works cannot save us. It is the Cross of Christ that saves us. It is our faith in the Blood that was shed on Calvary that saves us. As the Scripture says:

Romans 3:21-28 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.

We are justified by faith in Jesus’ work on Calvary. We are made right in God’s eyes because we love His Son, and receive Him as Lord and Savior. But hear me: ONCE SAVED, we are SAVED TO BE SET APART. We do not walk in darkness anymore. We walk with God. We walk yielded to God. Praise God, any can be saved, for Jesus died for whosoever will. Again the Scripture declares:

Romans 10:12-13 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.

Salvation is a gift which brings you into union with God. You are “children of God by faith in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:26). But once saved, you become the property of God. You do not belong to yourself. He is your Father, and you are His son. As a son, you are called to walk according to God’s established righteousness. The same Apostle who wrote of the freedom of salvation also warned:

Romans 2:3-11 … thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God? 4 Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and long suffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? 5 But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; 6 Who will render to every man according to his deeds: 7 To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life: 8 But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, 9 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.

There is no respect of persons with God”. Once saved, you are called to walk WITH God, not against God. God will “will render to every man according to his deeds”. If you do righteously, as a child of God should do, “To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life”. God blesses the believer who walks with Him. But what of those who do NOT do righteously, following Christ? The Word is clear. “unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil”.

You cannot be a Christian and be blessed while rejecting God’s commandments. This is true for both the Old as well as the New Covenants. What did God tell His Church in the Wilderness?

Deuteronomy 10:12-13 (ESV) And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments and statutes of the Lord, which I am commanding you today for your good?

We are to fear the Lord our God. We are to walk in ALL His ways. We are to loveandserve the Lord Who saved us. “But”, you say belligerently, “This is the Old Covenant. We are under the New Covenant, the Covenant of Christ!” Fine, what did Jesus say? What do we find under the New Covenant? Jesus said:

John 14:15 (ESV) If you love me, you will keep my commandments.

John 15:10 (ESV) If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.

Whether in the Old or New Testament, the believer is required to keep God’s commandments. When the Corinthian Church began to get away from the commandments of God, the Apostle said:

2 Corinthians 6:16-18 And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you. 18 And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.

God expects His children to follow Him. He told Jeremiah to look, and if he found just one who followed, thenI will pardon it. God would withhold judgment if Jeremiah could find just one besides himself. When Abraham pled for Sodom (Genesis 18:16-33), God said “If there are ten righteous, I will not destroy it”. But our Lord is much more generous here. Just one. But there was none.

Jeremiah 5:2 And though they say, The Lord liveth; surely they swear falsely.

They did not truly believe that the Lord liveth, for if they truly believed He lived, they would repent and return to Him. They have drifted away from God.

To Save The Nation, Believers Must Return To God

Jeremiah 5:3 O Lord, are not thine eyes upon the truth? thou hast stricken them, but they have not grieved; thou hast consumed them, but they have refused to receive correction: they have made their faces harder than a rock; they have refused to return.

God brought discipline on the nation because His people would not return to Him. And yet, rather than receive correction, they have made their faces harder than a rock; they have refused to return.

And yet God loves His people, and calls on them to return to Him. We read:

Jeremiah 3:1 They say, If a man put away his wife, and she go from him, and become another man’s, shall he return unto her again? shall not that land be greatly polluted? but thou hast played the harlot with many lovers; yet return again to me, saith the Lord.

Among humans, if a man has a wife who steps out on him, who even goes so far as to divorce him so she can be with another lover, that man would never accept her back. I’ve actually seen this in my ministry, the bitterness that comes when there is infidelity. AND YET GOD said, “Even though you have done this to Me – I will receive you back”.

The relationship that God has with His believers is just as intimate – if not more so – than a relationship between a man and wife. The stepbrother of Christ writes:

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 wants all of our hearts. When we step away from God’s Word and begin to receive the vain philosophies and empty alleged truths of this world, we offend our God Who loves us so. It is like we are spiritually cheating on Him. Many church groups and Christians today have compromised on things which God has declared sinful.

It starts as a trickle. But in time, the tiny hole in the dam leads to catastrophic failure. This is how sin does. When sin creeps into a family, it is not long before it takes over the whole family. When sin creeps into the Church and the denomination, it is not long before that which was once done in the dark is now proudly displayed in the light. This has been true in our nation of:

heterosexual sin (fornication)
homosexual sin (LGBTQ2S+)
transgender sin
abortion
drug and alcohol use

And many other wrongs. God forbids it, declaring it immoral. And yet those who profess to be Children of God have begun to normalize sins like these and others. If God condemns an action, it is always wrong (for example, see Galatians 5:19-21; Leviticus 18:22; Romans 1:24-28; 1 Corinthians 6:9; Matthew 19:18; Genesis 39:7-9; Exodus 20:14). God says to the wandering believer:

Jeremiah 3:12-15 … Return, thou backsliding Israel, saith the Lord; and I will not cause mine anger to fall upon you: for I am merciful, saith the Lord, and I will not keep anger for ever. 13 Only acknowledge thine iniquity, that thou hast transgressed against the Lord thy God, and hast scattered thy ways to the strangers under every green tree, and ye have not obeyed my voice, saith the Lord. 14 Turn, O backsliding children, saith the Lord; for I am married unto you: and I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion: 15 And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding.

If we have wandered, God calls us to repent and return to Him. We are to open our hearts to His Word, to hear the messengers, the pastors that God has sent to us. We are not to trust in the things of this world, but in the Scripture, the Word of God.

The salvation of our nation will come from God.

Jeremiah 3:22-23 Return, ye backsliding children, and I will heal your backslidings. Behold, we come unto thee; for thou art the Lord our God. 23 Truly in vain is salvation hoped for from the hills, and from the multitude of mountains: truly in the Lord our God is the salvation of Israel.

Only God can heal our nation.

Let Us Walk In The Way Of The Lord

Jeremiah 5:4-5 Therefore I said, Surely these are poor; they are foolish: for they know not the way of the Lord, nor the judgment of their God. 5 I will get me unto the great men, and will speak unto them; for they have known the way of the Lord, and the judgment of their God: but these have altogether broken the yoke, and burst the bonds.

Word Study: God expects His Children to walk in HIS Way, not in ours. The one who does not know the way of the Lord is first calledpoor. This is the Hebrew דַּל dal, {pronounced dal}, which means “weak, thin, dangling”. The other adjective is foolish, the Hebrew יָאַל yâʼal, {pronounced yaw-al’}, which means “to be slack or simple minded”. Those who do not know the way of the Lord will be easily duped by the world. Jeremiah could find none who loved God’s Word, and trusted in it. God calls His people to repent and return to His way.

God’s way is always right. God’s Word is always true. Let us cling to Him. Let us both hear and do His Word. Our salvation is found in following the Lord Who saved us, in heeding and doing His Word. The Apostle said that we are to live …

1 Peter 2:16 … As free, and not using your liberty for a cloak of maliciousness, but as the servants of God.

Iniquity (sin) in the life of the believer turns away the blessings of God. Let us, like the Prodigal Son of Luke 15:11-32 come to our senses and return to our Father. There is where the blessings are! Confess sin as soon as you recognize it, believer, and put it under the Blood of Christ. There is hope for America still , but it begins with us. We must return to the way of the Lord. We must walk with Him as did Enoch and Elijah, as did Daniel and the Hebrew children. We must walk with out God, having faith in Him, but not fearing the world.

Our God will triumph! Iniquity will turn away the blessings of God (Jeremiah 5:25). Let us therefor confess our sin, and walk in His Word. May God the Holy Spirit move through this, His Word, this very day. Amen and Amen! For the glory of Christ!

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Choose You This Day

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Turn with me in your Bibles to Joshua chapter 24.

Joshua is an old man now, ready to retire as the General of Israel’s Army. Joshua made a decision as a young man to follow God. He has led Israel through battle after battle, to victory after victory, because he followed the Lord. At the end of the road Joshua had many more blessings than he had cursings. Why? Because he chose to follow God. He chose to rest in God’s Grace.

Someone asked me the other day, “If God is all powerful, if God is everywhere, and if God is ultimately in control, then why is our country – our world – in such a mess.”

The problem is not God’s, but ours. God is gracious. God is faithful. And we consistently keep choosing to walk apart from God. You are the sum of all the choices you have made in life. And Beloved, you are responsible for the choices you make.

Joshua is resigning as the leader of Israel. He wants to share the secret of his success. We read:

Joshua 24:1 … And Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel to Shechem, and called for the elders of Israel, and for their heads, and for their judges, and for their officers; and they presented themselves before God.

Joshua brings ALL ISRAEL to Shechem. Shechem is an interesting place. The Bible tells us that …

  • Shechem is the place where God promised Abraham the land of Canaan (Genesis 12:6-7), and there Abraham built an altar to God.
  • One of Abraham’s descendants named Jacob purchased land there, and dug a well. It is at Jacob’s Well that Jesus would meet a woman of Samaria (John 4:5-6) and present Himself as Messiah.
  • When Joseph (of the coat of many colors) dies in Egypt, he makes Israel promise not to bury his bones anywhere but in the Promised Land. Joseph’s bones will be buried in Shechem (Joshua 24:32).

Shechem represents GRACE. God shares with Israel all the instances where He bestowed GRACE – undeserved mercy – on them.

God Speaks GRACE At Shechem

Joshua 24:2-7 And Joshua said unto all the people, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Your fathers dwelt on the other side of the flood in old time, even Terah, the father of Abraham, and the father of Nachor: and they served other gods. 3 And I took your father Abraham from the other side of the flood, and led him throughout all the land of Canaan, and multiplied his seed, and gave him Isaac. [This is GRACE.] 4 And I gave unto Isaac {sons} Jacob and Esau: and I gave unto Esau mount Seir to possess it; [remember that Esau sold his birthright for a bowl of lentils? This is GRACE.] but Jacob and his children went down into Egypt. 5 I sent Moses also and Aaron, and I plagued Egypt, according to that which I did among them: and afterward I brought you out. 6 And I brought your fathers out of Egypt: [God saved Israel from Egypt. This is GRACE.] and ye came unto the sea; and the Egyptians pursued after your fathers with chariots and horsemen unto the Red sea. 7 And when they cried unto the Lord, he put darkness between you and the Egyptians, and brought the sea upon them, and covered them; and your eyes have seen what I have done in Egypt: and ye dwelt in the wilderness a long season. [even though Israel betrayed God, He loved Israel. This is GRACE.]

Everything that God recounts to Israel – His people – is GRACE. When God called Abraham, it was not because Abraham deserved it. This is GRACE. Oh, how gracious our God is. “For from His fullness we have all received, GRACE upon GRACE (John 1:16). God called, and Abraham followed. God called, and Jacob followed. When you follow God, you follow GRACE upon GRACE.

When was Peter, James, and John blessed in the life of Christ? When Jesus said, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men” – and they followed!

When was the Apostle Matthew blessed of Christ? When Jesus told him, “Follow Me” – and Matthew got up from the tax collection table and followed. God forces no one to follow Him. When we follow the Lord, we enjoy the benefits of Grace. When we heed His command, and choose to obey Him, this is when the salvation starts.

Joshua wanted Israel to know this great truth. I want you to know this great truth. When you follow the Lord, Grace abounds. When you follow the Lord, the enemy is defeated. God said …

Joshua 24:11 … I delivered them into your hand.

Listen to these Gracious and Faithful words of God to His people. He told them:

Joshua 24:13 … I have given you a land for which ye did not labor, [this is GRACE] and cities which ye built not, [this is GRACE] and ye dwell in them; of the vineyards and olive yards which ye planted not do ye eat. [this is GRACE]

Everything that Israel had, they had because of the Grace of God. Everything that Israel accomplished, they accomplished because they followed God.

Do You Choose Grace? Then you must follow God. Joshua, that old warrior, speaks, 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.

Everyone Follows Someone or Something
Choose Carefully Who You Follow

Joshua 24:15 … 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.

Life is all about choices, and you WILL serve someone or something. The Apostle Paul told the Church at Rome:

Romans 6:16 Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?

If you follow SIN, that is, what God has said is WRONG and UNRIGHTEOUS, then you will not find GRACE but DEATH. It’s your choice. It’s my choice. We can choose to serve the gods of this world, whatever they might be, and they lead to nothingness and death. The Bible is very clear that to follow any god but the God of Scripture is to go down a dark and empty valley. Before Israel entered the Promised Land with Jacob, Moses told the people:

Deuteronomy 30:15-20 (ESV) … “See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil. 16 If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I command you today, by loving the Lord your God, by walking in his ways, and by keeping his commandments and his statutes and his rules, then you shall live and multiply, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to take possession of it. 17 BUTif your heart turns away, and you will not hear, but are drawn away to worship other gods and serve them, 18 I declare to you today, that you shall surely perish.19 I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, 20 loving the Lord your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him, for he is your life and length of days

Where God is, there is GRACE. Where GRACE is, there is LIFE. Jesus said:

John 5:40 (ESV) … you refuse to come to me that you may have life.

John 10:10 (ESV) The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that {my sheep} may have life and have it abundantly.

The thief is the person who attempts to trick you into following idols. The thief is the false prophet who tells you that you may be saved and yet continue to hold on to your old gods. Beloved, the devil is a liar! “When the devil lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8:44).

God NEVER promised salvation and GRACE apart from following Him. The believer is to follow the Lord. The believer is to follow Christ.

The choice is yours – but you must choose. No one can make the choice for you. Hear what the great Evangelist Billy Graham said:

When you come to Christ, you must give up all other gods.”

You choose the master you will follow. Joshua said, choose YOU THIS DAY Who you will SERVE. The choice is yours. But you are responsible for your choices. What you do effects not only you, but your family, your church.

Make the choice. You have free will to choose. Make a choice.

Matthew 6:19-21, 24Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: 20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: 21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. … 24 No {one} can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

Some say, “I am a free man. I serve NO master.” That’s not true. If you do not serve God, then you are serving the gods, you are serving sin. Before a person meets Christ they are “servants of sin”. Giving your allegiance to Jesus, you are …

Romans 6:18 … made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.

If you are saved, your god is not sin but the Savior. When you were the servants of sin, you were free from righteousness” (Romans 6:20). But once you come to Christ your allegiance is to be to God your Savior. The Apostle said,

Romans 6:22 But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.

Choose you this day whom you will serve! God gives you the freedom to choose. Choose God and Grace.

Salvation is a gift from God, but you must go to Him to receive it. You must reject the false gods. You must not follow yourself as a god. Didn’t Jesus say:

Mark 8:34-38 Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. 35 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it. 36 For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? 37 Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? 38 Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.

We Are Saved From This World To
“Fear” The Living God!

Joshua 24:14 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.

God demands first place in our lives. Israel was saved from Egypt to “serve the Living God”. The Christian is saved from this world “to serve the Living God”. This is why Christ died. He died not just to get you into Heaven, but to get HEAVEN INTO YOU. Last week I spoke on without shedding of blood is no remission {of sin}” (Hebrews 9:22). But the Blood of Christ goes beyond just a covering for sin. We read in:

Hebrews 9:14 … the blood of Christ … purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

Israel saved from Egypt was not to be double minded. The Christian saved from the world is not to be double minded. We belong to God – we are bought with a price – His Blood.

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.

When you come to God, you become God’s possession, God’s Child. The Blood of Jesus Christ cleanses you from all sin. You are no longer an idol maker, but you are an idol breaker. (I got that from Billy Graham :).

Joshua 24:14 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.

The phrases fear the Lord or fear God are found frequently throughout the WHOLE Bible – not just in the Old Testament. The Apostle commanded:

Colossians 3:22-24 Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eye service, as pleasanter; but in singleness of heart, fearing God; 23 And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; 24 Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.

And again,

1 Peter 2:15-18 {It} is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: 16 As free, and not using your liberty for a cloak of maliciousness, but as the servants of God. 17 Honor all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God.

The Angels of God cry out:

Revelation 14:7 … Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.

When we “Fear God”, we recognize and respect God as God, and seek to please Him as sons and daughters.

Pastor Justin Camp of Gather Ministries notes:

“… what does it mean to fear God? Well, mostly it means keeping our thinking straight. It means seeing God, in all his power, in proper relation and proportion to the people and problems in this world. Though we sometimes act as if he were, God isn’t smaller than financial hardship, difficult work situations, difficulties with children. He’s not equal to them. He’s so much bigger, so much more powerful, even comparing doesn’t make sense. He’s alpha and omega. He’s the beginning and the end of everything. What’s astonishing is this fearsome God, for some reason, chooses to love each of us with a fierce love—a love that’s good and will never relent.”

To “fear” God is to put Him first and foremost. A rich young ruler came to Jesus one day …

Mark 10:17 … came one running, and knelt to him, and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?

Jesus told the young man:

Mark 10:18-23 … Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God. 19 Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honor thy father and mother. 20 And he answered and said unto him, Master, all these have I observed from my youth. 21 Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me. 22 And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions. 23 And Jesus looked round about, and saith unto his disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!

Jesus loved that young man. But that young man had a god – riches – and he was not willing to release that god and follow Jesus. Do you want to inherit eternal life? Then you need to understand there is none good but one, that is, God. This is why Jesus Christ died on the Cross of Calvary. He died, giving up His perfect and sinless life for ours. Jesus Christ is WITHOUT SIN (Hebrews 4:15). Jesus was “offered to bear the sins of many” (Hebrews 9:28).

It is only by kneeling at His feet we receive salvation from sin. It is only by our unconditional surrender to Him that we have …

Romans 3:21-25 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 {covering or atonement} through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;

We bend the knee to Jesus. We put away all gods that we once followed, and surrender to the God of Scripture. King David wrotein Psalm 51:5, “I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me. We are born to sin. When we reach the age of accountability we choose to sin. We practice sin daily, redefining it and getting better at it. We must have the Savior. We must have Jesus.

God made a choice to provide salvation for us through Jesus Christ. We must now make a choice that we will put away our gods, and come to Jesus surrendered. The Prophet said: I set before you the way of life, and the way of death” (Jeremiah 21:8). Moses said, “See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil. Joshua said, choose you this day whom ye will serve” (Joshua 24:15). Jesus said,

Matthew 7:13-14 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: 14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

Choose To Run In The Right Direction:
Jesus Calls You To Him!

Joshua 24:14 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.

Illustrate: On October 25, 1964 Jim Marshall of the Minnesota Vikings took a fumbled football 66 yards in the wrong direction into his own end zone. Though the Vikings went on to win against the San Francisco 49ers, Marshall was – needless to say – mortified. Jim was sincere. He was certain. He was positive that he was right. And he was absolutely wrong.

We must choose Jesus. We must choose to give our lives to God. What does this look like?

  • We REPENT. We turn away from the gods of this world, and acknowledge that we are weak, sinful, and totally unable to do any good without Christ’s intervention.
  • We RECEIVE Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. As Billy Graham once defined faith, he said, “We put our whole weight on Jesus”.
  • We daily RUN OUR RACE looking unto Jesus (Hebrews 12:2). We follow Jesus. We do this publicly, and unashamedly every day of our lives. We believe what our Lord said,

John 14:6 … I am the WAY, the TRUTH, and the LIFE: no one comes to the Father BUT BY ME.

You cannot sit on the fence and expect to be blessed. You must CHOOSE God. You must CHOOSE Jesus. James said, “A double minded person is unstable in all their ways” (James 1:8). Choose life. Choose Jesus. Let not the double minded think that they shall receive anything from the Lord” (James 1:7). We must surrender to the Lord. It is not me you are surrendering to. I am nothing. But like Joshua, I can tell you – God is faithful. Jesus never leaves us. He has never left me. So I repeat the words of Joshua:

Joshua 24:15 … as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

What about you? May God through His Spirit touch your hearts with His Word. To Jesus Christ be the glory forever! Amen and Amen!

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A Prayer Against The Bully

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Tonight we’ll be in Psalm 70. Psalm 70 is a very interesting prayer of David. It isn’t long – just five verses – but it is a prayer that many of us can identify with. Let’s prayerfully read the prayer first, asking the Spirit of God to guide us:

Psalm 70:1-5 Make haste, o God, to deliver me; make haste to help me, O Lord. 2 Let them be ashamed and confounded that seek after my soul: let them be turned backward, and put to confusion, that desire my hurt. 3 Let them be turned back for a reward of their shame that say, Aha, aha. 4 Let all those that seek thee rejoice and be glad in thee: and let such as love thy salvation say continually, Let God be magnified. 5 But I am poor and needy: make haste unto me, O God: thou art my help and my deliverer; O Lord, make no tarrying.

David, though a King, was being bullied.
Anyone can be bullied.

Word Study: To “bully” someone is, according to “Oxford Languages”, is “to seek to harm, intimidate, or coerce (someone perceived as vulnerable)”. The “bully” seeks out someone he or she perceives is weaker to push around in order to build up his or her self esteem or ego. Anyone can be bullied. Though David is the King of Israel, he was being bullied by others. We don’t know exactly WHO was bullying David – maybe a member of his cabinet, or perhaps it was his son Absalom who was rebelling against his throne. We don’t know, but we can say for sure:

Your position or place in life does not protect you from the bullies. Bullies target perceived weaknesses in those
around them in order to make themselves feel
more worthy or valuable.

We live in a day where bullying is king – particularly on social media. Bullies hide behind electronic walls, attacking those they disagree with. Sadly today people no longer have civil discussions over weighty matters. We are “feeling” driven as a people.

When someone does not agree with my “feeling”, the acceptable practice is to bully until your opponent is shamed into agreeing with you.

Children are bullied in schools. I grew up being bullied, up until the age of 17 when I met the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior. Jesus taught me that I was cherished, and that I was to stand up against the bullies. When I did, the bullies quickly backed down and sought easier prey. But bullies still abound. A scholarly article in the Journal of Adolescent Health calledBullying and Suicide: A Public Health Approachnotes: “Several recent studies have found an association between bullying and depression or bullying and suicide-related behaviors …” Both the child who bullies and the child who is bullied have self esteem problems. An article on School Counseling notes, “In regards to bullying, 87% of school shooting perpetrators left behind evidence that they were victims of severe bullying.”

Bullies are found in politics. I watched one presidential candidate bully another during the presidential debates several years ago. One candidate “dominated” the other by rudeness, by interruption, by “cutting off” the other candidate. The bully lost the election.

Bullies are found in religion. Rarely did our Lord Jesus teach where He was not interrupted and second guessed by pushy Pharisees, Scribes, Sadducees, and Priests. Though Jesus pushed back, the bullies in time gathered enough momentum to where they could have Jesus executed. The Apostle Peter told these same bullies:

Acts 2:22-23 Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: 23 Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain

Though evil bullying killed Jesus, God still controlled the outcome to secure our salvation through Christ’s death. Nonetheless, the bullying was still wicked.

Rather than turn to a human solution to what he was suffering, King David turned to God in prayer. What is interesting is that …

This Is The Second Time David Prayed This Prayer

This is not the first time this prayer was prayed. The superscription to this prayer notes, “A Psalm of David, to bring to remembrance”. In Psalm 40 David prays this same prayer – almost word to word:

Psalm 40:13-17 Be pleased, O Lord, to deliver me: O Lord, make haste to help me. 14 Let them be ashamed and confounded together that seek after my soul to destroy it; let them be driven backward and put to shame that wish me evil. 15 Let them be desolate for a reward of their shame that say unto me, Aha, aha. 16 Let all those that seek thee rejoice and be glad in thee: let such as love thy salvation say continually, The Lord be magnified. 17 But I am poor and needy; yet the Lord thinketh upon me: thou art my help and my deliverer; make no tarrying, O my God.

The commentator and Bible Teacher J. Vernon McGee wrote, “Why repeat {Psalm 40:13-17} here? Because my memory is not very good, and God knew it wouldn’t be. I can imagine that God said, ‘By the time McGee gets to this point in the Book of Psalms he will have forgotten all about Psalm 40, so I’ll repeat it {McGee, 2:790}”. That’s amusing, and it’s meant to be. God has David repeat it because it reinforces that – when we are bullied or made to feel less than by someone’s arrogance, our refuge is to be not tit for tat, but to seek God’s face.

David Sought God’s Presence
While Bullies Sought His Destruction

Psalm 70:1-2 Make haste, o God, to deliver me; make haste to help me, O Lord. 2 Let them be ashamed and confounded that seek after my soul: let them be turned backward, and put to confusion, that desire my hurt.

As David prays against those who seek after my soul, he does not pray that his enemy be killed. There are other times when David prays for the death of the wicked. Consider:

Psalm 55:12-15 For it was not an enemy that reproached me; then I could have borne it: neither was it he that hated me that did magnify himself against me; then I would have hid myself from him: 13 But it was thou, a man mine equal, my guide, and mine acquaintance. 14 We took sweet counsel together, and walked unto the house of God in company. 15 Let death seize upon them, and let them go down quick into hell: for wickedness is in their dwellings, and among them.

David prayed death against those who, like Judas Iscariot, pretended love but were secretly seeking his demise. There are other texts where David prayed for the destruction of his enemies, such as in Psalm 69:28 and 109:8. These are called imprecatory Psalms. Why did David NOT call for the destruction of his enemies here?

I think it has to do with the glory of God, and the spread of God’s Kingdom.

Our God wants to save as many as will come to Him in faith. Our God would prefer that the enemies of the Gospel be converted rather than be crushed. David prayed for the destruction of the enemy only when that enemy was so far gone from God that their destruction would aid the growth of God’s Kingdom.

Some are so hardened that there is no hope. The Hitlers, the Stalins, the Judas Iscariots have concreted their heart in faithlessness. But God seeks the conversion of whosoever will. The Scripture says:

2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is … not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance …

God so loved THE WORLD that He gave His Only Begotten Son (John 3:16). There are very few instances where God would honor a prayer that the enemy die. Jesus told us that we are to …

Matthew 5:44-48 (ESV) But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (see also Luke 6:27-38)

There are times when a prayer should be imprecatory – that is – calling down the catastrophic judgment of God. The Apostle Paul said of the false prophets who twisted the Gospel:

Galatians 1:9 (ESV) As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.

Word Study: That word accursed is the Greek ἀνάθεμα anáthema, (pronounced an-ath’-em-ah), meaning “to be put under the greatest curse”.

David sought God’s comforting presence. He wanted God to come to his aid.

Psalm 70:1 Make haste, o God, to deliver me; make haste to help me, O Lord.

Word Study: David asks God to come quickly and do two things: to deliver David, and to help David. The word translated deliver is the Hebrewנָצַל nâtsal, {pronounced naw-tsal’}, which means “to take me away from, to rescue me, to snatch me up”. David is praying that God would take him out of the presence of the bullies. The word does not mean to kill, but to render that person ineffective. When Jacob in later years was going to meet his brother Esau, a brother he tricked, Jacob prayed:

Genesis 32:11 Deliver me {nâtsal}, I pray thee, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau: for I fear him, lest he will come and smite me, and the mother with the children.

Jacob meant no harm to his brother, but prayed that God would change the heart of the hunter-warrior Esau into a heart that would not kill him. Further in the Bible, when Joseph’s brothers cast him into a pit and were going to kill him, his brother …

Genesis 37:21 … Reuben heard it, and he DELIVERED {{nâtsal},} {Joseph} out of {his brother’s} hands; and said, Let us not kill him ..

David prayed that those who were attacking him would be changed into those who were not attacking him. David also asked God to help{עֶזְרָה ʻezrâh, [pronounced ez-raw’]} or ASSIST him. When we are attacked, our first go-to is to attack back. If hit with a stick, we want to hit with a 2×4. David was asking God to minister to his soul, while removing the power of the bully (though not killing him).

David prayed that the enemy would see
the error of their ways.

Psalm 70:2 Let them be ashamed and confounded that seek after my soul: let them be turned backward, and put to confusion, that desire my hurt.

Word Study: David wanted his attackers to be ashamed is the Qal Imperfect ofבּוּשׁ bûwsh, [pronounced boosh], which means “to be delayed, to be disappointed in”. He prayed they would not be gratified. The word confounded is the Hebrewחָפֵר châphêr, [pronounced khaw-fare’], which means “to be ashamed or put to shame”. This same word is used again in the phrase put to confusion – again, it means “to be put to shame”. David is asking God to stifle his enemy’s efforts, to cause their attempts to backfire on them. As they knit a net of evil to entrap David, David prays that the enemy be turned backward. That is, that they would be caught in their own snare!

Psalm 70:3 Let them be turned back for a reward of their shame that say, Aha, aha.

David prayed that those who found found fault with Him be turned back for a reward of their shame. That their efforts would go no where but into the dust bin of history. We who are Christians are to never avenge ourselves. The Apostle said in another place:

Romans 12:17-21 Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. 18 If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. 19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. 20 Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. 21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

We are not called to eradicate evil nor to kill evil, but to overcome evil with good. We are called to love even the unlovely, to forego vengeance. God will take vengeance on all unbelievers when they pass out of thus life. God is the Judge. We are to do good, and pray.

Psalm 70:3 Let them be turned back for a reward of their shame that say, Aha, aha.

Those who said Aha, aha are those who, watching David, find fault by which they can condemn and mock him. The phrase Aha, aha is also found in:

Psalm 35:20-22 … they speak not peace: but they devise deceitful matters against them that are quiet in the land. 21 Yea, they opened their mouth wide against me, and said, Aha, aha, our eye hath seen it. 22 This thou hast seen, O Lord: keep not silence: O Lord, be not far from me.

Though We Are Tried, Let God’s Glory
Be Our Driving Force

Psalm 70:4 Let all those that seek thee rejoice and be glad in thee: and let such as love thy salvation say continually, Let God be magnified.

In the midst of his suffering, David prays that others would find the Lord, and the salvation that comes through Him. God is not magnified when our enemies are killed. God is magnified – His power is glorified – when our enemies are converted to become our brothers and sisters in Christ. When we are suffering under the hand of life’s bullies, we need to remember our Lord Jesus, when He preached from the pulpit of His Cross:

Luke 23:34 … Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.

The crowd minimized and mocked Christ because sin blinded them to Who He is. Sin blinds the bully today from understanding that ALL are created in God’s image. This includes that bully. The only cure for what the bully is doing is a new heart – and only Christ can give him or her that new heart. Let us, like Jesus, pray for the conversion of the lost. As the lost are saved, the King of Christ grows, and evil diminishes.

In the midst of trials, let us pray and praise our God. The great Chinese Church Leader Watchman Nee wrote:

We have seen that our praise is a sacrifice. But there is more. We have to see that praising is the way to overcome spiritual attacks. Many people say that Satan is afraid of the prayers of God’s children; he flees whenever God’s children kneel down to pray. This is why he often attacks God’s children and frustrates them from praying. This is a common attack. But we will point out another fact: Satan’s greatest attacks are not aimed at prayers; his greatest attacks are aimed at praise. … Satan does not attack just prayer; he also attacks the praise of God’s children. The ultimate goal of Satan is to stop all praises to God. Prayer is a warfare, but praise is a victory. Prayer signifies spiritual warfare, but praise signifies spiritual victory. Whenever we praise, Satan flees. Therefore, Satan hates our praising the most. He will use all his strength to stop our praising. … even a Philippian jail can become a place of songs (Acts 16:25). Paul and Silas were praising God inside the jail cell. Their praise broke loose all the jail doors.”

Let us cast ourselves upon God our Savior! David closes the prayer as he started it:

Psalm 70:5 But I am poor and needy: make haste unto me, O God: thou art my Help and my Deliverer; O Lord, make no tarrying.

David bows himself dpadown to God. He describes himself as poor” {עָנִי ʻânîy, [pronounced aw-nee’]}, that is, “wretched” and needy” {אֶבְיוֹן ʼebyôwn, [pronounced eb-yone’]}, that is, “a beggar man”. David is casting himself before God, seeking the glory of God. We as His children need to do the same. May God touch your hearts with His Word! God is our Portion forever. Amen and Amen!

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My People Have …

Photo by Daniel Tseng on Unsplash

Jeremiah 2:11-13 Hath a nation changed their gods, which are yet no gods? but my people have changed their glory for that which doth not profit. 12 Be astonished, O ye heavens, at this, and be horribly afraid, be ye very desolate, saith the Lord. 13 For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.

The Serpent Entices Us To Trade Value For Vanity

Illustrate: Before the service, make up some slips of paper with $100 on it. When starting the service, use these slips to make the sermon point: “Do you remember that old game show ‘Let’s Make A Deal’. During the original show Monty Hall would entice people, giving them something to start, and then tempting them to switch what they had – the thing with obvious value – for something hidden under a box or behind a curtain. Do you remember? Well, let’s play ‘Let’s Make A Deal’. Does anyone have a $10 bill? If you do, hold it up. Now, I hold in my hand what I “believe” to be a hundred dollar bill. I “feel” that it’s a hundred dollar bill. I “identify” this as a hundred dollar bill. Who would like to make a little money today? If you’ll give me that ten dollar bill, I’ll give you this note that I “believe – feel – identify” to be a hundred dollars. That’s a deal! Let’s make a deal!”

Only the foolish would exchange their real money for this slip of paper I have in my hand. And yet, this is what humans have done from the beginning of creation. When God put Adam in the Garden of Eden,

God gave Adam a garden that needed no weeding, a wife that needed no clothing, and an animal kingdom that was under his direction. God gave Adam the greatest thing of all. Adam had a personal relationship with his Creator.

But God told Adam:

Genesis 2:16-17 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, 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.

Adam had everything. Most especially, Adam was God’s Child by creation. Adam represented God on the earth. If God is King (and He is), Adam was the Prince. Adam named the animals (Genesis 2:19-20), and Adam and Eve were told:

Genesis 1:28-29 … 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. 29 And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.

Adam and Eve were given rule over all the earth. “They were both naked … and were not ashamed” (Genesis 2:25). They were stewards of all creation in God’s stead. What happened? The Serpent (a picture of Satan – see Revelation 12:9 & 20:2) came into Eden and, like Monty Hall, offered Adam something in place of what he already had. Adam took the bait. He switched a ten dollar bill for a figment of his imagination hundred dollar bill. Adam didn’t just lose Eden. Adam didn’t just lose the world. Adam lost his relationship with God. Adam traded his relationship with God for something worthless.

We repeat this pattern over and over.

In the Book of Jeremiah, the Prophet is speaking to a nation (Israel), warning them that destruction is coming. Last time we were in this Book, we were in chapter one. There God gave Jeremiah two visions. He had the vision of:

Jeremiah 1:11 … a rod of an almond tree

This symbolized that God was watching His people, and would “hasten My Word to perform it” (Jeremiah 1:12). What God promises, He does. When Adam ate that which was forbidden, Adam immediately died – that is – lost his relationship with his Creator. This was what God promised. This is what God would do. God will bring a rod to His people if they will not repent. The second vision God gives Jeremiah is:

Jeremiah 1:13 … a seething pot; and the face thereof is toward the north.

A whistling tea kettle is pointing northward. God will use the nations of Babylon and Assyria to punish His people for refusing to repent. God said that – using these nations:

Jeremiah 1:16 I will utter my judgments against them touching all their wickedness, who have forsaken me, and have burned incense unto other gods, and worshiped the works of their own hands.

Punishment will come to God’s people. God is not speaking to the lost. God is not warning the lost. God is warning His people. God is not addressing the lost. He said:

Jeremiah 2:11 Hath a nation changed their gods, which are yet no gods? but my people have changed their glory for that which doth not profit.

He is comparing His nation, His people to the other nations of the world. The other nations, the nations filled with lost people, do not change their gods, though their gods are but idols, the creation of their hands.

The lost have always created gods to follow after.

The lost followers of Moloch and Baal do not trade in their gods, but sacrifice to them. The lost followers of the gods of evolution, abortion {so called “women’s reproductive rights”}, of wokeness will not change their gods. An article by Michael Vlahos published in Humanitas (volume XXXIV Nos 1-2 2021) states:

“What does it mean to be woke? First and foremost, “woke” is a religious signal that you have heard the Good News and Seen the Light. Awakening means both witnessing revealed truth and experiencing spiritual transformation. Today this has taken the form of a collective enunciation: Of a new national church, reformed and transformed, to replace the original American sect, which is wicked and corrupted. … In simple, practical terms, the Church of Woke is pledged to the destruction of Racism, Patriarchy, and Heteronormativity.”

This darkness has crept into churches all across America. Certainly as believers in Christ we do not affirm racism. We believe that “God is love” (1 John 4:7-8) does not just apply to one race, but to all peoples regardless of color. Jesus said:

John 3:16-17 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.

Jesus came and gave His life to us regardless as to race. Racism is a direct contradiction to the Gospel. But what of what wokeism calls “Patriarchy, and Heteronormativity”? The Bible is clearly patriarchal.

God is called Father, not Mother.
The first created & commanded was Adam, not Eve.
Sin entered the world because of Adam’s disobedience – not Eve’s.
Romans 5:12 .. by one MAN sin entered the world, and death by sin
The FATHER of faith is a MAN (Romans 4:11-12, 16)
Sin’s solution was that one Man had to die for the sinner.
Romans 5:19 .. by the obedience of JESUS shall many be made right
The MAN is to lead in the marriage (Ephesians 5:22-24)
The MAN is to lead in the Church (1 Timothy 3:2, 12)

The Bible is not only patriarchal, but it is Heteronormative. The Church’s Founder Jesus Christ affirmed proper sexuality by quoting the Bible (Genesis 1:27):

Matthew 19:4-6 {Jesus} answered and said unto them, 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.

What was God’s design in creation? What does the Scripture – and Jesus – say? God made them “male and female”. God designed humanity from this template. There are but TWO GENDERS according to Scripture. The “man … shall cleave to his wife”. The male has the pronoun “his”. The sexuality is Heteronormative. The god of wokism says this is not true – but God in His Word affirms it to be true.

Unbelievers will not leave their false gods. They stick to the darkness. But God says:

Jeremiah 2:11 … but my people have changed their glory for that which doth not profit.

God’s people are facing destruction in Jeremiah’s day because they have “changed their glory for that which doth not profit”. What is the “glory” of the Kingdom of God? It is God Himself. God never allowed His Old Testament people to make a statue or an idol to bow down to. He commanded His people:

Exodus 20:2-5 I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. 3 Thou shalt have no other gods before me. 4 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. 5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;

The lost world could make idols to bow down to, man made things to worship, but not God’s people. God was the glory of His people. God did direct His Old Covenant people to make something called “The Ark of the Covenant”. This “Ark” was a box that held the Ten Commandments, some Manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded” (Hebrews 9:4). These three things symbolize the truth that God’s people are given – because of God – His Word, His Sustenance, and His Life. The Ark, a box made of acacia wood overlaid with gold, had for it’s lid a “Mercy Seat”, an altar where blood was sprinkled once a year to cover the sins of God’s people. This Mercy Seat was the only place in the world where sin could be covered or atoned for in the sight of God (see Leviticus 16).

The Ark of the Covenant represented the person of God. Specifically, the Ark of the Covenant represented the Son of God, Jesus Christ, Who came to save His people from their sins (Matthew 1:21).

The Prophet Simeon said of Jesus:

Luke 2:30-32 mine eyes have seen thy salvation, 31 Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; 32 A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.

Jesus is the “glory” of God’s people. God became Man …

John 1:14 … and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

C.H. Spurgeon preached:

“Now, the true Israel, which are spiritually the church of Christ, are said, according to the text, to be the Lord’s people. “The glory of thy people Israel.” Briefly let me remind you, my fellow believers, of the ties which make us the Lord’s. Are we not his tonight by his eternal choice? “You only have I known of all the nations of the earth.” The eternal Father has selected us from amongst the ruins of the fall, and given us into the hands of Christ that we may be his portion, his bride, his jewels, “according as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world.” We are Christ’s next by redemption. He has redeemed us from among men by a special and particular redemption which is peculiar to ourselves. A price has been paid for us, an effectual price, which will not permit for a moment that the objects so purchased shall ever be lost. “Ye are not your own, ye are bought with a price.” The saints are redeemed from among men. Thus are you Christ’s by double bonds — the gift of the Father, the purchase of his own blood. The Father gave you to Jesus, and none shall pluck you out of his almighty hands. You are his, too, this night by conquest. You admit it. He has struggled with your sins and overcome them. The Spirit of the living God has taken you, as it were, like a lamb from the jaws of the lion. You were led captives by the devil, but Christ met the devil and overcame him in terrific duel, and you, the once willing captives of the powers of darkness, are now Christ’s portion made free and blessed. You are now the possession of your Conqueror, for he took you out of the hand of the enemy with his sword and with his bow. You belong to Christ as the spoil which he has won from death and hell.”

Jesus Christ is the glory of God’s Kingdom.
Jesus Christ is the Glory of His people.

As the Ark had the Ten Commandments, we who are in God’s Kingdom through Christ have His Commandments.

• We have the Bible that Jesus affirmed. Jesus frequently referred to the Old Testament Scriptures by saying “It is WRITTEN” (Matthew 4:4, 6-7, 10; Matthew 21:13; Matthew 26:24, 31; Mark 7:6; 9:12-13; 14:21; Luke 7:27; 19:46; et al.)
• We have the writings of the Apostles that Jesus APPOINTED. Of the Church we are told:

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

The foundation that the Kingdom of God is built upon is not man made doctrines, but the writings of the Apostles and Prophets, with Jesus Christ Himself the Chief Cornerstone. We obey His command. 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.

What are Christ’s commandments? They are in this Book. One of His Chief Commandments is:

John 15:12-14 This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. 13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. 14 Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.

We are commanded of God to love God FIRST and FOREMOST, but to love one another SACRIFICIALLY as Jesus SACRIFICIALLY loved us.

As the Ark had Aaron’s Rod that budded, we who are Christ’s by faith have eternal life. Those who possess eternal life are to keep God’s commandments (Matthew 19:18-21) while following Jesus. We are to walk with God. Period.

Heaven Shudders At The Evil We Lightly Pursue

Jeremiah 2:12-13 Be astonished, O ye heavens, at this, and be horribly afraid, be ye very desolate, saith the Lord. 13 For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.

God will bring judgment on His people – His Kingdom – if they walk away from a RIGHT relationship with Him. Israel did this in the Old Testament. The Church throughout America is doing this in the New Testament.

We are to do everything we do FOR GOD.
We are to do everything we do FOR JESUS.
We are to do everything we do in THE SPIRIT’S POWER.
We are to do all that we do FOR GOD’S GLORY.

Israel forgot this. To those who are saved,

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.

Christians, we do not belong to ourselves. We belong to God. Everything we visibly do should be for the intent of glorifying our Owner. God told Pharaoh:

Exodus 5:1 … Let my people go, that they may hold a feast unto me in the wilderness.

Exodus 7:16 (& Exodus 8:1) … Let my people go, that they may serve me in the wilderness

That which God has purchased is to glorify God. We live to serve God, not ourselves. If we wish to be blessed, we are to seek to serve God FIRST. What did Jesus say?

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

Seek FIRST God’s Kingdom. Seek FIRST His glory. Seek first to DO what God has said to do. Seek FIRST to “hear Jesus’ sayings, and DO them” (Matthew 7:24-25). This is where the blessing is.

When we turn away from God’s Word, from what He has said and recorded for our benefit, we commit “two evils”. By our actions we say that God’s Word is not true to us, and by our actions we believe we can make a better way than God has. This is arrogant. God says that our efforts apart from His Word are, “broken cisterns, that can hold no water”. A “cistern” is a man made hole put in the ground or in the rock meant to catch rainwater run off. It may satisfy for a moment – but in time it drains out, and you are thirsty once more.

What does God promise the believer in Christ? He promises righteousness and peace. The Psalmist said:

Psalm 85:7-10 Shew us thy mercy, O Lord, and grant us thy salvation. 8 I will hear what God the Lord will speak: for he will speak peace unto his people, and to his saints: but let them not turn again to folly. 9 Surely his salvation is nigh them that fear him; that glory may dwell in our land. 10 Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.

Righteousness – true righteousness – is a gift from God. Your righteousness is imputed or credited to your spiritual account because of what God did for you on Calvary. Once you grasp and rest in this salvation, you are freed from the world just as Israel was freed from Egypt. You are not freed to satisfy yourself, but you are free to love God, and love one another as Christ has loved us. We live to please our Lord.

Romans 5:1 … being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ

We live our lives FOR JESUS. Jesus said:

Matthew 11:28-30 Come unto me, all ye that labor 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.

We are – those of us who have received Jesus as Savior – UNDER CHRIST’S COMMAND. We are under His YOKE. We do as Jesus directs. We follow Jesus. We love Jesus. We TEACH OUR CHILDREN TO LOVE JESUS.

Illustrate: A little girl was on her lunch break, and reading her Bible. One of her friends came up. “What are you reading?” her friend asked. “My Bible”. Her friend asked, “Why are you reading the Bible? Isn’t that boring?” The little girl said, “I’ve loved reading the Bible since I found my name in it”. Her friend said, “You found your name in it? Where?” The little girl read:

1 Timothy 1:15 This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners …

She said, “There’s my name – ‘sinners’. If you are not ‘sinners’, I certainly am! And Jesus came to save me!”

We are all born flawed, broken. But God came into the world to redeem whosoever would heed His call. Once we heed His call, we cling to Jesus day and night. We do not receive the grace of God in vain (2 Corinthians 6:1), but hold on to Jesus as He holds on to us. We do not trade the gift of God – His Person – for our temporal pleasures and for our selfishness. Salvation is a process.

You are SAVED when you call upon the name of Jesus.
You are DAILY SAVED as you continue to seek Christ’s face.
You are ULTIMATELY SAVED if your faith overcomes in Him.

Revelation 3:5 He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.

Do you belong to God? Do you belong to Christ’s Kingdom? If not, today is the day of salvation. Call upon Jesus Christ, believing He gave Himself for you, and you shall be saved. “For whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Acts 2:21). May God touch your hearts with His Word. Amen and Amen.

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Without …

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Today we shall focus on texts from Hebrews 9 through Hebrews 12. To start, please turn with me in your Bibles to:

Hebrews 9:22 And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.

Without The Blood, There Is No Salvation

Word Study: The word translated without is the Greek χωρίς chōrís, [pronounced kho-rece’], which means “separately or apart from”.

I believe every person who is honest will admit that we are all broken. We are not broken because God made us this way. We are broken because of Adam. God gave Adam a clear set of rules to obey – and he broke them. So God gave Adam what He promised to give him. “The day that you eat thereof, you shall surely die”.

It was sin that caused God to send Adam and Eve outside the Garden of Eden. But before God sent them out into a sin influenced world, God shed the blood of animals to cover Adam and Eve’s sinful act of rebellion. “Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them” (Genesis 3:21).

That poor animal had nothing to do with man’s fall, yet that animal was sacrificed. It’s blood was shed, and the shed blood provided a covering for man’s sin. The life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it for you on the altar to make atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that makes atonement by the life(Leviticus 17:11, ESV). The blood of the innocent animal was slain from that time forward. When the Law was given to Israel on Mount Sinai, the Law told Israel to make sacrifices in first the Tabernacle (the mobile Temple), and then later in the Temple.

Animal Sacrifices Were Temporary: To explain how offensive sin is to God, the Lord for many years gave humanity the animal sacrifices. The center of the Tabernacle or the Temple was the Ark of the Covenant and the Holy of Holies. At this Holy of Holies the High Priest made sacrifice for the sins of the people. God “winked at” (Acts 17:30) sin, giving Israel a temporary atonement or covering for sin in the animal sacrifices. The Gentiles never made these sacrifices, but the Jews did. The Tabernacle or Temple was the only place that forgiveness of sin could be granted. The Temple and the Altar of the Ark were given to Israel to show us how sin horribly separates us from God. But Israel did not understand.

Early in His ministry our Lord Jesus chased the money changers and the sellers out of the Temple (John 2:14-16), causing the Jewish Leaders to ask:

What sign do You show us for doing these things?”
(John 2:18, ESV)

What they were asking Jesus for was authority. They were asking, By what authority do you do these things, running the sellers out of the Temple. Show us your identification. Show us your right to vote. You have no right to do this! Jesus replied simply,

Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”
(John 2:19, ESV)

The Jews thought that Jesus was talking about the Temple. They said, It took 46 years to build this Temple – and You think you can raise it up if it’s destroyed? But Jesus was talking about Himself. Jesus was foretelling His death, and His resurrection. Jesus would die on Calvary, and would rise from the grave in three days. Jesus would chiefly be executed at the request of the priests and the Pharisees, who had forgotten why the Temple and the Altar existed.

