The Most Important Thing

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1 Corinthians 9:16-23 For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel! 17 For if I do this thing willingly, I have a reward: but if against my will, a dispensation of the gospel is committed unto me. 18 What is my reward then? Verily that, when I preach the gospel, I may make the gospel of Christ without charge, that I abuse not my power in the gospel. 19 For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more. 20 And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; 21 To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law. 22 To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. 23 And this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I might be partaker thereof with you.

Paul Kept The Main Thing The Main Thing

The Apostle Paul saw His calling as a preacher of the Gospel to be a great blessing from God. He said Though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!. When Jesus knocked Saul down on the Damascus Road, He set Saul (soon to be Paul) apart to preach the Gospel. God told Ananias:

Acts 9:15-16 Go thy way {to Paul, and help him}: for {Paul} is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: 16 For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake.

What is interesting is that Saul before he was called Paul caused great suffering to many Christians. After Saul was saved, and was called “Paul”, he in turn suffered greatly for the preaching of the Gospel.

Paul was treated with suspicion by those he previously hurt.
Paul was treated as a traitor to the Jewish Ruling Sanhedrin.

Paul was imprisoned as a troublemaker by Rome.

And yet Paul never gave up trying to reach others for Christ. He said:

2 Corinthians 11:24-27 (ESV)Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; 26 on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; 27 in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.

With all the trials and tribulations, discouragement and disaster, you would think that Paul would just throw up his hands and quit. But he didn’t. Paul had been allowed to look into glory one time, and that look blessed him beyond measure (2 Corinthians 12:3). Paul kept the main thing the main thing. He realized he was called to share the Gospel of salvation to others, to live so as to lead others to Christ. Paul said:

1 Corinthians 9:17 … if I do this thing willingly, I have a reward: but if against my will, a dispensation of the gospel is committed unto me

Word Study: When God called Paul to salvation, God promised a reward if he did as God required. The word translated reward is the Greek μισθός misthós, {pronounced mis-thos’}, which means dues paid for work, wages, hire paid at the end of the day.

There will be a payday, someday, for us all.

The son or daughter of God is called to work for the Lord Who saved them. We are not saved by works, but once saved, we owe our allegiance to the King of Glory. Jesus told us:

Matthew 5:10-12 (ESV)Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward {misthós} is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

We, like Paul, keep our eyes looking Heavenward, knowing that one day the saved will be with us in glory. What a wonderful reward it will be to see a lost person in glory, rather than in flames of hell! That is our reward.

Word Study: But Paul also said, if {I preach} against my will, a dispensation was given to him. The word dispensation is the Greek οἰκονομία oikonomía, {pronounced oy-kon-om-ee’-ah} which means “stewardship”.

If you share Christ willingly, God will treat you as a son. If you share Christ unwillingly, God is treating you as a servant. You choose how you will serve Him.

What Was True Of Paul Is True For Us As Well

Paul is not talking about his ministry to brag. He wants us to apply these truths to ourselves as well. All Scripture has purpose to the believer.

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 {Godly believer} may be {spiritually mature}, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.

Everything in the Bible was written with the purpose of growing us spiritually to be more like Christ.

Romans 15:4 … whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.

Paul told the Churches he wrote:

1 Corinthians 4:16 … I beseech you, be ye followers of me.

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

Philippians 3:17 … Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample.

Philippians 4:9 … Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.

As Paul had a calling, every Christian has a calling. We are all ambassadors for Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20). God could have taken us to Heaven the day He saved us, but God left us as strangers in a strange land (Jeremiah 5:19). We are all called to represent Jesus Christ to a lost and dying world.

  • Both Paul and we who are American Christians have been given the Grace of unprecedented physicalfreedom.

1 Corinthians 9:19 For though I be free from all [men], yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more.

Word Study: The word “men” is NOT in the manuscript, but was added by the King James translators. They showed this addition by italicizing the word men. The Apostle actually says, though I be free from all. The Apostle was free both PHYSICALLY as well as SPIRITUALLY. Let’s deal with the PHYSICAL freedom of Paul first.

In the ancient Roman Empire conservative scholars note that around 10% of the population was enslaved. Freedom is a great blessing!

When Paul was threatened with scourging by a Roman soldier, the Apostle said:

Acts 22:25 … Is it lawful for you to scourge a man that is a Roman, and uncondemned?

When the soldier realized Paul was a freeman, he told Paul:

Acts 22:28-29 And the chief captain answered, With a great sum obtained I {my} freedom. And Paul said, But I was [free] born.

No one chooses their own birth. Some born into Rome were born into slavery and poverty. Others were born free. Paul was a Jew born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia … brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, and taught according to the perfect manner of the Law of the fathers …” (Acts 22:3). Paul was blessed by God in his birth. Gamaliel was one of the great Rabbinical Scholars of that day. Paul was born physically free because God chose to make him so.

Even so, as Americans we are born extraordinarily free. Though some be born into poverty, even the impoverished in America are blessed by the standards of other countries.

In Afghanistan the minimum wage for government workers is $74 per month.
In Algeria the minimum wage is $156.19 per month.
In Angola, it is $58 per month.

There are worst places than these. We have the freedom to travel from state to state at will, when ever we want. God gave us this freedom for a reason.

  • Both Paul and we who are American Christians have been given the Grace of unprecedented spiritual freedom.

The believer in Christ is freed from death and sin. We are told in Romans 8:2, “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.” We are not bound by sin, but are bound to a Savior, Jesus Christ our Lord. We are set free from sin so that we might serve God” (Romans 6:22). We are dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.” (Romans 7:4). We as believers no longer need to sacrifice animals on an altar, nor do we need to seek forgiveness through a human High Priest. Jesus Christ is our High Priest (Hebrews 4:14). Jesus Christ is our sacrifice for sin (John 1:29, 36). Our Jesus “makes intercession for us who are saved” (Romans 8:34). As Jesus said:

John 8:36 If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.

Death has no hold on the believer. Jesus said, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die” (John 11:25-26).

As Christians, we are given freedom for a purpose.
Let us honor God in our freedoms.

We are given this unprecedented freedom, both spiritual as well as physical, so that we can share the Gospel of salvation with others. We are not saved by this glorious Grace so that we might coast our way into Heaven. We should say with the Apostle:

1 Corinthians 9:19 For though I be free from all [men], yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more.

When Israel was brought into Egyptian bondage, the Bible says they were in “bondage” (Acts 7:6, δουλοω, douloo, [pronounced doo-lo’-o]). The Apostle uses the same word in 1 Corinthians 9:19 when he says, I made myself servant {douloo} unto all. Paul lowered himself – not into sin – but came to each person where they were. This is the same thing our Lord Jesus did. Jesus was often found dining with sinners and publicans (Mark 2:15), and called Jesus a gluttonous man, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners!” (Luke 7:34). Yet Jesus told the religious critics,

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.

Paul Used His Freedom To Reach People For Christ

Being a Jew, Paul said:

1 Corinthians 9:20 And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law;

The meaning of the text is not that Paul became Jewish, but instead he followed the habits and rituals of the Jews insofar as they conformed to the righteousness of God. People will best identify with people who first identify with them. The commentator Matthew Henry notes:

Though {Paul} looked on the ceremonial law as a yoke taken off by Christ, yet in many instances he submitted to it, that he might work upon the Jews, remove their prejudices, prevail with them to hear the gospel, and win them over to Christ.”

The Apostle took the vow of the Nazarite (see Acts 18:18) – a specialized priest in Israel and highly regarded (Lamentations 4:7) – so that he could reason with and possibly reach the Jews at Ephesus with the Gospel. We read further:

1 Corinthians 9:21 … To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law.

Most orthodox Jews of that day shunned contact with the Gentiles, but Paul sought out friendship with the Gentiles. Our Lord Jesus did the same thing with the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well (John 4:7-10). Jesus finds this woman at the well drawing water, and asks her “give Me something to drink” (John 4:7). Both Jews as Gentiles need water. The woman responded, “How is it that You, a Jew, ask me, a Samaritan (a Gentile) for water? The Jews have nothing to do with us!” (John 4:9). Jesus used this encounter to tell her that He is the Messiah, the “One Who can give living water” (John 4:10).

1 Corinthians 9:22-23 To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all [men], that I might by all means save some. (23) And this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I might be partaker thereof with [you].

The Apostle says “I have become (literal Greek) all things to all men”. This does not mean that the Apostle lowered himself into sin in order to reach the sinner. Though Jesus was accused of being a drunkard (Matthew 11:19) by His detractors, He never lowered Himself into sin in order to witness to the lost. Neither should you, dear Christian! We do not justify what God has condemned as sinful when reaching out to the lost. But we do ignore cultural and color differences, and with love and civility reach out to those without Christ.

We are ambassadors for Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:20-21). An Ambassador lives in a foreign country while he works. An Ambassador takes his orders from his Sovereign Nation. As Christians, we are strangers and foreigners in this world. We are alive to represent Jesus Christ our Lord to a lost and dying world. Our written directives are found in the Holy Scripture. The Apostle said:

1 Peter 2:11-12 Dearly beloved, I beseech [you] as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; (12) Having your {way of life} honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by [your] good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation …

We who are Christ’s are members of His Body (1 Corinthians 12:27). While we serve the Lord, we will be blessed. “A wicked messenger falleth into mischief: but a faithful Ambassador is health” (Proverbs 13:16-17). As the Apostle Paul had a reason to live, a purpose, we who are Christ’s have a purpose. Let us live for Him, and reach out to others with the glorious Gospel of salvation. Jesus is alive! We serve a Risen Savior! Amen and Amen.

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What Does Love Demand?

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1 Corinthians 8:1-3 Now as touching things offered unto idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth. 2 And if any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know. 3 But if any man love God, the same is known of him.

I’m sure you’ve all been in a room with someone on a telephone. Nearly everyone carries cell phones nowadays. It’s common today to be speaking with someone, their phone rings, and they put you on hold while they talk to the person on the other side of the phone line. That’s the best way to describe this chapter. The Apostle was visited by three men from Corinth, Stephanas, Fortunatus and Achaicus (Acts 16:17). These men were some of the first Gentiles saved as the Gospel was preached in the Roman Province of Achaia (Acts 16:15). Professor Daniel Balge (Martin Luther College) notes:

“We don’t know whether the(se) three Corinthians walked to Ephesus, a journey of about 900 miles, or spent a week or more crossing the Aegean Sea by ship. … But this we know: Out of love for Jesus they served God and people well in a humble, but vital, task. They reliably carried two letters and linked a pastor to his people. Thus in his letter Paul could speak timely words to urgent problems and timeless truth (in Corinth).”

A Little Background

The three messengers told Paul that the Church was in an uproar over whether to eat meat sacrificed to idols or not.

Corinth, as well as Rome, was a place where there were several very large Pagan Temples where animals were sacrificed to “the gods”. Once the animals were sacrificed, rather than waste it, the meat of the animals was often sold in meat markets at reduced prices. The Gentiles of Corinth, raised among other Pagans who worshiped these false gods, saw no problem in eating the meat of animals that was sacrificed to the idolatrous gods. The Jews, however, had a big problem with this.

When the early Church started, Jesus told His followers:

Acts 1:8 … ye shall receive power, after that the Holy {Spirit} 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.

Had the Church stayed in in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea there would never have been a problem. The Church would have been nothing but people with Jewish backgrounds. Jewish Christians grew up with Jewish customs. Jewish Christians were well acquainted with the Law of God, and particularly with the Ten Commandments. The Ten commandments start with:

Exodus 20:2-7 … 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; 6 And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments. 7 Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.

Every problem Israel ever had could be traced back to idolatry – so Jewish Christians would be especially frightened of anything idolatrous.

The Jews knew that God was the Only God, and would not worship any other god, Roman or not. Jewish Christians were united in the fact that they would not have anything to do with idols. They would not go into an idolatrous temple, and no Jew would eat meat from animals that were sacrificed the idols.

While the Gospel was going to Jerusalem and Judea, all Christians were Jewish Christians. But as the Gospel went out to Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth, Gentiles began to come into the Church. And as these Gentiles came, they brought with them their backgrounds, and traditions that they had grown up with. BEFORE the Apostle Peter was led by God to the Roman stronghold of Caesarea to the home of a Centurion called Cornelius (Acts 10:1), God gave Peter a vision. Peter was praying at lunchtime – about noon. The Bible says:

Acts 10:10-16 … {Peter while praying} 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 fourfooted 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.

As a Christian from an Orthodox Jewish background, Peter had never eaten what the Jews considered “unclean”. But as the Lord gave Peter this vision, Peter was told to eat all manner of edible meats. Peter naturally replied with, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean. As an ethnic Jew Peter had never eaten what the Lord called forbidden. But the Lord told Him, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common. The rules were changed by Jesus. Now that Jesus died on the Cross for our sins, the animal sacrifices, and the issue of clean and unclean, no longer applies. In fact, Jesus, when He walked this earth, declared all foods clean” (see Mark 7:19). Christians are not forbidden to eat any foods that they feel comfortable eating.

Once the Church began to receive Gentile converts to the faith, and began to bring their customs into the Church, it began to cause arguments between Jews & Gentiles.

In one of the first business meetings of the early Church missionaries were sent out to the Gentiles. Though Gentiles who were saved by faith in Christ were not required to be circumcised (as all ethnic Jews were circumcised), they were nonetheless told:

Acts 15:29 That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well.

Gentiles were not required to keep the Law of Moses once saved, but were told to keep themselves from things offered to idols” (Acts 21:25). But here we’ve got a problem.

Jesus told His disciples that all foods are clean.
Jesus told Peter in the vision that all meats are clean.
Jewish Church leadership told Gentiles not to eat things offered to idols.
Gentiles who are saved are eating meats offered to idols.
Jewish Christians are offended by meats offered to idols.

This is a big mess in Corinth, and not just at Corinth, but in Rome as well. In Romans chapter 14 the Apostle deals with the same problem he is dealing with in this chapter of Corinthians. So the local Churches, instead of growing, are fighting internally. Stalled spiritually, the Corinthian and Roman congregations are busy arguing about who is right, while they should be sharing the Gospel.

The devil loves that!

It Doesn’t Matter Who Wins The Argument
Love Is The Key!

1 Corinthians 8:1-2 Now as touching things offered unto idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth. 2 And if any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know.

On the matter of things offered unto idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Both sides knew that they were right. The Jews, with a long cultural heritage of avoiding idolatry, knew that any compromise with idolatry is a slippery slope. Some of the Jews that are now Christians perhaps used to be Scribes or, like Paul, Pharisees. They were well versed in the Law, and knew how idolatry had hurt Israel. “We know we are RIGHT”.

The Gentiles, saved by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, knew that an idol is nothing but a figment of a man’s imagination. The Psalmist wrote:

Psalm 115:3-7 OUR God is in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased. 4 THEIR idols are silver and gold, the work of men’s hands. 5 They have mouths, but they speak not: eyes have they, but they see not: 6 They have ears, but they hear not: noses have they, but they smell not: 7 They have hands, but they handle not: feet have they, but they walk not: neither speak they through their throat.

The God we serve is real. He controls all things. Our God is Sovereign, and speaks to His people through His Word and through His Spirit. But THEIR idols are just made up things, nothings, ciphers. “They have ears, but they do not hear, nor is there any breath in their mouths” (Psalm 135:16-18). They are just dead statues, empty things. If I as a Gentile eat discounted meat from a Disneyland Temple, what does it matter? After all, meat is meat. And Jesus said all food is clean!

So both sides are right, and the other side is wrong. There was an old song years ago that said:

There’s battle lines being drawn
Nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong

The Apostle says:

Knowledge puffeth up

Word Study: “I KNOW that I’M RIGHT”. You may be right. Both sides may have a kernel of right. But Knowledge puffeth up. The phrase puffeth up is the Greek φυσιόω physióō, {pronounced foo-see-o’-o}, which means “to cause to swell up, to make yourself lofty, to be proud”. The image is of a weight lifter who, posing for the crowd, swells up his chest and thumps it, much like Tarzan would do. Consider who were the ones who ordered Jesus to His death. They were all knowledgeable people. Those on Jesus’ Death Row Committee were:

Scribes
Pharisees
Sadducees
Priests
Politicians

Everyone of them had “knowledge”, so much knowledge that they executed Jesus Christ, the Messiah. They knew what they knew. But the Apostle said, none of the princes of this world knew {Jesus was Messiah}: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. Knowledge puffeth up! Knowledge often gives us a swelled head.

… but charity edifieth

Word Study: The Greek agapē oikodomeō, “love builds the House”. The Bible says in Psalm 127:1, “Except the LORD build the house, they labor in vain that build it”. When I have KNOWLEDGE this puffs me up, and those who follow me. But when I have love as Jesus wants us to love, then the House of God, the Church, will grow into a beautiful Temple that honors God. Paul says:

1 Corinthians 8:2 And if any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know.

As humans, we always think we know everything. Yet truthfully, our knowledge is so very finite.

  • Darryl Zanuck of 20th Century Fox, in 1946 said “Television won’t be able to hold on to any market it captures after the first six months. People will soon get tired of staring at a plywood box every night”.
  • The Surgeon General of the United States (1967) William Stewart said, “The time has come to close the book on infectious diseases. We have basically wiped out infection in the United States”.
  • Back in 1977, Ken Olson (Chairman & Founder Digital Equipment Corp) said, “There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home”.
  • In 1995, Robert Metcalfe the developer of the Ethernet said, “I predict the Internet will soon go spectacularly supernova and in 1996 catastrophically collapse”.

We all think we know so very much. But in time, we discover what we thought we knew, was incomplete, or inaccurate. The only time we will have full knowledge is when we are face to face with Jesus in eternity. The Apostle said:

1 Corinthians 13:12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

Only God knows what is best at all times. Only God possesses all knowledge. We know so very little, even with all of our technology. Though our knowledge grows, errs, and often goes out the window, one thing we can know with all certainty:

1 Corinthians 8:3 But if any man love God, the same is known of Him.

If you love God – if you love the Lord Jesus and follow His will – He has promised:

John 14:15-16 If ye love Me, keep My commandments. 16. And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you for ever;

John 15:10-14 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. 11. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. 12. 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.

Being right with God is a simple matter of love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. Love God more than you love anything or anyone else. If you love God, God knows you, for you are His Child. If you love God, you will do as God said, and love one another, as {Jesus has} loved you. Love is the guiding truth and the strength of the Christian faith.

The Mature Believer Knows That An Idol Is Nothing

1 Corinthians 8:4-6 As concerning therefore the eating of those things that are offered in sacrifice unto idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one. 5 For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,) 6 But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.

We know that there are many that are called gods by many different people. One article I read noted:

“Throughout recorded history, we can count between 8,000 and 12,000 gods who have been worshiped.”

As the Apostle said, there be gods many, and lords many. But for the believer in Christ, there is but one God, the Father. The Bible teaches there is but ONE God, the Triune God of Scripture. The testimony of Scripture is the Lord He is God; there is none else beside Him” (Deuteronomy 4:35). Know therefore this day, and consider it in thine heart, that the Lord he is God in heaven above, and upon the earth beneath: there is none else” (Deuteronomy 4:39). Throughout the Old Testament, God revealed Himself to His people as Yahweh, Elohim, El Shaddai, and other descriptive titles. But in the New Testament God is revealed to us as “Father”. Though God was called “Father” in a few Old Testament texts (see Deuteronomy 32:5-6; Isaiah 63:16; 64:8; Jeremiah 31:9,20; Hosea 11:3-4; Malachi 1:6; 2:10), it was only when Jesus Christ came from Heaven to Earth that we fully learned this loving aspect of God. God is our “Father”. Jesus told us to pray:

Matthew 6:9 … Our FATHER which art in Heaven …

Jesus commanded us, in Matthew 23:9 “call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. Jesus saw the phrase “Father” as a precious statement as to how much God loves us all. There is “one God and Father of all, Who is above all, and through all, and in us all” (Ephesians 4:6). Oh, how God loves us. There is one God the Father, “of whom are all things, and we in him.

And there is one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him. Jesus Christ is our Lord. In His title Lord we acknowledge Him as the Ruler of our lives, and co-equal to God the Father. Jesus is called the great GOD and our Savior Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13). We are saved because of the great love that Jesus has for us. He gave His everything on the Cross of Calvary so that we might be saved.

It is God’s love that SOUGHT us out, and God’s love that SAVED us. It is God’s love that SECURES us for Heaven, and God’s love that STAYS with us daily.

If you love God, believing in Jesus Christ Whom He hath sent, then God loves us, and brings us into His family. We do not earn nor deserve this salvation that the Lord bestows on the believer. It is all of grace, all of love.

God’s Actions Matter, Our Actions Matter

Even though we knew little, and know little still, God reached out through space and time to save us by the sacrifice of His Beloved Son. Because Jesus died for us, we are born again into the family of God by faith in Him. God’s actions showed us that He loves us. Jesus’ actions show that He loves us. As the Apostle says:

1 Peter 1:3-5 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

We know and understand very little about God, other than the fact that He loves us. We are also to love one another. Returning to the explosive subject of eating meat once offered to idols the Apostle says:

1 Corinthians 8:7-9 Howbeit there is not in every man that knowledge: for some with conscience of the idol unto this hour eat it as a thing offered unto an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled. 8 But meat commendeth us not to God: for neither, if we eat, are we the better; neither, if we eat not, are we the worse. 9 But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak.

We as Christians have the liberty to eat any type of meat that we want to eat. But not every Christian understands this truth. The Jewish Christian, raised to despise anything related to an idol, is offended by anyone eating idolatrous meat. I have liberty, but I need to be careful lest my liberty trip another up in his or her Christian walk. The Apostle says:

1 Corinthians 8:10-13 For if any man see thee which hast knowledge sit at meat in the idol’s temple, shall not the conscience of him which is weak be emboldened to eat those things which are offered to idols; 11 And through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died? 12 But when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ. 13 Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend.

This scripture can be applied to many things in our world today. We as believers are to walk with love toward those around us. As Christians, we have wonderful and glorious liberty. And yet, I must never use my liberty without first asking myself, “how does my brother or sister believe about this?”. In the Church at Rome the Apostle tackled the same problem. He wrote:

Romans 14:1-4 Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations. 2 For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs. 3 Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him. 4 Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand.

Love should be the governor on all of our liberties. As believers, we are to carefully consider the spiritual blessing of our fellow believers. We are, together, the Church of Jesus Christ. We are to love our God, and love one another as our God loves us. We are to consider the other when it comes to the “gray areas” of our faith.

Romans 14:6-8 He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks. 7 For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself. 8 For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s.

Let us love one another as Jesus has commanded. Let us walk so as to build up the Body of Christ, the Church – and not to tear it down. May God the Holy Spirit guide us through His Word, and to His Will. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen and Amen.

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What’s Your Power Source, Part 3

Please turn with me in your Bibles to Acts chapter four.

Photo by Ismael Paramo on Unsplash

I have a workshop outside my home, one that I love to go and tinker in. I love woodworking. I love taking raw wood, and turning it into attractive and useful things. There’s a pleasure in working with your hands and your mind. Anyway, I have three basic types of tools in my shop.

  • I have tools that require no external power source, things like chisels, hammers, screwdrivers, hand crank drills, hand saws, etc. These tools are ME powered. It takes MY energy to drive them, and they stop working when I myself get tired.
  • I have tools that are battery operated. I love these things, because they have no power cord to get in my way. They run off of lithium batteries, which store a charge for a long time, and are able to deliver a lot of power to my tools. When the battery dies, that is, runs out of charge, it stops quickly. When this happens I have to put in another battery that is charged, or let this battery charge before I can continue my work.
  • I have tools that are power cord operated. Though the cord limits my freedom of movement, the tool will keep on running as long as I have it plugged into the wall AND pay my electric bill.

What does any of this have to do with the Christian way of life? Our God has given us resources to enable us to live in this world, but empowered by His Kingdom. Sometimes we want to live out our lives in our own power. We use our strength, just as I use hand tools in my shop. Sometimes this is effective – but after a while we just run out of energy. The Lord said:

Jeremiah 17:5-6 (ESV) Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the Lord. 6 He is like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see any good come. He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness, in an uninhabited salt land.

There are times in our lives when our own strength is enough. But if you habitually live out your life this way, after a while, life will just be miserable. You won’t see the good all around you. You’ll wear yourself out.

Then there are times when we are on battery power. We get charged up. We come to Church, and get a blessing, and move into Monday with a positive outlook. But you can only carry a charge so long. Some only read their Bible or pray on Sundays, charging themselves up. But it won’t last. You have more freedom of movement, but suddenly when life happens you’ll find yourself out of power, dead in the water!

But then, others live their lives plugged into God. This limits your freedom, of course, because you can’t go but so far from God before you pull the plug out. But being plugged in to God – this is what gave the early Christian POWER and the Church POWER.

Staying Plugged In Means Uniting In Prayer

Peter and John preached the Gospel at the 3 pm prayer meeting last week, having the audacity to preach on Solomon’s Porch. Brought before the Sanhedrin, the Jewish Ruling Council, we read:

Acts 4:17-20 But that it spread no further among the people, let us straightly threaten them, that they speak henceforth to no man in this name. 18 And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. 20 For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.

The Council said let us straightly threaten them. This is the same word in the Greek, apeilē apeileō, which could be translated “threatening, let us threaten them, or menacing, let us menace them. What they are saying is very dark, very stark, very fearful. These men were preaching Christ on Solomon’s Porch, a place in the Temple. The Council tells them to not speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. Peter and John replied without hesitation, saying, we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard. We have no choice. We must preach Jesus resurrected from the dead. We must preach salvation through the name of Jesus. The Council let Peter and John go. We read:

Acts 4:23 And being let go, they {Peter and John} went to their own company, and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said unto them.

Peter and John went back to their own company to other Christians, and shared what they had been told, fearful as it was. The Church is at a crucial cross road. Will they give in to FEAR, and allow the Council to dictate their actions, or will they plug into God.

They plugged into God. Or rather, they stayed plugged into God. They began to pray. This prayer tells us much about the early Church and it’s power.

Acts 4:24 And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is:

Word Study: Please note that they DID NOT start their prayer complaining about their abuse at the hands of the Council. We are told with one accord they started praying by recognizing the GREATNESS of God. Lord, thou art God. This is the Greek despotēs sy Theos, which means “Master of everything, You are God”. Our God is SOVEREIGN. He is over all things, for He is the Maker of all things. The Bible says that God is …

Ephesians 1:11 … Him Who works all things according to the counsel of His will …

The Jewish Council locked up Peter and John, and held them over night in a jail cell. The Jewish Council menacing, they menaced them; threatening, they threatened them. And yet, our God is SOVEREIGN. He is in control of all things. God said through Isaiah:

Isaiah 46:9-10 (ESV) … I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, 10 declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,’

We pull the plug out of the wall when we begin to think God has lost control. He hasn’t. It is human to sometimes wonder what God is doing. As the Church prayed, they stayed plugged into God by praying the Scripture.

Acts 4:25-26 Who by the mouth of thy servant David hast said, Why did the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things? 26 The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ.

As they pray they are quoting Psalm 2:1-2 where King David noted that the darkness and the evil always arrays itself against the Lord, and against his Christ. The heathen will always rage. Those who do not know the Lord will always imagine vain things. Yet, this does not mean that the darkness is in control. God is in control. God is always in control. Though Peter and John in their prayer did not quote the rest of Psalm 2, I want to quote what is just beyond our text.

Psalm 2:4-6 He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision. 5 Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury, saying, 6 “As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.

God “laughs” at the futile attempts of man
to thwart His purpose.

God holds them in derision. God will triumph! As Peter and John quote Psalm 2 in their prayer, noting that David foresaw (through God) that the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ, they say:

Acts 4:27-28 For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, 28 For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done.

They acknowledge it happened exactly as David prophesied. That the rulers, Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together in one accord against Jesus. And yet, as they pray this, they acknowledge that this was all according to God’s plan. God allowed the evil to flare and seem to be in charge, that He would be able to perform a greater thing.

The Apostles and the Church stayed plugged into God by rejecting fear, and embracing the sovereignty of God through prayer and united love. If it happened, God caused it or allowed it. God is at the helm,
not Satan!

Continuing their prayer …

Acts 4:29-30 And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word, 30 By stretching forth thine hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of thy holy child Jesus.

The Church acknowledge the threatening menace against them, but rather than pray it go away, prayed that with all boldness they may speak thy word. They asked that God do a supernatural work through them for the glory of Jesus Christ. Did God bless them? Yes!

Acts 4:31-33 And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy {Spirit}, and they spake the word of God with boldness. 32 And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common. 33 And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all.

The evidence of God’s Power was that the Church’s members loved one another, and loved God. They took care of one another, and preached with further power the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. The Apostle tells us:

Romans 13:8-10 Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9 For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

Jesus presented the Great Commandment (Matthew 22:36-40) in the Law as, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. God is to be preeminent in our love. But He also decreed, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another” (John 13:34). Because the Church and the Christian stayed plugged in to God, we read great grace was upon them all.

Staying Plugged In Requires Your Obedience To God

As the Church grows, and the Gospel of Jesus Christ is spread, the Sanhedrin once more is aroused against it. We read:

Acts 5:17-18 Then the high priest rose up, and all they that were with him, (which is the sect of the Sadducees,) and were filled with indignation, 18 And laid their hands on the apostles, and put them in the common prison.

Had the Apostles and the early Church backed away from the Name of Jesus, and compromised with the Council of the Sanhedrin, all would have died in obscurity. But praise God, the Church did not do this. They stayed plugged into God. They continued to stand up for the Lord Jesus Christ. As a result, they got to spend another night in the common prison. In Acts 4:3 we see Peter and John put in hold until the next day. They are once more put in this temporary Sheriff’s Jail until they are tried by the Council. But things are different this time. We read:

Acts 5:19-20 But the angel of the Lord by night opened the prison doors, and brought them forth, and said, 20 Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life.

Matthew Henry’s Commentary notes, “There is no prison so dark, so strong, but God can visit his people in it, and, if he pleases, fetch them out. Recoveries from sickness, releases out of trouble, are granted, not that we may enjoy the comforts of life, but that God may be honored with the services of our life.”

The Angel of the Lord is mentioned 58 times in the Bible.

  • The Angel of the Lord went to Hagar when Sarai cast her out. God told Hagar through this Angel to return to Abram and Sarai, and promised to bless Hagar for being obedient (Genesis 16:7-10).
  • The Angel of the Lord stopped Abraham from sacrificing Isaac (Genesis 22:11), and promised “in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.” (Genesis 22:17-18).
  • The Angel of the Lord “appeared unto Moses in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush” (Exodus 3:2) and called Moses to be God’s representative to Israel and Egypt.
  • The Angel of the Lord stopped the prophet Balaam from cursing Israel (Numbers 22:32).
  • The Angel of the Lord told Joseph that Mary was carrying the Messiah (Matthew 1:20).
  • And the Angel of the Lord rolled back the stone of Jesus’ tomb (Matthew 28:2), not to let Jesus out, but to let the disciples in to see that “He has risen, just as He said”.

The Angel of the Lord is a Specialized Angel
that speaks for God.

The Psalmist said thatThe Angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear God, and delivers them” (Psalm 34:7). The Angel of the Lord opens the prison doors, and tells the Apostles that God wants them to:“Go”, “stand”, and “speaK”.

The Apostles were to boldly Go back to the scene of their arrest. They were not to hide their light under a bushel, nor be afraid of men. God wants whosoever will to hear that Jesus has defeated death, that Jesus is risen, and promises eternal life to those who receive Christ as Lord and Savior.

The Apostles were to stand, to hold their ground, to “stand by faith” (Romans 11:20). God calls His people to stand up for Him, to “put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11-14). Standing is often not very easy, especially when you stand against the darkness with Jesus. David had to stand before Goliath, the prophet Job had to stand in faith though he lost all things. Jeremiah stood and preached, though none wished to hear. John the Baptist stood against Herod, though it cost him his head. Go and STAND.

God’s people are to speak in the Temple the Word of life. There is only one way to eternal life, and that is through Him Who defeated death, Jesus Christ our Lord. Go “holding forth the Word of life” (Philippians 2:16). Tell others about Jesus. What did they do? Exactly as they were told. This next section is very amusing, if you dwell on it.

Acts 5:21-24 And when they heard that, they entered into the temple early in the morning, and taught. But the high priest came, and they that were with him, and called the council together, and all the senate of the children of Israel, and sent to the prison to have them brought. 22 But when the officers came, and found them not in the prison, they returned and told, 23 Saying, The prison truly found we shut with all safety, and the keepers standing without before the doors: but when we had opened, we found no man within. 24 Now when the high priest and the captain of the temple and the chief priests heard these things, they doubted of them whereunto this would grow.

God’s people went back into the Temple and taught. They didn’t hide. They taught! Early in the morning. While they are teaching, the unbelieving Sanhedrin convenes, and sends soldiers to the prison to retrieve these troublemakers. But they aren’t there! They’re in the Temple teaching about Jesus! Finally someone comes into the judgment hall and tells them:

Acts 5:25-27 Then came one and told them, saying, Behold, the men whom ye put in prison are standing in the temple, and teaching the people. 26 Then went the captain with the officers, and brought them without violence: for they feared the people, lest they should have been stoned. 27 And when they had brought them, they set them before the council: and the high priest asked them,

Peter and the Apostles are brought before the Council once more. The High Priest asks, “Did not we straightly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” (Acts 5:28). Peter and the Apostles respond:

Acts 5:29-33 … We ought to obey God rather than men. 30 The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. 31 Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Savior, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. 32 And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him.

Peter and the Apostles said We ought to obey God rather than men. The Church was growing because God’s people were obeying God. The Church was being preserved because they were obeying God. The power of the Church is the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him. As Christians we are to be obedient to God.

Are you? Or are you a fence sitter? Pastor Tim Burt tells us this parable:

Illustration: There was a large group of people gathered. On one side of the group stood Jesus. On the other side stood the fallen Archangel, Lucifer, also known as Satan or the Devil. Jesus was on one side of the fence calling out to people, Satan on the other side calling out to people. One by one, each person making up their own, went over the fence to either Jesus or Satan. A smaller crowd went to Jesus’ side, and about twice as many went to Satan’s side. One man who was called climbed the fence that was there and sat on it. In time, Jesus told His group, “Come now, My children, we must go home!” Jesus and His children went to glory, and with a dark puff Satan and his people blended into the darkness.

The man on the fence sat alone.

In a few moments Satan came back, wrinkled brow, searching for something he misplaced. The man asked, “Have you lost something?” Satan looked straight at him and replied, Oh, there you are. Come with me.The man protested. “I sat on the fence. I chose neither you nor him.” Satan said, “That’s true, but I own the fence.”

Matthew 12:30 (ESV)Whoever is not with Me is against Me, and whoever does not gather with Me scatters.

Make your choice. Choose to obey and follow Jesus, or choose Satan, darkness, and damnation. The choice is entirely up to you. May God the Holy Spirit move you to Jesus through this, God’s Word. Amen and amen.

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Baptist Distinctives 1: All Scripture Is God’s Word

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

When our Lord Jesus prepared to go to the Cross and give His life for ours, He prayed about His Church and the Word of God He had given to His Church. Jesus said:

John 17:13-17 And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves. 14 I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 15 I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.

Jesus knew that His Church would be attacked by the lost world, just as He was attacked. Throughout His ministry Jesus focused time and time again on the Word of God. Jesus gave His Church the Word of God. Though the Pharisees, Scribes, Sadducees, and Priests stood at odds with Jesus, our Lord repeatedly referred to the Word of God. Jesus often said, “It is written”, and quoted the Old Testament Scriptures as directives from God. Jesus knew that if Satan was going to infiltrate the Church that He was building, Satan would do so through twisting of the Word of God. This is what Satan did in the Garden of Eden when he said to Adam and Eve, “Hath God really said” and “God said you will die, but you will not die!” (Genesis 3:1, 4). Jesus was concerned about His Church. This is why He asked the Father to “Sanctify them (keep the Church out of the world) through Thy truth: Thy WORD is truth (the Bible is true).

Salvation Comes Only By Faith In Christ

I along with others who call themselves Baptists firmly believe that salvation comes only by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Salvation is a decision that each person must make between themselves and the call of God’s Holy Spirit. Now, how do I know that this statement is true? How do I know that you must believe in Jesus? Perhaps you can believe in another god, or in mother nature, or in father time, or in the stars of the sky as the ancient Babylonians believed. Perhaps there are many ways unto God.

If I hold a loose, flimsy view of the Scripture, then I can weave other methods and means of salvation into my life.

Some who are Christian call themselves Social Justice Warriors, and believe that salvation is to establish a certain social order between the races. Black Pastor and seminary dean Voddie Baucham Jr said “CRT {Critical Race Theory} is at least as foreign to Christianity as Hinduism is”. Social Justice cannot fix what ails this fallen world. The Bible makes it clear that all are fallen sinners in need of salvation (Romans 3:23).

How do I know all have sinned?
Because the Bible says so.
How do I know how to be saved?
By reading the Bible.

The Apostle clearly outlined the simplicity but necessity of salvation when he (as moved by the Holy Spirit) wrote:

Romans 10:8-13 … that is, the word of faith, which we preach; 9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. 10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. 12 For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. 13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Salvation is a confession that Jesus is Lord and Savior, and that Jesus has risen from the dead. These are not works, but acts of faith that come from a heart opened by God the Holy Spirit to receive and believe on these truths. This is what we believe as Baptists.

Our starting place for defining salvation
is what the Bible has to say about it

Baptists Are People Of “The Book”

It might surprise you to know that there are 45,000 denominations of Christians globally. Though there are an estimated 2 billion professing Christians in the world today, we have separated ourselves into thousands of denominations.

What about Baptists? Do we all believe the same? No. Even among Baptists there are many different sects or denominations. In America there are – as noted by Baylor University19 Baptist denominations. A partial list of these is:

Alliance of Baptists
American Baptist Association
American Baptist Churches USA
Conservative Baptist Association
Cooperative Baptist Fellowship
General Association of Regular Baptist Churches
National Association Of Free Will Baptists
Pentecostal Free Will Baptists
Primitive Baptists
Progressive National Baptist Convention
Seventh Day Baptists
Southern Baptist Convention

Of these various groups:

  • Some Baptists are Reformed or call themselves Particular Baptists or Calvinistic Baptists. They believe that God elects or chooses certain souls to salvation, and that only those so elected can possibly be saved.
  • Some Baptists worship only only Saturday, as the Seventh Day Adventists do.
  • Some Baptists consider not only the Lord’s Table and Baptism to be ordinances, but also consider foot washing to be an ordinance (something a Christian is ORDERED to do by Jesus). There are no Baptists who consider these actions to be sacraments, a necessary practice in order to be saved. Baptists universally believe salvation is by faith alone in Christ alone (Solus Christus).
  • Some Baptists adhere to the King James Version of the Scripture as the only true Bible. I believe this is a very narrow view of Scripture, as all Scripture is compiled and translated from ancient Hebrew, Aramaic, Chaldean, and Greek manuscripts. To say that the King James Version is the only version of the Bible is to say that Christians prior to 1611 had no access to God’s Holy Word, which is patently untrue. The Geneva Bible of 1560 was read by Christians prior to the King James. One of the earliest Bible translations into English was the Tyndale Bible (1522-1536). This Bible was also one of the earliest Bibles mass produced because of new advances in the art of printing. I preach from the King James because I choose to do so.

I’ve talked about the differences between Baptists – but what do we have in common. Baptists have a HIGH VIEW of Scripture.

Though we differ in some areas, we as Baptists believe the Scripture to be God breathed, God inspired, and God ordered. In most Baptist Churches the first thing you see on entering the sanctuary is the Bible on the Lord’s Table.

At this Church we are members of the Southern Baptist Convention, and if we are asked what we believe (a statement of faith) we refer to the Baptist Faith and Message. The Baptist Faith and Message is a general overview of what Southern Baptists believe. The very first article of the Baptist Faith and Message is:

“I. The Scriptures: The Holy Bible was 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.”

This statement is what led me to become a Southern Baptist. I am proud that we bind together with other believing Baptists to support missions throughout the world. I feel blessed that, as Southern Baptists, we believe in the autonomy of the local Church. There are no hierarchies of rulers above us.

We are a body of believer-priests, led by a believer-priest called Pastor, and are directed and ultimately led by the Holy Scripture and the Holy Spirit of God for the glory of Jesus Christ our Lord. It is the Spirit and the Scripture that binds us together. This is what Jesus envisioned.

If you believe God’s Word to be true in all that it affirms, then what you believe effects what you do. For instance, if you believe as Jesus did that “Thy Word, O God, is truth”, then that belief effects everything religious you do.

Your View Of Scripture Effects
Your Walk With
And Service To Jesus

For instance, Baptists believe that genuine Baptism is a command (an ordinance) that a Christian must obey of their own free will. Further, Baptists believe that a person must go down into the water, and come up out of the water to be properly baptized. Why do we believe this? Because the Bible says so.

Baptism is a command (an ordinance or an order from Jesus) because the Bible says Jesus said so. We often quote what we commonly call “The Great Commission” where Jesus commanded us:

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 Ghost:

Jesus commanded baptism of those who believed in Him. It is an ordinance, an order from our Lord. As Baptists we believe that a person is baptized not by sprinkling or pouring, but by immersion in water. Why be so picky? Because the Bible says so. When Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist (yes, Jesus was baptized, too), we read:

Mark 1:10-11 .. And straightway coming up out of the water, {Jesus} saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon him: 11 And there came a voice from heaven, saying, Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

Jesus came up out of the water. John did not sprinkle Him, nor pour water on Jesus. The Bible tells us that John the Baptist

John 3:23 … was baptizing in Aenon near to Salim, because there was much water there: and they came, and were baptized.

John chose where he baptized carefully, making sure there was much water there. If he were baptizing from a cup or a fount, the amount of water would not have mattered. John baptized by immersion.

Word Study: Further, the word “baptize” is transliterated from the Greek βαπτίζω baptízō, {pronounced bap-tid’-zo}, which means “to immerse, to submerge, to make fully wet”. Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance notes, “used only in the New Testament of ceremonial {washing}. Further, the Scripture compares baptism to a symbol of death in:

Romans 6:3-5 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? 4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:

When the disciple goes down into the water, this is symbolic of their death to their old way of life. When they come up out of the water this is symbolic of their resurrection into new life with Jesus Christ as their Lord. In the early Church baptism was by immersion in water. For instance, when Philip led the Ethiopian Eunuch to receive Jesus as Lord and Savior …

Acts 8:36-39 … the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? 37 And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. 38 And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him. 39 And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing.

Preach: As Baptists, we do not receive new members onto the written roll of the Church until the convert is baptized by immersion. We see baptism as an ordinance. If you will not obey Jesus in this simple ordinance, we do not want you on the roll! However, we do not say that those who are baptized by sprinkling or by pouring are not Christians. Baptism is an ordinance, a command, but not a sacrament.

A sacrament is an action that one must perform in order to be saved. We do not believe baptism to be a sacrament. Why? Because the Scripture says so.

When Jesus was on the Cross dying for our sins, a thief that hung near our Lord believed on Jesus. He said, Jesus, LORD, remember me when Thou comest into Thy Kingdom. Jesus told that thief, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:41-43). The Scripture tells us that Jesus promised this totally unbaptized man that he would be with Him – that very day – in Paradise or Heaven. If Baptism were a SACRAMENT, then Jesus would not have promised this man Paradise with Him.

Jesus never disobeyed the decreetive will of God.

Baptism is clearly NOT a sacrament, a necessary function of salvation. It is, however, an ordinance or a command from Jesus. And Jesus said, If ye love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15). If you love Jesus, you WILL be baptized or your own volition!

We do not baptize babies. There is no place in scripture where a baby was ever baptized by anyone. Baptism is a decision freely reached by the convert.

The Catholic Church baptizes babies because it considers water baptism a sacrament, or a necessary part of grace

This is probably what prompted that sect to baptize by sprinkling from a fount or chalice. If you force a baby underwater, it is cruel, and leads to choking! One of the major differences between Baptist Churches and Churches of Christ is that the Church of Christ views baptism to be a sacrament, or a necessary part of salvation.

The Church of Christ along with the Catholic Church believe in the doctrine of Baptismal Regeneration

An online commentary I love to visit called “Got Questions” notes:

“The problem with this viewpoint is that there are biblical passages that clearly and explicitly declare faith to be the only requirement for salvation. John 3:16, one of the most well-known verses in the Bible, states, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” In Acts 16:30, the Philippian jailer asks the Apostle Paul, “What must I do to be saved?” If there was ever an opportunity for Paul to present a four-part formula, this was it. Paul’s response was simple: “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31). No baptism, no confession, just faith. … There are literally dozens of verses in the New Testament that attribute salvation to faith/belief with no other requirement mentioned in the context. If baptism, or anything else, is necessary for salvation, all of these verses are wrong, and the Bible contains errors and is therefore no longer worthy of our trust.”

A high view of Scripture effects how you live out your faith. Equally, a low view of Scripture effects how you live out your faith.

The Scripture Is And Will Always Be
Politically Incorrect. Period.

The reason why many people abandon the Scripture is because it is not “with the times”. But the Scripture has never been with the times. Returning to Jesus’ prayer for His Church, He said:

John 17:14-17 I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 15 I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.

The Bible is very much a PATRIARCHAL Book.

God is our “Father”, not our “Mother”.

2 Corinthians 6:17-18 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.

Sin came into the world “by one man”, not by “one woman”.

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

The antidote for sin is belief in a Perfect God/Man named Jesus.

1 Timothy 2:5-6 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; 6 Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.

God has decreed that man lead his family, as Christ leads the Church.

Ephesians 5:22-24 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the Savior of the body. 24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.

The leadership of the local Church is male, not female.

1 Timothy 3:2-5 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behavior, given to hospitality, apt to teach; 3 Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; 4 One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; 5 (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)

1 Timothy 3:12 Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well.

God does not undermine women by making the Bible Patriarchal. On the contrary, God used women in both Testaments to do mighty and wonderful things.

  • God used a virgin called Mary (Luke 1:35) to bring Messiah into the world.
  • One of Jesus’ most faithful followers was Mary Magdalene (Matthew 27:56), who was the first disciple to discover that Jesus rose from the grave.
  • Jesus often rested at the home of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus of Bethany (John 11:1). Mary was often found sitting at the feet of Jesus as He taught Scripture(Luke 10:42).
  • The Apostle Paul commends Phebe, a servant of the Church which is at Cenchrea (Romans 16:1). In the same chapter Paul tells us that his favorite helpers were Priscilla and Aquila (Romans 16:3), who had a Church meeting in their home.

I could go on and on. God never undermines women, as the Scripture always treats women as precious, and just as much in the image of God as a man is. However, in God’s design, He has established men in leadership positions in the home, the community, and in the Church.

I am certain as I read these words – which are quoted directly from Scripture – there are many who are offended by them. But I can only say, “It is written”. This is what the Bible says. I do not feel the need to make excuses nor debate what God’s Word has said. What He has written, He has written. If you choose otherwise then you believe this Book is just a human book, with no effect on eternity whatsoever. Many sects professing Christ believe this. I have an inherent problem with this. If this book is just a human book, with no effect on eternity, then how can you say that Jesus Christ is the only Way unto God? How can you say that salvation is by faith alone in Christ alone? If part of the Book is flawed, how do we determine the true from the untrue? Who’s to say?

It is all confusion.

For me and my house, we believe in the purity of God’s Word. We believe that it is wholly true, and valid for the believer in God for all ages. Though I and my wife love and accept Christians from all walks of faith regardless of their practice, we hold the Scripture to be true, and the foundation on which all life is to be built on. The Church is defined by the Scripture. I close with these words:

Ephesians 2:18-22 For through {Jesus} 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; 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.

May God bless the preaching of His Word, to the glory of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. Amen and Amen.

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What’s Your Power Source, Part 2

Photo by Ian Stauffer on Unsplash

This morning we were in Acts Chapter Four asking the question, “What’s Your Power Source?” We will shortly be in Acts Chapter Five as we continue this subject.

I believe the weakness of the Church in America today can be attributed to many programs and many human solutions, but we pay little attention to God the Holy Spirit. We fill ourselves with our own talents and abilities. I was reading an article the other day where the Author said something like this:

God was invented by man when we lived in simpler times. But now that we have become technologically advanced, now that we have medical science, now that we make our own miracles, we no longer need God. God is obsolete. We are our own God.”

I think this is foolishness – and delusion. As Solomon said, “What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9, ESV). Solomon was caught up in the accomplishments and abilities of his advanced age. Solomon in his wisdom did much good in Israel. And yet, without God, Solomon said “vanity of vanities; all is vanity. What profit hath a man of all his labor which he taketh under the sun?” (Ecclesiastes 1:2-3, KJV). If God is not in it, if you live a life with no greater purpose than to satisfy yourself, in time life itself seems meaningless! Solomon for all of his riches and all of his knowledge, ended Ecclesiastes with:

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

This is why Jesus gave the Church, and every Christian, the Holy Spirit. God wants you to be filled not with fear, nor with pride, but with His Holy Spirit. Please turn with me to John chapter 14. I feel led to talk about the Holy Spirit prior to going to Acts chapter 5. First, let’s examine …

Who Or What Is The Holy Spirit?

Some people think the Holy Spirit is a power, much like electricity or nuclear energy. But the Bible makes it very clear that the Holy Spirit is a PERSON. The Holy Spirit is the THIRD Person of the Trinity of God. In the commonly named Great Commission Jesus told us His Church:

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 Ghost:

When a believer is baptized in water, we are baptized in the name or by the authority of God.

Note that “In The NAME” is SINGULAR, not PLURAL.

Jesus noted that the authority by which we are baptized is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost {Pneuma, Spirit}. All three Persons of the Godhead are given equal authority and deference. As we study the Holy Spirit in the life of Christ, we see that Jesus did the miracles He did through the power of the Holy Spirit. Pastor Mark Jones for Desiring God Ministries notes:

Christ’s inseparable companion during his earthly ministry as a true man was the Holy Spirit. Therefore, at all of the major events in the life of Christ, the Holy Spirit took a prominent role. The Holy Spirit was the immediate, divine, efficient cause of the incarnation (Matthew 1:18, 20; Luke 1:35). This was a fitting “beginning” for Christ since Isaiah spoke of the Messiah as one endowed with the Spirit (Isaiah 42:1; 61:1). … ”

The Bible tells us that, though Jesus is God in Human Flesh, the miracles He did were through the power of God the Holy Spirit. We read:

Acts 10:38 …. God {the Father} anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy {Spirit} and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.

The Holy Spirit is God. God the Father anointed God the Son with God the Holy Spirit. Jesus Himself said:

Matthew 12:28 if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.

Jesus did not use His own divine power to heal or to cast out demons. Jesus used the power of the Holy Spirit. That is, the Holy Spirit, Who is God, indwelt the frame of Christ, and operated through the Messiah.

As Jesus allowed the Spirit to empower Him, He wants us to allow the Spirit to empower us!

When Jesus prepared to go to the Cross of Calvary, He began to introduce the Holy Spirit to His disciples. Jesus told them:

John 14:15-18 If ye love me, keep my commandments. 16 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. 18 I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.

Word Study: Jesus said that if we loved Him and kept His commandments (He is LORD), then He would, in turn, pray to the Father, and the Father would send “another Comforter. The Holy Spirit is called the “παράκλητος paraklētos, One Who Comes Alongside To Assist You. Our Lord Jesus often came alongside the suffering and the sinner to assist them, to lift them up, to encourage them, to teach them, and if needed, to rebuke them. The Holy Spirit is another Comforter like Jesus was a comforter while on this earth. Just as the Father sent Jesus to this earth to give His life for our sins, the Father sends the Holy Spirit to those who obey Jesus’ commandments. The Comforter, when He comes, will not leave.

Jesus said, that HE may abide with you for ever.

As Jesus is a Comforter, the Holy Spirit is a Comforter.
As Jesus is a Person sent by the Father,
the Holy Spirit is a Person sent by the Father.

The Spirit is not an IT but a HE. The Holy Spirit is not just called Comforter, but also the Spirit of truth. It is the Holy Spirit of God Who moved the Prophets to speak and write the Scripture. Peter tells us:

2 Peter 1:21 … the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy {SPIRIT}.

Word Study: The King James translators alternated the translation of pneuma {Spirit} with the word “Ghost”. David Crowder has a song out called “I Know A Ghost”. I like David Crowder, but he’s no theologian. The better translation of pneuma is SPIRIT. That’s what I will use throughout the rest of this sermon.

The Holy Spirit is the ultimate Writer of the Scripture.

Jeremiah 31:31-32 Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: 32 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the Lord:

But when this text is quoted in the New Testament, we read:

Hebrews 10:15 Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before, 16 This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them;

And in Isaiah 6:8-9 I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me. 9 And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not.

But when quoted by Paul in Acts 28:25-26 … Well spake the Holy Ghost by {Isaiah} the prophet unto our fathers, 26 Saying, Go unto this people, and say, Hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and not perceive:

When our Lord Jesus quoted Psalm 110:1, He said David himself said by the Holy Ghost, The Lord said to my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool” (Mark 12:36). When Peter quoted the Psalms that Prophesied the betrayal of Jesus by Judas (Psalm 41:9; Psalm 55:12-15), Peter said the Holy {Spirit} by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas” (Acts 1:16).

I could go on and on, for there are numerous references like those I just quoted. But we have seen enough to know it is the Holy Spirit that communicated the Scripture to us through the Prophets. Jesus told His disciples, ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be IN you. The Holy Spirit would come to take Jesus’ place. He would walk with the Apostles and all who believe on Jesus. The Spirit would INDWELL the believer, lifting us up, and empowering us just as Jesus did.

The Lord said, I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. When the Holy Spirit comes to us, He represents Christ Jesus so exactly that it is as if Jesus Himself is inside us. The Spirit represents Jesus, just as Jesus represented the Father.

John 14:26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy {Spirit}, 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.

The Holy Spirit comes to the believer to teach us the things that Jesus Christ said. Jesus said “He shall bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you”. Jesus reiterates this again in:

John 15:26-27 But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, He shall testify of me: 27 And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning.

The Holy Spirit will testify of Jesus, just as the Disciples were to testify of Jesus. The Spirit speaks to us, and we speak to the world. That is the arrangement. We share the Gospel, as the Spirit shares the Christ. While Jesus was on this earth ministering, the Holy Spirit came at times and left at times. But once Jesus left this earth, the Holy Spirit came to indwell God’s people. Jesus said:

John 16:5-8 But now I go my way to him that sent me; and none of you asketh me, Whither goest thou? 6 But because I have said these things unto you, sorrow hath filled your heart. 7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send Him unto you. 8 And when He is come, He will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:

Word Study: The Holy Spirit came to reprove(ἐλέγχω elénchō), that is, “to convict, convince, refute, or correct”. The Holy Spirit would work in conjunction with the disciples as they witnessed Christ. The Spirit would only speak truth. Jesus said:

John 16:13-14 Howbeit when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth: for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak: and He will shew you things to come. 14 He shall glorify me: for He shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.

The Holy Spirit came to guide the Church into all truth. The Spirit is repeatedly referred to by Jesus as a He. Not a SHE or an IT, but a He.

Do Not Lie To The Spirit Of Truth

The Holy Spirit is a PERSON, not a POWER. The Spirit can be grieved (Ephesians 4:30). The Spirit can be sinned against (Isaiah 63:10). The Spirit can be quenched or suppressed (1 Thessalonians 5:19). You can also lie to the Spirit of God, a very dangerous thing to do. Turn with me to:

Acts 5:1-4 But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession, 2 And kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles’ feet. 3 But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land? 4 Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God.

So what is happening in Acts chapter 5? Our Lord Jesus has ascended to Heaven, and is seated at the right hand of God the Father making intercession for His Church (Romans 8:34). The Holy Spirit was sent to the Church on the Day of Pentecost to indwell the believer in Christ. The Scripture says:

Romans 8:9 … if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.

As the early Church is gathering, believers are together, and had all things common; (Acts 2:44) And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. No one is making the believers do these things. The Church is loving, and love demands doing good. As people sell things, and bring the sale of the items into the Church, two followers known as Ananias and Sapphira conspire against the Kingdom of God. They could have kept the money for the sale. Or they could have specified they were only donating a part of the land sold. They didn’t do this. Ananias and Sapphira decided to pretend they were giving all the money from the sale when they only gave a part.

And the Holy Spirit knew it. The Spirit alerts Peter to what is going on. Peter says,

Acts 5:3 … Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy {Spirit}, and to keep back part of the price of the land?

You cannot lie to an IT. You cannot lie to a door, a wall, a rock, or electrical energy. Peter said:

Acts 5:4 Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God.

Ananias had free will, and could choose to have honestly withheld the money, withheld part of the money, or could give all of the money. No lie is needed!

But Ananias lied to the Spirit of Truth. Peter put it clearly. He said, thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God. The Holy Spirit is God, and Ananias lied to God. Beloved, you ought not ever lie to God. God sees the heart. We look on the OUTWARD, but “the LORD sees not as man sees. The LORD looks on the HEART” (1 Samuel 16:7). We read:

Acts 5:5-6 And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things. 6 And the young men arose, wound him up, and carried him out, and buried him.

Nothing breaks up a camp meeting like people dropping dead! Beloved, sin can kill you. In fact, sin will kill you. “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). Ananias should have known better! When we partake of the Lord’s Table, I always warn you against “eating the bread or drinking the cup unworthily” (1 Corinthians 11:27). To do so can bring sickness and early death. The Corinthians did this, and the Apostle said “for this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep {die}” (1 Corinthians 11:30). It is a dangerous thing to blaspheme God. It can be a fatal thing to blaspheme God the Holy Spirit! We continue:

Acts 5:7-9 And it was about the space of three hours after, when his wife, not knowing what was done, came in. 8 And Peter answered unto her, Tell me whether ye sold the land for so much? And she said, Yea, for so much. 9 Then Peter said unto her, How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? behold, the feet of them which have buried thy husband are at the door, and shall carry thee out.

When Sapphira comes in, she doesn’t know that her husband is dead. Peter asks her what the land sold for. When Sapphira parrots her husband, Peter tells her How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? Sapphira along with her husband lied to the Holy Spirit of God, the Third Person of the Trinity. She died and was laid to rest alongside of her husband (verse 10). What effect did this have on the growing Church?

Acts 5:11-12 And great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things. 12 And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people; (and they were all with one accord in Solomon’s porch.

The Church experienced the “fear of the Lord”. That is, they all had respect and reverence for the things of God. When the Holy Spirit is active in the lives of the members of the Church, God is respected and His Word upheld. The blessing of the Church is in every believer being yielded to the Word of God and the Spirit of God. We end with this:

Acts 5:14-16 And believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women.) 15 Insomuch that they brought forth the sick into the streets, and laid them on beds and couches, that at the least the shadow of Peter passing by might overshadow some of them. 16 There came also a multitude out of the cities round about unto Jerusalem, bringing sick folks, and them which were vexed with unclean spirits: and they were healed every one.

Let us draw closer to God the Holy Spirit and the Word of truth this New Year. Let us do this for the glory of God our Savior. Amen and Amen.

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What’s Your Power Source

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Acts 4:1-8 And as they spake unto the people, the priests, and the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees, came upon them, 2 Being grieved that they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead. 3 And they laid hands on them, and put them in hold unto the next day: for it was now eventide. 4 Howbeit many of them which heard the word believed; and the number of the men was about five thousand. 5 And it came to pass on the morrow, that their rulers, and elders, and scribes, 6 And Annas the high priest, and Caiaphas, and John, and Alexander, and as many as were of the kindred of the high priest, were gathered together at Jerusalem. 7 And when they had set them in the midst, they asked, By what power, or by what name, have ye done this? 8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost,

A couple of weeks ago we saw the Apostles Peter and John at the Eastern Gate of the Temple, that lovely bronze gate called “Beautiful”. This is the first gate opened when the sun rises, and a main entrance into the Temple. We saw a homeless man begging for money, a man who had been lame from his mother’s womb. Year after year this man suffered, and when he called out to Peter and John, he hoped for just a few cents to help him eat that day.

The unnamed man got more than he bargained for. Peter told the man:

Acts 3:6-8 ….. Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk. 7 And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. 8 And {he who was lame} leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God.

This was the 9th hour of the day, a time of Jewish prayer about 3 pm.

As people had their prayers interrupted, they left where they were in the Temple to see watch this healed man.

Peter used this time to preach the Gospel of Christ. What happens? As we come to chapter four, we see, as the ball player Yogi Berra used to say: It’s deja vu all over again!

The Lost World Despises The True Jesus

So now we come to chapter four. Peter is preaching the Gospel in Solomon’s Porch (Acts 3:11). This is the exact same porch where Jesus told the Pharisees and Priests that He was the Christ (John 10:23), and the “Jews took up stones again to stone {Jesus}” (John 10:31). They could not kill Jesus, as it was not yet His time to be crucified. “Jesus escaped out of their hand” (John 10:39). But they tried to kill Him.

It is on this same porch – Solomon’s Porch – that Peter and John are confronted by (guess who?) the same curmudgeons that Jesus had to meet. The lost world despises the true Jesus, but desperately needs to Gospel!

Acts 4:1-2 And as they {Peter and John} spake unto the people, the priests, and the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees, came upon them, 2 Being grieved that they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead.

As Peter is preaching, he says God raised up His Son Jesus” (Acts 3:26). The priests, and the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees are upset with this politically incorrect message.

  • The priests are those who were instrumental in having Jesus Christ killed. It was the High Priests Joseph Caiaphas (Matthew 26:57) and his father in law Annas that had Jesus sent to the Governor Pilate to be crucified.
  • The captain of the temple guard is a special Levitical Office that assisted the High Priest. The captain would control the Temple Police (1 Chronicles 9:11; Nehemiah 11:11). His title was “Ruler of the House of God”.
  • Finally the Sadducees were the rich political leaders of Israel. The Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection. “The Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, neither angel, nor spirit: but the Pharisees confess both.” (Acts 23:8; Mark 12:18). And PETER IS PREACHING A RESURRECTED JESUS! Holy cow!

This unholy trinity of power is enraged that Peter and John are preaching in their Temple. How dare they?

These are the people who got rid of Jesus. They saw the soldier spear Christ’s side, and “blood and water ran out” (John 19:34). They saw Jesus’ dead body removed from the Cross by Joseph of Arimathaea and Nicodemus (John 19:38-39). These same men ordered that a guard be placed at the Tomb of Jesus, lest He be taken away by His disciples (Matthew 27:63-64). Jesus was dead, and He needs to stay buried. So …

Acts 4:3 …they {the priests, and the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees} laid hands on them {Peter and John}, and put them in hold unto the next day: for it was now eventide.

They lock up these “troublemakers”, and wait to judge them the next day. Dinner is ready, and they didn’t want to miss their meal! But the damage has been done. As Peter and John preached on Solomon’s Porch, we read:

Acts 4:4 Howbeit many of them which heard the word believed; and the number of the men was about five thousand.

Around five thousand believed on Jesus for salvation, and were saved. On the Day of Pentecost Peter preached, and there were 3000 saved. What is going on? The next day we read that Peter and John are removed from prison.

Acts 4:5-7 And it came to pass on the morrow, that their rulers, and elders, and scribes, 6 And Annas the high priest, and Caiaphas, and John, and Alexander, and as many as were of the kindred of the high priest, were gathered together at Jerusalem. 7 And when they had set them in the midst, they asked, By what power, or by what name, have ye done this?

Peter and John are “set … in the midst” of “rulers, and elders, and scribes, And Annas the high priest, and Caiaphas, and John, and Alexander, and as many as were of the kindred of the high priest”. The High Priest “Annas” is the father-in-law of “Caiaphas”. Though Caiaphas is the acting High Priest, Annas is the power behind that office (John 18:13, 24). Peter and John are asked: By what power, or by what name, have ye done this?

What Is The POWER That Drives You?

Word Study: Let’s look at what the Sanhedrin {the ruling council} asked Peter and John. The Dakes Analytical Bible notes, “By what NAME means by what AUTHORITY. The council was convinced that they {Peter and John} had wrought a miracle, but by what means they were not certain. As all traffic with demons and familiar spirits was unlawful they hoped by examination to prove them guilty of death according to Leviticus 20:27”.

They wanted Peter or John to confess to healing the man at the Gate Beautiful through occultism.

How will Peter answer? Peter often put his foot in his mouth when he walked with our Jesus. On the night that our Lord Jesus was crucified, right after the disciples celebrated the first Lord’s Table with Jesus, our Lord said:

Mark 14:27-28 All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered. 28 But after that I am risen, I will go before you into Galilee.

Jesus knew that He would meet the judgment of the Sanhedrin, and the Cross of Calvary alone. But Peter spoke up. Peter was ALWAYS speaking up!

Mark 14:29 But Peter said unto him, Although all shall be offended, yet will not I.

Peter is a faithful follower of Jesus, but he is
full of HIMSELF.

Peter is filled with pride in his own power. Peter is a strong fisherman. He had fought the waves of the sea, and often pulled in nets filled with fish. Peter had two guns – his left arm and his right arm. With his guns he had, I’m sure, beaten others before he met Jesus. “Everyone else will run away. But Jesus, You misjudge me! I’ll be there no matter what!”

Word Study: The Bible warns against PRIDE. I wondered if the word PRIDE had an acronym (an abbreviation formed from the initial letters of other words and pronounced as a word) on the internet. It does. In fact, there are some 30 acronyms for PRIDE in the free dictionary. The one I think is most accurate is Personal Responsibility in Delivering Excellence. The motto of the P.R.I.D.E. filled person is “I can do ALL things”. Peter was like that. He was filled with self assurance. He knew he could do all things. Peter believed in HIMSELF.Peter is the picture of the self assured man. The Bible warns us:

Proverbs 11:2 When pride cometh, then cometh shame: but with the lowly is wisdom.

Pride brings contention (Proverbs 13:10), problems, destruction.

Proverbs 16:18 Pride goeth before destruction, and a {arrogant [גֹּבַהּ gôbahh]} spirit before a fall

Jesus told Peter in Mark 14:30, “Verily I say unto thee, That this day, even in this night, before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice.

Did Peter listen to Jesus? Did Peter draw closer to God, or to himself? We read:

Mark 14:31 {Peter} spake the more vehemently, If I should die with thee, I will not deny thee in any wise. Likewise also said they all.

Peter bowed up with pride, and the others followed suit. They were NOT going to betray Jesus. Yet they did. As Peter stood outside the Temple, watching Jesus being tried for blasphemy, Peter was questioned first by a young woman who said, “I saw you with Jesus” (Mark 14:67). Peter denied the Lord. Then a little girl (Mark 14:69) confronted Peter, who said “I don’t know Jesus”. When another said, “Yes, we all saw you with Jesus”, it was at this point “Peter began to curse and to swear, saying, I know not this Man of whom ye speak” (Mark 14:71). And the second time the cock crowed. At this point Peter remembered the words Jesus spoke, and wept bitterly (Mark 14:72; Matthew 26:75).

We Choose What Or Who Will Fill Us

You choose the power that will enable you to live your life. Before Jesus died on Calvary, Peter filled himself with Peter. But now Peter allows himself to be filled with Someone else. We read:

Acts 4:8-10 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto them, Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel, 9 If we this day be examined of the good deed done to the impotent man, by what means he is made whole; 10 Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole.

Word Study: Peter was filled with the Holy Ghost. He was not filled with PRIDE, not filled with HIMSELF, not filled with FEAR. He was filled with the Holy Ghost. Who is this Holy Ghost? This is the Greek hagios pneuma, which the King James sometimes translates “Holy Ghost” and other times “Holy Spirit”. The latter is the best translation. The Holy Spirit of God was promised by Jesus to every believer. When a person believes on Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, God the Holy Spirit comes to that believer and causes the believer to be “born again”. Jesus told Nicodemus,

John 3:5 … Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God

Jesus said, that which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:6). The Holy Spirit must effect a change in you in order that you be saved. When the Gospel is preached and believed on, you are born again because the Holy Spirit causes it to be so. The Christian is:

1 Peter 1:23 … born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.

It was the Spirit that caused the Messiah (Christ) to become flesh (Jesus). The Angel told 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 birth of Christ into humanity was a miracle. The new birth of every Christian is a miracle! When we called on the name of Jesus, we were saved.

Romans 10:9, 11 … if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. … 11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.

When we profess Jesus to be Lord, our LORD, and believe that God hath raised him from the dead, we are saved. The Holy Spirit does a work in our hearts. Oh, I wish I had time to tell you all that Spirit does.

The Spirit REGENERATES you,
making you spiritually alive (John 3:3-8).
The Spirit SANCTIFIES you,
making you a saint of God (1 Peter 1:2).
The Spirit ADOPTS you,
making you a son of God (Romans 8:9-16).
The Spirit SEALS you,
fixing your destination heavenward (2 Cor 1:21-22).
The Spirit BAPTIZES you,
uniting you with the Body of Christ (1 Cor 12:13).
The Spirit INDWELLS you,
making you God’s possession (2 Tim 1:13-14).

Oh what a glorious salvation we have! But there is one other thing the Spirit does. The Holy Spirit is the third Person of the Trinity. We are baptized in the NAME of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19). The Holy Spirit can FILL us. This is what is going on with Peter right now.

Acts 4:8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy {Spirit}…

Peter is not filled with FEAR, not filled with HIMSELF, but he is FILLED with God. His focus is GOD. His desire is GOD. He is surrendered to God. This is the Christian superpower! Not in us, but through God’s Spirit. When Zerubbabel led a group of Israelis back to Israel to rebuild Jerusalem, God told him:

Zechariah 4:6 (ESV) …Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts.

Peter and John are standing before this crowd who wanted them dead, and are standing in the power of Almighty God the Holy Spirit. Though there are Sadducees in that bunch, Peter unafraid says:

Acts 4:9-10 If we this day be examined of the good deed done to the impotent man, by what means he is made whole; 10 Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole.

Peter said, “The power that healed this man was not the occult. It was the “name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole. It is because of Jesus we are saved. It is because of His Blood shed on Calvary that we are empowered and inhabited by God the Holy Spirit. It is Jesus – the Jesus Who died and ROSE AGAIN – Who caused this man to be made whole.

Acts 4:11-12 This {same Jesus} is the Stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. 12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

Peter is actually quoting both Psalms and Isaiah, two prophecies concerning the coming of the Christ {Messiah}. These prophesies are:

Psalm 118:22-23 The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.

Isaiah 28:16 … thus says the Lord God, “Behold, I am the one who has laid as a foundation in Zion, a stone, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone, of a sure foundation: ‘Whoever believes will not be in haste.’

The Pharisees, Sadducees, and Priests are the “builders” of Judaism. Yet they rejected Jesus Christ, God’s Cornerstone and God’s Foundation. Each trusted in their own abilities.

  • The Pharisees and Priests trusted in their ability to keep the Law of God, believing this would save them. The Law is good, and right. But the problem is that we are all fallen humans – even the Pharisees. The Apostle said:

Romans 8:3-4 … what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: 4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

Without the Spirit of God, we could not be born again. Without the Spirit of God, we could not honor God’s Law. We are all fallen, and all need the Savior. The Bible says:

Hebrews 10:4, 11-12 … it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins. … 11 And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: 12 But {Jesus}, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;

  • The Sadducees trusted in their popularity and political power to be right with God. Yet they were just as polluted as every other human on the face of this earth is polluted. We must have the power of God change us, or else we have no foundation with God. We must receive Jesus Christ as He is. As Peter boldly said to these “builders”:

Acts 4:12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

The NAME or AUTHORITY that brought about the crippled man’s healing was JESUS. The NAME or AUTHORITY that brings about our own salvation from sin and selfish sickness is JESUS. We all desperately need God. When we call on Jesus, God the Holy Spirit comes to us, and fulfills the promise of God:

Hebrews 10:16-24 This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; 17 And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. 18 Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin. 19 Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, 20 By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; 21 And having an high priest over the house of God; 22 Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) 24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: 25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

Oh, what a blessing it is to be the miracle that is a Christian. Will you join me, or continue to live your life in your own power? Though 5000 came to Jesus through a Spirit Filled Peter’s preaching, what did these “holy men” of Israel do? They had a little pow wow. We read:

Acts 4:13-18 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marveled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus. 14 And beholding the man which was healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it. 15 But when they had commanded them to go aside out of the council, they conferred among themselves, 16 Saying, What shall we do to these men? for that indeed a notable miracle hath been done by them is manifest to all them that dwell in Jerusalem; and we cannot deny it. 17 But that it spread no further among the people, let us straightly threaten them, that they speak henceforth to no man in this name. 18 And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus.

This is the devil’s way. This is where “cancel culture” comes from, Satan himself. “Don’t say the name of Jesus anymore, you ignorant people!” But Peter replied:

Acts 4:19-21 But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. 20 For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard. 21 So when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding nothing how they might punish them, because of the people: for all men glorified God for that which was done.

What will you do with this information? Will you receive Jesus as Lord and Savior, and allow God to create a miracle in you? Or will you follow the dead crowd to a miserable life, and a damned afterlife? The choice is yours. You choose Who will fill you. You choose by which Power you will live your life. May God the Holy Spirit through this Word draw you close to His side this very day. Amen and Amen.

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How Dare You?

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1 Corinthians 6:1-8 Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints? 2 Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? 3 Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life? 4 If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church. 5 I speak to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? no, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren? 6 But brother goeth to law with brother, and that before the unbelievers. 7 Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another. Why do ye not rather take wrong? why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded? 8 Nay, ye do wrong, and defraud, and that your brethren.

The Believer’s PORTION Is God

Corinth was – like America today – a litigious society. People sue one another today at the drop of a hat. There is nothing new under the sun!

But as Paul addresses the Church, he wants us to understand that our mission is to lead others to know Jesus Christ as Savior. The Church is to be the Light of Christ in a dark world. As Jesus said:

Matthew 5:14-16 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. 15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

We are supposed to allow the light of Christ’s love shine from us, out into the darkness of Pagan America. The Church has a responsibility in the place where Christ has planted us. For we are laborers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building” (1 Corinthians 3:9). We are placed where we are placed for a Divine Reason. We are to your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. The goal of the Church is to win souls from the kingdom of Darkness, and to bring souls to Jesus so that He can:

Colossians 1:13 … deliver {them} from the power of darkness, and translate {them} into the Kingdom of God’s dear Son, Jesus Christ our Lord (my paraphrase)

Earthly things should not cause God’s people to sue one another in law courts. The Bible tells us as Christians that we are loved of Jesus, and washed from our sins by His own Blood (Revelation 1:5). Jesus did this so that He could

Revelation 1:6 {make} us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

We are Christ’s Royal Family. Our destination is glory. Our eternity is life. We belong to God. We are not, as believers, to fight over temporal things, but to remember our Great Commission. We are a soul saving lighthouse! Among Israel, eleven tribes were given land. But the Tribe of Levi was given no land. Why? Because God is our portion. Not the things of this world, but GOD. King David understood this. He wrote numerous times:

Psalm 73:6 My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.

Psalm 142:5 I cried unto thee, O LORD: I said, Thou art my refuge and my portion in the land of the living.

And Jeremiah, that soulful Prophet, wrote:

Lamentations 3:24 The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him.

Preach: The believer who begins to put possessions over his or her PRIESTHOOD has forgotten their purpose in life. Our purpose is not to hold on to as much STUFF as possible. Our purpose is to hold onto as much GOD as possible.

Dare Any Of You?

1 Corinthians 6:1 Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints?

Word Study: The Apostle is not talking about taking an unbeliever to court, but taking a fellow believer to court. Ironside wrote in his commentary (page 178):

“… [believers quarreling with one another in the world’s law courts] is saying to the world, ‘We Christians are just as covetous and just as quarrelsome, we are just as much concerned about having our own way and about self-pleasing as you of the world are. We recognize your judges as having authority over the Church of God,’ and it is degrading to the Christian thus to act.”

The word translated another is the Greek ἕτερος héteros, {pronounced het’-er-os}, which here means “your neighbor”. He is addressing disputes within the Church. This is brought home in verse 6:

1 Corinthians 6:6 But brother goeth to law with brother, and that before the unbelievers.

And again brought out in verse 8:

1 Corinthians 6:8 Nay, ye do wrong, and defraud, and that your brethren.

These are fellow believers that are suing one another in a godless, pagan courtroom. Jesus commanded us as believers to love one another. He said:

John 13:34-35 … A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. 35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

The love we are to have toward one another is love as Jesus loved. That type of love is self sacrificing as opposed to self exalting. The love that Christ wants us to love does not demean another, but builds up the other. When believers love believers as Christ loved us, this type of love brings great JOY. Jesus said:

John 15:10-14 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. 11 These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. 12 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.

As Jesus emptied Himself and walked through this life in humble adoration toward God, we who are His are commanded to do the same. Christians will one day judge both the world, and the fallen angels:

1 Corinthians 6:2-3 Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? 3 Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life?

If during the Millennial Reign of Christ we who are saints shall judge the world, then we should be able to settle minor disputes in the family of God right now. The Dakes Annotated Bible notes:

judge” {is the Greek} krino, which means to judge or make a legal decision. It does not refer to passing judgment on angels or sending them to punishment. It does mean that Saints will be exalted higher than angels and will rule them, making decisions for the administration of the universe. Saints, not angels, become heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ to inherit all things.”

Romans 8:17-18 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. 18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

Revelation 21:7 He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.

If Saints are to judge angels, and assist Jesus in judging the world, we should be able to judge legal matters between fellow believers. We are “Saints” not because we are perfect, but because we have believed on Jesus and are now saved. As “Saints” we are set apart from the world to serve the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Ephesians 1:4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:

Ephesians 4:1-3 I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, 2 With all lowliness and meekness, with long suffering, forbearing one another in love; 3 Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

Rather than air the dirty linen of the Church in public, the Apostle says:

1 Corinthians 6:7 Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another. Why do ye not rather take wrong? why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded?

Christians Are To Dispense Blessing, Not Cursing

Word Study: The Apostle now asks two questions of every Christian: Why do ye not rather take wrong? and why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded?. The phrase take wrong is the Greek ἀδικέω adikéō, {pronounced ad-ee-keh’-o}, which means “to absorb the hurt”. The word translated defrauded is the Greek ἀποστερέω aposteréō, {pronounced ap-os-ter-eh’-o}, which means to allow yourself to suffer damages”. Rather than always standing up for ourselves and demanding “my rights”, the needs of the Kingdom outweigh our own needs.

The needs of the Kingdom outweigh
our own personal needs.

This is not a new teaching in the Scripture, but a foundational truth that we often ignore. We are told in:

Romans 12:14-21 Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. 15 Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. 16 Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits. 17 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.

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.

And the Chief Apostle wrote:

1 Peter 3:8-12 Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous: 9 Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing. 10 For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: 11 Let him {turn from} evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it. 12 For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.

The sense of Scripture is that the Christian is to be focused on loving those around us. Let God be the judge. Do good, even when evil is done to you. Solomon said:

Proverbs 20:22 (ESV) Do not say, “I will repay evil”; wait for the Lord, and he will deliver you.

And our Lord Jesus plainly taught:

Matthew 5:38-48 Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: 39 But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40 And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also. 41 And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. 42 Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away. 43 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy. 44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; 45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? 47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? 48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

This is an evil, litigious world … but as Christians we do not need to join the fray. Let us love others as Christ has loved us. Do good, and let God be the Judge.

Our Focus Is Always To Lead Others
From Darkness And Into Light

1 Corinthians 6:9-11 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators {sexually immoral}, nor idolaters, nor adulterers {violating the sanctity of marriage}, nor effeminate {malakós, young boys kept for homosexual relationships}, nor abusers of themselves with mankind {arsenokoitēs, one who lies with a malle as with a female, a Sodomite}, 10 Nor thieves, nor covetous {pleonektēs, those greedy of gain}, nor drunkards, nor revilers {loidoros, those who are abusive or bullying}, nor extortioners {harpax, robbers, ravenous wolves. See Matthew 7:15}, shall inherit the kingdom of God. 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.

Those who are going to Heaven are those who have been washed”, “sanctified”, and “justified. Those who are engaged in evil lifestyle choices shall not inherit the Kingdom of Heaven.

Each of these lifestyle choices have one thing in common: they violate Biblical Love and Divine Design.

God says that those who are engaged in these things MUST undergo the Triune Blessing of salvation. Those around us need to be introduced to Jesus, so that Jesus can lead them to Living Water.

  • Those who receive Jesus as Lord and Savior are WASHED. Jesus Christ has WASHED us from our sins in HIS OWN BLOOD (Revelation 1:5). We have WASHED our robes and made them white in the BLOOD OF THE LAMB (Revelation 7:14).
  • Those who have received Jesus as Lord and Savior are SANCTIFIED, set apart as God’s own children. We are SANCTIFIED in Jesus Christ, called to be SAINTS (1 Corinthians 1:2). We have an inheritance among them which are SANCTIFIED by faith (Acts 26:18; Acts 20:32).
  • Those who have received Jesus as Lord and Savior are JUSTIFIED by God. We are JUSTIFIED freely by His Grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus (Romans 3:24). God no longer sees the believer in Christ as a sinner, but as a son of God. JUSTIFIED by Christ’s Blood, we are saved from wrath by Him (Romans 5:9). Being JUSTIFIED by His Grace, we are made heirs according to the hope of eternal life (Titus 3:7).

Our focus is not our rights, but the needs of the sinner, and the commands of our Savior. We are His people. We live to bring others the glorious Gospel of salvation so that they, too, might be saved. May God the Holy Spirit touch your hearts with His Word this day. Amen and Amen.

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Purge Out The Leaven

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1 Corinthians 5:7-8 Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: 8 Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

The fallen world often frightens me.

I was reading an article in Touchstone magazine (“A Journal of Mere Christianity”) that noted:

In February of last year, The Dallas Observer reported that the Satanic Temple of Texas had filed a First Amendment religious liberty lawsuit to defend its right to perform child sacrifices as religious ritual. The reason this otherwise shocking news may not have crossed your transom is that the Satanists only perform this ritual during abortion procedures. … once the doctor has killed the child, the mother affirms her deed by saying, ‘By my body, my blood. By my will, it is done.’” The author of the briefing, J. Douglas Johnson (Deputy Editor of Touchstone) went on to note, “… like the demons who knew exactly who Jesus was when they saw him and said so, the Satanists know a child sacrifice when they see one”.

Sadly, though the demons and their followers often know right from wrong, Christ’s Church sometimes blurs the lines of truth and fallacy. No where is this more evident than in the matter of human sexuality. When God created man and woman, He gave us not only His command to Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over {it}” (Genesis 1:28), but God gave us an appetite to love our opposite. God said:

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

Biblical marriage – one man married to one woman for one lifetime – was the standard that God established in the beginning of human history. When people depart from God’s design we have numerous problems, such as:

Unwanted children who are aborted
Sexually transmitted diseases
Confused children and families
Gender dysphoria
Abnormal {as God determines “normal”} sexual desires

Jesus Christ Is Our Passover

1 Corinthians 5:7-8 Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us…

The Apostle tells the Christian to Purge out therefore the old leaven. What does this mean? The night before Israel was saved from Egypt, they sacrificed a “Passover Lamb” (Exodus 12:11). Where ever God “passed over”, if He saw the blood of the Lamb on the doorposts of the home, God would keep on going. But where the Blood was NOT, death came. The Blood of the Lamb brought salvation to Israel.

Jesus Christ is our Passover Lamb. His Blood was shed to save us from our sins. The Christian is a person who has been led by God outside of a spiritual Egypt, outside of this world of darkness. Jesus Christ fixed us!

When Jesus came to this earth, He came to fix the broken. As “Christ”, our Lord is equal to both Father and Spirit. Christ is the Eternal “Word” of God. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and THE WORD WAS GOD. The Same was in the beginning with God. ALL THINGS WERE MADE BY HIM; and without Him was not anything made that was made” (John 1:1-3). As “Jesus”, our Lord was supernaturally born of a Virgin into the humanity He helped create. The Prophet said:

Isaiah 7:14 Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. {which means “God with us”, Matthew 1:23)

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.

The child is born. This is Jesus. The son is given. This is Christ. God the Son could never be born, for He is eternal, without beginning or end. But Jesus the Son of Man was born. Jesus is the …

John 1:29 …. Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world

Jesus did not come to us to ENHANCE sin,
but to DEMOLISH sin.

Jesus was born “a Savior, which is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11). He was not born to enable sin, but to disable sin and it’s power over us. When you receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior you come from a state where you were enslaved to sin, and enter a state where you want to serve God. The Apostle wrote:

Romans 6:17-19 But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. 18 Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness. 19 I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness.

Romans 6:14 … sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.

Though the Christian has the ability to sin, the Spirit of God indwells the believer in Christ. If anyone have not the Spirit of Christ, HE IS NONE OF HIS”. When we who are saved sin, the Spirit of God within us becomes “grieved” (Ephesians 4:30, Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption). The Spirit moves within us, guiding us into ALL TRUTH” (John 16:13). Not into error, but into truth. As we who are Christians live out our lives we “walk in the Spirit”. Not in SIN, but IN THE SPIRIT.

Galatians 5:16, 25 … Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. … 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

Christians Are To Purge Out The Old Leaven

When Israel celebrated the yearly Passover (commemorating their deliverance from Egypt), part of that Passover was to go about the home looking for Leaven (yeast – see Exodus 12:15; 13:6-7). All yeast or leaven was to be gathered up and cast outside of the home. Often the little children went about the home with a feather, checking every corner, nook, and cranny for leaven. Leaven is symbolic for sin in the Bible. The site Got Questions notes:

“… leaven represents sin or corruption. The law forbade grain offerings made with leaven (Leviticus 2:11). In fact, no yeast was allowed to be burned on the altar in any sacrifice. The grain offering for Aaron and his sons (the priests) was also not to contain leaven and was to be eaten in a holy place (Leviticus 6:17). … Leaven is also mentioned in the New Testament. In Matthew 16:6–12, Jesus compared the false teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees and Herodians to leaven. ”

God tells His Children to Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened (vs 7). When we recognize sin in our lives we are to address that sin IMMEDIATELY. We have to use the feather of Grace to sweep out that evil. We are not to tolerate evil in our lives, nor in our gatherings … lest the death angel come.

In short, a sinning Christ is Abnormal, not normal. A sinning Christian will be under the conviction of God the Holy Spirit. A sinning Christian who will not repent may meet the death angel.

Sin must not be in our bodies. Sin must not be in our homes. Sin must not be in our Church gatherings. Sin is any behavior or attitude that our God considers unholy and unlike Christ. When Paul told the Corinthians,

1 Corinthians 5:7 Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us:

It is Christ Who saved us by dying for us. But it is WE who are saved who are to keep our bodies, our families, and our gatherings unleavened. We as believers are a new lump. We do not belong to this world, but to the Kingdom of Christ. 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.

The Apostle said in 1 John 1:6, “If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth…”

As Christians we do not walk in darkness. We do not live out our lives in Egypt. We follow a risen Savior, and live so as to please Him. The Corinthians forgot this. Paul writes:

1 Corinthians 5:1-2 It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife. 2 And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you.

There was a young man who professed to be a believer in the congregation at Corinth. This young man was involved in fornication, the Greek πορνεία porneía, [pronounced por-ni’-ah]. Whenever a person violates the sanctity of the marriage sexually by unlawfully coming into that marriage sexually, this is called “adultery”, the Greek μοιχεύω moicheúō, [pronounced moy-khyoo’-o]. The Apostle did not use this word for what the young man did. Though what he did was adultery, his action was much more horrendous. This is why the Apostle uses porneía, a word often used to describe “adultery, fornication, homosexuality, lesbianism, intercourse with animals, or sexual intercourse with close relatives”. The young man in question was having sexual intercourse with his father’s wife, or his stepmother. In God’s Word we are told:

Leviticus 18:8 The nakedness of thy father’s wife shalt thou not uncover: it is thy father’s nakedness.

Leviticus 20:11 And the man that lieth with his father’s wife hath uncovered his father’s nakedness: both of them shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.

Those who were sexually engaged with his father’s wife were stoned with stones until they were dead in the Old Testament. To those who say that – once saved you can do whatever you want, the Scripture says “NOT SO”. Though Christians are not to physically stone a member of the Family of God until dead, the Apostle tells us to do something else. We are to mourn over the one who does such a thing. We mourn because a terrible crime against God was committed in our midst. We mourn because leaven has entered the congregation of light. And leaven, when introduced, will grow until it “leavens the whole lump”. The Apostle tells the Corinthians:

1 Corinthians 5:3-5 For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed, 4 In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, 5 To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.

We do not stone the offender, but we deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. We reject that type of behavior from amongst the flock. The word deliver is the Greek παραδίδωμι paradídōmi, [pronounced par-ad-id’-o-mee], which means “to surrender or yield up, to give into the hands of another (here, to Satan)”. What does this mean? It means that as believers we spiritually hand the offender over to Satan, so that he might destroy them.

We stop fellowshipping with that professor.
We stop regarding that professor to be a brother or sister in Christ.

This is not an action that is taken lightly. If a brother or sister in Christ does evil, we are to try and convince them to repent and return to the Master. We are told in another place:

Galatians 6:1-2 Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

We are to lovingly and carefully share the Scripture truth with the wandering believer. The Scripture says:

James 5:19-20 My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.

We are to do our best to reach the wayward believer. But if they will not hear, they are to be turned over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus (vs 5). The Apostle himself turned two other men over to Satan.

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.

Beloved, there is safety in the Church of Christ. There is safety in this Blood Bought assembly. For those who do evil, and refuse to repent, we are to let them go, to turn them over to Satan. Why Satan? Because we are told that Satan has the power of Death (Hebrews 2:14).

We Do Not Keep Company With Certain Fornicators

Jesus was often seen sitting among the sinners. The Pharisees charged Jesus with being “a friend of publicans and sinners” (Matthew 11:19). Jesus sat with sinners, all types of sinners, to lead them to salvation. But once a person is saved, their attitude toward sin changes. A good illustration is in the life of Zacchaeus. Zacchaeus was a tax collector, one of the richest tax collectors of his day. When he heard Jesus was coming past his home, Zacchaeus got up in a tree and waited. The Bible says:

Luke 19:5-7 … when Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and saw him, and said unto him, Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for to day I must abide at thy house. 6 And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully. 7 And when they saw it, they all murmured, saying, That he was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner.

Zacchaeus responded to the Gospel call of Jesus. He came down, and received {Jesus} joyfully. Receiving Jesus as Lord and Savior, Zacchaeus:

Luke 19:8-9 … stood, and said unto the Lord: 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. 9 And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham.

Zacchaeus’ behavior toward sin changed. All that he had stolen, he was going to return. He is no longer lost, but found. No longer blind, but now he sees.

It is fine to reach out to and share the Gospel with an unsaved sinner. Jesus did this all the time. But we are not to condone a SAVED person doing evil. We are to spot it, highlight it, and if the person will not repent, refuse to fellowship with them until they repent.

We see this in:

1 Corinthians 5:9-11 I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators: 10 Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world. 11 But now 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.

If someone who is called a brother, but continues in sexual sin, is covetous” (pleonéktēs, constantly wanting more stuff, rabidly eager for gain), or an idolater” (worships false gods), or a railer” (loídoros, reviles or mocks), or a drunkard, or an extortioner” (hárpax, one who illegally takes something not their own, or forces one to give something not their own). If someone professes to be a brother or sister in Christ, and yet continues in this lifestyle choice, then we are not to enable them further. We are to tell them to repent, and have no casual relationship with them. The Apostle said, with such an one no not to eat.

But and if they repent we are to receive them. But until they repent, the Apostle said Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.” This seems harsh, but it is not. Those who will do such things will lower the holiness of the whole Church if embraced in their sin.

Let us live for Jesus while we are here. We are to be God’s lighthouse. May Jesus Christ, through His Spirit and this His Word, reach many hearts through this text. Amen and amen.

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Be A Good Steward Where God Puts You

Photo by Tim Umphreys on Unsplash

Please turn with me in your Bibles to Ezekiel 34. We’re going to go on a journey today that will end up in Bethlehem. Get ready to travel!

We have a tendency to think that what we do does not matter. After all, who am I? But the Bible is very clear that everything we as Christians do is important. The Apostle writes:

Colossians 3:23-24 (ESV) Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.

And this as well, Galatians 6:7-8 Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. 8 For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.

What you do (or don’t do) matters

Ancient Israel got into a mess because the leadership of the nation turned away from following God. The leaders didn’t do their jobs, and the people did not try to correct the problem. God told Ezekiel:

Ezekiel 34:2-8 Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God unto the shepherds; Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! should not the shepherds feed the flocks? 3 Ye eat the fat, and ye clothe you with the wool, ye kill them that are fed: but ye feed not the flock. 4 The diseased have ye not strengthened, neither have ye healed that which was sick, neither have ye bound up that which was broken, neither have ye brought again that which was driven away, neither have ye sought that which was lost; but with force and with cruelty have ye ruled them. 5 And they were scattered, because there is no shepherd: and they became meat to all the beasts of the field, when they were scattered. 6 My sheep wandered through all the mountains, and upon every high hill: yea, my flock was scattered upon all the face of the earth, and none did search or seek after them. 7 Therefore, ye shepherds, hear the word of the Lord; 8 As I live, saith the Lord God, surely because my flock became a prey, and my flock became meat to every beast of the field, because there was no shepherd, neither did my shepherds search for my flock, but the shepherds fed themselves, and fed not my flock;

The shepherds or leaders in Israel fed themselves, and fed not my flock.

Parents were not tending to their children, but their own needs. Husbands were not tending to their wives, but their own needs. Priests were not sharing the Word of God with the people.Politicians and Princes were not focused on heeding God’s Word.
Israel had become lazy in her faith.
As the leadership goes, so goes the nation.


So Israel fell – no, they WALKED into Babylonian captivity. But not all of Israel divorced God. There were people like Daniel.

Daniel Faithfully Followed God
Not “Political Correctness” Nor The Crowd

Let’s move our caravan to the Book of Daniel. Daniel and Ezekiel were about the same age. Daniel, and his friends Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego loved the Lord.

Though they were taken into Babylonian captivity about 600 years before Christ came, they kept their eyes on the Lord and not on their situation.

The first test Daniel and his friends had to endure was whether they would compromise with their unbelieving captors or not. The Bible says:

Daniel 1:8-9 … Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the king’s food, or with the wine that he drank. Therefore he asked the chief of the eunuchs to allow him not to defile himself. 9 And God gave Daniel favor and compassion in the sight of the chief of the eunuchs…

As Daniel sought to serve God first, God gave Daniel favor and compassion from his pagan taskmaster. Daniel loved God! God loved Daniel! When King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon had a dream no one could interpret:

Daniel 2:19 … the secret {was} revealed unto Daniel in a night vision. Then Daniel blessed the God of heaven.

Daniel refused to take credit for knowing the interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. Daniel told the King:

Daniel 2:27-28 … The secret which the king hath demanded cannot the wise men, the astrologers, the magicians, the soothsayers, shew unto the king; 28 But there is a God in heaven that revealeth secrets, and maketh known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the latter days.

When Daniel gave Nebuchadnezzar the interpretation of the dream, the King made Daniel …

Daniel 2:48 … ruler over the whole province of Babylon, and chief of the governors over all the wise men of Babylon.

Word Study: The phrase the wise men is the Hebrewחַכִּים chakkîym, {pronounced khak-keem’}, which means “wise men, Magian or Magi”. Daniel was known as

Daniel 5:11 … a man … in whom is the spirit of the holy gods; and in the days of thy father light and understanding and wisdom, like the wisdom of the gods, was found in him; whom the king Nebuchadnezzar thy father, the king, I say, thy father, made master of the magicians, astrologers, Chaldeans, and soothsayers;

Daniel was considered the wisest of the wise men. He was the Chief Magi. When Babylon fell to Assyria, the King of Assyria loved Daniel!

Daniel 6:1-3 It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom an hundred and twenty princes, which should be over the whole kingdom; 2 And over these three presidents; of whom Daniel was first: that the princes might give accounts unto them, and the king should have no damage. 3 Then this Daniel was preferred above the presidents and princes, because an excellent spirit was in him; and the king thought to set him over the whole realm.

Daniel put God first, and God made Daniel first. Daniel was over all the wise men, the Magi, over all the rulers in Medo-Persia. In “Manners And Customs Of The Bible” we read (Page 399):

These wise men, or more properly named Magi, belonged to a large and influential order of men. Though the origin of Magism is somewhat obscure, it’s thought to have it’s beginning among either the Chaldeans {Babylonians} or the Assyrians; more probably among the former.”

Daniel also prophesied of the coming of the Messiah (Daniel 9:24-27). The Magi knew that the Messiah was prophesied to be (Numbers 24:17) “… a Star out of Jacob, and a Scepter … out of Israel”.

Daniel Planted A Seed Among The Magi,
Which Bloomed In Matthew Chapter Two

Matthew 2:1-2 Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, 2 Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen His star in the east, and are come to worship Him.

Word Study: What would cause a group of wise men(μάγος mágos, [pronounced mag’-os] or MAGI) to travel around 1000 miles to Jerusalem? Though exiled to Babylon, Daniel remained faithful to God. His faith planted a seed that would – 600 years later – lead these Magi to Jerusalem.

The Bible doesn’t tell us how many Magi there were in this group that came looking for Jesus. We do know, however,

  • First, they are Gentiles, not Jews. We learn this because they are Magi from the East (verse 1).
  • Second, we know that these Magi did not come when Jesus was in a manger. Look at verse:

Matthew 2:11 … And when they {the Magi} were come INTO THE HOUSE …

Word Study: Last week we saw the Shepherds come to visit Jesus, they found Him lying in a manger; because there was no room for them in the INN {κατάλυμα katalyma, “guest chamber”}. Though Jesus is still in Bethlehem, He is not in a manger but in a HOUSE or HOME (οἰκία oikía, [pronounced oy-kee’-ah]). Jesus was older than He was when He was in the manger. These Magi are seeking out Jesus to worship Him. Our Jesus is worthy of worship. I say again, Jesus is worthy of worship! God told Israel, “Thou shalt have no other gods before Me … Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God an a jealous God … “ (Exodus 20:3, 5). And yet the Bible says:

Hebrews 1:6 (ESV) … when He {God} brings the firstborn {Jesus} into the world, He says, “Let all God’s angels worship him.”