God would eventually destroy the Temple because of their failure. As Jesus and His disciples passed by the Temple one day, the disciples remarked …

Look, {Jesus}, what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!(Mark 13:1, ESV)

Our Jesus replied, Do you see these great buildings? There will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down. WHY WOULD THE TEMPLE BE TORN DOWN?

Because of sin.
Because the Messiah – the Lamb of God – had come.

As humans, we minimize that which the Bible calls “sin”. We shouldn’t, but we do. Sin is to God as poison ivy is to us. God despises sin. His nature is sin free. God hates sin. Sin is anything that runs contrary to God’s design.

Sin brings darkness. Sin brings suffering. The Psalmist said of God, You are not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness; no evil dwells with You (Psalm 5:4). God hates sin because God is holy, without sin. Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” (Isaiah 6:3). Sin is to God as:

Putrefying sores (Isaiah 1:6)
Heavy burdens (Psalm 38:4)
Defiling filth (Titus 1:15; 2 Corinthians 7:1)
Binding debts (Matthew 6:12-15)
Darkness (1 John 1:6)
Scarlet stains (Isaiah 1:18)

God hates sin. Sin calls for death, separation from God. God despises sin because it causes His creation (us) to be far from His embrace. Sin separates us from God (Colossians 1:21). Evil is sin’s outworking.

BEFORE THE CROSS the ONLY place you could receive forgiveness for sins was at the Temple.

BEFORE THE CROSS the ONLY way you could receive forgiveness of sins was by sacrifice of animals via the priests of Israel.

What Animal Sacrifices Teach Us

Only by the shedding of blood is there remission of sin. Why was it shedding of animal blood? Because a sinner cannot pay for the sins of another sinner. Man is fallen. We are all broken, all sinners. Innocent animals were sacrificed to cover man’s sins, but this covering was temporary and insufficient.

A perfect Man was needed to make proper payment for our sins. There were no perfect Men, so God made one!

The broken cannot make a perfect Man – so God decided to do so. God Himself entered into His creation as Jesus Christ. The Book of Hebrews tells us that it is only Jesus that can make purification for sin (Hebrews 1:3). It is only Jesus Who – among all humans – entered this world without sin. It is Jesus that the Father said,

Hebrews 1:8 (ESV) “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, the scepter of righteousness is the scepter of your kingdom”

Jesus Christ is God the Son, Who came into this world to save us from our sins. The Scripture says:

Hebrews 2:17 {Jesus} … had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation {to COVER} for the sins of the people.

Before Jesus came, the only means by which sin could be covered was by animal sacrifice. Jesus entered this world through a virgin, born of the Holy Spirit. Jesus Christ was, is, and will always be without sin. Jesus came to be both the High Priest of the believer as well as the Lamb of God that takes away sin (John 1:29). The Scripture says:

Hebrews 4:14-15 (ESV) Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.

Under the old Temple system of the Law the blood of animals was offered to cover sin. But when Jesus came, He came – a perfect Man – to give Himself for our sins. We are told:

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?

It is the Blood that caused God to pass over judging and condemning people. He told Israel, “When I see the blood, I will pass over you”. The blood of the animal represented a temporary covering for sin. But when God became Perfect Man, and yielded Himself up for our sins, faith in Him makes a permanent covering for our sins. What does the Scripture say?

Hebrews 9:27-28 And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: 28 So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.

It is the blood that saves us. It is your faith in the blood of Christ, His once for all sacrifice, that covers your sins so that we might serve the living God. How do we know that

1 John 1:7 (ESV) … the Blood of Jesus, {God’s} Son, cleanses us from all sin

? … We know this because Jesus, truly dying, rose again from the grave. Jesus told the Jews, “Tear THIS Temple down, and I will raise it up in three days”. We saw that before. Jesus did this. He rose from the grave.

The Campus Ministry formerly known as “Campus Crusade for Christ” notes:

Jesus made numerous appearances to His followers. He comforted the mourners outside His tomb on Sunday morning. On the Road to Emmaus, He explained things about Himself from the Old Testament. Later, He ate in their presence and invited them to touch Him. Scripture records that Jesus was seen by more than 500 at one time. Some may argue that a few people could have agreed to a deception, but how can one explain the collaboration of 500 people?”

It is the blood of Jesus Christ that paid the penalty for my sin, and your sin. If you do not receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, believing He is the one and only way to have your sins covered – then you are under the condemnation of God.

You Must Believe (Have Faith In)
The Lord Jesus To Be Saved

The first text we studied was …

Hebrews 9:22 And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.

Word Study: where the word translated “without is the Greek χωρίς chōrís, [pronounced kho-rece’], which means “separately or apart from”. The next time we examine this without” (chōrís) is in the text of:

Hebrews 11:6 But WITHOUT (chōrís) faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

The Blood shed by Jesus was shed for us all – but if you do not receive this truth by faith then you cannot be saved. WITHOUT (chōrís) faith it is impossible to please {God}. God requires the guilty to be punished. His holiness demands this. But God will allow an Innocent to take our place. The Innocent that takes our place is Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is God’s Only Begotten Son. That phrase, “Only Begotten”, means that Jesus, though a Member of the Godhead, lowered Himself to be born into this, His creation. God became Man for one purpose.

To die for our sin.

As God, Jesus is pre-existent with God the Father. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was WITH God, and the Word WAS GOD” (John 1:1-2). Jesus is equal to God in all aspects, as He is God. But “the Word BECAME FLESH AND DWELT AMONG US” (John 1:14).

God became Perfect Man, with the intent of bringing
Imperfect Man to God.

Jesus Christ is perfect and “WITHOUT SIN” (Hebrews 4:15; Hebrews 9:28). To be saved you must trust what the Scripture declares of Jesus. The Evangelist Billy Graham said,

Faith is believing and receiving what God has revealed
in His Word, the Bible.”

Though we are fallen creatures, Jesus is NOT. Jesus Christ came to save sinners. We must have faith in Him, calling upon Him and Him alone to be saved. Jesus Christ and the Cross of Calvary replaces the animal sacrifices and the Temple and Ark of God. Jesus Christ dying on the Cross replaces the lamb that was slain. Jesus Christ is the:

Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world
(John 1:29, 36)

There is no other Lamb. There is no other way. There is no other Messiah. There is no other truth. The Psalmist, looking forward to the coming of the Messiah Jesus Christ, wrote:

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

When Jesus walked this earth, where was He often found? Among sinners. The Pharisees could not understand this. They asked, “Why does your Master eat with publicans and sinners?” Why would He Who is sinless spend so much time among sinners? Jesus told the Pharisees:

Matthew 9:13 … go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

Jesus did not come to this earth to enable sinners to sin. Jesus came to this earth to make payment to God for the sinners sin, and to lead the sinner to repentance.

Faith – genuine faith – is both a COMING TO
and a STAYING WITH God.

What does our text say?

Hebrews 11:6 But WITHOUT (chōrís) faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, AND that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

Faith is not a temporal thing. Faith is a reclining on God, an absolute reliance on His promises. Jesus Christ is a friend of publicans and sinners. He doesn’t want any to stay in sin – for sin is horrendous! But Jesus “came to call SINNERS to REPENTANCE” (Mark 2:17). What wonderful news the Gospel is. We are told:

Romans 5:8-9 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.

God does not leave sinners in the sins. No, but God causes a REPENTANCE from sin to those who believe. One of my favorite Bible stories is that of Zacchaeus, a tax collector. His story is only found in the Gospel of Luke. The Bible tells us that Jesus saw Zacchaeus up in a tree, and called to him:

Luke 19:5-6 Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for to day I must abide at thy house. 6 And (Zacchaeus) made haste, and came down, and received {Jesus} joyfully.

This is faith, saving faith. Zacchaeus’ sinful lifestyle choices caused him to be shunned, and up a tree. But Jesus called Zacchaeus, and Zacchaeus received {Jesus} joyfully. Embracing Jesus, Zacchaeus said:

Luke 19:8 Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold.

Salvation – genuine salvation – is always accompanied with repentance, a change of heart. Whereas Zacchaeus once worshiped money, now he worships Jesus. He loves Jesus more than he loves sin. And Jesus said:

Luke 19:9-10 This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.

A true son of Abraham is the person who exhibits the faith of Abraham. The Apostle Paul put it this way:

Romans 4:3, For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. .. 7 Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. 8 Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin. 11 {Abraham is} … the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also:

Salvation comes by faith in God’s provision of salvation. Abraham believed God, and his faith in God was counted to him as righteousness. Beloved, you must believe.

You must receive Jesus Christ as the LAMB of God.
You must receive Jesus Christ as the LORD of life.
You receive the LORD and the LAMB by faith.

Genuine Salvation Is Always Accompanied
With External Evidence

Word Study: Where else do we see the word translated “without”? {The Greek χωρίς chōrís, [pronounced kho-rece’], which means “separately or apart from”}. It is found in:

Hebrews 12:6-8 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. 7 If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? 8 But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.

On the day that you understood the need for the Blood, and have called upon Jesus and Jesus alone for salvation, God the Holy Spirit does a work in your life. He brings the believer in Christ to a place where we are children of God by faith in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:26). We are adopted into the Family of God by the Holy Spirit (). And – listen Beloved – our outward actions and works begin to be in accordance with the holiness of God. The only Apostle to die of old age was John. The Apostle wrote:

1 John 3:10 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.

James, the stepbrother of Christ put it this way:

James 2:20, 26 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? .. 26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

If you are saved by faith in Christ, you walk in LIGHT, NOT IN DARKNESS. You follow after Jesus. You live your life to please your Heavenly Father. Billy Graham said:

I cannot work my way to Heaven. After I receive Jesus as Savior, I prove my faith with my works. … After I’m saved, I’m sinning every minute of every day I’m not working for Jesus …”

There are many on local Church rolls all around the world who profess to be children of God, saved by faith in Jesus. And yet, they walk in darkness. Does not the Scripture say:

Hebrews 12:14 Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:

If you are saved, truly saved, your life will show it. You will walk separate from the world. You will shun sin. When you fall into sin, you will repent of sin quickly, and get back in step with Jesus. You will love God and love others. 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.

God the Holy Spirit does not make stillborn children. If you walk apart from God as a believer, God will chasten you until you repent. If you do not repent, you may find yourselves meeting death prematurely. Christians are to walk in the light of God and His Word. If you are a Christian, you have this promise of God:

1 John 3:2-3 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. 3 And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.

As Jesus is, so are we in this world” (1 John 4:17). The Christian belongs to God. The Christian is purchased by the Blood of Jesus. The Christian is to walk in the light. If you are indeed saved, your works will show it. You will love God with your all. You will love your neighbor as yourself. You will lover your fellow Christian sacrificially. This is the truth of the Scripture. This is the Word of the Gospel.

May God the Holy Spirit move in your lives, drawing you to His side this very day. Amen and Amen!

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The Apostle’s Prayer

Photo by Samuel Martins on Unsplash

Turn with me in your Bibles to Hebrews chapter 13. Hebrews, James, 1&2 Peter, 1-3 John, Jude, Revelation … the 9th book from the end of the Bible. As Wednesday night is “Prayer Meeting” night, we have been looking at various prayers in the Bible. The early Apostles asked Jesus, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples” (Luke 11:1). With those words Jesus gave us what we today call “The Lord’s Prayer”. Though the “Lord’s Prayer” is a beautiful model of prayer, there are many prayers in the Bible. The Bible is given to us to grow us as believers. The Apostle said in

2 Timothy 3:16-17 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 That the man of God may be perfect (ἄρτιος ártios, [pronounced ar’-tee-os] COMPLETE or MATURE AS A BELIEVER), thoroughly furnished unto all good works (we are ORDERED to do GOOD WORKS – Ephesians 2:10).

God gave the Scripture as the means by which the Christian grows into spiritual maturity. As the Word of God increases in the soul of the believer and in the life of the Church, the Gospel spreads. When “the Word of God increased … the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly (Acts 6:7). When Herod the King was destroyed by the angel of the Lord, because he gave not God the glory, “the Word of God grew and multiplied” (Acts 12:23-24). God’s Word grows us.

Are you in Hebrews 13? We will look at:

Hebrews 13:20-21 Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, 21 Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

This is one of five prayers found in the Book of Hebrews.

What is interesting about the Book of Hebrews is that – unlike the other Apostolic writings – this Book does not tell us who it’s Author is.

Yes, I know God wrote the Book. The Apostle Peter tells us that theprophecy came not by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:21). The Church has long held that the Book of Hebrews was written by an Apostle, but God never told us which Apostle wrote the Book. God had a reason for this.

The early Church was persecuted for following Jesus, persecuted by both Gentiles as well as Jewish leaders. By masking the writer of this Book, God protected him from attacks from Judea and from his own family.

What can we learn from this prayer?

1. A prayer does not have to be LONG to be effective – but it mustglorify God. There are many short prayers in Scripture that God answered. There is the Prayer of Peter, when he was walking on water and started sinking:

Lord, save me!” (Matthew 14:30)

Jesus answered that prayer, for He reached out His hand to catch and keep Peter from drowning. There is the Prayer of Blind Bartimaeus, who asked Jesus,

Lord, let me receive my sight.” (Mark 10:51)

Or the Prayer of the Ten Lepers,

Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” (Luke 17:13)

Jesus Christ is LORD. He is MASTER. The Bible says:

Philippians 2:8-10 And being found in fashion as a man, {Jesus} humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. 9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: 10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, … 11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Jesus is LORD. This is the name that the Father has given to the Son. LORD. This is the name that the Spirit acknowledges is Christ’s. HE IS LORD. When we confess Him LORD, we give glory to God the Father.

Our prayers must glorify God – not ourselves. It must glorify His limitless Grace, and our unbounding weakness. When the Pharisee prayed in the Temple he prayed:

Luke 18:11-12 … God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. 12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.

The Pharisee glorified himself in the prayer – not God. The Publican, however prayed:

God, be merciful to me, a sinner!” (Luke 18:13)

We can pray and ask many things of God – children often ask their parents for things which they ought not have, things which the loving parent will never grant. And yet, God does not mind our asking it – though He will not grant it if it does not glory Him and benefit the supplicant. In the Apostle’s prayer today, he prays to {God} be glory for ever and ever. Every prayer should glorify God! One of the shortest prayers in the Bible is one our Jesus prayed in:

John 12:28 Father, glorify Thy Name.

The Father answered Jesus immediately. He said, “I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again”. The prayer that glorifies God will be answered, for God will glorify His Name.

2. Prayer that God honors must be true to the teachings of the Scripture. God will not honor prayer that does not honor His Word. Notice how the Apostle weaves Scripture truth into his prayer.

Hebrews 13:20 Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant..

There is a lot of Bible in this prayer! Our God is the God of peace. It is God Who initiates peace between us and Him – though He Himself is the aggrieved party. God made peace with us by sending His Son, Jesus Christ, to this earth to die for our sins. The Apostle wrote earlier:

Hebrews 13:12-13 Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate. 13 Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach.

God sanctif[ied] or set us apart from the lost world by shedding of His own blood. Jesus willing suffered without the gate. This means He stepped out of His comfort zone, and went outside the gates of Jerusalem to a garbage dump called Golgotha to make payment for our sins. Jesus went to a place outside of the civilized world to give Himself for us. We should be willing to remain sanctified or set apart from the lost world, as Jesus was and is.

The shedding of blood without the gate is what makes us right with God. We read:

Romans 5:1-2 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: 2 By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

We have “peace with God” not because we are worthy, but because Jesus Christ took our condemnation on Himself.

He bore the blows that we should have received for sin. We honor God by receiving Christ as Savior.

John 3:16-18 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.

Those without Christ cannot pray and expect anything from God – unless their prayer is to receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. When we affirm what God has declared, that

1 Peter 2:24 … {Jesus} Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by Whose stripes ye were healed.

Jesus died for us. But He not only died, but rose from the grave.

Hebrews 13:20 the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus

It is God the Holy Spirit Who caused Christ to become incarnate – made of flesh. The Angel said to Mary, “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.” (Luke 1:35). The Spirit gave Jesus flesh. The FATHER resurrected Jesus from the dead. In Acts 2:24, Peter preached “God raised Jesus from the dead. And we are told in

Galatians 1:1 … God the Father, who raised {Jesus} from the dead …

The Bible also says that Jesus raised Himself from the dead (John 2:9; 10:18). God raised Christ from the dead. Jesus is the acceptable sacrifice for our sins. But Jesus is also:

Hebrews 13:20 Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant..

the great shepherd of the sheep as well as the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29). Jesus Christ is our Sacrifice, but He is also our Savior and Lord. He lives to lead us as His people. We are saved by the blood of the everlasting covenant. Jesus as perfect Man died for us. Jesus as perfect Man paid for our sins. Jesus as perfect Man was raised from the grave. But Jesus as GOD leads us. His Blood is eternal. Because of Christ, we who are saved are in an everlasting covenant.

3. Prayer that God honors brings requests according to God’s will. We read:

Hebrews 13:21 Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Word Study: The verb rendered Make you perfect is the Greek καταρτίζω katartízō, {pronounced kat-ar-tid’-zo}. It doesn’t mean to make perfect, but to bring to a state of usefulness. We see the verb used in

Matthew 4:21 …. mending {katartízō} their nets

for fishermen restoring their nets to what they originally were meant to be. The word is used by Paul in:

1 Corinthians 1:10 … I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together {katartízō} in the same mind and in the same judgment.

Where the Church is called into unity in Christ.

The word {katartízō} means to be restored to what you should have been, to be completed, or made fit or able.

Believers are called to work TOGETHER for the glory of God. God’s people are called to do all of God’s will, doing good toward God and those around us for the glory of Christ’s Kingdom. We do not belong to this world, but to Eternity. Again we read:

Hebrews 13:14-16 For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come. 15 By {Jesus} therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name. 16 But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.

The Apostle’s Prayer is that the Church not just HEAR the Word of God, but DO it, knowing that – though it be unpopular on this earth – we do not belong to this earth.

The commentator Arthur W. Pink writes:

…a man cannot be a good Christian without doing God’s will. If it be God’s will that he should restrain from an act or practice, he dare not proceed to do it: see Jeremiah 35:6; Acts 4:19. On the other hand, if it be the revealed mind of God that he should do something, he dare not omit it, no matter how it cross his inclination or fleshly interests: “To him that knoweth to do good, and doth it not, to him it is sin” (James 4:17). It is not enough that we thoroughly understands the will of God: we must do it; and the more we do it, the better shall we understand: John 7:17.”

The Apostle prayed that the Church would learn to DO God’s will – and in so doing, we learn more of God. Jesus said:

John 7:17 If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.

The Apostle is praying that Christ’s Church would be busy to do our Lord’s Will. He prayed that God would …

Hebrews 13:21 Make you {complete} in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ;

that the Church would work together to do good works as God defines good works, and that every work of the Church would be well pleasing in his sight. We are called to please our Lord in our individual lives. We are called to please the Lord by the outward works we produce for Him. We are reminded daily that our God is the Silent Witness of all we do or don’t do. The Scripture says:

Proverbs 15:3 The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good.

As His Church, as His People, let us live …

1 Thessalonians 2:4 … not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts.

Let us …

Colossians 1:10 … walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God

God expects our loving labor for Him. “Without faith it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 14:6). The faith that saved is is a “faith that worketh by love” (Galatians 5:6). The Apostle’s prayer is that the Church BE the Church, BE the Lighthouse of God in a dark and doomed world. While there is life in us, let us live for our God, serving Him “acceptably with reverence and godly fear” (Hebrews 12:28).

May God touch our hearts to do so, especially in these dark days of America. Amen and Amen!

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Prayer Makes Us Like God’s Own Heart

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

As this is Wednesday night and our focus is “Prayer Meeting”, I have taken to giving a devotional that focuses on Biblical Prayers. Tonight we are looking at a prayer of David found in Psalm 16. God said of David:

Acts 13:22 (ESV) … I have found in David the son of Jesse a man after my heart, who will do all my will.

Why did God call David a man after my heart? Was it because David was flawless? No, for David as King allowed sin to entice him into evil. Everyone knows of David’s murdering of Uriah, the husband of Bathsheba (2 Samuel 12:9-10), so that he could take Bathsheba to be his wife. David already had a wife, King Saul’s younger daughter Michal (1 Samuel 18:20-27), when he pursued Bathsheba. While David was a fugitive, running from King Saul, he married Abigail (1 Samuel 25:39-41), the widow of a surly shepherd named Nabal. David also “took Ahinoam of Jezreel” (1 Samuel 25:43) to be his wife. David also married “Maacah, the daughter of Talmai, king of Geshur, the mother of Absalom” as well as “Haggith”, the mother of Adonijah (1 Chronicles 3:2). To say that David had a “complicated” family life is an understatement!

David was flawed, but David pursued God in prayer. God was the true Love of His life.

Is God The True Love Of Your Life?

Psalm 16:1-2 Preserve me, O God: for in thee do I put my trust. 2 O my soul, thou hast said unto the Lord, Thou art my Lord: my goodness extendeth not to thee;

Of all the relationships David pursued, he pursued God most of all. David had a deep, personal relationship with God. David saw our God as the true Source of all goodness.

God is indeed the Source of all that is good. The Bible tells us that at the end of the sixth day of creation:

Genesis 1:31 … God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.

God is the Source of goodness. God made everything very good. It is humans that make things less than good or bad. The stepbrother of Jesus writes:

James 1:13-17Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: 14 But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. 15 Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. 16 Do not err, my beloved brethren. 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.

God is good. He is the Source of Good. Temptation is a desire to do evil. Temptation does not come from God.

God tries our faith, allowing hard things in our lives to grow us to be closer to Him. But God never, never brings temptation to evil.

God is incapable of tempting us to evil – this is what that old serpent, the Devil (Revelation 12:9; 20:2; Genesis 3:1-2) does. He and his minions whisper lies and deception into our hearts through outside sources, tempting our hearts to turn away from God. As David started his prayer, he prayed:

Psalm 16:1 Preserve me, O God: for in thee do I put my trust.

Word Study: The word translated Preserve is the Hebrewשָׁמַר shâmar, [pronounced shaw-mar’], which means “to take charge of, to guard, to watch and protect, to restrain or keep me from, to put a hedge or a fence around”. David is asking God to do what Adam did not do. The Bible says:

Genesis 2:15 And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep (shâmar) it

Had Adam guarded the Garden, and chased the snake off of it, we would not be in the sinful mess we are in today. David asks God to guard his soul, to keep him – flawed as he is – from going off the rails of righteousness. David tells our Father God:

vs 1 for in Thee do I put my trust

David has “the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16). He does not trust in his strength or in his abilities, but casts all his hope upon God his Savior. David prays:

Psalm 16:2 … O my soul, thou hast said unto the Lord, Thou art my Lord: my goodness extendeth not to thee;

David prays unto the Lord, Thou art my Lord. As he prays, he is utterly surrendered unto God. David first says,

Thou”

The ancient worshipers of other gods did not believe that their god personally cared about their lives. The God of Israel – the God we serve – was very relational. From the Garden of Eden to where the Lord walked with Adam “in the cool of the day” (Genesis 3:8), to God’s personal contact with Abram, the father of faith (Genesis 12:1-3), we see our God wants to have a personal relationship with His creation. This was not so in pagan religions. In his book “Ancient Near Eastern Thought and the Old Testament” by John H. Walton, he writes (page 145):

In a well known Assyrian prayer entitled A Prayer To Every God, the worshiper is seeking to appease a deity from anger over an offense that the worshiper has presumably committed. {In this prayer, the worshiper} does not know which god is angry, and he does not know of anything he has done wrong. … {he prays hopelessly} “Although I am constantly looking for help, no one takes me by the hand; when I weep, they {the gods} do not come to my side. I utter laments, but no one hears me; I am troubled, I am overwhelmed: I cannot see. Man is dumb, he knows nothing … Whether he is committing sin or doing good, he does not even know ..”

This is very different from the God of the Scripture. Our God is the Source of all good. But our God shares what is sinful, and what is right with us as His creation. We know what is right and wrong, what is light and darkness. We are called to follow our God in the Light, in the revealed truth that He has given us in His Word. David prays:

Psalm 16:2 … O my soul, thou hast said unto the Lord, Thou art my Lord: my goodness extendeth not to thee;

Since God is the Source of all that is good, our goodness does not benefit God. As believers, we are not called to do good because it helps God out. King David got to thinking one night, and had a conversation with Nathan the Prophet:

2 Samuel 7:1-3 And it came to pass, when the king sat in his house, and the Lord had given him rest round about from all his enemies; 2 That the king said unto Nathan the prophet, See now, I dwell in an house of cedar, but the ark of God dwelleth within curtains. 3 And Nathan said to the king, Go, do all that is in thine heart; for the Lord is with thee.

God had been so good to David and Israel that he wanted to build God a house, a place of worship. The “Ark of God” or the “Ark of the Covenant” (Exodus 25:10-22) symbolically represented the Presence of God with His people. Within the Ark were the tablets of the Law, which reminded God’s people that it is the Lord – not man – Who establishes good and right. There was also a jar of manna which symbolized God’s provision for His people, as well as Aaron’s Rod that budded which proved that God can bring life out of death. This Ark of the Covenant resided in a tent, the Tabernacle. David’s thought was:

God is so good to me – and to us as His people – that I want to do good to Him. I’ll build God a house to stay in.”

Nathan wasn’t against the idea initially, but God spoke to Nathan that night.

2 Samuel 7:5-13 (ESV) ‘Thus says the Lord: Would you build me a house to dwell in? 6 I have not lived in a house since the day I brought up the people of Israel from Egypt to this day, but I have been moving about in a tent for my dwelling. 7 In all places where I have moved with all the people of Israel, did I speak a word with any of the judges of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, saying, “Why have you not built me a house of cedar?”’ 8 Now, therefore, thus you shall say to my servant David, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep, that you should be prince over my people Israel. 9 And I have been with you wherever you went and have cut off all your enemies from before you. And I will make for you a great name, like the name of the great ones of the earth. 10 And I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, so that they may dwell in their own place and be disturbed no more. And violent men shall afflict them no more, as formerly, 11 from the time that I appointed judges over my people Israel. And I will give you rest from all your enemies. Moreover, the Lord declares to you that the Lord will make you a house. 12 When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.

God told David, “You want to build Me a house. I need no house. But I will build My people a House, and build your House. I will put One of your children on your Throne, to rule and reign forever”. This was a prophecy of the coming of Jesus Christ.

When we do good, it does not add to God, for God is all good. Thou art my Lord: my goodness extendeth not to Thee. We are called as His Children to do good, not because our doing good will add to God, but because our doing good is a source of OUR blessing.

Psalm 16:2-3 my goodness extendeth not to Thee; 3 But to the saints that are in the earth, and to the excellent, in whom is all my delight.

Doing good as God defines good blesses us. Doing bad as God defines evil hurts us. My goodness extendeth not to Thee; 3 But to the saints that are in the earth. Doing good blesses the Saints, those who are believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. When we DO GOOD, God blesses us. The Scripture says:

Psalm 34:14-17 (ESV) Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it. 15 The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous and his ears toward their cry. 16 The face of the Lord is against those who do evil, to cut off the memory of them from the earth. 17 When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles.

We “do good” not because “good” saves us (for Jesus said “No one is good, except God alone” [Mark 10:18]), but because doing good preserves us.

We are to “do good” in a world that does bad, because “doing good” is blessed of Jesus. Jesus told us:

Luke 6:27-36 (ESV) … I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. 29 To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. 30 Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. 31 And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them. … 35 But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. 36 Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.

As God does good, we are to do good. As God does good to the undeserving, we are to do good to the undeserving. This alone brings stability and light into this present darkness. The Apostle wrote:

1 Thessalonians 5:15 (ESV) See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone.

Galatians 6:10 (ESV) So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.

2 Thessalonians 3:13 (ESV) … brothers, do not grow weary in doing good.

We who believe are to DO GOOD as God defines DOING GOOD. Why? Because it blesses us, it blesses our community, it blesses our nation. When people chase after false gods, they are not doing good, but evil. It is an evil thing to chase after an idol. An idol did not make this earth. An idol is “nothing at all” (1 Corinthians 8:1), and “there is no God but One, the God of Scripture”. An idol is a figment of the imagination.

Psalm 16:4 Their sorrows shall be multiplied that hasten after another god: their drink offerings of blood will I not offer, nor take up their names into my lips.

People say “there are many ways unto God”. That is absolutely untrue. There is but ONE WAY unto God, and that is through Jesus Christ (John 14:6). God will not bless those who chase after false gods and goddesses. God will not honor worship that departs from His Biblical Word. God will not honor those who will not come to Him in faith, believing that Christ was sent to redeem us from all sin. Jesus Christ …

Titus 2:14 (ESV) … gave Himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession who are ZEALOUS FOR GOOD WORKS

Saved by faith in Christ, we are saved to do good as He defines good. We are to live our lives for Him Who loves us so.

Our Desire Should Always Be God Himself

Psalm 16:5-6 The Lord is the portion of mine inheritance and of my cup: thou maintainest my lot. 6 The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage.

The Puritan Preacher Jonathan Edwards preached (The True Christian’s Life a Journey Towards Heaven):

God is the highest good of the reasonable creature. The enjoyment of Him is our proper happiness, and is the only happiness with which our souls can be satisfied.”

David said, The Lord is the portion of mine inheritance and of my cup. Many today are not content with their lives, because they are trying to find contentment within themselves, or through things. This does not bring contentment. The Apostle said:

Philippians 4:11-13 (ESV) … I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

The Apostle found his portion in the God Who loved him, and loves us. When your portion is found in the dark sources of this world …

identity politics
gender dysphoria
sexual deviations
temporal blessings in things
mammon or the love of money
fame or power

…you will find in time that these things are but temporary satisfactions. The greatest satisfaction is to possess, and be possessed of God. If you’re not a possessor of and possessed of God, you get into weirdness and evil. Look at the headlines:

From ESPN: First Known Transgender Athlete Wins Championship

From National Review: {Supreme Court} Judge Refuses To Define “Woman” During Confirmation Hearing

From FOX: Biden Administration Endorses Transgender Youth Sex Change Operations

Evil is defined as that which is wrong as God defines wrong, but cloaks itself in rightness and blessing. God does not create evil – and God hates sin. The Scripture says:

1 John 1:5 (ESV) … God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.

Romans 2:4-6 (ESV) … do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? 5 But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed. 6 He will render to each one according to his works

Our America is going into deeper and darker evil because our citizens are seeking happiness in sin and self. Our Churches have abandoned the Gospel of Christ, teaching worldly “social justice” rather than love of God. The Apostle warns those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury.

God delays the punishment of sin, and gives one more day of life, because He is steadfast in His love toward His creation. He calls us out of darkness, and into His marvelous light. The Psalmist said:

Psalm 36:5-9 (ESV) Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds. 6 Your righteousness is like the mountains of God; your judgments are like the great deep; man and beast you save, O Lord. 7 How precious is your steadfast love, O God! … 9 For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light.

In God’s light, we see light. God – the Source of goodness – shows us the way to go. “Your Word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105). God’s light gives us life, eternal life. “The God Who said ‘let light shine out of darkness’ has shown in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ Jesus” (2 Corinthians 4:6).

Psalm 16:7-9 I will bless the Lord, who hath given me counsel: my reins also instruct me in the night seasons. 8 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.

We who are saved by Grace through faith in Christ live for the Lord Who loves us. He is our portion. Our hope is in Him. Our God has conquered the grave. To those who love Him above all else, we will be with Him in glory. David closes with:

Psalm 16:10-11 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.

Word Study: This verse has been misinterpreted by many because of the King James translation. The word translated hell is the Hebrew שְׁאוֹל shᵉʼôwl, {pronounced sheh-ole}. When we hear the word hell, we think of the place of torment, where unbelievers in God go. We think of the rich man of Jesus’ parable in Luke 16:23, “in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments. We think of what Jesus said of hell, that it would be better to cut off a foot, than to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched” (Mark 9:45). David is not talking about the place of eternal punishment where the unbelieving go. David is speaking of the Grave. How do I know this? Because Peter preached this Psalm on the Day of Pentecost, and applied it to Jesus Christ Who rose from the dead (Acts 2:23-32). Jesus did not go to “hell”, but to the Grave. His body went into the tomb, but on the third day He was resurrected, and is alive forever more. The Apostle Paul also preached this text of Christ while in the Synagogue of Antioch in

Acts 13:35-37 Wherefore he saith also in another psalm, Thou shalt not suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. 36 For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption: 37 But {Jesus}, whom God raised again, saw no corruption.

Here is the good – no, the GRAND NEWS. For those who have believed on Jesus, they shall not suffer the corruption of the grave. Though we may die physically, because of Christ we shall live beyond the grave. For Jesus has promised:

John 11:25-26 (ESV) … “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”

God is the Portion of those who believe in Jesus. Our health will decline, and circumstances in life may bring pain into our temporal lives. People may misuse and abuse us. But we are to do good regardless as to what others do – and cling to the Lord as David did. May God move your hearts to do so this very day. Amen and amen!

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Resurrection Changes Everything

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Luke 24:1-12 Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulcher, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them. 2 And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulcher. 3 And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments: 5 And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead? 6 He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee, 7 Saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again. 8 And they remembered his words, 9 And returned from the sepulcher, and told all these things unto the eleven, and to all the rest. 10 It was Mary Magdalene and Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, and other women that were with them, which told these things unto the apostles. 11 And their words seemed to them as idle tales, and they believed them not. 12 Then arose Peter, and ran unto the sepulcher; and stooping down, he beheld the linen clothes laid by themselves, and departed, wondering in himself at that which was come to pass.

I came across an article – entirely by chance – entitled 5 Founders Whose Businesses Cost Them Their Lives. I read about:

  • The founder of Baskin-Robbins, Burt Baskin died of a heart attack at 54 years old. His son John said that Burt’s death was due to the very product he made. “He was a very big man who ate a lot of ice cream”, John said.
  • Another businessman, James Heselden the owner of the Segway Company (the two wheeled carts that you ride standing up), died when he drove his Segway off of a 30 foot cliff.
  • In 1914 a young chemical scientist named Sabin Arnold von Sochocky developed a paint made with radium that would glow in the dark. It was a boon for our military in World War I, for pilots and soldiers could now read the gauges and dials ion the dead of night. There was only one problem: Radium causes cancer. After killing 50 workers at the U.S. Radium Corporation, von Sochocky died of Radium injuries at just 45 years old.

People die. This is the nature of life. Founders of businesses die, founders of religions die. The founder of Islam, Muhammad died in 632 AD. The founder of the Indian Independence Movement, Mahatma Gandhi died from an assassin’s gun in 1948. People die. The Scripture says:

Hebrews 9:27 … it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment

Today we commemorate the death of another Founder, and we will celebrate His death by partaking of what we call “Communion” or “The Lord’s Table”. There is one big difference in the death of Christianity’s Founder and the death of all others.

Jesus didn’t stay dead!

Executed on a Roman Cross after several hours of brutal torture, Jesus’ death was not a mistake nor a miscarriage of justice. Jesus told His disciples:

John 10:15 … I lay down My life for the sheep {His people}

The Great Shepherd, Jesus willingly allowed Himself to be slandered and railroaded into an execution. But Jesus told us:

John 10:17 … I lay down My life, that I might TAKE IT AGAIN …

Jesus promised that – though He would die willingly on that terrible Cross – that death would not be able to hold Him. On the Day of Pentecost – some 50 days after Jesus rose from the Grave – Peter preached:

Acts 2:22-24 (NLT) People of Israel, listen! God publicly endorsed Jesus the Nazarene by doing powerful miracles, wonders, and signs through him, as you well know. 23 But God knew what would happen, and His prearranged plan was carried out when Jesus was betrayed. With the help of lawless Gentiles, you nailed Him to a cross and killed Him. 24 But God released Him from the horrors of death and raised Him back to life, for death could not keep Him in its grip.

Death could not hold Jesus. Jesus told us:

Matthew 12:40 (ESV) For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

Jesus Christ died on that Cross so that we who believe in Him can have access to the Holy Father, Creator of all things. God the Father covered our sins by the death of Jesus. The Apostle says,

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

Jesus is not dead. He died – but He rose again. The resurrection of Christ from death is a key truth in Christianity.

The Resurrection Changes Our View Of Death

Luke 24:1-3 Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulcher, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them. 2 And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulcher. 3 And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus.

Very early in the morning on the first day of the week {Sunday} the Bible tells us that Mary Magdalene, and Joanna, and Mary the mother of James along with other women (Luke 24:10) came to the tomb of our Lord Jesus. Jesus had been crucified on the day before a high Sabbath (John 19:31), three days and three nights before this moment. The women had hastily prepared His body for burial.

Some unbelievers claim that Jesus really didn’t die on the Cross, but just swooned and later revived. Yet the soldiers who crucified Jesus were experts in death. Before they allowed Jesus’ corpse to be taken down from the Cross, we read:

John 19:33-35 {the executioners} came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs: 34 But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water. 35 And he that saw it bare record, and his record is true: and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe.

When blood separates from the plasma or water in the blood it is sure proof that a person has died. Jesus was dead.

Joseph of Arimathaea a very wealthy follower of Christ sought out the governor Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus: and Pilate gave him leave. He came therefore, and took the body of Jesus. (John 19:38). He along with the influential Nicodemus,

John 19:39-40 … brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight. 40 Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury.

Jesus’ body was prepared hastily, before the sunset, for the High Sabbath of Passover was at hand (Luke 23:7-16). Once Jesus’ body was wrapped and laid in the Tomb, a stone was rolled over the mouth of that cave to seal it. A guard was placed on the Tomb, and the Tomb sealed with Pilate’s mark (Matthew 27:66).

In our focal text we see these women coming back to our Lord’s Tomb “with spices they prepared” to better prepare Jesus’ body for the tomb. They expected to see an armed guard and a sealed door. They found nothing that they expected.

Jesus wasn’t there!

Luke 24:2-5 {the women} found the stone rolled away from the sepulcher. 3 And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments: 5 And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead?

Jesus was not in the Tomb, but two men in shining garments were. Were these angels, or men? When you read of the account later (see our context in verse 23) these are actually ANGELS.

Angels announced the birth of Jesus
It is fitting that angels announce the resurrection of Jesus

These angels are at the Tomb as witnesses of the resurrection. In the Law of God, a truth is established …

Deuteronomy 19:15 … at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established.

These two were witnesses to the resurrection of Jesus. Their message is simple: What Jesus said, Jesus did!

Luke 24:5-7 … Why seek ye the living among the dead? 6 He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee, 7 Saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.

Jesus Christ – Eternal God in perfect human form – was born into the creation with one overall purpose. He had to die for our sins. But He also had to rise from the grave to be our Living Savior and Lord. Jesus told His disciples repeatedly …

Luke 9:22 {Jesus said} The Son of man {a favorite title Jesus used for Himself} must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be slain, and BE RAISED THE THIRD DAY.

Luke 9:44-45 … Let these sayings sink down into your ears: for the Son of man shall be delivered into the hands of men. 45 But they understood not this saying, and it was hid from them, that they perceived it not: and they feared to ask him of that saying.

Luke 18:31-33 {Jesus} took unto him the twelve, and said unto them, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of man shall be accomplished. 32 For he shall be delivered unto the Gentiles, and shall be mocked, and spitefully entreated, and spitted on: 33 And they shall scourge him, and put him to death: AND THE THIRD DAY HE SHALL RISE AGAIN.

Jesus told them over and over again – nevertheless the Bible says “they understood not this saying, and it was hid from them, that they perceived it not”. What “hid this saying” from them was their own humanity. It is not normal human experience to see someone die, be laid to rest in a grave three days, then that person come back from the dead. They heard, but did not process it. It was only after the angel reminded them of Jesus’ words that:

Luke 24:8-9 … they remembered his words, 9 And returned from the sepulcher, and told all these things unto the eleven, and to all the rest.

The two witnesses at the Tomb sent the women back to the Apostles, unto the eleven. Judas Iscariot had already killed himself after betraying Jesus, and the eleven that were left were mourning Jesus’ brutal death. When the women came and told them that Jesus was raised from the dead,

Luke 24:11-12 … And their words seemed to them as idle tales, and they believed them not. 12 Then arose Peter, and ran unto the sepulcher; and stooping down, he beheld the linen clothes laid by themselves, and departed, wondering in himself at that which was come to pass.

Though Peter ran to the Tomb, not all who heard of the resurrection of Christ believed. That is surprising to me. It should not surprise anyone that Jesus would rise from the grave. After all, Jesus repeatedly raised people from the dead when He walked on this earth. Jesus defeated death repeatedly while He walked this earth. He defeated death for …

a widow’s son (Luke 7:11-17)
a ruler’s daughter (Luke 8:49-56)
and Lazarus His friend (John 11:38-44)

Our Jesus defeated death. The glorious Gospel that we preach is not just that Christ died for our sins, but that Jesus defeated the grave!

1 Corinthians 15:3-5 I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: 5 And that he was seen …

The actual death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the very foundation of the Gospel of salvation. You cannot be saved unless you believe Christ both DIED then ROSE AGAIN. Jesus walked on this earth for forty days following His death and resurrection. He was SEEN by many who, in turn, were willing to die affirming that they saw a Living Savior. The Apostle Paul said:

1 Corinthians 15:17-22 … if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. 18 Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. 19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. 20 But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first fruits of them that slept. 21 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.

In order to be “saved” a person must “confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that GOD HAS RAISED HIM FROM THE DEAD” (Romans 10:9-10). Without the resurrection death is still man’s greatest enemy. But since Christ has conquered death we can say with the Apostle:

1 Corinthians 15:55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?

Illustrate: Death was not permanent for Jesus, and will not be permanent for us who believe in Him either. The resurrection changes our view of death. I heard the story once of a family traveling, the windows on their car lowered so they could enjoy the day. Suddenly a wasp flew into the car. The little girl, on seeing the wasp, cried out. “Daddy, don’t let it sting me!” Quickly the father reached out, and grasped the wasp in his hand, crushing it. The father was stung by the wasp, but the child was not.

Death, like a wasp, flies uninvited and unexpected into the window of our lives. Yet we need not fear death. Jesus reached out and, grasping the wasp of death, took its sting on Himself. “Oh death, where is thy sting? Oh grave, where is thy victory?” We are more than victors because of Jesus Christ!

The Resurrection Brings Our God Near

Right after the Angel testifies that Christ is risen, and the women go and tell the unbelieving Apostles, we read of two others on the Emmaus Road. These two were there when the women reported what the angels said – but they did not believe! These are two disciples, one of whom is Cleopas. They are walking the seven mile road between Jerusalem and Emmaus, and are sad and recounting the horror of Christ’s death.

Luke 24:15-17 … while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them. 16 But their eyes were holden that they should not know him. 17 And he said unto them, What manner of communications are these that ye have one to another, as ye walk, and are sad?

Why did Jesus draw near to these two men, and not the eleven Apostles that were back in Jerusalem? I believe it was because they were sad, low of spirit. They saw Jesus – the great hope of Israel – die on the cruel Cross of Calvary. They are mourning His death. The Scripture says:

Psalm 34:18 The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.

Jesus asks these men why they are so sad, Cleopas says that what saddens them is …

Luke 24:19-24 … Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people: 20 And how the chief priests and our rulers delivered him to be condemned to death, and have crucified him. 21 But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, to day is the third day since these things were done. 22 Yea, and certain women also of our company made us astonished, which were early at the sepulcher; 23 And when they found not his body, they came, saying, that they had also seen a vision of angels, which said that he was alive. 24 And certain of them which were with us went to the sepulcher, and found it even so as the women had said: but him they saw not.

These men saw Jesus as many see Him today – a Great Prophet, a Great Teacher, a Great Man. They thought that Jesus was going to redeem Israel from Rome but, alas, Jesus was crucified by the leadership of Judaism. Cleopas says “the women didn’t find His body, but said that angels told them He was risen … but we couldn’t find Him!”

Beloved, the women couldn’t find Jesus because they were looking in the wrong PLACE. These men couldn’t find Jesus because they were looking for the wrong PERSON.
But Jesus found them!

Preach This! Jesus Christ is not found in a tomb. And Jesus is no mere Prophet. He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords (1 Timothy 6:15). These men’s eyes were blinded to Christ because they expected a simple King, a simple Prophet, a simple Man to lead Israel away from Rome. God is more than that. Jesus is more than that. Jesus Christ came to redeem His people Israel, to redeem all that will believe on Him as Lord and Savior.

Luke 1:68 Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people

Jesus redeemed His people from the sacrificial Law, being the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29):

Galatians 3:13-14 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: 14 That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

Jesus has also redeemed us from sin and iniquity:

Titus 2:13-14 … our Savior Jesus Christ; 14 Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.

We who are His are redeemed from ritual worship and religion, so that we can walk with the Risen Savior:

1 Peter 1:18-19 Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; 19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:

Jesus Christ redeemed us from circumcision and ceremonial laws and rituals that have no lasting effect. He purchased us with His Blood so that we can become Sons of God by faith in Him. Jesus corrects these two men, saying:

Luke 24:25-27 O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: 26 Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? 27 And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, He expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.

Jesus gave these men a Bible class. He took them to the Old Covenant Scriptures and showed them how each of the rituals of the law were but shadows that foretold the coming of the Messiah. We no longer practice ritual sacrifices because Jesus Christ took their place. We no longer practice ceremonial abstinence from certain foods, for what God has declared clean, do not call it unclean (Acts 10:13-15). We no longer practice ritual circumcision, because in Christ their is neither Jew nor Greek, bond nor free, male nor female, for ye are all one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:28).

As Jesus explains these wonderful truths Cleopas and his friend arrive at home, and they invite the Lord to eat with them. As of yet they do not know this is Jesus. But we read:

Luke 24:30-32 … as {Jesus} sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them. 31 And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight. 32 And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?

Go And Tell Others That Jesus Lives!

Cleopas and his friend nearly run the 7 miles back to Jerusalem. Like the women at the tomb of Christ they can hardly wait to share the news: Jesus is alive! The Bible says:

Luke 24:36-43 And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. 37 But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit. 38 And he said unto them, Why are ye troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts? 39 Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have. 40 And when he had thus spoken, he shewed them his hands and his feet. 41 And while they yet believed not for joy, and wondered, he said unto them, Have ye here any meat? 42 And they gave him a piece of a broiled fish, and of an honeycomb. 43 And he took it, and did eat before them.

If it seems that the Apostles were somewhat hard to convince concerning Christ’s resurrection, the truth is I believe each one of us – if we had gone through what they went through – would have been just as difficult. Jesus told them:

Luke 24:44-48 These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. 45 Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, 46 And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: 47 And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 And ye are witnesses of these things.

Now that the Apostles had experienced the Risen Savior they were now empowered to preach Him among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. Jesus Christ came to save all people from sin, death, and the grave. He is the Risen Savior. We are to preach repentance and remission of sins in His Name – through His death, burial, and resurrection. Jesus Christ is alive! He is alive, and leads His Church this very day.

The resurrection of Christ changes things. It even changed the day the Church met. Prior to Christ God’s Israel worshiped and rested on Saturday. But since Christ rose from the grave on the first day of the week, Sunday became the New Testament Church’s Sabbath Worship (Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:2; John 20:19; John 20:1). Jesus Christ is alive. The devil could not stop Him. The Pharisees could not destroy Him. Death could not keep Him. The grave could not hold Him.

Jesus Christ is alive! He is alive! Do you know Him? Do you know my Jesus? If not, may God the Holy Spirit and His precious Word open your eyes to see Him this very day. Amen and amen!

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My God Enlarges Me

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Turn with me in your Bibles to Psalm 4 – one of the wonderful prayers of a Prayer Warrior and King named simply “David”.

Psalm 4 Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness: thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress; have mercy upon me, and hear my prayer. 2 O ye sons of men, how long will ye turn my glory into shame? how long will ye love vanity, and seek after leasing? Selah. 3 But know that the Lord hath set apart him that is godly for himself: the Lord will hear when I call unto him. 4 Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah. 5 Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the Lord. 6 There be many that say, Who will shew us any good? Lord, lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon us. 7 Thou hast put gladness in my heart, more than in the time that their corn and their wine increased. 8 I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, Lord, only makest me dwell in safety.

One of the greatest weapons that a Christian has is the weapon of prayer. One of the great prayer warriors of yesteryear, E.M. Bounds said:

God shapes the world by prayer. Prayers are deathless. They outlive the lives of those who uttered them. … Prayer honors God, acknowledges His being, exalts His power, adores His providence, secures His aid … Prayer is a trade to be learned. We must be apprentices and serve our time at it. Painstaking care, much thought, practice and labor are required to be a skillful tradesman in praying. Practice in this, as well as in all other trades, makes perfect.”

Sadly, rather than pray too many of us sit at home and watch a worldly and demon influenced television, a screen that spews out incessant hopelessness, gloom and doom.

As a nation we underwent two years of a worldwide pandemic called the Coronavirus. During that period many Americans allowed the government to strip them of their God given rights in order to “protect” the populace. We were imprisoned in our homes, businesses and churches were shut down, and the American economy horribly disfigured by “stimulus” packages that only promoted laziness and a dependency on the government as if it were God Almighty. Neither government nor politicians are God Almighty. There is but One God – and He still reigns supreme over the universe! Rather than panic, obsess, or withdraw from society when afflicted, do what King David did.

King David Called On God First When Tried By Life

Psalm 4:1-2 Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness: thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress; have mercy upon me, and hear my prayer. 2 O ye sons of men, how long will ye turn my glory into shame? how long will ye love vanity, and seek after leasing? Selah.

The Psalms are not only songs that the Hebrews sang, but they are prayers that God recorded for our blessing. When David was afflicted, he did not cry out against the affliction first. Notice the first thing David did was call upon God. No panic. No “oh is me”. He calls upon God.

  • Notice that David does not ASK God to hear his prayer. David COMMANDS God to hear him.

Word Study: “Hear me” is the Qal Imperative of עָנָה ʿānâ (pronounced aw-naw’), or “Pay attention to me!”

Have mercy upon me is the Qal Imperative of חָנַן ḥānan (pronounced khaw-nan’), or “be gracious to me, bend down and bestow kindness or grace”.

Hear my prayer” is the Qal Imperative of שָׁמַע šāmaʿ (pronounced shaw-mah) + תְּפִלָּה tᵊp̄illâ (pronounced tef-il-law’). This means not just to “hear or take heed of”, but it also means “to obey”.

As we read this, we think, “How dare David – or anyone – command God to do anything!?” But if you think this, you miss the point. David is commanding God not as a god himself, but as a child would cry out to a parent. Notice that David calls God …

Psalm 4:1 Hear me when I call,O God of my righteousness:

David calls God the God of my righteousness. The Bible tells us that “God is righteous”. What God does and is is ALWAYS right. When the Prophet Daniel acknowledged the sins of Israel, he said:

Daniel 9:14 Therefore hath the Lord watched upon the evil, and brought it upon us: for the Lord our God is righteous in all his works which he doeth: for we obeyed not his voice.

God is righteous, God is just. The Angel declares:

Revelation 16:5 … Thou art righteous, O Lord, which art, and wast, and shalt be

God always does the right thing. God’s way is always right.

Numbers 23:19 God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?

There is no error in God. Any error is in MAN, in US. God is pure, and righteous, and holy. And we are fallen creatures so far away from God by nature, that we infinitely fall short of His glory. But to those who receive the Lord as Savior, to them God credits righteousness. To those who seek God

Titus 1:2 … in hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began

… those who “call upon the Lord for salvation”, these people are sons of God by faith in Christ Jesus. What does the Scripture promise?

John 1:12 But as many as received {God}, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:

  • God is the “God of MY righteousness” because He credits righteousness to our spiritual account when we receive and believe in Him.

We cannot be righteous enough to be acceptable to God on our own. But when we call upon God, call upon Jesus to be our Savior and Lord, when we believe that He and He alone is the payment for our sins, our High Priest, our Lord …. we become sons of God. God is the God of my righteousness. I am “righteous” because I have believed in and received Jesus as Lord and Savior.

Believing in Him, God has IMPUTED or CREDITED righteousness to my life. The Apostle said:

Philippians 3:8-10 Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, 9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: 10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;

Because of God and His faithfulness the believer is marked “righteous” simply because we have trusted in and responded to Him in our weakness. Because God is faithful, and David called out to the lord to be His Savior, David is marked as righteous.

The Christian properly understood is one whom – upon believing on Christ – God has marked us RIGHTEOUS, and adopted us into His family through the operation of the Holy Spirit.

We are predestined unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to God the Father, according to the good pleasure of His will (Ephesians 1:5). We have received the Holy Spirit of Adoption, by which we cry out, ABBA, FATHER (Romans 8:15).

  • The true Christian belongs to God, and God belongs to him. God is our Parent because of our relationship to Jesus Christ.

Illustrate: When David commands God in prayer, he is commanding as a child would command a Parent. My children have the power to command me when they are in affliction. Years ago, after a long day of work in the Air Force, I came home to rest. Having just settled down I heard the cry of my eldest son. “Daddy, I need you!” Immediately I jumped up, and ran to where my son was, ministering to him in his need (he had broken both arms in a freak accident). If I as a broken and fallible parent can be mobilized by the call of my sons, how much more can God be mobilized when we cry out to Him as His children?

David Reminded Himself That Pain Has A Purpose

Psalm 4:1 Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness: thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress…

If you are a child of God by faith in Christ,

and if God is infinitely in control of all things,
and if God loves you as His child
if all these things are true …

then pain has a purpose. David reminds himself this great truth.

  • Pain drives us into God’s arms.

Just as a child with a skint knee runs to its parent, pain drives us into the arms of God. The Psalmist said:

Psalm 34:18 The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.

The GREAT I AM, Yahweh, is near to the sufferer, because pain breaks away our false bravado and disingenuous faith. Pain makes us realize that we desperately need the Savior. Pain casts down all the false gods and goddesses that we as Americans have engineered to take the place of God. The Prophet, afflicted and hurting, cried out:

Jeremiah 17:14 Heal me, Lord, and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved, for you are the one I praise.

1 Peter 5:7 (ESV) Casting all your anxieties on him, because (God) cares for you.

Rather than worry and fret, God tells us to trust Him, to cast our anxieties and uncertainties on Him. In this confusing and uncertain world, our Heavenly Father cares for you.

  • Our response to pain proves our salvation.

There are many alleged “Christians” in the world that have little to no relationship with God in Christ. They believe they are saved because they,

said a sinner’s prayer
shook the Pastor’s hand
had a clerk put their name on a church roll
had holy water sprinkled on them as a child

Pain cuts through the plastic and the fake Christian credentials. Peter told the suffering early Church Christian:

1 Peter 1:6-9 (ESV) In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, 9 obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

The genuine Christian stands with Jesus, though all the world hate him, and all the demons of hell attack. The genuine believer in Christ has this characteristic: THEY OVERCOME. This is what the Apostle says:

1 John 5:4-5 (ESV) For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. 5 Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

The end time Church (and we ARE the end time Church) will be plagued with false and plastic “Christians”. Yet God says this:

Revelation 2:7 … To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.

Revelation 2:11 … He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.

Revelation 3:5 … He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.

Revelation 3:21 … To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.

Revelation 21:7 … He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.

Do you get the scriptural point? The faith that does not abandon Jesus in the midst of pain and trial is the genuine, God pleasing faith. Life is pain. God gives us the power to overcome all things for His name’s sake!

David Acknowledged His Suffering,
But
RESTED In The Fatherhood Of God

Psalm 4:2 O ye sons of men, how long will ye turn my glory into shame? how long will ye love vanity, and seek after leasing? Selah.

Word Study: The word leasing is the Hebrewכָּזָב kâzâb, (pronounced kaw-zawb’), which means “falsehood, lying, deceit”. The sons of Adam will attack the Sons of God, telling lies about them. The world pursues vanity, the Hebrew רִיק rîyq, {pronounced reek}, which means “the worthless thing”. The world is constantly seeking the worthless thing, or whatever “reeks”.

The world pursues that which REEKS. We as believers in Christ are to shun the reeking, the stinking, the useless, the vile, the empty, the foolish.

As David acknowledges the worthless ways of the sons of Adam, rather than be discouraged, he says,

Selah!

Word Study: The word SELAH!” means “to pause or rest, so as the exalt”. It means that David commanded himself to turn his attention from the ways of the lost, to pause, and to look upward, to focus entirely on His Heavenly Father.

  • Control where you focus your spiritual eye. SELAH. Rest in Christ. Rest in the love and fatherhood of God.

David speaks to his own soul, his spiritual heart directing his spiritual eyes to look godward. David prays:

Psalm 4:3 But know that the Lord hath set apart him that is godly for Himself: the Lord will hear when I call unto him.

If you belong to God, you are set apart for God, by God. God’s eye is on you – ALWAYS. Jesus told us that – if we are saved – we are to be distinctively different from the lost world.

The lost world can be described in one word: ANXIOUS

Look up the word “ANXIOUS” in the dictionary. To be “ANXIOUS” is to be:

worriedconcernedapprehensive
fearfultroubledbothered
disturbeddistressedfretful

If any of those words apply to your life, you are not where God wants you to be. As believers in Christ, we are set apart by and belong to God. Jesus told us:

Matthew 6:25-33 (ESV) … do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

If you are “ANXIOUS”, then do what Jesus said. Turn off the television and radio. Turn off the computer. Get off of social media. Leave your smart phone on silent. DO the things that help build the Kingdom of God. DO the things that please your Heavenly Father. Love God. Show love toward others. DO RIGHTEOUSNESS. Command your soul:

Psalm 4:4 Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah.

  • Rather than being led by your heart, direct your heart. Command your soul to focus on the goodness of God.

If you give way to your emotions, your life will be like a chicken with its head cut off.

David refused to let his emotions rule him. He often commanded himself. Consider …

Psalm 103:1-3 (ESV) Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! 2 Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, 3 Who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases …

or as in Psalm 42:5 (ESV) Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation

David spoke to his soul, commanding and reminding himself that God is faithful, powerful, truthful, and most importantly, his loving Father. This is what made David “a man after God’s own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14; Acts 13:22). Pastor Ryan Griffith (Cities Church, Saint Paul, Mn) writes:

When you are fearful, do you command your soul to trust in the Lord? When your affections are low, do you command your heart to bless the Lord? As Paul Tripp is fond of saying, “no one is more influential in your life than you are because no one talks to you more than you do.” In the particularly difficult moments of the day, how do you talk to yourself?… do you specifically exhort yourself to hope in God?”

In the Law of Moses, God told His people that when they went to battle the enemy, “you shall not be afraid of them, for the Lord your God is with you, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt” (Deuteronomy 20:1). God commanded that Israel NOT be afraid, but that they remember that God is in control, and God is with them. God told the officers of Israel’s Army:

Deuteronomy 20:8 (ESV) … the officers shall speak further to the people, and say, ‘Is there any man who is fearful and fainthearted? Let him go back to his house, lest he make the heart of his fellows melt like his own.

The fearful and fainthearted were not needed in the midst of battle. Anxiety is like a cancer. See how anxiety afflicted Israel when Goliath was on the battlefield (1 Samuel 17:11). “Saul and all Israel … were dismayed and greatly afraid”.

To Israel and Saul, Goliath was too big to kill. But when David came along, he saw a loud mouthed giant who was too big to MISS.

What was the difference between David and Israel at that moment? David’s focus was on the God Who saved him. Israel’s focus was on a loudmouthed giant. Beloved, remember that:

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

Christians, Let Us Offer The Sacrifices
Of Righteousness

Psalm 4:5-8 Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the Lord. 6 There be many that say, Who will shew us any good? Lord, lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon us. 7 Thou hast put gladness in my heart, more than in the time that their corn and their wine increased. 8 I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, Lord, only makest me dwell in safety.

God saved us so that we might serve Him. Let us offer the sacrifices of righteousness. What does this mean? The Apostle tells us:

Romans 12:1-2 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Dedicate yourselves in living for the Lord Who saved you, and keeps on saving you. Do not “freak out”, but faith up. Look for God in whatever you are going through in your life. When Satan whispers treason in your ear, rebuke him in the name of Jesus. “I don’t belong to you, you old devil. I belong to God, your Creator, and my Father. Get thee behind me!” God is in control. Trust Him. For thou, Lord, only makest me dwell in safety.

May God the Holy Spirit draw you close to Him this very day, and every day, for the glory of Christ Jesus our Savior and Lord. Amen and Amen!

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Who Is This Man? A Palm Sunday Message

Photo by Cody Board on Unsplash

Matthew 21:1-11 And when they drew nigh unto Jerusalem, and were come to Bethphage, unto the mount of Olives, then sent Jesus two disciples, 2 Saying unto them, Go into the village over against you, and straightway ye shall find an ass tied, and a colt with her: loose them, and bring them unto me. 3 And if any man say ought unto you, ye shall say, The Lord hath need of them; and straightway he will send them. 4 All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, 5 Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass. 6 And the disciples went, and did as Jesus commanded them, 7 And brought the ass, and the colt, and put on them their clothes, and they set him thereon. 8 And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way; others cut down branches from the trees, and strawed them in the way. 9 And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest. 10 And when he was come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, Who is this? 11 And the multitude said, This is Jesus the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee.

When Jesus came into Jerusalem, the city itself asked the question:

Who is this?

The Multitude Wanted A Physical Savior

Word Study: There was a very great multitude that went in front of this Man riding on a colt, the foal of an ass. The multitude, the Greek ὄχλος óchlos, [pronounced okh’los], means “a crowd, a throng, a huge number of people”. Multitude is a favorite word of Matthew the Tax Collector. Matthew uses this word forty times to describe the people that followed Jesus. As Jesus …

Matthew 4:23-25 … went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people. 24 And his fame went throughout all Syria: and they brought unto him all sick people that were taken with divers diseases and torments, and those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatic, and those that had the palsy; and he healed them. 25 And there followed him great multitudes of people from Galilee, and from Decapolis, and from Jerusalem, and from Judaea, and from beyond Jordan.

Multitudes followed Jesus because He cared for and healed the sick and broken. Jesus cast out demons, and healed everything from mental illness to deadly diseases. There were so many people following Jesus for relief of their suffering that when He taught …

Matthew 5:1 … seeing the multitudes, Jesus went up into a mountain, and sat down …

so that He could teach the people. Who is this Jesus? To the multitudes, Jesus is a miracle worker, a medicine man. Jesus even went beyond this. When Jesus was in Capernaum, the place where He met and called Matthew to follow Him,

Matthew 9:18 … came a certain ruler, and worshiped him, saying, My daughter is even now dead: but come and lay thy hand upon her, and she shall live.

As Jesus headed to the unnamed Ruler’s home, a woman in the crowd, “diseased with an issue of blood for twelve years” (Matthew 9:20) saw Jesus. Thinking to herself, she said:

Matthew 9:21 … If I may but touch his garment, I shall be whole

Touching Jesus – just the hem of His garment – caused her to be healed immediately! Jesus told her,

Matthew 9:22 … Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith has made thee whole!

Who is this man who can heal without a thought? But He is more, more than just a Healer. When He reaches the Ruler’s home, the mourners are crying over this twelve year old girl who has died. This Man said:

Matthew 9:24-25 … Give place: for the maid is not dead, but sleepeth. And they laughed him to scorn. 25 {Jesus responded, and}He went in, and took her by the hand, and the maid arose.

Who is this Man Who not only heals, but raises the dead? The crowds around Jesus grow larger and larger every day. Then it comes time when the Jew must go to Jerusalem, to celebrate the Feast of the Passover. What a special time Passover is! It commemorates the time that God saved Israel from Egypt. The lamb without spot or blemish was to be taken into the home, and killed. It’s blood was placed on the home of the believers, and it’s meat roasted and eaten. The Jews called this Feast Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. God told Israel,

Exodus 12:13 (NIV) The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are; and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt.

The blood of the lamb would make atonement – a covering from the wrath of God – on the home that it was on. Israel left Egypt because of the Passover. Every year Israel was to celebrate the Passover. “In the generations to come, You Israel shall celebrate the Passover. It will be a lasting ordinance.” (Exodus 12:14).

Multitudes are following Jesus – and Jesus is heading into Jerusalem. Why is Jesus going to Jerusalem? Because the Passover must be celebrated. But this Passover will be different from the other Passovers that Israel celebrated. Why? Because of this Man.

This Man Is The Fulfillment Of God’s Promises

Who is this Man, this Jesus? We see a glimpse of Who He is in our text. He needs to go to Jerusalem, to celebrate the Passover at the Temple. We read:

Matthew 21:1-11 And when {Jesus and His disciples}drew nigh unto Jerusalem, and were come to Bethphage{the “House of Unripe Figs”, eastward of Jerusalem}, unto the mount of Olives {a mountain range east of Jerusalem}, then sent Jesus two disciples, 2 Saying unto them, Go into the village over against you, and straightway ye shall find an ass tied, and a colt with her: loose them, and bring them unto me. 3 And if any man say ought unto you, ye shall say, The Lord hath need of them; and straightway he will send them. 4 All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, 5 Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass.

Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem is special this time. He must enter Jerusalem on a colt the foal of an ass. Jesus was going to ride into Jerusalem on “a colt of a donkey that no one had ever ridden before” (Mark 11:1-3). Why is this important. Because over 540 years ago the Prophet Zechariah foresaw the coming of this Man to Jerusalem. Zechariah wrote:

Zechariah 9:9 Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.

When the King of Kings – the prophesied Messiah – came into Jerusalem, He would ride upon a donkey (a jackass), a colt the foal of a jackass. Jesus rode this young donkey into Jerusalem that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet Zechariah. This Man is the fulfillment of Prophecy. When Adam sinned, and brought sin and death into the world by his disobedience:

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

God made a prophecy to Satan, the evil serpent who led Adam into sin. The Lord promised that old devil:

Genesis 3:15 …. 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.

This was God’s first promise that a Messiah – a Redeemer would come and destroy the works of the devil. God was not going to abandon His creation, but He would save it. From the day that that promise was given, mankind waited for the Savior. God prophesied that the Messiah …

would be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2)

Jesus was born in Bethlehem, fulfilling the prophecy (Luke 2:4-6)

would be born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14)

Jesus was born of a virgin (Matthew 1:22-23)

would come from Abraham’s line (Genesis 12:3)

Jesus came from Abraham’s lineage (Matthew 1:1)

would come from the Tribe of Judah (Genesis 49:10)

Jesus came from the line of Judah (Hebrews 7:14)

would inherit King David’s throne (Isaiah 9:7)

Jesus is the inheritor of King David’s throne (Luke 1:32-33)

would be called “Immanuel, God with us” (Isaiah 7:14)

Jesus is Immanuel, God with us (Matthew 1:23)

would have a Herald go before Him (Isaiah 40:3-5)

Jesus had John the Baptist go before Him (Luke 3:3-6)

There were at least 44 prophesies made in the Old Testament about the coming of the Messiah. These prophesies were all fulfilled by the Lord Jesus Christ.

It was prophesied Messiah would be a Nazarene (Isaiah 11:1), would bring light to Galilee (Isaiah 9:1-2), would speak in parables (Psalm 78:2-4; Isaiah 6:9-10). I could go on and on. Throughout Matthew’s Gospel the phrase:

That it might be fulfilled

is repeated ten times. This Man, this Jesus, is the One Whom God promised would come. He is God the Son. Jesus is a Prophet, but much more than a Prophet. He is God with us, God incarnate, God in human form. Demons were afraid of Jesus!

Mark 3:11 … unclean spirits, when they saw him, fell down before him, and cried, saying, Thou art the Son of God.

The multitudes, seeing the miracles that Jesus did,

Matthew 21:9 … the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest.

Who was Jesus to these multitudes? Jesus is he that cometh in the name of the Lord. The multitudes saw Jesus as a present King over Israel, Someone who would cast down Rome as Moses cast down Egypt. They cried out as they laid their outer garments and palm leaves before Jesus:

Hosanna in the highest

Word Study: “Hosanna” is what the multitudes are crying out. “Hosanna” is actually three Hebrew words yāšaʿ nā’ ‘ānnā’, which is a short prayer that means “save us now, I beseech Thee, O Lord” (contracted from Psalm 118:25-26). What the crowd is chanting is: Save us now, we beseech Thee, Oh Son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord!

The multitudes see Jesus as a temporal King Who will rescue Israel from Rome.

Herod saw Jesus as such a King – and for this reason had all the children two years old and younger killed in Bethlehem (Matthew 2:16-18). This, too was a fulfillment of prophecy (Matthew 2:17-18; Jeremiah 31:15). This was not the first time the people would cry out to Jesus to make Him King. In John 6:15 the people tried to make Jesus King – but He refused their efforts.

The people do not need another King. The people need the Messiah, the Savior. The people need the Lamb of God Who taketh away the sin of the world (John 1:29, 36). Jesus is not riding into Jerusalem on a white horse as a conquering King. He is riding into Jerusalem on a donkey, a young donkey. Jesus is coming not to overthrow Rome, but to overthrow Satan and his forces of evil. Jesus is coming to Jerusalem as the fulfillment of every prophecy ever made concerning our deliverance.

Who is this Man, Jerusalem asks. The multitude said:

Matthew 21:11 … This is Jesus the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee.

Yes, Jesus is a Prophet – but He is more than a Prophet. He is the Lord God incarnate. He is the Savior, the Lamb. Yet Jesus is NOT the Prophet of Nazareth. His hometown does not believe Jesus is the Messiah. They mock Him, saying:

Mark 6:2-3 (ESV) “Where did this man get these things? What is the wisdom given to him? How are such mighty works done by his hands? 3 Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him.

The multitude wants Jesus to be their new King, one who will overthrow Rome. And Jerusalem, the Capital City that the King should rule from, does not know Who Jesus is.

Jesus is the Messiah. He is coming to Jerusalem one last time to be sacrificed for our sins. He is coming, not to the Temple to have His blood shed, but to Jerusalem to be executed on a Hill called Calvary.

In just a few days, the multitude that praised Jesus and demanded He be King, would turn and demand His crucifixion. The same crowd that now cheers will in a few days jeer, and mock as Jesus hangs dying for our sins.

Who Is This Man Who Disrupts The Temple?

At the beginning of Jesus’ ministry our Lord entered the area of the Temple. In the Courtyard of the Gentiles Jesus found a marketplace. Jesus found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers sitting there. And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. And he told those who sold the pigeons, “Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.” (John 2:14-17). Some 3 ½ years have passed, and Jesus is entering Jerusalem for the last time. Has Israel learned their lesson?

No, for what does Jesus discover?

Matthew 21:12-14 Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the money changers, and the seats of them that sold doves, 13 And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves. 14 And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple; and he healed them.

Jesus did not come to be a temporary fix to our problems. Jesus Christ came to save whosoever will, and through that salvation to change our hearts to become children of God. Jesus told us:

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

As humans, we need more than a better form of leader. We need to be saved from ourselves. We need a new heart. Jesus can give us new hearts.

Just as Jesus had the blind and the lame come to him in the temple; and He healed them, Jesus alone has the power to heal us. We are all born with a heart problem. Jesus, as the Author of the New Covenant, came to fix our hearts (that is, if we would come to Him in faith). The Prophet Jeremiah spoke to Israel in one of their worst times in human history. Israel had wandered far away from God, just as Israel was far away from God while Jesus walked this earth. God spoke through Jeremiah, saying:

Jeremiah 31:31-34 (ESV) “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, 32 not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord. 33 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34 And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”

God promised that He would come to Israel with a New Covenant, a Covenant that came with a heart transplant. It is this Holy Week that Jesus will institute what we call “The Lord’s Table” at the end of the Feast of the Passover, just before Jesus goes to the Cross. We will celebrate that Lord’s Table next Sunday, on Easter morning. Jesus told His disciples:

Luke 22:20 (ESV) … This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.

1 Corinthians 11:25 (ESV) … “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.

Jesus rode into Jerusalem because the Old Covenant, the Covenant of animal sacrifices, of festivals & feasts, and of circumcision, these things do not change the heart. The Bible says that these things called “The Law” served but one purpose. The Apostle said:

Galatians 3:24-25 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25 But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.

The Law of Sacrifices & Rites was but a shadow of what would come in Jesus Christ. The Law could not work on our hearts. But through Jesus, His sacrifice on Calvary made payment for our sins. The Scripture says:

Hebrews 10:10 … we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

Jesus had to chase the marketplace out of the Court of the Gentiles at the beginning of His ministry because The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). You can make a Law, force people to obey it, but if their heart is unsaved by God, they will sneak around and do it all over again. This is what humans do. Jesus Christ came to replace the Mosaic Law by a Higher Law, a New Covenant. And those who receive Jesus as Lord and Savior are also recipients of the Holy Spirit, Who works a mystery in the life of the believer. It is because of Jesus that the Spirit comes, but it is because of the Spirit that we are born again, indwelt, changed daily, and made the workmanship of God.

Religion is not enough. You need a relationship with God through Jesus Christ His Son.

The money changers and sellers had to be cast out of the Temple twice. The heart is not changed by the Law. This same crowd that is praising Jesus will, in just a few short days, be demanding:

Let Him be crucified!”

Pilate, the Roman Governor, will attempt to release Jesus from crucifixion. He will ask the crowd to allow Jesus to depart, and Barabbas – a known murderer – to be put to death. The crowd will cry out:

Let Him be crucified!”

Pilate asks, “Why? What evil has He done? I find no fault in this Jesus”. Yet the crowd will demand all the more,

Let Him be crucified!” (Matthew 27:20-23)

What evil had Jesus done? He went against the status quo. He called evil, evil. Jesus reached out to sinners, seeking to bring their souls to God. Only God can save. Only God can change the heart. The Scripture says:

Psalm 3:8 Salvation belongeth unto the Lord …

Psalm 62:1 Truly my soul waiteth upon God: from him cometh my salvation.

It is Jesus Who will save. It is Jesus Who can change the heart. Will you not come to Him while you can? The Physician Luke tells us something else that happened when Jesus came into Jerusalem. We read:

Luke 19:41-45 And when he was come near, {Jesus} beheld the city, and wept over it, 42 Saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes. 43 For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, 44 And shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation. 45 And he went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold therein, and them that bought

Before Jesus went into the Temple to cast out the money changers for the second time, Jesus weeps over Jerusalem. Why? Because He knows that the people for whom He came, they will reject Him. As a result, Jerusalem – and Israel – will be destroyed by Roman forces a few years later.

No nation can long stand with wickedness in its heart. No people can survive who reject the love of God and the love of neighbor. Israel will not listen.

Will you listen? Will you hear Jesus calling you to His side? Oh, dear Lord, that you would save our nation, save our communities. I beg you, give yourselves over to Jesus this very day. Jesus can, and will fix you. To God be the glory! Amen and Amen.

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Who Is In Jesus’ Family?

Photo by Tyler Nix on Unsplash

Luke 8:19-21 Then came to {Jesus} his mother and his brethren, and could not come at him for the press. 20 And it was told him by certain which said, Thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to see thee. 21 And he answered and said unto them, My mother and my brethren are these which hear the word of God, and do it.

Jesus had a physical earthly family

His earthly mother Mary is at the door of the house, but cannot get to Jesus. God used Mary to bring forth Christ. Jesus Christ is the Messiah, the Savior of all who will believe on Him. Jesus is …

Revelation 1:5 … Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own Blood …

Jesus is Man. Jesus is Perfect Man. Jesus is Sinless Man. You ask, “How can there be a sinless Man?”, and my answer is, “Only if He is a Unique Creation and God”. Adam was sinless in the Garden of Eden, but when Adam sinned, by one man – Adam – sin entered into the world, and DEATH BY SIN; and so death PASSED UPON ALL MEN, for that all have sinned.” (Romans 5:12). All humans born naturally are born sinners. This is a problem because, though God loves us, God is holy, without sin (1 Peter 1:16; Isaiah 57:15).

God is holy – but we are not!
How can the gap be bridged between God and Man?

A Perfect Man, a Messiah, a Savior, cannot come through human effort. Humans are fallen. God must make a way. God must enter the creation as Man. This is what happened in Jesus. Jesus Christ is ETERNAL GOD THE SON. He declared Himself …

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

Alpha and Omega, Beginning and the Ending” is a title given only to God, “The Almighty”. Our Lord Jesus existed with God the Father and God the Spirit from eternity past. God left eternity, and came to this earth through a virgin named Mary. Yet though Jesus has a beginning as a human, as God Jesus has always been. Colossians 1:17 tells us, “Jesus is before ALL THINGS”, and John 1:3 declares, “All things were made by Him. Nothing ever made was made without Him”.

Jesus Christ is THE Son of God, THE Eternal Son Who came to be among us. He was born through supernatural action. Gabriel told Mary His mother:

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

Jesus is indeed “God with us” (Matthew 1:23). Born of a virgin named Mary, Joseph, Mary’s husband, did not lay with his wife until after Jesus was born. Once Jesus was born, Joseph went on to love his wife Mary, and to have other children by Mary.

Jesus was NOT an only Child!

When Jesus preached in Nazareth, those He grew up with said:

Mark 6:3 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.

Jesus had four stepbrothers – children of Joseph and Mary – along with several sisters who are unnamed. When Jesus began preaching the Kingdom of God and His Gospel, many of His friends – and probably His earthly family – believed “Jesus is beside Himself” (Mark 3:21). We are told in …

John 7:5 (ESV) … For not even his brothers believed in {Jesus}.

His brothers and mother would – after Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection – come to believe in Jesus. On the Day of Pentecost 120 believers would gather in an upper room, and pray together, waiting for the promise of the Spirit. This small Church was …

Acts 1:14 … with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers

Yes, later His earthly family would believe in Jesus. Later Jesus’ stepbrother James would refer to Jesus as “our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory” (James 2:1). But at this point in His ministry, none of Jesus’ immediate family seems to believe that He is the Messiah.

THEN Jesus’ Unbelieving Earthly Family
Came To See Him

Luke 8:19 Then came to {Jesus} his mother and his brethren, and could not come at him for the press.

Our text starts with THEN. The THEN tells us that we need to see what occurred before Jesus stopped at this private home to teach.

Luke 8:1-3 And it came to pass afterward, that He {Jesus} 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.

Word Study: Jesus is traveling with a small group of believers. He is going through every city and village, preaching and shewing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God. The words preaching and shewing are the Greek κηρύσσω καὶ εὐαγγελίζω, kēryssō καί euangelizō which means “to publish or proclaim openly the Gospel or Good News”. The twelve Apostles are with Jesus. There are a few women with Jesus. Mary called Magdalene is there, a person whom Jesus cast seven demons out of her. There is also a woman named Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward. This woman had been afflicted, but Jesus cured her. Joanna is the wife of King Herod’s Cupbearer (see also Luke 24:10), a very important position in the King’s household. The Gospel of Christ had reached into the home of His greatest enemy, Herod. There is also a Susanna, and many others who are ministering to Jesus, meeting His physical earthly needs. God is providing a way for the Gospel to go forth, to be spread to small villages and large cities.

Luke 8:4 And when much people were gathered together, and were come to him out of every city, he spake by a parable:

Word Study: There is a large crowd following Jesus. In the midst of this crowd, Jesus speaks a parable” (παραβολή parabolḗ, [pronounced par-ab-ol-ay’]). The disciples asked Jesus:

Matthew 13:10 … why speakest Thou unto them in parables? …

Jesus told His closest disciples:

Luke 8:10 … Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand.

The Parable is given to the Child of God by faith in Christ. The Parable is NOT given to the unbeliever to help them better understand spiritual truths. The Parable is given to HIDE the deeper truths from the lost. A Parable cannot be understood unless Jesus Christ or the Holy Spirit gives us the key to it. The Christian way of life is a supernatural way of life. You cannot learn your way into being a Christian. You must be born again, born supernaturally into this family. Look when Jesus speaks this Parable:

Luke 8:4 And when much people were gathered together, and were come to him out of every city, he spake by a parable:

A Sower Went Out To Sow

Luke 8:5-8 A Sower went out to sow his seed: and as he sowed, some fell by the way side; and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it. 6 And some fell upon a rock; and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it lacked moisture. 7 And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprang up with it, and choked it. 8 And other fell on good ground, and sprang up, and bare fruit an hundredfold. And when he had said these things, he cried, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

Those who are spiritually deaf – lost people – will hear the words of this Parable, but it will mean nothing to them. Only those with “ears to hear” (Matthew 11:15; 13:9; 13:43; Mark 4:9; 4:23; 7:16) are going to get any benefit from this Parable. To all others it is but noise.

Preach!: You must be born again! You must have received Jesus as Lord and Savior. You must have believed that Jesus is the Only Begotten of the Father. You MUST BE IN A RELATIONSHIP WITH THE LORD BY FAITH. Jesus explains the Parable to those who will come to Him and listen.

Luke 8:11 Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God.

The seed is the word of God”. Jesus has gone throughout every city and village, proclaiming He is Messiah, proclaiming that He is “the Way, the Truth, and the Life: that no one comes to the Father BUT through Him (John 14:6). Jesus is the Owner of the “keys of the Kingdom of Heaven” (Matthew 16:19). It is Jesus Who “has the keys of hades and death” (Revelation 1:18). There is “none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). There is a large crowd following Jesus not just for what He proclaimed, but also for what He has done. Jesus sowed the seed. He did not plow the field, nor break up the ground. What was this seed?

John 6:39-40 … 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.

Jesus said every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on Him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.” Jesus has promised eternal life to whosoever believeth on Him. Jesus sowed the Gospel Seed regardless as to who stood in front of Him. Whether it was a leper, a deaf person, a crippled person, a Jew or a Gentile, Jesus proclaimed Himself the Only Christ, the Messiah. Before Jesus ascended into Heaven, He told us:

Matthew 28:18-20 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. (19) 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: and, lo, I am with you alway, [even] unto the end of the world. Amen.

Jesus did not choose where to sow. Where ever He was, He sowed. Whenever the opportunity presented itself, Jesus sowed. The Sower sows. The Sower does not water, nor cause the seed to grow. The Apostle said:

2 Timothy 2:23-26 But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes. (24) And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all [men], apt to teach, patient, (25) In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; (26) And [that] they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.

The Sower sows the Gospel. The Sower does not sow the word of the world, but the Word of God, the Holy Scripture. Will all sowing be productive? No!

Luke 8:12 Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved.

It’s interesting that the first condition of the Sowing of the Good News is that the seed fall “by the way side. Some people hear the Gospel. They hear that Jesus Christ is the Eternal Son of God, prophesied to come and save us. They hear that:

Isaiah 9:6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

They hear that “unto us was born in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11). They hear that Jesus came to “save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). Though these hear the Gospel clearly preached by Jesus, nonetheless the devil comes, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. That old Devil we call Lucifer, and Satan, and the Great Dragon, and that Ancient Serpent (Revelation 12:9) is constantly warring against the spreading of the Gospel.

The Devil robs the seed of the Gospel in various ways. He brings in strange doctrines. He teaches that “only a certain class of person will be saved”. The devil loves to teach that “the sacrifice of Christ on Calvary is insufficient to save the soul”, that salvation is part Christ and part my efforts. The devil brings in strange doctrines that say “saved, we may remain in our sin”. No, no! Did not the Scripture say in Matthew 1:21, “Jesus shall save His people FROM THEIR SINS”. The Gospel seed changes the heart in which it is sown. “God be thanked, that YE WERE (past tense) the servants of sin, but you have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine that was delivered you” (Romans 6:17). What does the Gospel seed do? It frees us!

Romans 6:18 Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.

The Gospel is not just stolen by Satan, but it can take root on shallow ground. Jesus said:

Luke 8:13 They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away.

Some hear the Gospel, and receive it, but only in a shallow way. There are some who willingly receive the Gospel when they are in hospitals, or in hospice, or at some bleak moment in their lives. They want to receive Jesus as a “Savior” to save them out of what they are being afflicted by. They just want a temporary relief. Jesus said that these believe at first, but then ..

in time of temptation {they} fall away.

Word Study: The word translated temptation is the Greek πειρασμός peirasmós, [pronounced pi-ras-mos’], which means “a trial of a person’s fidelity, integrity, or virtue”. The stepbrother of Jesus, James wrote:

James 1:2-4 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations {peirasmós}, 3 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. 4 But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

God allows trials to come our way to test and strengthen our faith. The faith that cannot stand up to a trial is a faith that cannot save a soul. Many today see Jesus Christ as a spare tire that they are to call on when life gets tough. Jesus Christ is no spare tire. Jesus Christ is the Way to the Father, the entry into the Family of God. When a trial crushes a person’s faith, that person was not truly saved in the first place. The Apostle said:

1 John 2:19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.

Of that large crowd around Jesus, there was a third type of result there from the sowing of the Gospel. Jesus said:

Luke 8:14 And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection.

Word Study: Today we would call this type of person “the Nominal Christian”. This is the person who has decided to stay attached to the world, but also wants to stay attached to Jesus. Jesus does not call this “nominal Christianity”, but a life that is choked”, the Greek συμπνίγω sympnígō, [pronounced soom-pnee’-go], which means “to strangle completely, to choke utterly, to press around so as to suffocate, to press on every side so as to crush”. Are these people saved? I don’t think so, but it’s hard to tell from the text. Jesus said:

John 10:10 … I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.

Jesus chastised those who followed Him that “would not come to Me, that ye might have life” (John 5:40). If your life looks like that of the lost, and you bring no fruit to perfection – you bear nothing for Jesus – then you should carefully examine your salvation. The Bible says:

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

If you are mentally and physically bound to worldly living, the Scripture calls you to repent. 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.

I would not want to meet my Maker while bound to the sinful ways of this world. Beloved, the person who receives Christ as Lord and Savior is CHANGED. Though you will not be perfect, the Scripture says:

2 Corinthians 5:14-15, 17 (ESV) For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 15 and {Jesus} died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. … 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

The saved believer follows after Jesus, not the world. We love and seek Him daily! The Christian is meant to be FRUITFUL.

Luke 8:15 But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.

Word Study: This is the Normal Christian Life. The Christian is first of all supernaturally saved. Hearing and believing the Gospel of Salvation, that person “calls upon the Name of the Lord” and is saved (Acts 2:21). Let’s look at the words HEARD” and “KEEP. They heard the Word of God. They heard Jesus. This is the Greek ἀκούω akoúō, [pronounced ak-oo’-o], which means “to harken to, to stop and apply that which you heard to yourself”. The Gospel will not save you when you apply it to others around you, but not to your own life. Some people on hearing the Gospel think, “Oh, that’s not for me. I’m a good person. I’m in good shape. I don’t need a Savior”. I assure you, if you think this, then you will never have a Savior. The Gospel must be applied to your heart by YOU.

Word Study: The word keep” is the Greek κατέχω katéchō, [pronounced kat-ekh’-o], which means “to hold onto, to hold fast, to possess it, to guard it”. You regard the Word of Salvation, that precious Gospel, as a precious thing. You will not release it, but cling to it. When I was overseas, one of my most prized possessions was my PASSPORT. It showed that I was a citizen of another country, under another sovereign’s laws. The Gospel is the Christian’s passport to glory – and I will never give it up. The Apostle said:

1 Corinthians 15:1-4 … the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; 2 By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. 3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

No Christian makes light of the Gospel of Salvation. We cherish it. We guard it. We live under the Lordship of Jesus Christ!

You Must Be Born Again

Returning to our starting verses, we read:

Luke 8:19-21 Then came to him his mother and his brethren, and could not come at him for the press. 20 And it was told him by certain which said, Thy mother and Thy brethren stand without, desiring to see thee. 21 And He answered and said unto them, My mother and my brethren are these which hear the word of God, and do it.

Heaven is God’s Home. Heaven is where the Children of God will one day go. How can I become a Child of God? I must hear the word of God, and do it. I must hear the Gospel and, applying it to my life, repent and surrender my life to Jesus. Jesus recognizes no relatives of His that have not believed in Him. None. Not even His own stepbrothers.

Let us give ourselves wholly to Him. For the glory of God, and to honor Jesus – call upon Him and be saved! May God the Holy Spirit draw you into Christ’s family this very day. Amen and Amen!

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Who Is God?

Photo by Kalen Emsley on Unsplash

Turn with me in your Bibles to Jeremiah chapter 1. Jeremiah comes right after Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Solomon, Isaiah, JEREMIAH. Jeremiah was known as the “Weeping Prophet”. Why? Because God had been good to Israel, but Israel turned away from God. God’s people were chasing sin. God’s people had become indistinguishable from the lost peoples around them. So God sent Jeremiah to a hard hearted people with an uncomfortable message.

Jeremiah preached to Israel more than 40 years. The Book of Jeremiah, is the longest book in the Bible by Hebrew word count. It has 22,285 Hebrew words.

Jeremiah Teaches Us The Goodness
& Faithfulness Of God

We see God’s goodness in Jeremiah’s appointment: We are told in Jeremiah 1:1 that these are the words of Jeremiah, the son of Hilkiah, of the priests that were in Anathoth in the land of Benjamin” (1:1). Jeremiah is the son of Hilkiah. Jeremiah’s father Hilkiah is the Hebrew חִלְקִיָּה Chilqîyâh, {pronounced khil-kee-yaw’}, which means “The LORD {YHWH} Is My Portion”. The Priestly Tribe of Israel, the Levites, were given no land when they entered Canaan. As priests, God was their Portion (Deuteronomy 10:9; 18:1-8). As the son of a Priest, Jeremiah should have been a Priest himself. However, his father was of the lineage of priests that came from Abiathar. When King Solomon came to the throne, his elder brother Adonijah conspired with the Priest Abiathar to take the throne from Solomon. Solomon ordered his brother Adonijah’s death for this treasonous treachery. But rather than kill the Priest Abiathar, Solomon fired him, and exiled him and his family to (1 Kings 2:20-27)

Anathoth, unto thine own fields; for thou art worthy of death: but I will not at this time put thee to death, because thou barest the ark of the Lord God before David my father, and because thou hast been afflicted in all wherein my father was afflicted.”

Jeremiah, though of the line of priests, could not be a priest because his family was deposed from that office. Jeremiah was – in effect – punished for something he had no control over. Growing up, I’m sure Jeremiah felt less than and at a loss. But our God does not punish the innocent for the guilty. God called Jeremiah:

Jeremiah 1:4-5 Then the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, 5 Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.

The word Then tells us that Jeremiah was called to prophesy when Jerusalem was at its lowest point. God’s people had turned away from the Lord to follow false idols and selfishness. God allowed Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylon to invade Judah, and deport its citizens four times (605, 597, 586, 582 BC). In 586 BC Jerusalem fell, and the Temple was destroyed. Why? Because God’s people stopped following the Lord.

But God in His love nevertheless raised up a Prophet to call His people to repentance. Jeremiah was that Prophet.

See the Goodness of God! God had a plan for Jeremiah’s life, just as He has a plan for yours. No one can mess up God’s plan that He has for you BUT YOU. When God made the world, He made it good, because God is good. The world is not a mess because God made it so, but because WE made it so. God made us in His image, and after His likeness” (Genesis 1:26). God gave us dominion over this planet. God gave us a companion, a spouse of the opposite sex. When the couple became one flesh (Genesis 2:24), they multiplied and filled the earth. When we look at the intricacy of our bodies, we, along with King David, can say:

Psalm 139:14 I will praise Thee {O Lord}; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.

Our God is SO GOOD! Adam brought sin into the world, and death by sin. Death passed upon all people, for all are sinners” (Romans 5:12). God could have destroyed all of humanity by wiping out Adam and Eve, but God did not. Why? Why did God allow mankind to continue on? Because the goodness of God endureth continually” (Psalm 52:1). It is the the goodness of God {that} leadeth thee to repentance” (Romans 2:4). Praise Him, that …

Psalm 103:10-11 (ESV) {God} does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. 11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His steadfast love toward those who fear Him;

God did not have to give Jeremiah another chance – but He did. God told Jeremiah that his life was planned before he was even a zygote! Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee. God wanted Jeremiah to be His Prophet. Jeremiah was frightened by this call.

Jeremiah 1:6 Then said I, Ah, Lord God! behold, I cannot speak: for I am a child.

When Moses was called to lead Israel out of Egypt, he gave God a similar excuse as to why he couldn’t fulfill the plan of God. Moses said, O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant: but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue” (Exodus 4:10). God told Moses, Who hath made man’s mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the Lord? Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say.” (Exodus 4:11-12).

If God calls you, He will equip you to do what He calls you to do. Just trust in Him.

God is not only GOOD, but God is FAITHFUL
(1 Corinthians 1:9; 10:13)

God tells Jeremiah:

Jeremiah 1:7-8 … Say not, I am a child: for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak. 8 Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the Lord.

Then God, we are told,

Jeremiah 1:9 … the Lord put forth his hand, and touched my mouth. And the Lord said unto me, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth.

God Is Not Just Good And Faithful, But God Is HOLY

So many people today think of God as “Good”, “Faithful”, and even “Love”. God is indeed all these things. But God is also HOLY and RIGHTEOUS.

Why was Judah being afflicted by Babylon? Was it because God was forgetful, or less than powerful? No! It was because His people began to be UNHOLY and UNRIGHTEOUS.

God’s people are NOT to be UNHOLY or UNRIGHTEOUS. When Jesus Christ was born into this earth, the Angel told Joseph:

Matthew 1:21 {Mary} shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins.

When God saves a people, He does not allow them to remain in their sins. When God saves a people, He expects His people to follow Him. He said:

Leviticus 20:7 Sanctify yourselves therefore, and be ye holy: for I am the Lord your God.

1 Peter 1:14-16 As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: 15 But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; 16 Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.

God will not bless an unholy people. He will not bless an unrighteous child. Our God is Holy. Our God is Righteous. I don’t think people understand this concept – even those I have great respect for. For instance …

Illustrate: I was listening to a group of Christian musicians called Mercy Me the other day, hearing their new song entitled “Flawless”. In the song they sing:

Well let me introduce you to amazing Grace.
No matter the bumps, No matter the bruises;
No matter the scars, Still the truth is;
The cross has made, The cross has made you flawless.
No matter the hurt, Or how deep the wound is,
No matter the pain, Still the truth is,
The cross has made, The cross has made you flawless.”

Is it true that “the Cross has made you flawless”? No, it’s not true. The Cross doesn’t make you flawless.
The Cross makes you blameless.

You will not find a scripture anywhere in the Bible that says that the Cross makes you flawless. You are flawed, and will be flawed while you are on this earth in this life. Jeremiah was “but a child”, unable to do God’s Work. But God told him, “I’ll put the words in your mouth. I’ll give you the words to say.” Moses likewise was not flawless, but flawed. “I am not eloquent”. The Cross doesn’t make you flawless, it makes you blameless. Here’s the Scripture:

Colossians 1:19-23 (ESV) … For in {Jesus} all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through {Jesus} to reconcile to {God} all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. 21 And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22 {Jesus} has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, 23 if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation[g] under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.

The Cross does not make us flawless. The Cross makes the believer in Jesus three things:

holy
blameless
above reproach

Adam traded …

Paradise for Perdition,
the Garden of Eden for Gehenna,
daily communion with God with contention against God.

Though God is good and faithful and merciful, Adam betrayed God, and brought sin into the world. God is HOLY. He is WITHOUT SIN. When the Prophet Isaiah looked into Heaven, what did he see?

Isaiah 6:1-4 … I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2 Above him stood the seraphim {angels}. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” 4 And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke.

When Isaiah saw God in His holy glory, he cried out “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!”. This is the natural state of man. God is holy, without blemish, righteous and true. When we see Him face to face we realize that we do not measure up to God. He is pure. We are flawed, broken creatures. Only when an angel took a burning coal from the altar of God and put it on Isaiah’s lips (Isaiah 6:6), only then was Isaiah’s iniquity purged (Isaiah 6:7).

This is a picture of the Cross of Christ.
The Cross was God’s Altar of sacrifice.
The Lamb of God died on that Cross.
The Lamb of God paid our sin debt on that Cross.

The Cross of Christ does not make us flawless. The Cross makes the believer holy. When you believe on the Only Begotten Son of God, God Himself marks you, and enters your life. You become one of His Children. Flawed yes, but a Child Who loves the Father, a Child Who loves Jesus. Because Jesus took the penalty for my sin on Himself while on that Cross of Calvary, I as a believer am blameless. Jesus took my blame. He took my punishment. Praise Him, He took the whipping that I should have taken. But not only this, God makes His Children by faith above reproach. Jesus not only took our penalty on Himself, but Jesus imputed His righteousness TO US (Romans 4:22-24).