Jesus Christ is worthy of worship! Our Jesus is “the Lamb of God, Who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). It is only through Jesus Christ that we find “peace with God”.

Romans 5:1 (ESV) Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

The Magi followed a star, His Star to Jerusalem, so they could worship Jesus. Our Jesus is “the Root and Descendant of David, the Bright and Morning Star” (Revelation 22:16). Our Jesus is worthy of worship! Jesus is worth more than mere sustenance. “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4, ESV). Jesus is the Living Word of God. In John 6:35 Jesus said:

I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.”

Jesus satisfies our hunger and thirst for righteousness. Only through Him are we filled (Matthew 5:6). Jesus is “the Light of the World”. The world stumbles about in the darkness of sin, but the believer follows the Savior and Lord of all.

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)

Jesus is worthy of worship because – though Eternal God the Son – He came to this earth and humbled Himself to be our Good Shepherd:

In John 10:11 Jesus declared, I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. Because Jesus has laid His life down for us, we have the promise of eternal life. Jesus said:

John 11:25-26 … I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. …

You may believe in many things, but if you do NOT believe in Jesus, you will not be saved from darkness and damnation. Jesus declared I am the WAY, the TRUTH, and the LIFE: no one comes to the Father BUT BY ME.” (John 14:6).

The Magi Were “Joyous” Unbelievers Were “Troubled”

Matthew 2:3 When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.

Word Study: These Magi had been searching many miles and many months for Jesus. They were seeking Him out to worship Him. But Herod and Jerusalem were troubled. This is the Greek ταράσσω tarássō, {pronounced tar-as’-so}, which means “to strike one’s spirit with fear and dread, to be anxious, distressed, agitated like boiling water”. The Bible tells us that

1 John 3:8 … for this purpose the Son of God was manifested {became flesh}, that He might destroy the works of the devil.

The Lamb of God became incarnate {flesh} to defeat the devil, death, and disease. When Jesus came into the world, it was as if God had said once again “Let there be Light” and there was Light (Genesis 1:3). Yet those vested in darkness were not pleased with the Light of God coming into the world.

Jesus said in John 3:19 … this is the condemnation, that LIGHT is come into the world, and {people} LOVED DARKNESS rather than LIGHT, because THEIR DEEDS WERE EVIL ..

Herod did not want the Light that is Christ. Jerusalem did not want the Light that is Christ. Jesus came unto His own people (John 1:11), and HIS OWN RECEIVED HIM NOT. Herod begins to plot.

Matthew 2:4-6 And when {Herod} had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, {Herod} demanded of them where Christ should be born. 5 And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet, 6 And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.

The Priests and Scribes, well acquainted with the Scriptures, knew that Micah 5:2 noted that the “Ancient of Days” or the Incarnate Messiah would come from Bethlehem. Herod now knows where Jesus is. He tells the Magi:

Matthew 2:8-9 And {Herod} sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also. 9 When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.

The Magi had the guidance of an unbelieving King Herod, and supernatural star that led them to the exact home Jesus was in. The Bible.org Devotional notes: Most amazing were the people of Jerusalem, and in particular, the religious scholars of Judaism, who knew where to turn in Scripture to learn about Messiah’s birth. —– Isaiah 9:6, Micah 5:2, Zechariah 9:9, Psalm 22:16-18. While the magi traveled many miles to worship Messiah, over a good deal of time, the people of Jerusalem could not find it in themselves to walk the five or six miles from Jerusalem to Bethlehem.

Matthew 2:10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.

The wordsexceeding great joy” {chairō sphodra megas chara} tell us that the Magi did not quietly go to Jesus. There was shouting, and praising of God. For 483 years the Magi had looked forward to meeting the Messiah. Now they were at the end of their journey.

Matthew 2:11 And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshiped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense and myrrh.

When the Magi came into the house they did not see Joseph, nor any animals nor shepherds. If they were there, the Scripture would have said so. No, they saw the young child with Mary his mother. Their response was to fall down, and worship Him. The Magi gave the young Jesus three gifts suited to our Lord and Savior.

  • They gave Jesus gold, a gift suitable for a King. Jesus Christ is the “blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords” (1 Timothy 6:15).
  • The Magi gave Jesus frankincense, a highly aromatic spice used on by the Priests in the worship of God. The formula for these holy spices is found in Exodus 30:34-38. God told the Priests “you shall not make {this spice} for yourselves. It shall be for you holy to the Lord. Whoever makes any like it to use as perfume shall be cut off from his people.” Jesus Christ is the High Priest of His people (Hebrews 3:1; 4:14-15; 5:5; 6:20; 9:11). We have direct access to God through Jesus Christ, and Jesus “maketh intercession for us” (Romans 8:34).
  • These Wise Men gave Jesus myrrh. Like frankincense, myrrh was a very costly item. It was used in the burial of the dead. The Israelis washed the corpse, then wound strips of cloth intermixed with myrrh and aloe. When Jesus Christ died on the Cross for our sins, Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathaea brought a mixture of myrrh and aloe, about a hundred pound weight. 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” (John 19:39-40). Jesus Christ, our King and High Priest, would also be the Good Shepherd Who lays His life down for us (John 10:11).

Having completed their mission, the Magi (Matthew 2:12) “being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.

Why Was Jesus Still In Bethlehem After Two Years?

In Luke 2 we see Jesus born, and laid in a manger. Some time later Jesus is still in Bethlehem, and as of yet Joseph has not taken his family back to Nazareth. So WHY is Jesus still in Bethlehem? It is because Jesus Christ, as the Messiah, must fulfill every Old Testament prophecy made about Him. When evil King Herod heard that the Magi went home without telling him where Jesus was, we read:

Matthew 2:16 Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men.

Herod decreed that his soldiers kill every child two years old and under. This tells us that Herod believed the Magi had been traveling up to two years to find the Christ. Rather than try and determine which child was the Christ, Herod had every child in that age range killed.

What a horrible thing! The Scripture goes on to tell us:

Matthew 2:17-18 Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying, 18 In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.

Matthew quotes the prophecy of Jeremiah 31:15, which foretold that Rachel would be heard weeping for her children. Bethlehem is not only the City of David, but it is the place where Rachel, one of the wives of Jacob, was buried (Genesis 35:19). It was prophesied that “Rachel” would weep and not be comforted because her “children are not”, that is, ceased to live. Herod would kill all the children 2 years old and younger. How horrible!

I often hear people judge God, saying, “If He were genuinely a loving and giving God, why would He allow such atrocities to bed done?” The answer is quite simple. We are “made in God’s image and likeness” (Genesis 1:27). We have the power to choose the right or the wrong. When we reject God’s love, and turn instead to satisfying our selfish desires, sin can lead us to the lowest of all places. This is where Herod was.

We have a choice. We all have a choice. We can run to the Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ, and be blessed beyond measure. Or we can wallow in selfishness and darkness, consumed by sin. The choice is ours. Will you, like the Magi, come to Jesus to worship Him. Or will you, like Herod, seek your joy in self worship? Beloved, only Jesus is worthy of worship. Let us be wise as the Magi were wise. Let us come to Jesus. Here is the place of blessing.

May God the Holy Spirit draw you into a close relationship with Jesus. Amen and Amen.

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Be Stewards Of God’s Grace

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1 Corinthians 4:1-4 Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. 2 Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful. 3 But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man’s judgment: yea, I judge not mine own self. 4 For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord.

Judge Not

One of the most abused Bible verses in the Scripture is Judge not, that ye be not judged” (Matthew 7:1). People love to trot this verse out anytime they make a lifestyle choice that the Scripture forbids.

The Scripture condemns practicing homosexuality.
The Scripture forbids sex outside of Biblical marriage.
The Scripture forbids drunkenness, thievery, greediness.

The Apostle said in:

1 Corinthians 6:9-11 (ESV) … do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

And again in 1 Timothy 1:8-10 (ESV) Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, 9 understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, 10 the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine,

Sound doctrine” (hygiainō didaskalia, wholesome or healthy teachings) will never advocate behavior that is forbidden by the Scripture. When Jesus said “Judge not, that ye be not judged”, Jesus was not forbidding that we should never make judgments. Right after saying “Judge not, that ye be not judged” (Matthew 7:1), Jesus went on to say in …

Matthew 7:6 Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.

And again in Matthew 7:15-16 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. 16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?

As believers in Christ we are required to make judgments all the time. Our judgments are not based on our opinions, but on what the Holy Scripture says.

Scripture is our ruler.
Scripture is our weight scale.
Scripture is our measuring cup.
Scripture is our thermometer.
Scripture is our odometer.
Scripture is our thermostat.
Scripture drives the Christian!

It is not what PEOPLE say, but what GOD has said. When Jesus said “Judge not, that ye be not judged” He was warning us to EXAMINE OUR OWN LIVES FIRST before looking at another person’s life. When you read the context of Matthew 7 you will see that Jesus was NOT saying don’t make judgments. What He was saying was “Don’t make judgments without first examining your OWN life”. This is why He said:

Matthew 7:2-3 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. 3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?

Jesus is addressing the hypocrisy of the Pharisees and the Self Righteous, who were one in the same. Examine yourselves first – then try and help others!

Stewards Are Judged By Their Master

As workers together with God (2 Corinthians 6:1) and lively stones in the House of God (1 Peter 2:5) we ARE and WILL BE judged by our God.

The Corinthians have been comparing the ministry of Paul to the ministry of Apollos, and in their minds (and mouths) Paul’s ministry was terribly poor compared to Apollos. The first thing that Paul brings out is:

1 Corinthians 4:1 Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God.

Word Study:He starts with Let a man so account of us. Here he uses an interesting word, the Greek λογίζομαι logízomai, [pronounced log-id’-zom-ahee], which means “to take an inventory of”. Paul tells the Corinthians, “if you are calculating my ministry, start your calculations with this: we Apostles are ministers of Christ and stewards of God. Paul is telling the Church, “I don’t work for YOU. I work for JESUS”. And by implication, Paul is saying “YOU work for Jesus TOO”.

It is perfectly acceptable to judge a person’s behavior based on what the Scripture clearly outlines. There are certain things that Christians should and should not do. In 1 Corinthians 5 the Apostle will chastise the Church for not calling out and condemning fornication (sexual sin) in its midst. That requires judgment. In chapter 4 Paul is telling the Church “I work for Jesus. Jesus is my Master. Jesus will judge how I fulfilled my spiritual gifting. I am a STEWARD of God”.

Word Study: Every Christian is a steward of Grace. This is the Greek οἰκονόμος oikonómos, [pronounced oy-kon-om’-os], meaning “someone placed in charge of a property that is not their own”. Stewards work for the Master. Stewards are not primarily concerned with what other stewards think or do. Good Stewards tend to their area of assignment so as to please the Owner of the property. As humans, we truly own nothing. The Bible starts with:

Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth …

God is the Owner of all things, and humans are but managers. The Christian does not even own themselves. The Bible says:

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.

Our body and our spirit belong to God. He purchased us with the blood of Jesus Christ, His only Son our Lord. You were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a Lamb without blemish or spot.” (1 Peter 1:18-19). We belong to God. We live our lives to please God. The Apostle said:

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

We are to love others. We are to try and help others. But as Christians, we live our lives to please the Owner of the Building, the Owner of the Garden. “You are God’s field, God’s building” (1 Corinthians 3:9, ESV). God is building the building. God is planting the field. We are servants of God.

1 Corinthians 4:2 Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.

Stewards are to be “found faithful” by
the Owner of the property.

The Source of our salvation is God.
The Source of our spiritual gifting is God.
The Source of our spiritual power is God.

The Apostle said I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13, NKJV). God gave us salvation, Sanctified us with His power, and indwelt us by His Spirit. We are to live to please the Master.

1 Corinthians 4:3-4 But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man’s judgment: yea, I judge not mine own self. 4 For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord.

Paul does not waste time making judgments on his life, or listening to the judgments that others make on his spiritual gift. Paul said I judge not mine own self. He does not waste time critiquing what he has done for the Lord. Paul just follows the orders that the Lord gave him. He does the best he can with what God has entrusted to him.

There will always be murmurers and complainers among humans. Paul had little time for the murmurers and complainers! He focused on pleasing God.

Dr. Charles Stanley notes:

In the apostle’s day, a steward was a household manager—he himself didn’t own anything but was responsible for his master’s possessions and affairs. In essence, that’s what the Christian life is like. Every possession, privilege, and duty we have has been given to us by God. And as stewards, we are accountable to the Lord for the way we serve Him, what we say, and how we treat one another. The goal is God’s glory—not our rights, comforts, or pleasures.”

We cannot always see the end result of our work for God – but we can rest in the knowledge that God is in control. As Paul said earlier,

1 Corinthians 3:6 (ESV) I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.

As stewards of God we do not often see the final results. We are just to be found faithful to our God every day. Do the best you can, as God decrees, and trust God for the results. The one who plants the garden does not necessarily determine the harvest. It is all in God’s hands. Live to please God. Because He that judgeth me is the Lord. The Lord judges us NOW, and will judge us at the Judgment Seat. We discussed that last week.

1 Corinthians 4:5 Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God.

When it comes to determining the performance of your ministry, let God be the judge. At the Judgment Seat of Christ our Lord will make manifest the counsels of the hearts. God will reveal the motivation behind what you did for Him. If you did something, but it was misunderstood by others (like the Corinthians), your heart’s cry will be revealed at the Judgment Seat. Paul begins to chastise the Corinthians for their murmuring against him.

Good Stewards Suffer

1 Corinthians 4:6-9 And these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and to Apollos for your sakes; that ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed up for one against another. 7 For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it? 8 Now ye are full, now ye are rich, ye have reigned as kings without us: and I would to God ye did reign, that we also might reign with you. 9 For I think that God hath set forth us the apostles last, as it were appointed to death: for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men.

Word Study: The Apostle went through a great deal of persecution and loss in order to be an effective Steward of what God had given him to do. As an Apostle, Paul became a spectacle to the world, to the angels, and to people. The word spectacle is the Greek θέατρον théatron, [pronounced theh’-at-ron]. The word refers to a THEATER, a CARNIVAL SIDESHOW, or a Roman COLISEUM. Paul is saying, “I have been put on display by both Heaven and earth, for the amusement of others”. Paul often had to allow himself to be put in humiliating places in order to fulfill his calling. Right after Paul received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior on the Damascus Road, the Bible says:

Acts 9:19-25 (ESV) … For some days {Paul} was with the disciples at Damascus. 20 And immediately he proclaimed Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.” 21 And all who heard him were amazed and said, “Is not this the man who made havoc in Jerusalem of those who called upon this name? And has he not come here for this purpose, to bring them bound before the chief priests?” 22 But {Paul} increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus was the Christ. 23 When many days had passed, the Jews {Pharisees and Priests} plotted to kill him, 24 but their plot became known to {Paul}. They were watching the gates day and night in order to kill him, 25 but his disciples took him by night and let him down through an opening in the wall, lowering him in a basket.

Here comes Saul, delivered like a loaf of bread outside of the city! To do God’s work, to be a good Steward of what God has given you to do, sometimes requires you look like a fool. We read:

1 Corinthians 4:10-13 We are fools for Christ’s sake, but ye are wise in Christ; we are weak, but ye are strong; ye are honorable, but we are despised. 11 Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwelling place; 12 And labor, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it: 13 Being defamed, we intreat: we are made as the filth of the world, and are the off scouring of all things unto this day.

If you are going to live for God, you will be minimized in the Coliseum of life. Others will talk about you. Some will mock you. Perhaps a lazy Church like Corinth will criticize you. Yet you are Stewards for God.

Preach: The Corinthians were NOT living for Christ. When you have NO trials or tribulations, when your faith causes NO raised eyebrows by the world around you, you are NOT living for Christ. You are instead living as poor stewards, and will find this in the Judgment Seat of Christ one day.

John 15:20 (ESV) … ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours.

Christians, if you are living for Christ you will find resistance. If not, you will drift heavenward on gossamer wings (or so you believe)

We should expect difficulties if we are living for Jesus. Let us live for Jesus anyway! He is the Master, the Maker, and we but His stewards and children.

1 Corinthians 4:14-16 I write not these things to shame you, but as my beloved sons I warn you. 15 For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel. 16 Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me.

The Apostle said, be ye followers of me. This is not the only time Paul says this to the Church. In Philippians 3:17, “Brothers, join in imitating me”. In 1 Corinthians 11:1, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ”.

Paul encourages the Corinthian believers to stop complaining, and to start living as Stewards of God.

As Paul put aside everything that might interfere with his being an effective Steward, he begs the Corinthiansbe ye followers of me. Some were even complaining that Paul had not visited then enough. Paul ends with these fatherly words:

1 Corinthians 4:18-21 Now some are puffed up, as though I would not come to you. 19 But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord will, and will know, not the speech of them which are puffed up, but the power. 20 For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power. 21 What will ye? shall I come unto you with a rod, or in love, and in the spirit of meekness?

Paul told the Corinthians, “Straighten up. Be better Stewards than you are now. Or else!” Oh Beloved, make sure that you stay on the right side of God’s Grace. Continue to serve Him, to please Him, to bring glory to Him.

May God touch your hearts with His Word and His Spirit. Amen and Amen.

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The Best Christmas Ever!

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John 1:16-17 And of his fullness have all we received, and grace for grace. 17 For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.

Consider Both Jesus and Moses

Moses was the Great Prophet of the Covenant of Law. Moses was a recipient of Grace. Moses loved the Lord. God said of Moses, “Thou hast found Grace in My sight, and I know thee by name.” God knew Moses because Moses loved God. But Moses led an Israel out of Egypt, and Israel that would not love the Lord as they should.

So through Moses, God gave the Law
to Israel from Mount Sinai.

When the Bible tells us that the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ (above, John 1:17), it does not mean that anyone was ever saved by the Law. The Law was a schoolmaster to bring us to Christ (Galatians 3:24) that we might be justified by faith. You cannot work your way to God. You cannot be good enough to be in God’s graces. Moses murdered a man, and his his body in the sand of the desert. Moses was not saved by keeping a law, but by trusting in and loving God.

Moses was the Chief Prophet of the Old Covenant of God. When Moses prepared to die he promised that another Prophet like himself would come.

Acts 3:22 … A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you.

Jesus Christ is that Prophet. Jesus took the place of
Moses as leader of God’s people.

There are a lot of similarities between the life of Moses and the life of Jesus. Both Moses and Jesus were preserved in their childhood. The King of Egypt tried to kill Moses. King Herod of Israel tried to kill Jesus.

When Pharaoh wanted Moses dead, his mother hid her son in a little “ark of bulrushes” (Exodus 2:3), and hid him in the weeds at the edge of the river Nile. It was here that the princess of Egypt found Moses, and having compassion for him, brought Moses into the palace to raise as her own.

By God’s Grace Moses had access to the best food, the finest clothing, the best teachers, the most comfortable places to live. Moses grew up in a palace.

If Moses enjoyed the abundance of God’s Grace in the palace, you would think that Jesus Christ, God’s Only Begotten Son, would also be embraced in a palace. But He was not. Jesus was hidden as Moses was hidden, but not in a palace. The Bible says that Jesus was born in a relatively unknown place. Turn one chapter back to:

Luke 2:1-6 And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. 2 (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) 3 And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) 5 To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. 6 And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.

Jesus Christ Is The New Covenant Moses!

Moses was born a slave, but raised in a palace. But Jesus was born a subject of Rome, but raised in a relatively unknown place. Jesus was born {in} the city of David, which is called Bethlehem. Why? What reason did God have for this?

Word Study: The Jews often named their children and places in meaningful ways. The name Bethlehem means “The House of Bread”. How fitting it was that our Lord Jesus would be born in the “House of Bread”. Jesus is God’s Manna from Heaven. Jesus would, just before His crucifixion,

Matthew 26:26 {take} bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, TAKE, EAT, THIS IS MY BODY.

The New Testament Moses, our Jesus said, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.” (John 6:35).

It was appropriate that God’s Manna from Heaven be born in the House of Bread. But He was also born into the lowest of all places.

Not a palace.
Not a five star motel.
Jesus was born in a manger.
In “The House of Bread”.
And stayed hidden there around 2 years.
(We’ll talk more about this next Sunday)

Moses was given the Law inscribed on stone tablets by “The Finger of God” (Exodus 31:18). Jesus Christ was made flesh by the “Finger of God” interacting with Mary (Luke 1:35). Jesus Christ is our New Covenant Law.

None of the princes of this world suspected this baby was God incarnate (1 Corinthians 2:8). Had Jesus been born in a palace King Herod would have known where He was, and would have had Jesus killed outright. But Jesus was born in Bethlehem, and stayed there 2 years until the time when the Angel of the Lord told Joseph,

Matthew 2:13 … Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him.

The Bible truly says “the Lord God omnipotent reigneth” (Revelation 19:6). Our Jesus came to this earth:

Galatians 4:4-5 … when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, 5 To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.

Jesus was made of a woman. God took a virgin called Mary, and through His infinite power caused her to bear a Son, the Son of God. The Angel said “with God nothing shall be impossible” (Luke 1:37). God’s love for us did the impossible. God Himself became part of His own creation!

The “Lamb of God” (John 1:29; John 1:36) entered this world in Bethlehem. The Bible says that …

God Literally Was With Us In The Flesh

Luke 2: 7 And {Mary} brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

Mary had no midwife but her husband to attend her. She brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped the Savior of the world in swaddling clothes, strips of soft cloth.

Jesus was laid in a manger, a place that animals ate from. Again this is appropriate, as Jesus is God’s true Manna from Heaven. Jesus said, “As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. 58 This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever.” Finally, there was no room better suited for Jesus to be born in. As our God is all powerful, Jesus could have been born in better circumstances. But God is in control!

Why was Jesus, the very Son of God, born in such a low place? The Bible tells us in …

Philippians 2:6-8 (ESV) … though {Jesus} was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Jesus was born on purpose to be a Servant, a Suffering Servant to us all. Though the very glory of God shined from His face, Jesus came in the lowest place possible to reach the lowest of people.

Fear Not!

Luke 2:8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

Shepherds were some of the least of all the people. Shepherds had to keep an eye on their sheep no matter what the weather. They had to be diligent in the dark of night, lest a predator come in and maul their charges. Imagine if you will sitting far out of town in the dark, the stars and a campfire the only things to give you light.

God did not send His Angel to the Palace, nor the Chief Priest’s residence, nor the the head of the city council, the Sanhedrin. God reached out to the least.

Luke 2:9 … the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid

These shepherds were not prepared for the glory of the Lord. In Moses day, when an idolatrous Israel saw the glory of the Lord, they saw it as a fearful thing.

Exodus 24:17 … the sight of the glory of the Lord was like devouring fire on the top of the mount in the eyes of the children of Israel.

When the glory of the Lord shined around the shepherds, they were sore afraid. Why? Because they did not know the Lord. But Jesus came to this earth specifically to reach the lost. Even as a Baby laying in a Manger, Heaven is reaching out to the lost and needy. The Angel of the Lord tells the shepherds:

Luke 2:10-11 Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.

Fear not”. Don’t be afraid! God is giving you “good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people”. This is not a time for fear, but a time for faith. This is a time to rejoice at the love that God has for us all. Note though the words of the Angel:

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

I have often wondered why the angel said that Jesus is a Savior and not the Savior”. We know there is only ONE Savior, Jesus Christ. The Apostles preached:

Acts 4:12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

Jesus is clearly the one and only Savior. But why is He called “a Savior”? God alone can be THE Savior, and Christ alone is Emmanuel, God with us, our Savior. The Lord said:

Isaiah 43:11 I, even I, am the Lord; and beside me there is no savior.

There is no Savior but God. But too often we foolishly choose other things or people to take the place of God. Though God says, “there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Savior; there is none beside me.” (Isaiah 45:21). Jesus Christ is the only way to be saved, to be made right with God.

So Why A Savior, and Not THE Savior?

Because all people know we need a Savior, but many people choose inferior saviors rather than Jesus. Some people choose money as a savior. Some choose talent or skill as a savior. Humans are always making saviors to take the place of Jesus Christ. There are “gods many and lords many” (1 Corinthians 8:5) in the world today.

Money
Sexuality
Power
Rabbit’s foot.
Lucky underwear.
Baby blankets.

Illustrate: Baby blankets? Yes, even that. I was at the Gospel Coalition website when I came across a wonderful article written by Jason Soroski on the “Charlie Brown Christmas Special. This wonderful animation has been on television since 1967. I love that show! At one point of the show Linus begins to quote our focal text:

Luke 2:8-11 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. 10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

As Linus says Fear not, the baby blanket he’s held in his hand up to this time – the baby blanket he refuses to let go of, no matter what others believe – Linus drops the blanket, and ignoring it, focuses on THE Savior.

Jesus can be to you A Savior, while you make Him one of many. Or Jesus can be to you THE Savior. This is the best way. Drop your blanket. Focus on Jesus! Run to Him and Him alone. Trust in Him. Give your lives to Him.

The forces against us, against America, cannot be defeated by human strength. The Apostle said:

Ephesians 6:12 … we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

Where I have no power to resist, no power to defeat, God with us has all the power I need. While we stand with Christ Jesus, we can never be defeated.

Isaiah 8:10 Take counsel together, and it shall come to naught; speak the word, and it shall not stand: for God is with us.

Moses knew that the best place to be is in the Presence of Almighty God! Moses told God:

I beseech You, O Lord, show me Your glory” (Exodus 33:18).

God replied: I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy.” (Exodus 33:19).

God said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee. The GLORY of God is the GOODNESS of God. God is so good to us. He loves us so. As God spoke to Moses, you see His care for His children. God tells Moses:

You cannot see My face and live. Moses, stand beside Me on this rock. When My GLORY passes by, I will put you in the cleft of the rock, and will cover you with My hand while I pass by(Exodus 33:20-22).

God put Moses in the cleft of the rock to protect him. That is the best place you can be in these uncertain days is in the cleft of the Rock. The best place is to be with Jesus, our Emmanuel! Only Jesus is

Hebrews 2:18 … able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him

Moses could not save himself. The Law of God cannot save us. But Jesus is both a Savior and the Lord. Jesus saves to the uttermost.

Don’t Fear. Run To Where Jesus Is!

The Angel of the Lord tells the shepherds:

Luke 2:12-14 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, 14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

The shepherds had no star to guide them to Jesus. They were told to go to a familiar place, a place where they had probably kept their sheep in past times. The shepherds were not forced to go to Jesus. They were given an opportunity. God bid them “go”, but did not force. Christianity is a “whosoever will” faith. Jesus said:

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

Mark 8:34 … Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

Revelation 22:17 … whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.

The Shepherds ran to Jesus.

Luke 2:15-16 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. 16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.

The shepherds left their flocks in the dark. They went to where Jesus was with haste. They put their fears down. They put their false gods down. They put their broken hearts down. And they ran to where Jesus was.

Finding Emmanuel (just as the Angel said) the Shepherds did not return to their flocks, but …

Luke 2:17-18 And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. 18 And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.

Now read that one more time carefully. The SHEPHERDS went with HASTE to where Jesus Christ lay. But when the shepherds told others of Jesus, what did they do? Nothing! They wondered at those things which were told them. They did not go to see Jesus. They heard the message, and did nothing about it. They just wondered. Beloved, if you would be saved, run to Jesus. Do not wonder. Do not wait. Seek Him as both Lord and Savior today. And Jesus will make a wonder of your life. May God the Holy Spirit and His Word touch your hearts this day. Merry Christmas!

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Guard Your Tongue, Guard The Temple

Photo by Juan Encalada on Unsplash

1 Corinthians 3:16-18 Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? 17 If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are. 18 Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise.

Let’s Define The “Temple”

There are five Temples mentioned in the Bible. The Temple is properly where God meets man. There is the Temple of Heaven. There is the portable Temple, the Tabernacle. There is the Temple that was not portable, like Solomon’s Temple. There is the Temple of the Church. And there is the Temple that is the Christian.

  • Let’s talk about the Temple that is the Christian. The Bible teaches that the Christian – saved by faith in Christ – is indwelt by the Holy Spirit of God. Jesus said:

John 11:26 … (ESV) everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. …

John 6:35 (ESV) .. I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.

John 5:24 (ESV) .. Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.

God meets us at the point of salvation. Then God promises to never leave us, making us a Temple. Jesus said:

John 14:11, 23 (ESV) I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. .. 23 .. If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.

John 16:7 (ESV) … I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.

How does both the Father and the Son come to the believer to “make their home with us?” It is through the indwelling Holy Spirit of God.

Jesus said in John 14:26 (ESV) … the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.

Jesus did not stop here. He said:

John 14:16 (ESV) … I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever,

John 15:26 (ESV) … when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.

Preach!: The Holy Spirit is called the “Comforter” (KJV), literally the “Helper” or “The One Who Comes Alongside To Lift Up”. Every Christian, saved by faith in Christ, is indwelt by the “Helper”. The Holy Spirit represents both the Father and the Son, and never leaves us. Also called “The Spirit of Christ”, the Apostle said in Romans 8:9, “You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.”

The New Testament Temple Is Superior
Because God Stays With It

In the Old Testament the Holy Spirit dwelt in first the Tabernacle (the Tent of Worship for nomadic Israel), and later in the Temple. After King Solomon finished building the Temple, the Ark of the Covenant was brought up to be placed in the Temple.

1 Kings 8:4, 10-11 (ESV) .. And {the Priests} brought up the ark of the Lord, the tent of meeting, and all the holy vessels that were in the tent; the priests and the Levites brought them up. .. 10 And when the priests came out of the Holy Place, a cloud filled the house of the Lord, 11 so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord.

God indwelt the Temple of His Old Covenant people. The Holy Spirit did not come to indwell the people themselves but temporarily, for Christ had not yet went to the Cross. But the Spirit of God came on the Temple and on people, and would later depart. You see this coming and going of the Spirit of God all throughout the Old Testament.

In the New Testament under the New Covenant, the Holy Spirit comes and stays as He is God’s promise of salvation to the believer.

The Apostle said in Ephesians 1:13-14 (ESV) … when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in {Jesus}, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

As God Cannot Leave Either The Christian Nor The Church, We Are Warned Not To Defile The Temple

Again, the Temple is both the individual Christian, and the Church where Christians come together to minister and grow. The Temple is where we meet God. We must not defile the Temple!

1 Corinthians 3:16-18 Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? 17 If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy…

In Corinthians, Paul refers to both the Temple of the Church and the Temple of the Christian. Note that contextually

  • 1 Corinthians 3:16 refers to the Temple of the CHURCH or the gathering of believers
  • 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 refers to the Temple of the INDIVIDUAL believer

In Chapter 3 we last week examined the Judgment Seat of Christ where every believer will be judged by the works that they did with other believers. What were the Corinthians doing together? They were not blessing one another, but were spreading

CONTENTIONS in the Church (1:11)
DIVISIONS in the Church (1:12-13)
ENVYING in the Church (3:3)

Corinth was defiling the Temple of the Church. But believers were also defiling the Temple of their bodies.

1 Corinthians 6:18-20 Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body. 19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? 20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.

The Holy Spirit comes to stay with the Christian. If the Christian gets into heterosexual sin or homosexual sin, the Spirit cannot leave. Christ paid for us – ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s. You belong to God.

Sexual sin defiles the believer’s Temple. It joins God the Holy Spirit with satanic sensuality – and God can take your life!

Our Lord Jesus talked about bodily defilement. He said:

Matthew 15:11 (ESV) … it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.

Matthew 15:17-20 (ESV) Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and is expelled? 18 But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. 20 These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone.

As Christians, we need to be careful not to defile our personal Temple (our bodies), nor our shared Temple (the Church).

Protect The Temple Of The Church By
Guarding Your Tongues

The Corinthians used their TONGUES to cut the Church up. The Apostle note:

1 Corinthians 3:4 For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal?

Oh, how our mouths get us into trouble!

Illustrate: I have heard of young people who died, and went to Heaven, and came back to tell us what they saw. One boy named Alex Malarkey (sic – no joke) claimed to have died, went to Heaven, and returned to this earth. He wrote the book “The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven”. Later Alex confessed that he lied about the whole experience. He said:

I said I went to Heaven because I thought it would give me attention. When I made the claims that I did, I had never read the Bible. People have profited from lies, and continue to. They should read the Bible, which is enough. The Bible is the only source of truth {about Heaven}. … It is only through repentance of your sins and a belief in Jesus as the Son of God, who died for your sins (even though He committed none of His own) so that you can be forgiven … ”

Alex’s lie hurt his witness, and many churches throughout our land. He confessed his sin, and I’m sure is forgiven for it. But the misuse of his tongue hurt the Body of Christ, and perhaps drove some from the Gospel of salvation. Alex will have to give an account for this to Jesus one day at the Judgment Seat.

Though Alex did not really look into Heaven,
the Prophet Isaiah did.

When Isaiah looked into Heaven, he wasn’t overjoyed at all. Looking at the Preincarnate Jesus on His Throne (The Apostle John quotes Isaiah in John 12:38-41, applying his writings to Jesus) the Prophet cried out:

Isaiah 6:5 … (ESV) “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!”

Said Pastor Greg Morris, {Isaiah’s} eyes see the Holy King of Israel, the God of armies, and he does not run to sit on his lap, but falls to his face, confessing the evil, not only of his tongue, but of the tongues he lived among on earth. Here he did not lament that he dwelled among a people of sexual immorality, murder, or idolatry. What he said, and what the people said — their conversation — horrified him before the Righteous One.

It is the ungoverned tongue that our God finds most shocking. When the Bible addresses the unrighteousness of the lost, note what is said:

Romans 3:10-14 (ESV) … “None is righteous, no, not one; 11 no one understands; no one seeks for God. 12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” 13 “Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.” “The venom of asps is under their lips.” 14 “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.

The misused tongue hurts people, and defiles the Church.

It is with the tongue that we are saved. The tongue shares the Gospel, that grand and glorious salvation we can all have through Christ. Jesus warned us:

Matthew 12:36-37 (ESV) I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, 37 for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.

God gave us mouths to praise Him in His Temple. He gave us mouths to sing to our Savior. He gave us mouths to testify of Christ’s greatness. Wise King Solomon said:

Proverbs 18:21 (ESV) … Death and life are in the power of the tongue

When a person is saved, God saves us to eternal life and the light of Christ. Our mouths should be dedicated to sowing eternal life, and speaking light to those around us. The Apostle tells us:

1 Corinthians 3:17 If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.

Our tongues need to be holy and loving. We are to speak truth, to speak that which honors the Lord Who saved us. We are to “speak the truth IN LOVE” (Ephesians 4:15). Not harshly, but with love for God our Savior, and love for our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Let us be like the seraphim in Isaiah’s vision.When Isaiah looked into Heaven and realized his speech was corrupt, what happened? One of the seraphim (angels) flew to Isaiah, and touched his lips with a burning coal taken from the altar of Jesus. This is a beautiful illustration for us to ponder. When we hear that which does not honor Christ, something which defiles the Temple of the Church, let us take a coal from Christ’s altar. Let us take the Word of Jesus to the offender and touch their lips in love.

Do Not Let The Mouth Of The World Be Your Mouth

1 Corinthians 3:18-21 Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise. 19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness. 20 And again, The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain. 21 Therefore let no man glory in men….

Do not follow the pattern of the world. The pattern of the child of Adam is, if one strike you, strike them back harder. If they stab you with a knife, shoot them with a gun! No, this is not the pattern of Christ’s family. We are to “love one another as Jesus Christ loved us” (John 13:34; John 15:12). This is the genius of Heaven. If you are offended, be like the seraphim. Take of the light of Christ and share it with your fellow believers. If you are the offender, be prepared to freely receive the coal of light from a seraphim, a fellow believer in Christ.

Let us always remember:

1 Corinthians 3:21-23 For all things are your’s; 22 Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are your’s; 23 And ye are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s.

May Jesus Christ and the blessed Holy Spirit draw you close to God and to one another. For His sake and glory. Amen and Amen.

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The Judgment Seat & The Wedding Of The Lamb

Photo by Victoria Priessnitz on Unsplash

We’ll be in two texts tonight. The first will be in Revelation 19:6-10, and the second is in 1 Corinthians 3:9-15. Turn to Revelation first.

Last Wednesday we saw the Apostle compare the Church to a garden and to a building. We also talked about how Jesus had no wife as we do while He walked this earth.

Jesus does have a Bride. The Bride is His Church.

The Apostle compared the Church to a Bride in:

Ephesians 5:25-27 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; 26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.

In 2 Corinthians 11:2 the Apostle said the Church was betrothed or engaged to Jesus. In Revelation 19 we see that one day the Church will be married to the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ. This is a spiritual marriage, a legal binding together of the body of believers in Christ with Jesus Christ Himself. It is our Covenant Union with Jesus Christ that gives us an inheritance with Jesus in eternity. The Bible says:

Ephesians 5:23-24 … the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the savior of the body. 24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.

Following the Rapture of the Church, the works of all believers will be judged, and following this judgment we will be part of the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.

There Will Be A Marriage Supper Of The Lamb

Revelation 19:6-9 And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth. 7 Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. 8 And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. 9 And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God.

In Revelation 19 we see all of Heaven praising God! Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth. 7 Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come. David Guzik in his Enduring Word Commentary notes:

One reason this great multitude is so filled with praise is because the time has come for the Lamb of God to be joined unto His people, in a union so close it can only be compared to the marriage of a man and a woman.”

The “Lamb” is Jesus Christ (see John 1:29; John 1:36; 1 Peter 1:19). Prior to the Marriage of the Lamb the Bride made herself ready. How is the Church made ready? It is a GRANT or a GIFT from God. The Scripture says, to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. The Bride (the Church) does not make her own wedding gown. The adornment of the Church is “granted”, that is the Greek δίδωμι dídōmi, {pronounced did’-o-mee}. This literally means “it was given or bestowed on”. The “righteousness of the Saints” is not our own righteousness, but the righteousness we have through faith in Christ Jesus.

That which clothes the Saints is the salvation we have by faith, and ALSO the works that we did to glorify Jesus while on this earth. The Bride’s GOWN is the REWARDS of the faithful Saints.

Christians are saved to shine for Jesus. Salvation is a free gift, but the free gift has a purpose. We are told in …

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.

Most people stop reading at this point. But if you do, you miss a very important truth. In the next verse we read:

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.

Word Study: God has ordained (Greek προετοιμάζω proetoimázō, [pronounced pro-et-oy-mad’-zo]) or decreed in advance that we who are His will walk IN good works. The Bride will be adorned with the righteousness of Christ, and the righteous works that we did for Christ while on this earth. Guzik notes:

Believers are created for divinely prepared good works.

There will be a wedding celebration in glory for all of Christ’s believers. C.H. Spurgeon noted:

The Bride of Christ is a sort of Cinderella now, sitting among the ashes. She is like her Lord, ‘despised and rejected of men’; the watchmen smite her, and take away her veil from her; for they know her not, even as they knew not her Lord. But when he shall appear, then shall she appear also, and in his glorious manifestation she also shall shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of the Father.”

What a glorious day that will be! We will be bound to Christ as His Covenant people forever, each of us a part of His Spiritual Bride. I can hardly wait. There are, however, things that must occur in eternity prior to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. The Bride must be cleansed of all false religion, and all impurities. This will be done by Jesus Christ at His Judgment Seat.

All Works Are Judged By Jesus

Jesus said:

John 5:22 For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son:

If Jesus is the GROOM, and the Church the BRIDE, and Heaven the HOME of the Bride and Groom, it makes sense that Jesus does all the judging!

Illustration: We as Christians are saved to do good works for Jesus. We strive to do the right thing, to honor our God. But there are times we fall flat. I heard about the little boy who played a “wise man” in the Church Christmas program. When he stepped forward to say his lines, he improvised – and brought the house down. He said:

We are three wise guys, and we are bringing gifts of mold, common sense and fur!

In our world today I’d love to see someone bring a little common sense and responsibility. EVERYONE is going to stand before Jesus one day and be judged. Solomon said:

Ecclesiastes 12:14 (ESV) For God {this is Jesus Christ} will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.

The Apostle Paul, agreeing with Solomon, noted:

Romans 2:6 (ESV) {God the Son} will render to each one according to his works:

Preach!: Some will stand before Jesus and, because of their faith in Him, be given eternal life (Romans 2:7). Others will stand in front of Jesus and, because they would not receive Him as Lord and Savior, they are promised only eternal condemnation (Romans 2:8-9).

Everyone will give an account of their life to Jesus! The Apostle did not mince words when he wrote:

2 Corinthians 5:10 (ESV) For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.

Prior to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb Christ’s people will have their works judged by God. This is not the “Great White Throne” of Revelation 20:11-15. That judgment is for the Unbeliever, and a frightening judgment it will be! But there is a cleansing or preparation of the Bride through the Divine Judgment of every work that we as believers did while on this earth.

The Judgment Seat Of Christ Is The Weaving
Of The Bride’s Gown

Turn with me to 1 Corinthians 3. Last week we looked at the phrase “You are God’s Garden”. Today we see the Apostle’s exposition of the phrase, “You are God’s Building”. This section deals with CHRISTIANS and their WORKS only.

1 Corinthians 3:9-15 For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building. 10 According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise master builder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. 11 For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; 13 Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. 14 If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. 15 If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.

Salvation is entirely a gift of God. When a person realizes that he or she is Great Sinner in need of a Great Savior – and that Jesus is that One and Only Savior – and turns to Him believing then that person is saved.

Titus 3:5-7 (KJV) 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.

We are “Justified” or “made right with God” through the shed Blood of Christ. This is POSITIONAL TRUTH. God changes our status in HIS eyes once our hearts are given to Jesus. Jesus took our penalty so we can become sons of God. We are God’s building. Our FOUNDATION is what Jesus Christ did for us on the Cross and at the empty Tomb. God gives us a foundation in Christ.

The Foundation is laid when a person is saved.

1 Corinthians 3:10 (KJV) According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise master builder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon.

Word Study: The Apostle Paul laid the FOUNDATION of Corinth, by preaching salvation by faith in Christ. This is what saves us. Paul was not just a builder, but a wise master builder. Paul calls himself a sophos architektōn, a wise architect or a chief constructor. Paul was careful to make sure that the foundation was not human works, Paul’s works and abilities, or anything that was not purely the Grace of God. It is not a sophos architektōn, or a wise architect who, on drawing out the plans for a building, specifies substandard materials. The Church is built on the genius of Christ.

The Church is the Building of God, a people working together for His Glory. The Christian is the Temple of God, the Bride of Christ.

1 Corinthians 3:16-17 (KJV) Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? 17 If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.

The Christian is the Temple of God, founded on the Bloody Cross of Christ. The Church is the Building of God, founded on the finished work of Calvary.

Solomon wrote in Psalm 127:1, “Except the LORD build the house, they labor in vain that build it. When Paul was Saul, he went about persecuting the Church because it was NOT like Judaism. But once Saul was knocked down on the Damascus Road and discovered the Church belongs to Jesus (Acts 9:5), from that point on Saul became Paul. He was not about to build the Church on anything but the Grace of God by faith in Christ Jesus!

Brothers and sisters, you cannot work your way to Heaven. You cannot be good enough to be saved. “By one man (Adam) sin entered the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for ALL have sinned” (Romans 5:12). No one is good enough to get beyond God’s indictment that “all have sinned” (Romans 3:23). However, as the Apostle states a few verses further down, “if through the offense of one (adam) many be dead, MUCH MORE the grace of God, and the gift by Grace, which is by ONE MAN, Jesus Christ … (Romans 5:15).

The FOUNDATION is salvation by faith in Christ. But NO building stops at a foundation. The glory of the building is in what is built ON the foundation.

1 Corinthians 3:10-11 (KJV) …. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. 11 For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

The foundation of every person’s faith is Jesus Christ. But once saved we begin to build on that foundation. Every work we do is based on that tremendous act of grace that our Lord Jesus gave us. Everything we build on that Foundation (Jesus Christ) must be worthy of Jesus Christ. Every room cobbled

The Foundation is Jesus Christ, and everything built on that Foundation is to be honoring to Jesus Christ.

We live to bring glory and honor to our Savior. We do the things we do to honor Jesus. Christ is the Foundation of the Church. Christ is the Foundation of the Christian Way of Life. Christ is the Rock on which we are to be built. It is His Word that brings stability to the Life we have. We are meant to NOT STALL after salvation, but to BUILD on that foundation of saving faith the things that Jesus bids we build. Jesus said:

Matthew 7:24-27 (ESV) Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.

Whether wise or foolish, each one BUILDS their house. The Christian builds their house on the genius of Christ Jesus.

The Judgment Seat Of Christ Is The Preparation Of The Bride, The Judging Of Our Earthly Works Prior To The Marriage Supper

1 Corinthians 3:12-13 (KJV) Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; 13 Every man’s work shall be made manifest…

At the Judgment Seat of Christ prior to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, our works – built on the FOUNDATION OF OUR SALVATION – will be judged. Notice that the works are graded by the Apostle Paul into six categories:

gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble

These six items were commonly used in building construction in the Apostle’s day. Hay and stubble were used in building, but only when mixed with clay to make bricks. The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia Online notes that:

The cognates of Hebrew tebhen, “straw” and qash, “stubble,” have been retained in the modern Arabic terms tibn and qashsh. Tibn applies to the straw which has been cut up into short pieces and more or less split by the threshing operations. … Tibn is mixed with clay for plastering walls or for making sun-dried bricks. It is also mixed with lime and sand for plastering. The children of Israel had their task of brick making made more arduous by being required to gather stubble and prepare it by chopping it up instead of being given the already prepared straw of the threshing-floors”

Hay and stubble without clay had little use other than for animal fodder. It was useless in a building if it stood alone. God breaks out the six different types of works that believers do on this earth. Gold and silver when fired, becomes more rather than less precious. Precious stones when fired may crack or burn, losing value. Wood, hay or stubble will soonest burn up if exposed to fire.

I believe the “Fire” that will be used to test our works in Heaven is the Shekinah Glory of God through Jesus.

The Bible says “Our God is a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:29). When Israel left Egypt, God led them as “pillar of fire by night” (Exodus 13:21). When God spoke to Moses, He spoke out of a “burning bush” (Exodus 3:2-3). John the Baptist said that our Jesus would “baptize us with the Holy Spirit and with fire” (Luke 3:16). When the Holy Spirit came to the disciples on the Day of Pentecost, He appeared as “tongues of fire that rested on each one of them” (Acts 2:3). God promised in the prophecies that there would be a day when He would “test them as gold is tested. They will call upon My name, and I will answer them” (Zechariah 13:9).

Jesus will test our works Himself. The purpose of the test is to make the work MANIFEST. Do our works honor Jesus our Lord?

1 Corinthians 3:13 (KJV) Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the FIRE shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.

Our Jesus will examine our works, “His eyes like a flame of fire” (Revelation 1:14; Revelation 19:12-13). He will judge our works to see if they glorified God or not. Jesus said (John 5:22) “The Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son.. He Who was pierced with nails and beaten with whips and hung shamefully and nakedly shall judge the works of His people. He shall gaze upon all that we have built on the Foundation of His Sacrifice. Some of our works will – like gold and silver – become more pure under His gaze. Other of our works will burn like wood, hay or stubble.

1 Corinthians 3:14 (KJV) If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.

Some have said they do not want a reward when they get to Heaven. You misunderstand the reward. The reward you receive is like a patch on a quilt. The righteous deeds we do on this earth shine forth as the Bride’s “Gown” at the Marriage Feast.

We should seek to live for Jesus in this life, so that we will merit rewards from Jesus in the next life. Just as a parent is proud of a child who excels in school, Jesus wants to be proud of us. The works that we do in this life for Jesus are the only things that we will take to Heaven with us. One commentary notes:

“… rewards in heaven glorify God and provide us with joy, peace, and wonder as we consider God’s work in us and through us. The closer we were to God during this life, the more centered on Him and aware of Him, the more dependent on Him, the more desperate for His mercy, the more there will be to celebrate. We are like characters in a story who suffer doubt, loss, and fear, wondering if we will ever really have our heart’s desire. When the happy ending comes and desire is fulfilled, there comes a completion. The story would not be satisfying without that completion. Rewards in heaven are the completion of our earthly story, and those rewards will be eternally satisfying (Psalm 16:11).”

Christian are encouraged to live so as to one day receive a reward in Heaven. We read in:

Colossians 3:23-25 (KJV) 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. 25 But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons.

What we SOW we shall REAP. If we build Christ honoring works on the Foundation of Christ Who is our salvation then we will one day be rewarded for our obedience. But the Apostle says:

1 Corinthians 3:15 (KJV) If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.

If the work’s judged are without merit in Jesus’ eyes, there is no reward for it. However, you, dear believer, will still be saved. Yet I suspect there will be tears in our eyes when we realize we could give no tiny scrap of a patch back to Jesus to build His Bride’s gown! Oh, how I wish to live so as to honor my Jesus in glory. Is this not your heart as well?