God saved Israel out of Egypt, and Israel is not to be like Egypt anymore. Egypt is worldliness. God saves the Christian out of the world. The Christian is to live in the Kingdom of God, emulating Jesus.
We are not to be like the world.

God gives Jeremiah two visions:

Jeremiah 1:11-12 Moreover the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Jeremiah, what seest thou? And I said, I see a rod of an almond tree. 12 Then said the Lord unto me, Thou hast well seen: for I will hasten my word to perform it.

The first vision is a rod of an almond tree. The almond tree was also known as “the watching tree”, as the word “almond” is the Hebrew shaqed, but the word for “watching” is the Hebrew shoqed. God was watching over Judah. He was watching to see if they would repent and return to Him Who loved them. Further, it is a rod, which is the Hebrew maqqêl, {pronounced mak-kale}. This word is used of the staff that a traveler might use for walking (Genesis 32:11), or when riding an animal (Numbers 22:27). When David went to meet Goliath, he carried a staff with him (1 Samuel 17:40). God was watching His people, watching their unfaithfulness. God was coming to punish them if they would not repent.

The second vision that God gave Jeremiah was …

Jeremiah 1:13-15 And the word of the Lord came unto me the second time, saying, What seest thou? And I said, I see a seething pot; and the face thereof is toward the north. 14 Then the Lord said unto me, Out of the north an evil shall break forth upon all the inhabitants of the land. 15 For, lo, I will call all the families of the kingdoms of the north, saith the Lord; and they shall come, and they shall set every one his throne at the entering of the gates of Jerusalem, and against all the walls thereof round about, and against all the cities of Judah.

Jeremiah saw a seething” pot, the Hebrew nâphach, {pronounced naw-fakh’}, which means “a blowing or breathing pot”. When God made Adam from the dust of the Garden, the Scripture says “God breathed {nâphach} into his nostrils the breath of life” (Genesis 2:7). What is coming to Judah is not a breath of life, but a breath of death, defeat, destruction, and disaster. Though Babylon is coming, it is God Who is driving this. Through this God says:

Jeremiah 1:16 And I will utter my judgments against them touching all their wickedness, who have forsaken me, and have burned incense unto other gods, and worshiped the works of their own hands.

God punishes sin. God and sin are not compatible. When God (who is GOOD) saves us, He does not save us so we can follow other gods or the works of our hands. He saves us so that we can live as children of the Kingdom of God.

Two of my favorite Presidents are Ronald Reagan and Abraham Lincoln. They were both very humorous men. One story I heard of Abraham Lincoln is that one day he wanted to go out riding, but the horse he tried to ride was extremely skittish. Every time he tried to mount the horse, it would back away, or start bucking and kicking. At one point the horse hooked one of it’s rear hooves in the rider’s stirrup. President Lincoln said to the horse, “If you’re going to get on, my friend, I’m going to get off!”

Who’s In Charge Of The Horse?

I believe what President Lincoln said to the horse is what God is saying to us in America today. He’s saying, “If you’re going to get on, I’m going to get off”. God saved Israel so that Israel could serve Him. He told Pharaoh,

Exodus 7:16 (ESV) Let my people go, that they may serve me in the wilderness.

In the same way, God saves the Christian so that we might serve Him. Pastor Rick Warren said:

You were saved to serve God. The Bible says, “It is he who saved us and chose us for his holy work not because we deserved it but because that was his plan” (2 Timothy 1:9a TLB). God redeemed you so you could do his “holy work.” You’re not saved by service, but you are saved for service. In God’s Kingdom, you have a place, a purpose, a role, and a function to fulfill. This gives your life great significance and value. It cost Jesus his own life to purchase your salvation. The Bible reminds us, “God paid a great price for you. So use your body to honor God” (1 Corinthians 6:20 CEV).”

When God saves you, He saves you not to be comfortable, but to live within His plan for your life. We are saved out of the world, and into His Kingdom. The Scripture says:

Romans 14:17 (ESV) For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

If you are in God’s Kingdom by faith in Christ, it is not about YOU …

It is not about YOU …
It is NOT about YOU …

It is about God. We are called to righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. We are to be like Jesus. If we are in Christ, we are to …

1 Timothy 6:11 flee {the}se things {of the world}; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness

You may stand alone with God. Yet if you do, you will be in a great place. God told Jeremiah that punishment was coming to Judah because she rejected Him as God. But God told Jeremiah:

Jeremiah 1:17-19 Thou therefore gird up thy loins, and arise, and speak unto them all that I command thee: be not dismayed at their faces, lest I confound thee before them. 18 For, behold, I have made thee this day a defensed city, and an iron pillar, and brazen walls against the whole land, against the kings of Judah, against the princes thereof, against the priests thereof, and against the people of the land. 19 And they shall fight against thee; but they shall not prevail against thee; for I am with thee, saith the Lord, to deliver thee.

David stood before Goliath and won. Why? God was with him.

Moses stood before Pharaoh and won. Why? God was with him.

Jeremiah will stand before Judah and win. Why? God was with him.

Stand with the Lord, and you shall be blessed. May God make His Church to do so, for the glory of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen and Amen!

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Jesus’ Prayer From Calvary

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Turn with me in your Bibles to Psalm 22.

The disciples watched everything Jesus did. Watching Him pray:

Luke 11:1 … as {Jesus} was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, one of His disciples said unto Him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.

One of His disciples came to Jesus one day and said, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples”. That was when Jesus taught them what we call the Lord’s Prayer. The Lord’s Prayer we know best in is Matthew 6:9-13, but the Lord’s Prayer is also recorded in:

Luke 11:2-4 And {Jesus} said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth. 3 Give us day by day our daily bread. 4 And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.

This, I’m sure, is a different “Lord’s Prayer” than the one most of you have memorized; but Luke’s account has all the same elements as does Matthew 6:9-13.

The Lord taught His disciples
How to pray by His example

The Apostles recorded the thirty eight times Jesus prayed in the Gospels. As an Orthodox Jew, Jesus prayed at least three times a day as the Jews normally did. “Evening and morning and at noon will I pray and cry aloud: and God shall hear my voice!” (Psalm 55:17). Jesus prayed all night before He chose the first twelve Apostles (Luke 6:12-16). Jesus prayed various times as He met great challenge and darkness. Jesus prayed in Gethsemane all night prior to his capture, trials, and crucifixion.

Jesus also prayed while He was being crucified, one of the most terrible and shameful forms of death. Jesus prayed as He hung on Calvary:

“Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34)

Jesus Quoted Psalm 22:1 in His Prayer From Calvary

Psalm 22:1 My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?

Jesus prayer is the introduction to what is known as the Psalm of the Cross. the Psalm begins with the prayer our Lord Jesus on the Cross. Jesus cried out:

My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?

Why did the Father look away from the Son? Why would Father – who always called Jesus “Beloved Son” – forsake Jesus? Because the penalty of our sin was laid fully on Jesus. The Scripture says in

Isaiah 53:5-6 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

God is of purer eyes than to behold evil, and cannot look on iniquity (Habakkuk 1:13). The Father laid upon Jesus our iniquity and our transgressions. Jesus Christ came into this world to die on the Cross of Calvary. Jesus came knowing that He was the Lamb of God that takes away sin.

As the Messiah (and David) pray, there is the sense that God the Father is not listening.

Psalm 22:1 … why art Thou so far from helping Me, and from the words of My roaring?

Though these words are not recorded as a prayer that Jesus said from Calvary, I believe
Jesus could have prayed this.

Dr. Bob Utley (retired professor of hermeneutics), in his Bible Commentary, notes:

“ The psalmist is calling on God in direct address with intensity and passion. They know each other! Just a note about Jesus quoting the first part of this psalm from the cross, by that He meant (or an inspired gospel writer) for future readers to read the whole psalm. Quoting the first line was a way to denote a context on a Scripture scroll. ”

Jesus always walked hand in hand with both Father and Spirit. Yet now it seems as if God is so far away, that He might not hear my prayers. Jesus is the Son of Man Who came to this earth living a perfect and sinless life. His mission is to give His life for our sins. In taking sin on Himself, Jesus is cutting Himself off from both Father and Spirit.

Psalm 22 is not only a prayer of David, but it is a prophecy fulfilled when Jesus died for our sins. He did so by losing contact with our Father because of our sin. This prayer continues:

Psalm 22:2-3 O my God, I cry in the day time, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent. 3 But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel.

Though God was seemingly far away, the Psalmist presents a person who continued to both seek as well as to praise the Lord.

Though suffering, Jesus does not attack God in His suffering. He calls God “holy”, and the One Who “inhabit{s} the praises of Israel”. He prays God’s past faithfulness.

Psalm 22:4-6 Our fathers trusted in thee: they trusted, and thou didst deliver them. 5 They cried unto thee, and were delivered: they trusted in thee, and were not confounded. 6 But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people.

The fathers of Israel trusted the Lord, and He delivered them. But God’s only Begotten Son could not be deliver.

On Calvary, Jesus was treated like He was nothing. “He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not” (Isaiah 53:3). I believe in His honesty He would have shared with the Father – as David did – the suffering he was going through.

None was more reviled in His life than Jesus was. As He was on the Cross,

Psalm 22:7-8 All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, 8 He trusted on the Lord that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him.

Again, this is prophetic, as it was fulfilled . Suffering, none offer any comfort. They mock Him, and scorn Him.

Matthew 27:39-43 And they that passed by reviled him, wagging their heads, 40 And saying, Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross. 41 Likewise also the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said, 42 He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him. 43 He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, I am the Son of God.

Jesus received nothing but mockery and pain. Though when He was reviled, reviled not in return; when He suffered, He threatened not, but committed Himself to Him that judgeth righteously.

David prayed,

Psalm 22:9 But thou art he that took me out of the womb: thou didst make me hope when I was upon my mother’s breasts. 10 I was cast upon thee from the womb: thou art my God from my mother’s belly. 11 Be not far from me; for trouble is near; for there is none to help. 12 Many bulls have compassed me: strong bulls of Bashan have beset me round. 13 They gaped upon me with their mouths, as a ravening and a roaring lion. 14 I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels. 15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death. 16 For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have enclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet.

All (even the Presence of the Father) turned against Jesus while He was on the Cross. . Surrounded by enemies Jesus continues to pray. The Prophet speaks. He prays, acknowledging the terrible pain that gripped Him. His “bones are out of joint” because of the crucifixion. His heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels. Jesus is physically exhausted. Blood loss has caused loss of strength and dehydration. “My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws”.

Psalm 22:17-19 I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me. 18 They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture. 19 But be not thou far from me, O Lord: O my strength, haste thee to help me.

Again, this could be Jesus’ prayer. Stretched out on the Cross, you would be able to count the ribs of the condemned. The Bible says in:

John 19:23-24 Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took his garments, and made four parts, to every soldier a part; and also his coat: now the coat was without seam, woven from the top throughout. 24 They said therefore among themselves, Let us not rend it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be: that the scripture might be fulfilled, which saith, They parted my raiment among them, and for my vesture they did cast lots. These things therefore the soldiers did.

Jesus is hanging on Calvary, all of His dignity gone! And yet, He continues to pray, to find His strength in His Father.

Psalm 22:20-23 Deliver my soul from the sword; my darling from the power of the dog. 21 Save me from the lion’s mouth: for thou hast heard me from the horns of the unicorns. 22 I will declare thy name unto my brethren: in the midst of the congregation will I praise thee.

Though afflicted, this Seeker sought deliverance from His suffering, while continuing to honor the Father. He vowed, “I will declare thy name unto my brethren: in the midst of the congregation will I praise thee”. God would be glorified and praised. If you take Psalm 22:1-22 as a prayer, you see a pattern of how we could pray, though afflicted.

Rather than hiding yourself from God, be honest and forthcoming. Bring your questions to the Father. “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?” (vs 1). It is ok to share your pain to the Father. It is ok to ask questions. Yet, we are never to condemn God for whatever might come. At no point in this prayer does the sufferer “punch down” on God. As the Psalmist went through hard times in His ministry, He called on God for strength. He called on God to be Present.

In the first 22 verses we see what could be a prayer from the Cross. But as we turn to verse 23 and following, this is no longer a prayer. The remaining verses DO NOT SPEAK TO GOD, BUT SPEAK TO THE PUBLIC. You might call these verses an anointed Word:

Psalm 22:23-24 Ye that fear the Lord, praise him; all ye the seed of Jacob, glorify him; and fear him, all ye the seed of Israel. 24 For he hath not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; neither hath he hid his face from him; but when he cried unto him, he heard.

We are encouraged to praise God, giving Him glory even in the midst of the trial. If the trial has come to you, it has come at the behest of the Creator. Because we “fear the Lord,we praise him”, because He is good. Our God has never his Himself from the afflicted, but hears our prayers.

Psalm 22:25-27 My praise shall be of thee in the great congregation: I will pay my vows before them that fear him. 26 The meek shall eat and be satisfied: they shall praise the Lord that seek him: your heart shall live for ever. 27 All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the Lord: and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee.

The prayer still praises God, because our God is good! (Psalm 73:1). The Scripture 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”. Our God is in control! “For the kingdom is the Lord’s: and he is the governor among the nations”(Psalm 22:28). The Jesus Who was reviled, mocked, and tormented relies fully on the Father.

When Jesus is Lord of this earth, “all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before {Him}”. That Day is coming – and I’m looking forward to it. This Psalm ends with the promise of the future:

Psalm 22:29-31 All they that be fat upon earth shall eat and worship: all they that go down to the dust shall bow before him: and none can keep alive his own soul. 30 A seed shall serve him; it shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation. 31 They shall come, and shall declare his righteousness unto a people that shall be born, that he hath done this.

May your future be firmly rooted in Jesus Christ. Let us worship Him, for He is worthy. As J Vernon McGee once said in Thru The Bible,

“in Psalm 22 we see the cross, in Psalm 23 the crook (the Shepherd’s crook), and in Psalm 24 the crown (the King’s crown). In Psalm 22 Christ is the Savior; in Psalm 23 He is the Satisfier; in Psalm 24 He is the Sovereign. In Psalm 22 He is the foundation; in Psalm 23 He is the manifestation; in Psalm 24 He is the expectation. In Psalm 22 He dies; in Psalm 23 He is living; in Psalm 24 He is coming. Psalm 22 speaks of the past; Psalm 23 speaks of the present; and Psalm 24 speaks of the future. In Psalm 22 He gives His life for the sheep; in Psalm 23 He gives His love to the sheep; in Psalm 24 He gives us light when He shall appear. What a wonderful picture we have of Christ in these three psalms!”

Let us learn to pray like Jesus prayed. And now, to our prayer service. Amen and Amen.

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Be Strong – Grow In Grace

Photo by James Coleman on Unsplash

Turn with me in your Bibles to 2 Timothy chapter 2. A few weeks ago we studied the “faithful sayings” of the Apostle Paul, pistos logos, “faithful is the Word”. We looked at:

2 Timothy 2:11-13 It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him: 12 If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us: 13 If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself.

I noted then that, if as believers we deny Jesus, that is, to allow that there are other ways to be saved apart from Jesus, or if we affirm that anyone but Jesus is the Messiah, then He will deny us. We can have a crisis of faith – we have all experienced that at times. But we cannot deny Him, or we will be denied.

Look at verse 1:

2 Timothy 2:1 Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.

Paul exhorts Timothy – a missionary he left at Ephesus – to be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. It is GRACE that saves a person. If we are saved BY GRACE, then our salvation is not of WORKS, otherwise GRACE is no more GRACE (Romans 11:6).

We are not saved by:

religious ritual, by bead counting, by praying to a saint or to Mary.
We are not saved by animal sacrifices, nor by holy water, nor by
ceremonial baptism (which is but a like figure of salvation – 1 Peter 3:21). We are not saved by genuflection, by a human priest’s blessing,
by last rites, by institutions, by human efforts.

We are saved by Grace. Ephesians 2:8-9 “For by GRACE are ye saved THROUGH FAITH; and THAT NOT OF YOURSELVES: it is the GIFT OF GOD, NOT OF WORKS, lest anyone should boast. It is the sacrifice that Jesus made on the Cross that saves me. When I received Jesus as Lord and Savior, believing Him to be the one and only Messiah, the Savior, and believed He died for my salvation, and rose from the grave for my justification – then God the Holy Spirit saves me. It is the Spirit of God that causes the Christian to be “born again”. Not as we were, but as children of God.

It is GRACE that brings us to the new birth. It is GRACE that makes the new creature in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). Rituals do nothing. The Apostle said:

Galatians 6:15 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.

But Grace Is Not A Temporal Thing

The Christian is SAVED by GRACE (Ephesians 2:5), but GRACE is also what we live in. The Bible tells us to:

2 Peter 3:18 But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.

Grace is something we GROW in. Our focal text says:

2 Timothy 2:1 Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.

We are strong in the grace when we – when afflicted or placed in the crucible of life – run to the arms of Jesus rather than relying on our strength. Blessed is the one whose strength is in God” (Psalm 84:5). Blessed is the one who trusteth in God” (Psalm 84:12). Blessed is the one that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is. But cursed is the one who trusts in man, who makes flesh his arm, whose heart departs from the Lord (Jeremiah 17:5-8). Oh Beloved, we need to be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.

How do we grow in Grace?
How do we get STRONGER in Grace?

We rely upon the Word of God. We rely upon the teaching of the Prophets and the Apostles, this thing we call the Holy Bible. The Apostle tells Timothy (and Timothy is helping establish local churches in Ephesus):

2 Timothy 2:2 And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.

Paul says, the things that thou hast heard of me, the truths that Paul wrote in the Bible, Timothy was to heed that Word. Timothy was also to teach what he had been taught by the Apostle to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also. The Church and it’s power is derived from the teachings of the Apostles and Prophets found in this Bible.

There was a time when Baptists were called “people of the Book”. When we came together as a Church, every Christian would bring their Bible. We believed the Bible to be the Word of God, inspired of God, and written by holy men as they were “moved by the Holy Spirit(2 Peter 1:21). When Jesus was in the Upper Room, teaching His disciples just before His crucifixion, He told them:

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

The Holy Spirit would come to the Apostles first to teach them the truth of God’s Word. The Holy Spirit would minister to the Apostles first,

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

In the Old Testament, God moved on the Prophets to write the Word of God, the Bible. In the New Testament the Holy Spirit of God moved on the Apostles, causing them to write the sacred scriptures. The Southern Baptist Faith and Message states that the Scriptures are:

… written by men divinely inspired and is God’s revelation of Himself to man. It is a perfect treasure of divine instruction. It has God for its author, salvation for its end, and truth, without any mixture of error, for its matter. Therefore, all Scripture is totally true and trustworthy. It reveals the principles by which God judges us, and therefore is, and will remain to the end of the world, the true center of Christian union, and the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and religious opinions should be tried. All Scripture is a testimony to Christ, who is Himself the focus of divine revelation. Exodus 24:4; Deuteronomy 4:1-2; 17:19; Joshua 8:34; Psalms 19:7-10; 119:11,89,105,140; Isaiah 34:16; 40:8; Jeremiah 15:16; 36:1-32; Matthew 5:17-18; 22:29; Luke 21:33; 24:44-46; John 5:39; 16:13-15; 17:17; Acts 2:16ff.; 17:11; Romans 15:4; 16:25-26; 2 Timothy 3:15-17; Hebrews 1:1-2; 4:12; 1 Peter 1:25; 2 Peter 1:19-21. (Section I, Baptist Faith & Message, 2000)

The Church and the Christian have lost their power in this present age because we do not believe the Scripture necessary nor sufficient. Consider how few come to our Wednesday night and Sunday night services. If our people believed the Scripture to be sufficient, they would come to hear it and apply it to their lives. Listen Beloved:

You are only STRONG in GRACE and GROWING in GRACE when you feast on the truths of God’s Word.

The early Church grew because …

Acts 2:42 … they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.

They continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine, that is, the writings the Apostles made that we today call the New Testament. These men wrote as empowered by God the Holy Spirit. The Apostle Paul told Timothy to heed HIS WORDS, and to TEACH THESE WORDS to other people of faith.

Timothy helped local Churches organize in Ephesus. When Paul wrote to the Church at Ephesus, not how he described the Church:

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

The Church is built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets. Paul is speaking of the Bible you have. The FOUNDATION of the Church is not strange and worldly philosophies, but the Holy Scripture, rightly read, studied, and understood.

Illustrate: Recently in USA TODAY I read:

Penn swimmer Lia Thomas becomes first
trans woman to win NCAA swimming championship”

This biological man beat the women with the best time. The liberal world cheers this. Yet the “Washington Examiner” noted:

Thomas, formerly known as Will Thomas, competed on the University of Pennsylvania’s men’s swimming team for the first half of his collegiate career before deciding to transition and join the women’s swimming team. When he made the switch, Thomas went from ranking #462 as a male to #1 as a female. He went on to break multiple records at the national level this season. In one December race, he beat the girls swimming against him by nearly 40 seconds. On Thursday, he finished the 500-yard freestyle two seconds ahead of every other swimmer, two of whom were Olympians.”

This is what happens when people depart from the Word of God. The Scripture defines God’s design, whereas Americans today are defying God’s design. What God has established as true and proper are found in this Scripture, this Holy Book. We read:

2 Timothy 2:3-5 Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. 4 No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier. 5 And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully.

We as Christians are in a battle for the souls of mankind. On our side is the Holy Scripture, a Scripture that the world, and much of the Church, does not believe. This is why there is mass confusion in America today, because we have as a nation and as a Church departed from the sufficiency of the Scripture. So many professing Christians sit watching hours of television, flooding their souls with the word of man, while ignoring the Word of God.

If you love and adhere to God’s Word, you are going to be in the minority. You will be ridiculed by the enemy. You perhaps will be banned from social media, or even imprisoned for what you believe. Yet we are to continue our allegiance to Jesus Christ and this Word of God – even unto the death.

2 Timothy 2:7-10 Consider what I say; and the Lord give thee understanding in all things. 8 Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my gospel: 9 Wherein I suffer trouble, as an evil doer, even unto bonds; but the word of God is not bound. 10 Therefore I endure all things for the elect’s sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.

Our cause is right, and just. If we are saved by Grace, the Holy Spirit indwells us:

Romans 8:9 ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.

You are the temple of God (1 Corinthians 3:17; 1 Corinthians 6:19), and the Spirit of God inhabits you. The Apostle Paul was imprisoned for preaching the Scripture, that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead. Paul said, I suffer trouble, as an evil doer, even unto bonds; but the word of God is not bound. The Word of God cannot be bound, though we can be. God’s Word is sufficient. God’s Word is sure. It is God’s Word that leads us to Grace and salvation. It is God’s Word that strengthens our faith daily.

We Are To Avoid The Word Of The World,
While Embracing The Word Of God

2 Timothy 2:14 Of these things put them in remembrance, charging them before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers.

We are not called to strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers. These are the words of the world, the words of Satan. As early as the Book of Genesis – in the Garden of Eden – Satan attacked the Word of God. Satan will always attack the Word of God. What did the devil, that old serpent, say to Eve?

Genesis 3:1 … Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?

His accusation – though left handed – was that God was withholding something good from Adam and Eve. Then Satan directly attacks the Word of God:

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

This is what the devil and the world does. It contradicts the Word of God. It makes God out to be a liar, or a Simon Legree, or Someone worst. As soon as Satan got Eve to suspect the Scripture, it was very little time before she ate the forbidden, and gave also to her husband with her. This is what the devil and the lost world does. They promote a word that causes subverting of the hearers, not blessing. If the devil can get you to receive the word of the world over the Word of God, then he can effectually destroy your walk with God. The Apostle told the Church at Thessalonica:

1 Thessalonians 2:13 For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.

When the words of the Bible are received as the word of God, then these words effectually work{s} in our lives. The New Testament scriptures are not the words of men, but are the Word of God. The Apostle said in another place:

1 Corinthians 14:37-38 If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord. {38} But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant …

We are to empty our hearts of the word of the world, and trust the Word of God. The Great Evangelist D.L. Moody wrote:

I believe firmly that the moment our hearts are emptied of pride and selfishness and ambition and everything that is contrary to God’s law, the Holy Spirit will fill every corner of our hearts. But if we are full of pride and conceit and ambition and the world, there is no room for the Spirit of God. We must be emptied before we can be filled.”

Human opinion may or may not be right. Human philosophies lead to mass confusion. But God’s Word, the Bible, is true and reliable. Solomon wrote:

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

We cannot compromise with the world.

Christians Are To Study The Scriptures,
In Partnership With God

2 Timothy 2:15 (KJV) Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

How does one know if they are a genuine Christian? We Study the Scriptures. The word Studyis the Greek spoudazo {pronounced spoo-dad’-zo}, “be diligent to study, apply oneself toward, to focus on and apply to the life”. The word approvedis the Greek dokimos {pronounced dok’-ee-mos}, which means “genuine, true, of good value”. How does one know you are a Christian? By studying the Word of God. By not just reading it, but applying it’s teachings to your life. If your Christian walk is in accordance to the Word of God, then you are where you need to be.

The Pharisees often attacked Jesus, believing themselves to be genuinely saved and anointed of God. Yet Jesus often chastised the Pharisees because they turned away from the Word of God, twisting it by their traditions. Jesus indicted them, saying:

Mark 7:9-13 … Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition. {10} For Moses said, Honor thy father and thy mother; and, Whoso curseth father or mother, let him die the death: {11} But ye say, If a man shall say to his father or mother, It is Corban, that is to say, a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; he shall be free. {12} And ye suffer him no more to do ought for his father or his mother; {13} Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye.

Jesus declared that the Pharisees were charlatans, pretenders to faith, because they did not adhere to the Scripture. The Scripture commands that we “honor our father and mother” (Exodus 20:12; Deuteronomy 5:16; Matthew 15:4). We are to take care of our families. The Pharisees developed a system called Corban, and dedicated moneys that they wanted to preserve as Corban or dedicated to God. When their parents needed help, the Pharisee would say, “The only free money I have is Corban, dedicated to God”. By their man made laws and customs, the Pharisees violated the Word of God.

The Lord orders us to study Scripture but not human opinion. Human opinion comes from a sinful source, and ultimately does not profit the user. What does Paul tell us:

2 Timothy 2:16-18 But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. 17 And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus; 18 Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some.

We are to study and revere the Word of God, but are to shun profane and vain babblings. We are to reject the liberal agenda. The liberal, progressive nonsense that television is pushing as normative is destroying the family in America – which is what Satan loves to do. These things are profane and vain babblings”. “Profane is the Greek βέβηλος bébēlos, {pronounced beb’-ay-los}, which means “wicked, unlawful, unholy”. The words vain babblings is but one word in the Greek κενοφωνία kenophōnía, {pronounced ken-of-o-nee’-ah}, which means “empty discussions, words that are useless and fruitless”. As Christians, we are NOT to engage in the false teachings of this world. We are to SHUN the PROFANE, the WICKED, the EVIL. We are to SHUN the empty things the world promotes as truth. Why? Because these things do nothing to build UP our faith. They, on the other hand, tear down our faith. In short,

Turn off the Television, and open the Book!

You prove yourself a genuine believer by measuring up to the Word of God. Let us assume you say:

I am a Christian going to Heaven. I am also living in a sexual relationship outside of Biblical marriage.”

What does the Scripture say? We read in Scripture of those who live in sexual sin in:

Romans 1:21-32 … 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. 22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, 23 And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four footed beasts, and creeping things. 24 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonor their own bodies between themselves: 25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshiped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. 26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: 27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet. 28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; 29 Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, 30 Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31 Without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: 32 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.

A cursory reading of this Scripture tells us that the person who says,

I am a Christian going to Heaven. I am also living
in a sexual relationship outside of Biblical marriage.”

is not true. The Christian’s lifestyle will adhere to the standard of this Book. We learn of Christ from this Book. We learn of salvation from this Book. We learn how a child of God is to live from this Book. Profane and vain babblings” always lead to “more ungodliness. We are not to allow this nonsense into our midst.

The Apostle very rarely names people in his writings, but here he speaks of two men:

2 Timothy 2:17-18 And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus; 18 Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some.

The word of the world eats like a canker, a cancer. There are many churches today infected with the cancer of the word of this world. Paul refers to two men, Hymenaeus and Philetus, who brought the word of the world into the local Church. Paul talks about Hymenaeus here, as well as in:

1 Timothy 1:18-20 This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy, according to the prophecies which went before on thee, that thou by them mightest war a good warfare; 19 Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck: 20 Of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme.

Hymenaeus and Alexander” were blasphemers, speaking untruths against God. They might have been the first among those who preach an “all faiths inclusive” doctrine, or what gibberish I often hear, “there are many ways to Heaven”. This is blasphemy. Jesus said “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life: No one comes to the Father BUT BY ME” (John 14:6). False teaching and false teachers always lead people away from the faith, and away from Grace. This is why we are to reject it.

God’s Word is true.

Let us end with these words:

2 Timothy 2:19-20 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. 20 But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honor, and some to dishonor.

The Lord knows who are His children. If you are a Child of God, you are to “depart from iniquity”. The Family of God is a GREAT HOUSE, a fantastic dynasty ordered with Christ at its Head, and believers – built on the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets (the Bible). In any GREAT HOUSE there are many different containers. Some containers are “vessels of gold and of silver”, whereas others are “vessels of wood and of earth”. Some vessels contain honorable things, but others dishonorable.

We are to strive to be vessels of honorable things. We do this by studying and applying God’s Word to our lives. We believe what the Apostles and Prophets believe. We adhere to the truths of Scripture, though none go with us. The Apostle says,

2 Timothy 2:21 If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honor, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.

The Lord will not use you unless your view is HIS view. Your mind must be HIS mind. We are to follow His Word. The days are short – judgment is coming. Jesus could come any day. May God move on us to cherish His Word. Amen and Amen.

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Reject Not The Counsel Of God

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Turn with me in your Bibles to Luke 7 verse 28.

Opening: When I was a little boy – around 7 years old – my high tech was a little pocket radio. It wasn’t much – I don’t even remember where I got it. It ran on one 9 volt battery. I kept myself in batteries by digging into the cracks of couch and chair cushions looking for lost change. That little radio only received the AM stations. The station I loved listening to was WKIX (850 AM). WKIX played rock and pop music – this was long before RAP or Hip Hop had come along. I loved singing to the radio, and tried my best to memorize those songs.

There was one song that came out in 1965. The lyrics were by songwriter Hal David, and the music by Burt Bacharach. That song was “What The World Needs Now Is Love”. When Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1968, singer Jackie DeShannon’s version of the song was played over and over on the radio. I loved and memorized the song:

What the world needs now is love, sweet love
It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of
What the world needs now is love, sweet love
No not just for some, but for everyone

What was interesting about the song – and something I didn’t realize until just the other day – is that the song is addressed to God. The song only has two stanzas. Listen to the first stanza:

Lord, we don’t need another mountain
There are mountains and hillsides enough to climb
There are oceans and rivers enough to cross
Enough to last ’til the end of time

Lord, don’t you know …”. We need to tell infinite and eternal God, the Creator of all things, that we need love. Now listen to the second stanza:

Lord, we don’t need another meadow
There are cornfields and wheat fields enough to grow
There are sunbeams and moonbeams enough to shine
Oh listen, Lord, if you want to know

What gets me now that I am much older, and a Christ follower, is that we humans thought we needed to tell God we need more love. God has been telling us this from the beginning of human history. We didn’t need to forbidden fruit that Adam ate. We don’t really need most of the things we possess. We all need love. We all need Jesus! It’s not God’s fault that we don’t have Jesus. It’s our fault. If you have Jesus, you will love. If you have received Jesus as Lord and Savior, you will love. The Apostle said:

1 John 4:8 He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.

When Jesus came to this earth from Heaven, leaving His glorious Throne, He walked among us, showing us what love looks like. We are told in

1 John 4:16 … we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.

Salvation comes when we “know and believe the love that God has toward us”. We believe that we are sinners in need of the Savior. We believe that Jesus Christ is the Savior sent of God the Father to this earth. We believe that faith in Jesus brings forgiveness of sins. Hiding in the shadow of His Cross, we who believe and have been saved by the love of Christ, we now love those who are near us.

The Pharisees And Scholars Of The Law
Of Moses Rejected Both John And Jesus

The forerunner of Jesus the Messiah was John the Baptist. John baptized people to prepare them for the coming of the Messiah. Jesus said of John:

Luke 7:28 For I say unto you, Among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist: but he that is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.

Why was John the greatest prophet, of all the prophets up until this moment? Because the other prophets foresaw the coming of Christ, but John actually saw the coming of Christ. John baptized Jesus, and heard the Father say, “This is My Beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17). John was the forerunner of Jesus, Incarnate God, Himself baptized by John. If God is love, and He is, Jesus is the manifestation of Who God is. Jesus loved. He loved everyone.

Jesus loved the blind, the cripple, the diseased, the disenfranchised, the demon possessed, and the dead. Jesus lovingly touched and healed whosoever would come to Him, humbled and believing.

John endorsed Jesus, and Jesus endorsed John. From that moment on those who believed …

Luke 7:29 And all the people that heard him, and the publicans, justified God, being baptized with the baptism of John

Word Study: Justified God. In the Bible it says that God justifies us {Greek δικαιόω dikaióō, [pronounced dik-ah-yo’-o]} when we believe on Jesus (Romans 3:21-26; 4:5-8; 2 Corinthians 5:21). Justification is when God declares you righteous, right in His sight, because Jesus Christ paid the penalty for your sin. We are told in Romans 5:9, “Since we have now been justified by His blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! But what does it mean that the people and the sinners called “publicans” Justified God when they were baptized? It means that they proved their faith in God by their actions. They declared God righteous, and Jesus to be the only sent Redeemer from Heaven.

A saved or “justified” person will prove their inward faith by outward acts of obedience.

But not allJustified God. We read:

Luke 7:30 BUT the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him.

The Pharisees and Lawyers (NOT Lawyers like our Brother Jerry Bridenbaugh is, but Lawyers who specialized in the study of the Law of Moses) rejected the testimony of God. When John came baptizing, he did so at the direction of God (Isaiah 40:3-5; Malachi 3:1; 4:5). What John did, he did in love and obedience to the Father. What he did was “the testimony of God”. Further, Jesus endorsed John’s ministry. As Jesus is the Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God, then His endorsement is “the testimony of God”. Further, when Jesus was baptized by John, the Holy Spirit of God descended and lit on Jesus (Luke 3:22). This is “the testimony of God”. The Pharisees and Lawyers rejected the threefold “testimony of God” by refusing the Triune Witness that came through John’s the Baptist’s ministry.

As this is like a courtroom setting, and the Three Witnesses of God have been rejected, Jesus as a Chief Prosecutor sums up the state’s case against the Pharisees and Lawyers.

Luke 7:31-32 And the Lord said, Whereunto then shall I liken the men of this generation? {Jesus is speaking of the Pharisees & Lawyers} and to what are they like? 32 They are like unto children sitting in the marketplace, and calling one to another, and saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned to you, and ye have not wept.

The Pharisees and Lawyers consider themselves the Elders of Israel. What does Jesus say they are? Prosecutor Jesus says, they are like unto children sitting in the marketplace, and calling one to another. They are sitting in the marketplace. The marketplace is where buying and selling goes on. They are neither buying nor selling. John the Baptist came representing the Kingdom of God, and Jesus Christ it’s King. John came on a mission from God. In the Marketplace of Human Ideas John taught that we are all sinners, and that as sinners John preached that we are to “bring forth fruit that is consistent with repentance [demonstrating new behavior that proves a change of heart, and a conscious decision to turn away from sin] (Matthew 3:8, Amplified Version). In repentance the sinner turns to God, and turns away from sin. In repentance the sinner’s eyes are on Jesus!

The Pharisees and Lawyers refused to repent. They rejected the counsel of God by refusing to submit to baptism – their hearts were hardened. They SAT in the marketplace, neither buying nor selling, doing all they could to disrupt the business at hand. They were useless. Not only were they like orange cones disrupting a busy highway, the Pharisees and Lawyers spent their time calling one to another. Vendors in the Marketplace would call out the names of their products. John kept calling out “Jesus”, trying to get a lost world to come to the Savior. Not only did the Pharisees and Lawyers refuse to sell, they impeded what John and Jesus were selling. Why?

Because it was all about them. Their agenda had nothing to do with God, nor the Kingdom of Heaven. They wanted to be gods, wanted to be the center of attention. We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned to you, and ye have not wept.

The whole point of the Pharisee and the Lawyer was
confusion. They were agents of confusion.

What they said was confusion. Jesus indicted them:

Luke 7:33-35 For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine; and ye say, He hath a devil. 34 The Son of man {that’s Jesus} is come eating and drinking; and ye say, Behold a gluttonous man, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners! 35 But wisdom is justified of all her children.

They couldn’t be pleased unless you were dancing to their tune. The Pharisees and Lawyers – who should have been staunch defenders of God and His Word – were agents of darkness and rubes of Satan. The Pharisees and Lawyers were not concerned with the love of God, nor with loving God. They were concerned with what would make them happy. Period! Jesus told these unbelievers, wisdom is justified of all her children. That is, if you are following wisdom (the way of God) then it will be proved by the fruit of your life. The Pharisees and Lawyers had no good fruit. The fruit of their lives was to tear down and destroy the souls of others. The fruit of John the Baptist’s life and Jesus’ life was to draw people into the Kingdom of God. This proverb is much like the proverb of Luke 6:44-45, “each tree is known by it’s fruit. 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”.

Self Righteous People Will Never Understand Grace

But Jesus is not done with the Pharisees. We read:

Luke 7:36 And one of the Pharisees desired him that he would eat with him. And he went into the Pharisee’s house, and sat down to meat.

Here we see the depth of the love of Jesus! Jesus is not one Who says, “Do what I say, but NOT what I do”. No, Jesus told us in the Sermon on the Plain:

Luke 6:29-30 … 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. 30 Give to every man that asketh of thee …

Jesus has been frequently attacked by Pharisees. The Pharisees are “filled with madness; and communed one with another what they might do to Jesus” (Luke 6:11). Jesus healed people on the Sabbath Day, a terrible offense to the Pharisees and Lawyers. They were constantly picking, plotting, planning harm to the Lord. A Pharisee named Simon the Leper invites Jesus to dinner (Matthew 26:6-13; Mark 14:3-9; John 12:1-8). A lesser man would have run, but not our Jesus. Jesus Christ came to this earth to save sinners (1 Timothy 1:15). Though repeatedly rebuffed by the Pharisees, Jesus still wanted to save them from the snare of self righteousness.

Then a Pharisee invites Jesus to dinner.

Though Luke does not give his name, Matthew (26:6) and Mark (14:3) both call him Simon the Leper. He was Simon “the Leper” because at one time he had leprosy, a terrible affliction in the early world. Leprosy was easily diagnosed, as it is a skin disease. The Law of God diagnosed what leprosy looked like, but did not offer a cure for leprosy. For this reason leprosy was often used as a symbol representing sin in the Bible. When Miriam, Moses’ sister was given leprosy when she failed to trust God (Numbers 12:5-9). Elisha’s servant Gehazi is given leprosy because he is greedy (2 Kings 5:20). Joab, King David’s nephew, was cursed with leprosy because he murdered Abner (2 Samuel 3:29). And King Uzziah offered incense in the Temple to himself, causing God to inflict him with leprosy (2 Chronicles 26). Leprosy, a real disease, is often used to illustrate sin.

Leprosy corrupts.
Sin corrupts.
Leprosy destroys families.
Sin destroys families.
Leprosy can kill.
Sin can kill.
Leprosy makes a person alone, separated from God and friends.
Sin makes a person alone, separated from God and friends.
Leprosy is diagnosed by the Law.
Sin is diagnosed by the Law.
The Law cannot cure Leprosy – only God can.
The Law cannot cure sin – only God can.

Simon had been a leper, but he is also a Pharisee – so he knows what the Law says. The Law says:

Leviticus 13:46 … as long as the plague is in the leper, he is defiled and unclean. He shall dwell alone outside of normal society – he is not allowed in the city (author’s paraphrase).

Simon would have never been at his home, much less invited Jesus to his home if he were still a leper. God in His Grace healed Simon of leprosy!
Simon had no reason to be self righteous!

Then a woman enters Simon’s home. We read:

Luke 7:37-38 And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster box of ointment, 38 And stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment.

This woman had been afflicted by the leprosy of sin for much of her life. Whereas Simon is known as “The Leper”, she is merely “A Sinner”. Why was this woman at Simon’s home? The Soniclight Commentary notes that “Social custom allowed needy people to visit such meals and to partake of some of the leftovers. Moreover it was not unusual for people to drop in when a rabbi was visiting”. Luke does not tell us what this woman’s sin is, though we can guess. The woman brings an “alabaster box of ointment”, an item that would have been extremely costly. Small alabaster vials filled with costly perfumes were often worn on a cord around the neck. This woman “wash{ed Jesus’} feet with tears, and wipe{d} them with the hairs of her head, and kissed His feet, and anointed them with the ointment”. As Simon watches this, he judges both Jesus as well as this woman.

Luke 7:39 Now when the Pharisee which had bidden him saw it, he spake within himself, saying, This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him: for she is a sinner.

This leads us to believe that this woman was a prostitute. Joel B. Green in his book “The Gospel of Luke” called her “a prostitute by vocation, a whore by social status”. This woman not only washes Jesus’ feet – she KISSES His feet repeatedly – a sign of humility, love, and deep respect.

When Simon sees this, he spake within himself, condemning Jesus as no Prophet, much less a Rabbi – and this woman as a “sinner”, a defiled person God would have nothing to do with. Jesus knows what Simon is thinking. He says:

Luke 7:40-43 … Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee. And he saith, Master, say on. 41 There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty. 42 And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most? 43 Simon answered and said, I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most. And he said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged.

Word Study: First we need to note Simon’s hypocrisy. Though in his mind he has judged Jesus as “no prophet”, he calls Jesus “Master”, the Greek διδάσκαλος didáskalos, {pronounced did-as’-kal-os}, a reference to a “master Teacher”. Religion and the Law of Rites and Sacrifices often makes hypocrites – and this is no exception. Jesus gives a beautiful illustration with two men who owed much, though one owed 50 pence and the other 500. Jesus asked Simon, “if both debts were forgiven these men, and neither had the money to pay, then which man would love the creditor more?” The answer is simple.

The one who owed the most.

Now, WHO is the one who owed the most? For years I thought it was this unnamed woman. But now I don’t think that is the case. Simon had leprosy, a terrible disease that is symbolic of sin. God has intervened in his life, curing him, and restoring Simon back to his home and his family. Simon should be immensely grateful to God for what He has done. But instead, Simon doesn’t feel grateful. Simon is a Pharisee. He follows the Law. Simon deserved to be healed, because he kept the Law of God as all Pharisees did. And as a keeper of the Law, Simon is upset that this tramp would come in his home, and wash Jesus’ feet. Oh, and by the way –

Simon was doing Jesus a favor by allowing Him to come into his home! How dare Jesus allow this woman to come in and wash His feet! Simon is blinded by self righteousness. Jesus now highlights this woman’s actions.

Luke 7:44-47 And he turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head. 45 Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet. 46 My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment. 47 Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.

Saving faith comes to Jesus, and bows down at His feet. Saving faith clings to Jesus, adoring
Jesus as the Savior and Lord.

Simon had been greatly blessed by God. One commentary suggested that Simon might have been a leper that Jesus Himself healed, and so he now invited Christ to his home to “even up the score”. I don’t know if that’s true or not. I do know this.

You cannot be saved and NOT love Jesus. We love Him, for He first loved us” (1 John 4:19). Though Jesus was a Guest in Simon’s home, he made no effort to provide even the smallest amenity – like a wash basin and a cloth – to the Lord. He fed Jesus, but begrudgingly. The woman, on the other hand, ministered to Jesus. She ministered to God! Jesus said, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.

Luke 7:48-50 And he said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven. 49 And they that sat at meat with him began to say within themselves, Who is this that forgiveth sins also? 50 And he said to the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace.

Jesus forgave the woman’s sins. Why? Because the Bible says:

Psalm 51:17 (NET) The sacrifices God desires are a humble spirit – O God, a humble and repentant heart you will not reject.

There has never been an animal sacrifice that made payment for sin. God allowed animal sacrifices and rituals, such as those found in the Mosaic Law, to teach Israel that sin can only be covered by Blood. It is not the Blood of animals that makes payment for sin. Oh no! It is

1 John 1:7 (ESV) … the Blood of Jesus {God’s} Son cleanses us from all sin ..

Because Jesus died for our sins, and we have called upon Him believing, Jesus has said, Your sins, which are many, are forgiven. Your faith in Me has saved you. Go in peace!. The others wondered, Who is this that forgives sins also? It is Jesus, and only Jesus. Our Lord Jesus said:

John 5:22-27 the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son: 23 That all men should honor the Son, even as they honor the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him. 24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. 25 Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live. 26 For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself; 27 And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man.

Have you received the Lord Jesus as your one and only Savior? If not, I beg you, turn to Him and live! There is salvation in Jesus. He can forgive you all your sins, and bring you into the Kingdom of God. Jesus can baptize you with the Holy Spirit, and empower you to walk daily with Him. Through Christ we have the victory! Blessed be His holy Name! May the Spirit move you to come surrendered to Jesus. Amen and amen!

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Jonah’s Prayer

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Turn with me in your Bibles to the Book of Jonah. I love the Book of Jonah. Some believe that Jonah is only a fairy-tale. After all, how can a whale swallow a man? But Jesus didn’t consider Jonah to be a fairy-tale. Jesus used Jonah to describe His death, burial, and resurrection. Our Lord said:

Matthew 12:40 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.

The King James translation of the whale’s belly is unfortunate. This is the Greek κῆτος κοιλία kētos koilia, which means “a sea monster’s belly, the belly of a great fish”. Jesus never said Jonah was in a whale. Our Lord knew the Scripture, and knew that the Book of Jonah says:

Jonah 1:17 Now the Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.

Word Study: a great fish is the Hebrewגָּדוֹל דָּג gâdôwl, {pronounced gaw-dole’} dâg, {pronounced dawg} or GREAT FISH. Whales are not carnivorous, feeding only on small plankton in the ocean water. The Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah.

Why did Jonah get swallowed? He got swallowed because he allowed anger and a desire for revenge on his enemies to consume him.

People Need To Read Their Bibles

I often have people tell me, “God doesn’t make us do anything. He has given us free will!”. If you agree with this, you need to read your Bible. Our God, He is Lord. He is in control of all things, and decides what will be. This is what we call sovereignty. Our God “works all things according to the counsel of His will” (Ephesians 1:11). If God is NOT sovereign, then how can the Scripture promise:

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

There is no “working together for good” if God is not in control. “By Christ Jesus all things consist or are held together” (Colossians 1:17). God said in

Isaiah 45:5-7 I am the Lord, and there is none else, there is no God beside me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known me: 6 That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside me. I am the Lord, and there is none else. 7 I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create {calamity}: I the Lord do all these things.

And the Psalmist said in 115:3 (ESV), “Our God is in Heaven; He does whatever pleases Him”. King Solomon wrote in Proverbs 19:21 (ESV), “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails”. The stepbrother of Jesus, James said in 4:14-15 (ESV), “Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that”.

Our God is in control. Yes, He has given us free will, but HIS WILL will triumph. God does not bow to us, but we bow to HIM. He is God. He is the Potter, and we are the clay. He is the Shepherd, and we the sheep.

Are you at Jonah? Let’s start at verse 1:

Jonah 1:1-2 Now the word of the Lord came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, 2 Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me.

God chose Jonah to go to Ninevah, the capital city of Assyria, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me”. The Bible says that God “makes nations great and destroys them” (Job 12:23, NIV). Ninevah’s wickedness {has} come up before God. It’s wickedness is out of control. God does NOT have to warn Ninevah. When the world became so wicked and,

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

God did not send a messenger to the world to warn it to repent. He told Noah to build a boat. I’m sure Noah told people what he was doing, and why – but God did not have to warn anyone. When God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah He sent angels to evacuate Lot’s family (see Genesis 19). The angels warned no one about the impending destruction that God was going to bring.

God didn’t have to warn Ninevah. But He did. He wanted Jonah to go and tell Ninevah about the impending destruction. Now, God didn’t tell Jonah why He wanted to give Ninevah a chance. He just told Jonah to go. It is only at the end of the book of Jonah that we are told why God gave Ninevah a chance to repent. God tells Jonah at the end of this book:

Jonah 4:11 And should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than six score thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle?

A “score” is twenty, so six score thousand persons is 120,000 people that God wanted to spare destruction. Who were these people? They were those who don’t know their right hand from their left. Who is that? God is speaking of little children. There are 120,000 little children in Ninevah. Jesus loves the little children. When the disciples tried to keep the little children from coming to Jesus, the Bible says:

Mark 10:13-15 And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them: and his disciples rebuked those that brought them. 14 But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, {Allow} the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. 15 Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.

God loves little children. He wants the little children to come to Him, to be saved. God is sparing Ninevah because there are 120,000 little children, children that do not know their right hand from their left.

But Jonah …

God told Jonah to go. What did Jonah do? We read:

Jonah 1:3 But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the Lord, and went down to Joppa; and he found a ship going to Tarshish: so he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it, to go with them unto Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.

Jonah was foolish. He thought he could hide from God. God is not only omnipotent, all powerful, but God is also omnipresent, everywhere. You cannot hide from God. The Bible says no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of {God}” (Hebrews 4:13, ESV). Jonah thought that by running to Tarshish (about 2500 miles from Ninevah) he would be far enough away to where God could not make him go to Ninevah. Jonah wanted Ninevah destroyed, not saved. But God wanted Ninevah saved. God had been working in the hearts of those people, and needed Jonah to tell them to repent.

Jonah 1:4 But the Lord sent out a great wind into the sea, and there was a mighty tempest in the sea, so that the ship was like to be broken.

You can’t run away from God. God said in Jeremiah 23:24, “Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him? Declares the Lord. Do I not fill Heaven and earth?

God is everywhere. Jonah is not hiding from God. The ship begins to toss about on the waves, but Jonah is napping. His crew mates first woke Jonah up:

Jonah 1:6 So the ship master came to him, and said unto him, What meanest thou, O sleeper? arise, call upon thy God, if so be that God will think upon us, that we perish not.

People get very religious when death comes near. The ship master had a multi-faith prayer meeting to ask whatever god there is to spare them. He demanded Jonah’s prayers, too. Then they began to think, “Let’s cast lots, and see if we can find out who God is mad at” (my paraphrase). The lot landed on Jonah. The Bible says:

Proverbs 16:33 The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the Lord.

God controls the outcome of the lot. And the lot falls on Jonah. Jonah tells them to throw him in the ocean (verse 12), and let him perish. This will calm the waters. Jonah thought he was dead. But God had other plans for Jonah.

Jonah’s Pain Brought Out Jonah’s Prayer

Jonah is in the belly of a great fish that God specifically prepared to swallow him. This isn’t like the cartoons, where Jonah is sitting in a boat with a lantern to keep the darkness at bay. No, Jonah is swallowed, but nothing else. Jonah is having to struggle to breath, and in pitch black darkness. The smell of rotted fish is thick in the air. Jonah is in a worst state than any have ever been in. Samson was blinded, and tied to pillars to be mocked. Joseph was cast in a pit, then sold into slavery by his brothers. Daniel was carried off into Babylonian captivity, losing family and lands. Jonah is in a worst place. He can’t run. He can’t move about. He can’t see. But Jonah can pray. Jonah cries out:

Jonah 2:2 I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the Lord, and he heard me; out of the belly of hell cried I, and thou heardest my voice.

Jonah is in the belly of hell, but he knows that God can still hear him. When he was running from God, he was doing something that only an insane person would do. But now that he is in the belly of hell, he comes to himself. Jonah is much like the Jesus’ parable of the Prodigal Son. The Prodigal Son takes his inheritance, leaves home, and squanders all he owns. When he is out of money, and can only find work as a hog farmer, trapped by his sin, the Prodigal …

Luke 15:17-20 (ESV) … came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”’ 20 And he arose and came to his father.

When the Prodigal got home, he found out that his Father is merciful. Jonah is counting on the mercy of God for himself.

Psalm 130:2 (ESV) O Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my pleas for mercy!

Jonah 2:3-4 For Thou hadst cast me into the deep, in the midst of the seas; and the floods compassed me about: all Thy billows and Thy waves passed over me. 4 Then I said, I am cast out of thy sight; yet I will look again toward Thy holy temple.

Jonah acknowledges that it is GOD Who had him cast overboard. It is GOD Who caused Jonah to be swallowed by a great fish. Jonah acknowledged his foolishness, and promised tolook again toward Thy holy temple. When the Prophet Daniel was taken away in captivity by Babylon, the Bible says that

Daniel 6:10 … {Daniel} went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God

Jonah repenting, promised that he would pray toward Jerusalem again.

Jonah 2:5-7 The waters compassed me about, even to the soul: the depth closed me round about, the weeds were wrapped about my head. 6 I went down to the bottoms of the mountains; the earth with her bars was about me for ever: yet hast thou brought up my life from corruption, O Lord my God. 7 When my soul fainted within me I remembered the Lord: and my prayer came in unto thee, into thine holy temple.

As Jonah prays, he repents and acknowledges the great Grace of God. Jonah closes his prayer with:

Jonah 2:8-9 They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy. 9 But I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay that that I have vowed. Salvation is of the Lord.

Jonah promises to live as a believer, to obey God as a good servant should. In his misery I believe Jonah was sincere. But once God released Jonah, Jonah did the bare minimum in telling the Ninevites about repenting. Though Jonah prayed, Salvation is of the Lord, he didn’t really believe it. But salvation IS of the Lord. The Lord can use broken creatures like Jonah – and like us. Praise God that salvation does not rely on us, but on God the Holy Spirit and the Holy Word of God. Pastor Steven Lee, North Campus of Bethlehem Baptist Church wrote:

Be persistent in prayer, knowing your God is even more persistent in mercy. … Of all the people who shouldn’t have expected their prayers to be answered, it was Jonah. He openly rebelled against God. When God called, he ran in the opposite direction. He jumped aboard a ship and tried to flee the Sovereign of the seas. Even when the storms raged, he refused to pray for deliverance. He would have rather drowned than repented. And yet, out of this watery grave, he comes to his senses and cries out — and wonder of wonders, God listens and answers.”

Our God is merciful and loving. He not only wanted to save Ninevah for the sake of 120,000 children, but He wanted to use a broken vessel like Jonah to do it. Why? Because salvation is of the Lord. Though Jonah does a pitiful job of preaching to the Ninevites, that great city does get saved.

Jonah 3:5-9 … 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. 6 For word came unto the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. 7 And he caused it to be proclaimed and published through Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste any thing: let them not feed, nor drink water: 8 But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily unto God: yea, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands. 9 Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not?

Does Jonah rejoice at their salvation? No, he doesn’t. In fact, Jonah gets mad at God for being so merciful. Jonah prays once more unto God:

Jonah 4:2-3 … I fled before unto Tarshish: for I knew that thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil. 3 Therefore now, O Lord, take, I beseech thee, my life from me; for it is better for me to die than to live.

The fact that God IS gracious, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, is the very reason that Jonah did not get digested by that fish. God is gracious, and merciful, slow to anger, and kind. He loves everyone, and gives whosoever will an opportunity to repent and run into His arms.

Would that we all understand this great truth. Let us pray! Amen and Amen!

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Who Will Not Be In Paradise?

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The Book of Revelation is a vision that the Apostle John had when he was exiled by the Roman Government to the prison island called Patmos. Left on that island for dead, Jesus came to John, and showed him things to come. One of the greatest parts of this Book (and all parts are wonderful) is when John looked into Paradise, the Kingdom of God. What did John see there?

Revelation 21:1-7 And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. 2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, 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. 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. 5 And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful. 6 And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. 7 He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.

The Bible Begins And Ends With Paradise

The Bible begins with Adam and Eve in a perfect Paradise called Eden, a place on this earth. But Adam’s sin brought corruption to this entire world. Every person born of Adam, every plant reproduced from that time, every animal, every creature, even the bacteria unseen – all things became corrupted by Adam’s sin. The bad news of the Scripture is:

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

Everything poisonous, deadly, pain creating, harmful, hurtful came into this present world with Adam’s sin. Not only did Adam bring spiritual death on himself and his descendants, he brought corruption into the animal world. God told Adam, “Cursed is the ground of earth because of what you did. You will labor and sorrow because of this curse all the days of your life. The ground will bring forth thorns and thistles – and you’ll have to labor in the field to be fed” (paraphrase of Genesis 3:17-19). Adam’s sin brought what Darwin erroneously called “The survival of the fittest” into what had previously been the Garden of God. Blood was spilled in Eden because of Adam’s sin. The Scripture says that the animal kingdom itself groans, waiting for the end of sin’s reign on this earth. We read:

Romans 8:19-24 (ESV) … the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved.

The world itself now groans under the misery
of sin and corruption.

But once God completes His Church, once the saved are gathered into Heaven, at the end of time God will create a new heaven and a new earth. This is a reference not to the Heaven where God is, but the heavens or the atmosphere around this earth. God will recreate this world, and all that is in it. Sin will be eradicated. God will put a New Jerusalem on the earth, a place where God the Son will rule and reign over this planet. When that happens there will be no more tears, nor suffering, nor death. Jesus upon the Throne, ruling from the New Jerusalem, will decree I make all things new. Jesus is the Alpha and Omega” (Revelation 22:13-16) Who will live with us on this new earth forever.

What a day that will be,
When my Jesus I shall see;
And I look upon His face,
The One who saved me by His grace.
When He takes me by the hand,
And leads me through the Promised Land;
What a day, glorious day that will be!

Not All Will Enter Heaven, Nor The New Paradise

But then – we come to a glaring stop! Right after talking about this wonderful restored Eden on earth, the Apostle records these words:

Revelation 21:8 But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

Not everyone will be in the New Jerusalem, nor on the restored earth. Some will reject the Alpha and Omega. Some will reject the Gospel of salvation, and continue living their lives in darkness. When He walked this earth, Jesus said:

John 3:17-20 (ESV) … God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed.

Many have heard the Gospel since Jesus died on Calvary, but many reject it, for to be saved is to turn from darkness to light. Jesus said, I am the Light of the world. Whoever follows Me will NOT walk in darkness, but will have the LIGHT of life” (John 8:12).

Those who reject Jesus as Christ AND Lord, as Messiah AND God, will NOT enter Paradise.

When Adam sinned, both he and Eve were cast out of Paradise. God drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life” (Genesis 3:24).

The unrepentant sinner will not be in Heaven, nor in the recreated Paradise of the New Jerusalem. Where will the unrepentant sinner be? John is quite specific:

Revelation 21:8 But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death

Here we see eight categories of unrepentant sinners that will not be in glory with Jesus, but will be cast into the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone. We are introduced to this horrible lake in Revelation 20 at the Great White Throne of God. This the Throne that every unbeliever will one day stand before. When an unbeliever dies rejecting Jesus, that unbeliever immediately goes to a place called hades or hell. Our Lord Jesus believed in this place of torment. In Luke Chapter 16 Jesus spoke of a rich man and a beggar named Lazarus. When the beggar died, he was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom. All believers go to that place of faith. But the rich man died, and IN HELL lifted up his eyes, being in TORMENTS” (Luke 16:23). The rich man was not annihilated. He felt torment, and knew what a horrible place he was in. The rich man was in HELL, the Greek ᾅδης háidēs, {pronounced hah’-dace}. He could not leave that place, nor could anyone come to him to give him relief.

Hades is a horrible place. It is a prison of fire, a prison where the sinner, rejecting the light of Christ, stays until the
Great White Throne Judgment.

At that Great White Throne the dead, small or great, stand before God to be judged. I believe they stand before the Jesus that they rejected in this life. Jesus said, The Father judges no one, but has given ALL JUDGMENT to the Son” (John 5:22, ESV). Those who stand before the Lord Jesus to be judged will have their works exposed as sinful. None will escape. Death and HELL (háidēs, Hades) deliver up the dead which were in them” (Revelation 20:13). All unbelievers stand before Jesus. The Bible says:

Revelation 20:15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

Who Will Be Consigned To The Lake Of Fire?

The believer in Christ – the “workmanship of God” (Ephesians 2:10), the “Good Shepherd’s sheep who follow Him” (John 10:4) – will be eternally in a restored Eden called New Jerusalem. We will be on an earth without sin, an earth where there is no sin and no killing.

Isaiah 11:6-9 The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. 7 And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. 8 And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice’ den. 9 They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.

But unbelievers will not be there. Unbelievers are characterized as:

Revelation 21:8 But the fearful … shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone…

Word Study: The fearful, the Greek “δειλός deilós, {pronounced di-los’}” means “the faithless”. Jesus equated a surrender to fear as an outward expression of faithlessness or unbelief. The same word is used by Jesus when He was asleep on board a ship when a storm arose. The disciples “woke Jesus up, saying, “Lord, save us, we perish” (Matthew 8:25-26; also Mark 4:40). Jesus told them,

Why are ye FEARFUL (deilós), O ye of little faith?”

There are times when we all experience fear, but to live in fear rather than faith is the action of an unbeliever. The Apostle John wrote in another place,

1 John 4:18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.

Those who are daily living fearful rather than faithfully may not be saved. The fearful will one day be in the Lake of Fire.

Revelation 21:8 But the fearful, and unbelieving

Unbelievers in Jesus will be in that Lake of Fire forever. The soul is made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27; 9:6). Though man is a sinner, “God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).

If a person rejects Jesus as the One Messiah, the Christ, and dies in a state of unbelief, that person will FIRST be cast into Hades then at the Great White Throne
into the Lake of Fire.

The Bible warns that to leave this life without Christ is to be in a state of condemnation.

Revelation 22:11 He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.

Oh Beloved, do not leave this life unbelieving. Turn to Jesus. Today is the day of salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2)!

Revelation 21:8 But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable …

Word Study: The word abominable is the Greek βδελύσσω bdelýssō, {pronounced bdel-oos’-so}, which means “that which stinks, is disgusting, or detested by God – an abomination”. God told Israel:

Leviticus 18:29-30 For whosoever shall commit any of these abominations, even the souls that commit them shall be cut off from among their people. 30 Therefore shall ye keep mine ordinance, that ye commit not any one of these abominable customs, which were committed before you, and that ye defile not yourselves therein: I am the LORD your God.

What were the abominations that God said would not be among His people. Well, if you read Leviticus chapter 18, God is quite explicit.

Leviticus 18:22 Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination (Hebrew תּוֹעֵבַה tôwʻêbah, {pronounced to-ay-baw’}, “that which is abominable, an abomination, morally repugnant”)

Many balk at this, saying, “Well, that was the OLD Testament. We are people of the NEW Testament. That’s true. But in the NEW Testament the Apostle says in

1 Corinthians 6:9-11 (NKJV) “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.”

Those that are excluded from Paradise are sexual sinners, unbelievers, greedy people, drunkards, and those who harm others financially or physically. These are not the only abominations God speaks of. In the Book of Proverbs there are seven things listed as “an abomination to God” (Hebrewtôwʻêbah):

Proverbs 6:16-19 These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: 17 A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, 18 An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, 19 A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.

Sexual sin is a violation of God’s design (for male and female He made them – Genesis 1:27). But pride, a false witness, killing an innocent, the wicked imaginations of the heart, the troublemaker, the one continually stirring up trouble – these are all abominations before God.

Revelation 21:8 But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers…

Word Study: Murderers are those who, without justification, take a human life. Whether we punish the murderer or not in this life, God will punish them in the next. The word whoremongers is the Greek πόρνος pornos, which refers to “sexual sinners”. The Bible refers to sexual sins as homosexual, bestial, sexual intercourse with someone outside of marriage, or sexual intercourse that breaks the vows of marriage. Our Lord Jesus said:

Matthew 15:19-20 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.

Sexual sins defile people. Those who are saved by faith in Christ step away from the darkness of sexual sin in order to walk with Jesus in the light of God’s Grace.

Revelation 21:8 But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters…

Two words are used here to designate faith in anything BUT God. Those who are sorcerers” (Greek pharmakeusin) are those who use drugs, portions, charms, or enchantments in order to invoke the spirit world to meet a need. God said of sorcery:

Deuteronomy 18:10-12 There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch. 11 Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer. 12 For all that do these things are an abomination unto the Lord

Those who reject Christ, and cling to the darkness doing those things which God has said are unacceptable in this life – they shall not enter Heaven, nor shall they be a part of God’s restored Eden, the New Jerusalem.

But no one has to have, as their final destination, the Lake of Fire that burns forever. Jesus calls whosoever will to come to Him, and receive Him as Christ and Lord. Jesus tells us as this wonderful Book of Revelation closes:

Revelation 22:14-17 And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. 13 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last. 14 Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. 15 For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie. 16 I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star. 17 And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.

Heaven or hell, it is each person’s choice. Will you receive Jesus as Christ and Lord? Or will you cling to the darkness into eternity. The choice is entirely yours. May you make the right decision. Receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Do so this very day. Jesus Christ came to this earth to save sinners from their sins. Praise Him for it! Amen and Amen!

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The Nature Of Marvelous Faith

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Luke 7:1-10 Now when {Jesus} had ended all his sayings in the audience of the people, he entered into Capernaum. 2 And a certain centurion’s servant, who was dear unto him, was sick, and ready to die. 3 And when he heard of Jesus, he sent unto him the elders of the Jews, beseeching him that he would come and heal his servant. 4 And when they came to Jesus, they besought him instantly, saying, That he was worthy for whom he should do this: 5 For he loveth our nation, and he hath built us a synagogue. 6 Then Jesus went with them. And when he was now not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to him, saying unto him, Lord, trouble not thyself: for I am not worthy that thou shouldest enter under my roof: 7 Wherefore neither thought I myself worthy to come unto thee: but say in a word, and my servant shall be healed. 8 For I also am a man set under authority, having under me soldiers, and I say unto one, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it. 9 When Jesus heard these things, he marveled at him, and turned him about, and said unto the people that followed him, I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. 10 And they that were sent, returning to the house, found the servant whole that had been sick.

Faith is a very important thing.
There are all types of faith in our world.

Atheists and humanists have faith. They have faith that there is no God, no Creator Who made all things. Their faith is in themselves, in what they do or perceive. These people believe that “I can do all things through myself who strengthens me”. There are many like this in the world. What does God say of those who are atheists? The FOOL hath said in his heart, ‘there is NO GOD’. They are corrupt. Their works are abominable, and no good at all” (Psalm 14:1).

Some have faith in technology. They believe that technology will make our lives great. Medical technology will, they believe, extend life indefinitely. Artificial intelligence will usher in a paradise on the earth.

Some have great faith in politics or philosophy. They believe that, if their party or position were dominant, that America would blossom. Others put their faith in money or riches. They are like the farmer Jesus spoke of in Luke chapter 12. He had a good year of crops, so he decided to:

Luke 12: 18-19 … This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.

Was this man blessed? No, for God said unto him,

Luke 12:20 … Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?

The Bible tells us that Faith is “the substance on things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”. It is to believe in something that has not yet come to pass. Biblical faith is not based on ourselves, but on the God Who made us. The Bible says:

Romans 14:23 … whatsoever is not of faith is sin.

Genuine faith believes in the God of Scripture. Saving faith believes in God the Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. And faith cannot come from a place of pride. Faith is humbled, trusting in Someone outside of yourself.

The Truths Found In Scripture Context

As we look at our text today, we would be tempted to just dive in and talk about this Centurion. When I studied for this sermon, I wanted to rush into Luke 7 and focus on this interesting man. A Centurion is a highly skilled soldier, a Commander of a Roman Century, a group of skilled Legionnaires. Each Century could have up to a hundred skilled men. This Centurion is a highly successful man, an important man by Roman standards. I want you to remember that. But let’s take a good look at the first verse of our text.

Luke 7:1 Now when {Jesus} had ended all his sayings in the audience of the people, he entered into Capernaum.

when {Jesus} had ended all his sayings”. Let’s not skip these words, because they are important, and explain much about this Centurion. In Luke Chapter 6, Jesus preaches what is called His “Sermon on the Plain”. You have probably all heard of the “Sermon on the Mount”, but few have been exposed to the “Sermon on the Plain”.

The “Sermon on the Mount” is the first recorded sermon Jesus preached, after He called Simon Peter, Andrew, and James and John, the sons of Zebedee to follow Him. Jesus went throughout Galilee, preaching, teaching and healing Jews. As the Jewish crowds began to follow Jesus, our Lord went up into a mountain, sat down, and began to preach (Matthew 5:1). What Jesus did was directed toward the Jews.

Many years before this day, God spoke to Israel from Mount Sinai, through the Prophet Moses. God made a covenant with Israel. On that day Israel said:

Exodus 19:8 … All that the Lord hath spoken we will do

Israel’s faith was not in God, but in their ability to be good enough to please God. While Moses was on Sinai receiving the Law from God, in just those 40 days Israel rejected God, and created a golden calf to replace God. Throughout the history of Israel you see a nation that relied on itself, and not on God. As Jesus started His ministry, Jesus preached His Sermon on the Mount.

Just as Moses’ message from Sinai was addressed to Jews, Jesus’ message from the Mount was addressed to Jews.

The Sermon on the Plain is different from the Sermon on the Mount. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus goes up a mountain, sits down, and teaches Jews. In the Sermon on the Plain Jesus comes DOWN from a mountain after praying all night (Luke 6:12) and stands on flat land. Here He speaks not primarily to Jews, but to both Jews and Gentiles. We read:

Luke 6:17 {Jesus} came down with them, and stood in the plain, and the company of his disciples, and a great multitude of people out of all Judaea and Jerusalem, and from the sea coast of Tyre and Sidon, which came to hear him, and to be healed of their diseases;

Judaea and Jerusalem” are predominantly Jewish territories, whereas Tyre and Sidon are Gentile territories.

Jesus prayed all night long before the Sermon on the Plain, as He needed to address not just Israel, but people from diverse Gentile backgrounds.

The Sermon on the Mount has 9 Beatitudes or Blessed Teachings, whereas the Sermon on the Plain has only four. But both sermons focus on what God expects of faith.

Luke 7:1 Now when {Jesus} had ended all his sayings in the audience of the people, he entered into Capernaum.

Capernaum” is a very interesting place. When Jesus returned to His hometown of Nazareth and preached, He was driven from Nazareth (Luke 4:16, 28-30). So Jesus walked away from Nazareth and began to minister in Capernaum. Jesus has ministered in Capernaum before, both teaching and preaching, as well as healing people. We read:

Luke 7:2-5 And a certain centurion’s servant, who was dear unto him, was sick, and ready to die. 3 And when he heard of Jesus, he sent unto him the elders of the Jews, beseeching him that he would come and heal his servant. 4 And when they came to Jesus, they besought him instantly, saying, That he was worthy for whom he should do this: 5 For he loveth our nation, and he hath built us a synagogue.

The Centurion heard that Jesus was in Capernaum. As I said before, a Centurion is an important man. He leads 80-100 skilled soldiers. He is a commander, an officer of importance. But notice something about this Centurion.

This man loved his men. His men were not tools, things to be used then thrown away. This man cared deeply for his men. He was an important man, but he realized his importance comes only because the men that follow him are cherished. His servant, who was dear unto him, was sick, and ready to die. The Centurion wanted Jesus to heal his trooper.

The Centurion could have dressed up in his military gear, and marched to where Jesus was, arrogantly demanding Him to come. He could have, but he didn’t. The Centurion went to the elders of the Jews and asked that they represent him before Jesus. These elders of the Jews were more than likely highly regarded Pharisees or Sadducees, important people in Israel. The Centurion sent these elders beseeching {Jesus} that He would come and heal his servant. The word beseeching is the Greek ἐρωτάω erōtáō, {pronounced er-o-tah’-o}, which means “to request, to ask, to pray to”. The word erōtáō tells us that, though this man was a “Very Important Person”, he realized that Jesus was MUCH MORE important.

When these elders come to Jesus, we see something else about this Centurion. We read:

Luke 7:4-5 … when they came to Jesus, they besought Him instantly, saying, That he was worthy for whom he should do this: 5 For he loveth our nation, and he hath built us a synagogue

Word Study: The word besought is an interesting compound word, the Greek παρακαλέω parakaléō, {pronounced par-ak-al-eh’-o}, which means “to come alongside, to beg, to comfort, to intimately request”. These elders are pleading with Jesus to come and minister to this Centurion’s servant. This Centurion – though a commander of the soldiers of Rome – has not used his position to drive down Israel. No, as a matter of fact, this Centurion did what Jesus preached in his Sermon on the Plain. Jesus said:

Luke 6:27-28 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.

The average Israelite hated Rome for conquering and occupying Israel. This Centurion understood Israel’s hatred of Rome, and did not hold their hatred in his heart. This Centurion did as Jesus said:

Luke 6:31-36 And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise. 32 For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them. 33 And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same. 34 And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again. 35 But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil. 36 Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.

The Centurion loved Israel, though he was part of the occupying force. The Centurion proved his love for Israel by building a synagogue” in Capernaum, a place where Jesus had taught, and the Bible was shared to Israel.

How did Jesus respond? He didn’t say a word. Jesus saw the Centurion’s faith in what the elder’s said of him. We read:

Luke 7:6 … Then Jesus went with them. …

God responds to faith. Genuine faith moves the heart of God. Why? Because:

Genuine, God Honoring Faith Is Humble

The faith that saves, the faith that brings a blessing, is the faith that is humble. Humility is in short supply in our world today. Sadly, human pride gets more out of control every day. The Bible says:

1 Peter 5:6-7 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: 7 Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.

Human Pride!: Over the last two plus years, America has been humbled by the Coronavirus. Not just America, but the whole world has been humbled by the Coronavirus. Churches and businesses went through lock downs. We were told to cover our faces with masks. Vaccines were developed, and we were ordered to get vaccines. Some local churches dissolved under the pride, as various groups lobbied for one side or the other. During the worst of the virus, people in arrogance destroyed private and public property. Racism flourished, and rather than join hands we pointed fingers, because we all felt that we were superior to the other side. The Prophet Amos said:

Amos 3:6 Shall a trumpet be blown in the city, and the people not be afraid? shall there be evil in a city, and the Lord hath not done it?

King Nebuchadnezzar, once arrogant, thinking himself to be a god, repented once he experienced the disciplining hand of the True God. Nebuchadnezzar said:

Daniel 4:35 … all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing {compared to God}: and {God} doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and NONE can stay His hand, or say unto Him, What doest thou?

The God of the Scripture, He is LORD of all. The Pandemic should have humbled us as a nation, but instead we found other things to be arrogant about. The “devil like a roaring lion, went about seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8), and he got a belly full.

The Centurion, a man who had lived through numerous battles, paid attention to God. He put his trust not in his own abilities, but in the coming Messiah. This Centurion humbled himself. We read:

Luke 7:6-7 … And when {Jesus} was now not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to him, saying unto him, Lord, trouble not thyself: for I am not worthy that thou shouldest enter under my roof: 7 Wherefore neither thought I myself worthy to come unto thee: but say in a word, and my servant shall be healed.

The Centurion had not sent the elders of Israel to fetch Jesus because HE was important. The Centurion asked the elders of Israel to go to Jesus because his mindset was I am not worthy that thou shouldest enter under my roof. As Jesus preached His Sermon on the Mount, the Pharisees thought that THEY were worthy, but JESUS was UNWORTHY. But this Centurion said, I am not worthy. The words translated NOT worthy is the Greek οὐ ἱκανός ou hikanós, {pronounced hik-an-os’}, which means “I am not sufficient, I am not much, I am not enough”. The Prophet John the Baptist made the same statement when the Pharisees asked if he were the Christ, the Messiah. John said, “I am not worthy to carry Jesus’ shoes” (Matthew 3:11). This Centurion said,

Lord, trouble not Thyself: for I am not worthy

Jesus is Lord. The Centurion is nothing. Oh, by the world’s standards, this was an important man. But this man had a humbled heart. God can bless those with the humbled hearts. Greatness comes from those with humbled hearts. God can use the humble. God can save the humble.

God used a humble Moses to write the foundation of Scripture.
God used a humble
Noah to save a world from destruction.
God used a humble
Joseph to save two nations from destruction,
so that Messiah could come into the world.
God used a humble
David to kill Goliath with a stone and a sling.
God used a humble
Daniel to plant faith in Babylon so that
Wise Men would one day worship Jesus.

The Centurion says:

Luke 7:8 For I also am a man set under authority, having under me soldiers, and I say unto one, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it.


The Centurion doesn’t say, “I am a man IN authority”. No, but he says, I also am a man set under authority. The arrogant can never lead. The arrogant can never be blessed. Note first the word also. The Centurion saw Jesus as a man under authority. Our Lord Jesus was sent to this earth by the Father. There is no arrogance even in the Trinity of God. The Father leads the Godhead. The Son is sent of the Father. Jesus said,

Matthew 10:40 (ESV) … whoever receives Me receives Him who sent Me.

John 5:22-24, 37 (ESV) For the Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, 23 that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him. 24 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life. 37 … the Father who sent Me, He has testified of Me.
John 7:16 (ESV) … My teaching is not Mine, but His who sent Me.

John 8:16 (ESV) … My judgment is true; for I am not alone in it, but I and the Father who sent Me.

I could go on and on, but you need to understand this. There is power in humility. God Himself models humility. It is the devil who promotes “Just do you” mentality, or “be yourself”. The Son of God says, humble yourself. This is where power with God is.

Humble Faith Is Marvelous To God

Luke 7:9 When Jesus heard these things, He marveled at him, and turned him about, and said unto the people that followed him, I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.

Word Study The Centurion had a faith that caused Jesus to “marvel”. Do you see it? “When Jesus heard it, He MARVELED”. This is the Greek θαυμάζω thaumazō which means “to hold in admiration, to wonder at, to marvel”.

When we look at Jesus and see all that He did, we marvel at Him. When Jesus calmed the storm with but a word, His disciples marveled at Jesus (Matthew 8:27). When Jesus healed a paralyzed man, the crowds marveled (Matthew 9:8). When Jesus cursed a fig tree, and it died in a day, His disciples marveled (Matthew 21:20). Jesus is marvelous (Matthew 21:42). Why would Jesus love us so? The love of Christ is indeed marvelous!

Do you know there are two places in scripture where Jesus is said to marvel? It is here, and in

Mark 6:6 … and Jesus marveled because of their unbelief …

When Jesus went to His hometown of Nazareth, He marveled at their unbelief. Their unbelief was so strong that Jesus could do no mighty work there. Oh, He healed a few people. But Jesus could not do as He did in Capernaum.

Leaving Nazareth, marveling at Nazareth’s unbelief, Jesus went to Capernaum and marveled at the faith of not a Jew, but a Gentile, a Roman Centurion!

Beloved, God cannot work in your life unless you possess genuine faith. The way you achieve genuine faith is by humbling yourselves under the mighty hand of God. We hear God’s Word, trust it, and DO it.

When Jesus ended the Sermon on the Plain, His last word was this:

Luke 6:46-49 And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? 47 Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like: 48 He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock. 49 But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great.

Jesus never met that Centurion face to face, and yet Jesus marveled at his faith. Once more, Jesus never said a word. Faith moved Him to go to the Centurion’s home, and faith causes Jesus to heal the Centurion’s servant. The Scripture says God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6), those who humble themselves in His mighty presence. Let us learn to say with David,

1 Chronicles 29:10-13 … Blessed be thou, Lord God of Israel our father, for ever and ever. 11 Thine, O Lord is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O Lord, and thou art exalted as head above all. 12 Both riches and honor come of thee, and thou reignest over all; and in thine hand is power and might; and in thine hand it is to make great, and to give strength unto all. 13 Now therefore, our God, we thank thee, and praise thy glorious name.

May God draw us all to the same place as this Centurion. For Christ’s glory, and for the spread of God’s Kingdom we pray. Amen and Amen!

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Memorial Service for Bill Tanner

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Memorial Service for Bill Tanner

Prelude (Violin)

Welcome & Introduction (David Buffaloe)

I’d like to start out by thanking the family of Bill Tanner for allowing me to be here today. I had the honor of officiating the memorial of Bill’s wife and your mother and grandmother, Lois Gertrude Potts Tanner on July 26, 2016. At that time they had been married 66 years. Bill lived on this earth without Gertrude for nearly 5 ½ years (5 years, 4 months, 6 days) before he rejoined her on December 2, 2021. I know there was shouting in glory when Bill and Gertrude reunited!

When Steve asked me to officiate this service, he sent me an autobiography that Bill wrote entitled “My Story”. As I read it, I thought it would be fitting to hear Bill’s words at his memorial. In a sense Bill – though now with Jesus – will help in officiating his own memorial. As the Scripture says (Hebrews 11:4), “he being dead yet speaketh”.

Bill lived a tough life. He went through the Great Depression, and as a boy helped pick cotton on the farm of Aunt Mae and Uncle Ernest in Red Hill, Tennessee. Bill’s mother worked in Lawrenceburg, and later Columbia, Tennessee. While living on Cemetery Avenue in Columbia, the family was listening to the radio Sunday, December 7, 1941 when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. Bill fished in the Columbia Duck River, and being poor made his own fishing tackle out of straight pins. He attended Whitthorne Junior High (now a Middle School) in Columbia, graduating from the eighth grade in the spring of 1941. Entering the Army Medical Corp at 17 years old, he trained and was qualified as a Psychiatric Social Worker.

In our Church we sometimes have “Testimonial Services”. In Bill’s autobiography, hetestified” that as a young boy … these are his words:

“… I had never been to Church or attended any type of worship service. While in junior high school a friend invited me to visit his church one Sunday. I mentioned it to mother, but she seemed to think that I didn’t have proper clothing to wear. Since she never attended we didn’t discuss the matter further. I often wonder what a positive difference church attendance and faith in God would have had in our lives.

I’m afraid that often happens to people seeking the Lord. They don’t “go to Church” because their clothing is shabby, or their morals are off. So many people tell me “When I straighten out my life, I’ll come to Church”. They misunderstand. The Church is a body of people who are broken, and who need the Lord Jesus Christ. When I read this section in “My Story” my heart broke. I rejoiced later in reading where Bill spoke of meeting and marrying the love of his life, Gertrude Potts. He wrote:

I asked her to marry me and she agreed. This was undoubtedly one of the best decisions I ever made (the best one was when I accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Savior several years later!).”

In 1956 Bill and his family moved to Judson Road in Wheaton, Maryland. Bill once more speaks:

During this time a friend at work who was a devout Christian … began to talk to me about becoming a Christian. This man’s name was Robert R. Hudson. He was the accountant for our small company. Bob was persistent. He told me what being a Christian had meant to him, and kept asking if Lois and I would like to visit his Church, First Baptist Church of Silver Spring, Maryland. … Lois had been baptized early in life while a member of the little Nazarene Church in Fly, Tennessee. We both accepted Jesus Christ as our personal Savior and were baptized by Reverend Frank Brasington at First Baptist Church in Silver Spring, Maryland. We began attending on a regular basis and became involved in Sunday School. This was a turning point in our lives.”

Bill’s faith in Jesus was proved by his life. While in Anderson, South Carolina, Bill was ordained a Deacon, and was active in the North Anderson Baptist Church.

One thing that was evident in reading Bill’s autobiography was that his life was not easy.

Throughout his life on this earth Bill and his family changed residences many times.

When Bill retired, he and Gertrude moved to Sun City, a gated community near Hilton Head Island, South Carolina.

Toward the end of his autobiography, Bill again speaks …

Our social life centers around our Church (First Baptist Church of Bluffton) where we attend both morning and evening services on Sunday plus other activities during the week. We have many friends there and do enjoy the fellowship and worship experience.”

Bill made his final move December 2, 2021. He carried nothing of this earth with him, but moved into a prepared place, a place Jesus has promised to all who believe in Him. 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.

This Promised Land is available to all who receive Jesus as Lord and Savior. I expect to see Bill and Lois one day, and get to know them personally in what is called that “sweet by and by”. May God the Holy Spirit draw every heart here today to Jesus, “the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to God the Father but through Jesus” (John 14:6).

Opening Prayer (David Buffaloe)

Music: It Is Well With My Soul (Violin)

Reflections: Steve Tanner

Message (David Buffaloe)

One of the greatest and most well known texts in this Bible is found in …

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.

This verse is taught to children in Vacation Bible Schools. Most every person I meet has memorized the text. But this verse is part of a conversation that the Lord Jesus Christ had with a Rabbi named Nicodemus.

Nicodemus thought that he was in a good place with God. He was religious. He came to Jesus by night to commend the Lord. Nicodemus was a good man. But was he where he needed to be with God? No. Though he was good and moral, Jesus told Nicodemus:

You must be born again. Unless you are born again,
you cannot enter the Kingdom of God.

Heaven is God’s Kingdom. Heaven is God’s home.

I have in my hand an ancient lock that a dear friend gave me. I have taken this lock to various locksmiths who have said they cannot open it. Why? It needs a specific key that I do not have, and have no idea where it is. Heaven is a gated community, a locked community. Only those who are “born again” – not just born physically, but are born spiritually – can enter Heaven, God’s Home. I may never find the key to this lock, but I tell you – no – JESUS tells you – HE IS THE KEY TO HEAVEN. Jesus said:

John 3:14-15 .. the Son of Man must be lifted up. That whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

God the Father sent God the Son to this earth – not to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved (John 3:17). Jesus, speaking of Himself in the third Person, told Nicodemus and us …

John 3:18 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.

Though we are all born broken with sin (for there are none righteous, no, not one – Romans 3:10), and because of sin are separated from God spiritually, Jesus came to unite us with our Creator. Dying on the Cross of Calvary, Jesus made payment for our transgressions and sins. The Bible declares:

1 John 1:7 … the Blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin …

Jesus took the penalty of our brokenness on Himself, so that – if we believe on Him – His standing before the Father is placed on our Heavenly accounts. There are not many ways to God. There is but one way to God, and that way is through faith in Jesus. The Apostles preached:

Acts 4:12 (ESV) … there is salvation in no one else {but Jesus}, for there is no other name under Heaven given among men by which we must be saved…

The Apostle Paul said in 1 Timothy 2:5, “there is ONE GOD, and there is ONE MEDIATOR between God and mankind, the Man Christ Jesus. Through Jesus God has reconciled to Himself all things, making peace by THE BLOOD OF CHRIST’S CROSS (Colossians 1:20).

You have had the privilege of hearing Bill’s testimony. Bill is not dead, but He is with Jesus this very day. Jesus has said I am the resurrection and the life. Whosoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live. And everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die” (John 11:25-26).

Jesus asks us all, “Do YOU believe this?”

Bill and Lois did. They are now in glory with the Lord, a place where all of God’s Children will go. If you have received Jesus as He is, both Christ and Lord, then you will see this beautiful couple again one day. The Kingdom of God is our present and eternal home.

What does this Kingdom look like? The Apostle John gives us a glimpse of Paradise:

Revelation 21:3-5 (ESV) … God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” 5 And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.”

Bill is not only my brother in Christ, but a fellow veteran. I now turn this service over to the America Legion:

Veteran Honors/ Tribute: American Legion

Music: How Great Thou Art (Violin)

Blessing:

Numbers 6:24-26 The Lord bless thee, and keep thee: 25 The Lord make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: 26 The Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.

For Jesus’ glory and honor, amen and amen!

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Faithful Is The Word (Part 3): Gospel Truths

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This past Sunday we looked at several of the Apostle Paul’s “faithful sayings” that he gave to Timothy and Titus. Timothy was chosen of God to build the Church in Ephesus, whereas Titus was building the Church in Crete. Paul introduced these faithful sayings with πιστός λόγος {pistos logos}, or literally, “Faithful is the Word”. Our Jesus is faithful. God’s Word is faithful. Tonight we turn to,

1 Timothy 4:9 This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation.

When We Are Saved By The Word Of God,
We
Must Feed Our Souls On The Word Of God

Word Study:We read This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation”, pistos logos, which means Faithful is the Word. This pistos logos focuses on the word of the world, and the Word of God.

God’s Word is faithful, but man’s word is not.

In our world today there is the unprecedented spread of evil, spread liberally by technology. Now, I’m not against technology. I love technology. I program my own computers with the Linux Operating System, because – to me – Bill Gates and Microsoft are greedy for money. I use the internet to study and research Scripture. There are amazing resources available freely to those willing to use them, resources that used to cost hundreds of dollars to access. Praise God for the internet. Praise God for technology. But Beloved, you need to know that Satan himself uses the same devises to evil.

Satan and the fallen world has always used God’s
good
gifts for evil, and always will!

Faithful is the Word”. What does God tell us? Read with me:

1 Timothy 4:1-2 Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; 2 Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;

Word Study: It is the Holy Spirit Who speaks expressly”, ῥητῶς rhētōs, pronounced hray-toce’}, meaning “directly, to the point”. This is NOT PAUL’S OPINION, but GOD’S OPINION. That’s why the Apostle uses this phrase.

The Holy Spirit of God characterizes the teachings of the fallen world – teachings that have crept into many local Churches – as “seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils”.

Word Study: The seducing spirits is the Greek plános pneuma, literally a “wandering spirit, a vagabond spirit, deceiving spirit”. The devil and his demons are con men. They wander about looking for people whom they can convince to disrupt the kingdom of God. There is the “Spirit of God” (Exodus 31:3; 35:31) and “the spirit of this age” (Ephesians 2:1-3; Revelation 12:9). There is the Doctrine of God’s Word (“Faithful is the Word”) and the doctrines of devils. A recent article in the Devotional “Our Daily Bread” noted:

Jesus intends for us to live in the world (John 17:15), so worldly influence is nearly impossible to escape. But He’s given us His Word to so permeate our thinking that we don’t have to become conformed to the world’s values (Romans 12:1-2). Instead, God helps us walk in His light (Ephesians 5:8), in the Spirit (Galatians 5:25), in love (Ephesians 5:2), in truth (3 John 4), and in Christ (Colossians 2:6). As we walk in God’s power and spend time in His Word, He gives us the strength to live according to kingdom values and not the spirit of the age.”

The “spirit of this world” stands against what God says is normal, and normalizes the evil. The spirit of this world through the publication USA Today listed as “Women of the Year”

recently listed a number of “inspirational women” gymnast Simone Biles, Kizzmekia Corbett, one of the women who helped develop the COVID-19 vaccine, and Linda Zhang, chief engineer behind the all-electric Ford F-150 Lightning. They also listed Rachel Levine, the first transgender assistant secretary for health for the Department of Health and Human Services as one of the “Women of the Year”. A man who has medically transitioned to a woman is a “Woman of the Year”.

This is confusion, and God is NOT
the Author of Confusion (1 Corinthians 14:33)

The spirit of this world has – from the Garden of Eden unto now – tried to twist God’s design. This spirit attacks Biblical Marriage,

1 Timothy 4:3 Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.

Our standard as God’s people is to ALWAYS ask ourselves, “Does God’s Word support and affirm what I believe is true?”. If God’s Word doesn’t support what the world calls “true”, then we are to default to God’s Word – ALWAYS. The Word that saved us is the Word that nourishes our souls, and guides us in the “paths of righteousness for his name’s sake” (Psalm 23:3).

No one is above the temptation of the spirit of this world. The spirit of this world – driven by Satan – came to a hungry Jesus in the wilderness, saying:

Matthew 4:3 … If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.

How did Jesus respond to the Tempter? Jesus invoked the Scripture, the Bible, the Word of God! Quoting Deuteronomy 8:3, Jesus told the devil:

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

Many “professing” Christians today spend much time on the Internet, on Social Media, and in front of a television or phone screen, but little time in God’s Scripture.

The spirit of this age invades pulpits.

Andy Stanley, the son of Charles Stanley, himself a pastor (North Point Community Church, Alpharetta, Georgia) posted to his social media,

The Christian faith doesn’t rise and fall on the accuracy of 66 ancient documents (a reference to the Bible). It rises and falls on the identity of a single individual: Jesus of Nazareth”.

Beloved, we only know the identity of Christ through the infallible Scriptures. We only know that there WAS a Jesus of Nazareth because the Holy Scripture IS reliable, God driven, and true. Our Lord Jesus proved His claim of being Christ/ Messiah on what the Scriptures said. Listen to His words:

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

If the Scriptures are not accurate, then Christ has no claim in Jesus. Yet, Jesus affirmed the Scripture. Sitting with His disciples one day, we read:

Luke 24:27 And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, {Jesus} expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning Himself.

The Scriptures – this Bible – teach us the way to salvation.
The Scriptures teach us how God wants us to think.
“Faithful is the Word”.

Jesus said, everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled” (Luke 24:44). Jesus chose Judas Iscariot to be one of His Apostles, knowing that Judas would betray Him, because the Scriptures must be fulfilled. Hear Jesus:

John 13:18 … I know whom I have chosen: but that the scripture may be fulfilled, He that eateth bread with me hath lifted up his heel against me.

Jesus praying, told the Father in …

John 17:12 While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled.

Jesus picked Judas because the Scripture demanded it.

Luke 22:21-22 … behold, the hand of him that betrayeth me is with me on the table. 22 And truly the Son of man goeth, as it was determined: but woe unto that man by whom he is betrayed!

You can see the prophesies of Scripture of Judas’ betrayal of Jesus also in Matthew 27:9-10 and Acts 1:16, 20. If the Scripture is not reliable, if it is not “God breathed” as the Apostle declared in 2 Timothy 3:16, then Jesus has no ancient witness that He is the one and only Messiah. If you cut the umbilical cord of the Scripture and declare it untrustworthy, then even our salvation is suspect.

The Word of God is TRUE.

When Jesus walked the earth He chastised the liberal of His day, the Sadducees, telling them:

You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God” (Matthew 22:29).

The only way you can know the POWER of God is through the WORD of God rightly divided. It is these sacred writings we call “the Bible” that are able to make you wise unto salvation through faith in Christ Jesus (2 Timothy 3:15). It is the Bible that makes a Christian mature, able to deal with the horrors that this life can throw at you.

If you are saved, then “Faithful is the Word”. Resist the spirit of this world. The Apostle says:

1 Timothy 4:7 … refuse profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness. 8 For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.

You who are saved by faith in Christ Jesus (for “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”) are to love and live by the same Scriptures that our Jesus loves and lives by. Godliness is profitable unto all things.

What is “Godliness”, but to imitate God as
He has presented His truth in this Bible?

We are not to – as the world says – Be True To Yourself”, nor are we to “Just Do You”. What does the Scripture command? We are to …

Romans 12:1-2 … present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

I commend you all for your faithfulness is attending and participating in Worship Services, for being a part of Sunday School and Discipleship Training. When the disciples of Christ sit down and feed their souls on the Word of God (Faithful is the Word), we grow spiritually. But we must ALSO daily seek to feed from God’s Word. As believers in Christ we are called to HEAR the Word, then DO what you have been told. It is through this faithful Scripture that we have …

2 Peter 1:3 … all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue

Godliness is DOING God’s Word!

We are to walk with God on a daily basis, seeking to be pleasing to Him in our lives. Godliness is not just a warm fuzzy good feeling. It is like Enoch, who walked with God, pleasing Him (Hebrews 11:5). Let us walk with God, pleasing Him. The Scripture that saves us is the Scripture we live our lives by. Choose to serve the Lord Jesus.

Jesus told us …

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

God Equips His People Through The Church

Let’s look at one more “true saying”. This one is somewhat obscured, because the King James translators didn’t translated pistos logos the same as they did in the other passages we’ve studied. We read:

1 Timothy 3:1 .. This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.

Word Study : The first five words of this text – This is a true saying – is still the Greek πιστός λόγος {pistos logos}, or Faithful is the Word. In this particular “faithful” statement, Jesus speaks of His Church.

The spirit of this world rebels against
authority in any form.

During the 2019-2021 riots we saw people looting and burning property that was not their own. We saw mobs of people take over city blocks in major metropolitan areas, declaring them “Police Free Zones”. We heard while people march speak of defunding the police, and then wonder why crime sky rocketed.

Many liberal Americans have rejected lawful authority in every area of life. Citizens have felt that they could – with impunity – tear down and destroy statues and monuments that were purchased with our corporal tax dollars. The rot has drifted so far into the bone that mayors of cities have ordered the police to stand down and watch while anarchy rules.

The devil rejoices at this! The demons have a party every time ordained authority is mocked. The devil despises order. It was he who slithered into the Garden of Eden, and asked our first parents Adam and Eve:

Genesis 3:1 … Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?