Good works do not save, but to those who have no love for Jesus, our Master has a word for them. He will tell them:

Matthew 7:23 (ESV) …. ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

That would truly be the greatest of miseries. If you belong to Jesus, you love Jesus, and do not disparage working for Him. It is a joy to serve the risen Savior. Let us draw near to Him more and more each and every day! Amen and Amen. May God the Holy Spirit draw you close to His side, Beloved, and give you the eyes to behold Him daily. Come quickly, Lord Jesus. Amen and Amen.

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Stand Firm In Your Faith Or You Will Not Stand At All

Photo by Ismael Paramo on Unsplash

Turn with me to Isaiah chapter 7.

Last Sunday in Sunday School we studied:

Isaiah 7:14 Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

There were several questions asked me about the text itself, and it’s fulfillment as prophecy. The text is very interesting, and has been the source of some confusion. The great Preacher (and my mentor) C.H. Spurgeon said of this text:

{This text is} One of the most difficult in all the Word of God. It may be so; I certainly did not think it was until I saw what the commentators had to say about it, and I rose up from reading them perfectly confused.”

If you studied this in Sunday School last week and couldn’t grasp it, don’t feel badly. Today, with God the Holy Spirit’s guidance, we will examine this wonderful text, and see if we can understand the wonderful treasure it is.

Isaiah 7 was initially written to King Ahaz of Judah (Southern Israel). Let’s start at:

Isaiah 7:10-16 Moreover the Lord spake again unto Ahaz, saying, 11 Ask thee a sign of the Lord thy God; ask it either in the depth, or in the height above. 12 But Ahaz said, I will not ask, neither will I tempt the Lord. 13 And he said, Hear ye now, O house of David; Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will ye weary my God also? 14 Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. 15 Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good. 16 For before the child shall know to refuse the evil, and choose the good, the land that thou abhorrest shall be forsaken of both her kings.

To Understand The Bible, You Must Understand
The Background And The Context

The Bible is written by God, through men that God moved. Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” (2 Peter 1:21). The Bible is not like a man-made writing. It’s words come from the infinite and immutable Creator of all things. “The Word of God is living and active” (Hebrews 4:12, ESV). It’s best to keep this in mind when you read the Scripture.

Every prophecy of Scripture can have a NEAR application, and a FUTURE or FAR application.
We’ll see that today.

The Book of Isaiah was written by the Prophet some 700 years before the birth of Jesus Christ. The passage that we are looking at today is where God, through Isaiah, is speaking DIRECTLY to the evil King Ahaz, the King of Judah. Around 930 BC Israel had a civil war. The Northern Kingdom of Israel (ten tribes), also known as Ephraim, broke away from from the tribes of Judah and Benjamin. From that point in Scripture the prophets referred to the Northern Kingdom as “Israel” or “Ephraim”, and the Southern Kingdom as “Judah”. The Northern Kingdom very quickly decided that they would establish their own Temple in Samaria, as they wanted to have nothing to do with the King or Jerusalem.

Southern Israel or “Judah” continued to worship in the Temple in Jerusalem. Over time, however, Judah began to drift away from faith in God. As we come to Isaiah 7, an evil king named Ahaz is ruling Judah or Southern Israel. Ahaz was twenty years old when he ascended the Throne of David, and ruled Judah for sixteen years. The Bible says:

2 Kings 16:2-3 (ESV) … {Ahaz} did not do what was right in the eyes of the Lord his God, as his father David had done, 3 but he walked in the way of the kings of Israel. He even burned his son as an offering, according to the despicable practices of the nations whom the Lord drove out before the people of Israel.

Ahaz sacrificed one of his own sons to the false god Molech, burning him in a fire. The man was a horrible ruler. And, as he ruled, his poor leadership led Israel into idolatry and blasphemy. Ahaz and Judah had an enemy in Ephraim or Northern Israel. Now we can begin to understand our text:

Isaiah 7:1-2 And it came to pass in the days of Ahaz the son of Jotham, the son of Uzziah, king of Judah, that Rezin the king of Syria, and Pekah the son of Remaliah, king of Israel, went up toward Jerusalem to war against it, but could not prevail against it. 2 And it was told the house of David, saying, Syria is confederate with Ephraim. And his heart was moved, and the heart of his people, as the trees of the wood are moved with the wind.

Judah – And Ahaz – Are In Trouble!

The king of Syria and the king of {Northern} Israel joined forces to destroy Judah and Ahaz. The two nations actually signed a joint force agreement. That’s what Syria is confederate with Ephraim. Again, Ephraim is another name for Northern Israel, or the ten tribes. When Ahaz was told that Syria and Ephraim were coming to destroy Judah, the Bible says:

vvs 2 his heart was moved, and the heart of his people, as the trees of the wood are moved with the wind

That’s very picturesque! If you’ve ever seen the wind in the trees, it causes the leaves to shimmer and shake. Syria is a powerful nation, as is Northern Israel or Ephraim. Judah and her leadership were afraid, and didn’t know what to do. Syria and Northern Israel had already attacked Jerusalem once, but

but could not prevail against it {against Jerusalem}

Ahaz had made an unholy alliance with Assyria. Ahaz didn’t go to God, but to man for help. The scripture says:

2 Kings 16:7-9 (ESV) … Ahaz sent messengers to Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria, saying, “I am your servant and your son. Come up and rescue me from the hand of the king of Syria and from the hand of the king of Israel, who are attacking me.” 8 Ahaz also took the silver and gold that was found in the house of the Lord and in the treasures of the king’s house and sent a present to the king of Assyria. 9 And the king of Assyria listened to him.

Ahaz blasphemed God, and gave the silver and gold utensils of the Temple to the King of Assyria as a bribe. He sought Assyria’s help rather than God’s. Though this initially worked, it could not ultimately defeat the enemy.

Sometimes God allows us to do something foolish so that we can learn the error of our ways. Ahaz’s treaty with Assyria would eventually lead to his downfall.

The Bible says in Jeremiah 17:5-6 (ESV) Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the Lord. 6 He is like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see any good come. He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness, in an uninhabited salt land.

God often allows trials to come our way when we wander away from Him. Trials are often the paddle that our Lord uses on His errant children. When we get away from God we, like the Prodigal Son, only “come to our senses” when eating miserably out of the pig trough (Luke 15:16-17). Ahaz should have returned to the Lord! Judah should have returned to the Lord!

God told the Prophet Isaiah to go and meet with Ahaz. Isaiah was to tell Ahaz:

Isaiah 7:4-7 Take heed, and be quiet; fear not, neither be fainthearted for the two tails of these smoking firebrands, for the fierce anger of Rezin with Syria, and of the son of Remaliah. 5 Because Syria, Ephraim {Northern Israel}, and the son of Remaliah {the King of Ephraim}, have taken evil counsel against thee, saying, 6 Let us go up against Judah, and vex it, and let us make a breach therein for us, and set a king in the midst of it, even the son of Tabeal: 7 Thus saith the Lord God, It shall not stand, neither shall it come to pass.

God went on to tell Ahaz,

Isaiah 7:8 …. within threescore and five years {65 years} shall Ephraim {N. Israel} be broken, that it be not a people.

Northern Israel and Syria are to God two tails of these smoking firebrands. They are “has beens”. God has decided to use Assyria to destroy both nations. The capital city of Syria, Damascus, will fall in 732 BC. The capital city of N. Israel, Samaria, will be destroyed in 722 BC. Our God is in control! Now God gives an ominous warning to King Ahaz.

If You Will Not Believe, You Will Not Be Established

Isaiah 7:9 … If ye will not believe, surely ye shall not be established.

Word Study: The phrase If ye will not believe, surely ye shall not be established is the same Hebrew word twice: the Hiphil IMPERFECTof אָמַן ʼâman, [pronounced aw-man’]”, and the Niphal IMPERFECT of אָמַן ʼâman, [pronounced aw-man’]”. A clearer translation would be “If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all”.

God is calling on Ahaz to repent and believe in Him. God has already promised that within 65 years both Syria and Northern Israel (Ephraim) will be destroyed because of their lack of faith and obedience to Him. The same thing will happen with Ahaz and Judah if he and his people do not REPENT and RETURN to Him. Oh Beloved, it is as the Apostle Peter said:

2 Peter 3:9-10 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night…

God does not rejoice in destroying people. God loves people. People are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27; Genesis 9:6). God would rather redeem the sinner than destroy the sinner. God would rather all repent, and walk with Him. God would rather that all enter Heaven rather than hell. God would rather we all live with God as our portion (Psalm 73:26), and have blessed lives through Jesus Christ our Lord. So God gives Ahaz another chance to repent and return from where he’s fallen. The King who sits on the Throne of David must NOT follow any god other than David’s God. Period!

Ahaz, Will You Repent?

Isaiah 7:10-12 Moreover the Lord spake again unto Ahaz, saying, 11 Ask thee a sign of the Lord thy God; ask it either in the depth, or in the height above. 12 But Ahaz said, I will not ask, neither will I tempt the Lord.

God asks Ahaz through Isaiah the Prophet, “ask Me for a sign – ANY sign – and I will give it”. Ahaz was told there was no limit to what he could ask as a sign. God said ask it either in the depth, or in the height above. God knew Ahaz’s heart, but wanted those around Ahaz – and us – to know how bad Ahaz had drifted from the faith. What was Ahaz’s reply to God? He said, I will not ask, neither will I tempt the Lord. This sounds very spiritual, for Jesus said:

Matthew 4:7 … Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.

Yet it’s not a sin to ask God for a sign when God ASKS YOU to ask for a sign. God told His people in Malachi 3:10, “Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need”. God asked to be tested, but Ahaz was settled in his unbelief. It is as Jesus said:

John 3:20 (ESV) … everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed.

Ahaz was resting in his evil lifestyle. He did not want to walk with God! God replies to Ahaz’s foolish remark:

Isaiah 7:13-14 And {the Prophet Isaiah} said, Hear ye now, O house of David; Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will ye weary my God also? 14 Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

Word Study: Isaiah told Ahaz, “You may not want a sign, but “the Lord himself shall give you a sign. Now here’s where you need to pay attention. This prophecy has two fulfillments, and it all has to do with the word translated virgin. This is the Hebrewעַלְמָה ʻalmâh, [pronounced al-maw’], which can be used for either “a young woman of marriageable age” OR “a virgin”. There is another Hebrew word for “virgin” which is the Hebrewבְּתוּלָה bᵉthûwlâh, [pronounced beth-oo-law’]. This word is usually translated “virgin”. But ʻalmâh can mean either a virgin, or a young woman ready to marry. Ahaz was unbelieving in God.

So God gave Ahaz an unbeliever’s sign. In Ahaz’s royal household a “young woman of marriageable age” would have a child, and name that child “Immanuel”.

Word Study: Now the name “Immanuel” means “God is with us”, but the Jews often named their children to honor God. The name “Joshua” is the Hebrewיְהוֹשׁוּעַ Yᵉhôwshûwaʻ, [pronounced yeh-ho-shoo’-ah], which means “Yahweh is salvation”. The Prophet “Isaiah’s” name is the Hebrew יְשַׁעְיָה Yᵉshaʻyâh, [pronounced yesh-ah-yaw’], which means “Yahweh will save”. One commentary notes “There was a normal conception in Ahaz’s day”. The Enduring Word Commentary notes: “Many commentators think that this was immediately fulfilled when a young woman in the royal household shortly married, conceived a son, and unknowingly naming him ‘Immanuel’ ”. God would have a child born in Ahaz’s palace named “God is with us” to continually remind him of his failure to repent and return. If Ahaz had just realized God was with him – and followed God – Judah would not need to fall to the enemy.

This prophecy had two fulfillments. The first was a NEAR fulfillment for a wicked, unbelieving King Ahaz. The second is a FAR fulfillment for the Christian.

Matthew 1:18-23 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. 19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily. 20 But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, 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. 22 Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, 23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.

Adam Clarke notes, “In what sense then, is Christ GOD WITH US? Jesus is called Immanuel, or God with us, in his incarnation; God with us, by the influences of his Holy Spirit, in the holy sacrament, in the preaching of his word, in private prayer. And God with us, through every action of our life, that we begin, continue, and end in his name. He is God with us, to comfort, enlighten, protect, and defend us, in every time of temptation and trial, in the hour of death, in the day of judgment; and God with us and in us, and we with and in him, to all eternity.”

God is with us. God has always been with us. So my question today is this: Will you believe in God? Will you repent, and turn your heart to Jesus, committing to following Him? Or will you, like Ahaz, be merely religious but unbelieving. God says to us today, “Ask Me for a sign, any sign, whether high or deep. Try Me, and see if I am not faithful and with you”. Our God is faithful (1 Corinthians 1:9; 10:13). Give your life to Jesus, and stand in your faith.

For if you’ll not stand in your faith, you will not stand. Amen and Amen!

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Laborers Together With God

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1 Corinthians 3:9 For we are laborers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building.

God’s people are supposed to be laborers together with God. We have a wonderful application of this truth in the life of our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus chose 12 disciples to walk with Him, and these 12 grew into a greater group of believers. Our Lord Jesus did not do all of His ministry by Himself. Though God in the flesh, He called these people to follow Him. “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19).

Christians are called to follow Jesus, to work
with Jesus. Jesus had NOTHING but God.

Jesus said in Matthew 16:24, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. To “come after Jesus” is to do the things He did, to live with HIS purpose. Jesus said in John 14:9, “Whoever has seen Me, has seen the Father”. Jesus told His mother in Luke 2:49, “Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?. Though Jesus’ stepfather Joseph was a carpenter, this was not the business Jesus was about.

Jesus lived His life with purpose to glorify the Father
and His Kingdom.

The Son of God denied Himself. Though eternal God with us (for He is Emmanuel, “God with us” – Matthew 1:23) Jesus denied Himself every comfort for our sake. He told one man:

Matthew 8:20 …. The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.

Jesus came into this world having nothing. While most children have cribs and nurseries, mobiles and swings, stuffed animals and special soft clothing, our Jesus had little.

Jesus had a manger for a crib.
Jesus had swaddling clothes – strips of cloth

in place of a diaper and pajamas. Jesus had no stuffed animals to cuddle with, nor a special blanket.

Jesus’ bedding was hay, His baby blanket crude.
The music of His nursery was clucking and mooing.

When a baby is born, the family gathers around to take pictures, to hold the child. Jesus’ first visitors were strangers, poor shepherds. All Heaven rejoiced at His Birth:

Luke 2:12-14 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, 14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

Heaven rejoiced, but earth slept. Few knew of His first coming until after His death on Calvary.

Though King of Kings and Lord of Lords (1 Timothy 6:15), Jesus had no silver and gold crown while He walked this earth.

Jesus’ earthly crown was thorns and mockery.

Matthew 27:27-31 the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the common hall, and gathered unto him the whole band of soldiers. 28 And they stripped him, and put on him a scarlet robe. 29 And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews! 30 And they spit upon him, and took the reed, and smote him on the head. 31 And after that they had mocked him, they took the robe off from him, and put his own raiment on him, and led him away to crucify him.

Jesus had no wife to lie with to comfort Him at night.

Many of Jesus’ Apostles had wives. Peter was married, because he had a mother in Law (Matthew 8:14). You don’t get one of those without being married! Jesus demanded that the Pastor or Overseer of the Church be the husband of one wife (1 Timothy 3:2-5), and that Deacons also be married (1 Timothy 3:12) to a wife. The Apostle Paul, though unmarried, wrote:

1 Corinthians 9:5 Have we not power to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other apostles, and as the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas?

Jesus had no wife as we are allowed, no person to confide in, to shed tears with. The mourners at His execution were His mother and the Apostle John.

Jesus had no money.

The Bible says that Judas Iscariot kept the purse (John 12:6) for the disciples. During the Christmas season most people run about, buying all they can buy, but forgetting that things and the joy they bring are but temporary. The Psalmist said:

Psalm 73:26 (ESV) My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

Jesus had NO fancy clothing.

Jesus wore a mantle or overcoat with fringes (Mark 6:56), much like a large shawl. Jesus wore sandals (Matthew 3:11; Mark 1:7; Mark 6:9; John 1:27) as many Jews did. Jesus wore a tunic or a robe that finished slightly below the knees. Jesus did not wear long robes, but chastised the scribes for doing so …

Mark 12:38 (ESV) … in his teaching {Jesus} said, “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes and like greetings in the marketplaces …

Only the rich wore long robes. Jesus wasn’t rich. Jesus’ robe or tunic was made of one piece of cloth. When He was crucified we read:

John 19:23-24 (ESV) .. When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his garments and divided them into four parts, one part for each soldier; also his tunic. But the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom, 24 so they said to one another, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it shall be.” This was to fulfill the Scripture [here Psalm 22:18 is quoted] “They divided my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.

One piece tunics were the cheapest made, as most tunics were made of two pieces sewn at the shoulders and sides.

Jesus’ clothing was very basic. In Heaven Jesus would be royalty. But on earth, the only robe worthy of a king was given Him by the Idumean, King Herod. Herod was not of the Tribe of Judah, and had no Biblical right to the Throne of David. Yet this usurper mocked Jesus:

Luke 23:11 … Herod with his soldiers treated him with contempt and mocked him. Then, arraying him in splendid clothing, he sent him back to Pilate.

Jesus didn’t get to keep this fine clothing, this royal robe. It was removed from Him when He was beaten before Pilate, and put on Him again before He went to the Cross (Matthew 27:27-28, Mark 15:15-17). Our Jesus had nothing.

Nailed to the Cross to die, after Jesus passed, shouting …

Luke 23:46 (ESV) … out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last.

Jesus had no grave to call His own. Joseph of Arimathæa “loaned” a tomb to Jesus, as His body was prepared and laid on a rocky shelf.

The only thing Jesus owned on the face of this earth was suffering. His life was filled with suffering. Why?
It was for YOU!

The Bible says in

2 Corinthians 8:9 (ESV) For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.

Jesus Endured Nothingness So He Could Create
A Bride For Himself, His Church

Jesus put everything away so that He might, in love, raise up His Church. I said earlier that Jesus had no wife while He walked this earth. That’s very true. But Jesus built Himself a wife that He calls “The Church”. When Jesus walked the earth, the Church was FUTURE. He said, upon this rock [that Jesus is the one and only Christ] I will build my Church” (Matthew 16:18a). Jesus said of His Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18b). Jesus built His Bride with His own blood. The Apostle said:

Ephesians 5:25-27 (ESV) Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.

The Bride of Christ is not a sexual or sensual bride,
but a
Spirit driven Bride.

2 Corinthians 11:2 (ESV) … I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ.

The Church is called to be faithful to Jesus. This means that every believer in the Church is called to walk faithfully with Jesus. We are not to allow worldliness to creep in. James, the stepbrother of Jesus wrote to a wayward Church:

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.

The Church exists on the riches of Grace because Jesus Christ gave up everything for us. We are to be fully devoted to our Lord and Savior. As I and my wife work together throughout this life, keeping our family whole, the Church is to work together with Jesus. We are laborers together with God. We are laborers together with one another, unified, following Jesus.

The Bride of Christ – The Church – Works Together With Her Groom

1 Corinthians 3:9 For we are laborers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building.

The Apostle uses two words to describe what the Church should be: husbandryand building. The word translated husbandryis the Greek γεωργιον, georgion, [pronounced gheh-ore’-ghee-on], meaning “that which is cultivated, a farm or garden”. Most people have had gardens. I like a small container garden every year, and I particularly like to plant tomatoes. I love tomatoes. Not those artificially red things that come from Mexico, but genuine vine ripened tomatoes. Nothing tastes better to me!

Consider the Garden: When I plant my garden, I CHOOSE what seed will be planted. Periodically in my garden things grow up that I didn’t plant, weeds and other noxious, unwanted things. These things I pull from my garden. I don’t just clip them off, because if I do so they will grow right back. But I pull them up by the roots, and toss them outside of the garden to wither and die. I never feel sorry for the weeds, because I never planted them in the first place. They might have been dropped in the waste of a passing bird, or they might have, like the dandelion, been caught up on the wind to settle in my garden. But I want none of it! I pull it out, and toss it into the growing grass, where I will pass over it with the blade of my lawn mower.

You, dear Church, are GOD’S GARDEN. You do not belong to yourselves, but to God. God plants His Garden to bear certain types of fruit. God wants His Garden to bear the fruit of the Spirit, not the works of the flesh. The works of the flesh are WEEDS that God never planted. The Apostle says:

Galatians 5:19-22 (ESV) Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

If it doesn’t belong in the kingdom of God, it doesn’t belong in Christ’s Bride! God plants spiritual fruit in His Garden. We read:

Galatians 5:22-24 (ESV) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. We put whatever does not belong in God’s Garden onto the Cross. It might still be living, but it is also dying on that Cross.

We do not allow anything to be sowed into the Garden of God BUT that which God wants in His Garden.

The Garden always has more than one type of vegetable in it. That’s fine. Every good garden has several varieties of fruit. But weeds are forbidden. Weeds are torn out, and cast off by the owner of the Garden. The garden is unified in pleasing it’s owner – and WE are GOD’S GARDEN. Are there disagreements in the Garden? Possibly. But if there are, we WEED the Garden the way that Jesus said. He said:

Matthew 5:22-24 But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. 23 Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; 24 Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.

God does not want the weed of murmuring or criticism in His Garden. Jesus said:

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

Jesus does not linger in a weed overgrown garden. He said:

Matthew 18:15-17 Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. 16 But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. 17 And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.

The Garden is to be unified in serving Jesus. Now let us,

Consider The Building: The Church is God’s Building. Every building must have a flawless foundation. I have heard of building collapsing, where a balcony or a second floor collapses and kills people. In every instance this occurs, it is because the building was created with substandard materials.

The foundation of Christ’s Church is
Jesus Christ Himself.

Jesus humbled Himself to save us. We are built on His foundation. We are to humble ourselves, to live together in loving harmony. The Lord said:

Philippians 2:2-5 Fulfill ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, 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

We come together to glorify Jesus Christ, to please the Father. We are to love one another as Jesus has loved us (John 13:34; John 15:12). This Building that belongs to God is to be framed together, growing into a Holy Temple in the Lord” (Ephesians 2:21). We are to be …

Jude 20-21 … building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, 21 Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.

We are called to work with God, building up one another in the faith. We are to live to glorify our Lord. Let us be the Church that Jesus wants us to be. May God the Holy Spirit drive this His Word deeply into your hearts. Amen and Amen!

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Laborers Together With God

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Please turn with me in your Bibles to 1 Corinthians chapter 2.

When the Bible was written, it was written as a series of letters and books, but had no chapter nor verse divisions in the text. In the early 13th century Archbishop Stephen Langton developed the chapter divisions in our Bibles. Wikipedia notes that:

The first English New Testament to use the verse divisions was a 1557 translation by William Whittingham (c. 1524–1579). The first Bible in English to use both chapters and verses was the Geneva Bible published shortly afterwards in 1560. These verse divisions soon gained acceptance as a standard way to notate verses, and have since been used in nearly all English Bibles and the vast majority of those in other languages”.

Why am I telling you all this? Because often the chapters (being man made devices) divide at the wrong place. That’s the case with tonight’s focal text. Read with me:

1 Corinthians 2:12-16, 3:1-2 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. 13 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15 But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. 16 For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? but we have the mind of Christ.

Chapter 3 And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. 2 I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.

The Apostle makes a distinction between three types of people in today’s text:

1: There is the believer in Christ who, on salvation,
receives the Spirit of God

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

Though the King James translation has “spirit” in the lower case, it should be capitalized to “Spirit”. The Scripture says that all Christians have the Holy Spirit of God. Romans 8:9 tells us if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. Christians are Spirit indwelt!

A Christian is born again by becoming like a little child when approaching God. Jesus showed us this in:

Matthew 18:2-4 And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, 3 And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. 4 Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

No one enters the Kingdom of God full grown.

We humble ourselves as little children, and run into the arms of Jesus. We obediently follow Jesus, knowing that in His footsteps is where safety is. “Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps” (1 Peter 2:21 ESV). We are to stay close to Jesus, as a child might stay close to it’s mother while out in the harsh world. The Christian has a purpose greater than “going to Heaven”. Christians are to grow in their faith, becoming more like Jesus every day.

2. There is the “natural man”, the unsaved person
driven by the spirit of disobedience

1 Corinthians 2:14 … the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned…

Word Study: The “natural man” is the son of Adam, the child of disobedience, the unbeliever. The unbeliever will not come to Jesus Christ to be saved. The natural man” (ψυχικός psychikós, [pronounced psoo-khee-kos’]) literally means “the one governed by breath or senses, governed by feelings”. This is a picture of the lost soul. The Apostle says that two things are true of the lost:

  • The lost soul will not “receive” (δέχομαι déchomai, [pronounced dekh’-om-ahee]) the things of the Spirit of God. Notice the word things used by the Apostle. The lost soul does not consider the truths of the Scripture (“Thy Word, O God, is TRUTH” John 17:17) to actually be true. What the Spirit has said through His Apostles and Prophets are but things, opinions of dead men that are to be forgotten in history. The lost cling to their sensuality, their feelings, and continue to make themselves the center of the YOUniverse. Jesus told those who believe in Him:

Mark 6:11 … whosoever shall not receive (déchomai) you, nor hear you, when ye depart thence, shake off the dust under your feet for a testimony against them. Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment, than for that city.

The lost person is in love with the darkness. Jesus said, Search the scriptures; for in them you think you have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. You will not come to Me, that you might have life” (John 5:39-40). The Spirit of God wrote this text, this precious Scripture. Holy Men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:21). Jesus said:

Mark 10:15 Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive (déchomai) the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.

Word Study: Oh Beloved, you must receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior if you are to be saved. But as many as received (λαμβάνω lambanō, to grab hold of) {Jesus}, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name” (John 1:12). The lost stay lost for they will not receive the truths of the Spirit of God. Secondly,

  • Neither can he know them. The lost person cannot know (γινώσκω ginṓskō, [pronounced ghin-oce’-ko]) the truths of the Spirit of God. This word literally means “to understand at an intimate level, to understand so as to be able to apply these truths to your own life”. Jesus told the highly religious Pharisees who chased after Him:

John 8:43-44 Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word. 44 Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.

There should be a great divide between the Kingdom of God (the Church that Jesus rules) and the world. The world says of our Christ, “Foolish!”. The world says of our faith, “Foolish!”. The world says of our shunning of what God calls sin, “Foolish!”. Yet as we have learned before,

1 Corinthians 1:25 the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

3. Then There Is The “Carnal” Christian,
Frozen In Spiritual Childhood

1 Corinthians 3:1 And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ.

We who have received Jesus as Lord and Savior are now the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus(Galatians 3:26). We are of God’s Kingdom. Jesus Christ is our King and High Priest. It is God’s intent that we follow Him through His Word, and draw close to Him daily for blessing and sustenance. As believers in Christ:

We were saved by becoming little children, but as believers we are to know the things that are freely given to us of God. God gave the Church the Bible, and God gives the Church pastors and teachers. The Apostle said in:

Ephesians 4:11-15 And {God} gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting {καταρτισμός katartismós, [pronounced kat-ar-tis-mos’], or better, EQUIPPING} of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect {τέλειος téleios, [pronounced tel’-i-os], better FINISHED} man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ: 14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; 15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:

God saved us by faith in THE Son of God, and wants us to heed His Word, applying it to our lives, until we become mature sons of God.

It is all right to start out as a Christian and be a baby. In fact, it is normal. But all of you know that someone who stays a baby indefinitely is an abnormality. When parents have a child that cannot walk after a certain time, who cannot speak or form sentences after a certain amount of time, or cannot feet itself after a certain amount of time, the parents will take the child to specialists. The same is true of the Christian. From the point of salvation we are to mature, becoming more and more like Jesus. This is the standard Jesus set for us. Here is the normal Christian life:

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.

We are to love the way Jesus loved. The Corinthian Church (and many Churches today) fall far from this standard. This should not be. If you were here when I preached on 1 Corinthians Chapter 1, you know that believers are:

Sanctified or set apart from the world in Christ Jesus” (1:1), and
“Called Saints” (1:1)

The Church at Corinth is a saved body of believers, but they are stalled in childhood. They should not be stalled. The Apostle said:

1 Corinthians 2:16 – 3:1 For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? but we have the mind of Christ. 3:1 And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ.

Why Was Corinth Stalled In Spiritual Childhood?

A Church Stalls In Spiritual Growth When It
De-emphasizes The Scripture

Corinth Rejected The Importance Of The Word Of God,
And Embraced The Spirit Of Worldliness

The Apostle Paul and Sosthenes (a leader from Corinth who went to visit Paul – see 1 Corinthians 1:1) who help found and pastor Corinth have the mind of Christ. The Christian is supposed to have the mind of Christ. What gives us the the mind of Christ? It is the Word of God and the Spirit of God. The Lord told us that:

John 16:13 when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.

The Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth, is given to every Christian to guide us in this wonderful Bible, the WORD of Truth. We are to feed on God’s Word. We are to cherish God’s Word. The Prophet Jeremiah said:

Jeremiah 15:16 Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O LORD God of hosts.

We are saved by receiving the Living Word of God, Jesus, as little children. We become mature sons of God by receiving the Written Word of God as His children. We cherish God’s Word, and, through the intervention of the Spirit of God, apply it to our lives. Jesus warned us:

Matthew 7:24-27 … 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.

The Corinthian believers were just not growing. Is it Paul’s fault? Did Paul do something wrong to make them stall? No! Is it Sosthenes fault? Did Sosthenes do something wrong? No, it was the Corinthians fault.

Worldliness Entered The Kingdom Of God.

1 Corinthians 3:2-3 I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. 3 For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?

When the Apostle founded Corinth, he fed them with milk. He preached the simple Gospel to them, and they were saved by receiving that Gospel. This is wonderful! However, Paul says ye are yet carnal”, σαρκικός sarkikós, [pronounced sar-kee-kos’], “under the control of fleshly or animal appetites”. The Christian is to be governed by the Word of God and the Spirit of God. The Corinthians, like many professing Christians today, are governed by their appetites and opinions.

They do not seek the glory of God in their actions,
but self glory and promotion.

The marks of the Christian who is worldly and childish is that they are always doing things for SELF love, but doing little or nothing for OTHER love. The Apostle writes:

1 Corinthians 3:3 For ye are yet carnal: {sarkikós} for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal: {sarkikós} and walk as men?

When the atmosphere in the Church is the same as the atmosphere in the world, then there will be no life and no growth there. Paul defines the problem the Corinthians have in three words:

  • envying: ζῆλος zēlos, [pronounced dzay’-los], which means to look at what someone else has, and desiring it, to take action to take it. Envying is a violation of God’s Tenth Commandment in …

Exodus 20:17, “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbor’s.

It is the work of God to “distribute to each person as He will” (1 Corinthians 12:11). Our God gives us what He wants us to have. We are encouraged to “be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). God has been good to us all. Enjoy what you have, but do not try to take another person’s gifts, things, position, or family.

  • strife: When Christians get off base and become envious rather than loving, it always brings strife” (ἔρις éris, [pronounced er’-is]), that is, quarrels, battles, contention. God commands us to “walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife {éris} and envying.” This is the second time Paul addresses this, for we read in:

1 Corinthians 1:11 For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions [better, strife {éris}] among you.

  • Divisions: Where envy and strife are, there will always be Divisions” {διχοστασία dichostasía, [pronounced dee-khos-tas-ee’-ah]}, a reference to a Church that has walked away from unity. One of the worst things that can happen to a Church is divisions. The Apostle said in another place:

Romans 16:17-18 Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. 18 For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.

The Corinthians hid their divisions by cloaking them in in holy jargon. We read:

1 Corinthians 3:4-5 For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal? 5 Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man?

The Apostle Paul was not going to be drawn into the fray. The Christian is called to honor God, to magnify the name of Jesus. The Apostle did not take credit for the growth of Corinth, but told the Corinthians:

1 Corinthians 3:6-8 I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. 7 So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase. 8 Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labor.

God calls every believer to honor Him, and to work to the advancement of Christ’s Kingdom on this earth. We are to love one another, not loath one another. Every Christian shall receive his own reward according to his own labor. We are called to work for Jesus ourselves. To let the Spirit of God lead us as we, through the study of His Word, become more like Jesus.

We will end with this verse tonight, though we will return another day:

1 Corinthians 3:9 For we are laborers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building.

We who are Christians are to work together with one another, and with God our Savior. Every Church is both God’s husbandry and God’s building. The word translated husbandry is the Greek γεώργιον geōrgion, literally “Garden”. Everything in a Garden is put there by the Gardener to produce fruit. Weeds are not welcome! Let us all work together for the glory of God. May God the Holy Spirit draw you closer to Him today. May you live with purpose to glorify the Lord. Amen and Amen!

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About The Ninth Hour

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Turn with me in your Bibles to Acts chapter 3. This historic Gospel was written – along with the Gospel of Luke – by the Physician Luke, a companion of the Apostles. Luke, thought by many to be a Gentile, also wrote the Gospel of Luke. An early Church Pastor named Irenaeus of Lyons (c. 130-202) wrote, “Luke also, the companion of Paul, recorded in a book the Gospel preached by him.”

In the Book of Acts the outreach of the Apostles are recorded. The Apostles ministered in a culture that despised Christ. The Jewish hierarchy thought Jesus was a heretic, and His followers a cult. The Gentile hierarchy thought the “Christians” (a term invented by unbelievers to mock the followers of Christ) were either simple minded or treasonous. Yet the Apostles preached the “Good News of Salvation” through faith in the name of Jesus Christ.

After the Day of Pentecost some 3000 believers were added by God to the Church. The Church “continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.” (Acts 2:42). The Bible says the Church “continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” (Acts 2:46-47).

So what did the Apostles do after this? Did they build a big building, and take a break as they organized their “megachurch”. No, they didn’t do that. As the Apostles were all Jewish (Saul had yet been converted to Paul the Apostle), the Apostles lived out their daily lives, but with Jesus guiding them. We read:

Acts 3:1 Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour.

Devout Jews would, if able, have prayer at the Temple three times a day: 9 am, noon, and 3 pm. As Peter and John loved God, they continued to go to the Temple every day, three times a day. “The ninth hour” refers to the ninth hour from sunrise, so this would be around 3 pm. As Peter and John go into the Temple:

The Apostles Meet A Broken Man

Acts 3:2-3 And a certain man lame from his mother’s womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms of them that entered into the temple; 3 Who seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple asked an alms.

Peter and John enter into the Temple through the “Gate Beautiful”. The historian Albert Edersheim (himself a Jewish convert to Christianity) wrote that all the other gates of the Temple were covered with gold and silver plating. But the “Gate Beautiful” was …

far more magnificent than any of them was the ninth or eastern gate, which formed the principal entrance into the Temple. The ascent to it was from the terrace by twelve easy steps. The gate itself was made of dazzling Corinthian brass, most richly ornamented; and so massive were its double doors that it needed the united strength of twenty men to open and close them.”

This gate was always opened first at the beginning of the day. It was the main entrance to the Temple, the eastern gate.

Imagine this beautiful gate, glittering in the sunlight, looking somewhat like I imagine the street of gold will be like in Heaven (Revelation 21:21). It must have been glorious! And in the midst of this opulence, as people enter the Temple to pray and worship God …

… lays misery. We are told a certain man lame from his mother’s womb is sitting at the foot of this massive gate. The man is not friendless. The Bible says that they laid {him} daily at the gate of the temple. He had people who were concerned for him. They helped him get to the Temple every day. They carried him from where ever his home was, and brought him to this place to sit.

The man has been sick for so long, he no longer looks to God for help, but to man. It is the ninth hour, a time when believers should be praying. He’s not praying. He’s calling out for help. He’s looking at those around him for alms. Year after year he has been crippled, unable to walk at all. He has grown used to his misery. When he first became aware he was crippled, perhaps he prayed to God, seeking relief. But over time it seemed clear to him. God doesn’t care. If God cared, He would have healed him. So the man looked to charity.

Does God care for you? Sometimes it seems as if He doesn’t. The Psalmist David in the midst of suffering wrote:

Psalm 22:1-2 My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring? 2 O my God, I cry in the day time, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent.

We have all been there. We have suffered, and cried out in the midst of our suffering, but it seemed as if God wasn’t listening. It’s like that Brooks & Dunn song, “God Must Be Busy”:

Last night in Oklahoma
Some twister took thirteen,
And they’re praying that they find,
The missing three.
God must be busy.

It is in our humanity that we sometimes think “God must be busy”. When our Lord Jesus Christ hung on the Cross of Calvary, He spoke seven times. One of the times He spoke He cried out the same thing David did. It was at the ninth hour – about 3 pm – that Peter and John went to pray with other God fearing Jews. The Gospel tells us:

Matthew 27:46 … about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?

Jesus cried out about the ninth hour in anguish, praying to the Father as He turned away from His beloved Son. God the Father often said “This is My Beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17). The Father loves the Son with an infinite love, and the Son loves the Father with an undying love. Yet as Jesus suffers on Calvary, the temperature is raised on the offering. Jesus must not just be slain – He must be burned as a burnt offering! As the heat of judgment falls on an innocent Man, Jesus cries out, tears on His face and anguish in His voice. My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?

God must be busy. No, He is not. Jesus knows why He is there on Calvary. He is the good shepherd {that} giveth his life for the sheep(John 10:11). Calvary is no accident. Suffering is no accident. God knows what is happening – but God has His timing. But oh, do not doubt the love of God. God is always with us. Has He not said:

Isaiah 41:10 (ESV) fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Isaiah 43:2 (ESV) When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.

Psalm 32:8 (ESV) I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.

1 Peter 5:6-7 (ESV) Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.

Psalm 34:17-18 (ESV) When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.

God was not busy nor uncaring when Jesus hung on that Cross.
God was not busy nor uncaring when David suffered.
God was not busy nor uncaring when this man was born lame.
God is not busy nor uncaring when you
and I suffer.

But God has a higher purpose. God tells us:

Isaiah 55:8-9 my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. 9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

This man at the Gate Beautiful has given up on God, but God has not given up on him. God has a purpose for this man being there. God wants this man – and you – to understand the greatest thing in life is to be in a daily loving relationship with the God Who loves you so. We must love God more than anything else.

We must NOT make ourselves the YOUniverse. We must look upward, and seek the loving care of God even in the midst of our brokenness. For GOD is our completion. GOD is the reason Jesus cried out in anguish. GOD loves us so!

The Way To Healing Is Repentance

Acts 3:4-5 And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him with John, said, Look on us. 5 And he gave heed unto them, expecting to receive something of them.

It is significant that Peter didn’t ask this man his name. Peter told him, Look on us. The Greek Blepō eis hēmas! This is an Imperative verb in the Greek, a command:

stop looking for money, hear us!
get your attention off of money,
off of the passing crowd,
off of the world,
off of your destitute condition

And turn your mind to Someone Greater than all these things. This man’s only hope was that he repent, metanoeo, turn his eyes and his mind from where he was to where Jesus is.

Peter didn’t say, “Have faith in us”, for there is no power in Peter, nor John, nor anyone born of Adam. The power of healing is in Jesus. The power of salvation is in Jesus. The power to convert the sinner to Saint is in Jesus. Our Jesus:

1 Peter 3:22 (ESV) … has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him.

Peter said, “Look on us”. What he is saying is what I feebly try to say every week. “Listen to ME. Turn from where you are going, and follow my voice to Jesus!”. Peter doesn’t care what this man’s name is, but he cares that the man hear about Jesus.

Acts 3:6-7 Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk. 7 And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength.

The man was looking for Silver and gold, for charity, for a handout. Instead, Peter gave this man Jesus Christ of Nazareth. Now there are charlatans on television that go about slapping people on the head, and proclaiming them healed in the name of Jesus. Does God heal today? Yes, I believe He does.

The greatest thing is not you be restored to health, for eventually all must die. “It is appointed unto man once to die, and after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). The greatest thing is to repent and come to Jesus.

This man without Jesus had suffered so long that his feet and calves had atrophied. But hearing the powerful name of Jesus, his feet and calves regenerated. This unnamed man joins the ranks of the other unnamed people that Jesus healed.

  • Jesus healed a woman with an issue of blood. She reached through a crowd, touching the hem of the Master’s garment. Repenting and reaching out to God, she was healed! (Matthew 9:22).
  • Jesus healed a Canaanite woman’s daughter who, humbling herself, said “Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table” (Matthew 15:27).
  • Jesus saved a woman taken in adultery. “Where are those who condemn you?” “They are gone, Lord.” “Neither do I condemn you – go and sin no more”. (John 8:11)

  • Acts 3:8-11 And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God. 9 And all the people saw him walking and praising God: 10 And they knew that it was he which sat for alms at the Beautiful gate of the temple: and they were filled with wonder and amazement at that which had happened unto him. 11 And as the lame man which was healed held Peter and John, all the people ran together unto them in the porch that is called Solomon’s, greatly wondering.

This man was not quiet about his healing. I myself was not quiet the day that Jesus Christ saved me. I ran down that aisle, and knelt at the altar, crying out to Jesus for salvation. On that day Jesus took my broken heart like He took this broken man’s body and soul, and began the process of healing it.

When Jesus heals, He changes.

What I was before Jesus was crippled from birth. Low self esteem and sin enslaved me. But Jesus grabbed my hand, and pulled me to His feet. Praise Him forever!

The people saw this man walking and praising God through the Temple. Again, this is the ninth hour – the hour of afternoon prayer. In the midst of this somber time where people are praying, this man is jumping and shouting and praising God like a child plagued with super attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). If the preacher was preaching, he didn’t care. God wasn’t busy. God did love him. And he was going to praise God. The man was overjoyed because of Jesus! Just as King David of old danced in the street as God’s Ark came into Jerusalem (2 Samuel 6:16), this blessed man danced because Jesus Christ, that wonderful Ark of Salvation, came into His heart. The love of God lifted him up to walk, whereas the love of his friends could only leave him sitting at the gate Beautiful. But here’s the thing. We read:

all the people ran together unto them in the porch that is called Solomon’s, greatly wondering

This man was crippled from his birth for a reason. This man is also healed from this crippling for a reason. A greater reason. It is so that others can hear about Jesus Christ.

Peter Now Preaches Jesus

Acts 3:12 And when Peter saw it, he answered unto the people, Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this? or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk?

As a journalist would say, Peter doesn’t “bury the lede”. He starts out by telling the people it is not by our own power or holiness that this man is healed. There is no power in the preacher. God did not make the Apostles supermen. Notice that Peter says “it is not our power, NOR OUR HOLINESS” that brought this about. The power is in Jesus Christ. Peter addresses the Jewish crowd:

Acts 3:13-15 The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let him go. 14 But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you; 15 And killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses.

Peter doesn’t mince words. Peter tells them that it is Jesus Who healed this man. This is the same Jesus that the Pharisees and Scribes and Priests delivered up” (paradidōmi, to hand over) Jesus, turning Him over to Pilate. Though the Bible says that Jesus was:

Acts 2:23 … delivered by (here the Greek ékdoto)the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God

this does not lessen the wickedness of those who should have known better. Jesus was an innocent Man, turned over to death by people who knew they were guilty. According to Peter, Pilate was “determined to let {Jesus} go. Nonetheless, the “religious crowd” had Pilate release Barabbas, a known murderer, while they pushed the execution of the Prince of life. Jesus Christ died on that Cross of Calvary. He did not swoon. He did not pretend. He died. He was a corpse. Lifeless. Gone.

But Jesus did not stay dead! Peter said God hath raised {Jesus from} the dead. The proof that Jesus is alive is found in this crippled man now leaping and dancing and praising God.

Acts 3:16 And his name through faith in his name hath made this man strong, whom ye see and know: yea, the faith which is by him hath given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.

It is the power of Jesus’ name which, when believed in, brings life where there was only death. This man’s legs were dead. But now, they live!

Jesus Only Comes When You Repent

Acts 3:17-20 And now, brethren, I wot that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers. 18 But those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled. 19 Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord. 20 And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you:

The crippled man was brought to life because he repented, and believed in Jesus. Peter now tells his Jewish audience that, yes, they did what they did to Jesus in ignorance. They were led to kill the Prince of life because of sin. Sin darkens the mind. Sin enslaves the heart. For 3 ½ years Peter and John followed Jesus, but never actually repented. Who can forget Peter? It was Peter who rebuked Jesus, when our Lord told the disciples:

Matthew 16:21 … how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.

Peter told Jesus, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee.” (Matthew 16:22). Jesus told Peter,

Matthew 16:23 … Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.

Peter allowed himself to be used of Satan. John used to argue with his brother James as to who would be the “greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven” (Matthew 18:1). But Peter and John now know that there is nothing of power in themselves. It is Jesus Who heals, Jesus Who saves, Jesus Who restores life and light to the dead and darkness. Peter tells the crowd listening:

Acts 3:19-20 … Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord. 20 And he shall send Jesus Christ,

What causes sins to be blotted out? This is the Greek ἐξαλείφω exaleíphō, {pronounced ex-al-i’-fo}, which means “to wipe off or wipe away”. Those who are listening to Peter are all guilty of murder. They knew that Jesus was innocent, and yet pressed for His execution anyway. The fact that this is in accordance with the will of God does not erase their responsibility. They are responsible. God said:

Revelation 21:8 … as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.

Revelation 22:15 … Outside {of Heaven} are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.

No sinner goes to Heaven. Heaven is a Holy place, owned by a Holy God. Sin causes a breach between God and His creation. So how can sin be erased so that God cannot hold it against us? Only by faith in the Lord of Life, Jesus Christ. Peter said Repent ye therefore, and be converted.

There is one thing we do (repent), and one thing that is done to us when we do that one thing (be converted).

Peter calls on the crowd to Repent. This is the first step to being right with God. The word Repentis the Greek metanoeō, which means “to change your mind”. To stop justifying your rejection of Jesus Christ. To turn, and embrace the salvation that God offers only through Jesus. When you Repent, genuine repentance leads you to be converted. And Jesus will come to you. The Father shall send Jesus Christ into your life, praise be the Lord. When you repent, you will be converted, changed from lost to saved. You will be changed by God from,

Son of Adam to Son of God
Lost to Found of God
Tare to Wheat
Goat to Sheep

With repentance and faith in Christ, you will become:

Galatians 3:26 (KJV) “… the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.”

Before Moses died, he told Israel in Deuteronomy 18:15-19 that God would raise up another Prophet like Moses was a Prophet. Peter quotes this text to the religious crowd around him:

Acts 3:22 … Moses said, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you. 23 And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people.

Jesus Christ is that Prophet. He is the Messiah, long promised by God throughout the Scriptures. And only by faith in Jesus do we have salvation, forgiveness of our sins in the eyes of God. The Bible says:

Acts 4:12 … there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.

It is not the faithful Jew who, praying three times a day, will be saved. It is not the Priest in the Temple, nor the Preacher in the pulpit. It is not the Scribe, the student of Scripture, the Seminarian who will be saved. It is not the Pharisee or Sadducee that shall be saved. Who shall be saved? Only those who repent from following the gods of this world, and who cling to the name of Jesus Christ. These shall be saved. For there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. May God the Holy Spirit move all who hear or read this message to draw near to Jesus Christ by faith. It is He and He alone Who can give life, eternal life. Amen and Amen.

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Abortion A Terrible Scar On America

Isaiah 49:1 … Listen, O isles, unto me; and hearken, ye people, from far; The Lord hath called me from the womb; from the bowels of my mother hath he made mention of my name.

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.

Tragedy struck Oxford High School in Detroit, Michigan yesterday when a 15 year old boy shot and killed three people, and injured 8 others. News journalists wring their hands while calling for stricter gun control legislation. The problem is not the guns. The problem is that life is not reverenced in America. Children watch wanton killing on television, and play video games that reward blowing away opponents. Life is advertised as cheap, throw away, of no matter. That is so sad.

Part of the problem started in the midst of America’s sexual revolution and free love generation. Life became cheapened when, in 1973, Roe v. Wade became the law of our land. Legalized abortion became further entrenched in the 1992 Planned Parenthood v. Casey case. Since Roe became the Law of our land there have been over 62 million abortions. From 1975 – 2012 our nation saw more than one million abortions each year. What a tragic waste of life!

In 2018 Mississippi passed a state law known as the
“Gestational Age Act”

that banned the abortion procedure after 15 weeks of pregnancy. The Law was immediately challenged by the Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the only abortion provider in Mississippi. Lower courts suspended the law’s impementation pending appeal (per 1440 news digest). This Law TODAY is undergoing examination by our U.S. Supreme Court.

I now quote an article entitled “Why Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban is the one heading to the Supreme Court”:

the biggest threat to Roe {v.Wade}now sits before the high court: Mississippi’s 2018 law, which bars abortions after 15 weeks, with narrow exceptions for medical emergencies or “severe” fetal abnormalities. In May, the Supreme Court agreed to review the law by taking up the case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. It will hear arguments in the case on Dec. 1, (today, Wednesday, December 1, 2021)and a decision is expected next June.”

John Stonestreet and Glenn Sunshine writing for Breakpoint Daily write: “If the court decides the law should stand, the power to determine and limit abortion rights would effectively be returned to the states.” Bill Johnson for Americandecency.org notes, “The president of the pro-abortion Center for Reproductive Rights acknowledges … ‘The court cannot uphold this law in Mississippi without overturning Roe’s core holding.’”

Abortion is not a private matter. The death of a child, whether viable or not, hurts all of America.