When Adam did not speak up, and chase the serpent out of Eden with a stick, he went on to say:

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

The devil wants us to overthrow any authority, for the Scripture says, Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God” (Romans 13:1). The Prophet Daniel said:

Daniel 2:20-22 … Blessed be the name of God for ever and ever: for wisdom and might are his: 21 And he changeth the times and the seasons: he removeth kings, and setteth up kings: he giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding: 22 He revealeth the deep and secret things: he knoweth what is in the darkness, and the light dwelleth with him.

When Jesus established His Church – the local gathering of believers, saved by faith in Him – He established oversight on the Church. The Apostle told Timothy:

1 Timothy 3:1 If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.

Word Study: What is the office of a bishop? This is the Greek ἐπισκοπή episkopḗ, {pronounced ep-is-kop-ay’}, which means “the office of Overseer”.

The Overseer is not the “Boss of the Church”.
The Overseer is a servant leader.
The Overseer is a steward of the House of Christ.

The Overseer lovingly guides the body of believers toward unity and Christlikeness. The Overseer is a MAN under authority, a MAN who is following the Lord. The text says, If a man desire the office of a bishop. The desire is placed in the heart by God the Holy Spirit.

The Apostle’s charge to the Overseers is thus:

Acts 20:28 Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy {Spirit} hath made you overseers {episkopos}, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.

It is the Holy Spirit that makes the Overseer, and the Overseer lovingly and carefully must follow the directions of the Master. The Overseer is to feed the church of God, not the swill of this world, but the Good Word of God. The Overseer is under authority, just as the Christians in his care are under authority.

God establishes lines of authority where
ever He has created.

In the Biblical Marriage, the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church” (Ephesians 5:23). The Apostle directs,

Ephesians 5:24 as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.

As the leader in the family, the Husband is to (Ephesians 5:25) “love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it. You need to be willing to die for your wife! You lead in the marriage, but not as a Roman Emperor, but in love.

The Parents rule the children. The fifth Commandment of the Decalogue is:

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.

Jesus Christ repeated this commandment in Luke 18:20, “Honor thy father and thy mother”, as did Paul in Ephesians 6:2. Our God is a God of order, not of disorder.

Jesus Christ is the Head of His Church (Colossians 1:18), and through God’s Holy Spirit Overseers watch over the Body, teaching and loving its members. Staying true to the Word of God no matter what society may foolishly support. Regardless as the position you have been called:

Overseer
Husband
Parent

you are to be guided by the Word of God, and by humility to the Head, which is Jesus Christ. When the Apostles fought amongst themselves to see who would be the greatest, Jesus told them:

Matthew 20:25-28 … Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. 26 But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; 27 And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: 28 Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.

The leader – be it Overseer (pastor), Husband or Parent – is to lay their life down for that which they have been given stewardship of. And the stewardship are to follow the Godly leader as they follow the Lord. It is my eternal joy to be the Overseer at Riverview Baptist. Jesus Christ is our Leader, and we are His Body, following His Word daily as He has commanded. Pray for me that I will stay true to this grand calling. For Christ sake, and for the growth of His Church. Amen and Amen.

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Faithful Is The Word (Part 2): Gospel Truths

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Please turn with me in your Bibles to 2 Timothy. This morning we began to look at the “faithful sayings” the Apostle Paul shared with two young men, Timothy (a Jewish Greek) and Titus (a Gentile). Paul left these men in Ephesus and Crete to establish local Churches in those areas. We see Paul repeating a phrase:

This is a faithful saying”
the Greek pistos logos, or literally
“Faithful is the Word”

In these phrases the Apostle is emphasizing the faithfulness of God in saving souls. This morning we saw that (1) God came to this earth the save sinners, and (2)God has given us a Faithful Word, the Holy Scripture, to grow us in our salvation.

The Lord Who Saved Us, Owns Us, And Will Keep Us

2 Timothy 2:11-13 It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him: 12 if we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us: 13 if we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself.

This “faithful is the Word” is tied together with FOUR Ifs. We’ll look at these in order.

  • The first IF deals with the death of the WILL of the believer. Let’s look at the first IF: if we be dead with Him, we shall also live with him. The phrase we be dead with is the Greek συναποθνήσκω synapothnḗskō, {pronounced soon-ap-oth-nace’-ko}, and that’s what it means. It means to be bound to Jesus unto the death!

The day that every Christian is saved, that believer surrenders his or her life – our WILL – to God, in exchange for the life of Christ. Christianity is an unconditional surrender to God. We believe that He died for us. Repenting of our sin and self service, we bow the knee to Calvary. We give our lives over to Jesus. The Bible says:

Galatians 2:20-21 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. 21 I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.

My righteousness is based on my surrender to Jesus, not to an animal sacrifice, nor to the keeping of a feast of a festival. Jesus is my entire Hope. My righteous standing before God does not come because of any good works that I do, but based on the good work of Christ on the cross.

The old me died on the day I received Jesus as Lord and Savior. I now belong to Jesus. The old David is dead, thank God! The Christian is the property of Jesus, the property of God. I hate to infuse myself into a message, but I do have to give my testimony. The devil is only overcome by the Blood of the Lamb, and the word of our testimony” (Revelation 12:11). If you are saved, you will identify with this:

ONE DAVID went to Church and heard the Gospel,
ONE DAVID that owned himself. But hearing the Gospel,
ONE DAVID was killed at the altar by the Spirit of God
ONE DAVID died with Jesus that day, but
ANOTHER DAVID was raised up with Christ.

This is the testimony of every saved person. You died at the altar, and rose from the grave of your life on the day you met Jesus. The Apostle says in another place:

Colossians 3:1-3 If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. 2 Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. 3 For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.

Christ did not RISE until Christ DIED. Christ have His life to the Father, and to us. He DIED, and ROSE AGAIN. I am dead with Christ, and so are you, if you are saved. I no longer own me. Jesus owns me. He is in charge of my life. He is in charge of my frame, my diseases, my weaknesses, my everything. I am His son and His servant. He will keep what He owns unto eternity!

The Apostle told the Corinthian believers:

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?

You do not belong to yourself anymore, dear Christian. You belonbg to Jesus. You belong to God. You are to walk in the light of eternity. You are to walk glorifying the Lord Who loved you, and gave Himself for you. The Apostle continues …

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.

You belong body, soul, and spirit to God. Thus you are to glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s. We are to live to please Him Who owns us. We are Children of the Most High, and God is our Father. Live to make Him happy. Live to be like Jesus in all you do. Do not live to please this world. Do not live for a large social media following. Live for Him Who died for you, Who rose again for you, and Who will be with you throughout all eternity.

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

You cannot please the world, and should not please the world. The flashlight does not please the darkness. The lighthouse does not please the night. We are to live pleasing our God, our Jesus, being more like Him every day. We have a destiny. We will never be famous, adored by millions. But we have a beautiful place we are headed. Let’s live like children of that Place we call “Heaven”.

  • The second IF deals with the suffering of the believer. We read:

2 Timothy 2:11 It is a faithful saying …. 12 if we suffer, we shall also reign with him:

In this fallen world, all suffer.
Christians
often suffer greater than others.

Christians are martyred for their faith. We are targeted with slurs: “racist”, “homophobe”, “transphobe”, “haters”. Our Lord Jesus Himself was persecuted, and then executed by those who were supposedly “religious”. Our Jesus said:

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.

We will suffer. We suffer less in America than in other nations, but I expect that to increase rather than decrease. With the widespread acceptance of what the Bible calls abnormal (such as homosexual and heterosexual love, Critical Race Theory, White fragility, heretical marriage contracts), we will face a choice as to whether we will stand with the Scripture or stand with the world. Beloved, we must stand with the Scripture. We have the promise of God thatif we suffer, we shall also reign with him. As the Psalmist said:

Psalm 30:5 … weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.

  • The third IF deals with DENIAL of Christ. We read:

2 Timothy 2:11-13 It is a faithful saying… 12 if we deny him, he also will deny us: 13 if we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself.

Word Study: Verses 12 & 13 seem to be contradictory, but they are not. There is a difference between denying Jesus and in having a crisis of faith. We read if we deny him, he also will deny us. The word “” is the Greek ἀρνέομαι arnéomai, {pronounced ar-neh’-om-ahee} means “to contradict, to reject or disavow, to refuse”. This means to say of Jesus, “I know not the Man – I am not one of His people”. Jesus told us:

Matthew 10:32-33 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.

Jesus used a different word in …

Mark 8:38 Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.

Word Study: The word translated ashamed is the Greek ἐπαισχύνομαι epaischýnomai, {ep-ahee-skhoo’-nom-ahee}, which means “to feel shame for someone you are associated with”. If you deny knowing Jesus, Jesus will deny knowing you. If you are ashamed of your relationship to Jesus, Jesus will be ashamed of you.

Let’s look at two well known people to explain this text. Let’s consider first the Apostle Peter. As Jesus headed toward the Cross, He told His disciples:

Matthew 26:31 … All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad.

Peter heard this, and quickly replied:

Matthew 26:33 … Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended.

Jesus told Peter, Verily I say unto thee, That this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. But Peter was unwavering. Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee. Likewise also said all the disciples.

We all know the story. When Jesus was captured, the disciples scattered. But Peter followed the bound Jesus from a distance. The Bible tells us:

Matthew 26:69-74 … Peter sat without in the palace: and a damsel came unto him, saying, Thou also wast with Jesus of Galilee. 70 But he denied before them all, saying, I know not what thou sayest. 71 And when he was gone out into the porch, another maid saw him, and said unto them that were there, This fellow was also with Jesus of Nazareth. 72 And again he denied with an oath, I do not know the man. 73 And after a while came unto him they that stood by, and said to Peter, Surely thou also art one of them; for thy speech bewrayeth thee. 74 Then began he to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man. And immediately the cock crew.

Peter denied(arnéomai, {pronounced ar-neh’-om-ahee}) Jesus. This is the same word we see in our 2 Timothy chapter 2 text. Peter denied Jesus three times – and Jesus knew that he was going to do so. But what happened after Peter denied Jesus the third time, and the cock crowed”?

Matthew 26:75 … Peter remembered the word of Jesus, which said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And he went out, and wept bitterly.

Peter remembered the word of Jesus”. Jesus was impressed on Peter’s soul. Peter gave up everything to follow Jesus, and he was saved. On denying Jesus that third time, Peter remembered what Jesus said, and “went out, and wept bitterly”. Peter’s faith was genuine.

There was another Apostle, one who followed Jesus as long as Peter did, but who never loved Jesus. He is like so many fake Christians we see in the world today. Outwardly he looks good – but inwardly he is a recepticle for Satan. Who is this person? The Apostle Judas Iscariot.

Jesus knew who Judas was when He chose him. Jesus asked His disciples one day:

John 6:67-71 Will ye also go away? 68 Then Simon Peter answered him, 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. 70 Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil? 71 He spake of Judas Iscariot the son of Simon: for he it was that should betray him, being one of the twelve.

The testimony of the genuine Christian is that we believe and are sure that {Jesus is the} Christ, the Son of the living God. But there was one in the midst that – though he looked good outwardly – he was not a believer in anyone other that himself. Jesus said of Judas, one of you is a devil. Why did Jesus choose Judas? I believe it served two purposes.

  1. It was prophesied that a betrayer would sell Jesus for thirty pieces of silver (Zechariah 11:12-13). This same person would be a “friend” of Jesus, someone whom Jesus loved and cared for. The Psalmist prophesied:

Psalm 41:9 Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me. And again,

Psalm 55:12-14 For it was not an enemy that reproached me; then I could have borne it: neither was it he that hated me that did magnify himself against me; then I would have hid myself from him: 13 But it was thou, a man mine equal, my guide, and mine acquaintance. 14 We took sweet counsel together, and walked unto the house of God in company.

Jesus knew that Judas was going to betray Him.

  1. I think Jesus also chose Judas to show us what a false Christian looks like. The true Christian is impressed by Jesus. The false Christian is an empty vessel, waiting for the devil.

John 13:1-2 Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end. 2 And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him;

The devil is communing with Judas. The devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot. Judas is not having a crisis of faith. He has followed Jesus for as many years as the other eleven have. Yet Judas is not serving Jesus, but himself. The Scripture tells us that Judas Iscariot was a THIEF, and had the {treasury} bag, and bare what was put therein. Somehow Judas got elected keeper of the treasury of the disciples. He had a habit of skimming a little “off the top”, hoping no one would notice. The disciples may not have noticed, but Jesus did, and so did Satan.

After Jesus ministered to all twelve disciples, the Bible tells us:

John 13:21 {Jesus} was troubled in spirit, and testified, and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me.

Jesus’ heart was breaking. He had given everything to these twelve men, but one was yet a betrayer. When the disciples asked, “Lord, who is it?”, Jesus said:

John 13: 26-27 … He it is, to whom I shall give a sop, when I have dipped it. And when he had dipped the sop, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon. 27 And after the sop Satan entered into him. Then said Jesus unto him, That thou doest, do quickly.

Judas was indwelt by Satan. His false faith made him a willing recepticle for the master of darkness – and Judas went band sold the Lord Jesus for thirty pieces of silver.

What was the difference between Peter’s denial of Christ, and Judas’ denial of Christ? It is in what they did afterwards. When Peter realized what he had done, he “wept bitterly”. What did Judas do after he realized what he had done?

Matthew 27:3-5 … Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, 4 Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? see thou to that. 5 And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself.

Peter repented, but Judas “repented HIMSELF”. The genuine believer cannot continue to deny the Savior. The false believer will “deconstruct” their faith because they never believed in Jesus – but only in themselves!

  • The fourth IF deals with our humanity, and when we have a crisis of faith.

2 Timothy 2:11-13 It is a faithful saying … if we believe not, yet He abideth faithful: He cannot deny himself.

Every Christian will, at times, have a crisis of faith like Peter had. The Scripture says:

2 Timothy 2:19 (ESV) But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.”

There are all times when we have momentary doubts, or wonder if God our Father has forgotten us. Yet God has promised never to leave us. Jesus Christ is impressed on the soul of the believer, and God the Holy Spirit indwells us. Though we may stumble, we will never absolutely fall – for our Jesus is faithful!

2 Timothy 1:12 … 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.

As one pastor put it, “Christ did the most for us at salvation. Will He abandon us now that we have been purchased by his blood? No!”. Our Lord is faithful.

Finally, turn with me in your Bibles to Titus, just one book over. Our final point is …

Christians Are Not Saved By Works,

But If Saved, Will Do Good For God

Titus 3:4-8 But after that the kindness and love of God our Savior toward man appeared, 5 not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; 6 which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior; 7 that being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. 8 This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men.

No Christian is saved by works. But once we are saved, we WILL work for God. We WILL be good citizens of the Kingdom of Light. The Apostle said in another place:

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

Salvation is an entirely free gift from God. But note the very next verse in Ephesians:

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

Saved by faith, the Christian is a new creature in Christ: old things are passed away, behold, all things are new (2 Corinthians 5:17). The person who says “I am saved” but walks as an unbeliever walks IS A LIAR. These are not my words, but Scripture’s words. The Apostle said:

1 John 2:3-5 And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. 4 He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5 But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.

Jesus said, “he that follows Me shall NOT walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” (John 8:12). The Apostle said, “you were at one time darkness, but now you are light in the Lord: walk as children of light (Ephesians 5:8). And John again said:

1 John 1:5-7 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: 7 but if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.

You cannot be saved, and be the same as you were before. Jesus changes you. If you know Him,you know these five sayings to be true. And if you do not know Him, today would be a great day to call upon the name of the Lord.

For whosoever calls upon the Name of the Lord shall be saved! May God touch your hearts with His blessed Spirit this very day. Amen and Amen!

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Faithful Is The Word (Part 1): Gospel Truths

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Turn with me first to 1 Timothy 1:15. As you are turning there, I want to talk about Timothy (A Jew-Gentile believer)and Titus (a Gentile believer).

Timothy was a teenager when he met Paul the Apostle. His father was a Gentile unbeliever (a Greek), but his mother and grandmother were faithful Jews (see Acts 16:1; 2 Timothy 1:5). Timothy and his mother and grandmother heard Paul preach the Gospel of Christ, and they gave their lives to Jesus. Timothy would grow up to work with Paul, and eventually ended up working with the Church in Ephesus. When Paul went to Macedonia, he left Timothy in Ephesus. Paul wrote two letters to Timothy to guide him as he established Churches and served the Lord in Ephesus.

Titus was a Greek who heard Paul preach the Gospel. After Titus was saved, Paul carried Titus to Jerusalem to show the Apostles that God could (and did) save not just Jews, but Gentiles as well. When Paul was released from the Roman Prison, he and Titus went to the island of Crete, and shared the Gospel of Salvation. Paul left Titus in Crete organizing Churches, and wrote to Titus to guide him in his missionary work.

1 Timothy 1:15 This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.

Word Study: Let’s start by looking at the first five words of our text, This is a faithful saying. This is only two words in the Greek, πιστός λόγος, pistos logos, which means “Faithful is the Word”. This phrase is found several times in the books of Timothy and Titus. This is it’s first use.

Our Lord is Faithful To Save Sinners

Our Lord has some fifty names in Scripture. He is:

The Dayspring from on high (Luke 1:78)
The Alpha and Omega (Revelation 1:8)
The Amen, the Faithful & True Witness (Revelation 3:14)
The Bread of Heaven (John 6:32)
The Chief Shepherd (1 Peter 5:4)
The Deliverer (Romans 11:26)
Immanuel, God With Us (Matthew 1:23)
The Door Of The Sheep (John 10:7-9)
The Heir of All Things (Hebrews 1:1-2)
The Horn of Salvation (Luke 1:69)
The Light of the World (John 8:12)

One of the earliest descriptive names of our God is FAITHFUL:

Deuteronomy 7:9 Know therefore that the Lord thy God, he is God, the faithful God

Our God is FAITHFUL. Our God is Father, Son, and Spirit. Our God is The Word. Remember those wonderful words:

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

Faithful is THE WORD! Oh, this Jesus, this Eternal Son of God, of Whom the Scripture says …

Colossians 1:17 {Jesus} is before all things, and by him all things consist.

This Jesus, this Eternal God the Son, this FAITHFUL GOD was given to us by the Father.

This FAITHFUL WORD was born in a manger, the lowest place, so He could reach the lowest person.

This FAITHFUL WORD is described by the Prophet:

Isaiah 9:6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

Preach This!: Faithful is the Word! Faithful is our Jesus. What was His mission. For what did He come to this earth for? To heal the sick? To raise the dead? To teach us of God? Yes, all these things. But His primary target, His number one mission is this.

1 Timothy 1:15 {FAITHFUL is the WORD} … that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners…

Here is why Jesus came – His first reason. “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”. Christ Jesus came to save sinners from their sin. He came to draw as many as would come to Him from Satan’s devilish grasp, and into the Kingdom of God. Jesus came to save sinners from their sin! He said:

John 12:44-46 .. He that believeth on me, believeth not on me, but on him that sent me. 45 And he that seeth me seeth him that sent me. 46 I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness.

Jesus – God’s Eternal Son – came to this earth representing the will of God the Father. Faithful is the Word! Jesus Christ came to save sinners from their sin! The great Pastor and Preacher C.H. Spurgeon noted:

Pardon and mercy are not for innocent people, they are for the guilty. If you have never sinned, well then, you need not listen to me. Jesus came to save sinners without any other qualification. Christ Jesus came to save HARDENED sinners, for He softens the heart. He came to save AGGRAVATED sinners, for He breaks the iron sinew of the neck and subdues the stubborn will. With sinners He sat at meat; with sinners He lived; with sinners He died. He made His grave with the wicked;He entered Paradise with a thief. Sin is a CURSED thing. God has NEVER BLESSED SIN, and He never will do so. Wherever sin reigns, the power to do good dies out. If Jesus does not save sinners, then His entire mission was a failure. Christ Jesus came to save sinners!” (The Gospel in a Single Verse)

Illustrate: The devil has always been the master of twisting truth. He twisted it in the Garden of Eden, and twists it today. In our America, we “celebrate” sexual sin. We have “Pride” marches on sexual sin. We advertise sin on the television as normal, just the way a person is. “You do you” is the catch phrase. A “husband” and a “wife” can be two women or two men, or a person and an animal, if you so desire. It is quite sophisticated to say so. In our America, we glamorize vengeance and murder. We say that such things are normal, that we should be able to torture the torturer, to “get them back”. We hoot and holler, loving the look of it on the screen of our phones or televisions. There is no sin anymore. Only what we feel.

Faithful is the Word”. God’s Word is true, and accurate, and right. No Christian should ever endorse as right anything that God has called “abomination” (Leviticus 18:22; 20:13; Romans 1:24-32) or “vile”. When we normalize sin, we destroy society. Consider if a law passed in our land that legalized theft as normal. Suppose every business were required to post a sign on the front door that says,

Theft and shoplifting is NOT prosecuted, but considered normal – just the way you were born. Please help yourself.”

How long would that business stay alive? Not long, a daresay. Sin is destructive. A copperhead and a rattlesnake are poisonous, no matter how you feel. Sin is wrong, and counter to all civility. God knows this, and loves you enough to tell you. Jesus said:

John 3:17 God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

Faithful is the Word! Jesus Christ “came into the world”, sent from the Father, sent through a virgin, made of the Holy Spirit of God. Jesus Christ is the “seed of the woman” prophesied in Genesis 3:15. Christ the Creator and Director of Creation stepped onto the stage He made. He enter history with His Story. Jesus Christ came to save sinners.

That the world MIGHT be saved.

Why “might”? Because some of you think, “I am not a sinner. I am a moral person, a clean living sort”. If that is your attitude, Jesus did not come for you. Jesus says to you:

Luke 5:32 I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

Mark 2:17 … They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

Jesus came to save sinners in their pollution, to take us from our pollution. Jesus sat eating with sinners. Jesus welcomed sinners where ever He was. He did not tell the leper to cleanse himself before coming. The leper came, and “knelt before Jesus, saying, ‘Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean’”. Jesus told that dear man, “I am willing”, and touching the unclean man Jesus said, “You are clean!” (Matthew 8:1-3). Jesus is willing to cleanse the sinner, the broken. Will you come to Him?

I have heard it said that “The Church is filled with hypocrites and people, many of whom, are worse than I am”. I say, “Praise God for it!”. If you are a sinner, you are in a good place this morning. Those who stay away from Church because sinners are here are as foolish as those who stay away from the hospital because “there’s sick people there”!

The truth is, regardless as to how you FEEL, the Bible says ALL are sinners. “Faithful is the Word”. Hear what God says:

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

Romans 3:12 … there is NONE that doeth good, NO, NOT ONE!

Jesus came into the world for sinners, just like WE ALL ARE. If you are a sinner, you are in the best place you can be. To the Pharisees among us, I remind you that the one whom God used to write this text, the Apostle Paul, was once a Sinning, Slaughtering Saul! As Paul He writes:

1 Timothy 1:15 … Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.

Before the Apostle met Jesus, the Sinner ran up and down the Damascus Road, looking for Christians to kill. Our Lord Jesus has a great sense of humor. He often saves the absolute worst sinners (like I am), and humbling them brings them into a place of service.

Once Jesus made Sinning Saul into the Apostle Paul, he wrote:

1 Timothy 1:12-14 And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry; 13 Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. 14 And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.

Paul was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious. He blasphemed God by pretending righteousness while killing his brother. He was a persecutor of the Church, hurting many Christians in his activities. Paul perhaps had believers murdered for their faith. His eyes now opened, he said I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. Grace changes a life. When Jesus saves, He saves the soul, and corrects the body.

A saved person does not continue in their sin. The Abortionist, the Adulterer, the Bigot, the Blasphemer, the Hater, the Homosexual, the Thief, the Murderer – whatever you were it becomes BEFORE. The saved are new creations in Christ.

Salvation begins by repentance. Repentance is when you realize you are a sinner in need of the one and only Savior, Jesus Christ.

The devil may be whispering to you that you need not repent, but this is a lie. The message of the Gospel is to repent and believe, to turn to Jesus as your Savior and Lord. Once the Holy Spirit comes and opens your life to the Gospel, you no longer see yourself as “doing ok”. No, you, like Paul, are chief of sinners. The Apostle Paul was at one time as self righteous as YOU are. He went about capturing and killing Christians at the behest of the Sanhedrin. But then Saul met Christ on the Damascus Road, and Saul turned into Paul. Even as an Apostle, Paul says “I am the chief of sinners”.

If Paul is chief, then I often wonder if I am not in second place. The self righteous never see themselves as sinners, but as perfect beings in comparison with others. But the Christ Converted, those who have met the Holy Spirit and seen the Savior on Calvary, they wonder why does God love us so? We see our flaws daily, and chafe at them. Like the Apostle said in:

Romans 7:21-25 I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. 22 For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: 23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. 24 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? 25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.

No Christian wants to sin. We know how much Jesus paid for our sins. But when we struggle and fall short, we cry out to Jesus once more. Repenting, we cling to this faithful saying:

1 Timothy 1:15 … Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.

Our Lord Is Saving Changes SAULS To PAULS:
We Are To Listen ONLY To The Faithful Word!

Turn a few chapters over to …

1 Timothy 4:9 This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation.

Word Study:In 1 Timothy 1:15 we read This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation”. Here we have the exact same phrase in 1 Timothy 4:9, pistos logos, which means “Faithful is the Word”.

God’s Word is faithful, but man’s word is not. In our world today there is the unprecedented spread of evil, spread liberally by technology. Now, I’m not against technology. I love technology. I program my own computers with the Linux Operating System, because – to me – Bill Gates and Microsoft are greedy for money. I use the internet to study and research Scripture. There are amazing resources available freely to those willing to use them, resources that used to cost hundreds of dollars to access. Praise God for the internet. Praise God for technology. But Beloved, you need to know that Satan himself uses the same devises to evil.

Satan and the fallen world has always used God’s good gifts for evil, and always will!

Faithful is the Word”. What does God tell us? Read with me:

1 Timothy 4:1-2 Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; 2 Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;

The Apostle characterizes the teachings of the fallen world – teachings that have crept into many local Churches – as seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils. The seducing spirits is the Greek plános pneuma, literally a “wandering spirit, a vagabond spirit, deceiving spirit”. There is the “Spirit of God” (Exodus 31:3; 35:31) and “the spirit of this age” (Ephesians 2:1-3; Revelation 12:9). There is the Doctrine of God’s Word (“Faithful is the Word”) and the doctrines of devils. A recent article in the Devotional “Our Daily Bread” noted:

Jesus intends for us to live in the world (John 17:15), so worldly influence is nearly impossible to escape. But He’s given us His Word to so permeate our thinking that we don’t have to become conformed to the world’s values (Romans 12:1-2). Instead, God helps us walk in His light (Ephesians 5:8), in the Spirit (Galatians 5:25), in love (Ephesians 5:2), in truth (3 John 4), and in Christ (Colossians 2:6). As we walk in God’s power and spend time in His Word, He gives us the strength to live according to kingdom values and not the spirit of the age.”

The “spirit of this world” stands against what God says is normal, and normalizes the evil. God designed marriage to be one man and one woman for one lifetime. The spirit of this world – a spirit of disobedience – forbids Biblical marriage

1 Timothy 4:3 Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.

Our standard as God’s people is to ask ourselves, “Does God’s Word support and affirm what I believe is true?”. The spirit of this world – driven by Satan – came to a hungry Jesus in the wilderness, saying:

Matthew 4:3 … If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.

How did Jesus respond to the Tempter? He replied:

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

Many “professing” Christians today spend much time on the Internet, on Social Media, and in front of a television or phone screen, but little time in God’s Scripture. The spirit of this age invades pulpits. Andy Stanley, professing pastor, posted to his social media, “The Christian faith doesn’t rise and fall on the accuracy of 66 ancient documents (a reference to the Bible). It rises and falls on the identity of a single individual: Jesus of Nazareth”. This is nonsense. Our Lord Jesus said:

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

Our Lord Jesus cherished the Scriptures. He sat down with His disciples and taught them the Bible. We read:

Luke 24:27 And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, {Jesus} expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning Himself.

The Scriptures – this Bible – teach us the way to salvation. The Scriptures teach us how God wants us to think. “Faithful is the Word”. Jesus said, everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled” (Luke 24:44). Jesus chastised those who professed to be saved but were not, saying, “You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God” (Matthew 22:29). It is the sacred writings of the Bible that are able to make you wise unto salvation through faith in Christ Jesus (2 Timothy 3:15). It is the Bible that makes a Christian mature, able to deal with the horrors that this life can throw at you.

If you are saved, then “Faithful is the Word”. Beloved,

1 Timothy 4:7 … refuse profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness. 8 For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.

You who are saved by faith in Christ Jesus (for “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”) are to love and live by the same Scriptures that our Jesus loves and lives by. Though we no longer sacrifice animals on an altar, we are nonetheless called to …

Romans 12:1-2 … present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

It is valuable to attend Church services, to hear the sermons, the Bible teaching, the Sunday School and Training Union classes. But you must also spend time in the Word of God yourselves if you are to grow spiritually. You must actually HEAR the Word, then DO what you have been told. God has given to each Christian

2 Peter 1:3 … all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue

Godliness is actually devotion to God IN ACTION.

We are to walk with God on a daily basis, seeking to be pleasing to Him in our lives. Godliness is not just a warm fuzzy good feeling. It is like Enoch, who walked with God, pleasing Him (Hebrews 11:5). Let us walk with God, pleasing Him.

The Scripture that saves us is the Scripture we live our lives by. Choose to serve the Lord Jesus.

I close with this warning and promise our Lord gave use:

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

Choose blessing. Choose to walk with Jesus. May God the Holy Spirit apply this faithful Word to our hearts today. May many bed saved by it’s preaching. For Christ sake, I pray. Amen and Amen.

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Exodus Texts: Face To Face Prayer With God (Sermons For Mid-Week Prayer Service)

Photo by Sincerely Media on Unsplash

Turn with me in your Bibles to Exodus Chapter 33. This will be our starting point, though we will travel through this Book tonight.

Last week we looked at the Father of Faith, Abraham, and his prayer life with the Lord. We saw how Abraham drew near to God, and interceded with God for Lot and his family. This week I want to look at Moses’ prayer life. The Bible says:

Moses Spoke To God Face To Face

Exodus 33:11 And the Lord spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend. And he turned again into the camp: but his servant Joshua, the son of Nun, a young man, departed not out of the tabernacle.

What does this mean, that the Lord spake unto Moses face to face? Does it mean that Moses saw God’s face? No, because just a few verses later God tells Moses:

Exodus 33:20 And {God} said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live.

The Bible tells us that “God is Spirit” (John 4:24). As “Spirit”, God has no face as we do. I can look on your face and live, but God’s face is part of His immensity. God is everywhere, infinite. He told the Prophet Jeremiah (23:23-24), “Am I a God at hand, declares the Lord, and not a God far away? Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him? declares the Lord. Do I not fill heaven and earth? declares the Lord.” (ESV). King Solomon, purportedly the wisest man who ever lived, said Will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you; how much less this house that I have built!” (1 Kings 8:27, ESV). God is everywhere. God is fully present everywhere. God is fully powerful everywhere. God is not like us. No, HE IS GOD!

The text tells us that the Lord spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend”. This means that

Moses and God were intimate friends,
just as Abraham and God were friends.

Isaiah 41:8 But thou, Israel, art my servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the seed of Abraham my friend. (see also 2 Chronicles 20:7 & James 2:23).

Was Moses A Friend Of God Because He Was Perfect?

Was Moses a perfect man? Let’s see. Moses was raised in the Pharaoh’s palace, by the Pharaoh’s daughter. When Moses was forty years old (see the words of Stephen in Acts 7:22-23) he discovered that he was not Egyptian, but Jewish, a Hebrew of Israel. We read in:

Exodus 2:11-12 And it came to pass in those days, when Moses was grown, that he went out unto his brethren, and looked on their burdens: and he spied an Egyptian smiting an Hebrew, one of his brethren. 12 And he looked this way and that way, and when he saw that there was no man, he slew the Egyptian, and hid him in the sand.

Moses murdered a man. Our text tells us that before he murdered that Egyptian, he looked this way and that way. Moses’ act was not in the heat of the moment, but an act that could be called “in cold blood”. Moses planned what he did. His action was calculated, first degree murder. The Lord has decreed:

Genesis 9:5-6 (ESV) for your lifeblood I will require a reckoning: from every beast I will require it and from man. From his fellow man I will require a reckoning for the life of man. 6 “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image”.

Human life is sacred. As Moses was a resident of the Palace, he could have ordered the taskmaster to stop beating the Hebrews. But he did not. Moses took a life, breaking one of the earliest commandments of God. Moses ran away when the murder was discovered, and spent 40 more years in the land of Midian before meeting God at the burning bush (Exodus 3:4).

At 80 years old God calls Moses to go and represent Him in Pharaoh’s Palace (Exodus 3:4).

Moses was not a tower of faith when he was called. Moses made excuse after excuse as to why he could not go to Egypt and speak on God’s behalf.

Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh”? (Exodus 3:11)
“Israel will not believe me, nor hear me”. (Exodus 4:1)
“I am, not eloquent, but am slow of speech” (Exodus 4:10)

Moses refused to go so many times that “the anger of the Lord was kindled against Moses” (Exodus 3:14). God had to tell Moses that He would let Aaron speak, for “he can speak well” (Exodus 4:14). God spoke to Moses, and Moses spoke to Aaron, and Aaron would speak to Pharaoh and the people of Israel. No, Moses was not a tower of faith.

He was broken, just as we all are.

Moses Was God’s Friend Because He
Fully Relied On The Lord

When trials came to Israel and to Moses, Moses did not murmur – He cried out unto the Lord. When the waters of Marah were undrinkable,

Exodus 15:25 {Moses} cried unto the Lord; and the Lord shewed him a tree, which when he had cast into the waters, the waters were made sweet…

When Israel came to Rephidim and found no water there, Moses did not organize a well digging crew. What did he do?

Exodus 17:4 and Moses cried unto the Lord, saying, What shall I do unto this people? They be almost ready to stone me.

When Israel got to the base of Mount Sinai, God established His covenant with Israel through Moses. God told Israel:

Exodus 19:5-6 … Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: 6 And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. ..

Whatever God told Moses to tell the people, Moses told it. He did not embellish nor add to the Word of God. Moses exhibited absolute truth in God’s Word. We read:

Exodus 19:7 … Moses came and called for the elders of the people, and laid before their faces all these words which the Lord commanded him.

Moses was a faithful friend to God, so God treated Moses as a friend.

Exodus 19:8-9 And all the people answered together, and said, All that the Lord hath spoken we will do. And Moses returned the words of the people unto the Lord. 9 And the Lord said unto Moses, Lo, I come unto thee in a thick cloud, that the people may hear when I speak with thee, and believe thee for ever. And Moses told the words of the people unto the Lord.

Moses was the perfect go-between, a perfect mediator. He faithfully delivered the Word of God to the people, and faithfully relayed the people’s needs to God. Moses loved God, and Moses loved the people.

What God looks for in a friend is a person who understands and applies the Law of Love.

God is love (1 John 4:8, 16) and God is light (1 John 1:5). God tells us in His Word:

Matthew 22:37-40 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

God is a Friend to those who love Him. God said, I will show mercy to thousands of them that love Me, and keep My commandments” (Exodus 20:6). When we obey God as God, we show our love to Him. If you love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15). If you keep My commandments, you shall abide in My love; even as I have kept My Father’s commandments, and abide in His love”. (John 15:10). We must love God if we want our prayers to be heard, if we want to have intimacy with God.

We love VERTICALLY.

We must also love OUTWARDLY. Jesus told us to love our neighbor as ourselves. We are to treat others in our periphery – whoever we come into close contact with in our daily lives – with the love we want to receive on ourselves.

Illustrate: Just the other day I was at Walmart (no surprise there), and went to get a shopping cart. Every cart I pulled on was stuck together. A nice lady came up who tried to help. She lifted up on the back of the cart as I pulled – then I noticed the babies seatbelt strap had become wedged in the grill of the carts. I reached in, dislodged it, and gave the nice lady that cart with a smile! “I’ll give you the first one – have a blessed day!” She smiled, thanked me, and walked away.

Did I mention this sweet lady was a person of color
with a “Black Lives Matter” mask on her face?

We must also love INWARDLY. We love OUTWARDLY people who might not be like us, but we love INWARDLY in the Household of Faith.

Jesus said in John 13:34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.

John 15:12 This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.

Moses exhibited all the marks of the Friend of God. He loved God. He loved others, And He loved Israel. Moses was forty years in the Palace of Egypt, forty years in Midian, and at the base of Mount Sinai Moses went up to talk with God for forty days and nights.

Exodus 24:12 … the Lord said unto Moses, Come up to Me into the mount, and be there: and I will give thee tables of stone, and a law, and commandments which I have written; that thou mayest teach them.

Word Study: While on Sinai God gave Moses tables of stone, or the Ten Commandments (called the Decalogue) AND a law” (tôwrâh) or a set of teachings, AND commandments” (mitsvâh), specific Laws related to the nation Israel. God told Moses to not just Come up to Me into the mount, but also and be there. The phrase and be there is the Hebrewהָיָה שָׁם, hāyâ šām which means “to be in the moment, to be focused on, to wait solely on”. To be a friend of God is to come into intimate contact with God, and to focus on Him and Him alone. During that forty days and forty nights Moses was solely focused on God.

Moses pursued God, just as our Lord Jesus pursued God, fasting 40 days and 40 nights (Matthew 4:2).

Israel promised God All that the Lord hath spoken we will do. But as time passed, Israel became restless. Finally a delegation got together, went to Aaron, and said:

Exodus 32:1 … Up, make us gods, which shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him.

Word Study: The King James does not fully help us understand the depth of Israel’s depravity. They said make us gods. The word translated gods is the Hebrew ĕlōhîm (אֱלֹהִים). The word ĕlōhîm is the very first name of God revealed in the Scriptures. Genesis 1:1 tells us that In the beginning GOD {ĕlōhîm} created…” This name of God refers to the Godhead, or the Triune God. Aaron agreed with the delegation, demanding their jewelry. Melting that jewelry down, Aaron made a molten calf (Exodus 32:4), and the leaders of Israel said,

Exodus 32:4 … These be thy gods {ĕlōhîm}, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.

The leadership of Israel blasphemed Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The leaders – Aaron included – violated the Great Commandment (love ĕlōhîm with all your heart), and Christ’s Commandment to “love others as God has loved you”. They have broken all of the Law.

God Tests Moses’ Love: See How Moses Prays

Exodus 32:9-10 And the Lord said unto Moses, I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiffnecked people: 10 Now therefore let Me alone, that My wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them: and I will make of thee a great nation.

Word Study: God calls Israel a stiffnecked people. This is the Hebrewקָשֶׁה qâsheh, {pronounced kaw-sheh’}, which means hard hearted, cruel, grievous, difficult, severe, mean spirited. When we reject God’s love and become selfish and self centered, we become mean spirited. Some might disagree with me, but these people – I believe – hurt God’s feelings. There was a song many years ago written by Gary S. Paxton called “I Wonder If God Cries”:

I wonder if God cries, when we do the things we do?
Do love drops fill His eyes, cause He loves us oh so true?
Sometimes I feel such hurt, When I try to realize;
That even though He’s God, I wonder if God cries?

Israel has rejected the love of God, and rejected loving Moses as well. They were entirely self focused – and Moses be cursed! Would Moses allow the evil of Israel to flood his soul, so that he would call for the destruction of these cruel, hard hearted people?

No, Moses wouldn’t. This is why Moses was a friend of God. Given a choice for God to avenge himself – and Moses – Moses shows us Godly Prayer. He says:

Exodus 32:11 And Moses besought the Lord his God, and said, Lord, why doth thy wrath wax hot against thy people, which thou hast brought forth out of the land of Egypt with great power, and with a mighty hand?

Word Study: Let’s look at the first phrase, Moses besought the Lord his God. The word besought is the Hebrewחָלָה châlâh, {pronounced khaw-law’}, which means “to make oneself weak or feeble before. Moses humbled himself before God, before Yᵊhōvâ ĕlōhîm. The Scripture says,

James 4:10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will exalt you.

Moses did not speak to God on the worthiness of Israel, for Israel was patently unworthy. What Moses did was remind God that it was HE that called Israel – broken as they were – out of Egypt. Pastor David Mathis of Desiring God Ministries said:

When God announces to Moses the peoples’ sin, and the intention to destroy them and start over with him, Moses’s reflex is to lean into God’s own reputation. This is a good reflex. “Why should the Egyptians say, ‘With evil intent did he bring them out, to kill them in the mountains and to consume them from the face of the earth’?” (Exodus 21:12). … Moses prays for God to turn from righteous anger and relent “from this disaster against your people,” for God’s own name’s sake.”

Moses loves God with all his heart. If God destroys the people that He just – some fifty days before – freed from Egypt, the lost world will mock God. His glory will be sullied, and Moses does not want this to happen. Mathis goes on to say:

God loves for His people to pray in light of what He’s said to us, to make our pleas in response to His promises”.

Moses prays the promises of God. He said:

Exodus 32:13 Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, thy servants, to whom thou swarest by thine own self, and saidst unto them, I will multiply your seed as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have spoken of will I give unto your seed, and they shall inherit it for ever.

God heard this prayer. We are told in verse 14, “the LORD repented of the evil {raʻ, the hurt or affliction} which He thought to do to His people. But Moses does not stop here. After descending the mountain, he eradicates all the rebellious Israelites from the camp. Moses then returns UP the Mountain to see Elohim once more. Moses prays:

Exodus 32:31-32 Moses returned unto the LORD, and said, Oh, this people have sinned a great sin, and have made them gods {ĕlōhîm} of gold. 32 Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin–; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written.

Moses prays much like the Apostle Paul prayed for Israel.

Romans 9:3 … I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh:

Moses told the Lord, “Forgive Israel, Lord, or blot my name out of Your Book of Life”. God reminded Moses that each person bears responsibility for their own walk before Him. God goes on to tell Moses (who tells Israel):

Exodus 33:1-3 … Depart, and go up hence, thou and the people which thou hast brought up out of the land of Egypt, unto the land which I sware unto Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, saying, Unto thy seed will I give it: 2 And I will send an angel before thee; and I will drive out the Canaanite, the Amorite, and the Hittite, and the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite: 3 Unto a land flowing with milk and honey: for I will not go up in the midst of thee; for thou art a stiffnecked people: lest I consume thee in the way.

God promises to bring Israel into the land of Canaan – but tells them I will not go up in the midst of thee. God will send an Angel before them, but He no longer will lead them in pillar of fire and pillar of cloud. Israel has offended God. God will not be their King now, nor their Shepherd.

What a horrible thing this is!

Moses is not satisfied with this. God had previously told Moses He would destroy Israel, and make another Nation, another Israel out of Moses. Now Moses wisely prays:

Exodus 33:12-13 … Moses said unto the Lord, See, Thou sayest unto me, Bring up this people: and Thou hast not let me know whom Thou wilt send with me. Yet Thou hast said, I know thee by name, and thou hast also found grace in My sight. 13 Now therefore, I pray thee, if I have found grace in Thy sight, shew me now Thy way, that I may know Thee, that I may find grace in Thy sight: and consider that this nation is Thy people.

Moses reminds God of what the Lord said about himself. God told Moses, I know thee by name, and thou hast also found grace in My sight. Moses is saying, “God, You said You were my Friend. I believe you. As my Friend, I want You to go with me into the Promised Land. As my Friend, I want you to go with Israel into that Promised Land”. God replied simply:

Exodus 33:14 … My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest.

Moses told the Lord:

Exodus 33:15-17 … If Thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence. 16 For wherein shall it be known here that I and Thy people have found grace in thy sight? is it not in that Thou goest with us? so shall we be separated, I and Thy people, from all the people that are upon the face of the earth. 17 And the Lord said unto Moses, I will do this thing also that thou hast spoken: for thou hast found grace in My sight, and I know thee by name.

Lord, if You’re not with us, we don’t want the Promised Land. Can you pray the same thing? Lord, if You’re not with us:

we do not want to be healed of our sickness
we do not want our friends and family healed
we do not want a blessing, or a better job
we do not want more money or stuff

Moses’ prayer reminds us that the greatest answer to prayer is to have the Presence of God with us in a very real way. May we all learn to pray as Moses prayed. For the glory of God, and the love of Christ we ask this in His Name. Amen and Amen.

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Near To God, Built On The Rock

Photo by Henry Be on Unsplash

This morning we studied the first part of Ephesians Chapter 2. Tonight we’ll be looking at the last half of this same chapter. Let’s start at …

Ephesians 2:11-13 Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; 12 That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: 13 But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.

Gentiles Remember!

Word Study: We start out with the word wherefore. Anytime I see a wherefore I always ask myself, “What is it there for?” The wherefore points back to what we saw this morning:

We were hopelessly and helplessly lost, unable to come to God. Then God reached out to us, opened our eyes, and called us to salvation through Jesus. Receiving Jesus as Lord and Savior, we are “God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works”. We are to be the Light of Christ to a lost world.

Word Study: We just looked at wherefore. The wherefore looks back at the text that we previously studied. The second word remember is the Greek μνημονεύω mnēmoneúō, {pronounced mnay-mon-yoo’-o}, which means “to think back, be mindful of”. Jesus used this word to remind His disciples of spiritual truths. He said:

Matthew 16:9 … Do ye not yet understand, neither remember (mnēmoneúō) the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets ye took up?

Luke 17:32 Remember Lot’s wife …

John 15:20 Remember the word that I said unto you …

Paul is telling the Gentiles, “think back how Israel treated you”. Now, I love Israel. It is through Israel that the Messiah came. The early Church of Acts chapter 2 was nothing but Israelites. Those 120 praying in the upper room on the Day of Pentecost were all Israelites. The original twelve Apostles were all Israelites. Do you follow that?

Just before Jesus ascended into Heaven, He told His Apostles:

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.

Matthew 28:19 … Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy {Spirit} …

Jesus was speaking His commission to JEWS.

Jesus wanted the Jewish Church to witness His Gospel in Jerusalem (Jews), to then spread to Judaea (Jews), to go outward to Samaria (near Gentiles), and also to “all nations” (far Gentiles). What did the early Church do? It reached out to Jews. Did it go toward the Gentiles? No, other than a few isolated incidences (like Philip & the Ethiopian Ruler), Israel kept the Gospel for the Jews.

Ephesians 2:11 Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands;

The Gentiles were known as Uncircumcision, a term of derision. The Church that Jesus built was suppose to be reaching out to “all nations”, but the Gentiles were being excluded.

God the Son is not pleased when His Church
does not reach out to all.

It was always God’s intent to save whosoever will by the Gospel, regardless of skin tone or ethnic background. When the Prophet Simeon saw the baby Jesus in the Temple, he prayed over the Child these words:

Luke 2:29-32 Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: 30 For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, 31 Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; 32 A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.

Though Jesus Christ is the glory of {God’s} people Israel, He is also a light to lighten the Gentiles. The Prophet Isaiah said of the Messiah:

Isaiah 42:1 Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles.

Our Lord Jesus quoted this text in Matthew 12:17-21. The Gentiles were the “uncircumcised”.

Ephesians 2:12 That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:

Word Study: Paul reminds us how far away from God we Gentiles were. We were aliens from the commonwealth of Israel. We were aliens” {ἀπαλλοτριόω apallotrióō, [pronounced ap-al-lot-ree-o’-o]}, “shut out from fellowship and intimacy” that Israel as a people had with God. We were strangers”, {ξένος xénos, [pronounced xen’-os]}, “foreigners” to the covenant promises God made to Israel. Though it was God’s intent that Gentiles be reached with the Gospel of the Messiah, Israel kept her own country and to herself. We were without hope and without God.

Illustration: Every Jew in those days was familiar with the Temple of God. In the Temple there is a sanctuary, beyond the first veil. “And after the second veil, the tabernacle, the Holy of Holies, a place that only the High Priest went once a year to offer a Blood sacrifice for himself and Israel” (see Hebrews 9:1-8). The Holy of Holies was where God’s Shekinah Glory was, His manifest Presence on the earth. Oh, only the High Priest could go there! And then there is the Court of the Priests, just outside of the Holy of Holies. Here the Levites, the courses of priests came, to make sacrifices for the people. Beyond the Court of Priests was the Court of Men, where male worshipers could go. Then there was the Court of Women. Each Court in the Temple moved farther away from the Holy of Holies.

The Outermost Court was the Court of the Gentiles. The Lexham Bible Dictionary notes:

“{The}‘Court of the Gentiles’ is a later name not found in {the writings of the historian} Josephus, the New Testament, or Middoth {early treatise on the Temple}(Votaw, “Temple,” 176), the book of Revelation refers to “the outer courtyard … given to the Gentiles” (Revelation 11:2 NET). This court was where buying and selling of sacrificial animals took place … On its east side, the Court of the Gentiles had a 49-foot-wide covered walk called the Porch of Solomon or Solomon’s Portico (John 10:23; Acts 3:11; 5:12)…”

Anyone could enter the Court of the Gentiles or the Outer Court. It was the farthest from where the Holy of Holies or “God” was reckoned. But though far separated, the “Solomon’s Portico” or Solomon’s Porch was where out Lord Jesus routine taught classes while on this earth.

The Court of the Gentiles was where Jesus did His public teaching (Matthew 21:23; 26:55; Luke 19:47; John 7:14) and might also have been where Simeon encountered Jesus as an infant and took Him in his arms (Luke 2:27; Bock, Luke, 92–93).”

As Gentiles, we were far from God. But God did not want us far from Him. Jesus taught on Solomon’s Porch in the Court of the Gentiles, reaching out to us who were considered so far away from God.

When The Early Church Would Not Reach Out
To The Gentiles, Jesus Forged A Way

Ephesians 2:13 But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.

Word Study: Sometimes the King James Translation obscures our understanding of the text. Look at the word translated sometimes. When I hear sometimesI think of something that only happened periodically. That’s not what the text is saying. The Greek is ποτέ poté, {pronounced pot-eh’}, which means in time past. Now, that makes sense. In time past we Gentiles were {μακράν makrán, [pronounced mak-ran’]} a long way from God”. But now, we are not. Why?

Because of the Blood of Christ.

When the Blood of Sheep and Bullocks and Goats was being shed in the Temple, the Gentile could not even get to the priests. The Gentile could not enter the Court of Women, nor the Court of Men. The Gentile could not enter the Court of Priests. No Blood could be shed to make payment for our sins. Jesus changed all that. Jesus taught in the Court of the Gentiles. And Jesus went to the Cross, shedding His Blood not just for the Jew, but for the Gentile who was without hope and without God in this world.

Jesus Christ became our High Priest and our Sacrifice for sin. The Scripture says:

Hebrews 9:11-14 … Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, … 12 Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he 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?

Though the early Church was slow to reach out to the Gentile, Jesus intervened, and forced it to do so. Jesus started by converting a Rabbi named Saul on the Damascus Road. This Saul would become the Apostle Paul, the man God used to write the text we are studying today. Jesus said of Paul:

Acts 9:15 … {Paul} is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel

When the Church will not do what Jesus commands, Jesus will make the Church do His command. He is Lord! He is Lord, I say! His Church will do His will, our Jesus, “the Only Potentate, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords” (1 Timothy 6:15). Right after calling Saul to be Paul, Jesus addressed the Head of the Apostles, Simon Peter. In Acts 10 we are introduced to a Gentile named Cornelius:

Acts 10:1-6 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. 3 He 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 knew there was God, and loved God, but knew nothing of Jesus. As He is praying an angel of God comes to Cornelius and tells him to send for Simon Peter. Once Peter came, he shall tell thee what thou oughtest to do. Cornelius does this. He sends two of his soldiers to find out Peter, and to bring him back.

Now here’s a question: WHY didn’t the Angel of God just tell Cornelius to believe on Jesus? WHY have Cornelius send a delegation to Peter? Or, WHY not just tell Cornelius, “You go find Peter and he’ll tell you what you need to do”? WHY? WHY? WHY?

I’ll tell you why.

It is Jesus’ command that His Church
tell others about His Gospel.

This Jewish Church needs to be reaching out to Gentiles, just as Jesus commanded at the beginning. Jesus did not command the seeker to come to us, but for US to go to the SEEKER. Cornelius sends two soldiers to tell Peter to come see Cornelius. Love demands this!

But Jesus is not done. He wants to prepare Peter’s heart.

Acts 10:9-16 On the morrow, as they went on their journey, and drew nigh unto the city, 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. 16 This was done thrice: and the vessel was received up again into heaven.

Peter has a vision on his rooftop about the sixth hour. He sees a sheet lowered from Heaven, with all manner of creatures in it, both “clean” and “unclean” creatures according to the Law of Moses. The Lord tells Peter, “Rise and eat!”, but Peter, a good Jewish man, will not eat anything unclean. Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean. Jesus said,

15 What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.”

Three times the Lord does this. This all occurs at the sixth hour. What is significant with the sixth hour, which would be roughly around noon? When Jesus went through Samaria and met a Samaritan woman at a well:

John 4:6 … Jesus therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well: and it was about the sixth hour.

Jesus witnessed that He was the Messiah, the One Who gives Living Water to this Gentile woman. But what else happened at the sixth hour? As our Lord Jesus hung on the Cross of Calvary, suffering, dying for our sins, the Bible tells us:

Matthew 27:45 (also Mark 15:33 & Luke 23:44) Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour.

I’m sure Peter would never forget this. He who would never betray Jesus, ran away while our Lord went to that terrible Cross. And as Jesus hung on the Cross – at the noon hour till around 3 pm – what should have been the brightest time of the day, there was darkness over all the land. From the midst of this darkness our Jesus cried out:

Matthew 27:46 … Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?

Preach!: Jesus did not just die for the Jew. Jesus died for the Gentile. Jesus died for the homosexual. Jesus died for the transsexual. Jesus died for the sexual sinner. Jesus died for the pedophile. What does the Scripture say?

1 Timothy 1:15 … This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners …

Jesus died not to make our sins acceptable unto God. Jesus died to save us from our sins (Matthew 1:21). Evangelist Billy Graham said:

Sex is front-page copy everywhere. [But] nothing can alter the fact that God calls perversion sin. … Be assured that there is no sin you have ever committed that the blood of Jesus Christ cannot cleanse.”

But the sinner must be told of Jesus. We must share His Cross, His Death, His resurrection, His commandments.

Peter went downstairs and, finding two soldiers, accompanied them to where Cornelius was. Peter told Cornelius:

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.

Following this, Peter shares the Gospel with Cornelius. The Bible says,

Acts 10:43-45 … through {Jesus’} name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins. 44 While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. 45 And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Any Divisions That Exist Are Man Made

Ephesians 2:14-15 For {Jesus} is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; 15 Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace;

Going to the Cross, Jesus took away any divisions between those who believe. God’s Family is no longer just the nation Israel. God’s Family is a spiritual family that no longer makes animal sacrifices, nor observes feasts. We are not under the hygienic codes of the Law, nor the symbolic codes of “clean and unclean” meats. Our sins are covered, and we have peace with God because of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Romans 3:25 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;

Romans 5:6-10 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. 8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. 10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.

Ephesians 2:16-20 And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: 17 And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. 18 For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. 19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; 20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;

There are no divisions in the family of God. If you have received Christ Jesus as Lord and Savior, your sins are covered, and you are a child of God with all others who have received Christ Jesus as Lord and Savior. Salvation comes to all by FAITH ALONE IN CHRIST ALONE.

We who were once represented by an outer court are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God. What is our foundation?

Is it “wokeness”?
Is it “politics”?
Is it “political correctness”?
Is it a “denomination”?

No. We are built upon the FOUNDATION {θεμέλιος themélios, [pronounced them-el’-ee-os]}, that is, “the first principlesor the system of truth, and yes, you can sayfoundation of The APOSTLES and PROPHETS. We have one thing that the APOSTLES and PROPHETS wrote, and it is this Bible. That is the Foundation of the Church.

What God demands we repent of IN THIS BOOK, we repent.
What God demands we affirm IN THIS BOOK, we affirm.
The truths of this Book are our FOUNDATION. With “Jesus Christ being the Chief Cornerstone”. God’s Word is true. It is always true! If we or any local Church drift away from the foundation, we are no longer a Church. The Church is built on the FOUNDATION of the Apostles and Prophets, with Jesus Christ as our Chief Cornerstone. Let us live for Him!

May God the Holy Spirit draw us closer to His design for the Church. Amen and Amen!

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For By Grace

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Ephesians 2:8-10 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 not of works, lest any man should boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

Today we’re going to look at one of the most profound Scriptures in the Bible. I love John 3:16. They are the words of our Lord, who said:

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.

These are beautiful, cherished words. But I also love this text. In three short verses the Apostle defines the Christian way of life. You learn first of all,

Salvation Is BY Grace THROUGH Faith

Ephesians 2:8 For by grace are ye saved …

It is GRACE that saves the believing sinner. GRACE is the opposite of WORKS. GRACE is a free gift. God tells us in …

Romans 11:6 And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.

The Pharisees sought salvation by WORKS. They thought that – by the animal sacrifices, the feasts, and the rituals like circumcision, they could be good enough for God. But we can never be good enough for God in our own power. We need GRACE.

Word Study The word translated “GRACE” is the Greek χάρις cháris, {pronounced khar’-ece}, which means “unmerited favor, good will, loving kindness, unearned love”. One of my commentaries said, “of the merciful kindness by which God, exerting his holy influence upon souls, turns them to Christ, keeps, strengthens, increases them in Christian faith, knowledge, affection, and kindles them to the exercise of the Christian virtues.”

Grace is found – like a glorious red thread – from Genesis to Revelation. In the Garden of Eden God warned Adam that “the day you eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, you will SURELY die” (Genesis 2:17). Though God plainly told Adam, Adam nonetheless ate the forbidden.

The LAW demanded Adam and Eve’s death.
The LAW was clear, and Adam failed.
The LAW told Adam:

Genesis 3:17-19 … cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; 18 thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; 19 in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.

The Law of God must fulfill what it said. “By one man sin entered the earth, and DEATH by sin, for all have sinned” (Romans 5:12). Spiritual death came on Adam, and physical death became a part of life. “In Adam, all die” (1 Corinthians 15:22). It was the LAW that pronounced rightful death on Adam and his children.

The LAW demanded death – but GRACE demands life!

Adam and Eve should have died for their sins – or at the least, cast out of Eden naked and afraid. Grace allowed an innocent to die for them – and for us.

For Adam and Eve, an innocent animal was sacrificed to cover their sins. We read:

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

But it was BY GRACE that God allowed Adam another day of life. It was by GRACE that God clothed Adam and Eve by killing the innocent creature. Pastor John MacDuff said:

No sinner would have sought God – but “by grace”. The thickets of Eden would have proved Adam’s grave, had not Grace called him out.”

Illustrate Grace The writer of this Epistle to the Ephesians, Paul the Apostle, well knew the Grace of God. As a Pharisee under the LAW, Saul sought out Christians to destroy them. But then Saul met Jesus Christ and GRACE on the Damascus Road, his life changed. Paul would later testify:

1 Corinthians 15:10 … by the GRACE of God I am what I am …

Illustrate Grace: It is GRACE that saves. One of the clearest pictures of this in the Scripture is on the Hill of Calvary, on the very day our Lord Jesus died. Two thieves hung next to Jesus as He hung on the Cross. One thief mocked Jesus. “If You are really the Son of God, get us down and yourself as well”! This thief did not believe in Jesus, nor in Grace. But the thief on Christ’s right hand BELIEVED in Jesus, and cried out:

Luke 23:42 Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.

The thief BELIEVED in Jesus. Hanging, hurting, bleeding, dying, gasping for air, this thief focused on the Son of God next to Him.

Illustrate: And it is FAITH that caused Jesus to focus on this man. Jesus told him, “Truly I say unto you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43). Think about this unnamed thief:

The thief never partook of the Lord’s Table.
The thief was never baptized in water.
The thief never joined a Church.
The thief never went to a prayer meeting.
The thief never heard a sermon.
The thief never tithed or gave any money to charity.
The thief never even sat on a Church Committee.
The thief never knelt at an altar, nor folded hands in prayer.
The thief never lived a moral life.
His life was defined by the word “thief”.
The “thief” robbed God of glory, and man of goods.

The thief comes to steal, to kill, to destroy. But Jesus came that He might give all – even this thief – abundant and everlasting life. (John 10:10)

I believe the repentant thief would have served Jesus had he been able. After all, he called Jesus “Lord”. But he couldn’t do good, nor bad. Nailed to the Cross, he could not even physically follow Jesus. The thief did the one thing that he could do in his current state.

He believed on the Lord Jesus – and Jesus received him into glory!

Ephesians 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves

Salvation is BY Grace, THROUGH Faith. Salvation is a gift of God. Sin is a function of the flesh that brings death. The Scripture says:

Romans 6:23 … the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

The gift of God comes BY Grace THROUGH Faith – and that NOT OF YOURSELVES.

We Have No Ability To Save Ourselves

Just as the thief had no ability to save himself, we have no ability to save ourselves. Without Christ and God’s intervention, we are all born into this life spiritually DEAD. Read with me:

Ephesians 2:1 And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;

Word Study: Let’s clean this verse up a bit. The words hath he quickened are not in the original text, but were added by the King James translators. The translators italicized these words showing they added them, believing their addition would add clarity to the translation. The words are not needed. Take the added words out, and read the text:

Ephesians 2:1 And you who were dead in trespasses and sins;

The Apostle is telling the Ephesian believers – and us – that Christians were dead – that’s past tensein trespasses AND sins. Trespasses are violations of God’s Law and God’s directives. Sins refers to the lost person’s state of being.

Every person born physically alive into this world is also born spiritually estranged from God.

The theologians call this “Total Depravity”. What does this mean? It means that, because of Adam’s fall, his progeny – that’s us – are born physically in this world corrupted by sin. Sin effects everything we do, and penetrates to the very core of our being.

Jesus put it this way. He said, Every good tree bears good fruit, but bad trees bear bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit” (Matthew 7:17-18). We are born into this life broken, far from God. Since God is the Source of Spiritual Life, and we are born broken and without life, we are naturally inclined to follow – not God – but the ways of this lost world and its master, the Devil.

Ephesians 2:2-3 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the {ways} of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air {this is the Devil}, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: 3 Among whom also we all had our conversation {anastréphō, way of life} in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.

When we were lost, without God, we lived our lives following our lusts, and our desires of the flesh. Like animals, we followed our appetites, doing what gratified ourselves. We sought only glory for ourselves. We were – as the Apostle puts it – by nature the children of wrath.

We, like the world, were far from God. But this is not the end of the story. The Apostle goes on to say:

Ephesians 2:4 … But God …

Word Study: I love the phrase But God. This phrase is used to introduce the Grace of God throughout Scripture.

Psalm 49:15 BUT GOD will redeem my soul from the power of the grave …

Psalm 73:26 … BUT GOD is the strength of my heart, and my portion forever

Romans 5:8 BUT GOD commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us

Separated from God (Isaiah 59:2) because of sin, alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart” (Ephesians 4:18)

God reached out to us. We heard the Gospel of Christ. We heard that Jesus Christ died for our sins, died so that we might have eternal life. We who are saved believe on Jesus and Jesus alone. When we believed on Jesus:

Ephesians 2:4-5 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, 5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)

Word Study: Oh, the richness of God’s love! Oh the power and all encompassing mercy of God! When we call upon the Name of Jesus, believing He and He alone is our Lord and Savior, God quicken(s) us together with Christ. That word quicken(s) is the Greek συζωοποιέω syzōopoiéō, {sood-zo-op-oy-eh’-o}, which means “to make us ALIVE WITH CHRIST”. This same word is found in:

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

When you received the Grace of God THROUGH faith in Jesus and Jesus alone, God the Holy Spirit binds your life together with Christ. Jesus is the Son of God. Bound to Him, you are a son of God. Jesus is without sin. Bound to Him, God views you without sin. Jesus is the Heir apparent of Heaven. Bound to Him, you are “joint heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:17). As Jesus died and rose again, defeating death forever, bound to Jesus you will one day die, but you will rise again! Death has no hold on the believer, and sin is no longer our master.

But – HEAR ME. Salvation is only possible THROUGH JESUS CHRIST. Jesus said, I AM the DOOR of the sheep” (John 10:7). Jesus is the only One that you can have faith in to be born again (quickened together with Him). Jesus warned:

Matthew 7:13-14 Enter ye in at the {narrow} gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: 14 because {narrow} is the gate, and {tight} is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

Ephesians 2:5 {we are} quickened together with Christ (by Grace ye are saved)

BY Grace – THROUGH Faith in Jesus. This is what brings about salvation. And salvation always brings about a NEW LIFE.

Quickened People Have A Different Master

When we were dead in trespasses and sins we followed after the prince of the power of the air. We were just like the rest of the world. But now that we have BY GRACE THROUGH FAITH believed on Jesus, and are bound to Jesus, we serve a different Master.

Illustrate: The lost are like lumps of clay, spinning on a pottery wheel. Two hands press in on that lump, molding and making it into what it desires. One hand, worldliness, presses into the clay of that life. The other hand, Satan’s, presses and shapes. The lost person may not be as evil as he could possibly be, but the lost are the product of their potter.

Illustrate: We who are saved are lumps of clay spinning on a pottery wheel, but it is the hands of Jesus that mold us. One hand, Grace, presses and shapes us, while the other nail scarred hand Mercy effects our lives. We are the Property of Heaven. When we get to eternity we are told:

Ephesians 2:7 That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.

We have ages to come because we are bound to Jesus. One day we will walk in the direct Presence of God, and will forever be trophies of God’s Grace. God will be glorified. Not us, not Satan, not this world. But God!

Ephesians 2:10 … For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus …

We are His”. We are His Lump, His Sheep, His Possession.

We do not belong to Satan.
We do not belong to Sin.
We do not belong to SELF.
We belong to the SAVIOR.

Sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under Grace.” (Romans 6:14). Because of Christ our spiritual position has changed. The Apostle said:

Ephesians 2:11-12 Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; 12 that at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:

When we were without Christ, we were cut off from the blessings that God offered Israel. We were without promise from God. We were in a helpless and a hopeless place, “without God in the world”. But now?

Ephesians 2:13 but now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.

We as Christians are brought near to God, so that we can walk with God daily.

  • We are brought near to God literally, for God the Holy Spirit indwells our bodies.

Romans 8:9-11 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. 10 And 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.

  • We are brought near to God as His sons and daughters. We are no longer sons of Adam, but are children of God.

1 John 3:1 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.

Romans 8:16-17 The Spirit {Himself} beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: 17 and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.

Romans 8:15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.

Galatians 4:6 And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.

  • We are brought near to God in our behavior. We are to love as Jesus commanded, as Jesus loves. The Apostle said:

1 John 4:11-13 Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. 12 No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us. 13 Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit.

1 John 4:20-21 If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? 21 And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.

We are not saved by faith – but once saved, we live
our lives for the One Who saved us.

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

We are created in Christ to do the good that Christ would do. We are created in Christ to be like Jesus.

Word Study: We who are saved by faith in Jesus are before ordained to do good works. That phrase is but one word in the Greek, “προετοιμάζω proetoimázō, {pronounced pro-et-oy-mad’-zo}”, which means “to be predestined in purpose”. What does that mean? The word is also found in:

Romans 9:23 … that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared (proetoimázō) unto glory,

Preach: If you are saved, God has a plan for your life. He plans for you to do good works, to be the Light of God in this present darkness. You are to shine for Jesus. You are to love your enemies, and do good to them. You are to live so as to bring glory to the Lord Who saved you!

Those who say “I am saved” but never do good works for God’s glory are not truly saved! The Bible says:

James 2:17, 20 faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. … 20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?

Jesus died for us, to bring us to God, so that we might be “the light of the world” (1 Peter 3:18; Matthew 5:14). Christian, you are a “new creature” (2 Corinthians 5:17) in Christ. Live your lives for Jesus! If, dear friends, your life shows no good works, no works to glorify Christ, then you may not be saved. If not, come to Jesus this very day. Lay your life down at His feet. Surrender, as a lost sheep to the Great Shepherd. Surrender, as a piece of clay to the Heavenly Potter. Jesus loves you, and bids you come to Him. Will you come? May God the Holy Spirit open your eyes to come to Jesus. Amen and Amen.

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The Firsts Of Prayer: A Message For Mid-Week Prayer Service

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Turn with me in your Bibles to the Book of Genesis.

I am told that there are 650 prayers listed in the Bible, and around 450 recorded answers to prayer. The Bible records our Lord Jesus praying 25 different times, though we know He prayed much more than this. The Apostle Paul mentions prayer 41 times. The Gospel Coalition notes:

The Bible lists at least nine main types of prayer:

  • Prayer of Faith (James 5:15)
  • Prayer of Agreement (or corporate prayer) (Acts 2:42)
  • Prayer of Supplication (Philippians 4:6)
  • Prayer of Thanksgiving (Psalm 95:2-3)
  • Prayer of Worship (Acts 13:2-3)
  • Prayer of Dedication (Matthew 26:39)
  • Prayer of Intercession (1 Timothy 2:1)
  • Prayer against your Enemies (Imprecatory – Psalms 69)
  • Prayer in the Spirit (1 Corinthians 14:14-15).

If I were to ask you where the first prayer in the Bible was, you would probably guess in the Book of Genesis. If I asked you where that first prayer was at, you would probably say “the Garden of Eden”.

You would be wrong.

The first recorded words man spoke are in the Garden of Eden. When God gave Adam his Eve, Adam said:

Genesis 2:23-24 … This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. 24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.

Adam cherished his wife, but please note Adam did not thank God for the marvelous gift he had been given. Adam did not praise the Lord, nor glorify our God. He acknowledged the gift. Can I tell you this, dear ones?

The devil watches us.

Prayerlessness Was The Primary Reason
For Adam’s Fall From Eden

The devil cannot read minds, but he watches our behavior pattern. Adam adored his wife, and spoke of her in covenant language. But Adam never praised the Lord for what he had. Adam never thanked God for the splendors of Eden, nor for the gift of his wife. As Adam never “called upon the name of the Lord” upon receiving Eve, it should come as no surprise that the Serpent (Satan – see Revelation 12:9) saw this as an opportunity. When Satan attacked, he addressed his temptation to Adam’s wife, subtly accusing God of withholding good from our first parents.

The prayerlessness of Adam intrigued the devil, who asked Eve “Has God really said you shall not eat of every tree of this Garden?”

A prayerless life leads to trouble. Oswald Chambers wrote:

Prayer does not fit us for the greater work; prayer is the greater work”.

Industrialist Henry Ford said,

Those who walk with God, always reach their destination”.

And Evangelist Leonard Ravenhill said:

Smart men walked on the moon, daring men walked on the ocean floor, but wise men walk with God”.

A prayerless Adam led to the fall of all mankind. “by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men” (Romans 5:12). A prayerless parent teaches their children to be prayerless. It was a lack of prayer that led Cain to kill his brother Abel. I believe Abel prayed, for after his murder – a murder Cain denied – God told Cain:

Genesis 4:10 … What have you done, Cain? The voice of your brother’s blood cries out to Me from the ground! (my paraphrase)

Tragedy Caused Men To Call
Upon The Name Of The Lord

It often takes tragedy to wake us humans up to the need of prayer. After the tragedy of Cain murdering his brother Abel, the Bible tells us:

Genesis 4:25-26 Adam knew his wife again; and she bare a son, and called his name Seth: For God, said she, hath appointed me another seed instead of Abel, whom Cain slew. 26 And to Seth, to him also there was born a son; and he called his name Enos: then began men to call upon the name of the Lord.

It is after the birth of Enos that we are told then began men to call upon the name of the Lord. This is prayer, to call upon the name of the Lord. When you call upon God’s name, you recognize God as God, and ask Him as God to move a mountain in your life. God is able to do anything that God wants to do. Thus we call upon “His Name”, His authority, His ability. Jesus told us:

Mark 11:22-23 Have faith in God. 23 For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith.

Calling upon the Name of the Lord” is surrendering whatever mountain is confronting you to God, to ask God to address the burden, the pain. The Scripture says “Cast your care upon {the Lord}, for He careth for you” (1 Peter 5:7). Dr Joe Pettigrew notes:

Now, Jesus didn’t relocate any physical mountains during His ministry that we know of, so what was He talking about here? The problems we face in life! And notice something important: {Jesus} talks only once about our need for ‘faith’—and three times about our need to ‘speak’ His Word. Why? Because if you don’t have enough faith to move your mouth and speak God’s Word, you won’t have enough faith to move your mountain!

The Bible says, “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” (Romans 10:17) Something wonderful happens when you verbalize God’s Word. Your ears hear it, your mind is renewed, your focus is changed, and the thing God responds to—faith—rises up within you. And when you hold that position of faith, refuse to budge, and keep speaking God’s Word, the mountain in your life starts to shift.”

The tragedy of Abel’s murder leads to the blessing of another child named Seth. Seth has Enos, and at this point, people begin to “call upon the name of the Lord”.

Prayer Is Walking Daily With God

Now we come to Genesis 5, we read a list of names that we are tempted to skip over. If you do, you miss another lesson in prayer. We read in:

Genesis 5:22-24 Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah three hundred years, and begat sons and daughters: 23 And all the days of Enoch were three hundred sixty and five years: 24 And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him.

The phrase walked with God is a reference to prayer, daily prayer. Enoch sought out the companionship of God every day, and for the 365 years Enoch was on the earth, he never faltered in walking with God. The Prophet Amos said:

Amos 3:3 Can two walk together, except they be agreed?

Illustrate: To “walk with God” is to be in communion with God, to agree with God. I was watching an old show on television called “Picket Fences”. During that show someone asked a young girl, “Do you believe in God?” Her reply was typical for an unbeliever. She said, “I believe in God, but I don’t understand Him. How can He allow …” then she began to list a series of self perceived injustices that she thought God should stop.

If people stopped blaming God for humanity’s failures, and started walking with God by prayer, much of the evil we see would cease!

The reality is that there IS a God in Heaven, but He created us with freedom of will. We can, like Enoch, “walk with God” all the days of our lives, and we will be blessed. Or we can walk our own path, as Adam, Eve, and Cain did. God is not responsible for our messes. If we would walk with God daily, I guarantee we would have less mess in this world of ours.

The reason this world is messed up in that we want God to be God when it comes to eliminating anything we find objectionable, but we want God to be gone when His way does not match our way.
In short, WE want to be Gods.

Enoch walked with God daily until one day, Enoch just walked into Heaven with God. We are told in Hebrews 11:5, “Enoch was not found, because God translated him”. Enoch went to Heaven without dying. Enoch “walked with God” by frequently seeking God’s presence in prayer.

When God looked down at the mess this world was in, and decided to destroy it:

Genesis 6:7 … the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.

Who was it that God would choose to save the world? The Scripture says:

Genesis 6:8-9 Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. 9 These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God.

God was not an afterthought to Noah, but a daily necessity. Noah realized what we should all realize – we are broken creatures that need the Presence of God day by day.

We have no recorded prayers of Enoch or Noah, but these men walked with God. The Prophet said:

Micah 6:8 {God} hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?

Pastor J.C. Ryle said,

We want more men and women who walk with God and before God, like Enoch and Abraham.”

When we walk with God, doing what He directs us do, heeding His commands, He blesses our lives. God told Israel:

Deuteronomy 8:6 … thou shalt keep the commandments of the Lord thy God, to walk in his ways, and to fear him.

When You Walk With God In Prayer,
God Is Never Far Away

The first notable prayer whose words are recorded in the Bible is the prayer of Abraham in Genesis 18. Abraham has been walking with God, and now is waiting patiently for God.

When we walk with God, we need to be careful never to walk ahead of Him, but to stay in step with God.

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

Genesis 18:1-5 And the Lord appeared unto {Abraham} in the plains of Mamre: and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day; 2 And he lift up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men stood by him: and when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself toward the ground, 3 And said, My Lord, if now I have found favor in thy sight, pass not away, I pray thee, from thy servant: 4 Let a little water, I pray you, be fetched, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree: 5 And I will fetch a morsel of bread, and comfort ye your hearts; after that ye shall pass on: for therefore are ye come to your servant. And they said, So do, as thou hast said.

If this text doesn’t intrigue you, you’re not paying attention to it. The Lord appeared unto {Abraham} is in verse 1, but in verse 2 Abraham sees three men. Abraham runs to these three men and addresses them as My Lord. Abraham wants the Lord to rest yourselves under the treeand eat with him. Three is the number of God in the Scripture. Some commentaries note that “the rabbis understand all three of these visitors to be angels who simply represented the Lord”. I don’t believe this was the case.

I believe ONE of the men was an Old Testament manifestation of Jesus, whereas the other two men were angels.

In a few moments two of the “men” or ANGELS will head toward Sodom (see Genesis 19:1, “there came two angels to Sodom”). Jesus said of Abraham in John 8:58, “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad. I believe our Jesus often appeared to Abraham in preincarnate form. Notice what Abraham does as he prays to the Lord:

  • Abraham waits on God. He goes where God says go, but when he has no direction, Abraham waits upon on the Lord. “Wait on the Lord, and keep his way, and he shall exalt thee to inherit the land: when the wicked are cut off, thou shalt see it” (Psalm 37:34).
  • Abraham runs toward God. He leaves the comfort of his tent, and pursues God with all his heart. “By my God I run through a troop. By my God, I leap over a wall!” (Psalm 18:29; 2 Samuel 22:30).
  • Abraham bows down before God. God is great, and Abraham is not. “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He shall lift you up” (James 4:10). “Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time” (1 Peter 5:6).
  • Abraham accommodates God. Neither God the Son nor the Angels with him get hungry or thirsty as we do. God said “If I were hungry, I would not tell thee: for the world is Mine, and the fullness thereof” (Psalm 50:12). Though God needs nothing, Abraham made God welcome in his life.

God promises Abraham once more that he will have an heir when the time is right. “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” (Genesis 18:14). Yet this is not the reason that God is with Abraham today.

When you walk with God, God will tell you things that He will not tell those who do NOT walk with God.

God is preparing to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. God tells two of the men – the Angels who are with Him –

Genesis 18:17-19 the Lord said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do; 18 Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? 19 For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment; that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him. And the Lord said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous; 21 I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know. 22 And the men turned their faces from thence, and went toward Sodom: but Abraham stood yet before the Lord.

The Lord knows what He will find in Sodom and Gomorrah, but He is specifically telling Abraham about it because his nephew Lot is in Sodom. What happens next is beautiful. We read:

Genesis 18:23-25 Abraham drew near, and said, Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked? 24 Peradventure there be fifty righteous within the city: wilt thou also destroy and not spare the place for the fifty righteous that are therein? 25 That be far from thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked: and that the righteous should be as the wicked, that be far from thee: Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?

Abraham drew near” to God. Abraham calls upon the Name of the Lord. He knows that God is righteous, and that God will not punish the innocent with the guilty. Abraham starts with “fifty”. Fifty would be a significant number in the history of Israel. Fifty days after the first Passover, Israel arrived at Mount Sinai to receive the Law of God. Because of this the Day of Pentecost is also called Matin Torah or “giving of the Law.” It was on the Day of Pentecost (Shavuot) that Peter and the Early Church went out and preached the Gospel of Christ, and 3000 were added to the Church (Acts 2:41).

When God told Abraham If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes” (Genesis 18:26). Securing this promise, Abraham humbles himself, saying “I am but dust and ashes”, and then lowers the number, asking God:

What if there are 45 righteous?”
“What if there are 40 righteous?”
“What about 30 righteous?”
“What about 20 righteous?”
, and finally,
“What if there are 10 righteous?”

If I were God, I would have been irritated by Abraham’s auctioneering! Yet note the patience and kindness of God. Our God knows our hearts. “The righteous God trieth the hearts” (Psalm 7:9). Our Lord knew exactly what Abraham was after. He knew that Lot and his family were in Sodom, and Abraham loved Lot. At no time did our Lord get angry or irritated, but each time Abraham asked that Sodom be spared, and adjusted the numbers of the righteous, the Lord in kindness adjusted His will.

That amazes me.

The Prayer Warrior – and Author of a number of books on Prayer, E.M. Bounds wrote in Purpose In Prayer:

Perseverance {in prayer} counts much with God as well as with man. If Elijah had ceased at his first petition the heavens would have scarcely yielded their rain to his feeble praying. If Jacob had quit praying at decent bedtime he would scarcely have survived the next day’s meeting with Esau. If the {Gentile woman} woman had allowed her faith to faint by silence, humiliation, repulse, or stop mid-way its struggles, her grief-stricken home would never have been brightened by the healing of her daughter.

Pray and never faint, is the motto Christ
gives us for praying.

It is the test of our faith, and the severer the trial and the longer the waiting, the more glorious the results. … Praying {people} must be strong in hope, and faith, and prayer. They must know how to wait and to press, to wait on God and be in earnest in our approaches to Him. Abraham has left us an example of {persistent prayer} in his passionate pleading with God on behalf of Sodom and Gomorrah, and if, as already indicated, he had not ceased in his asking, perhaps God would not have ceased in His giving. “Abraham left off asking before God left off granting.”

We learn a final lesson from this. Never stop praying. Keep seeking God’s hand when you pray for yourself or for others. Let prayer be – not an afterthought – but the bulk of your Christian walk.

You will never grow in your faith as a Christian, nor will our Church grow, until prayer becomes a priority in your daily life. May God the Holy Spirit impress upon us all the necessity of prayer. In Christ’s Name, and for the glory of God we ask this. Amen and Amen.

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A Faith Which Works By Love

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Galatians 5:6 For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.

The Church at Galatia was largely a Church composed of Gentiles who had received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Just like the Pharisees did with Jesus, the Pharisees came to Galatia and began to teach the people that they weren’t really saved if they didn’t keep the Law of Moses. A Gentile who was uncircumcised was certainly NOT a Christian, because true believers are supposed to be circumcised.

What is circumcision, and why did the Pharisees believe it was necessary for salvation? God established circumcision as a Law within Israel in Genesis 17. In that text God told Abram:

Genesis 17:4-8 As for Me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations. 5 Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee. 6 And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee. 7 And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee. 8 And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.

God promised several things to Abram that day. God promised that Abram – renamed Abraham – would be father of many nations. But God also promised Abraham that he would father a specific nation that would inherit all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession. Abraham and his seed, his progeny, would be given title to Canaan in perpetuity. So in Abraham there was promised a specific nation that would be his descendants, and many nations that would be blessed by him.

Then God established the rite of circumcision. God said:

Genesis 17:10-13 This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised. 11 And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you. 12 And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every man child in your generations, he that is born in the house, or bought with money of any stranger, which is not of thy seed. 13 He that is born in thy house, and he that is bought with thy money, must needs be circumcised: and my covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant.

Circumcision was a covenant that God established with the House of Abraham. It only applied to Abraham’s direct descendants, and to servants indebted to the House of Abraham. It only applied to males. When God first established this requirement, every male in Abraham’s household was to be circumcised. In later years when children were born, the male child was circumcised on the eighth day.

Circumcision never had anything to do with salvation. How do we know this? Because only males of the House of Abraham were circumcised. Females were exempted. If circumcision were necessary for salvation, then women who were not circumcised were consigned to hell! We know that’s not right, as

our God is no respecter of persons: but in every nation that feareth Him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with Him” (Acts 10:34-35).

God never made circumcision a requirement for salvation. What did God say was the punishment if a member of the House of Abraham refused to be circumcised?

God said, “… the uncircumcised man child whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken my covenant” (Genesis 17:14).

God did not say that the one who refused circumcision would be cut off from Heaven. No. God said that the man who refused circumcision would be cut off from his people; he hath broken my covenant. That man would be disinherited from Israel the nation. His family would shun him. He would lose his part of Canaan, the Promised Land. But circumcision – along with the other rites of the Law – had nothing to do with salvation.

The JUST Or RIGHTEOUS Live By Faith

God has never required a rite or a ritual to be a part of salvation. Salvation has always been by faith in the Lord. The Bible says in the Old Testament:

Habakkuk 2:4 Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith.

Abraham was not saved by God because he was circumcised. The rite of circumcision set Israel apart from the rest of the nations of the earth. It was God’s intent to bring the Messiah through Abraham’s lineage, through Israel. Circumcision was a token sign that the males of the Household of Abraham were OF the Household of Abraham. Salvation from sin and death has always been through faith in the Grace of God. We are told that Abraham was saved because:

Romans 4:3 … Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.

Galatians 3:6 … Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.

James 2:23 … Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.

When the Scripture tells you something but once, it is absolutely true. When the Scripture repeatedly tells you something, then it is truth that God demands we understand. Rituals and rites do not save a soul. What saves a soul is faith in God.

The Bible says of Noah: (Genesis 6:8) Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.

God told Moses: Exodus 33:12-17 I know thee by name, and thou hast also found grace in My sight. … 17 … for thou hast found grace in My sight, and I know thee by name.

There is nothing you or I can do to earn or deserve a place in the Household of God. Salvation is entirely of faith in God. When God, in His infinite love, reaches out to we who are drowning in trespasses and sins, and offers His hand of salvation – if we, in loving response, grab His nail scarred hand, we are saved.

Circumcision was a rite, a signature on an Abrahamic Covenant, that applied only to Israel.

Why am I making a big deal out of this? You might say, “Brother David, we don’t care about this circumcision thing. It has no application to us.” Beloved, it does have application. There are other rites and rituals that have crept into the Churches today that are on par with circumcision. For instance, I came across this bit of news the other day.

Illustrate: I quote “A Phoenix {Catholic}priest has resigned from his parish after church officials said they discovered he performed thousands of baptisms incorrectly in Arizona and California. The problem? The priest changed a pronoun in the baptism ceremony that could change the lives of countless Catholics. Father Andres Arango of Phoenix’s St. Gregory Catholic Church said “We baptize you,” during the ceremonies. Bishop Thomas Olmsted of the Diocese of Phoenix, in consultation with the Vatican, determined that Arango should have said, “I baptize you.” Father Arango went on to say, “It saddens me to learn that I have performed invalid baptisms throughout my ministry as a priest by regularly using an incorrect formula,” Arango said in a statement. I deeply regret my error and how this has affected numerous people in your parish and elsewhere.

The Catholic Church considers water baptism to be a sacrament and not an ordinance. A “sacrament” is something absolutely necessary for salvation, whereas an “ordinance” is a command of our Lord that should be obeyed. Since Catholics believe baptism is a sacrament, babies are baptized, just as among the Jews babies were circumcised. Since this Priest said “We baptize” instead of “I baptize”, then to the Catholic every person previously baptized – according to the Priest thousands of baptisms – those people are in danger of hell. If they die before they get a do over, they are lost forever.

Nonsense!

The Bible is clear that salvation is attained …

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

Should Christians be baptized? Absolutely! Jesus commanded baptism. Jesus said,

Matthew 28:19 … Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy {Spirit}

God said, (Exodus 20:6 I show) mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.

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.

It is love for our God that causes us to keep His commandments, and His commandments are NOT grievous (1 John 5:3). Salvation is a matter of relational love. God loves us, and we love Him. God calls us, and we in faith come to Him, and do as He bids. Saved, I no longer belong to myself. I belong to God, and beloved, if you are saved YOU 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.

The Apostle tells the Galatians:

Galatians 5:1 Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.

The Pharisees were trying to put requirements on the Galatians, requirements that were given only to the House of Israel. The rituals of circumcision and animal sacrifice, of festivals and feasts, were things that God gave to Israel to teach them (and us) about the Coming Messiah. When that which is perfect is come {our Lord Jesus}, then that which is in part shall be done away {the animal sacrifices, the feasts, the rites, the circumcision}” (1 Corinthians 13:10).

Illustrate: There is an interesting story in the Book of Acts. Right after God knocked Saul (who would soon be the Apostle Paul) down on the Damascus Road (Acts 9), God began to reach out to the Gentiles. God said of Saul:

Acts 9:15 {Saul} is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel:

God has been reaching Jews, now He reaches out to Gentiles. In Acts 10 we read:

Acts 10:1-5 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. 3 He 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:

Cornelius is an Italian, a Gentile, one who was uncircumcised. He called for Simon Peter to come to him. As Cornelius is having his vision, Peter was praying, and saw:

Acts 10:11-16 … 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. 16 This was done thrice: and the vessel was received up again into heaven.

Right after this vision, Cornelius’ men get to Simon Peter’s home, and ask him to come and share the Gospel with Cornelius. What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common. It is God Who cleanses, God Who saves through the Blood of Jesus Christ our Lord. As Peter shared the Gospel with the House of Cornelius, “the Holy Spirit fell on them which heard the Word of God” (Acts 10:44). Peter said:

Acts 10:47-48 Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy {Spirit} as well as we? 48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.

Peter commanded that these Gentile believers be baptized – but never ordered them be circumcised. Circumcision is a Jewish rite. It cannot save. Only faith in the Lord Jesus Christ saves!

The Christian Is To Live By
Faith Which Worketh By Love”

Galatians 5:2-4 Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised {that is, if you are relying on circumcision for salvation}, Christ shall profit you nothing. 3 For I testify again to every man that is circumcised {you believe salvation can only come through this ritual}, that he is a debtor to do the whole law {you cannot cherry pick rituals}. 4 Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.

The means by which God has ALWAYS saved people is by Grace. The Pharisees always think that you must strive to be saved. They make salvation into a wrestling match, into a competition. They dress a certain way. They talk a certain way. Certain rituals and rites are what they are proud of doing.

They have FALLEN from GRACE.
Grace is the only means of salvation.

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

The Christian is empowered by following the Spirit of God and the Word of God. A genuine faith in God loves God, and follows God. We read:

Galatians 5:5-6 For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. 6 For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.

A genuine faith is a faith that worketh by love. Genuine faith does not work FOR our salvation. It lovingly works FOR God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ because we love Him. It worketh by love.

  • Faith that saves is not inherited. We cannot get to Heaven because of our parents. GOD HAS NO GRANDCHILDREN! The Pharisees were fond of speaking of “our father Abraham” (John 8:53). They put their hopes and dreams on their heritage. “We are not born of fornication. We have one Father, even God” (John 8:41). This is what they claimed. They claimed that they were children of God, but their hope was in Israel, in being of the line of Abraham, in being great ritualists. But the Pharisees missed the most important thing. They were not IN CHRIST JESUS, and were fallen from Grace.
  • Faith that saves is not in an institution. There are some Churches who teach that, if you are not part of their entity, that you are not saved. The Catholics believe this. The Church of Christ believes this. There are other Church groups that believe this. Yet the Scripture will not support these claims. The Bible tells us that – upon your profession of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ – that (1 Corinthians 12:13-14) “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. 14 For the body is not one member, but many.” We do not add ourselves to the Church. God the Holy Spirit does this. Acts 2:47 tells us that “the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved”. The Baptist Faith and Message states:

VI. The Church: “A New Testament church of the Lord Jesus Christ is an autonomous local congregation of baptized believers, associated by covenant in the faith and fellowship of the gospel; observing the two ordinances of Christ, governed by His laws, exercising the gifts, rights, and privileges invested in them by His Word, and seeking to extend the gospel to the ends of the earth. Each congregation operates under the Lordship of Christ through democratic processes. In such a congregation each member is responsible and accountable to Christ as Lord. Its scriptural officers are pastors and deacons. While both men and women are gifted for service in the church, the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture.”

Every believer is a member of Christ’s worldwide Church, but every believer is encouraged to become a part of a local Bible believing Church. Christians are called together into local Churches so that we can love and grow in love.

We are saved from death and hell so that we can lovingly serve Jesus and one another!

The Apostle warns us that we were saved for a RIGHT purpose. He says:

Galatians 5:12-16 I would they were even cut off which trouble you. 13 For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. 14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. 15 But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another. 16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.

The Christian is saved by the love of God so that we can practice loving one another. What is Christ’s standard? By love serve one another. Not serve yourselves. Not puff yourselves up. No, Beloved, we are to love other Christians as members of His Body. We are to love the lost as prospective members of His Kingdom.

We are to seek to daily Walk in the Spirit, surrendered to God in all that you say and do. We fulfill the Law of God by obeying Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. Treat others around you as you would be treated. There was a time when …

Titus 3:3 … we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another.

That is the way of darkness, the way of the world. As Children of Grace we are commanded:

1 Corinthians 14:20 … in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men.

In these dark days of America, Christ’s Church must band together in love. We are not to justify the “works of the flesh”.

Galatians 5:19-21 … the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revelings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

This verse is so close to what I preached this morning out of 1 Corinthians 6:9. If you do not Walk in the Spirit, if you do not have faith which worketh by love, then Beloved, you may not be saved. The Church is under command to not bite and devour one another. The Church is under command not to live “by the works of the flesh”. We are called to manifest the fruit of the Spirit:

Galatians 5:22-23 … love, joy, peace, long suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

May God the Holy Spirit and this His Word go deeply into our hearts, and impact our lives. For Christ’s sake, and the glory of the Father. Amen and Amen!

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Spiritual Sense Christianity In A World That Has Lost Its Mind

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

1 Corinthians 6:9-10 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.

The Apostle Paul often wrote of the Grace of God. Salvation is by Grace. Paul wrote under the inspiration of God the Holy Spirit:

Ephesians 2:1-9 And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; 2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: 3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. 4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, 5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) 6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: 7 That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.

Paul saw those who without Christ as those who “walked according to the course of this world, according to the Prince of the power of the air” (a title for Satan). Those without Christ are “dead in trespasses and sins”, and acted that way. It is God Who “quickens of makes us alive together with Christ”.

As Jesus was resurrected physically following His crucifixion, the believer is resurrected spiritually when we put our faith in Him.

The Apostle said that it is God Who “raises us up, and makes us sit in Heavenly places in Christ”. We are saved by Grace when we call upon Jesus, and receive Him as He is – both Lord and Savior. We are saved by Grace, by faith in what Jesus did on the Cross for us. But Beloved, once saved, our outward way of life changes.

The saved do not continue to walk in darkness.
The saved do not revel in trespasses & sins.
The saved do not follow the Prince of the Power of the air.
The saved recognize and respond to the Lordship of Jesus.

Preach: When a baby is born into this world, it does not stay in the birth canal and in the darkness of the womb. That which is “born” moves from one environment to another. That which is born – be it if the flesh or of the Spirit – walks in another place following birth.

The Church at Corinth had been sold the “truth” that you could be saved by Christ, and yet still be just like the world. This is an ancient lie still present today.

In our text today the Apostle addresses this in the strongest way possible today. He starts off with a rhetorical question:

1 Corinthians 6:9 Know ye not that the unrighteous…

The Saved Are Not To Be “Unrighteous”

God through Paul chooses His words very carefully. He is addressing the unrighteous. Now, who are the unrighteous? To be unrighteous is to be out of step with God. God is RIGHTEOUS.

O Lord God of Israel, You are RIGHTEOUS (Ezra 9:15)
Gracious is the LORD and RIGHTEOUS (Psalm 116:5)
The ordinances of the LORD are sure and altogether RIGHTEOUS (Psalm 19:9)
RIGHTEOUSNESS is on Your side, O LORD (Daniel 9:7)
To be UNRIGHTEOUS is to be where God is NOT.

The unrighteous want little or nothing to do with God – though God wants them to come to Him. God calls to the unrighteous:

Isaiah 55:7 Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.

The “wicked” is a person who acts out their evil or departure from God. The “unrighteous” is governed by his thoughts. An unrighteous person is clearly not with God, clearly not wanting to be where God is. If the unrighteous would come to God, God would receive them for Christ’s sake. The unrighteous despise not only God, but God’s people. The Psalmist prayed:

Psalm 71:4 Deliver me, O my God, out of the hand of the wicked, out of the hand of the unrighteous and cruel man.

When you erase the commandments and design of the LORD, you open the door to cruelty and evil.

The unrighteous person is not the same as a person saved by faith. A person saved by faith seeks to be righteous as Jesus is righteous. The Apostle wrote in:

Romans 1:19 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. 17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith. 18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; 19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.

The Just or Righteous live by faith in God.
The wicked or unrighteous live by faith in self.

The Just or Righteous and the wicked or unrighteous turn their thoughts to outward action differently. Those saved by faith in Christ are transformed from children of Adam into children of God. They do not become perfect on this earth, but they become imitators of God their Father. Hear this, dear Christian. Hear the Word of the LORD:

Romans 6:12-14 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. 13 Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. 14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.

As Children of God, we obey our Father. As Children of God, we follow our Elder Brother Jesus. As Children of God, we walk WITH God.