Every child has potential to become someone great, to do something great in technology, medicine, the arts, religion, or science. As Clint Eastwood said in the movie Unforgiven:

“… killing a man. You take away all he’s got
and all he’s ever gonna have.”

The fundamental question that the Supreme Court examined in Roe v. Wade is the viability of the fetus. “Viability” is defined as the moment the fetus can live outside the womb on it’s own. When the fetus is nonviable, the Law does not consider the fetus a person requiring protection under the Constitution. The decision in Roe noted:

Viability is usually placed at about seven months (28 weeks) but may occur earlier, even at 24 weeks”.

With respect to the State’s important and legitimate interest in potential life, the ‘compelling’ point is at viability. This is so because the fetus then presumably has the capability of meaningful life outside the mother’s womb. State regulation protective of fetal life after viability thus has both logical and biological justifications. ” {emphasis mine}

In short, if the fetus is nonviable then it may be aborted, but viable may only be aborted in order to save the life of the mother. Here’s my question: What has GOD said?

The Fetus Has Purpose

When God spoke of two of His greatest Prophets, Isaiah and Jeremiah, God considered both viable on the basis of His eternal purpose. God told Jeremiah (1:5):

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”

According to law and medicine, the fetus is not viable before certain organs are formed. But according to God, He knew Jeremiah before he was formed in the belly. God had a plan for Jeremiah when he was but a fertilized egg in his mother. Before Jeremiah was born, God sanctified him, that is, God set him apart to be a Prophet. Similarly God told Isaiah (49:1):

from the bowels of my mother hath
{God} made mention of my name”

God puts no time limit on the viability of either of these Prophets. They were to God viable, and were designed by God with a purpose greater that just being alive. The Psalmist David wrote:

Psalm 139:13-16 (ESV) For you {O Lord} formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.[a] Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. 15 My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. 16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.

David said of God that Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me. According to American Law, David was nonviable. But according to God, while David would have been consideredunformed substanceGod included him in His Book of Life. Every child has purpose. The Prophet Job told God:

Job 10:11-12 (ESV) You {O God} clothed me with skin and flesh, and knit me together with bones and sinews. 12 You have granted me life and steadfast love, and your care has preserved my spirit.

The Fetus Is More Than Mere Tissue

As we come into this special time of the year, we celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. Though it is true we do not know exactly when Jesus was born, we celebrate the fact that the Son of God became the Son of Man to save us from our sins. One of the most interesting pro-life Scriptures is found in Luke chapter 1. Turn with me in your Bibles to Luke 1.

Luke 1:5-11 There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth. 6 And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. 7 And they had no child, because that Elisabeth was barren, and they both were now well stricken in years. 8 And it came to pass, that while he executed the priest’s office before God in the order of his course, 9 According to the custom of the priest’s office, his lot was to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord. 10 And the whole multitude of the people were praying without at the time of incense. 11 And there appeared unto him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense.

This couple, Zacharias and Elisabeth, were both believers in the Lord. Both loved God. Zacharias himself was a priest whose lineage was about to end. His wife was unable to have children. But God intervened. God sent the Angel Gabriel to Zacharias with a message:

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 him 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.

God promised that when the Messiah came, that the Messiah would have a Herald that would go before Him (Isaiah 40:3-5; Malachi 3:1; Malachi 4:5). This was the one we know as John the Baptist. John had purpose before he was ever formed in his mother’s womb. John was empowered, filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb.

When you read Luke carefully, you can see that God carefully orchestatrated the birth of John with the birth of Jesus Christ. We are told:

Luke 1:24-25 And after those days his wife Elisabeth conceived, and hid herself five months, saying, 25 Thus hath the Lord dealt with me in the days wherein he looked on me, to take away my reproach among men.

After those days, that is, after Gabriel spoke to Zacharias, Elisabeth conceived, and hid herself five months. I suspect Elisabeth hid herself to protect the forming child, as she was advanced in years. Note the next verse:

Luke 1:26-27 And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, 27 To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.

As we were told Elisabeth hid herself 5 months and, in the next verse, in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent, the two are connected. God waited until Elisabeth was six months pregnant before He sent Gabriel to speak to Mary about her miraculous coming birth. The Angel Gabriel told Mary:

Luke 1:30-33 … Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. 31 And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus. 32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: 33 And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.

Mary became pregnant with the Messiah six months from the time Elisabeth became pregnant with John the Baptist, the Herald of Christ.

This is not a coincidence, but carefully planned by God. Both of these fetuses, John and Jesus, had a wonderful destiny planned by God the Father. Once the Angel explains to Mary that:

Luke 1:35 … 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.

Gabriel goes on to tell Mary about Elisabeth’s coming birth:

Luke 1:36-37 And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren. 37 For with God nothing shall be impossible.

Mary willingly surrendered to the plan of God … and IMMEDIATELY traveled to be with her cousin Elisabeth. Mary would stay with Elisabeth about three months(Luke 1:56), helping her prepare for the birth of John. But here’s what’s interesting. When Mary enters the house of Zacharias, and salutes Elisabeth,

Luke 1:41-44 And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost: 42 And she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. 43 And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy.

As soon as Elisabeth heard Mary’s voice, John the Baptist, still in his mother’s belly, testified that Mary was the “mother of the Lord”. John was in his 24th week, and obviously was viable. But note this.

The fetus in Mary at this time could have only been a few days old – and yet the yet unborn John recognized Jesus as viable. Now put that in your pipe and smoke it! Both John and Jesus were “viable” and had purpose according to God’s standard. And isn’t that the standard we should follow?

As a Church I am calling on us all to pray for the Supreme Court of the United States, and for this nation. I call on every believer to pray that this travesty of abortion be ended I our land. Overturning Roe v. Wade will not end abortion, but return the question to the states where each citizen can have their say. My prayer is that the practice of abortion, like the practice of slavery, will become relegated to the pages of our sad history. I am praying that we will all begin to understand that life matters – especially in the womb. May God the Holy Spirit lead us all to a return to righteousness. Amen and Amen.

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As For You

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

Please turn with me in your Bibles to 1 Timothy chapter six.

Opening: I came across another sad notice the other day as a professor in Christ, a beloved Pastor, took his own life. His name was Quinnzhahn Barnes (Selah Fellowship Temple, Houston, Texas), known to many as “Rodney Barnes”. He died from a self inflicted gunshot wound to his head. Rodney was 45 years old.

It is heartbreaking when someone takes their own life, and particularly heartbreaking when it is a Pastor or a leader in a local Church. In 2013 Pastor Teddy Parker, Jr (Bibb Mount Zion Baptist Church, Macon, Georgia) was found in the driveway of his home with a self inflicted gunshot wound. When something like this happens, it causes every member of the Church effected to question their faith. This person led people to the Lord, spoke of faith weekly, and then kills themselves. It’s tragedy on a massive scale.

And not just when suicide strikes. I have known of Pastors and Church leaders found guilty of molesting children, or taking advantage of women in their flock. The latter is causing quite a stir among the Southern Baptists. I know of several Pastors who allowed themselves to be drawn into fistfights. Again, this causes all types of problems in the Church. At one Church I knew years ago the Youth Minister’s wife began a sexual affair with a well respected Deacon in the Church. It destroyed the Youth Minister’s effectiveness at that Church, and hurt the Church for years by scandal.

The possibility of these things occurring at any Church is very real. This is why the Apostle Paul addressed the young Pastor Timothy. Read with me:

1 Timothy 6:11-12 But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. 12 Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.

But thou”, or literally “as for YOU”. If you are a Christian, there are standards that Jesus not only EXPECTS, but DEMANDS. We are not to follow darkness!

Christians are to walk in the light with Jesus by their sides. And yet from the beginning, too often professors of Christ are those who(se):

Faith becomes shipwrecked” (1 Timothy 1:19)
Departed from the faith” (1 Timothy 4:1)
Cast off their first faith” (1 Timothy 5:12)
Erred from the faith” (1 Timothy 6:10)
Are not standing the test concerning faith” (2 Timothy 3:8)

In our text today Paul gives four actions that every believer in Christ needs to commit to if they want a powerful, victorious faith in Christ:

1 Timothy 6:11 But thou, O man of God, flee these things

#1: FLEE The Love Of The World

Do not play with the evils of this world. So many Christians today are becoming entrapped by Social Media (Facebook, Twitter, Tik Tok, Instagram, Parler, et al), and are guilty of dragging the name of Christ through the mud. Jesus expects His followers to use …

1 Timothy 6:3 … wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness

Word Study: That which is translated wholesome is the Greek ὑγιαίνω hugiainō, [pronounced hoog-ee-ah’-ee-no], which means “HEALTHY or SOUND” words. Jesus spoke “healthy words”. He did not spend His time tearing people apart, but instead encouraged others to follow the way of life. We as believers are to run away from the word of the world and run toward the Word of God. What God has said is true, though all the world consider it a lie. God in His Word always knows what is best. God’s Word is timeless, and applicable to every generation – even ours! God’s standard for us is that we …

Ephesians 4:14-15 … henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; 15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into {Christ} in all things, which is the head, even Christ

The believer’s target is to hear the Word of God, to apply the Word of God, to feed our souls on the Word of God, until we develop a Christlike worldview.

Our target is to, as sons of God, to be like THE Son of God, Jesus Christ our Lord. We are to flee the doctrines of man, and embrace the truths of Scripture.

We are to flee the love of money and prosperity. Some preachers today are so called “Prosperity Preachers”. They teach that – since God loves you – God wants you to be wealthy. This is patently untrue. False teachers are guilty of …

1 Timothy 6:5-10 {these are} supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself. 6 But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. 8 And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. 9 But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. 10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

God does not want every Christian to be rich. In fact, very few Christians can handle being rich. Of the original 12 Disciples, which one fell miserably into sin? It was Judas Iscariot. The Bible says:

John 12:6 (ESV) {Judas Iscariot} was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it.

Judas allowed his love of money to get between himself and the Lord Jesus Christ. Judas had all the benefits that the other eleven disciples had. And yet, loving money above all else, Jesus considered Judas “a devil” (John 6:70). In time, Judas would betray the Master to His death. Going to Jesus’ enemies, Judas asks:

Matthew 25:15 (ESV) “What will you give me if I deliver him over to you?” And they paid him thirty pieces of silver.

The faith of Christ is not meant to be greedy, nor sneaky and conspiring. The faith of Christ is meant to be loving and caring, nurturing and sharing. We are called to “love one another, as Jesus loved us” (John 13:34; 15:12), not to betray one another. Poor Judas ended up hanging himself (Matthew 27:5). Peter said, “falling headlong {Judas} burst open in the middle and all his bowels gushed out” (ESV – Acts 1:18). What a horrible death!

Flee worldliness! As Joseph ran away when Potiphar’s wife tried to seduce him (Genesis 39:12), run away from worldly thoughts and practices. Keep viewing your life through the lens of God’s Word.

#2: Follow The Lord Who Loves You

1 Timothy 6:11 .. But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.

We are to follow after “righteousness. Righteousness is what God has said is right, not what man has said is right. The Bible says:

Deuteronomy 6:25 And it shall be our righteousness, if we observe to do all these commandments before the Lord our God, as he hath commanded us.

It is “the righteous God Who will judge our hearts and emotions” (Psalm 7:9). God knows what is right. From the beginning of our creation, humanity has tried to define what we think is right and wrong. It didn’t work in the Garden of Eden, and won’t work now.

God loves righteousness, and hated wickedness (Psalm 45:7), because of what sin does to people.

Psalm 50:6 … the heavens shall declare his righteousness: for God is judge himself. Selah.

It is sin that is tearing families apart. It is sin that addicts people, and turns people into murderers and rapists. God calls His people to pursue righteousness. Not self righteousness, but God’s righteousness. If you want a great living example of righteousness, seek out and study the life of Christ. 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;

We are called to live our lives “in Christ Jesus”, following His “way, truth, and life” (John 14:6).

We are to follow after “godliness. We are to imitate God.

Ephesians 5:1-4 Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; 2 And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour. 3 But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; 4 Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.

We are called to walk in the light, as {God} is in the light, {and} have fellowship one with another” (1 John 1:7).

We are to follow after “faith”, not our feelings.

Our feelings cannot be trusted – but God can be trusted! I remember when I first learned to ride a bike. I had no training wheels, but had a daddy that ran behind me telling me to peddle and steer. I trusted that daddy wouldn’t let me fall, though I felt like there was no way that two wheels were going to hold me up. Then daddy let go – and I rode. I soared! Had I listened to my feelings, I would have never rode a bike, or learned to swim, or learned to weld and operate bindery equipment. The Bible says:

Proverbs 3:5-6 (ESV) Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. 6 In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

We are to follow after “love”.

Romans 13:8-10 Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9 For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

When you love others as Christ commands, then you are doing the main thing. Jesus emphasized this when He said:

Matthew 22:37-40 … Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

We are to follow after “patience”.

Pastor Marshall Segal of Desiring God ministries writes:

Impatience is a dark and prevalent sin that we love to explain away. We were worn out. We were busy. We were distracted. The kids were being difficult. We were carrying too much at work. Our spouse was short or cold or harsh again. We didn’t sleep well last night. What excuses do you reach for when your patience runs low? … Impatience is a child of our pride and unbelief. It rises out of our frustration that we do not control what happens and when in our lives. ..”

God’s ways are not our ways. We love things quickly – but God, Who is eternal, only answers our prayers when the timing is right. The Stepbrother of Christ, James, writes:

James 1:2-4 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; 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.

If we will not be impatient as we go through the valleys, and wait upon the Lord, He will use our patient waiting to make us mature believers in Christ, entire, wanting nothing. Along with pursuing patience, we are to:

Follow after “meekness” (πραότης praotēs),
which is humility
.

When the valleys come, use them as an opportunity to humble yourselves before God, trusting in His provisions. We would do well to remember that Israel murmured and grumbled herself out of the blessings of the Promised Land. God says:

1 Peter 5:5 …. all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.

We are not just to FLEE worldliness and FOLLOW our God, but we are to:

#3: Fight The Fight Of Faith

1 Timothy 6:12 … Fight the good fight of faith

The Apostle Paul taught that salvation is a “free gift” and a “gift by Grace”:

Romans 5:16-17 (ESV) … the free gift is not like the result of {Adam’s} sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. 17 For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.

Salvation is a free gift from God. It is free in the sense that you cannot earn it nor deserve it. But ..

Salvation, though free, comes with a cost.
Salvation is
a LIFE EXCHANGE.

Jesus laid His life down for you. When you receive Him as Lord and Savior, you lay your life down at His feet. Jesus takes our punishment, and we take Jesus’ Lordship. From the point of salvation we are NOT OUR OWN – we are BOUGHT WITH A PRICE” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20; 7:23). When you are saved, you are transferred from Satan’s kingdom of darkness, and into the kingdom of Christ” (Colossians 1:13).

But the devil doesn’t like this. The devil will do anything he can to draw you back into his kingdom. Faith is a fight! Faith is a race, a marathon, not a sprint. The Bible says:

Hebrews 12:1-2 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, 2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Saving faith is often painful. Jesus said:

Luke 9:23 … If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.

To take up his cross daily means to be willing, just as Jesus was, to stand up for God even though all the world mock you. The cross is not comfortable. The cross is harsh, painful to bear as Jesus did, heavy. It is much easier to drop the cross and meld into the crowd. But this is not what God has called us to do. We are to fight the devil. We are to cast the talking snake out of Eden. We are to stand should to shoulder with our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, and stand firm on what God has said. Finally, believers are to:

#4: FIX Our Minds On Eternity

1 Timothy 6:11-12 But thou, O man of God … 12 Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called

Word Study: The words lay hold is a long Greek word, ἐπιλαμβάνομαι epilambánomai, [pronounced ep-ee-lam-ban’-om-ahee]. It means “to take possession of, to seize upon and draw something to yourselves”. As believers in Christ we are to always fix our minds on Heaven, remembering that all we are currently experiencing is just temporary duty.

Illustrate: When I was in the Air Force, there were times I had to go TDY, or “On Temporary Duty Assignment”. I had to leave my wife and children, the Church and community I loved, and go to strange places to serve our nation. While on assignment in Korea, Thailand, the Philippines, Egypt, and Germany I was a “stranger in a strange land”. Where I was was not my home. But I honored the nation that owned me. I did my duty, then returned home. The longest tour of duty I had was fourteen months in Korea. That is a long time to be away from your family and friends. The way I got through that tour was to daily fix my mind on my home. Every day I would pray for my wife and kids, and ask God to protect them and bless them. Every day I focused on getting to my final destination – home!

Christian, this world is not your home. Your home is with Jesus in Heaven. Right now you are on Temporary Duty Assignment for the Lord. Never forget that.

This world is not my home I’m just a-passing through
My treasures are laid up Somewhere beyond the blue.
The angels beckon me From heaven’s open door
And I can’t feel at home In this world anymore.
Oh Lord, you know I have no friend like you
If heaven’s not my home Then Lord what will I do?
The angels beckon me From heaven’s open door
And I can’t feel at home In this world anymore.

Do not be like the world – you are children of the Most High. As for you, live for Jesus! May God touch your hearts through His Word and His blessed Spirit. Amen and Amen!

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The Testimony Of God

Photo by Andrew Seaman on Unsplash

1 Corinthians 2:1-9 And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. 2 For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. 3 And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. 4 And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: 5 That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. 6 Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to naught: 7 But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: 8 Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9 But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.

The Church at Corinth was one of Paul’s biggest successes. As we studied before, Paul “reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks.” (Acts 18:4). Paul emphasized to the Jews that “Jesus was Christ”, but they rejected that message (Acts 18:5). At that point, the Apostle focused on the Gentiles. This brought it’s own challenges.

Corinth was a Roman Colony, populated largely by freed slaves . As the city existed because of the benevolence of Rome, the citizens would have participated in banquets honoring the Emperor. To show loyalty to the empire, the citizens were expected to honor the gods of Rome, and in particular the chief god, the Roman Emperor. One commentary notes:

Corinth is probably the Church of the New Testament that is most like the modern Church.”

Though Corinth had many faults, it was by the Grace of God and the Power of His Spirit that the Church stood at all. As Paul writes Corinth, he reminds them that he relied on the Testimony of God – The Gospel – to found Corinth.

The Testimony Of God Is That We Are Broken,
And Only Christ Can Fix Us

1 Corinthians 2:1-2 And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. 2 For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.

Corinth was known for it’s philosophers and scholars, for it’s athletic achievement and strength. When Paul came to Corinth, he did not depend on “excellence of speech” (hyperochē logos, elevated or inspiring words). This does not mean that Paul consciously avoided deep truths. Some of the Pauline writings are very deep. The Apostle Peter wrote of Paul’s letters in

2 Peter 3:16 (ESV) … There are some things in {Paul’s writings} that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures.

The Chief Apostle Peter, himself a ordinary fisherman, found in Paul’s epistles things .. that are hard to understand. This was not because Paul sought to be fancy, but because Paul was a very educated man. Paul was educated at the feet of Gamaliel according to the strict manner of the law of Israel (Acts 22:3). Paul had a distinguished background. He told the Church at Philippi:

Philippians 3:5-6 (ESV) … {I was} circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; 6 as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless.

When Jesus spoke the Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector, Paul could have played the part of the Pharisee, for he was a Pharisee, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee. When the Pharisee and the Tax Collector went to God to pray, the Pharisee said:

Luke 18:11-12 (ESV) ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’

But the poor Tax Collector would not even lift his eyes to Heaven, but said, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!” (Luke 18:13). Jesus said the Tax Collector would have been justified or made right in God’s eyes, but not the Pharisee.

Paul could have been that Pharisee in that parable.

Paul was so certain he was right before God, that he went about attacking Churches, and persecuting Christians.

Paul (then called Saul) was there when the Evangelist Stephen was martyred. (Acts 7:58). As Saul, he led a great persecution against the Church in Jerusalem, and scattered believers, running for their lives, throughout Judea and Samaria. The Bible says Saul was RAVAGING the church, entering house after house, dragging off men and women to prison” (Acts 8:3). Saul’s very BREATH – expelled from a self righteous and hate filled heart – stank of “threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord” (Acts 9:1).

Then Saul met Jesus on the Damascus Road.
And Saul became Paul.

Illustrate Self Righteousness: Beloved, self righteousness is no more than self worship, making of yourselves more than you are. I read a wonderful illustration of self righteousness the other day. I read a daily devotional called “Beside Still Waters”, and came across an article written by Brother Winfred Zimmerman (Clayton DE) called “Brownfields of the Heart”:

Scattered across the U.S. are areas designated by the government as “brownfields”. These are parcels of land that are so contaminated with hazardous chemicals that nobody will use them. On the worst of these, the damage is obvious. The landscape is depressing … the ground is barren and useless.”

I never knew about brownfields, but when I read that article it really struck home. You cannot fix a brownfield by covering it up with good soil, for the bad will eventually creep up through the good, and contaminate the whole. The only way to fix a brownfield is to remove all the pollutant, no matter how deep it goes.

So it is with the human heart. We are all terribly flawed, broken by sin. We all fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). We can cover over our sin with a shallow covering of good works, but truthfully, unless the heart is changed, the pollutant is still there. Jesus said:

Mark 7:18-23 (ESV) Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him, 19 since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?” (Thus [Jesus] declared all foods clean.) 20 And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. 21 For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, 22 coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”

Good without God is Bad: It is the heart that needs to be changed, or the brownfields of the heart, the sin within, will eventually bubble to the top. When Jesus was being tried by the High Priest, the one who was supposed to be God’s Representative to Israel, the High Priest knowingly collaborated to bring in liars (a violation of the 9th commandment). Matthew 26:60 notes that “many false witnesses came forward”. The Priest, robed in splendor on the outside, was but a covered brownfield.

Such was Saul before he was Paul. But now Paul operates differently.

1 Corinthians 2:1 And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God.

Paul said “my focus was not my pedigree, nor my education, nor my status as a Roman citizen”. He said, I declared “unto you the testimony of God. What is God’s testimony?

God’s testimony is that we are all born into this world sinners. We are, as the theologians call it, “Totally Depraved”.

The Prophet Isaiah cried out, All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way” (ESV Isaiah 53:6) “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away. 7 And there is none that calleth upon thy name, that stirreth up himself to take hold of thee: for thou hast hid thy face from us, and hast consumed us, because of our iniquities.” (Isaiah 64:6-7).

We are born wandering away from God. Our righteousnesses are as filthy rags. We fall far short of God’s standard, the standard that He set in the Garden. The Psalmist David said:

Psalm 51:5 (ESV) … I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.

Psalm 58:3 (ESV) … The wicked are estranged from the womb; they go astray from birth, speaking lies.

Our first birth brings forth a broken, sinful creature. Those who know not Christ are “dead in trespasses and in sins” (Ephesians 2:1). Those without Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior are those who, according to God, “by nature deserve God’s wrath” (Ephesians 2:3).

We All Need A Second Spiritual Birth

Preach: The first birth is corrupt. This is why we all need to be born again, born a SECOND time, born SPIRITUALLY into the Kingdom of God. The testimony of God is that we are all broken, born broken into this world. But God’s testimony is also this: God HIMSELF was born into this world, and lived a perfect life, a life without sin. The Bible says “those who are in the flesh cannot please God” (Romans 8:8). And yet Jesus Christ, “God with us” (Matthew 1:23), pleased God. The Father said of Jesus, “THIS is MY BELOVED SON, IN WHOM I am WELL PLEASED” (Matthew 3:17; 17:5). God went on to say “Listen to Jesus!” (Mark 9:7). In the flesh we cannot please God, but the God-Man Jesus pleased God. All that He did pleased God. Jesus said, “If you have seen Me, you have seen the Father” (John 14:9). Jesus Christ was perfect Man, sinless Man, holy Man, righteous Man, the Son of Man. And Jesus Christ died for our sins. Jesus WILLINGLY died. Jesus came into this world with one thing in mind.

He wanted to save you. He was willing to die for you. Jesus said:

John 10:11, 15, 17 … I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. … the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. … the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again.

Paul told Corinth,

1 Corinthians 2:2-5 For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. 3 And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. 4 And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: 5 That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.

Paul did not put on airs, or make himself something that he was not. Paul showed the Corinthians that he was but a man. He was with Corinth in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. Paul was not doubting his calling as an Apostle. But what he relied on was not his own strength, but on the power of God’s Holy Spirit and the Testimony of God. The Cross is the Testimony of God.

  • The Cross testifies as to what God thinks of SIN. SIN is what God says is wrong. There are all kinds of sins. Sometimes called “the works of the flesh”, sin is defined in Scripture like

Galatians 5:19-21 (ESV) … sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

1 Corinthians 6:9-10 (ESV) … do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.

Sin is horrible. It separates us from God. It is an eternal offense against the righteousness nature of the Creator. Sin is no “mistake” or “accident”, but the outward action of a heart dispossessed from God. Do you want to know what God thinks about sin? Look to the Cross. Look to ..

1 Corinthians 2:2 …. Jesus Christ, and Him crucified

Jesus Christ was crucified for us, for our sins. The Prophet said:

Isaiah 53:3-5 (ESV) 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. 4 Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.

Jesus Christ paid the penalty for our sins in full. Paul did not mince words as her preached to the Corinthians. Any hope that anyone has to be right with God depends on casting yourselves upon Jesus.

Jesus gave Himself for us. When we give ourselves to Him, we gain righteousness in God’s eyes. We gain the status of children of God.

God’s Testimony Is That He Will Change Places With You, If You Will But Believe In Christ

The Apostle writes:

1 Corinthians 2:6-8 Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to naught: 7 But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: 8 Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

When Jesus was crucified on Calvary, the princes of this world though nothing of it. To them, an unknown carpenter’s Son had gotten on the wrong side of the law. It was a matter of, wrong place, wrong time. But that wasn’t true. Jesus Christ was, is, and will always be God’s only way to rightness with Him.

We are saved by taking our defective and sin riddled lives to the Cross. We give ourselves to Jesus, and Jesus gives His life to us. The Apostle Paul wrote of his old life as Saul, saying:

Philippians 3:7-11 But whatever gain I had {in my previous life}, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

Paul in effect said, “I exchanged the old, broken down, sin and fame loving me for a life believing on Jesus. And I am not regretting it!”

When you trade your old, flesh driven life for a life bound to Jesus, your life changes for the better. We who are saved by faith in Jesus have a right relationship with God. The Apostle said:

1 John 2:1-6 (ESV) My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 2 He is the {COVERING} for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. 3 And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. 4 Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, 5 but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: 6 whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.

Salvation is necessarily a free gift from God. You cannot earn it, nor deserve it. To be saved you give yourself to Jesus as Christ, the Messiah. You give Jesus the broken you, and follow Him. Jesus causes you to be born again, and gives you a Christ following, God loving you.

The only way to be saved is through faith in Jesus. Jesus was clear:

John 14:6 … I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

There is but one way to have peace with God, and that is by laying your life down at the feet of Jesus. “Our faith does not stand in the wisdom of man, but in the power of God” (vvs 5). Jesus said:

Matthew 16:24 (ESV) If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.

Before we were saved, the unbeliever selfishly lived for themselves. You see it all the time on television.

You do you”
“Be yourself”
“Love yourself”

The way of the Cross is different. The way of the Cross is to be like Jesus, to lay your life down for a greater good. You are called to do love. You are called to reject selfishness. You are called to be “lights in the midst of darkness” (Matthew 5:16). The Christian is not as he or she was – you are changed, and will continue to change until you reach eternity. We are no longer bound to the darkness. The Apostle said in:

Colossians 1:12-14 (ESV) {daily be} giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. 13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

One thing that every Christian has in common is that we are heavenward bound. The Apostle writes:

1 Corinthians 2:9 But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.

If you love God, you are headed toward an eternal life that is unimaginable in it’s beauty. We are, dear believers, sons of God headed for home. Until that day comes we are to daily take up the Cross, and follow Jesus. Let us live our lives so as to honor and glorify our Savior and Lord.

Do you know Jesus Christ? Is He your Savior and Lord? If so, glory awaits you. But if not, the pit of hell is your destiny. Please, do not go one more minute without receiving Jesus Christ as He is – your Lord and Savior. May God through His Word and His Spirit draw multitudes into His family this very day. Amen and Amen.

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We All Need This Exercise

Photo by Arek Adeoye on Unsplash

Turn with me in your Bibles to Jeremiah 9:24.

I do not discuss politics in the Lord’s Pulpit. When I stand here, I stand for Jesus, not for Republicans, Democrats, Socialists, or Libertarians. I hope you understand this isn’t a political message.

As I was preparing for this message, the Lord led
me to think about one term Presidents.

There have been 23 one term Presidents in our nation’s history, as of this moment in time. President Joe Biden is our 46th President. This tells us that half of our Presidents have been elected to more than one term of office, and half to just one term.

The longest serving President was Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR). He served three terms, and died 2 months and 23 days into his fourth term. Roosevelt, a Democrat, was President during the Great Depression, and led the United States through World War II. Roosevelt died in office April 12, 1945 right after that war ended. Though Roosevelt was crippled and wheelchair bound from a paralytic illness thought to be polio, he was very popular. Roosevelt used radio to speak directly to the American people. He gave 30 “fireside chats” where Roosevelt comforted the nation. One source said that he…

“… spoke with familiarity to millions of Americans about recovery from the Great Depression, the promulgation of the Emergency Banking Act in response to the banking crisis, the 1936 recession, New Deal initiatives, and the course of World War II. On radio, he was able to quell rumors, counter conservative-dominated newspapers and explain his policies directly to the American people. His tone and demeanor communicated self-assurance during times of despair and uncertainty. Roosevelt was regarded as an effective communicator on radio, and the fireside chats kept him in high public regard throughout his presidency.” (Wikipedia)

Presidents can no longer serve four terms. After FDR’s time in office, the Twenty-second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was drafted to limit the Presidency to two terms. That Amendment was approved by Congress March 1947, and ratified into law February 27, 1951). According to Wikipedia, it was FDR’s Presidency that led Republicans to push for term limits for the President. Since 1985, when Ronald Reagan (a very popular Republican, and our 40th President) was in office, there have been attempts to undo the Twenty-second Amendment, but it still stands. Though Roosevelt was a Democrat, and Reagan a Republican, both men had one thing in common:

Roosevelt and Reagan were visiblykind,
even to their enemies.

Jeremiah 9:24 But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the Lord.

Our God Is Kind

Kindness matters. Our world is coarse and harsher today, I believe, because there is a lack of kindness among our leaders. The world is starving – and dying – for kindness.

Every creature under the glow of God’s sun is broken. The Scripture is adamant: “All have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). We all mess up. No one has a reason to be holier than thou. No one need pretend they are perfect. We aren’t. We are all broken.

As we look at Jeremiah, not what God says of Himself. This is God speaking. Again, this is GOD SPEAKING. God tells us:

Jeremiah 9:24 I am the Lord which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness

Word Study: God exercises. That doesn’t mean He goes to the gym and works out. The word translated exercise is the Hebrew עָשָׂה ʻâsâh, [pronounced aw-saw’], which means to advance or accomplish, to do. God doesn’t talk about kindness, He actually does it.

Word Study: Of the three things God delightsin doing, He enjoys lovingkindnessfirst. This word is the Hebrewחֶסֶד cheçed, [pronounced kheh’-sed], which is translated in the King James text mercy (149 times), kindness (40 times), and lovingkindness (30 times).

The heart of kindness is mercy. Mercy shows compassion or forgiveness toward others, even when it is in your power (and even your right) to punish or harm.

God does not justdelights in lovingkindness, but close on it’s heels we see that God delights in “judgment, and righteousness”. God has a standard that He expects creation to follow. When the world turned so far away from God that:

Genesis 6:5 … the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

Then God decided to do a hard reset. He brought a worldwide flood that killed all of humanity but eight (Noah and his family). The judgment and righteousness of God led to the mass destruction of the flood, but the lovingkindness of God caused Him to provide a way that humanity could still exist.

Lovingkindness does not eradicate God’s righteousness and judgment – but it does temper them.

People are fond of saying that “God is love”, and He is indeed “love”. But He is also righteous, the God of judgment. Our God determines right from wrong. If God determines a thing is wrong, it is wrong regardless as to what we think or believe.

In Jeremiah chapter 9 God is foretelling Judah that they will be carried off into captivity. Why is Judah going away into captivity? Because they have drifted away from a right relationship with God our Savior. Judah has allowed itself to compromise with the darkness. God’s people are not to compromise with evil, but to wrestle against it. The Scripture says:

Ephesians 6:12 … we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

Preach: When God’s people wander away from their Lord and Savior, there is no “light of the world” (Matthew 5:14). We as God’s children are to “let our light shine before all, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father Who is in Heaven”. Those who do not love Jesus are in the grip of “the god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4), that fallen angel we call Lucifer. We who are Christ’s by faith are “delivered from the power of darkness” (Colossians 1:13), and called to walk in Christ’s Kingdom of Light. When God’s lights (that’s the believer ion Christ) compromises with the darkness, we do so by becoming less light and more dark. In time, God – Who is the righteous Judge – will move to punish His children (Hebrews 12:7-8). God’s method of punishing Judah was to have that nation overthrown, and taken into captivity for 70 years.

What did God think of what He was being forced to do? We read:

Jeremiah 9:1-3 Oh that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people! 2 Oh that I had in the wilderness a lodging place of wayfaring men; that I might leave my people, and go from them! for they be all adulterers, an assembly of treacherous men. 3 And they bend their tongues like their bow for lies: but they are not valiant for the truth upon the earth; for they proceed from evil to evil, and they know not me, saith the Lord.

The lovingkindness of God caused Him to weep over what He must do. Nevertheless, He had no choice but to do it. His people would not repent. They would not return to a right relationship with Him. So God would not only allow Judah’s collapse, God would engineer it. This should not have been a surprise to Israel. Right after God freed Israel from Egypt, God defined His character to Moses by saying:

Exodus 34:6-7 the LORD passed by before {Moses}, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness {KINDNESS, Hebrew cheçed, pronounced kheh’-sed]} and truth, 7 Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.

God is abundant in KINDNESS. The Psalmist praised our God, saying:

Psalm 36:5-7 Thy mercy, O Lord, is in the heavens; and thy faithfulness reacheth unto the clouds. 6 Thy righteousness is like the great mountains; thy judgments are a great deep: O Lord, thou preservest man and beast. 7 How excellent is thy lovingkindness, O God! therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings.

If God Is Kind, And We Are Made In God’s Image,
As His Creation We Should Be Kind

We live in a day where people can go online and, through “social networks”, express the darkness of their hearts without consequence. I think this is why unkindness is reigning in America (and the whole world) today. The devil is doing his best to create disciples of unkindness through the internet. When I was growing up, people tempered their anger or displeasure with patience and kindness – else they might get a punch in the nose! The internet is conditioning America to be unkind – and it is spilling out of the social networks and into the streets.

The lost world will follow its master Lucifer as far as he will take them. But God’s people are called to imitate God. The Scripture says:

Ephesians 5:1-2 Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; 2 And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savor.

We are to walk in love as Jesus Himself walked in love. When the Bible defines the word love, it states:

1 Corinthians 13:4 (ESV) Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant…

One of the components of love is kindness. Pastor Don Carson wrote in his book Showing The Spirit: A Theological Exposition Of 1 Corinthians 12-14”:

Love is kind – not merely patient or long suffering in the face of injury, but quick to pay back with kindness what it received in hurt” (pg 79).

God expects His children to be kind. Though the Apostle Paul and those who worked with him were often persecuted by “stripes, imprisonment, and confusion” (2 Corinthians 6:5), he and the other Apostles as leaders of God’s Church responded with:

2 Corinthians 6:6 By pureness, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned,

They could have been ugly when they were brutalized. In fact, in one instance the Apostle Paul allowed his humanity to outshine his spirituality. When the High Priest Ananias slapped Paul in the mouth, Paul saidGod shall smite thee, thou whited wall: for sittest thou to judge me after the law, and commandest me to be smitten contrary to the law?” Paul quickly recanted what he did, saying, I didn’t know he was the High Priest. It is written: you shall not speak evil of the ruler of My people” (Acts 23:4-5). The Apostle was quoting Exodus 22:28.

God commands that we be kind.

In another place, the Apostle lists the characteristics of the fruit of the Holy Spirit, saying:

Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, {KINDNESS, χρηστότης chrēstótēs, khray-stot’-ace} goodness, faith, meekness, temperance…

I do not believe there is anyone in the world who has more enemies than the Lord Jesus Christ had, and has. Jesus was constantly harassed by the religious establishment. The Pharisees and the Scribes sought to find fault with Jesus at every turn. And yet, Jesus was kind, and encouraged we who are His disciples to be kind. Jesus said:

Matthew 5:43-45, 48 … Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy. 44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; 45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. … 48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

We are to be like our Heavenly Father. Love the unlovable. Do good to those who do evil to you. In short, be kind, whether they deserve your kindness or not.

What You Do, Or Do Not Do, Matters

God tells Judah that He is going to send them into exile. He says:

Jeremiah 9:13-16 And the Lord saith, Because they have forsaken my law which I set before them, and have not obeyed my voice, neither walked therein; 14 But have walked after the imagination of their own heart, and after Baalim, which their fathers taught them: 15 Therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will feed them, even this people, with wormwood, and give them water of gall to drink. 16 I will scatter them also among the heathen, whom neither they nor their fathers have known: and I will send a sword after them, till I have consumed them.

The very fact that God is warning Judah of His coming discipline is in itself an act of kindness. God as Savior and Creator of His people has the right to do with them as He wishes. But God is driven by not just righteousness and judgment, but also with kindness. If the people would REPENT, God will not do as He says. But if they hold the course of ignoring His Will, and continue to chase after the false gods of this world, then God will discipline.

And it won’t be pretty!

God tells us as His children to be kind – and to leave vengeance to Him. Rather than responding to hurt with wrath, God tells us:

Romans 12:19-21 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.

Let love prevail. “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:32). Let your kindness delight God. He will bless you for it.

May God the Holy Spirit and His Word draw you closer to Him this very day. Amen and amen!

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Glory In The Lord

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1 Corinthians 1:30-31 But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: 31 That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.

Last Sunday night we began a journey through the book of 1 Corinthians. Though all of the “Church Letters” (writings like Romans, Colossians, Philippians, Thessalonians – to name just a few) are necessary for the local Church to learn, I believe 1 Corinthians is a particularly timely book for the day we live in. I came across an article submitted to the Gospel Coalition entitled “Self-Worship Is The World’s Fastest Growing Religion”. Author Thaddeus Williams noted:

In their recent book Good Faith: Being a Christian When Society Thinks You’re Irrelevant and Extreme, David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons document that 84 percent of Americans believe that “enjoying yourself is the highest goal of life.” … Further, 86 percent believe that to enjoy yourself you must “pursue the things you desire most.” … And 91 percent affirm this statement: “To find yourself, look within yourself.””

You can see this everywhere you look. A commercial came on television the other day for H&M, a Swedish multinational clothing company. A stylish black man comes on screen, and as he walks toward the camera telling us “You do you. The most important thing is to love yourself. I know I do.”

It is this attitude that got us in trouble from the beginning of humanity. When Adam heard the serpent (Satan) say, “The reason God didn’t want you to eat of the tree of knowledge is because He doesn’t want any competition. He’s trying to keep YOU from becoming a god, too! (paraphrase of Genesis 3:5). Who wouldn’t want to be a god? So Adam ate, and we all lost Paradise. We should have learned from that.

When Israel waited for Moses to come down from Mount Sinai, someone suggested “let’s build a god to lead us”. Everyone chipped in a little jewelry, gave it to Aaron the High Priest, and he made them all a golden calf. (Exodus 32:4). When Moses came down off the mountain, he made Israel drink the ashes of that calf (Exodus 32:20). I don’t think it tasted that well, but the point is clear. Any god that we make with our own hands is not only lacking in nutrients, but it’s not fit to drink. And it eventually ends up in the toilet!

In the Medical News Today newsletter we are told that today, “Gender is different than sex. Although genetic factors typically define a person’s sex, gender refers to how they identify on the inside. Only the person themselves can determine what their gender identity is.” Some people say that there are 72 genders, and others 57 genders. This is what happens when people become gods, and reject the true God of the Holy Scripture. The Bible tells us that we are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27) – but we are definitely NOT God nor little “g” gods. God tells us:

1 Corinthians 1:19-20 For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. 20 Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?

Said to be unsinkable, the Titanic struck an iceberg and sank April 15, 1912. As families gathered at the White Star Line office in Liverpool, England, they waited breathlessly to hear if their loved ones survived or not. Dr. Joe Pettigrew noted:

“”On both sides of the main entrance notices were posted. One {notice} said ‘KNOWN TO BE SAVED’; the other {notice} said, ‘KNOWN TO BE LOST’. From time to time a company official walked out with a piece of paper which contained the name of another passenger. When he held it up, a deathly stillness swept over the crowd as loved ones of the missing waited to see which side he would write the name on.”

In Heaven there is a book called “The Book of Life” (Philippians 4:3; Revelation 3:5; 13:8; 17:8; 20:12; 20:15). The only ones that will enter into God’s Paradise we call Heaven is “those whose names are written in the Book of Life” (Revelation 21:27). Those in the Book of Life are those ‘KNOWN TO BE SAVED’. How do you get your name in that Book? It is not by human wisdom, or human knowledge and strength. You get in that all important Book by believing in the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior.

Only The Cross Will Get You Into God’s Kingdom

1 Corinthians 1:17 …For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.

In the Church at Corinth, the believers there had become to believe their salvation was better than another’s salvation because the Apostle Paul, or the Evangelist Apollo, or the Chief Apostle Peter, or the Messiah Jesus baptized them. Paul wanted the Corinthians know that, though Baptism is an important part of our faith (for Jesus commanded water baptism – Matthew 28:19-20), it is only the Gospel and how you respond to it that saves. When Paul says that Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel, he is emphasizing that it is only your response to the Gospel that saves or damns you. Let me put it this way.

Some Christians are baptized by immersion in water. I believe this is the New Testament standard. But other Christians are baptized by having water poured over them. Yet others are baptized by having a few drops of water sprinkled on them from a chalice or a cup. Each group is baptized by a different method, and they are following their conscience.

But salvation is not brought to a person because of baptism. Salvation only comes by the preaching of the Gospel (Greek εὐαγγελίζω euangelizō). That same phrase “preaching of the Gospel” can also be translated “to bring or declare good news”.

Illustrate: On my keychain are several keys. They are all good keys – I don’t keep old keys – and each key opens a certain door. I can take a perfectly good house key and try to open the doors of this Church building with it. It won’t open. Why? Because it’s the wrong key. Only the right key will open the doors to this sanctuary.

Only the right key will open the door to God’s Kingdom. That key is the Gospel or Good News of the Cross.

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

Word Study: The word preaching is actually the Greek λόγος logos, which means “WORD”. The Apostle doesn’t want the Corinthians nor us to believe that only the preacher can lead a person to salvation. The power of salvation is not in me, nor in any holy person, not even the so called “Pope”. The power of salvation is in the WORD OF THE CROSS. The Scripture says:

Psalm 33:6 By the WORD OF THE LORD were the Heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth.

God and God alone made all that you see around you by speaking it into existence. He made SOMETHING out of NOTHING. When God made mankind, and entered mankind through Jesus Christ His Son, He sent His Only Begotten Son to die for our sins.

Oh, we are broken and sinful creatures.

Two tricks that Satan uses to try and get us all to reject the Word of the Cross is (1) “You can become gods”, and (2) “You can be good enough”.

Hell will be filled with people who felt they were “good enough”. The Bible is quite clear, that,

Romans 5:12, 17-21 … 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: … 17 … by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.) 18 Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. 19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous. 20 Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: 21 That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.

Adam brought sin and death into the world. Adam broke fellowship with God, and lost the key to Paradise. But Jesus came, the anti-Adam, and living a perfect and sinless life, went to the Cross to make payment for our sins. John the Baptist famously said of Jesus,

John 1:29 … BEHOLD, the Lamb of God, Who takes away the sin of the world …

Jesus took away the penalty of sin by taking our punishment for us.

Illustrate: The legendary preacher C.H. Spurgeon was saved at the age of 15 years old. He stumbled upon a small chapel where an unknown and illiterate man shared the Word of the Cross. His text was Isaiah 45:22, “Look unto Me and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.” As the man preached, Spurgeon heard his words:

Jesus said ‘Look unto Me, I am sweating great drops of blood. Look unto Me, I am hanging on the Cross. Look unto Me, I ascend unto Heaven. Look unto Me, I am sitting at the Father’s right hand. O poor sinner, look unto Me!”

Spurgeon testified, “I looked until I could almost have looked my eyes away. That happy day when I found the Savior and learned to cling to His dear feet was a day never to be forgotten by me. … I listened to the Word of God; and that precious text led me to the Cross of Christ”.

That is how a person is saved. The person hears the Word of the Cross, and believes that Jesus Christ died for them. And not just died, but rose again to lead His people toward glory. So many people today are trying to be gods, or trying to be good, and think they are leaving this life for glory. Yet they are not. Pastor John Piper wrote:

Christ did not die to forgive sinners who go on treasuring anything above seeing and savoring God. The people who would be happy in heaven if Christ were not there, will not be there. The gospel is not a way to get people to heaven; it is a way to get people to God.”

God is the Gospel. God the Son gives Himself for our sins. We give ourselves to Him, loving Him, and He promises to bring us to God. Not just later, when we pass from this life and into Heaven, but right now, right where we are. The Apostle said:

1 Peter 3:18 (ESV) Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit,

1 Corinthians 1:21-22 For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. 22 For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom:

The Bible says the world by wisdom knew not God. The Gentiles in rejecting Christ cling instead to human wisdom. “How can one Man – even Jesus – make payment for another man’s sins? It makes no sense”.

It makes better sense than what Progressive Liberal believe!

Pastor (Dr.) W.A. Criswell shared this little poem:

Once I was a tadpole, beginning to begin;
Then I was a frog with my tail tucked in;
Then I was a monkey in a banyon tree;
And now I’m a professor with a PhD!

The world does not understand the Gospel – but God’s wisdom is much greater than ours. The Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom. Jesus showed the Jews sign after sign when He walked the earth.

Jesus was born of a virgin in Bethlehem.
Jesus walked on water.
Jesus rebuked the wind, and calmed the seas.
Jesus healed the lame so they could walk.
Jesus gave sight to the blind so they could see.
Jesus cured the leper, restoring him to his family.
Jesus cast out demons.
Jesus fed thousands with a child’s meal.
Jesus restored life to the dead.

They always wanted just one more sign. Jesus finally told them:

Matthew 12:39-40 (ESV) An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40 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.

God has given us all the signs, and all the reasons He is ever going to give us. Jesus clearly died on Calvary, and laid in a tomb for three days and three nights. Rising from the grave, our Lord taught on the earth 40 days after His resurrection, then ascended into Heaven. He did all this so that you could be a part of His family.

But I’m Not Worthy To Be Saved

As I said before, Satan uses some little tricks to keeps us from the Word of the Cross. He uses, (1) You can be gods, and (2) You can be good. But there’s another ruse Satan uses. I hear this quite a bit. It is, “I’m not worthy to be saved”. Beloved, if your mind is in the place of “I’m not worthy”, my answer to you is “None of us are worthy”. The Apostle writes:

1 Corinthians 1:26-27 For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: 27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;

When God calls people to salvation, He does not focus on calling the best and brightest according to the world. He calls those who are broken, and know they are broken. Of those who God calls to salvation, the Scripture says not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. It doesn’t say not any but not many. God does not go out of His way to exclude people. The Gospel is inclusive. The Gospel of salvation is a “whosoever will” proposition. Jesus said, “He or she that has ears to hear, hear and respond!” But sadly many people disqualify themselves because they place importance on other things, rather than heed the Gospel call.

Jesus was told Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!” (Luke 14:15). When Jesus heard this, He said:

Luke 14:16-24 (ESV) “A man once gave a great banquet and invited many. 17 And at the time for the banquet he sent his servant to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’ 18 But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it. Please have me excused.’ 19 And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to examine them. Please have me excused.’ 20 And another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’ 21 So the servant came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house became angry and said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor and crippled and blind and lame.’ 22 And the servant said, ‘Sir, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room.’ 23 And the master said to the servant, ‘Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled. 24 For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste my banquet.’”

Why is it that “not MANY wise, not MANY might, not MANY noble have been called”? Because those with “superpowers”, the bold and the beautiful, the jocks and the movie stars, they are busy worshiping THEMSELVES. They are out inventing genders, and twisting Scriptures, and ignoring the Word of God. They could have been saved, but always had something better to do. They are those who refuse to assemble with a Church because a football or baseball game is on television.

When Jesus walked the earth, who was most blessed by Him? I seem to remember one Centurion, one Synagogue leader, the wealthy Joseph of Arimathæa, and one member of the Sanhedrin named Nicodemus. There may have been more Jews or Gentiles of note, but if so, it was a short list. Who were most of the people who were blessed by Jesus? Lepers. Cripples. Blind people. Widows. Fishermen. People who were never named. Common folk. Mary Magdalene. Mary of Bethany. Lazarus. Martha. Just plain folks who realized they needed Jesus. Just plain people willing to break open an alabaster box of ointment to anoint the Master’s feet.

1 Corinthians 1:28 And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:

Word Studies: God called base things, the Greek ἀγενής agenḗs, [pronounced ag-en-ace’] meaning “low born, ignoble, people of no class”. Jesus cast demons out of that wild man who lived among dead bodies in the tombs (Mark 5). When the man was healed, and wanted to go be with Jesus, the Lord told him: No, go home to your family, and tell them everything the Lord has done for you and how merciful he has been.” (NLT – Mark 5:19). The people no one wanted to be around – Jesus called them, and saved them. God the Son came to save things which are despised . The least and the less. Jesus came to call things which are not, people that are nothings.

I am one of those nobodies. I am one of those nothings. Jesus called me! Before I met Jesus, I was nothing. Now I am a child of God with Heaven as my home.

1 Corinthians 1:29 That no flesh should glory in his presence.

When we get to Heaven (if we get to Heaven), we will not look back on our lives and strut up that street of gold to the Throne of Christ. We won’t be able to brag about how “we made it”. If we get to Heaven, it will be because JESUS made it for us.

1 Corinthians 1:30 But of Him {of God} are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:

If you are saved, it is because of God. God sent the message and the messenger to you. God rolled back the fog of sin around your mind, so you could hear that Word of the Cross. Then God through Christ gives us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption. It is all a gift of God, our salvation. So if you want to brag – if you want to be proud of anything – be proud of God. Brag on God.

1 Corinthians 1:31 That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.

Let us brag on the Jesus Who saves us, and keeps on saving us. Let us brag on the Jesus Who loves us so. May God draw you close to Him today and, if you are not saved, into a saving relationship with Him. For His glory. Amen and Amen.

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Our God Reigns

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Micah 4:9-13 Now why `dost thou cry out aloud? is there no king in thee? is thy counselor perished? for pangs have taken thee as a woman in travail. 10 Be in pain, and labor to bring forth, O daughter of Zion, like a woman in travail: for now shalt thou go forth out of the city, and thou shalt dwell in the field, and thou shalt go even to Babylon; there shalt thou be delivered; there the Lord shall redeem thee from the hand of thine enemies. 11 Now also many nations are gathered against thee, that say, Let her be defiled, and let our eye look upon Zion. 12 But they know not the thoughts of the Lord, neither understand they his counsel: for he shall gather them as the sheaves into the floor. 13 Arise and thresh, O daughter of Zion: for I will make thine horn iron, and I will make thy hoofs brass: and thou shalt beat in pieces many people: and I will consecrate their gain unto the Lord, and their substance unto the Lord of the whole earth.

Does God put more on us than we can bear? Many people say that, no, He doesn’t. The text they usually quote is:

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

It’s true that God says “God is faithful, Who will not {allow} you to be tempted above that which you are able”. This text is specifically addressing TEMPTATION to sin. God will not allow temptation to come to you greater than you can bear. When you read the context around 1 Corinthians 10:13 it becomes clearer. God speaks of Israel who fell in the wilderness. Israel “lust(ed) after evil things”. Had they looked to Jesus, they would not have fallen in the wilderness. Instead, Israel looked to her own resources, and “became examples for us, that we not lust after evil things as they did” (1 Corinthians 10:6).

Does God allow more to come our way than we can bear? Yes. God’s Son cried out on Calvary, “My God, My God, Why hast Thou forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46). In His humanity, the Cross was more than He could, at that moment, bear.

Yes, He sometimes does do this. God doesn’t do this because He enjoys it, but because He wants us to take our burdens to Him.

Trials force us to acknowledge we desperately need our God. Trials force our prodigal hearts to return to the Lord that loves us.

God allowed more stress to fall on to the Apostles than they could bear. The Apostle Paul wrote:

2 Corinthians 1:8-9 (ESV) For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. 9 Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.

When God puts more stress on us than we can bear, it is to make us look to Him Who can save us. Israel had disobeyed God for some 490 years, so God was going to punish His child. God has told Israel that she would be conquered, and exiled into another strange land. When Israel heard this, the nation mourned.

God Questions Us When We Question Him

Micah 4:9 Now why dost thou cry out aloud?
is thy Counselor perished?
for pangs have taken thee as a woman in travail.

God asks His people a series of questions. Jesus often did this when He walked this earth. Israel is crying out like a woman in labor. God asks Israel,

  • First, why are you crying out aloud? Is there no King in thee?” Has God the King of Israel abandoned His people? Has someone come along and stolen Yahweh? Is there no King in thee?. God is the King of His people. The Psalmist wrote:

Psalm 47:6-7 (ESV) Sing praises to God, sing praises! Sing praises to our King, sing praises! For God is the King of all the earth; sing praises with a psalm!

No matter what comes our way, God is still the King. He is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords” (1 Timothy 6:15). The God Who is King of His people is faithful. Our God is ever faithful (1 Corinthians 1:9; 10:13). In the midst of our trials, our God is still King of Kings and Lord of Lords. God tells Israel:

Micah 4:10 … for now shalt thou go forth out of the city, and thou shalt dwell in the field, and thou shalt go even to Babylon; there shalt thou be delivered; there the Lord shall redeem thee from the hand of thine enemies.

Jerusalem will fall. The people will have to leave the city, and go into exile into Babylon. This is bad news. But still, God knows all about it. God is still in control. Israel will go exactly where God sends them. Israel will stay in captivity exactly as long as God requires. But our God is still King of all. The Scripture says:

Proverbs 21:1 (ESV) The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; {God} turns it wherever he will.

Proverbs 16:9 (ESV) The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.

The Moody Bible Institute resource, Today in the Word, notes of this section in Micah:

God is imminently concerned that His people know and love Him, and He will go to great lengths to bring them into right relationship with Him.”

Illustrate: In 1 Samuel 30, David had one of the worst days of his life. He and his men rode to Ziklag, only to find that it had been destroyed by the Amalekites.

1 Samuel 30:3-4 (ESV) … when David and his men came to the city, they found it burned with fire, and their wives and sons and daughters taken captive. 4 Then David and the people who were with him raised their voices and wept until they had no more strength to weep.

They were in a utterly hopeless situation. They wept until they had no more strength to weep. When something this catastrophic happens people look around for someone to blame. Some blame God, but find little satisfaction in that, for God cannot be hurt by us feeble humans. But most find someone nearby to blame. The Amalekites are not accessible and, after all, we cannot hurt them.

Let’s blame David. That’s what the people did. The Bible says:

1 Samuel 30:6 (ESV) … David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because all the people were bitter in soul

What can David do to fix this situation? Did he mount a political campaign and try to win the people over to his side? Did David go about mollifying the upset people? No, but David did the best thing anyone of us can do.

David strengthened himself in the Lord his God”.

David turned his eyes upon Jesus. He sought God, when that which was on him was more than he could bear. He asked God:

1 Samuel 30:8 (ESV) “Shall I pursue after this band? Shall I overtake them?{God} answered him, “Pursue, for you shall surely overtake and shall surely rescue.”

When David received his answer from God, he immediately demanded that his people move to follow God.

1 Samuel 30:9-10 (ESV) David set out, and the six hundred men who were with him, and they came to the brook Besor, where those who were left behind stayed. 10 But David pursued, he and four hundred men. Two hundred stayed behind, who were too exhausted to cross the brook Besor.

David did not focus on placating the stragglers. Those who could not go on, did not go on. David continued moving with those who were focused on serving God, and left the rest behind. Were their “feelings hurt”? Probably. But David focused on doing God’s will until it was done, and pursued the enemy until “God’s will was done, on earth, as it is in Heaven” (Matthew 6:10).

  • The Second question God asks us:is thy Counselor perished? God is our Counselor, the Hebrew יָעַץ yâʻats, {pronounced yaw-ats}, which meansthe one you consult for advise or counsel. The one who helps you plan.” The Prophet Isaiah said of God our Savior:

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.

Our God is a Wonderful Counselor. A devotional I often read is called Our Daily Bread . This quote comes from it:

Long before the Child was born and the Son was given, Isaiah foretold that God was planning to send a Counselor for the brokenhearted people of the world. What is the evidence that Jesus Christ is the Wonderful Counselor? We see it fleshed out in a Person. We read of, reflect on, and appeal for help from the One “who became for us wisdom from God” (1 COR. 1:30). When we take all that we know about Christ, it adds up to a marvelous truth— He is the God who is a “Wonder of a Counselor.”

If we would be “instant in prayer” (Romans 12:12, προσκαρτερέω proskarteréō, [pros-kar-ter-eh’-o]), we would first seek out our God when trials come our way. Daniel often did this. Daniel survived first Babylonian Captivity, and excelled because he trusted in the Lord.

In Daniel chapter 6, the Prophet is still in exile, but now under a Medo-Persian King. Daniel is walking with God, and many enemies have gathered against him. Jesus told us that the world will hate you, for it hated Me” (John 15:18). This is always true. King Darius appointed 120 princes to rule the Kingdom of Medo-Persia, and 3 Presidents to rule the 120 princes. Daniel was one of the Presidents!

This irritated the whole group! All of the people in power were Persians, but Daniel was a Jew, and up until recently a prisoner of war. How dare the King give Daniel the same blessing he gave to true citizens of the realm! So they began to plot against Daniel.

King, make it a rule that no one can pray to or petition any god or man but YOU for thirty days. Whoever disobeys, throw them in the lion’s den!”

King Darius thought this was a great idea. He signed the decree (Daniel 6:9) into law. What did Daniel do?

Did he go to King Darius and request he change the rule?
Did he plead an exemption for the Jewish exiles?
Did Daniel keep praying, but hide himself?

No to all three. The Bible says:

Daniel 6:10 Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he 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, as he did aforetime.

You know the story. Daniel is thrown into the lion’s den, and nothing happens to him. Daniel’s explanation is simple.

Daniel 6:22 My God hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lions’ mouths, that they have not hurt me: forasmuch as before him innocency was found in me; and also before thee, O king, have I done no hurt.

Beloved, the Bible says we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” Our battle is with Satan and his forces of evil. The best way to handle the evil one is to remember to consult with God. To pray. To keep our eyes on Jesus. God tells Israel:

Micah 4:13 Arise and thresh, O daughter of Zion: for I will make thine horn iron, and I will make thy hoofs brass: and thou shalt beat in pieces many people: and I will consecrate their gain unto the Lord, and their substance unto the Lord of the whole earth

Our God reigns! Keep doing what God tells you to do, and trust in the Lord. He will see you through the valley. Gary Miller (2021) wrote this wonderful poem called “The Master Plan”. Let’s end with this.

Life is like a game of chess,
Yet different, you will see.
Pieces moved at the behest
Of God are you and me.

Unlike the chess pieces that we play,
Whose pieces aren’t alive:
They have no will; don’t push their way,
Nor for advantage strive.

We are alive, we are aware,
We struggle to submit.
“Not here”, we cry, “but over there
would be the better fit”.

At times we may not understand
Why He has placed us here,
For we can’t see the Master plan,
Our vision’s not that clear.

We must allow our Lord to move,
And trust the choice He makes.
For He sees all things from above,
And there are no mistakes.

May God draw us all closer to Him every day. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen and Amen!

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Is That Really The Church?

Photo by Thais Do Rio on Unsplash

Turn with me in your Bibles to 1 Corinthians chapter 1. When we come to the Book of Corinthians, we see the Apostle Paul addressing a dysfunctional Church. Paul was very concerned about Corinth, because God used Paul to establish the Church there. In Acts chapter 18 we find out that Paul first went to the Jews.

Acts 18:4-6 (ESV) {Paul} reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and tried to persuade Jews and Greeks. 5 When Silas and Timothy arrived from Macedonia, Paul was occupied with the word, testifying to the Jews that the Christ was Jesus. 6 And when they opposed and reviled him, he shook out his garments and said to them, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am innocent. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.”

Corinth was a very hard ministry for Paul. God actually came to Paul in a vision one night, saying …

Acts 18:9-11 (ESV) … “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, 10 for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people.” 11 And he stayed a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.

At one point Paul was taken before the tribunal or or court but the proconsul (think Prosecutor) Gallio refused to prosecute Paul. One convert to our faith that Paul had in Corinth was “Sosthenes, the ruler of the synagogue” (Acts 18:17), who was beaten for standing up for Christ and for Paul. I believe Sosthenes went on to be an elder or a pastor in the Church at Corinth. In verse 1 we see talking about this same Sosthenes.

Sosthenes came to Paul and told him what had been going on in the Church. It was Sosthenes report that caused the Apostle – as the Spirit led him – to pen this letter.

Now we can read the first three verses:

1 Corinthians 1:1-3 Paul called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother, 2 Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours: 3 Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

Word Study As Paul addresses the Church (and Sosthenes is probably the one who carries this letter back to Corinth), he begins to define what the Church at Corinth (and every place) is supposed to be. The word “Church” is the Greek ἐκκλησία ekklēsía, {pronounced ek-klay-see’-ah}, which means “a people called out from their worldto assembletogether for God. The word “church” was used for Israel in Acts 7:38 by Stephen as he witnessed Christ to the High Priest of Israel.

The Church exists to glorify God, and to represent
Him on planet earth.

When Jesus prayed for His Church, He said:

John 17:11-15 (ESV) … I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. … 14 I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15 I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.

Jesus expected His Church to be IN the world, but not OF the world. Jesus said:

John 15:19 (ESV) 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.

The Church is meant to be a lighthouse in the midst of a dark and evil world. The Apostle calls the Church,the church of God”. It belongs to the God Who said, “Let There Be Light”, and there was light. Jesus said that we are to “Let your light SHINE before others, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father Who is in Heaven” (Matthew 5:16). The Church is a group of believers:

vvs 2 … that are sanctified in Christ Jesus,
called
to be saints

The Enduring Word Commentarynotes:

The words sanctified and saints communicate the same idea, of being set apart from the world and unto God. Notice the words to be are inserted by translators. The Corinthians were called saints, not called to be saints.”

We who are part of Christ’s Church are called out of this world to stand up for Jesus Christ. Please note how many times Paul references Jesus in these first three verses.

In verse 1, “Jesus Christ”.
In verse 2, “Christ Jesus” and then “Jesus Christ our Lord”.
In verse 3, “the Lord Jesus Christ”.

The Church does not represent a political party, sexual or sensual permissiveness, or a social justice program.
The Church represents and glorifies Jesus!

1 Corinthians 1:3 Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

When Paul addresses the Church (where ever it might be) he usually includes the phrase we find in verse 3. You’ll see this phrase Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ in his letters to the Churches at

Rome, Galatia, Ephesus, Colossae, Thessalonica,

And in his pastoral epistles to

Timothy, Titus, and Philemon.

Paul always lists Grace before Peace, as peace with God does not come until you have the Grace of God in your life. Grace is only secured when you come to the “Lord Jesus Christ”, repenting of being your own god, and trusting in Him. The same Grace that saves the Christian is the Grace by which we live our lives. Grace is a gift of Jesus.

The Grace Of God Is The Overflowing
Goodness And Glory Of God

1 Corinthians 1:4 I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ;

Grace is a free gift, given by Jesus to whosoever will believe on Him. Our standing before God as “saints” is not based on our abilities, nor on our personal merit. If a person has a spiritual gift, it is not something that they earned or deserved. It is something that was given by God the Holy Spirit. Even though later in this letter the Apostle will rebuke the Corinthians, he is still thankful that God saved them by Grace.

1 Corinthians 1:5-8 That in every thing ye are enriched by Him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge; Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you: 7 So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ: 8 Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The Church at Corinth was “enriched” by Jesus. They knew about Jesus. They had spiritual gifts in the Church. They were rich (πλουτίζω ploutízō, [pronounced ploo-tid’-zo]), wealthy in blessings from the Lord. I have often wondered about well known Christian evangelists and preachers who, doing great works for God, are found to have some horrible flaw or worldliness in them. The truth is, God in His Grace can use a broken or a flawed person or even a Church. To those who do not believe this to be true, consider Jonah!

Jonah fought God.
Jonah ran from God.
But God used him in Nineveh anyway.

The Apostle told his student Titus:

Titus 2:11-13 (ESV) … the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,

Paul told Titus that the “grace of God” not only brings salvation, but it trains the believer to lead a God honoring life while waiting on Jesus’ return!

The Grace of God is a free gift from God. It blesses us with salvation. But it also leads us to live our lives glorifying God, not ourselves. The Grace of God leads us out of worldliness to walk with Christ Jesus “in the light” (1 John 1:7). Yes, the Grace of God saves us for Heaven. We who are under His Grace shall be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Grace of God is based on the faithfulness of God. The Free Bible Commentarynotes:

The Bible has two seemingly paradoxical truths about the believer’s relationship with God. It is covenantal in nature; therefore, it involves an initial and an ongoing faith and repentant response. We must be diligent to maintain our relationship. It is secure in God’s faithfulness (Jude 24). No one can steal our relationship from us (John 6:37, 39; 10:28; Romans 8:38-39). Security and perseverance are both biblical (Ephesians 2:8-9, 10 and Philippians 2:12-13). They are the two necessary aspects of {God’s} “covenant.”

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

Our God is faithful in His ministration of Grace. God calls broken creatures into an eternal relationship with Him. The ones that He saves, He will keep. If you are born again as a child of God, the Bible very clearly states two things:

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.

But it is also equally true that:

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.

The salvation of the Christian is settled at the Cross and the empty tomb. But once saved, you become God’s product, God’s project, God’s progeny, God’s property, God’s PEOPLE, God’s PRIESTS.
God demands you walk with HIM.

The Tongue That Saved Us By Calling On Jesus
Is The Tongue That Should Speak Grace To Others

1 Corinthians 1:10 Now 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 in the same mind and in the same judgment.

It is through the tongue that we learn of God’s Grace. It is through the tongue that we are forgiven by God. The Bible says:

Romans 10:10, 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. …13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

If we are saved by Grace, we got there by confessing Jesus Christ as Lord, and by affirming His resurrection is a historic reality. Jesus Christ loves us, and makes intercession for us every single day. The Bible says, “Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the One Who died – more than that, Who was raised – Who is at the right hand of God, Who indeed is interceding for us” (Romans 8:34). There is not a day that goes by where you and I do not fall short of the glory of God. There is not a day that goes by where you and I do not, in some way, sin against God. And yet,

Jesus intercedes for us still. Jesus never gives up on His children. The Corinthian Church is proof of that.

God wants His children to use their tongues productively. God used His tongue to bring light out of darkness, and order out of chaos. “By the Word of the Lord were the Heavens made; and all the hosts of them (the stars) by the breath of His mouth” (Psalm 33:6).

  • We are to use our tongues to promote the Kingdom of God, to bring others into Christ’s family. We read:

vs 10 I beseech you, brethren,
by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ

Christians are brethren, we are family. We all share the same blood type: we are under the blood of Jesus Christ. We are family, God’s family. We are called to work together for His glory. The Bible says in Hebrews 10:24-25, “Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day {of the Lord} drawing near. We are God’s people together. A flood is coming – a flood not of water, but of evil. Let us bind ourselves together in God’s family. Let us get on the Ark of Jesus’ Cross, and rest in His Presence.

There is no room for infighting in God’s Kingdom. We are to love and care for one another.

Colossians 3:13-15, 17 (ESV) {be} bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. … 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

It is not the RELIGIOUS person who will get to Heaven, but the person in a RELATIONSHIP with God through Jesus Christ. If you are saved, you love Jesus. And if you love Jesus, you will do as He says. “Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves Me” (John 14:21). What are Jesus’ commandments? Primarily, to love Him with your all. Jesus said:

Matthew 22:37 Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

As well as Matthew 10:37 He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.

Jesus wants us to love God – and by extension the Son of God – with our all. He also wants us to love others who are our “neighbors”. Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. Jesus even went farther than this. He said, “This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you”. (John 15:12; 13:34). Those who belong to God are to love God and love others. We are to use our tongues in constructive ways.

1 Corinthians 1:10 Now 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 in the same mind and in the same judgment.

  • We serve a risen Savior. He is Lord. One day, Jesus said in Matthew 12:36-37, “That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned..

If you belong to Christ, if you have believed on that old rugged Cross, then you are to be good trees, and not evil. The fruit of your lips should reflect the truth that you are born again, a child of God by faith in Christ Jesus.

Matthew 12:33, 35 (ESV) “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit. … 35 The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. ”

The root of the problem from which all other problems stemmed at Corinth was their use of the mouths. They were not guided by Grace in how they used their mouths.

1 Corinthians 1:11-15 For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. 12 Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. 13 Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul? 14 I thank God that I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius; 15 Lest any should say that I had baptized in mine own name.

The Church at Corinth was meeting in private homes at this time in history. Some had begun to brag about who baptized them, insinuating that they were better saved because a more prominent preacher baptized them. This is foolish! Baptism is a public profession of salvation, but who baptized you does not make your salvation greater or lesser than another’s.

We are all saved by faith in Jesus Christ, by the wondrous Grace of God. The Apostle in another place prescribed how to handle those who fostered division in the Church. He wrote:

Romans 16:17-18 Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. 18 For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.

The Church of Christ is the Body of Christ. There is no room in it for divisions, sectarianism, secularism, or foolishness. We are called to serve the Lord TOGETHER. There is no spiritual gift of criticism, no calling to be obnoxious. We are to work together to shine for Jesus, to bring the Gospel message to the world around us. Anything that hinders that calling is satanic, not spiritual. May God the Holy Spirit touch your hearts with His Word. Amen and Amen.

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Four Witnesses For Jesus

Turn with me in your Bibles to John chapter 5.

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A few weeks ago we read about Jesus going up to Jerusalem for a ceremonial feast (probably the Passover) and, coming to a pool named Bethesda, healed a crippled man on the Sabbath Day. The Jews had a number of different Sabbaths or Shabbat. Not only did they observe a Saturday Sabbath, but four special Sabbaths, as well as a Sabbatical Year.

The Sabbaths were to be times of rest where no work
was done, but God was celebrated.

When Jesus healed this cripple man on a Sabbath (probably a High Sabbath), the Pharisees were incensed! They started “headhunting” Jesus.

John 5:16 And therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay him, because he had done these things on the sabbath day.

This is repeated again in:

John 5:18 Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God.

Jesus did not try to be politically correct, and so that current cancel culture decided they would revoke Jesus’ life! They felt they were justified in doing this because the Law of God demanded death for blasphemy. God said:

Leviticus 24:16 (ESV) Whoever blasphemes the name of the Lord shall surely be put to death. All the congregation shall stone him. The sojourner as well as the native, when he blasphemes the Name, shall be put to death.

In order to execute a person for blasphemy there had to be two or more witnesses that the evil was done. Jesus counters the charges leveled against Him (- that He made Himself equal to God, and – that He did something unlawful on the Sabbath). You see, Jesus neither committed blasphemy (for He IS equal to God), neither did He do wrong on the Sabbath.

Jesus calls on four witnesses to stand up
for Him against the Pharisees.

John 5:31-39 If I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true. 32 There is another that beareth witness of me; and I know that the witness which he witnesseth of me is true. 33 Ye sent unto John, and he bare witness unto the truth. 34 But I receive not testimony from man: but these things I say, that ye might be saved. 35 He was a burning and a shining light: and ye were willing for a season to rejoice in his light. 36 But I have greater witness than that of John: for the works which the Father hath given me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent me. 37 And the Father himself, which hath sent me, hath borne witness of me. Ye have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape. 38 And ye have not his word abiding in you: for whom he hath sent, him ye believe not. 39 Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.

Jesus said in verse 31, If I bear witness (μαρτυρέω martyréō, [pronounced mar-too-reh’-o]) of myself, my witness (μαρτυρία martyría, [pronounced mar-too-ree’-ah]) is not true. Jesus is not saying that what He Himself speaks in not true. He is saying that, according to the Law of God, the witness of ONE was not accepted. There had to be two or more witnesses to the truth. Jesus said in verse 32, There is another that beareth witness of me; and I know that the witness which he witnesseth of Me is true. There are other witnesses that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah sent from God. And if Jesus IS the Christ, the Messiah sent from God, then He is NOT guilty of blasphemy.

John The Baptist Is The First Witness
That Jesus Is The Messiah

John 5:33-35 Ye sent unto John, and he bare witness unto the truth. 34 But I receive not testimony from man: but these things I say, that ye might be saved. 35 He was a burning and a shining light: and ye were willing for a season to rejoice in his light.

When the Messiah came, it was prophesied that He would come with a Herald appointed by God. We read:

Malachi 3:1 Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in …

Isaiah 40:3 The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.

According to the Gospels, John the Baptist came as a fulfillment of these prophesies (John 1:23; Mark 1:2-5; Matthew 3:1-3). When John was still forming as a baby in his mother Elisabeth, when Mary came to visit her cousin. As soon as Mary spoke to Elisabeth, that baby John leaped in her womb (Luke 1:41). Elisabeth told Mary,

Luke 1:44 … as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy.

John was born about six months before Jesus Christ Himself came into the world. His ministry started about six months before Jesus’ ministry started. John was asked at one time if he was the Messiah. John told that he was NOT the Messiah, but that “the One Who is coming is over me, who’s shoestrings I am not worthy to untie” (John 1:27). When John saw Jesus, he told the crowd:

John 1:29-31 … Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. 30 This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me: for he was before me. 31 And I knew him not: but that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water.

John’s entire mission of baptizing was to make Jesus Christ manifest to Israel as the Messiah. John the Baptist told the Pharisees:

Matthew 3:11-12 He that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy {Spirit}, and with fire: 12 Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.

John foretold that Jesus would be the judge of all – the fan is in His hand to burn up the chaff and gather the wheat (the believer) into the Kingdom of God. John the Baptist is a witness that Jesus is the Christ.

The Miracles Jesus Did Are The Second
Witness
That Jesus Calls For His Defense

John 5:36 But I have greater witness than that of John: for the works which the Father hath given me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent me.

This is not the first time Jesus referred to the works that He as the witness that He is Messiah. In Chapter 10 the Pharisees come to Jesus, and directly challenge Him:

John 10:24-26 … How long dost thou make us to doubt? If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly. 25 Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father’s name, they bear witness of me. 26 But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you.

That is very clear. The works that I do in my Father’s name, they bear witness of me. The Messiah – Eternal God become perfect man – did miraculous works, works that only God could do. When later John the Baptist was thrown into prison by Herod, he sent messengers to Jesus asking,

Matthew 11:3 (ESV) … Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?

The message that Jesus sent back was consider My works:

Matthew 11:4-6 (ESV) “… Go and tell John what you hear and see: 5 the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. 6 And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”

When Jesus healed at crippled man at Bethesda, His very action proved that He is the Messiah. God is the Source of life and light. The Bible says of God:

Psalm 104:1-2 Bless the Lord, O my soul! O Lord my God, you are very great! You are clothed with splendor and majesty, 2 covering yourself with light as with a garment, stretching out the heavens like a tent.

Jesus Christ is God the Father’s Only Begotten Son. He brings light to those who wander about in darkness. He brings love to those who need it most. Jesus said:

John 8:12 … “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

John 9:5 … “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”

Jesus, like God the Father, has “in Him no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5). Jesus alone is thethe light of the world. Everywhere Jesus went, He made the broken whole. In the Gospel of John alone Jesus:

Turned water into wine in Cana (2:1-11)
Healed an official’s son in Capernaum (4:46-54)
Heal
ed a crippled man at the Pool of Bethesda in Jerusalem (5:1-18)
Fe
dover 5,000 near the Sea of Galilee (6:5-14)
Walk
ed on the water of the Sea of Galilee (6:16-21)
Heal
ed a blind man in Jerusalem (9:1-7)
Rais
edthe dead Lazarus in Bethany (11:1-45)

Jesus angered the Pharisees when He healed people on the Sabbath. But the fact that He could do these miraculous things – even the cast out of devils – proved that God was behind His ministry. When the Pharisees accused Jesus of “casting out demons by the power of the devil” (Luke 11:15), Jesus responded by saying:

Luke 11:20 … if it is by the finger of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.

Jesus worked the works of God. These miracles proved He is Messiah.

God the Father Is The Third Witness
That Jesus
Calls To The Stand

John 5:37-38 And the Father himself, which hath sent me, hath borne witness of me. Ye have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape. 38 And ye have not his word abiding in you: for whom he hath sent, him ye believe not.

On the day that John the Baptist baptized Jesus, the Bible tells us:

Matthew 3:16-17 (ESV) … when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; 17 and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

The Holy Spirit descended to rest on Jesus like a dove, then the Father spoke, saying This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased. It has been said that God has many sons by faith in Christ, but only ONE Son “in Whom He is well pleased”.

Later in His ministry, our Lord Jesus will lead Peter, James, and John to the Mount of Transfiguration where the Father will speak.

The Bible says that Jesus was transfigured before them, and His face shined like the sun, while His clothing was white as light (Matthew 17:2). As Elijah and Moses stood talking with Jesus, Peter spoke up.

Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three places of worship here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.”

While Peter was speaking, the Father interrupted him, saying (Matthew 17:5):

This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased;
listen to Him.”

Later Peter would write of this witness. We read:

2 Peter 1:16-18 ….we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For he received from God the Father honor and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. 18 And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount.

Peter said, “We heard the Father endorse the Son”. The Apostle John, who was with Peter at the mount of transfiguration, wrote:

1 John 5:9-12 (ESV) If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater, for this is the testimony of God that he has borne concerning his Son. 10 Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son. 11 And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.

Though the Pharisees “have neither heard His voice at any time, nor seen God’s shape” (John 5:37), those who believed in Jesus and walked with Him heard the Father’s endorsement. Jesus said in another place:

John 8:18 … I am the one who bears witness about myself, and the Father who sent me bears witness about me.

Jesus Christ is the Messiah! But there is one more witness that Jesus calls to His defense against stoning.

The Fourth Witness Jesus Calls Is The
Scriptures
The Pharisees Studied

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

When Jesus speaks of the scriptures, He is referring to the Old Testament, the Bible that was written at that time in history. Jesus gets a little more specific toward the end of this chapter. Read with me:

John 5:45-47 Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father: there is one that accuseth you, even Moses, in whom ye trust. 46 For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me; for he wrote of me. 47 But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?

Moses, under the inspiration of God the Holy Spirit, wrote the first five books of our Bible. Called the Pentateuch or the Books of the Law or The Torah, these books are the foundation on which the rest of the Scripture is laid. The New Testament often quotes the Old Testament to affirm Christ as the Messiah. In Galatians we read:

Galatians 3:7-9 (ESV) Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. 8 And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” 9 So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.

Paul is quoting the promise that God made to Abram (Abraham) back in Genesis 12 – the writings of Moses. He is saying that when God said:

in you {Abraham} all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
(Genesis 12:3)

that God was speaking of the Gospel of Christ. Those who receive Jesus Christ as THE Christ shall be blessed whether they are Jews or Gentiles. “in thee ALL the families of the earth shall be blessed”. Jesus said the Old Testament Scriptures – especially the writings of Moses – spoke of Him and His ministry. Listen:

  • In John 2:17, Jesus drives the money changers out of the Temple. This was prophesied in Psalm 69:9.
  • In John 6, Jesus spoke of the manna that God gave Israel in the wilderness (Exodus 16:15). Then Jesus said, “The Bread of God is He that comes down from Heaven, and gives life to the world”. He made Himself to be the manna of Heaven!
  • In John 6:44-45 Jesus said no one comes to Me unless the Father that sent Me draws him, and then quotes Isaiah 54:13, “It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God”.
  • In John 7:38-39 Jesus compares the Holy Spirit to Living Water. In the Old Testament the Spirit is compared to water a number of times (Isaiah 44:3; Ezekiel 36:25-26).

Throughout Jesus’ ministry He often said “it is written”, then quoted Old Testament texts. Jesus told us:

Matthew 5:17-18 (ESV) “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not a {jot or tittle}, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.

Our Jesus did not come to erase the Law, but
to be the Fulfiller of the Law.

I could quote many more quotations from the Old Testament texts that Jesus used. The Old Testament – especially the writings of Moses – testify that Jesus is the Messiah, the Christ. But there is one text I’d like to read that is particularly pertinent.

When Moses got ready to leave Israel (for his time was up), he told that nation:

Deuteronomy 18:15-19 (ESV) … “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to him you shall listen— 16 just as you desired of the Lord your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly, when you said, ‘Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God or see this great fire any more, lest I die.’ 17 And the Lord said to me, ‘They are right in what they have spoken. 18 I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. 19 And whoever will not listen to my words that he shall speak in my name, I myself will require it of him.

God promised through Moses that He would raise up a replacement who would stand in Moses place. Early in John’s Gospel we read:

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

Jesus is that Prophet Who would come and lead God’s people instead of Moses. Israel looked for the coming of the Messiah. When Philip met Jesus, he ran to tell Nathaniel:

John 1:45 … We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.

When Peter spoke of the need to receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, he said:

Acts 3:18-23 … those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled. 19 Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord. 20 And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: 21 Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began. 22 For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you. 23 And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people.

Jesus Christ is THAT Prophet, the Messiah. Moses gave us the Law, but Jesus Christ as Messiah fulfills the Law, giving us Grace and Truth. What does this mean for us today?

If Jesus Is The Christ, The Messiah, There Is
No Other Way To Be Made Right With God

So many people today believe there are “many ways to God”. But based upon the fourfold Witness Jesus gives to us (John the Baptist, Christ’s miraculous works, God from Heaven, and the writings of Moses) there is only ONE way to God – that is, faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus told the Pharisees:

John 5:40 … ye will not come to Me, that ye might have life.

There is no other Source of Eternal Life but faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. To be saved from eternal judgment you must receive Jesus Christ as He is, the One and only Savior and Lord. I am going to close by quoting the Apostle John:

1 John 5:11-12 And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.

If you have Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you have life. A better life now, and a blessed and eternal life later. Do you know Jesus? If not, then I beg you, give your life to Him this very day. None of us knows the last day of our life, none but God. Choose wisely. Choose Jesus. For life. May God the Holy Spirit and His precious Word draw you to Jesus this very day. Amen and Amen.

Posted in General, John, Sermons Preached | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

The Glory Of His Grace

Photo by Photoholgic on Unsplash

Please turn with me in your Bibles to Ephesians Chapter 1.

When Paul wrote the Book of Ephesians (under the leading of God the Holy Spirit – 2 Peter 1:21), he was in his first Roman imprisonment. Paul was under house arrest, living in his home, but guarded by Roman soldiers. Acts 28:16 tells us that “Paul was {allowed} to dwell by himself with a soldier that {guarded} him.” He was not chained in a prison cell until his second imprisonment, and could still receive visitors. Acts 28:30-31 tells us that “Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came in unto him, preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him.” Paul’s imprisonment is a picture of the great Grace of our God. Though we may go into valleys, our Lord will be with us. If we are in a valley, our Lord will adjust the situation so that we can minister to others for Him. Though Paul’s home is invaded by the enemy, Paul is joyous. Why? We read:

Ephesians 1:2-6 Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: 4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: 5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, 6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.

Paul is joyous in prison because of Grace

Ephesians 1:2 Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

It is the “Grace” of God that brings the “peace” of God into the life. If you are enjoying God’s Grace, then God is your Father, and Jesus is your Lord. No matter what you are going through, you need not fear it. Our God can do all things, and sees all things, and loves you as His child. And Jesus Christ is your Lord. Not the trial you are going through, but Jesus is your Lord.

Ephesians 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:

Our “God and Father” has given us “all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ”. How did God the Father give us these spiritual blessings?

• God the Son became the perfect Son of Man. Jesus Christ is 100% God and 100% Man. We are told in John’s Gospel:

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.

Jesus Christ is “The Word” – not a human’s word, but God’s very breath. This Jesus, this wonderful Word of God:

John 1:14 … the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us …

God became Man. He did not become Man through the normal, everyday means. Jesus Christ became flesh through supernatural intervention. Jesus Christ was born of a virgin woman. It was by man (Adam) that sin entered the world, and death by sin (Romans 5:12), so God circumvented man when He created the body that Christ would inhabit. God did this by prophecy:

Isaiah 7:14 Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

and fulfilled this in Mary:

Matthew 1:23 … Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.

You must believe that Jesus was virgin born, by God’s supernatural intervention, else you cannot be saved. Gabriel told Mary in Luke 1:35, “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.”

If Jesus were born like we are, of sinful parents, then He would be just as sinful as we are. Among humankind the Bible says that

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

All humans who have ever been born through the beautiful union of man and woman in matrimony have been born broken. But Jesus Christ was not born broken. He is without sin. When a woman taken in adultery was cast before Jesus to judge, Jesus said “he that is without sin among you, cast the first stone” (John 8:7). Every accuser left. If any could have cast a stone against the woman that day, it could have been Jesus. Jesus Christ is the High Priest of our faith. The Bible says of Him:

Hebrews 4:15 {Jesus was} … in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

Jesus Christ is God become Man, but Who is still fully God. The Father told the Son:

Hebrews 1:8 … Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of thy kingdom.

• We have “all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ” because the perfect Son of Man Who is the Son of God died in our place on the Cross.

Sin separates every human who has ever been or ever will be from a relationship with God. God said through the Prophet:

Isaiah 59:2 … your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.

It was sin that caused God to cast Adam and Eve out of Eden. It is sin that keeps us all from entering into God’s Heaven. Thom Mollohan wrote in his article, “A Hunger For More: Sin Separates us From God”:

“the idea of sin, as given to us by the Bible, is simply this: a rejection of the authority of God in our lives and a giving of our ourselves to something less than our Creator. Sin in this way is really about our refusal to be subordinate to God Himself and exalting something to the position of devotion and worship that only God deserves. Sin separates us from God. It is not religious issue. It is a life and death issue. Sin debases us, even when we strive to exalt ourselves, because it diminishes the image of God within us. See, we are created in His image and reflect it much like a mirror reflects our own. So if He is not shining upon us because we’ve turned away to serve ourselves, then the image of God cannot be seen in us. Furthermore, sin is a crime because it robs God of what He alone is worthy of…”

The pandemic that is gripping America today is not the Coronavirus, but full blown paganism masquerading under the title “Progressivism”.

God the Son was once born (only begotten) through a virgin to become the perfect and sinless Son of Man. Only the Son of Man – Jesus – has power on earth to forgive sins (Matthew 9:6; Mark 2:10; Luke 5:24). Paganism or as others love to call it, Progressivism seeks to find blessing in more sinful and forbidden ways. There will never be any blessing found in sin. The Bible says:

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

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

Jesus Christ – the perfect Son of Man – died on Calvary to make full payment for our sins. Jesus was very clear that He and He alone would bring in the New Covenant for those who received Him as Lord and Savior. At the last Passover, Jesus told those who believed in and followed Him:

Matthew 26:27-28 … he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; 28 For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.

When a cancer patient hears that their cancer is “in remission”, they rejoice, for their life is extended. Jesus Christ died on the Cross to cure a much greater thing than cancer. He died to cover our sins. He died for us who, once we believe in Him, are in remission from sin, but in the Family of God. The Apostle said,

John 1:12-13 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: 13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

Jesus Christ was born supernaturally into this world as a Son of Man, so that we, sons of men, can be supernaturally re-born into the Family of God. Jesus took our place so we can now take His place!

• Just as God the Son – the perfect Son of Man defeated death, we who belong to God will one day defeat death. If you do not believe in the resurrection of Jesus, you are NOT a Christian. 

The Apostle said in Romans 10:9, “if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.”

Two things are required for salvation. First, you declare for all to hear the “Jesus is Lord”. Jesus is not one Lord among many, but is THE Lord. Second, you must “believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead”. The Lordship and resurrection of Christ are non-negotiable for the Christian. When Thomas saw the Risen Savior he declared, “My Lord and My God” (John 20:28). That is exactly what the Christian believes, that Jesus is both Lord and God. Peter preached:

Acts 2:23-24 (ESV) this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. 24 God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.

Jesus did not “swoon”, nor “Pass out”, but died on that Cross of Calvary. He died for your sins and mine. He died so that we might be saved, if we would believe in Him.

Paul Was Joyous In Prison Because Of Grace’s Effect

Ephesians 1:4 According as He {God the Father} hath chosen us in Him {God the Son} before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:

The Apostle now shows us how deep the love of God is. We are “chosen us in Him {God the Son} before the foundation of the world”. Before God created the world, before He called the first light into being, He knew that Adam would fall in Eden. God told Adam:

Genesis 2:17 … 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.

Our God is omniscient – He knows all things before they happen. “God knows everything” (1 John 3:20). God knows the number of the hairs on your head (Matthew 10:29-30). God “declares the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things not yet done” (Isaiah 46:9-10). Knowing that Adam would fall, the earth would need a Savior, God the Son, “before the foundation of the world”, agreed to pay for our sins. This theme is repeated by the Apostle:

2 Timothy 1:8-9 … Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God; 9 Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,

God knew Adam would fail, but created him anyway. God knew that you and I will fail, but created us anyway. He saved us with a salvation that was planned in Christ “before the world began”. If you are saved, you are saved by an omniscient God. He knows your weaknesses, but by His power He will save and keep on saving you. You are His Child by faith.

Ephesians 1:4 … that we should be holy and without blame before him in love

The believer is not saved by his works, but once saved is both “holy” and “without blame”. The Christian is – because of God the Spirit Who indwells him – “holy”. This is the Greek ἅγιος hágios, {pronounced hag’-ee-os}, a person set apart to be a son of God. We are to be like our Father. The Lord tells us:

1 Peter 1:15-16 (ESV) … but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”

The Apostle quoted Leviticus 20:7 as he wrote this text. Jesus said, “Because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you” (John 15:19). The Christian is not called to be Republican or Democrat, “Woke”, liberal or conservative. The Christian is called to be like God, to be like Jesus, Who is God manifest.

If you profess to be saved, but walk like a worldling, then you are not saved at all. You are “without blame” because Jesus took your blame on the Cross. You are a son of God heading toward Heaven. You are to act as a son of God.

Grace always has an effect on the believer. If you are saved, you are “his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10)”

Ephesians 1:5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,

Each Christian has an appointment with God. During that future appointment in Heaven, we shall be “adopted” into the Family of God because of our faith in Christ.

We Who Belong To God, Glorify God

Ephesians 1:6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.

We are “accepted in the beloved”. God the Father accepts us for God the Son’s sake. We who believe in Christ unto salvation glorify our God. Note the phrase, “To the praise of the glory of his grace”. The Apostle repeats this formula twice more in this text:

Ephesians 1:11-12 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: 12 That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.

A Christian has a purpose in life, and that is to glorify God. We are to live “to the praise of his glory”. God should be honored an what we say and do. Again, in

Ephesians 1:13-14 … ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, 14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory…

God the Holy Spirit indwells the believer, the “earnest” or proof of our future inheritance. We are to live our lives not as worldlings, but as those who belong to Jesus. We glorify our God by how we live our lives.

1 Corinthians 10:31 So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

Those under saving Grace will live to the glory of God. We live so as to please and honor the God Who saved us. We read:

Colossians 3:17 … whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

We do not follow the crowd. We follow Jesus. We live for God. We know that we are eternal creatures, that will live in glory with the God-Man that saved us. So we praise our Lord, and glorify His Name daily. Listen Beloved:

It is possible to LOOK saved, but to LIVE damned. The first generation of Israel were saved from Egypt, but not from themselves. They created a golden calf, a false god to follow, and lost the Promised Land. God will not share His glory with another. “I am the LORD, that is My name; I will not give My glory to another, Nor My praise to graven images” (Isaiah 42:8). “For My own sake, for My own sake, I do this. How can I let Myself be defamed? I will not yield My glory to another” (Isaiah 48:11). Those who love the Lord, live for the glory of the Lord. We pursue His pleasure, His will, His command. We love Him, for He first loved us (1 John 4:19). Do you belong to God, or to this world? Choose wisely. Choose Jesus.

Posted in Ephesians, General, Sermons Preached | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

God Makes Everything Beautiful In His Time

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Ecclesiastes 3:10-11 I have seen the travail, which God hath given to the sons of men to be exercised in it. 11 He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.

Someone wrote Pastor John Piper and asked:

“… why did God make some people ugly and unattractive? How can I accept the fact that God, though capable of making me beautiful or at least average looking, chose to create in me an unattractive manner? As an unattractive person myself, I can say life is tough for us. Our opinions and ideas are most often sidelined. We have it tough in offices and schools and colleges. I can’t express in words how difficult it is to be confident.”

I can understand where this person is coming from. My earlier years were – in my young mind – a living hell. I nearly failed first grade until the teacher noticed me squinting at the blackboard. A trip to the eye doctor showed I was not unintelligent, but unseeing – I needed glasses. When the teacher wrote on the blackboard, I couldn’t clearly see what she wrote. Mama asked why I never said anything about it to anyone. The truth is, I was painfully shy, an introvert. A shy child doesn’t speak up!

When I was given eyeglasses, this didn’t solve my problems, but added to them. They were large, black rimmed things that stood out on my face. This gave the bullies a target to aim at. I was a “four eyed freak”. Children try to adjust their lives according to peer pressure, but what do you do if your “peers” are all against you? As self esteem plummeted, my weight increased. Add to this that I had to wear my dad’s white socks, and as I grew my dad’s old clothing. Well, the school years were rough. I have yet to have any desire to attend a “High School Reunion”.

There are many others in life who suffer terribly because they are different from the crowd. One who comes to mind is Joseph Merrick (August 5, 1862-April 11, 1890), also known as “The Elephant Man”. Born with a disorder called the Proteus syndrome, his head and body deformed more and more with each passing day. When Merrick accidentally pushes down a little girl one day, an angry mob chases him. He cried out, “I am not an animal! I am a human being. I am a man!”. There are many born into this world deformed, against what many consider the “norm”. In this world little children are sometimes born with terrible diseases. St. Jude’s Hospital ministers to children born with cancer. There are many things that appear ugly to us in this world.

Why would a loving God allow the ugly, the disfigured, the carnival “human freak show”?

It Is Because God Is Loving That We Have That Which Some Consider “Beyond The Norm”

Ecclesiastes 3:10 I have seen the travail, which God hath given to the sons of men to be exercised in it.

Word Study: As Solomon – the wisest man who ever was – looks at the travail that is on mankind, he writes which God hath given. God ultimately either causes or allows everything that ever happens within the framework of humanity. The word translated travail is the Hebrew עִנְיָן ʻinyân, {pronounced in-yawn’}, which means “miserable or evil work”. The word is only used in the Book of Ecclesiastes. Solomon in essence is saying “I have seen how people have struggled at work – toiling slavishly”. God gave to man and woman hard – often horrible – circumstances to go through. But the fact that God gives it does not diminish His love.

God took a perfect Adam, and placed him in a perfect Eden. The Bible says:

Genesis 2:15-17 (ESV) The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

This was an absolute. God is not a man that He should lie, nor the son of a man, that He should change His mind (Numbers 23:19). What God has said will always stand. The day that you eat of it you shall surely die is the promise of God’s Law. We all know the story. What did Adam do? He disobeyed God. He ate of the forbidden. The promise of the Law was The day that you eat of it you shall surely die. The very day you disobey Me, said the Lord, you shall surely die. Did this happen? Well, yes and no.

On the day that Adam did what he was not supposed to do, both Adam and Eve’s “eyes … were opened” (Genesis 3:7). Humanity fell under spiritual death. The Bible says:

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

By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin. It was ADAM who brought sin into the world, not Eve but ADAM. When ADAM ate that which was forbidden, both he and Eve his wife died spiritually. But they did not die physically until much later. Why? Because:

1 John 4:16 And 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.

God is JUST, and does as He promises. But God is also LOVE, and offers redemption to the sinner. Adam physically lived 930 years before he died. God had told Adam, “in THE DAY you eat of it, YOU SHALL SURELY DIE”. If God were purely justice, and purely Law, then Adam and Eve and any progeny would have been destroyed by death on the day Adam sinned. Instead, God kept His Word by allowing Adam to live physically, but cast Adam and Eve out of Eden for they were both spiritually dead. .

The Law demandsimmediate death for sin.
The Love of God demandsgrace to the sinner.

As Solomon speaks of our lives as travail {ʻinyân}, the very fact that we are here at all is due to the love of God. God could have destroyed humanity, but Love found a way to give us life. However, the punishment for sin corrupted not just humanity, but nature itself. God told Adam:

Genesis 3:17-19 Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: 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 demanded death, but the Law of God gave grace and life. Since Adam’s fall, the Bible tells us that creation itself became warped by sin. The Apostle write of this, saying:

Romans 8:19-23 (ESV) For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. 20 For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, 21 Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. 23 And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.

The whole creation groans in suffering because of Adam’s sin, but still exists because of God’s Love.

Creation groans until the day when the Children of God are fully redeemed, when with glorified bodies we come back to this earth to reign with Jesus. The Apostle said that on that grand day, the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. Man and nature are bound together by God in the Garden, and bound together by sin outside of the Garden. What a glorious day it will be when sin reigns no more! Sin will be no more on God’s earth when Christ rules from His millennial Kingdom. When Jesus returns,

Isaiah 11:6 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.

There will come a day when sin will be totally eradicated from this earth. But until that time, there will be cancers, sicknesses, deformities, ugliness. There will be the fading strength of old age. On top of this, sometimes God allows these sicknesses so that He might reach yet MORE with His glorious Gospel.