Now let’s go a little further with the text. The text plainly states:

The Unrighteous Will NOT Go To Heaven

1 Corinthians 6:9 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God?

Word Study: Let’s break this down. The word inherit is the Greek κληρονομέω klēronoméō, {pronounced klay-ron-om-eh’-o}, which means “to obtain by right of inheritance through an heir”. Eternal life is an inheritance that you receive from Jesus. Jesus said:

Matthew 19:29 And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit {klēronoméō} everlasting life.

Jesus is not talking about earning an inheritance. You do not earn an inheritance. An inheritance is what is due you, by law, because of your relationship to the owner. Jesus Christ is the Owner of Heaven. Those who have believed on Jesus, receiving Him as Lord and Savior, are called children, and heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:17).

We are told unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God. The unrighteous have no relationship with God, nor with Christ. They shall not inherit the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God is spoken of frequently in the Bible (see Mark 1:15; 10:15; 15:43; Luke 17:20; Acts 28:31; Romans 14:17; 1 Corinthians 15:50).

The Kingdom of God is the same as Heaven.

The Kingdom of God or Heaven is reserved for those who are inheritors of God. The Jesus Who said:

Matthew 4:17 … “repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand”

is the same Jesus Who told us:

John 3:5-7 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.

The Christian is a person who holds dual citizenship. We are citizens of these United States, but we are also citizens of HEAVEN. The Scripture says:

Philippians 3:20 … our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ …

As citizens of Heaven, we who are saved seek to please our Lord in everything. We avoid any pattern of life that God is not in, that God has not endorsed. Let’s read a little further:

1 Corinthians 6:9 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived…

Word Study: The words Be not deceived are the Greek words μή πλανάω mē planaō, which literally means “to not be led astray, do not wander away {from the truth}”. Jesus used the same word when He told the Sadducees (Matthew 22:29), “You wander away from the truth {planaō}, because you do not know the Scriptures nor the power of God. The Christian knows the power of God, for the Christian has experienced the power of God at the point of salvation. The Christian who does not make time to read and study the Scripture, who is spiritually lazy, will find themselves drifting away from God.

Let’s Be Blunt: Actions Determine Your Destiny

1 Corinthians 6:9-10 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.

As the Apostle defines who are the unrighteous, he defines them by their outward actions, their manifest disobedience. What actions does God consider abnormal or against His divine design?

Those who commit SEXUAL sin

  • Fornicators: πόρνος pórnos, {pronounced por’-nos}, one who prostitutes their body, one who engages in unlawful sexual intercourse
  • Adulterers: μοιχός moichós, {pronounced moy-khos’}, one who sexually violates a marriage covenant
  • Effeminate: μαλακός malakós, {pronounced mal-ak-os’}, a male prostitute, a boy kept for homosexual relations with a man (technical term “catamite”)
  • Abusers of themselves with mankind: ἀρσενοκοίτης arsenokoítēs, {pronounced ar-sen-ok-oy’-tace}, one who lies with a male as with a female, sodomite, homosexual.

Those who worship false gods

  • Idolaters: εἰδωλολάτρης eidōlolátrēs, {pronounced i-do-lol-at’-race}

Those who violate the Royal Law of Love

  • Thieves: κλέπτης kléptēs, {pronounced klep’-tace}
  • Covetous: πλεονέκτης pleonéktēs, {pronounced pleh-on-ek’-tace} those eager for gain regardless at to who it hurts, those eager to take what belongs to others
  • Drunkards: μέθυσος méthysos, {pronounced meth’-oo-sos}, those who are intoxicated or high from drugs or alcohol
  • Revilers: λοίδορος loídoros, {pronounced loy’-dor-os}, a person who expresses objections or criticisms in bitter, harsh, or abusive language
  • Extortioners: ἅρπαξ hárpax, {pronounced har’-pax}, people who are ravenous, seeking to rob others by threats, a blackmailer

In the previous chapter, the Apostle commanded:

1 Corinthians 5:11 … I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.

The Gospel was made for the lost. We are not told to stay away from the people who are lost who do these things. We are told to remove fellowship from anyone who “is called a brother, that is, they profess to be Christians, IF they involve themselves in these types of behavior. These types of behaviors or “lifestyle choices”, if you prefer, are forbidden in God’s Word. People who routinely engage in these types of behaviors shall inherit the kingdom of God. These are not my words. These are the Words God gave us through His Apostles.

But There Is Good News. There Is The Gospel.

Is there any hope for those engaged in these types of activities? Can they be redeemed, and brought into the Family of God. ABSOLUTELY! We read:

1 Corinthians 6:11 And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.

Please pay attention to the verb tense in what the Apostle writes. And such were some of you. Some of those in the Church of Corinth WERE once engaged in these types of behaviors. What happened to them? They repented of their lifestyle choices, and bowed the knee to Jesus. When someone hears the Gospel of salvation, what does it do? It …

Acts 26:18 … open(s) their eyes, and to turn(s) them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in Me {Jesus} …

When someone hears the Gospel and receives it, they are washed. When a person says “yes” to Jesus, receiving Him as Lord and Savior, He

Ephesians 5:26 … sanctif(ies) and cleanse(s them) with the washing of water by the Word

The believer in Christ is sanctified” by the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:16), set apart for God’s Family. The Blood of Jesus paid for the sins of His people. The Blood of Jesus that we claim, that we call upon, causes God to send His Holy Spirit into our lives. We who have called upon Jesus are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God. We are not as we were. No, we are not perfect. But we are Children of God, set apart to follow Jesus, to be like Jesus, to love like Jesus, to honor Jesus with our lives.

God works in the life of the genuine Christian.

You do not stay the same. You can no more be a “Christian homosexual” than you can be a “Christian thief”. When the Apostle wrote out this list of unrighteous behaviors (and again, this is by inspiration of God), the idolater and the sexual sinners are in the same list with the drunkard and the verbally abusive along with the robbers. To say “I am a Christian adulterer” is as ludicrous as it is to say “I am a Christian drunkard”. It just doesn’t work! And beloved, I would be a false prophet if I were to say that you can continue in these forbidden lifestyles and expect to go to Heaven.

You just can’t. And dear, I did not make the rules.

But once more, the Gospel does not call on you to work hard to get to Heaven. The Gospel bids you to lay your life down before the Lordship of Jesus, to turn your life over to Him, and HE WILL SAVE YOU.

And such were some of you. There was a time in my life when I enjoyed drugs, and enjoyed getting “lit” with my companions. There was a time in my life where I enjoyed alcohol, enjoyed many of the behaviors found in this list. And then I met Jesus. I heard the Gospel of salvation. Do you know the Gospel? Here’s the Gospel that saved the Apostle Paul, myself, and every Christian who has ever been made so. You can read along with me if you want to flip over a few chapters to:

1 Corinthians 15:1-2 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; 2 By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.

The Apostle said that the Gospel is something that must be received, AND wherein ye stand. When the Gospel is preached, the reception of the soul matters. Jesus spoke of this in Matthew 13:3-8 in the Parable of the Sower. When the Gospel is preached,

  • Some will not understand the Gospel, and the devil will snatch away the Word spoken (Matthew 13:19). They will not RECEIVE it.
  • Others will receive the Gospel, but will not stand in it, having no root (Matthew 13:20-21)
  • Yet others will receive the Gospel while trying to hold on to their old way of life (Matthew 13:22), and will be unfruitful.
  • But the normal Christian will receive the Word of the Gospel and stand in it. That person will be fruitful and pleasing to God (Matthew 13:23).

The Apostle said that this Gospel saves us if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. The Gospel that saves goes down deep into the soul. It goes into ground prepared of God to receive it. It is received gratefully and fully by the sinner. What is this Gospel?

1 Corinthians 15:3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;

The Gospel that saved Paul, and me, and you, if you will hear it, is that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures. Jesus Christ died for our sins to make us right with God. Jesus shed His Blood on Calvary to make atonement, to make us one with God. We cannot pay for our sins. There is nothing we can do to make ourselves right with God other than to believe on the name of Jesus. It is Jesus alone Who came, FULFILLING THE PROPHESIES OF THE MESSIAH. It is Jesus alone Who can:

Cause the blind to see.
Cause the deaf to hear.
Cause the cripple to walk.
Cause the dead to rise.
Cause the broken to be mended.
Cause the sinner to be a Son.
Cause the unrighteous to be righteous.
Cause the lost to be found.


Jesus Christ died for your sins and mine. There is no sin that you have committed or will commit that Jesus has not paid for. If Hitler, mass murder that he was, had called upon the name of the Lord, bowing the knee to Jesus, he would have been saved. Jesus Christ died on the Cross for the sin of the world.

1 Corinthians 15:4 … And that {Jesus} was buried, and that {Jesus} rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

Jesus Christ not only died for your sin and mine, but He rose again the third day according to the scriptures. Had Jesus died and stayed dead, we would yet be lost and far from God. It is the death AND the resurrection of Christ that constitutes the Gospel. What does the Scripture say?

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

It is a necessary component of salvation that you confess with your mouth “Jesus is LORD”. Jesus died for your sins, becoming the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world. But Jesus rose from the grave to be your ever present Lord. Jesus is Lord. As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. He is Lord! What did the Angel Gabriel say to Joseph, when that dear man found his wife Mary pregnant with what was not his child?

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.

Who does Jesus save? his people. Those who have received Him as Lord and Savior. Those willing to be Christ’s possession. Those who commit their lives unto Him. I think the Free Bible Commentary says it best:

The goal of salvation is not heaven when we die but Christlikeness now (Romans 8:28-30; 2 Corinthians 3:18; Galatians 4:19; Ephesians 1:4; 4:13; 1 Thessalonians 3:13; 4:3; 5:23; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; Titus 2:14; 1 Peter 1:15), so that those who see our witness may be drawn to Jesus and go to heaven with us! Sanctification, like justification, is a gift and a choice!”

Dr. R.C. Sproule in his sermon “A Great Salvation” (Hebrews 2:1-4) noted:

“… Some people go fishing in boats, and they don’t set the anchor down. They allow the boat to move with the current, and they just drift. Where they end up can be somewhat problematic. … Don’t allow yourselves to drift away from what you’ve heard. … If you neglect {your salvation} and treat it lightly, it probably means you’ve never been converted, that God has never quickened or awakened your soul from spiritual death. This salvation is incredible. It deserves our diligence, our energetic pursuit of it. Certainly it does not deserve neglect.”

Praise God for His wonderful gift! May I ask you, have you received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior? Having received Him, do you stand in this Gospel, living your life day by day loving Jesus most? Oh, what a joy it is to be in Christ. If you do not know Him as Lord and Savior, I beg you, come to Him this very day. May God the Holy Spirit open your eyes to hear this, His Word of Truth. Amen and Amen!

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Praying The Priorities

Photo by Patrick Fore on Unsplash

Turn with me in your Bibles to Colossians chapter 1. As it is “Prayer Meeting” night, I thought, for a devotional, we’d look at a prayer of the Apostle Paul. Let’s start at:

Colossians 1:3-5 We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, 4 Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints, 5 For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel;

The Apostle was praying for the Church (praying always for you) because he had heard of their faith in Christ, and saw that their faith was evidently genuine.

The test of true faith is that it instills LOVE in the recipient. The Holy Spirit came to represent Jesus: “He SHALL testify of Me” (John 15:26). Christ commands we LOVE: “A New Commandment I give to you – love one another as I have loved you” (John 13:34). The Spirit indwells the believer (Romans 8:9). Thus LOVE manifested outward proves an inward genuine faith in Christ.

Paul tells the Church that he has heard of the love which ye have to all the saints. This is because they are outwardly loving to one another. This is the mark of a genuine Christian. The genuine Christian loves all the saints, all the believers, regardless of their flaws.

Comparing The Churches: The Church at Colossae was a loving congregation. The Church at Corinth experienced a number of divisions and fighting, but not Colossae. The Christians there genuinely loved one another, and enjoyed one another’s company. No one chase after them or begged them to “come to Church”. They enjoyed being together in the family of God, in the Kingdom of God.

God Used A Little Known Man
To Plant The Church At Colossae

Who planted the Church at Colossae? You might guess it was one of the Apostles, but you’d be wrong. An unknown Gentile named Epaphras shared the Gospel in Colossae. We do not know who led Epaphras to the Lord Jesus (it was not Paul), but Epaphras was definitely a saved man. His name is only mentioned three times in the Bible, the first in …

Colossians 1:7 As ye also learned of Epaphras our dear fellow-servant, who is for you a faithful minister of Christ;

Word Study: Here we see Paul describes Epaphras as a fellow-servant, the Greek σύνδουλος sýndoulos, {pronounced soon’-doo-los}, which means “someone who serves the same Master, one who in partnership with others serves the King (Matthew 18:28-33)”. Paul said that Epaphras served Jesus just as he did – he gave Epaphras an equal standing with himself, though he is an Apostle. Epaphras was a team player. He knew that the Body of Christ is not ONE person, but many working together for the glory of Christ.

1 Corinthians 12:14 For the body is not one member, but many.

The Apostles and the Prophets provided the foundation of the Church by allowing God to send His Word through their writings (Ephesians 2:20). Yet the Church did not grow just because of these few.

The early Church grew because of people like Epaphras, people who realized each must do their part.

The second time Epaphras is mentioned is in:

Colossians 4:12 Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always laboring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.

We see from this text that Epaphras
was a prayer warrior.

He labor(ed) fervently for the Church of Colossae in prayers. He prayed for the needs of the Church, so that it might stand perfect and complete in all the will of God. A Church can be large, well situated, but not within the will of God. That a Church is “megasized” is no indication that it is pleasing to God. Is that Church shining for the Lord? Is it doing the will of God? Epaphras prayed that Colossae would learn the will of God, and live within that will.

Finally, we see in the third mention of Epaphras in …

Philemon 23 There salute thee Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus;

Epaphras was willing to suffer for Christ, just as Paul was. Both men were imprisoned together, and this may be how they met one another. Epaphras was willing to give his life for Jesus. He was willing to be uncomfortable for the glory of Christ. As the two men were in a Roman dungeon, in the midst of gloom and what many would consider a hopeless situation, both Paul and Epaphras did not waste their time.

How Did Paul and Epaphras Pray For Colossae?

Paul now tells the Church at Colossae what he and Epaphras have been praying for. We read:

Colossians 1:9 For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; 10 That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11 Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and long-suffering with joyfulness; 12 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:

When we pray, our prayers are often for our needs (Prayers of Supplication) or for the needs of others (Prayers of Intercession)

Prayers of Supplication and Intercession have their place, and are a part of the prayer spectrum. When Jesus walked this earth, the proof that He was Messiah was in that He healed the sick and cast out demons. Jesus raised the dead. Jesus never turned anyone away when they sincerely needed His help. When some friends of a paralyzed man heard that Jesus was in town, they took Jesus to the home He was staying in. Unable to get to Jesus for the crowd of people already there, they took their friend up to the roof of that home. Making and opening in the roof, they lowered their friend to Jesus (Mark 2:4). The Bible says:

Mark 2:5 (ESV) … when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”

God loves to heal His children. He loves it when we bring our needs, or the needs of our friends and loved ones, to Him. The Scripture declares:

James 5:14-15 Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: 15 And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.

There is nothing wrong in praying for healing. Yet, if this is all of our prayers, we are missing the mark!

Think, for a moment, on what we call “The Lord’s Prayer”. This is the model for prayer that Jesus gave us. Say it with me:

Matthew 6:9-13 Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. 10 Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

Where, in this model prayer, does Jesus tell us to pray for the sick? He doesn’t. We do see Prayers of Supplication in the Lord’s Prayer. Jesus tells us that we are to pray for three things needs:

  • Our daily bread: “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11)
  • Our sins to be forgiven: “And forgive us our debts” (Matthew 6:12)
  • That we not enter into temptation: “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil” (Matthew 6:13)

The Lord’s Prayer focuses on our spiritual growth as believers. When Paul and Epaphras pray, they are praying for the spiritual growth of the Church at Colossae. They prayed:

  1. That the Church “might be filled with the knowledge of {God’s} will(verse 9)

Sometimes it is God’s will that we, or our loved ones, suffer. Suffering and trials are things that God uses to grow our faith. The Apostle wrote:

1 Peter 1:6-7 (ESV) In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

It is not God’s will that every trial we go through be removed. God loved His Son Jesus. God the Father often said of Jesus, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17). And yet, when Jesus wept in Gethsemane, and prayed three times:

Matthew 26:39 (ESV) …. My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.

Though the Father loves the Son and has put all things into Jesus’ hand (Matthew 11:27), our Jesus still had to drink of that Cup. The Apostle Paul suffered a debilitating disease, and – just as Jesus prayed three times – Paul prayed three times that the suffering would end. What was the Lord’s answer? He told Paul:

2 Corinthians 12:9 (ESV) {God} said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

Did Paul go to pieces over this? No! Paul changed his attitude toward the affliction. He said, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

  1. That the Church “walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing” (verse 10)

Word Study: Though in one sense we are never worthy of God, we are nonetheless commanded that we walk worthy. The word translated “” is the Greek ἀξίως axíōs, {pronounced ax-ee’-oce}, which means “in a manner as becoming your status”. Lost people walk following the darkness. Saved people walk in the Light of God with Jesus Christ our Lord. God told Israel:

Isaiah 2:5 O house of Jacob, come ye, and let us walk in the light of the LORD.

God tells the Church:

1 John 1:7 … if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.

And one day, when we get to Heaven,

Revelation 21:24 the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it

Paul and Epaphras also prayed:

  1. That the Church be “fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God” (verse 10)

To be fruitful, each believer in the Church must be bound to Jesus by love, and bound to our fellow believers in love. Jesus said:

John 15:5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.

To bear fruit, we must be bound together, loving one another, and loving Jesus. The Church that is divided will never experience the blessing of fruitfulness.

Paul and Epaphras also prayed:

  1. That the Church be “Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power” (verse 11).

Our strength cannot come from our fleshly efforts, but from the manifestation of the Holy Spirit. The Bible does not say, “I can do all things”. No, it says:

Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

God must do the work through us. We cannot do it, but God can. We are but feeble creatures. The Apostle said:

2 Corinthians 4:6-7 For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.

Illustrate: Tell me if you’ve ever heard this story:

A little steam engine had a long line of cars to pull. Getting to a very steep hill, the engine tried and tried, but couldn’t get over the hill. She disconnected from the cars, and went down the track looking for help. She asked, “Will you help me pull my load over the hill?” One after another of the engines refused to help. One was off work, and ready to go home for the day. Another was too tired from a long run. One after the other refused to help. She came across another little steam engine just like her. She asked, “Will you help me pull my load over the hill?” The other little said, “I’ll be glad to help you, if I can”. Going back to the train of cars, they hooked together, and began to pull. What do you think they said?

“I-think-I-can! I-think-I-can! I-think-I-can! I-think-I-can! I-think-I-can!

Slowly the cars followed them over the hill. As they came down on the other side, they began to say:

I-thought-we-could! I-thought-we-could! I-thought-we-could!”

Have you ever heard that little story? This was a children’s book published in 1930 by publishers Platt & Munk. It’s a cute story that has been used to teach children to strive hard and never quit. But it’s not Biblical. It’s not the Christian way of life. We are to walk with God, empowered by the Holy Spirit, seeking to glorify Jesus. It is God Who strengthens us for whatever life may toss at us. Charles Stanley wrote:

“”That’s a nice children’s story, but the truth of the Christian life is very different. In the real world, our efforts and determination often fall short. Only by walking in the power of the Holy Spirit can we live a godly life.”

Finally, Paul and Epaphras pray …

  1. That the Church would be Giving thanks unto the Father, thankful for the blessings that God has given all Christians (verse 12).

We need to be thankful for this great salvation that we have in Jesus Christ. We need to be thankful that our salvation is complete in Jesus. The Scripture says:

1 Thessalonians 5:18 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

I have heard it said – and I agree with the statement – that:

Attitude determines Altitude

If you are down in the dumps, negative, looking for every black cloud or every flaw, then your altitude will be zilch. The Christian is not to speak filthiness nor foolishness, but we are to use our lips to give thanks” (Ephesians 5:4). The Bible says:

Give thanks for all things (Ephesians 5:20)
Give thanks to the Father (Colossians 1:12)
Give thanks while working (Colossians 3:17)
To praise God and give thanks continually (Hebrews 13:15)

Closing illustration: A Christian who worked with saddle horses for over 50 years said, “I’ve been thrown, bitten, kicked, and trampled, yet never seriously injured”. When asked why he thought this was, he said, “Before mounting, I always take a moment for a little prayer, asking for the Lord’s protection”. We all need to learn to pray – to take time to pray. Let us pray for our Church as Paul and Epaphras did, praying for the glory of God. May God bless us as we continue to walk with Him daily. Amen and amen.

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Four Kings

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Tonight we’re going to start out in the Old Testament, in some books that you have seldom read, and will be talking about some people you may never have heard of. Turn with me in your Bibles to 1 Chronicles chapter 8. This is in the Old Testament, the 13th Book from Genesis:

Genesis
Exodus
Leviticus
Numbers
Deuteronomy
Joshua
Judges
Ruth
1 & 2 Samuel
1 & 2 Kings
1 & 2 Chronicles

Opening: A preacher was preaching one Sunday night when he saw one of the flock was fast asleep. Pointing to a man next to the culprit, he told that man “Wake her up, Brother!” The man replied, “You put her to sleep, you wake her up!” I’ll try not to put you to sleep tonight!

As you look at 1 Chronicles 8 you’ll quickly notice why people often skip over these books. It looks like a phone book. If you would, go down to verses 33 & 34:

1 Chronicles 8:33-35 And Ner begat Kish, and Kish begat Saul, and Saul begat Jonathan, and Malchishua, and Abinadab, and Eshbaal. 34 And the son of Jonathan was Meribbaal; and Meribbaal begat Micah. 35 And the sons of Micah were, Pithon, and Melech, and Tarea, and Ahaz.

Now turn to the next chapter.

1 Chronicles 9:39-41 And Ner begat Kish; and Kish begat Saul; and Saul begat Jonathan, and Malchishua, and Abinadab, and Eshbaal. 40 And the son of Jonathan was Meribbaal: and Meribbaal begat Micah. 41 And the sons of Micah were, Pithon, and Melech, and Tahrea, and Ahaz.

If you compare what we read in 1 Chronicles 8 with 1 Chronicles 9, you will see that these two sets of Scripture are exactly the same. Now, why would God repeat something exactly the same in two chapters, unless God wanted us to emphasize something, to learn something from this as believers in Christ? The Bible says:

2 Timothy 3:16-17 (ESV) All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the {child} of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

All Scripture is theópneustos, “God breathed”. Why would God waste His breath on something like this … unless it is no waste. Look at the names mentioned. You may not be acquainted with Ner or Kish, but you Bible students should recognize the names of Saul and Jonathan.

Saul Is A King That Started Great, But Ended Badly

Saul was the first human king of Israel. God was supposed to be the King of Israel, but Israel wanted to be like the other nations.

Samuel the Prophet begged Israel not to choose a King over God. Our God is the best King. “For the LORD {YAHWEH} is the Great God, the Great King above all gods!” (Psalm 95:3). Yet Israel would not listen. Samuel told the elders of Israel:

A King will take your sons (1 Samuel 8:11)
A King will take your daughters (1 Samuel 8:13)
A King will take your fields (1 Samuel 8:14)
A King will tax you, taking a tenth of everything (1 Samuel 8:15, 17)

Would Israel hear? No! The Bible says, the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel. And they said, “No! But there shall be a king over us, that we also may be like all the {other} nations” (1 Samuel 8:19-20, ESV). God in His Grace (our God is so Gracious and good) told Samuel the Prophet:

They have not rejected you, Samuel. Israel has rejected Me, and does not want me to rule over them” (1 Samuel 8:7)

God chose a perfect specimen of a man to be the first human King of Israel. God chose a man who was the son of Kish, a man of the Tribe of Benjamin, “a mighty man of power” (1 Samuel 9:1). Kish had a son named Saul. Saul was described as “a handsome young man, the most handsome man in all of Israel” (1 Samuel 9:2). The Bible says that God told Samuel,

1 Samuel 9:16-17 (my paraphrase) … “I will send you a man out of the land of Benjamin, and you shall anoint him {King} over My people Israel … when Samuel saw Saul, the LORD said unto him, “Behold, the man I was speaking of! He shall reign over my people”…

When Saul started out as King, he walked with God. The “Spirit of the Lord came upon him, and he prophesied. God was with him.”
(1 Samuel 10:6-7).

When Saul was presented to the people as King, all the people shouted, and said, God save the King” (1 Samuel 10:24). Saul started out as a very good King. He was a humble man who loved the Lord. When Saul started his reign he ruled as the Spirit of God came on him (1 Samuel 11:6). When some of Israel decided to rebel against Saul’s rule, “the fear of the Lord fell on the people” (1 Samuel 11:7), and the people repented. Later when Israel cried out that the rebels be killed, Saul said:

1 Samuel 11:13 … there shall not a man be put to death this day: for today the LORD hath wrought salvation in Israel …

The Prophet Samuel told Saul – and Israel – a great truth we need to remember:

1 Samuel 12:20-25 … Fear not: ye have done all this wickedness: yet turn not aside from following the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart; 21 And turn ye not aside: for then should ye go after vain things, which cannot profit nor deliver; for they are vain. 22 For the Lord will not forsake his people for his great name’s sake: because it hath pleased the Lord to make you his people. 23 Moreover as for me, God forbid that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you: but I will teach you the good and the right way: 24 Only fear the Lord, and serve him in truth with all your heart: for consider how great things he hath done for you. 25 But if ye shall still do wickedly, ye shall be consumed, both ye and your king.

Saul was a believer in God. He was saved by Grace, elevated to be King by Grace. All that he had, he had by the Grace of God. But Saul took his focus off of God. He began to look at himself, and to think that he was good enough, great enough to be King. He began to think that he deserved the Grace that saved him.

Application: Beloved, none of us deserve the Grace of God! The Scripture tells us that we as Christians are royalty. The Scripture says that we owe everything to Jesus, we owe everything to God. We are to live …

Revelation 1:5-6 … Unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood, 6 And hath made us kings and priests unto God and His Father; to Him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

He has made us kings and priests. God has, through Grace, “blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3). We are to live as Kings and Priests unto God, but we are never to look at ourselves and believe that we are worthy of what we have. Lucifer was God’s greatest Angel, an Arch Angel, until he looked at himself in the mirror and thought himself responsible for his greatness. Lucifer thought that he “could be like the most High” (Isaiah 14:14). But he fell, and will fall, and will one day be cast into a Lake of Fire that burns forever and ever. Saul took his eyes off of God. Samuel told Saul:

1 Samuel 13:13-14 … the Lord {would} have established thy kingdom upon Israel for ever. … 14 But now thy kingdom shall not continue: the Lord hath sought him a man after his own heart…

Beloved, salvation is by Grace alone, but blessing is by OBEDIENCE. When we turn away from God, and love ourselves or other things more than Him, we can lose the blessing of the Christian life. God wants us to walk through this life as Kings and Priests, victors over the elements of this world. God loves us, and wants the best for us always.

Jonathan Is An Innocent Royal Who Suffers
Undeservedly But Lives Loving God

1 Chronicles 9:39 And Ner begat Kish; and Kish begat Saul; and Saul begat Jonathan…

When Saul lost the favor of God, the Lord chose a shepherd by the name of David to be the next King of Israel. David would be anointed King by Saul on three different occasions:

  • When he was a young shepherd boy (1 Samuel 16:13-14). On that same day the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul.
  • When Saul died, the men of Judah anointed David over the House of Judah (2 Samuel 2:1-4)
  • When David actually ascended to the throne in Hebron (2 Samuel 5:1-3). David was 30 years old at that time.

When God tells Saul that he is going to lose the throne, Saul refuses to repent and heed the Lord. We do not know how old Saul was when he began to reign, but we know that David was a young shepherd when he was first anointed. An evil spirit came on Saul, and Saul needed to be calmed. Saul was told that David was a skillful harp player, and Saul called for David to play the harp to calm himself (1 Samuel 16:18-21). Saul initially loved David, and made David his armor bearer, a trusted position. Here’s the point: For around 15 years David – though anointed King by Samuel – served Saul the King. As Saul began to realize that David was his replacement, Saul sought out David’s life. But David had a friend, a best friend.

David’s best friend was Saul’s oldest son Jonathan.

I’m sure that Saul shared with Jonathan his hatred of David. As the oldest son, when Saul stepped down as King, Jonathan would have been King. Yet Jonathan never sought out the position. There were several times when Saul sought to kill David, but Jonathan intervened and saved his best friend.

Jonathan loved the Lord! Though Jonathan led 1000 men (1 Samuel 13:2), his eyes were always on God. We are told in:

1 Samuel 14:6 … Jonathan said to the young man that bare his armor, Come, and let us go over unto the garrison of these uncircumcised {Philistines}: it may be that the Lord will work for us: for there is no restraint to the Lord to save by many or by few.

God worked a miracle, and after Jonathan killed 20 Philistines, the Lord in the confusion caused the Philistines to turn their swords against each other (1 Samuel 14:20). Jonathan trusted God. When Jonathan’s father ruled wrongly, he said My father hath troubled the land” (1 Samuel 14:29).

Saul began to actively seek the life of David. When Jonathan protected David, Saul told him:

1 Samuel 20:30-32 … Thou son of the perverse rebellious woman, do not I know that thou hast chosen the son of Jesse {David} to thine own confusion, and unto the confusion of thy mother’s nakedness? 31 For as long as the son of Jesse liveth upon the ground, thou shalt not be established, nor thy kingdom. Wherefore now send and fetch him unto me, for he shall surely die. 32 And Jonathan answered Saul his father, and said unto him, Wherefore shall he be slain? what hath he done?

Though Jonathan refused to help his father kill David (for David was the Lord’s anointed), Jonathan never betrayed his father. He refused to take on his father’s bad traits, but obeyed God Who commanded,

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.

Jonathan acted like a King should act, though he never ascended to the throne. Jonathan honored God’s wishes, and refused to help his father do evil, though he loved and supported his father. The Bible tells us that Jonathan died with his father in battle at Mount Gilboa:

1 Samuel 31:2-4 … And the Philistines followed hard upon Saul and upon his sons; and the Philistines slew Jonathan … and Saul was wounded of the archers … therefore Saul took a sword, and fell upon it…

Application: As Christians, we are first and foremost Children of the King. We are Kings and Priests unto God because Jesus Christ is king of Kings and Lord of Lords. Our love for God must ALWAYS be greater than our love for others. Jesus said that the Great Commandment is:

Mark 12:30 … thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.

And directed us as His people to put Him first in our hearts. He said:

Luke 14:26 If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.

We are to honor our parents, to love our spouses, to love others the way that we want to be loved. And yet, our first allegiance must always be to the Lord.

Meribbaal Reminds Us That Our God
Is Always Faithful

1 Chronicles 8:34 And the son of Jonathan was Meribbaal; and Meribbaal begat Micah.

Saul had four sons, of which Jonathan was the first. But Jonathan only had one son, and his name was Meribbaal. The name Meribbaal is only mentioned twice in the Scripture, in the texts that we started out with tonight. The name Meribbaal means “he that resists or contends against Baal”. Baal is the name of a false god that the Canaanites and Phoenicians worshiped, the so called god of fertility, and the god of rain and dew. As Jonathan loved the Lord, and parents named their children with meaning, Meribbaal was expected by his father to be a great believer. As the only son of Jonathan, Meribbaal was royalty – he would have succeeded the throne of Jonathan had ever ascended.

Meribbaal was five years old when his grandfather Saul and his father Jonathan were killed in battle by the Philistines. When word came to the palace that Saul and Jonathan were dead, the Bible says:

2 Samuel 4:4 … Jonathan, Saul’s son, had a son that was lame of his feet. He was five years old when the tidings came of Saul and Jonathan out of Jezreel, and his nurse took him up, and fled: and it came to pass, as she made haste to flee, that he fell, and became lame. And his name was Mephibosheth.

What is happening here? Back in those days, when a king was killed, the enemy would often come and kill the rest of the family so they could take over the throne. Jonathan only had one son, Meribbaal. When news came that both Saul and Jonathan were dead, Meribbaal’s nurse grabbed up the boy to run away and protect the child. In her haste, the little boy had a bad fall that crippled him in both feet. Hebecame lame.

The nurse took the child to a place call Lodebar. The name of that place is very interesting. The nurse suspected that either the Philistines or David himself would seek to kill little Meribbaal. So she took him to Lodebar, the Hebrew לֹא דְבַר Lôʼ Dᵉbar which means “this is not a pasture”. Israel was a society that loved farming and animal husbandry. Areas that were arid, or dead, were not considered prime real estate. The nurse, in essence, took little Meribbaal to a slum to raise him. She also changed his name.

Meribbaal became Mephibosheth

Hitchcock’s Bible Dictionary notes that Mephibosheth means, “Out of my mouth proceeds reproach”. Reproach is to address others in such a way as to express disapproval or disappointment. Meribbaal was hurt as a child, and grew up lame in a poor, pastureless place. His father wanted him to grow up and fight against idolatry, standing up for the True God of the Scripture. Yet over time Meribbaal became Mephibosheth. He was alone. Abandoned of God. In a dark place, and God cared nothing for him.

Application: Beloved, we have all been in dark places, depressive places, horrid places. And yet we must never forget that our God is faithful. Perhaps you have been hurt by someone else, and are suffering the consequences. God is still faithful. We need to remember that, like Mephibosheth, we all have been crippled by a fall. Our forefather Adam brought sin into the world. What does the Scripture say?

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

There are forces in the world that we have no control over. Things happen. Hurts come. Sometimes we fail ourselves. But Jesus Christ came to this earth to give us power to live.

The promise of God is that, if we trust in Jesus, and receive Him as Lord and Savior, He brings us into the palace and the plan of God. He is faithful, and will never leave us nor forsake us.

Our God is gracious. Our God is good! We must never allow our circumstances to dictate how we live our lives. We are to live our lives as royalty, as children of the King of Kings. We are to be grace oriented. The Scripture says “be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 2:1). Our God will not abandon His children. “But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen” (2 Peter 3:18). Jesus Christ did not die for our sins, and rise from the grave, to abandon us in Lodebar. No. Though Meribbaal had a wrong grandfather, and a dead father, His Heavenly Father was still there. As a pastor friend of mine often used to say:

When I don’t understand the HAND of God,
I trust the HEART of God!

King David, the fourth King, has just defeated the Philistines, the Moabites, and the Syrians. David is sitting in the palace, and begins to miss his best friend Jonathan. David sees a servant of Saul’s by the name of Ziba. David asks Ziba:

2 Samuel 9:3 … Is there not yet any of the house of Saul, that I may shew the kindness of God unto him?

David bears no grudges against Saul. God has said, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay, saith the Lord” (Romans 12:19). Ziba replies:

2 Samuel 9:3-4 Jonathan hath yet a son, which is lame on his feet. 4 And the king said unto him, Where is he? And Ziba said unto the king, Behold, he is in the house of Machir, the son of Ammiel, in Lodebar.

David sent for Mephibosheth. As Mephibosheth grew up in that desolate place, I’m sure he dreaded the day he would have to meet the King David. Now the palace guards come and fetch him. Mephibosheth comes into the throne room and, falling on his face, says, “Behold thy servant!”. What does David say to Mephibosheth?

Fear not”.

David tasted the grace of God in his ascension to the throne. Now David tells Mephibosheth:

2 Samuel 9:7 … I will surely shew thee kindness for Jonathan thy father’s sake, and will restore thee all the land of Saul thy father; and thou shalt eat bread at my table continually.

Mephibosheth asks David, “Who am I, that you should look upon such a dead dog as I am?” (verse 8). David doesn’t answer Mephibosheth, but tells Ziba:

2 Samuel 9:9-10 … I have given unto thy master’s son all that pertained to Saul and to all his house. 10 Thou therefore, and thy sons, and thy servants, shall till the land for him, and thou shalt bring in the fruits, that thy master’s son may have food to eat: but Mephibosheth thy master’s son shall eat bread always at my table.

God’s grace is so good! Mephibosheth was still lame in his feet, but he was no longer in Lodebar. He was where the child of a King should be. Beloved, God’s Grace is sufficient for us all! (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Application: We do not earn nor deserve God’s grace. We are not worthy of God’s grace. But my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19). Trust God. Lift up your fallen brothers and sisters. Live like children of the King, not like sons of Adam. Trust Him Who is our Lord and Savior. Do not allow your circumstances to change you from Meribbaal to Mephibosheth. Keep your eyes on your Lord Jesus. And remember His promise:

Psalm 37:3-8 Trust in the Lord, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. 4 Delight thyself also in the Lord: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. 5 Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass. 6 And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday. 7 Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass. 8 Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any wise to do evil.

May God the Holy Spirit speak to your hearts through His Word this very day. Amen and amen!

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In Christ A New Creature

Photo by Yuichi Kageyama on Unsplash

2 Corinthians 5:14-17 For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: 15 And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again. 16 Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more. 17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

Opening: I loved being in the Air Force, and working around the bombers and fighters that brave men and women fly to protect our great nation. I started out as a “Food Service Technician”, but after 7 years I was cross trained to actually work on these aircraft.

I never worked on propeller type aircraft, but on jets. Jet engines produce more thrust, and can cause the aircraft to fly much faster than the older “props” could. One concern we always had when working on and around jets was “foreign object damage”. We signed out our tool kits, and counted every piece before and after a job. If a tool was left where it could be “sucked up” by the jet turbines, it could literally destroy the whole aircraft. Before launching the aircraft we walked the length and breadth of the flight line, insuring there were no loose objects that could be “sucked up” into the jet engine. If the engine breaks, the whole aircraft is broke!

Just as a piece of “foreign object” can “ground” a jet aircraft …

A Poor Understanding Of Salvation
Grounds” The Gospel

2 Corinthians 5:14 For the love of Christ constraineth us …

Word Study: Some of the old English of the King James often obscures the meaning of the verse. The word constraineth is the Greek συνέχω synéchō, {pronounced soon-ekh’-o}, which means “to hold together lest we fall to pieces, to control, to press on every side”. It is the love of God that holds God’s people together. Love is the driving force. The fact that God loves us with an unconditional love, and as we have been loved, we are to love others.

I hear people today say “Why do we need the Church? Why can’t we just gather online, or in a meta-verse, and worship God in virtual reality?” It is because those saved by the Gospel MUST manifest LOVE toward God and others. You cannot do that with a computer or telephone screen.

Listen to this test for the genuineness of faith.

1 John 4:7-12 (ESV) Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.

In the text I just read to you, the Apostle John used the word some form of the word “Love” thirteen times. Do you think he is trying to tell us something? Religion does not control the Church, nor the Christian life. Love does. Love expressed does. This is why Satan has worked so hard to redefine “love” in our world today. To the lost, “love” means whatever benefits or satisfies ME. But this is not love, but selfishness and self absorption.

When the Apostle wrote, Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love, he was not speaking of the love of the world. The love of the world is a self love, a desire to gratify oneself above all others. The love of the world is selfish. The love of God is entirely selfless. What do we see when we look at the love of God? We read, the love of God was made manifest among us. God’s love was revealed to us. How? God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. Jesus Christ came into the world – God’s only Son – so that He might give us life. God loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. That word propitiation is the Greek ἱλασμός hilasmós, {pronounced hil-as-mos’}, which means “atonement, to covering for sin, that which pleases God”.

All of us are born into this world as sinners, dead in our trespasses, enslaved to the flesh. Jesus Christ died for all. Are all truly sinners? Aren’t babies innocent of sin? Aren’t there good and moral people in this world? Yes, there are good and moral people, and yes, babies are in a sense innocent, unknowing as to what is good or evil.

But none of us are right in God’s sight apart from the loving Gift of Jesus Christ.

Illustrate: So many people think they are better than others because of their breeding, or their lineage. Someone told Adrian Rogers one time that they traced their lineage all the way to the Mayflower. Adrian told them, “I traced my lineage even further back than the Mayflower. I come from a crooked farmer, and a drunken sailor.” What he was talking about is that he – and all of us – can trace our lineage back to a crooked farmer (Adam) and a drunken sailor (Noah). We all start out in the same place.

We are dead to God!

2 Corinthians 5:14 For the love of Christ {controls us/ holds us together}; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead:

one died for all, then were all dead. Every person born into this life is born physically alive, but spiritually dead. We all fall short of God’s glory because we enter this life as a child of Adam. The Bible says:

Romans 3:23-25 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;

Word Study: All fall short of God’s glory. All sin. All miss the mark of righteousness. But Jesus Christ came to be the propitiation or covering for our sin. The word propitiation, is the Greek ἱλασμός hilasmos, meaning the “atonement, the covering for sin, that which pleases God”.

Jesus Christ died for all. If there was a way to be righteous and accepted to God in our own power, then why did Christ die for all? There is no other way unto God but through faith in Jesus Christ. Our Jesus, in love with us while we were yet unlovable, died on the Cross of Calvary for everyone. The Scripture says:

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.

We are all born into this world physically alive, but spiritually dead. For this reason Jesus tasted death for us all!

Hebrews 2:9 …. 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 {PERSON}.

Jesus died for our sins. He took on death, and dying on Calvary, became the death of death. What good news this is!

1 John 2:1-2 … My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: 2 And {Jesus} is the propitiation {hilasmos} for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.

Jesus was born into this world to die for every person who has ever been born of woman. The love of God caused Him to send His Son to die for our sins.

But His death changes things.

The Saved Believer Is Called To Love & Live For Jesus

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

We are born again by faith in Jesus to live UNTO HIM! Not unto ourselves, but UNTO HIM!

Illustrate: The difference between the lost and the saved is that the saved live for Jesus. The saved love Jesus. The lost just love themselves. What happens every time a lost person gives a BIG CHECK to some charity? They call the news reporters. They get the check ENLARGED so all can see it. They put on a press conference, and show off the handing off of that check. It is not the LOVE OF CHRIST that drives them, but the LOVE OF SELF.

The old, lost creature, the unsaved person is dead in trespasses and in sins. The Christian is MADE ALIVE! Read with me:

Ephesians 2:1-6 (ESV) And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus

Before we met Jesus, we were old, dead creatures, following the same patterns as all the children of Adam do. Dead in trespasses and sins our “walk” or our pattern of life was to walk apart from God, while we followed the course of this world. As dead things, we followed after the Prince of Death. Dead things obey Satan rather than God. Dead things do what satisfy ourselves first. Dead things do not love their neighbor. Dead things are self absorbed. Dead things decay. When you were dead in trespasses and in sins, you lived according to darkness and Satan. But if we are alive, saved by faith in Christ Jesus, then we “should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again”.

The lost person follows the pathway that all lost people follow. They wander far from God. The saved person, the one who has received Christ as Lord and Savior, should want to live their lives for Him!

You were saved to live your life for Him, for Jesus. You were saved to love Jesus and love one another. You were saved to be indwelt by the Spirit of Christ, not by the Spirit of disobedience. Jesus did not give His life on Calvary so that we could be just like those without Him. No, Jesus said:

John 10:9-11 I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. 10 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. 11 I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.

Jesus wants us to have life, amore abundant. Life. We are not called to just exist, but to walk with our Jesus every single day.

We Show Love To Jesus And Others
By Ministering Reconciliation

2 Corinthians 5:18-20 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. 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.

Word Study: Five times the Apostle uses some form of “reconciliation” in this text. We are “reconciled” to God and to one another through Jesus Christ. The word reconciled is the Greek καταλλάσσω katallássō, {pronounced kat-al-las’-so}, which means “to bring together in harmony, to restore to fellowship. In Adam, we were far from Jesus. While we chased after the things of this world, the Lord was far from us. He was not far away physically, for in him we live, and move, and have our being” (Acts 17:28). God is everywhere, and there is no where where God is not. As David said, “Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?” (Psalm 139:7). God is everywhere. He said, “those that seek Me early shall find Me” (Proverbs 8:17). God was far from us – but not because of His failure, but ours.

Once we received Jesus as Lord and Savior we were “reconciled to God”. He is now near to us, not far away. Listen Beloved, we are not all children of God. We are all creations of God, but only those who have received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior are His children. We who have received Jesus are no longer enemies of God. We are told in …

Romans 5:6-11 (ESV) For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

The death of Jesus on Calvary covered our sins. Covering our sins, we are reconciled to God, that is, there is peace between the believer and God. While we were ENEMIES, Christ died for us.

We love our enemies as Jesus loved us when we were enemies. We share the means to reconciliation through Jesus to whosoever will hear.

Are You, Dear Soul, “In Christ”?

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore IF any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

in Christ” we are “new creature”. We are not just reconciled to God (for He is our Father), but we have the ministry of reconciliation. We know that …

Mark 12:27 {God} is not the God of the DEAD, but the God of the LIVING.

Dead creatures – children of Adam – serve the world, the flesh, and the devil. Living creatures – those “born again … by the Word of God, which lives and abides forever” (1 Peter 1:23) – these serve the Lord. We are not to live solely unto ourselves, but unto Him Who died for us, and rose again(2 Corinthians 5:15).

If anyone is IN CHRIST, we are new creatures. If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature. in Christ! These two wonderful words – in Christ– are found 78 times in Scripture. What should be think of these words?

  • The New Creature, the Christian, is “in Christ” like Noah and his family were in the Ark. Oh, God made provision for any who would to come into the Ark. For 120 years Noah preached salvation by faith in Christ. Noah found the grace of God (Genesis 6:8), but the world around him did not. All about Noah people were “in themselves” and “in the world”, yet refused to get in the Ark. God told Noah that destruction was coming. God told Noah to heed His command, to build an Ark, and to get on the boat. Judgment was coming. Then one day, it did. As judgment rained down on the earth, Noah and his family were in the Ark. They floated above the Divine Judgment. Beloved, if you are “in Christ”, then like Noah and his family, you will be carried above the waves of God’s punishment!
  • The New Creature, the Christian, is “in Christ” like the ancient Israeli was in the city of refuge. God made a provision in His Law that protected the ancient Israelite from vengeance. God allowed His priests to establish “cities of refuge” that a sinner could run to. While in that city, the sinner was protected from the blood avenger, and his case was heard. “The Eternal God is our Refuge; and underneath are the everlasting arms! He thrusts out the enemy from before me.” (Deuteronomy 33:27) “God is my Rock; in Him will I trust: He is my Shield, the Horn of my Salvation, my High Tower, my Refuge, my Savior! (2 Samuel 22:3). In God is my salvation and my glory: the Rock of my strength, and my Refuge, is in God! (Psalm 62:7).
  • If you are “in Christ”, you have access to God like the High Priest had in the ancient Holy of Holies. You can come boldly before the Throne of Grace. In Christ, God dwells in you. You do not go to a temple, but you ARE a Temple. God lives in the Temple of your body. “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? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
  • If you are “In Christ”, you are attached to Jesus like the branch is attached to the Vine. Jesus said in John 15:5, “ I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing”. We who are “in Christ” drink of the spirit of Christ. Our fruit is not hatred, strife, envy, sexual perversion, lying, or anything that resembles death. The fruit of the believer in Christ is “love, joy, peace, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance – against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23).
  • If I am “In Christ”, then I am part of the “workmanship of God, created in Christ Jesus to do good works” (Ephesians 2:10). Jesus Christ is my cornerstone, and we who believe are “lively stones, built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. Each believer, saved, and a New Creature is a priest before God. We lovingly serve our Lord on this earth until the day He calls us home to be with Him in glory. As His people we are assured that death has no hold on us.
  • If I am “In Christ”, then I know this life is but the beginning of a much greater life to come in glory!

2 Corinthians 5:1-4 For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven: 3 If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked. 4 For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life.

When a Christian dies physically, what happens spiritually is both beautiful and amazing. We have a an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. We have a glorified body awaiting us, and the promise of eternity with the Lord Jesus Christ. What a glorious truth this is. We are not burdened with how short this life is, but we who are in Christ groan, wanting to be clothed upon with our new residence.

Oh, come quickly, Lord Jesus!

Are you “in Christ”? If so, you are a part of Heaven’s Fabric. Faith and love have come together in your life as warp and weave. God bids you tell others about Jesus, to tell the world that He is “the Way, the Truth, and the Life: no one comes to the Father but by Him” (John 14:6). If you are not “in Christ”, then there is no better day to be saved. Now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2). May God move you to a glorious walk with Him this very day. Amen and Amen!

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Witnesses Unto Me