God Turns The Bad To Beautiful In His Time

In John chapter 9, Jesus sees a man who was blind from birth. The disciples asked Jesus:

John 9:2 … Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?

The Jews knew – and taught through the Old Testament scriptures, that sin – the sin of Adam – brought sickness and deformity into the world. Was this man blind because of his parents, his heritage? Or did this man himself sin, and by his sin bring the sickness upon himself? Jesus tells His disciples:

John 9:3-5 Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him. 4 I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work. 5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.

This man was born blind so that we could see Jesus healing him. Our Jesus is the light of the world. Light is useless to a blind man. But Jesus is miraculous light, the Light that gives sight to those who cannot see. This man was allowed to be sick to showcase the glorious Gospel of Christ.

Adam’s sin brought sickness and deformity into a perfect world. But there is yet another reason for suffering and deformity. In Luke 13 our Lord Jesus encounters a woman while teaching in the Synagogue:

Luke 13:11 (ESV) behold, there was a woman who had had a disabling spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not fully straighten herself.

When Lucifer the Arch Angel rebelled against God, he enlisted a third of the angels of Heaven (Revelation 12:4) to follow him. These are creatures we call “demons”. This woman was disfigured for eighteen years because she had a disabling spirit. We read:

Luke 13:12-16 When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said to her, “Woman, you are freed from your disability.” 13 And he laid his hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and she glorified God. 14 But the ruler of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, said to the people, “There are six days in which work ought to be done. Come on those days and be healed, and not on the Sabbath day.” 15 Then the Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger and lead it away to water it? 16 And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath day?”

God makes all things beautiful in His time!

Her deformity was because Satan had afflicted her by sending one of his followers to her life. Jesus banished that demon and that precious woman was healed. But once more we see the Love of God in action. When Lucifer rebelled against God, and led a third of the angels in Heaven to follow him, the love of God allowed that devil and his traitors life for a time. But the day is coming when Satan and his followers will be cast into a lake of fire, to be bound forever more.

If You Are Afflicted Run To The Arms Of Jesus

Ecclesiastes 3:11 {God} hath made every thing beautiful in his time

Earlier I shared my testimony, how I felt “less than” and an ugly duckling in my school years. I was given eyeglasses to correct my sight. But I needed more than eyeglasses – I needed Jesus! Finding Jesus at a Youth Rally just before I entered the Air Force, I found my esteem not in

my peers
my strength
foolish drugs
mind numbing alcohol

but in JESUS. The woman afflicted by the disabling spirit is just like many in our America today. People feel “less than”, so they are seeking normalization through that which Scripture calls perversion or abomination. A pair of eyeglasses did not “fix” all of me, but I needed Jesus. A surgeon’s knife will not fix you. No medical science can fix you. Listen Beloved, just as Jesus healed the woman afflicted with the disabling spirit, Jesus can and will heal you. God promises that He will make every thing beautiful in his time.

When you give your life to Jesus, God promises to eventually make you beautiful. Jesus will give sight to your eyes, so you can see as He writes on life’s blackboard.

God will give joy to your heart so that you can feel as He feels. To those who love the Lord, Solomon said:

Ecclesiastes 2:26 For God giveth to a man that is good in his sight wisdom, and knowledge, and joy: but to the sinner he giveth travail, to gather and to heap up…

Word Study: Jesus gives good to those who trust in Him. But to the sinner who rejects Christ, their lives are confusion and travail {ʻinyân}. When I was young and bullied, every day was travail {ʻinyân}. But when I found Jesus, He gave sight to my eyes, and joy to my soul. Fearing God, I ceased fearing man, and the bullies vanished. Elizabeth Cheney (1859) wrote:

Said the Robin to the Sparrow,
“I should really like to know
Why these anxious human beings
Rush about and worry so!”
Said the Sparrow to the Robin,
“Friend, I think that it must be
That they have no Heavenly Father
Such as cares for you and me!”

The God Who has made you, loves you no matter what you think of yourself. Look to Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Are you thirsty for joy? Jesus said:

John 7:37 … If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.

I am convinced that the cure to our miseries is Jesus. Come to Jesus with your pain, not to a drug dealer. Come to Jesus with your loneliness, not to a bar or a liquor store. Come to Jesus with what you think is ugly, and let Him have your life. Become His possession. Become His bond servant. Jesus will forgive you of your sins, and by His blood adopt you into His family. The Apostle said to the seeker:

Romans 8:1-2 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.

To those who receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, there is no condemnation. God loves you for Christ’s sake. When you come to God, God comes to you. He brings His Heaven to your heart. The Holy Spirit comes to walk with you:

Romans 8:11 (ESV) If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

The Holy Spirit comes to bring the life of Heaven into our hearts. Once we receive Christ Jesus, the Holy Spirit changes our hearts. We begin to walk with God daily, seeing things as God sees them. We are loved. We are adopted into the Family of God. We are not ugly, but beautiful in God’s eyes. We are Heaven bound! The Apostle said:

Romans 8:14-18 (ESV) For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. 18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

There is a glorious Heaven waiting for those who are owned by Jesus. But better than that, there is a glorious life awaiting those who belong to Jesus NOW. He has said “I will never LEAVE, nor FORSAKE you”. He will be with you every step of the way, if you will give yourselves to Him. He makes all things beautiful in His time.

Do Not Allow Yourselves To Be Robbed
Of The Beauty Found In Jesus

On this earth, all suffer because of sin. Do not sell yourself to sin. Sin is the “thief who comes to steal, to kill, and to destroy”. Jesus Christ came to be your Shepherd. Our Shepherd gives us “life, abundant life” (John 10:10). Jesus knows your aches and pains. He suffered so that you can enjoy the love of God.

You may not know this, but Jesus was not beautiful according to man’s standard.

The Scripture says of Jesus:

Isaiah 53:2 (ESV) … He had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him.

When you get to Heaven, don’t look for Jesus using the pictures that people made, pictures that hang in museums and homes, and even in my office. Jesus had no beauty that we should desire him. When you get to Heaven, look for Jesus by looking for the scars on His hands, head, and feet. When you see those scars, you will know this is Jesus. Because He died for you and I, we will inherit the Heavens, and a new earth. God will make everything beautiful in it’s time. That is, if we have received Him as Lord and Savior. There is a better day coming for the child of Christ.

Ecclesiastes 3:11 He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.

Word Study: The word translated the world is the Hebrew עוֹלָם ʻôwlâm, {pronounced o-lawm’}, which would be better here rendered as “eternity”. God has put “eternity” in our hearts. We know that there must be something more than just this life. God has put a hunger for Heaven in each person’s heart. We know that this world is not as it should be. When I read what Solomon wrote, no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end, this sounds so much like:

1 Corinthians 2:9 … Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.

Our limitations only point us to a wonderful future where all things are possible, and all hurts are erased. Augustine wrote:

You have made us for Yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in you.” (Confessions, Book 1, Chapter 1)

This world and this suffering that we are going through is but temporary for the believer in Christ. “Our citizenship is in Heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20). God has prepared a city for us (Hebrews 11:13-16), a place where no suffering shall be. A better day is coming. Look to the Lord Jesus! Rest in the Lord Jesus! May God draw you into His embrace this very day. Amen and Amen!

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It’s All About The Bread

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Turn with me in your Bibles to John chapter 6. I love the Gospel of John, for it shows very clearly that Jesus Christ is THE Son of God. It is a book very much focused on His deity. John also has great narratives. Tonight we’re going to read a familiar narrative – the time Jesus fed above 5000 people. We are very familiar with this story, and it might seem to be a re-run with you. But I believe there is more great truth to be found in these texts.

The Feeding Of The Five Thousand Is the ONLY Miracle Found In All Four Gospels (Here, and Matt. 14:13-21; Mark 6:32-44; Luke 9:10-17)

John 6:1-2 After these things Jesus went over the sea of Galilee, which is the sea of Tiberias. 2 And a great multitude followed him, because they saw his miracles which he did on them that were diseased.

After these things”. After Jesus healed the crippled man by the pool of Bethesda (remember the FIVE porches around the pool. FIVE is the number of Grace). After the Pharisees sought to kill Jesus for healing someone on the Sabbath (John 5:16). After Jesus told the Pharisees that He, the Son of God, was both equal to God the Father, as well as a follower of God the Father. After Jesus told the Pharisees that the Scriptures they studied – the Old Testament writings – were all about Him. Jesus said:

John 5:39-40 Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. 40 And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.

John 5:46-47 For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me; for he wrote of me. 47 But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?

John 6:1 After these things Jesus went over the sea of Galilee, which is the sea of Tiberias.

The Bible has no accidental words, but every word is the pure Word of God. It all has meaning. The body of water Jesus crossed was called the sea of Galilee by the Jews, but the sea of Tiberias by the conquering Roman forces. The two sets of names are given because Jesus did not just come for the Jews – but for all people. The Bible says:

Colossians 3:11 … there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.

John 6:3-4 And Jesus went up into a mountain, and there he sat with his disciples. 4 And the Passover, a feast of the Jews, was nigh.

The focus of Jesus’ ministry was teaching the Word of God. Jesus did not come to this earth to primarily heal people (though He did). Jesus came to share the Word of God with whosoever would listen. A crowd of people began to follow Jesus because of the miracles He did (verse 2). But

Preach: Jesus did not come to this earth to bring us temporary relief from suffering. He came to this earth to show us the love of God, and to show us how to love others. Jesus came, not to bring us to Heaven, but to bring Heaven to our hearts.

If you love God, you will love others. The two always come together. Jesus said that the protos, or foundational commandment is:

Matthew 22:37-40 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.

If God is in you (that is, you are saved by faith in Christ, and the Spirit of God indwells you [“now if anyone has not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His]), then you will love others. Love demands that you treat others the way you would be treated. We read:

John 6:5-6 When Jesus then lifted up his eyes, and saw a great company come unto him, he saith unto Philip, Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat? 6 And this he said to prove him: for he himself knew what he would do.

Jesus Knows What He Is Going To Do. Do We?

God the Son had been teaching His disciples. The day is slowly waning. So Jesus asks Philip a simple question, one that God often asks His people. He asks, Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat?. Love is concerned about the welfare of others. How can we feed this mass of people? The answer is very easy. How do we feed them? Jesus! Jesus will feed them! But it is ingrained into us as humans – fallen creatures from the days of Adam – to say “let ME fix it. I know what to do!” The right answer is, “the same Jesus Who healed the cripple in Bethesda, the same Jesus who rebuked the Pharisees, the same Jesus of Who the Old Testament prophesied – this same Jesus can feed this multitude”. Philip answers just as we would often do:

John 6:7 Philip answered him, Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may take a little.

Philip’s suggestion is no suggestion at all. Philip just acknowledges that this is impossible. Looking at it from a human point of view, Philip says Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them. That is equivalent to about 200 days of labor, as the “penny” (the “dēnarion” or denarius) was about a day’s wage. Philip is looking at the size of the problem and comparing it to human ability. Of course, neither Philip nor any (or all) of the disciples can fix this problem. Love demands that these people be fed – but it is impossible by human standards that it be done. The task is just impossible. Philip is the “business meeting wet blanket”. “It can’t be done – let’s just walk away”.

Then Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother (verse 8) speaks up. Andrew was the first disciple to come to Jesus in faith. Andrew was a disciple of John the Baptist. He was there when John said of Jesus:

John 1:36 … Behold the Lamb of God!

Andrew immediately left following John the Baptist, and began to follow Jesus. Andrew, after staying with Jesus for a day, went and found his brother Simon (Peter), and told him:

John 1:41-42 … We have found the Messiah, which is, being interpreted, the Christ. 42 And he brought him to Jesus.

Andrew knew Jesus was the Messiah. But confronted with the problem that Jesus put before them, Andrew followed Philip’s negative lead. He says:

John 6:9 There is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes: but what are they among so many?

When that young boy (“lad is the Greek παιδάριον paidárion, [pronounced pahee-dar’-ee-on] – “little boy”) left home that day to go and see Jesus, his mama, loving him, packed him a lunch. It was just enough for a child to eat. It was five barley loaves, and two small fishes. Just a tiny amount – five crackers and two little boy sized fish. I don’t think that Andrew robbed the boy. I think the little boy heard Jesus’ ask Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat?. When the little fellow heard it, I believe he walked up to where Andrew was, and tugging on robe, showed him his little lunch. Andrew takes the little lunch, shows it to Jesus, and says what are they among so many?.

We as humans have, throughout our history, considered all of our problems through the puniness of our possession. We need to consider our problems with a single focus on God. Jesus said in another place:

Matthew 6:22 The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.

The word single is the Greek ἁπλοῦς haploûs, (pronounced hap-looce’) which means “simple, whole, sound”.

When we are challenged, we often get flustered, and run around in confusion, looking here and there for a fix. We’re not simple, but often simple minded!

If your eye is focused on the simple fix (which is JESUS), then your whole body will be filled with light. You will be joyous, blessed, overwhelmed with love. But if your eye is focused on the negative, on the impossibility, then your whole body will be filled with darkness, negativity, misery (Luke 11:34).

Philip, who had seen Jesus do miraculous things, is not focused on Jesus, but on the size of the problem before him. “It can’t be done”. Andrew, who was first to follow Jesus as Messiah, is not focused on Jesus, but on the size of the little boy’s meal. “It’s too little – it’s just not enough”. Neither has a suitable answer for the problem because their eye is not single, but wicked. Their eye is looking at the wrong thing.

Then there’s the little boy.
The paidárion, [pronounced pahee-dar’-ee-on].
Just a child.

The little boy hears Jesus’ question, runs to Andrew, and says “give this to Jesus”. The boy’s eye is single. His eye is focused. He’s not looking at the crowd. He’s not looking at the size of his meal. He’s looking at Jesus. He’s looking at Jesus.

The secret to the blessed life is to become like that little child, and simply focus on the Lord

  • When Solomon was given the daunting task of ruling Israel, he went to God in prayer:

1 Kings 3:7 And now, O LORD my God, thou hast made thy servant king instead of David my father: and I am but a little child: I know not how to go out or come in.

Lord, Yahweh, I do not know what to do. I’m just a little child – show me. Make me a good King, a King you can be proud of. And God did.

  • When Naaman the leper wanted to be healed, God told him to dip himself in the Jordan River seven times. When he became like a little child in his spirit, and did as God said:

2 Kings 5:14 Then went {Naaman} down, and dipped himself seven times in Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God: and his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.

  • When Jesus our Lord wanted to show us the faith that pleases God, the Bible says:

Matthew 18:2-4 And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, 3 And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. 4 Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

A little child shall lead them” (Isaiah 11:6). There is nothing that our God cannot do. There is nothing that Jesus cannot fix.

  • In the Book of Zechariah, Zerubbabel led an exiled Israel back to Jerusalem to rebuild the Temple, seventy years destroyed by Assyria. When the returnees saw what was before them, they wept. Such a monstrous task was before them – it was impossible to fix! But beloved,

With men, this is impossible; but with God ALL THINGS are possible” (Matthew 19:26)

There is nothing that God cannot do. There is nothing beyond the scope of the love of God. When Israel wept at the destruction of the Temple, God spoke through the Prophet, saying:

Zechariah 4:7-10 Who art thou, O great mountain? {for the task before them was MOUNTANOUS} before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain {God will do the impossible}: and he shall bring forth the headstone thereof with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace unto it. 8 Moreover the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, 9 The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house; his hands shall also finish it; and thou shalt know that the Lord of hosts hath sent me unto you. 10 For who hath despised the day of small things? for they shall rejoice…

Who can fix the Temple? God can!
Who can heal Naaman of Leprosy? God can!
Who can give the King wisdom? God can!
Who can feed five thousand? God can!

Zerubbabel shall bring forth the headstone thereof with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace unto it. God will use Zerubbabel to kill the problem, and the headstone placed on that grave will say Grace, grace unto it. DO NOT DESPISE THE DAY OF SMALL THINGS!

Our God Is A Mountain Leveling God!

Take another look at that little boy’s lunch. When his mama packed it that day, what did she put in it? Five barley loaves, and two small fishes. Did you catch that? FIVE barley loaves. FIVE is the number of Grace! Jesus healed a cripple on one of FIVE porches in Bethesda. The little boy’s lunch had FIVE barley loaves.

Let’s read on.

John 6:10 And Jesus said, Make the men sit down. Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand.

Jesus said Make the men sit down. He doesn’t need anybody’s help to do this. Sit down. You MUST sit down. Wait on the Lord.

Proverbs 20:22 … wait on the Lord, and he shall save thee.

How many men sat down? FIVE thousand. What is the number of Grace? FIVE. Do you understand now? Sit down – wait on God.

John 6:11 And Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would.

Who did the work? The Father. Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples. Jesus gave thanks to the Father, for the Father caused the multiplication. Jesus is the visible Member of the Godhead. If you have seen Me, you have seen the Father” (John 14:9). “I work, and My Father works” (John 5:17). How did Jesus teach us how to pray?

Matthew 6:9-11 … 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.

The Father is feeding the FIVE thousand with FIVE tiny loaves of bread. The Father is using the Son to do this. There is but ONE MEDIATOR between God and men, the man Christ Jesus (1 Timothy 2:5). The Son takes the little, and depending on the Grace of God, thanks the Father for what He will do. The Father multiplies the loaves, as Jesus breaks them and passes them out. The disciples take this bounty from the grace of God, and distribute it to those sitting. All eat their fill.

John 6:12-13 When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost. 13 Therefore they gathered them together, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above unto them that had eaten.

When they were done, and all had eaten, they gathered the leftovers. Let me ask you: Is the focus on FISH or BREAD?

According to this story, there’s NO FISH left over – at least, not that it’s mentioned. There were FIVE barley loaves, FIVE being the number of Grace. There were twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves. Why twelve? Because Jesus was feeding Jews, and there are twelve tribes in Israel.

God’s Grace is more than enough to feed Israel. God fed Israel in the wilderness under Moses. Now God is feeding Israel in the wilderness by Jesus. There is nothing our Jesus cannot do!

No matter what problem you encounter, Beloved, encounter it as a little child. Let your eye be single, simply focused on the Lord Jesus. Give Him the little you have, and let Him bless it, and make it sufficient unto the day. Our God is able. Our Jesus is able. Do not despise the power of Jesus! Let us now go to Him in prayer. Amen and Amen.

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Choosing The Best Part

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Luke 10:38-42 Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word. 40 But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me. 41 And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: 42 But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.

We’ve GOT To Do SOMETHING OR…”

I’ve often heard these words spoken over the last 25 years I have been in ministry. The words are uttered by sincere people seeking to “fix” something. As humans, we love to “fix” things. It started with Adam in the Garden of Eden. When he discovered that eating of the forbidden “opened his eyes”, the very first thing Adam did was “fix” it. He made aprons of fig leaves (Genesis 3:7). It didn’t help.

Our efforts never help. But we feel that we must “do something”. The Bible says:

Psalm 127:1 (ESV) Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.

I understand the “We’ve got to do SOMETHING” mentality. I read an article the other day written by the Executive Editor of Christian Post, Richard D. Land. The article was entitled “How badly have we lost our way?”. A quote:

“… The moral compass of a significant number of our fellow citizens has been desensitized and demagnitized… somewhere along the way, America veered seriously off course and we are now confronted with a collapse into full-blown paganism. … I have seldom been both as shocked and saddened as I was after reading the Rev. Rebecca Todd Peters op-ed in USA Today, “Faith Guided Our Decision on 2 Abortions”. Rev. Peters identifies herself as a Presbyterian minister. … The Rev. Peters also states that she is a “wife and a mother of two” and that she has “also had two abortions”. She immediately follows this by asserting, ‘I did not make my abortion decision despite my Christian identity and faith, but rather because of it.’”

I have no doubt that she is sincere. You can be sincere, and be wrong. When rebuking Jesus for saying He had to go to the Cross, Jesus told Peter:

Matthew 16:23 (ESV) …. “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a hindrance to Me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”

Peter was no doubt sincere, but wrong. Pastor John Piper notes how the moral fabric of America has changed in just a few years. He notes, “ten years ago, recreational cannabis was illegal in all fifty states”. At present, 37 states have legalized medical-use of Marijuana, and in 15 states you can use it recreationally. John goes on to note:

Now stop and think of the number of behaviors that were once illegal and are no more. Divorce was once illegal. Adultery and fornication were illegal. Homosexual practices were illegal. Indecency was illegal, in such a way that what’s considered acceptable in movies and on beaches today would have been forbidden. Sabbath-breaking was illegal. Abortion was illegal in every state.”

As William Barclay notes, “{Man} has so erected an altar to himself in the center of things that he worships himself to the exclusion of God and man”. We could say the same thing about America today. The Church is falling. Our society is falling. In a panic, I along with you think, “I’ve GOT to do something”.

The Mary Mentality Waits Upon Jesus

Luke 10:38 Now it came to pass, as they{Jesus and His disciples} went, that he entered into a certain village {Bethany}: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house.

Jesus goes to Bethany with His disciples to pay a visit to a family He had never been with. He was going to visit with Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. This family had heard about Jesus, and Jesus was coming to their home. Actually, Jesus was coming to Martha’s house. That’s what we read:

a certain woman named Martha received him into her house.

Martha was the owner of the home.
Mary was a resident in Martha’s home.

The fame of Jesus had gone throughout that whole area. Jesus is coming! Now Jesus is on the front stoop, knocking on the door. Martha thinks, “I’d better DO something”. But where is Mary’s mind? We read:

Luke 10:39-40And she {Martha} had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word. 40 But Martha….

This is the first time that Mary met Jesus. This is NOT the same Mary called Magdalene, out of whom {Jesus cast out} seven devils” (Luke 8:2). the name “Mary Magdalene” literally means “Mary of Magdala”, that is, she lived in Magdala in Galilee. The Mary now sitting at Jesus’ feet is “Mary of Bethany, which is in the province of Judea. Mary DID Something!

  1. Mary sat at Jesus’ feet, a place we all need to be. She RESTED.
  2. Mary heard his word. She listened to what He said. The word heard is the Greek ἀκούω akoúō, {pronounced ak-oo’-o}, which means “to give audience to, to focus on and hear”. Mary was doing as the Gospel demands. Jesus said in another place:

Matthew 11:27-30 All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him. 28 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.

The only way you can know of God the Father is through Jesus Christ. And NO ONE knows Jesus Christ completely BUT the Father. This is what Jesus said. Jesus says, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest”. Rest for the soul is in Jesus. Put your body at His feet. Hear Him, and do as He says. Cast your hurt and suffering on Him. Jesus said “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me”. Jesus is Lord! Jesus is Lord! Let Him put His yoke upon you. This is what God wants us to DO.

A Christian Is Saved By Sitting At Christ’s Feet.
A Christian Grows By Sitting At Christ’s Feet.

We as Christians are to DO, not SOMETHING, but WHAT JESUS SAID DO. Mary did not rush about cleaning the home and cooking the meal. Mary was not trying to impress Jesus with her works. So many of us try to do this. We try to do SOMETHING because OTHERS are looking at us. We want to do SOMETHING because we sincerely want to please our Lord.

But we must first rest at His feet. We must let Jesus be Lord. This is what Mary is doing. Jesus is Lord, so she sits at His feet and waits, and listens. She “learns of Jesus”.

God wants His Kingdom to expand upon the earth. He wants us to DO – but only WHEN He says. At the beginning of this chapter we are told:

Luke 10:1-2 After these things the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would come. 2 Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth laborers into his harvest.

After these things – after Jesus fed 5000 with 2 fish and 5 loaves of bread; after Jesus stood on the Mount of Transfiguration with Moses and Elijah, the Lord appointed other seventy. Jesus had His 12 original Apostles, and appointed 70 men to go out 2 by 2 to spread the Gospel. What was Jesus doing?

Word Study: When Moses was raised up by God, each tribe of Israel had a leader (12), and God told Moses to set aside 70 elders (Exodus 18:13-26; 24:1) to help rule God’s Israel. These 70 men eventually became known as the “Sanhedrin”, or the Ruling 70. Moses ruled Israel under the Old Covenant.

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

Moses was the Mediator of the Old Covenant, but Jesus is the mediator of the New Covenant (Hebrews 9:15). As Moses chose 70, Jesus chooses 70, and sends them out to share the Gospel throughout Israel. Jesus conveys special powers upon His “Sanhedrin” so that they might share the message that the kingdom of God is come nigh unto you” (vs 11). Jesus told them:

Luke 10:16 He that heareth you heareth me; and he that despiseth you despiseth me; and he that despiseth me despiseth him that sent me.

The 70 were ecstatic when they returned to Jesus. They said, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name. Jesus told these men:

Luke 10:18-20 I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven. 19 Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you. 20 Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.

You Bless The Lord When You Treat Him As the Lord. Sit At His Feet, Do What He Says When He Says.

The Bible says:

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

Do not DO SOMETHING. DO what Jesus tells you to do. Sit at His feet. He is Lord. Read His Word. Pray. The Psalmist said:

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

We are losing the land in America. As American Christians, we are too often:

sitting at the feet of anger
sitting at the feet of fear
sitting at the feet of greed
sitting at the feet of ungodliness
sitting at the feet of vain philosophies
sitting at the feet of social media
sitting at the feet of television
sitting at the feet of celebrities
sitting at the feet of politicians
sitting at the feet of socialism
sitting at the feet of selfishness

This is no good. We must sit at the feet of Jesus. Jesus said:

John 18:37 … To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.

It is imperative that we sit at Jesus’ feet and hear His Word. “Forever, O Lord, Thy Word is settled in Heaven” (Psalm 119:89). What God affirms as true is true, though all the world rail against it. What our Lord says in this Bible is of paramount important to the Kingdom of God, and for the future of this nation. The Psalmist said of the Lord:

Psalm 119:160 Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever.

Pastor Kevin DeYoung notes,

God does not lay down arbitrary rules. He does not give orders so that we might be restricted and miserable. He never requires what is impure, unloving, or unwise. His demands are always noble, always just, and always righteous.”

The danger of DOING SOMETHING without first sitting at Christ’s feet is illustrated by our Lord. Many “DOERS” will end up in hell. Jesus said:

Matthew 7:22-27 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. 24 Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: 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.

Doing a work without first sitting at Jesus’ feet is not doing a good work, but a bad work. Those who sit at Jesus’ feet and heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them has built his house on a rock that nothing on this earth can destroy. That is what the Lord wants of us.

Martha In Her Doing Cut The Lord Out

Mary is WAITING on the Lord by hearing and applying His Word. Martha is WAITING on the Lord by presuming what He wants – then complaining because Jesus does not want it.

Luke 10:40 But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me.

Illustration: Imagine this: You go to a fancy, five star restaurant, and are quickly seated at your table. Before anyone asks you anything, the waiter come up and opens a bottle of wine, pouring it into your glass. He walks away as another waiter comes with a meal. Putting it down in front of you, you have escargot (snails), sushi (raw) octopus with black ink gravy, and braised chitlins. The waiter drops the plates in front of you, and walks away. You try complaining, but no one wants to hear it. Then you get a bill for $500.00, and the waiters want generous tips.

This is the type of “waiting” that Martha was doing. This is the type of “waiting” we often do for God. This type of “waiting” irritates God as much as we would have been at that five star restaurant. It also wears us out.

Word Study: We are told Martha was cumbered about much serving. Martha is working very hard. The word translated cumbered is the Greek περισπάω perispáō, {pronounced per-ee-spah’-o}, which means “to drag all around, to be over occupied and thus distressed, to be driven about mentally”. It is interesting that this word is only found HERE in the Greek New Testament. Martha was singularly – as no other New Testament character had been – about to have a melt down! She says to Jesus:

Lord, dost thou not care that my sister
hath left me to serve alone?”

Martha calls Jesus Lord, but in her heart Jesus is patently NOT Lord. If Jesus were Lord (and He is), then she would be at His feet instead of standing over Him upset and demanding. Beloved, Jesus is LORD. As LORD, He NEVER asked Martha to do what she was doing. Martha was doing what she was doing because it was HER house, and SHE wanted to look good for Jesus and His disciples. SHE wanted to be a good hostess. There’s nothing wrong with that – but Jesus is LORD.

Jesus went 40 days and 40 nights without food, and just made a banquet for over 5000 people out of two fish and five little biscuits. If He is hungry, He will tell Martha.

Jesus tells us in another place:

Matthew 4:4 (ESV) … Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.

We all desperately need the Word of God.
We do not need another strange philosophy out of Hollyweird.
We do not need a 3.5 TRILLION dollar tax burden from Valhalla.
We need to be at Jesus’ feet, listening to Him.
We need to be at Jesus’ feet, worshiping Him.

Luke 4:8 (ESV) … It is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only shall you serve”.

Martha was not serving the Lord. She was serving herself. It was her house, and she was putting on airs – unrequested airs. Furthermore, Martha is making out that Jesus is heartless. “Dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone?”. Jesus, if You loved me, you would (fill in the blank). How often have we all done this, jumping out ahead of God’s direction, doing it – like Frank Sinatra sang, “My Way”.

Please note that Jesus does not chastise Martha until she, overwhelmed, comes to Him. Jesus just continues teaching Mary until Martha gets enough. When we jump out on our own and get ourselves wrapped around the axle, sometimes the Lord will just let us go until we – overwhelmed – come crying to Him. “Jesus, don’t You care?” Yes, He does. Jesus corrects Martha:

Luke 10:41 And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things..

Notice how Jesus speaks to Martha. He says Martha, Martha.

Martha is one of 7 people that God calls their name twice – and the only woman Jesus calls by name twice.

Abraham, Abraham (Genesis 22:11)
Jacob, Jacob (Genesis 46:2)
Moses, Moses (Exodus 3:4)
Samuel, Samuel (1 Samuel 3:10)
Martha, Martha (Luke 10:41)
Simon, Simon (Luke 22:31)
Saul, Saul (Acts 9:4)

Word Study: Martha’s mind is on overload because she is doing many things – but NOTHING that Jesus told her to do. Jesus told her thou art careful and troubled. The word careful is the Greek μεριμνάω merimnáō, {pronounced mer-im-nah’-o}, which means anxious, filled with anxiety. The other word troubled is the Greek τυρβάζω tyrbázō, {pronounced toor-bad’-zo}, meaning “to be stirred up and confused, to be troubled in mind. Two of the greatest enemies of our faith is anxiety and confusion. Where anxiety and confusion is, Jesus is NOT. The Bible tells us:

Philippians 4:6 (ESV) … do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

In other words, if you are ANXIOUS, stop what you’re doing, and sit at Jesus’ feet listening. Open the Word of God. Pray, and look for God’s face. Recognize that HE IS LORD and WE ARE NOT. We are not to be anxious today, nor about tomorrow. Do as Jesus said:

Matthew 6:33-34 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. 34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

One of my favorite Bible texts is God is not a God of confusion but of peace(1 Corinthians 14:33). Martha was taking too much on herself, running herself ragged. Jesus told her:

Luke 10:42 But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.

The Apostle Paul understood that the greatest thing any of us can do is to hear and know Jesus. He wrote:

Philippians 3:8-10 (ESV) Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ … and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,

The best thing in life – the thing that brings joy to every day – is to know Jesus, to hear His Word, and to be worshipful in doing what He has said. Mary chose that good part, which shall not be taken away from her. As we learn of Jesus, we, through the Holy Spirit of God, become daily more like Jesus. We DO His Word. Let us commit to give our lives to Jesus. Let us have a Mary mentality, sitting at the Lord’s feet daily, seeking HIS will. Let us be GOOD WAITERS. May God the Holy Spirit draw us all into a deeper relationship with Him, for His glory, that His Kingdom might grow. In Christ’s name I pray. Amen and Amen.

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A Mighty Mite!

Widow’s Mite at time of Christ

Mark 12:41-44 And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much. 42 And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing. 43 And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury: 44 For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.

A Little Technical Information To Start 🙂

That which I gave you this morning is a reproduction of what we today call a “widow’s mite”. The “widow” in our scripture would have dropped two of these into one of thirteen “chests” or “trumpets” found in the Temple. The Jewish commentary Mishnah Shekalim (6:5) notes, “There were thirteen chests in the Temple, and on each of them was inscribed …”. Each chest or trumpet was labeled with the name of the fund it was supporting. One of the funds that people gave to as a widow’s and orphan’s fund.

Word Study: A little technical details on the reproduction I gave. I had to give you reproductions because the genuine “widow’s mite” – which can still be bought online – can cost anywhere from 40 to 400$ apiece because of collector demand! The “widow’s mite” I gave you has an anchor on one side, and the points of a star on the other. The actual name of these coins is lepta(singular = lepton). Lepta were the lowest denomination of coin that circulated in Jerusalem when Jesus walked the earth. Two lepta [KJV “mites”] were equivalent to one quadrans [KJV “farthing] (Greek κοδράντης kodrántēs, [pronounced kod-ran’-tace]), the smallest Roman coin. The quadrans was worth 3/8 of a cent. The widow gave less than a penny to the collection at the Temple.

Word Study: As Jesus watched people putting money into the various chests, He saw a poor widow come into the Court of Women. It was obvious that she was poor by the state of her clothing. Jesus calls the woman πτωχός ptōchós, {pronounced pto-khos’}, a “pauper” or “like a beggar”. The others wore either fine clothing, or better than average clothing. This woman’s raiment was worn. When Jesus preached His Sermon on the Mount, He said:

Luke 6:20 … Blessed be ye poor {ptōchós}: for yours is the kingdom of God.

This Unnamed Widow Was A Genuine Believer:
She Loved The Lord!

As Jesus saw this poor widow head toward a chest, He called His disciples to Him. Jesus often made teaching points from things that were going on around Him. Jesus pointed to the widow, and told His disciples:

Mark 12:43-44 … Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury: 44 For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living

Word Study: This woman cast in all that she had, even all her living. The word translated living is the Greek βίος bíos, {pronounced bee’-os}, which means “that by which life is sustained”. She gave all she had. This woman literally put her life on the line. She had no more funds, nothing else of note. And yet, she cast all in.

This woman put her life on the line, because her heart was filled with love for her God.

Jesus noted that. Jesus was watching. The woman did not know that Jesus was watching, but Jesus is always watching over His people. Jesus Christ is the Good Shepherd. Jesus said:

John 10:11 I am the Good Shepherd: the Good Shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.

The Good Shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. The Good Shepherd is not an employee, a hireling. The Good Shepherd watches over His sheep, His charges, because He loves His sheep. The Good Shepherd is always watching His sheep. And the Good Shepherd has a relationship with His sheep. Jesus said:

John 10:27-28 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: 28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.

The Sheep of God know that – even if they cannot see Him – the Shepherd is near. Jesus is a Good Shepherd. He is not here one day, then gone the next. Jesus was watching the treasury in the Court of Women because He was watching for His sheep. He wanted to show His disciples – and US – what the Sheep of God do. This woman gave her all to God. She had little by the standards of those who were in the Temple that day. As people walked around her, they dropped hand-fulls of coins into the trumpets. Some fed their money into the trumpets – the collection plates – one coin by one, pausing for effect between each drop. CLINK …… CLINK …… CLINK….. CLINK. Those who were giving with such animation were well off. They had much money, and gave much money to the Temple.

But in reality, it cost them nothing! Jesus said:

Mark 12:44 … For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living

They cast in of their abundance. They are to be commended for their tithing, for this is a good thing. The tithe will go to help those in need. But their tithe cost them little to nothing. But she, the Sheep of God, gave all that she had. It cost her everything. Jesus recognized this, an applauded her faith. She gave her all because she knew she belonged to God.

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?[g] 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.

This widow was not worried about her life. She loved the Lord. Many can recite that beautiful Psalm of David, Psalm 23:

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.”

This woman LIVED her faith. She knew that God was watching over her. Not one hair of your head will fall to the ground, but that Jesus sees it (Matthew 10:30; Luke 12:7).

Are You Religious, Or In A Relationship With Jesus?

God the Son does not want you religious. He wants you in a relationship with Him. In this same chapter we read an encounter between Jesus and a Scribe. The Scribes worked closely with the priests and the Temple, as the Scribes were not only copiers of the Scripture, but experts in Biblical Law. A Scribe comes to Jesus at the end of a conversation He had with the Sadducees.

Mark 12:28-30 … one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, Which is the first commandment of all? 29 And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: 30 And 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.

Word Study: The Scribe asked Jesus Which is the first commandment of all?. The word translated first is the Greek πρῶτος prōtos, {pronounced pro’-tos}, which means “the foremost or greatest and most important”. The Scribe was asking Jesus – in essence – “what is the primary or foundational commandment of God on which all other commandments are based”. Jesus knew what the Scribe was asking. Jesus replied, The Lord our God is one Lord, that is, there is NO OTHER GOD BUT THAT OF THE SCRIPTURE. All others are imitators, false, liars and thieves. If the God of the Scripture is YOUR God, then you are to love Him with all. God wants all of your heart. You may love…

your spouse,
your children,
your parents,
yourself,
your friends,

but your love for them must be SECONDARY to your love for God. Christianity is a loving relationship through Jesus Christ to God. Your love for God will be the sun and the sum of your life. This is the prōtos.

Christian faith is not a lease – you have to own it. Does God own your heart, or is your Christianity leased?

Illustrate: A surgeon was briefing a little boy and his family on what he intended to do. He said, “Tomorrow morning, I’m going to open up your heart …”. The little boy interrupted. He said, “You’ll find Jesus there”. The surgeon looked at the parents, but they said nothing. A little annoyed, the surgeon said, “Son, I’m sure when I look in your heart, I’ll find damaged muscle and weakened vessels. But I intend to fix that, and make you well.” The child said, “You’ll find Jesus there, too. He lives in my heart.” The surgeon left. The next day, following the surgery the surgeon sat quietly in his office. The child had a damaged aorta, widespread degeneration. It was so bad there was no hope for a transplant. The prognosis was bleak. The child had little time to live. The surgeon bowed his head, and prayed. “Why God. Why did You do this? Why did You allow this?”. The Lord answered him. “That boy is my little Lamb. He was not meant for your flock very long. He’s a part of My flock, and will soon forever be with Me. His parents are also of My flock, and will one day be united with him in My glorious Heaven. This child did what he was supposed to do. I brought him into this world to retrieve another lost person – YOU.” The surgeon wept. Later as he sat with the boy and his parents, the little boy asked, “Did you cut open my heart?” The surgeon said, “Yes, son, I did”. The little boy asked, “What did you find?” The surgeon, with a smile on his face, said “I found Jesus there”.

The widow loved God with her all though she suffered poverty. The little boy loved Jesus with all his heart though he suffered sickness. Love for God will lead to the second commandment:

Mark 12:31 And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.

Until God in Christ possesses your heart, your other relationships will; be but cheap imitations of God’s best. The Scribe, hearing Jesus, replies:

Mark 12:32-33 And the scribe said unto him, Well, Master, thou hast said the truth: for there is one God; and there is none other but he: 33 And to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbor as himself, is more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.

The Pharisees and Scribes believed that the rituals of the Law, burnt offerings and sacrifices, were the most important thing to God. They aren’t. The Prophet Samuel told King Saul:

1 Samuel 15:22 (ESV) Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams.

You enter the Kingdom of God by falling in love with Jesus. You enter the Kingdom of God by allowing Jesus to possess your heart and guide your life.

Mark 12:38-40 And {Jesus} said unto them in his doctrine, Beware of the scribes, which love to go in long clothing, and love salutations in the marketplaces, 39 And the chief seats in the synagogues, and the uppermost rooms at feasts: 40 Which devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers: these shall receive greater damnation.

The Scribes leased their faith for celebrity, for affirmation, for profit. Do not lease your faith!

The Scribes are like many religious people today. They dress up in long clothing. They wear doctoral robes. They love salutations in the marketplaces. They love to be called “Doctor”, and introduced to others as “The Immanent ___”. They want to be in the “Amen Corner” in the local Church, and in the best seats at the feasts. They for a pretense make long prayers. It is all smoke and mirrors. Pastor Greg Morse wrote:

If an old-time preacher, one who believed in uncomfortable realities like the wrath of God … rode his horse through some of the streets of American Christianity, what might he experience? … Sounding the alarm as Paul Revere, this watchman might gallop down our paved roads yelling,

Jesus is coming! Jesus is coming! Make way for the King! Repent and believe! Stay awake! Keep the faith! Only those who endure to the end will be saved! Put the flesh to death by the Spirit! Obey Him! Finish the race! Look to Jesus! Trust Him for His grace! He is coming to judge the world in righteousness!’

to his amazement, some voices would shoot back … “We have heard of your kind before … more emphasis on our works than Christ’s. Listen here, Christ lived a perfect life for me and died in my place. I have failed, will fail, and often fail – but Christ, sir, Christ such a life in my place, I refuse to return to the law. I am gospel-centered, you see!’

Salvation is by faith alone in Christ alone. Once saved,
your God will possess your heart and your life.

1 Peter 2:24-25 (ESV) {Jesus} himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. 25 For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

Like the Scribes and Pharisees of Jesus’ day, we were straying from God. We were walking about “DEAD in TRESPASSES and SINS” (Ephesians 2:1,5). But born again by faith in Christ Jesus, Jesus now occupies our hearts. We love the Lord with all. We love our neighbor as ourselves. The lost do neither.

Mark 12:40 … {Beware of the scribes} … Which devour widows’ houses,

Word Study: The word translated devour is the Greek κατεσθίω katesthíō, {pronounced kat-es-thee’-o}, which means “to gobble up, devour”. If you pretend to love God, you will not love your neighbor. This is not the first time Jesus called out Scribes and Pharisees for “devouring or gobbling up widow’s houses” (see Matthew 23:14; Luke 20:47). Under God’s Law, He told those who were believing landowners:

Deuteronomy 24:19-21 (ESV) When you reap your harvest in your field and forget a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back to get it. It shall be for the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow, that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands. 20 When you beat your olive trees, you shall not go over them again. It shall be for the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow. 21 When you gather the grapes of your vineyard, you shall not strip it afterward. It shall be for the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow.

Those who suffered, like a sharecropper’s widow, was not to be thrown out of her home because her husband died. God told His people to leave a sheaf in the field, to allow those who were poor to enjoy the second harvest of the olive trees and of the grapes of your vineyard. When a field was reaped, the corners of the field were to be left untouched for the poor. God did two things by this.

Preach This: If you love the Lord your God with all your heart, you love your neighbor, too. And loving your neighbor did not mean giving a handout, but a hand up. The stranger, the orphan, the widow were to go out and put a little labor in gathering that which was left in the field or on the tree. In this way, all learned RESPONSIBILITY.

Religion Destroyed The Temple, And Religion Will Destroy The Church

After commending the widow, we read:

Mark 13:1-2 And as {Jesus} went out of the temple, one of his disciples saith unto him, Master, see what manner of stones and what buildings are here! 2 And Jesus answering said unto him, Seest thou these great buildings? there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.

In America today many mega-Churches, rega-Churches, and little Churches are falling apart. A number of “celebrity” Christians (like Kevin Max from the group DC Talk and Joshua Harris who wrote “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” or the late Ravi Zacharias) have become “deconverted”, or have said that they are “deconstructing their faith”. In reality, they are proving what the Scripture told us about false believers. The Apostle John wrote:

1 John 2:19-20 (ESV) … They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us. 20 But you have been anointed by the Holy One…

As the disciples left the Temple, a beautiful structure that was built by King Herod, they remarked on it’s fine construction. Jesus told them there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down. The Roman Empire would lay siege to the city of Jerusalem in April 14, 70 A.D., three days prior to the beginning of Passover. The Temple would be destroyed by Rome in August, 70 A.D.

I often wonder what happened to that poor widow that Jesus commended. Though her destiny is not revealed in Scripture, I know that my God is faithful. As a Good Shepherd, Jesus tended to her needs, and she rests in glory with Him in eternity.

I believe that God is separating the wheat from the tares in America today. If we deny Jesus, Jesus will deny us (2 Timothy 2:12). If we sow corruption, we reap corruption (Galatians 6:7-8). Those who are Christ’s sheep will, as Hebrews 3:12-14 notes, “share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end”. The Bible is very clear. Eternal life is certain for those with overcoming faith (Revelation 2:7, 11, 17, 26, 3:5, 12, 21). Genuine faith in Christ causes a person to fall in love with God. We love God with our ALL. And God indwells us, gently guiding the believer through the valleys of this life. Genuine faith is not here today, and gone tomorrow. The Christian delights to do God’s will. The Christian loves to worship God with other saints. Do you love Jesus? Do you know Him? Oh, I pray that you do! Run into Jesus’ arms this very day. Do not delay! Trust Him, and commit to loving Him with your all. May God the Holy Spirit convict you this very day!

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Solomon’s Folly A.K.A. The gods Among Us

Photo by Egor Myznik on Unsplash

Is The Grace Of God Fully Operational In Your Life?

The Grace of God (God’s Riches at Christ’s Expense) was not just given to get you into Heaven. The Grace of God is given to the believer to get Heaven into us. I believe – along with the Apostles – that it is possible to be saved by Grace, and yet not enjoy the fullness of Grace. The Bible calls this “Receiving The Grace of god in Vain”. The Apostle Paul spoke of this when he wrote::

1 Corinthians 15:10 But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.

The Grace of God will take you to Heaven. But the Grace of God should take God’s Heaven to your heart. If you are under Grace, you should joyously labor for God’s Kingdom. Jesus said “the Kingdom of God IS WITHIN YOU” (Luke 17:21). It is Grace that saves us. It is Grace that keeps on saving us. It is Grace that makes us children of God, as opposed to children of Adam. The Apostle reiterated in:

2 Corinthians 6:1, telling the Church: “We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain”.

Grace changes you.

  • When Enoch found Grace, he walked with God till he walked into Heaven.
  • When Noah found Grace, God had him build a boat.
  • When Abraham found Grace, God had him leave home and go to Canaan.
  • When Joseph found Grace, he left prison and became co-regent with Pharaoh.
  • When Moses found Grace, he stopped being a fugitive and led Israel from Egypt.
  • When Joshua found Grace, he led Israel to take the Promised Land.
  • When Shamgar found Grace, he defeated 600 Philistines.
  • When David found Grace, he left the pasture, defeated Goliath, and became king of Israel.
  • When Daniel found Grace he kept on praying, until he led a den of lions into a prayer meeting.
  • When Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego found Grace, they found Jesus in a fiery furnace.

The Grace of God transcends the Old as well as the New Covenants. The only way people have ever been saved by God is through His GRACE. The Apostle wrote:

Galatians 2:21 I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.

The Grace of God can indeed be received in vain. What robs the believer of the power of God’s Grace? When the believer begins to share his or her affections with the world. When we blend our faith with the gods of this world, we rob ourselves of the joy of the power of Grace.

Solomon Was Saved By Grace: He WALKED With God

Please turn with me in your Bibles to 2 Samuel chapter 12. We’re going to look at the wisest man who has ever lived, a man called Solomon.

Solomon was the second child of David and Bathsheba, the first child dying as a judgment from God on that couple’s adulterous behavior (2 Samuel 12:13-16, 24). In Walter Vogels David’s Greatness in His Sin and Repentance”, he notes: “The child {of adultery}cannot belong to David. He cannot enrich himself through his sin, and in a sense, justice is done to Uriah
{Bathsheba’s murdered husband}.”

After their first child died, God allowed David & Bathsheba to have a second child. This is GRACE.

2 Samuel 12:24 … and {David} called his name Solomon: and the Lord loved him.

Word Study: The name Solomonis Hebrew: שְׁלֹמֹה‎‎, pronounced [Šəlōmō], meaning “peaceful”. There are two reasons for this name.

  • The birth of another child proves that David & Bathsheba’s sins are forgiven by God’s Grace. They are “at peace” with God.
  • Solomon as king of Israel would lead the nation in a time of unprecedented “peace”. Israel would be united and blessed by God, and the Temple would be built.

According to the Talmud (the Jewish Rabbi commentary), Solomon was considered a Jewish Prophet, as well as a King. He wrote – as inspired by God – Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Songs. He also was a contributor to the book of Psalms.

Solomon was loved of God, and he loved God.

Little Known Fact: He was not only named Solomon, but was also named Jedidiah(2 Samuel 12:25), meaning “Beloved of Jehovah” (יְדִידְיָה Yᵉdîydᵉyâh, [pronounced yed-ee-deh-yaw’]). When King David knew that his death was imminent, he called for Solomon, and crowning him King said:

1 Kings 2:3 … keep the charge of the Lord thy God, to walk in his ways, to keep his statutes, and his commandments, and his judgments, and his testimonies, as it is written in the law of Moses, that thou mayest prosper in all that thou doest, and whithersoever thou turnest thyself…

Solomon heard what his father David said, but did not DO what his father said.

1 Kings 3:1 And Solomon made affinity (חָתַן châthan, [pronounced khaw-than’], “joined families by marital covenant”) with Pharaoh king of Egypt, and took Pharaoh’s daughter, and brought her into the city of David, until he had made an end of building his own house, and the house of the Lord, and the wall of Jerusalem round about.

As King over a united Israel, and as peace was throughout all the land, Solomon went about reconstructing and rebuilding that which had been destroyed by war during the time of David. Solomon’s biggest projects were to build his own house, the palace that he lived in. He also built the house of the Lord. Up to this time Israel worshiped God in a tent called the “Tabernacle”. Solomon built the Temple for God. Solomon also extended and fortified the wall of Jerusalem, a necessary defense against marauders and other enemies. Solomon was doing some great things for God. None of what he did in construction was intended to be sinful. But we read:

1 Kings 3:1 Solomon made affinity with Pharaoh king of Egypt, and took Pharaoh’s daughter, and brought her into the city of David

Solomon married Pharaoh’s daughter, making an alliance with Egypt in order to help protect Israel from war. There was a problem with this. You see, Pharaoh’s daughter was a believer in false gods and goddesses. God told His people …

thou shalt not take a wife … of the daughters of the Canaanites (Genesis 24:3) … Neither shalt thou make marriages with them; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son. For they will turn away thy son from following me, that they may serve other gods(Deuteronomy 7:3-4)”.

God knows us. Listen my Beloved: We are all broken.

Saved or lost, born again or child Adam, Blood bought or flesh empowered, Christian or non-Christian, we are all broken. But those who belong to Jesus are supposed to obey Jesus, and to love Jesus, and to follow Jesus. If we who are children of God intermarry with children of false gods, they will drag us down to their level. The Apostle Paul told the Church age believer:

2 Corinthians 6:14-16 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? 15 And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? 16 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.

I have heard some say, “Solomon didn’t really sin, because he didn’t marry a Canaanite”. But Solomon, a very wise man and a prophet of God, knew that – though he did not marry a Canaanite – he knowingly violated the intent of the Scripture. Did Solomon love the Lord? The Bible says:

1 Kings 3:3 Solomon loved the Lord, walking in the statutes of David his father: only he sacrificed and burnt incense in high places.

Solomon went to the “High Places” where people often sacrificed to false gods and goddesses. Solomon went to Gibeon and sacrificed to the God of Truth. God met Solomon at Gibeon, and said to him “Ask what I shall give thee” (vs 5). The God of this Creation, the God of all that you see, comes to you and asks, “What can I give you?” There is “nothing impossible with God” (Luke 1:37). What would you ask? What you would ask, reveals the condition of your heart. If you asked for a new car, or to win the lottery, or to live forever, this would reveal your heart as selfish and conceited.

Solomon’s words showed that he loved the Lord.

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

Solomon loves God. Solomon loves his stewardship, Israel. He doesn’t want to disappoint God, nor to harm his people. So Solomon asks God for wisdom. God replied:

1 Kings 3:11-14 … Because thou hast asked this thing, and hast not asked for thyself long life; neither hast asked riches for thyself, nor hast asked the life of thine enemies; but hast asked for thyself understanding to discern judgment; 12 Behold, I have done according to thy words: lo, I have given thee a wise and an understanding heart; so that there was none like thee before thee, neither after thee shall any arise like unto thee. 13 And I have also given thee that which thou hast not asked, both riches, and honor: so that there shall not be any among the kings like unto thee all thy days. 14 And if thou wilt walk in my ways, to keep my statutes and my commandments, as thy father David did walk, then I will lengthen thy days

Solomon is to WALK with God – not with false gods!

God in Grace, heaps blessing upon Solomon. God makes Solomon the wisest person who has ever lived. From this moment on, Solomon would know how to rule Israel and yet avoid breaching God’s Word. Solomon would soon be put to the test, as he ruled from the throne of David. The Bible says:

1 Kings 3:28 all Israel heard of the judgment which the king had judged; and they feared the king: for they saw that the wisdom of God was in him, to do judgment.

Solomon’s house grew, as God gave him wisdom to rule. The Bible says:

1 Kings 4:29-31 … God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding exceeding much, and largeness of heart, even as the sand that is on the sea shore. 30 And Solomon’s wisdom excelled the wisdom of all the children of the east country, and all the wisdom of Egypt. 31 For he was wiser than all men…

The essence of Grace is to WALK daily with God.

When you walk with God, following Him as you go about your day, God will bless you. This is what happened with King Solomon. The Bible says, the Lord gave Solomon wisdom, as he promised him: and there was peace” (1 Kings 5:12). God told Solomon:

1 Kings 6:12 Concerning this house {the Temple} which thou art in building, if thou wilt walk in my statutes, and execute my judgments, and keep all my commandments to walk in them; then will I perform my word with thee…

Solomon lived by Grace. He walked with God. The Lord said, walk in my statutes, and execute my judgments, and keep all my commandments. You cannot walk with God and the gods. “You cannot serve God and mammon” (Matthew 6:24). Solomon told Israel:

1 Kings 8:57-58, 61 The Lord our God be with us, as he was with our fathers: let him not leave us, nor forsake us {Solomon is saying God, WALK with us}: 58 That he may incline our hearts unto him, to walk in all his ways, and to keep his commandments, and his statutes, and his judgments, which he commanded our fathers… 61 Let your heart therefore be perfect with the Lord our God, to walk in his statutes, and to keep his commandments, as at this day.

God heard Solomon’s prayer, and promised to “establish the throne of thy kingdom upon Israel for ever” (1 Kings 9:5). God also warned Solomon,

1 Kings 9:6-7 … if ye shall at all turn from following me, ye or your children, and will not keep my commandments and my statutes which I have set before you, but go and serve other gods, and worship them: 7 Then will I cut off Israel out of the land which I have given them

God will not walk with other gods. He does not mind walking with us, frail as we are. But our affections must not be divided. We dare not become inclusive with other gods, or with the world.

Our God Will Not With Us And The gods

1 Kings 11:1-11 But king Solomon loved many strange women, together with the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonians, and Hittites: 2 Of the nations concerning which the Lord said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall not go in to them, neither shall they come in unto you: for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods: Solomon clave unto these in love. 3 And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines: and his wives turned away his heart. 4 For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the Lord his God, as was the heart of David his father. 5 For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. 6 And Solomon did evil in the sight of the Lord, and went not fully after the Lord, as did David his father. 7 Then did Solomon build an high place for Chemosh, the abomination of Moab, in the hill that is before Jerusalem, and for Molech, the abomination of the children of Ammon. 8 And likewise did he for all his strange wives, which burnt incense and sacrificed unto their gods. 9 And the Lord was angry with Solomon, because his heart was turned from the Lord God of Israel, which had appeared unto him twice, 10 And had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods: but he kept not that which the Lord commanded. 11 Wherefore the Lord said unto Solomon, Forasmuch as this is done of thee, and thou hast not kept my covenant and my statutes, which I have commanded thee, I will surely rend the kingdom from thee, and will give it to thy servant.

Solomon did not lose his salvation by blending his faith with the gods of this world – but he did lose his blessing. His son Rehoboam would succeed Solomon as king, and Israel would go through a terrible civil war because of the son.

You cannot walk with God and the gods.

Are YOU Walking With Strange gods?

The God of the Bible is the God Who calls us to salvation. The God of the Bible is the God Who sent Jesus Christ, His only Son, to be our Savior and Lord. Are you walking with the God of the Bible, or are you walking with the gods of this world? Our God will not walk with strange gods. He would not do it with Solomon (who wrote three books of scripture [Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs], and contributed to the Psalms), and will not do it with you.

There are many strange gods trying to crawl into the Christian Church today. I don’t have time to talk about all of them, but I do want to mention four:

  1. There is the god of wokeness, and Critical Race Theory.

I recently finished reading “Christianity and Wokeness” by Owen Strachan (research professor of theology, Grace Bible Theological Seminary). The Bible prohibits “man stealing” (1 Timothy 1:10), which is race based chattel slavery. The Bible commands that we “love thy neighbor as thyself” (Leviticus 19:18; Matthew 22:39). We are to treat others the way we want to be treated. The Bible tells us that “God is no respecter of persons” (Acts 10:34). As our Heavenly Father loves all people regardless of color, we must do the same if we expect to walk with God. However, so called “wokeness” and “Critical Race Theory” is more worldly and of the gods of this world than it is of Scripture. Strachan in his book quoted from the “woke” book Divided by Faith (Christian Smith): “All white evangelicals are complicit in the racial inequalities that exist, mainly because ‘they support the American system and enjoy it’s fruits’ … In combating racial inequality, whites, as ‘the main creators and benefactors of the racialized society, must repent of their personal, historical, and social sins.’ (pg 36)

As believers in Christ we MUST REPENT of our personal sins, and of any racism that we ourselves have engaged or are engaging in. Romans 14:12 notes “each of us will give an account of ourselves to God”. Each person is accountable for their own sin. However, it exceeds Scripture to say we need to repent of “historical sins”. The Bible says:

Ezekiel 18:20 The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.

Each person is accountable to God for THEIR OWN SIN, not for the sins of others. I cannot “repent” of anything an ancestor did. Such “repentance” is no more than show. My duty before God is to love God and love my neighbor. Period. One of the founders of “Woke” doctrine, Ibram X. Kendi notes in the book How To Be An Antiracist: “there is no neutrality in the racism struggle … One either allows racial inequities to persevere, as a racist, or confronts racial inequities, as an antiracist. There is not in between safe space of ‘not racist.’ The claim of ‘not racist’ neutrality is a mask for racism.” This is confusion and nonsense, and my God is NOT the God of confusion (1 Corinthians 14:33), but of peace.

Each person is accountable for how they live their own life before God. And no, you are not automatically racist just because you are white. You are racist when you behave racist. Period. Jesus loved every person, and treated each person with the respect He wanted for Himself. This is what we do.

  1. There is the god of sexual sin.

Whether is be homosexual sin, heterosexual sin, transgenderism, or an alphabet soup of letters, the god of this world is pushing for the destruction of the family. Transgender “women” are fighting to be included in women’s competitions, women’s locker rooms, and women’s bathrooms. What did Jesus say about gender and marriage? He said:

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

God designed men and women in a specific way, and called men and women to marry one another. For thousands of years this has been the standard of marriage.

In America, we have extraordinary freedoms. If you wish to pursue sexual sin, there is no law stopping you from walking that path. However, God will not walk with you.

1 Corinthians 6:9-11 (ESV) Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

1 Timothy 1:9-10 … the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, 10 the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine,

In Romans 1:18-32 the Apostle indicts those who reject the Gospel of salvation in order to chase after a variety of sins. The Apostle makes it clear that sexual sin and violation of God’s design puts you where God will not walk with you. Again, as Americans there are things that the Bible condemns that are “lawful” in our present society. But as Christians, God’s will and God’s glory take precedent over what we feel or want.

  1. The god of abortion.

All life is precious, even the life of the developing child. God made us in His image (Genesis 1:27), and that alone makes every person precious. The Psalmist said to God, “Your hands made me and formed me…” (Psalm 119:73). It is God Who gives life, and Who forms every human being (Psalm 139:13-16; Job 10:11-12). God “formed you from the womb” (Isaiah 44:24). And God has a purpose for every child. God told Jeremiah “Before I formed you in your mother’s body I chose you. Before you were born I set you apart to serve Me.” (1:5). When John the Baptist was still in his mother’s womb, he “leapt for joy” when brought near to the expectant virgin Mary (Luke 1:41, 44). The Prophet Isaiah said, “the Lord called me from the womb” (Isaiah 49:1, 5). The Apostle Paul said “God set me apart from the time I was born” (Galatians 1:15). Though Roe vs Wade may make allowance for abortion of a child, the Bible considers all life to be precious.

  1. The god of social media.

People walk about staring at their phones. Parents and children go out to eat, and never talk to one another – but watch and respond to social media incessantly. Don’t get me wrong – I use social media to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with as many as possible. I use a blog, and post to Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube. To use social media is one thing. To have it consume you is quite another. People have become quite belligerent, difficult, and yes, mean on social media. This is because actual face to face interaction with another human develops a set of skills that you do not have to have on social media. If you disagree with someone on social media, you can just “flame” them. There are no consequences for your actions except, perhaps by being blocked.

Our Lord Jesus tells us 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.

You cannot do this on social media. Love is something you cannot text, something you cannot do through a machine. Loving as Jesus calls us to love requires an in-person touch. People need that personal touch. I have read horror stories where students have abused others through social media. I myself have experienced so much nonsense on my own website that I took away the “comments” section intentionally. People can be brutal through social media. This is not the way of Christ. The stepbrother of Jesus said:

James 3:14-18 But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. 15 This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. 16 For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. 17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. 18 And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.

Have you “married” your life to strange wives? Have you blended your faith with the gods of this world? James goes on to tell us “do you not know that friendship of the world is to make yourselves the enemy of God? Whoever befriends the world is the enemy of God” (James 4:4). We cannot blend our faith with the false gods of this world. Let us come to the God of the Scripture through His Son Jesus Christ (John 14:6). Let us believe that Jesus Christ died for our sins, and rose again to lead us in the paths of righteousness. Let us live our lives sold out for Jesus!

The days are short, dear friends. I believe that the end of this present world could come any day now. Let us all love God with all our hearts, and walk with Him daily as He has called us. May God the Holy Spirit and this His Word touch your hearts this day. Amen and Amen.

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Understanding Jesus In The Trinity

Photo by Sharon Santema on Unsplash

Turn with me to John chapter 5.

Not long ago we talked about the man Jesus healed on the Sabbath day, the man who had been crippled for 38 years. Jesus approached him as he lay on a porch overlooking the pool Bethesda. Jesus told the man to “Rise, take up your bed, and walk” (vs 8) – and the man immediately was healed and did just that. Because Jesus healed a man on the Sabbath day, “the Jews … sought to slay Jesus” (vs 16). Jesus told the self righteous Pharisees:

John 5:17-18 … My Father worketh hitherto, and I work. 18 Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God.

Jesus Made Himself Equal With God

Jesus did TWO things that offended the Pharisees. He broke the sabbath, but He also said God was his Father, making himself equal with God. This was highly offensive to the Jews. To say that “God is my Father” is to claim equality with God.

I was born to E. J. Buffaloe, Jr. That was my daddy. Being born from him, I am of the same composition, the same genes, the same DNA as my father. I have certain traits that were passed down from my daddy. I look a lot like my daddy. I have diabetes and high blood pressure, just as my daddy did. My daddy had seniority on me, and I respected him as my daddy – he was the head of our family. But we were equal physically because of birth.

No Jew would claim God to be his Father. There are places in the Old Testament where God is called “Father” of Israel as a nation. But you will not find God calling Himself “Father” to an individual.

A few examples. God told Moses to tell Pharaoh:

Exodus 4:22 – 23 And thou shalt say unto Pharaoh, Thus saith the LORD, Israel is my son, even my firstborn: And I say unto thee, Let my son go, that he may serve me: and if thou refuse to let him go, behold, I will slay thy son, even thy firstborn.

Israel the nation is the son of God. God said through the Prophet:

Hosea 11:1 When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt.

It is the nation Israel – not an individual but the group – that are “God’s son”. When the priests of Israel failed to bring glory to God (for they did not “keep God’s ways, but were partial in the law” [Malachi 2:9]), the Prophet told Israel:

Malachi 2:10 Have we not all one Father? hath not one God created us? why do we deal treacherously every man against his brother, by profaning the covenant of our fathers?

God is the “Father” of Israel. “He was their Savior” (Isaiah 63:8). God saved Israel His son from Egypt. And though Israel wandered from God as a prodigal son, God loved Israel anyway. It was and is His child (Isaiah 63:16; 64:8).

Word Study: “Father” is the favorite title that Jesus uses for God. The word “Father” is found 116 times in the Book of John alone, most of these times in reference to God. Jesus said that “God was his Father”. The word translated “” is the Greek πατήρ patḗr, (pronounced pat-ayr’), which means “the generator or male ancestor, the parent of”. This word is used instead of the word Ἀββᾶ Abbâ, (pronounced ab-bah’), which is often used as a term of endearment.

How is God the “Father” of Jesus Christ? Did Jesus only come into being when He was born of the virgin Mary? No, absolutely not. The Bible teaches that God the Father is God:

Philippians 1:2 Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father..

but Jesus is also God. We are told in:

Colossians 2:9 For in {Jesus Christ} dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.

In Hebrews, the Father told the angels when Jesus was brought into this world through Mary:

Hebrews 1:6 … let all the angels of God worship him.

Jesus Christ is God in the flesh. The Father told Jesus, Thy throne, O GOD, is for ever and ever..” (Hebrews 1:8). Jesus is God. He was there at the creation of humanity. We are told in:

Genesis 1:26 … and God said, let US make man in OUR image, after OUR likeness …

Jesus is God the Son Who, with God the Father and God the Spirit created all things. The Bible says that Jesus is …

Colossians 1:15-17 (ESV) … the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

Word Study: Jesus is equal with God. He is the image”, Greek εἰκών eikṓn, {pronounced i-kone’}, the “likeness, profile of, manifest vision of”. The same word is used when Jesus, speaking of a Roman coin, asks “whose image is this?” (Matthew 22:20). Though Caesar was not with the disciples at that moment, the eikṓn on the coin was Caesar. Though the Apostles could not see God (for the Bible says NO MAN HATH SEEN GOD AT ANY TIME – John 1:18; 1 John 4:12), they could see God the Son for He is the manifest Member of the Godhead. The Angel in speaking to Joseph, quoting Isaiah 7:14, said of Jesus:

Matthew 1:23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.

Jesus Christ is EmmanuelGod with us

There are so many other things I could tell you, where Jesus, according to the Scriptures, is co-equal and co-eternal with the Father and the Spirit.

Jesus as God has no beginning and no end. Jesus as perfect Man has a beginning through the virgin Mary.

In His Unique Nature, Jesus Is
BOTH Equal To AND Lesser Than God

When Jesus is called “the Only Begotten Son” (John 1:18; John 3:16, 18; Hebrews 11:17; 1 John 4:9) or “the Only Begotten of the Father” (John 1:14), this is addressing the humanity of Jesus. The humanity of Jesus Christ has a beginning in the virgin birth. To Mary, Gabriel declared “the Holy Spirit shall come upon you, and the power of the highest shall overshadow you; therefore that holy thing which shall be born to you shall be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:35). Jesus as God has no beginning nor end, but as Man has a beginning. Jesus as God is equal to Father and Spirit, but Jesus as Man follows the direction of God. Though Jesus made Himself EQUAL to God in His eternal state, in His human state Jesus followed God. He said:

John 5:19-20 Then answered Jesus and said unto them {the Pharisees}, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise. 20 For the Father loveth the Son, and sheweth him all things that himself doeth: and he will shew him greater works than these, that ye may marvel.

When Jesus took upon Himself humanity – allowing Himself to enter the world through Mary – Jesus lowered Himself to our level (but WITHOUT SIN). When Jesus says, The Son can do nothing of himself, He was speaking of Himself as “the Son of Man”.

  • As the “Son of God” Jesus is one with God, i.e. co-equal and co-eternal, with infinite power and knowledge. In His “Godness” we see scriptures affirming:

John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

John 10:30 I and My Father are ONE.

John 14:10 Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works.

  • As the “Son of Man” Jesus is subservient to God. Jesus lowered Himself from Heaven’s Throne to be like us – yet without sin. In His “humanity” we see scriptures affirming:

John 5:20 For the Father loveth the Son, and sheweth him all things that himself doeth: and he will shew him greater works than these, that ye may marvel.

John 5:30 I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.

As “Son of Man” Jesus walked this earth PERFECTLY doing the will of the Father. Whatever Jesus did while He ministered among us, it was endorsed and directed by the Godhead. Jesus repeatedly said in His humanity that

I do nothing of myself” (John 8:28)
“The Father Who sent Me gave Me a commandment” (John 12:24)
“My Father is greater than I” (John 14:28)
“I have kept My Father’s commandments” (John 15:10)
“Father, I gave them the words You gave Me” (John 17:8)

Jesus Christ as “The Son of Man” (a term used for the Messiah through the Prophet Daniel. See Daniel 7:13) is the visible member of the Godhead, the Trinity. He came as God’s Representative to fallen mankind. Here is an important point we all need to understand.

Though the Trinity is three Divine Persons, each Person has His function. The Father leads and decrees. The Son is sent as the Mediator. The Spirit empowers and assists the Son. There is no jealousy nor diminishing within the Trinity. Each Person does His part in union with the other Persons, each working flawlessly and perfectly in union with the next. The Trinity is “One God”.

Before Jesus started His earthly ministry, He went to John the Baptist to be baptized in the Jordan River. John initially refused to baptize Jesus, but Jesus told him, “It is necessary for US to fulfill all righteousness” (Matthew 3:15). Jesus had to be publicly baptized as “The Son of Man”, just as all believers in Christ are publicly baptized. Once Jesus fulfilled what He, as the Son of Man was to do, we read:

Matthew 3:16-17 … the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: 17 And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

The Father is not seen, but heard. The Spirit is seen, but not heard. Each member of the Trinity does His part for the salvation of mankind.

The Trinity Made A Decision In The Garden Of Eden To Save Whosoever Will THROUGH JESUS

God told Adam to not eat of that which was forbidden, saying,

Genesis 2:16-17 … Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: 17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

Adam was promised that he would die in the day that thou eatest what was forbidden. In the day. Though Adam continued to live physically after he disobeyed God, he died spiritually immediately. In the day. From that moment onward, every human born into this world were born physically alive but spiritually dead. In Dr. Charles Stanley’s In Touch devotional (August 30, 2021), he writes:

Human beings are composed of a body by which they interact with the world around them, a soul with which they relate to themselves and others, and a spirit through which they can commune with God. If the spirit is dead in “trespasses and sins,” the person may still lead a successful earthly life, but he won’t be able to connect with God … However, the good news is that no one has to stay dead. Whenever anyone turns from sin and trusts in Jesus Christ for forgiveness and salvation, God in His mercy makes that person alive with Christ.”

This is what Jesus is talking about in this next section. Read with me:

John 5:21-24 For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will. 22 For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son: 23 That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour 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.

Word Study: The word quickeneth is the Greek “ζωοποιέω zōopoiéō, {pronounced dzo-op-oy-eh’-o}”, which means “to bring to or make alive, to cause to live”. God the Father has the power to quicken. God said in the Old Testament:

Deuteronomy 32:39 … I, even I, am he, and there is no god with me: I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal: neither is there any that can deliver out of my hand.

The power of life and death is in God’s hands ALONE. When Jesus says the Son quickeneth whom he will, He is making His power equal to the Father’s power. God is the Source of all life, and He alone can give life to the spiritually dead. Jesus Christ is God. Jesus further states that the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son. This declares the exclusivity of Jesus Christ in salvation. The Bible says:

Acts 4:12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

All authority to give life is vested in Jesus Christ, and Jesus Christ ALONE. In an article in Relevant Magazine entitled “Survey … Jesus Isn’t The Only Way To Salvation” notes:

“… of the born again Christians between the ages of 18-39 surveyed, 60 percent agreed with the statement ‘Buddha, Muhammad and Jesus are all valid paths to God.’ … ”

If this is true, then Jesus Christ is a liar. For Jesus said the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son. Not just some, but ALL. There is no life apart from the Father and the Son, and the Father has given all judgment to the Son. The pathway to spiritual life is, indeed, a “narrow way” (Matthew 7:13). The devil would have us call Jesus a liar, and preach instead that “wide is the gate that leads to life”. But this is not what Jesus said.

Only God can save. God has decreed that
all salvation come through His Son Jesus.

1 Timothy 2:3-6 (ESV) This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.

As I read that article in Relevant Magazine, it became apparent to me that the phrase “Born Again” has been hijacked from the Scripture by the devil, just as he has hijacked the rainbow of Genesis. You cannot be “born again” outside of faith in Christ. What did Jesus say?

John 5:23 all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him.

Jesus is to be treated with exactly the same respect that you treat God the Father. God the Father has decreed that salvation from spiritual death and the second death (eternal damnation) can only occur through faith in Christ Jesus. Jesus said:

John 5:24-26 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;

Those who hear the voice of the Son of God – not of Buddha nor of Muhammad nor of Joseph Smith nor of some Hindu god – but the voice of the Son of God. Jesus said My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.” (John 10:27-28).

The Lord Jesus Christ is the only Savior. The world despises this message, and constantly pushes the Church to adjust the Gospel call. But Beloved, we cannot because God has not. Jesus Christ is the only Savior, and faith in Him the only way to be saved.

When the Russian Comedian Yakov Smirnoff came to America, someone asked him what he loved most about our nation. Smirnoff said, “I love American grocery stores. I walked down an aisle and saw powdered milk; just add water and you get milk. Right next to it was powdered orange juice; just add water and you get orange juice. Then I saw baby powder and I thought to myself, ‘What a country!’”.

In America we have great technology, great products, and do great things. But we cannot change God’s formula for salvation. If a person wishes to be saved, that person must know the Lord Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation. Then you must believe that He – Jesus Christ – died for your sins, and rose from the grave to lead you daily throughout the rest of your life. Listen Beloved. “What does the Lord thy God require of you?” (Deuteronomy 10:12). You are to “fear the Lord your God, and to walk in His ways, to love Him, and to serve Him with all your heart and soul”. There will be many who will stand before Jesus as He sits on a Great White Throne and judges the dead. All judgment is committed to Jesus’ hand. The Father has given all judgment into Jesus’ hand. We close with this:

John 5:27-29 {the Father} hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man. 28 Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, 29 And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.

Those that have done good are those who believed on the name of Jesus, and were saved because of that faith. The ones who have done good will have “believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:18). Jesus very clearly stated:

John 6:29, 40 … This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent. … 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.

Have you believed on Him? Have you received the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior? If not, I pray that you will do so this very day. May God cause this to be, through His Word and His Spirit. Amen and Amen!

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Put On Your Best Suit

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

Word Study: The phrase put ye on is the Greek ἐνδύω endýō, {pronounced en-doo’-o}, which means “to sink into clothing, to clothe yourself with”. If you are a Christian, you are to put on your best suit. You are to clothe yourself with the Lord Jesus Christ.

What Are YOU Wearing Today?

Opening Illustration: As I walked through the local Walmart the other day, I was amused, amazed, and sometimes astounded at some of the clothing I saw people wearing. Young women – not all teens – have taken to wearing either very tight and very short shorts, or thin body stockings (I guess you call it that) that leaves little to the imagination. Some people (men or women) wear jeans with holes in them, some holes in places that would make a Playboy Bunny blush. When I got holes in my jeans, my mamma patched them with those iron on patches. There were some people wearing their pajamas. I get tired in Walmart, but have yet to find a section where there are beds you can lay down on. When they get that “bedding” section, I may wear my pajamas to the store as well.

What are you wearing today?

Clothing is a very big topic in the Bible. How you clothe yourself will reflect how you feel about yourself, about your ego. Clothing also will cause others to think of you in a certain way. The Bible tells us to “clothe ourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ”.

To clothe yourself with Jesus means to
not hide your sins from
God

When our first parents, Adam and Eve sinned, what did they do after their sin? The Bible says that the first thing they did was:

Genesis 2:7 (ESV) … they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.

Adam and Eve covered up their sin – then they hid from God. It is foolish to cover up our sins, attempting to hide them from God. The Bible says in Proverbs 28:13:

He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and
forsaketh them shall have mercy.”

God sees our sins. He knows what we have done. To cover up our sin with fig leaves, or to deflect our guilt by blaming others, it just doesn’t wash with God. When Adam and Eve’s attempt to cover their sins were quickly discovered, Adam blamed both Eve AND God:

Genesis 3:12 (ESV) “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.”

The woman likewise blamed the serpent. The truth is, Adam had free will, and chose to disobey God of his own will. Adam was at fault, not God nor Eve.

There is a way to cover sin, but it is not by fig leaves or blaming others. The Bible says “blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered” (Psalm 32:1). We do not cover sin with our own works of righteousness. We “clothe ourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ”. The Bible tells us that God sent His Son Jesus to make payment for every sin we would ever commit. The Bible says:

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

The Lord Jesus Christ is the only acceptable covering for our sin. The Bible often uses the word “propitiation” when it discusses Jesus. For instance:

1 John 2:2 And {Jesus} is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.

1 John 4:10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son {Jesus} to be the propitiation for our sins.

Romans 3:25 {this Jesus} 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: The word translated propitiation the Greek ἱλαστήριον hilastḗrion, {pronounced hil-as-tay’-ree-on} or ἱλασμός hilasmós, {pronounced hil-as-mos’}. The latter word means “the means of appeasing God, the covering for sin”. The former word means “to atone or cover”. What Jesus Christ did for us on Calvary is the only acceptable covering for sin.

When God saw Adam and Eve in fig leaves the Bible says that God took away their fig leaves and clothed them Himself:

Genesis 3:21 (ESV) … the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.

God had to kill innocent animals in order to clothe Adam and Eve. This is a foreshadowing of the death of Christ Jesus on the Cross. Jesus “put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself” (Hebrews 9:26). “Jesus also suffered outside the gate {of Jerusalem} in order to sanctify the people through His own blood” (Hebrews 13:11-12). It is only in Jesus that we have “redemption through His Blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His Grace” (Ephesians 1:7-8).

Jesus and Jesus alone is the covering for our sins. Do not hide your sins from God. Confess them to God, and plead the Blood of Christ over each sin. “Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ”.

To Clothe Yourself With The Lord Jesus Means
To Live Your Life
Primarily Loving God

If you “Clothe Yourself With The Lord Jesus Christ” you will literally consider how you practically live out your faith every day.

I earlier talked about how people clothe themselves as they go to the local Walmart. The Bible is explicit in that God’s people are to be careful in how they cover themselves. God told His Old Covenant saints:

Deuteronomy 22:5 A woman shall not wear a man’s garment, nor shall a man put on a woman’s cloak, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord your God.

This is NOT a command that women should not wear “slacks” or “pants”. In the days that this was written, most people wore robes. It is a command that women are not to dress so as to intentionally look like a man, nor are men to dress in such a way as to intentionally look like a woman. Why is this? Because God says that whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord. Why?

Because when God created humanity, the Bible says “He created them male and female” (Genesis 1:26-28; 2:20-25). When the Lord Jesus Christ came to this earth, He did not eradicate what the Old Testament said. When asked about marriage our Lord Jesus said:

Matthew 19:4-6 (ESV) … “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, 5 and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”

What God has established in the design of creation, we are told by Jesus to leave it alone. “What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate” (Mark 10:9). We are not to fool with, or in any way bring confusion to, God’s rule of order. The Apostle Paul said:

1 Corinthians 7:17 But as God hath distributed to every man, as the Lord hath called every one, so let him walk. And so ordain I in all churches.

Live your lives as our Lord Jesus Christ did. Live your lives so as to please the God Who made you. The Apostle Peter told the wives of believers:

1 Peter 3:3-4 (ESV) Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— 4 but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.

Women are beautifully made by God. Clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ. Do not let your outer adornment – makeup, hair, clothing – the the greatest thing in your life. Dress so as to honor the Lord Who saved you. Dress so that the characteristics of Jesus Christ can shine through your lives. The Apostle said:

1 Timothy 2:9-10 … women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, 10 but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works.

I do not believe the Apostles – nor our Lord – were being misogynistic (deeply prejudiced against women). Our Lord Jesus said:

What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.” (ESV Mark 7:20-23)

The human heart is “deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9). No one is naturally good at heart. “all have sinned” and are sinners (Romans 3:23). Everyone is broken. If we dress provocatively, that is like pouring fuel on a fire. Dress with others in mind. Dress so as to show Christlike love toward others. I am sure I’ll be flamed on social media for some of what I just said, but it is God’s Word, not mine. But you can be angry with me if it makes you feel better. As Christ’s servant, I seek to please Him – not to please my listeners (Galatians 1:10).

To Clothe Yourself With The Lord Jesus Christ Means To Live As He Lived, Reliant Upon God

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

The Bible tells us that David was a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22). Does this mean that David did not err, was not a sinner as we are? Absolutely not! But David had a trait that we all need to follow. He clothed himself with the Lord Jesus Christ.

When David was going to battle Goliath, no one – not even King Saul – felt that they could do battle with that giant monster of a man. The Bible says “Saul and all Israel heard those words of the Philistine, they were DISMAYED and GREATLY AFRAID” (1 Samuel 17:11). They were being driven by their flesh, by their fear, by their human logic. But David’s reply when he heard Goliath’s threats was:

who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” (1 Samuel 17:26)

When David volunteered to fight Goliath, he was met with scorn from King Saul. “You are but a youth, and he a man of war from his youth” (vs 33). But David had his eyes not on Goliath, but on Jesus. David said, The Lord that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine” (vs 37).

Saul clothed David with his armor (vs 38), and gave David a helmet of brass and a coat of chain mail. Though David tried it on, he quickly took them off. David said, “I cannot go with these; for I have not proved them” (vs 39). David had clothed himself with the Lord. The Lord that saved him out of the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear, would certainly deliver him from Goliath.

And God did!

When trials and testing comes, the Bible tells us that the safest thing we can do is “clothe ourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ”. The Scripture says:

Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

Let Jesus Christ, the Lord of Heaven and earth, cover you! Let Him be your clothing. Only in Jesus do we have power for living. Only in Jesus can we defeat the Goliaths of this world. Be like the Hebrew Children before the angry pagan king:

Daniel 3:17-18 (ESV) our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. 18 But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”

To Clothe Yourself With The Lord Jesus Means To Love As He Loved, Treating Others With Respect

The Apostle tells us:

Romans 13:8-10 Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. 9 For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. 10 Love worketh no ill to his neighbor: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

love is the fulfilling of the law. When Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, came to this earth, He fulfilled the ceremonial and sacrificial portions of the Law. But Jesus never erased the moral codes found in the Old Testament. We who are saved by Jesus are to clothe ourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and make NO PROVISION for the flesh. The Bible says that:

Galatians 5:19-21 Now 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, revellings, 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.

The believer in Christ is NOT to clothe themselves in the works of the flesh. The believer in Christ is to flee all sexual sins – including homosexuality (1 Corinthians 6:9; 1 Timothy 1:10). We are not to pursue the ways of the world. Why? Because we belong to Jesus. We are to

Romans 13:12-13 … cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. 13 Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying.

Let us clothe ourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ. Let us hide ourselves in Jesus (Colossians 3:3). The Lord that saved us is the Lord we are to walk in. Let us honor the Lord Jesus Christ, and do as He says do. For the glory of our God forever. Amen and Amen!

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Benediction For The Saints

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There are parts of the Bible that we read quickly, not looking for any depth in them. I know myself when I read through books like Numbers, and read the census lists of Israel:

Numbers 1:5-7 And these are the names of the men that shall stand with you: of the tribe of Reuben; Elizur the son of Shedeur. 6 Of Simeon; Shelumiel the son of Zurishaddai. 7 Of Judah; Nahshon the son of Amminadab.

My eyes kind of gloss over, and my mind wanders. We all do this. We miss great Biblical truths because we undervalue every part of this Holy Scripture. The WHOLE Scripture – every word, every phrase, every nuance – is God breathed (theopneustos). The Apostle Paul told Timothy:

2 Timothy 3:16 (ESV) All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God (God’s Messenger) may be complete, equipped for every good work.

There are no accidental texts. This Word is God’s breath. He spoke it. Which brings us to:

Philippians 4:21-23 Salute every saint in Christ Jesus. The brethren which are with me greet you. 22 All the saints salute you, chiefly they that are of Caesar’s household. 23 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.

I have never preached out of this text, and after research I found out few preachers have ever focused on this text. But this is God’s Word, and there are great truths in this, if God the Holy Spirit will draw it out. In most Bibles this section is labeled (if it is labeled) “Concluding Benediction”, “Greetings and Benediction”, or just “Benediction”. The word “benediction” means, according to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, “ the invocation … of a blessing, something that promotes goodness or well-being”.

As the Apostle writes this letter, he is dictating it through a brother in Christ, Epaphroditus. The Apostle mentions his name twice:

Philippians 2:25 Yet I supposed it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother, and companion in labor, and fellow soldier, but your messenger, and he that ministered to my wants.

Philippians 4:18 But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odor of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well pleasing to God.

Why was Epaphroditus a messenger for Paul? Because the Apostle is imprisoned by Rome,
and is chained to Roman guards.

The commentaries note that Paul is imprisoned in either Ephesus or Rome, and is on a journey to stand before Caesar for trial. The charge? TREASON. The Apostle was imprisoned for preaching “Jesus is Lord”, and that faith in Jesus Christ is the only way unto God.

Rome grew powerful by conquering other nations, and bringing those nations into the Roman confederacy.Conquered people could keep their own gods and goddesses, but were required to acknowledge the Roman Caesar as “Lord”. This is something that the Christians would NOT do. When the Roman Centurion Cornelius was led to be saved in a vision from Heaven, he was told to call for the Apostle Peter. As Peter spoke to Cornelius, he said:

Acts 10:34-36 Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: 35 But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him. 36 The word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (he is Lord of all)

The Holy Spirit fell on Cornelius and his house, and they were saved. To utter or even hide in your heart that Jesus Christ: (he is Lord of all) was an act of treason in Roman territory. And yet, the Christian missionaries went out preaching the singular Lordship of Jesus Christ. When the Apostle Paul preached in Athens at Mars Hill, he plainly said:

Acts 17:22-27 Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. 23 For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, To The Unknown God. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you. 24 God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; 25 Neither is worshiped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; 26 And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; 27 That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us:

Paul preached the Lordship of Jesus Christ, the Lordship of the God of Scripture. What happened? Paul was imprisoned. But Paul was not discouraged.

If Jesus Is Lord, He Is Lord ALL The Time

Jesus Christ is not a part time Lord. He is not like Caesar, Who must compel the people to worship him at least once a year, or else be declared treasonous. No, Beloved, Jesus is LORD of all. The Bible says:

Psalm 103:19 (ESV) The LORD has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all.

When Paul was imprisoned, he was not just saying “Jesus is Lord”. He literally, deep down in his heart, believed Jesus is Lord. If Jesus is Lord, He is Lord over whatever valley you are in at this moment. Paul believed this. He wrote:

Philippians 1:12-14 But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel; 13 So that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places; 14 And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.

Many of us, when afflicted in the service of our King, attribute the affliction to the devil. The devil does afflict – but only at God’s permission. Satan is not greater than God. Jesus is Lord!

Paul told the Philippians that Jesus is Lord even in his imprisonment. The negative things that happen to Christians, happen because God allows them, because they further the cause of Christ. The Apostle called his imprisonment my bonds in Christ. Paul was not imprisoned, chained to a guard, because Satan is greater than God. God used and even endorsed the imprisonment as a means to get Paul into the inner courts of Caesar. Paul did not fall apart when put in a bad place, but looked to Jesus.

Philippians 4:21 Salute every saint in Christ Jesus.

Word Study The Christian – saved by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ – is a saint. This is the Greek ἅγιος hágios, {pronounced hag’-ee-os}, which means “one who is consecrated, set apart, or marked as apart from the crowd”. The saint is not perfect. The Corinthian Church, marked with many sinful practices, was still addressed by the Apostle Paul:

1 Corinthians 1:2 Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, {hágios} with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours:

When you surrender to the Lordship of Jesus, you are saved. But not only are you saved, but you are set apart from this world as a child of the Most High God. The Apostle writes in another place:

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

Word Study Dear Christian, we belong to Jesus. This means that our current circumstances, whether favorable or unfavorable, whether smooth or rough, are all engineered by our God. As Paul processed his imprisonment (which was no picnic), he said the THINGS which happened to me have FALLEN OUT RATHER unto the furtherance of the Gospel. The words FALLEN OUT is the Greek ἔρχομαι érchomai, {pronounced er’-khom-ahee} which means “to come to pass”. Imprisonment was a visitor in Paul’s life that was not a bad thing, but a good thing. As a Saint of God the Apostle said:

Philippians 1:21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

Too many believers, when confronted with an undesirable situation in life, begin crying out to God for relief. Too many times we allow thieves to come and rob us of our blessings. Jesus said:

John 10:10 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.

The thief comes to rob us of the presence of our Jesus.

the thief called worry
the thief called fear
the thief called unbelief
the thief called despair
the thief called discouragement

To these thieves (and the many other unnamed worldly thieves that try and rob us of our joy) the Apostle encourages the believer to:

Philippians 1:27-28 Only let your {Greek politeúomai [pronounced pol-it-yoo’-om-ahee] behavior as citizens of God’s Kingdom} be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; 28 And in nothing terrified by your adversaries: which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God.

The SAINT is a Citizen of God’s Kingdom FIRST

The Saint – the citizens of God’s Kingdom – is to act like a citizen of Heaven. We are commanded to not act like the lost, for we are not lost. We are to imitate Jesus Christ. The Apostle said:

Philippians 1:29 For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake;

Saints are Citizens of Heaven who Suffer

The Saint is set apart to live his or her life to the glory of God the Father and of Jesus Christ our Lord. As our Lord Jesus …

Philippians 2:7-8 … made Himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

… gave Himself to suffering for us, we as Saints give ourselves in suffering for others. The King of Kings and Lord of Lords lowered Himself for you and I. We must walk following Him, our King and Savior. Though it got Paul imprisoned, he is unrepentant in declaring the Lordship of Christ. Jesus has “a name that is above every name”,

Philippians 2:10-11 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.

We do not bow the knee to Caesar, nor to any person. We bow the knee to Jesus, and preach salvation through faith alone in Him alone.

Every Trial Is For A Greater Good In The Saint
(God Is In Control)

The Saint is set apart by God as His child – and God continually works in His child and
in the environment that child is in.

Philippians 2:13-16 … it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. 14 Do all things without murmurings and disputings: 15 That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; 16 Holding forth the word of life

Word Study When God called Israel out of Egypt, and carried them through the Red Sea as if on dry land, two things marred the people of God: murmurings and disputings. The word murmurings is the Greek γογγυσμός gongysmós, {pronounced gong-goos-mos’} which means “murmuring, grudging secret displeasures, muttering”. God had a plan to take Israel into the Promised Land of Canaan, a land that “floweth with milk and honey” (Leviticus 20:24; Numbers 13:27). But Israel murmured and complained against Moses and Aaron. Eventually Israel committed the ultimate sin: they murmured against God. Moses told Israel:

Deuteronomy 1:26-27 … ye would not go up, but rebelled against the commandment of the LORD your God: 27 And ye murmured in your tents, and said, Because the LORD hated us, he hath brought us forth out of the land of Egypt, to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us.

God took His hand of blessing from the first generation of Israel because of murmuring and complaining. God said,

Psalm 95:10-11 Forty years long was I grieved with this generation, and said, It is a people that do err in their heart, and they have not known my ways: 11 Unto whom I sware in my wrath that they should not enter into my rest.

Word Study The hand that blesses is also the hand that can remove blessing. God removed blessing from Israel. The other word is disputings, which is the Greek διαλογισμός dialogismós, {pronounced dee-al-og-is-mos’}, which means a questioning of the truth. It is translated “evil thoughts” in Matthew 15:19, “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts. It is translated “imaginations” in Romans 1:21, “when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations.

The God that saved Israel from Egypt and led them through the Red Sea, is surely the same God Who can lead them through the Jordan and defeat the Canaanites. But as the Israelis focused on their trial rather than their God, this seed of unbelief grew until it destroyed the nation.

To avoid Satan’s traps, the Saint is encouraged to take control of the emotions and of their minds. Paul writes:

Philippians 4:4-7 Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice. 5 Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. 6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. 7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Word Study The Saint is first to Rejoice in the Lord always. No matter what you are going through, rejoice in the Lord. Acknowledge that God is in control of the situation, that He is Lord of your life. You are a Saint, not a lost soul. You belong to Jesus. Do all things in moderation. This is the Greek ἐπιεικής epieikḗs, {pronounced ep-ee-i-kace’}, which is translated patient (1 Timothy 3:3), gentle (Titus 3:2; James 3:17; 1 Peter 2:18). The Saint is to be like Jesus was – kind and patient with others.

Adding to the Saint’s need to rejoice in the Lordship of Christ, and being patient, we are also supposed to not worry, but give our needs to the God Who is our Lord. As He gave Israel manna and water in the desert, and kept their clothing and shoes from wearing out, our God can meet ALL our needs.

Direct your minds to examine the faithfulness of God. He is Lord, and He loves us. He will not abandon the children He bought at such a high price. He will not abandon those whom He has shed His blood for!

Philippians 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

The Apostle Paul refused to allow Satan to hijack his thought life. He focused on the goodness of God. Did the Apostle suffer lack at times? Absolutely! He was imprisoned. He said:

Philippians 4:11-13 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. 12 I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

Whether Paul was full or hungry, abased or abounding, His mind was continually on doing Christ’s work in Christ’s way. Paul said, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. When you have Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, you have all you need. The Apostle said in another place:

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.

The Saint is called on purpose by God. Everything that happens to the Saint is for our good, and for the glory of God, whether we know it or not.

The God Of Scripture Is “My God”

Philippians 4:19 But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

Notice that Paul refers to God as my God. The Saint is owned by God, and owns God. He is ours! We belong to Him, and He belongs to us. If you are a Saint, then He is to you my God. When King David was afflicted, he cried out to my God. He prayed,

Psalm 3:7 Arise, O Lord; save me, O my God: for thou hast smitten all mine enemies upon the cheek bone; thou hast broken the teeth of the ungodly.

He cried, “O Lord MY GOD, in Thee do I put my trust” (Psalm 7:1). David, like Paul, walked side by side each day with the Lord. He could say,

Psalm 18:2 The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.

If you are saved, God possesses you, and you possess God. He is to you “MY GOD”. There is no room for the world nor for the devil to live in the House of God between us. We who are saved belong to Him.

Philippians 4:21-22 Salute every saint in Christ Jesus. The brethren which are with me greet you. 22 All the saints salute you, chiefly they that are of Caesar’s household.

We discussed verse 21, and how the Christian is a Saint, set apart to live with God under His Kingdom authority. But note verse 22. You probably read it, and thought nothing of it. But read the words again:

All the saints salute you, chiefly they that
are of Caesar’s household

I told you that Paul was imprisoned, and chained to a Roman guard, a soldier of the empire. The soldiers are of Caesar’s household. As I mentioned before, Rome allowed all types of religions to flourish, as long as Caesar was worshiped as Lord. To fail to worship Caesar as Lord, to give singular Lordship status to anyone outside of Caesar, was considered an act of treason. This is why Paul is in prison, awaiting what will surely be a beheading.

Paul is chained to a Roman soldier. He’s chained to this soldier as he dictates this letter to Epaphroditus. The soldier cannot help but hear – being chained to the Apostle as he is – exactly what Paul has been saying.

A loyal Roman soldier would report what Paul wrote to his superiors. Had it been reported, no doubt Epaphroditus would have been hindered or killed, and the letter destroyed. But the letter got to Philippi. It wasn’t destroyed. Why?

I imagine Paul in bonds. He is fastened to a soldier, and left alone with him. Paul starts talking. “Have you heard about My God? Have you heard about Jesus?” The soldier replies, “Shut up! I don’t want to talk about that.” But Paul doesn’t shut up. “I notice you have armor on. I have armor, too. My armor is made by Jesus. I have a breastplate of faith and love (1 Thessalonians 5:8). My helmet is the hope of salvation (1 Thessalonians 5:8)”. The Roman soldier cannot beat Paul, for Paul is a Roman citizen awaiting trial. All he can do is listen. He tells Paul, “Shut up! Stop telling me about this Jesus!” But Paul continues. “My loins are girt about with truth” (Ephesians 6:14). The man has no choice but to hear Paul. Paul is unlike anyone he has ever been cuffed to. Most prisoners are bleak, sad, depressed, anxious concerning what was coming. But not Paul. His eyes were on Jesus.

When the changing of the guard comes, the guard going off duty has the Gospel of Christ planted in his heart. Here comes another guard, but Paul is not discouraged. God is giving him another opportunity to serve the kingdom of God, and the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Jesus is Lord! As Paul closes this letter, he says simply:

Philippians 4:23 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.

There is no salvation without these two things:

The Grace of God, and
The Lordship of Christ our Savior

Is Jesus Christ your Lord and Savior? You can be saved if Jesus is just your Savior, but your faith will be too weak to be of much value if Jesus is not your Lord. Is He your Lord? Dear Saint, you are set apart by God to do service for your King. You belong to Jesus, not to things. It is not things that satisfies the soul of the Christian, but the presence of the God Who controls all things. The Apostle Paul told Timothy:

1 Timothy 6:6-7 … godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.

That which gives us contentment and blessing, whether on the mountain top or in the valley, is the Lordship of our God. Do you know Him? You cannot add one single hour to your life (Matthew 6:27), but the God Who owns the believer can. Rest in the God Who has saved you. Give Him all that you are. He owns you anyway. And trust that God loves you with an infinite love. Resting in the presence of Christ, we can say with David, The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance” (Psalm 16:6). May God the Holy Spirit move on our hearts, and draw us all into the Presence of Jesus this very day. In Christ’s name we pray this. Amen and Amen.

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Why Sunday School?

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Acts 2:38-42 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. 39 For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. 40 And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation. 41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. 42 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.

The early Church, started on the Day of Pentecost by God and His people, grew and excelled. This is amazing, because the Church itself owned no real eastate, had no buildings, and usually met on “Solomon’s Porch” in the Temple. The Church grew even though it was attacked as a cult by the Pharisees, priests, and Ruling Elders of Israel (the Sanhedrin). It was also considered seditious by Roman authorities, for Christians would not acknowledge “Caesar is Lord” as all good Romans would do.

Yet the Church grew. It excelled. Why would it grow in such a toxic environment? The Church did three things:

The Church Obeyed Jesus

Acts 2:38-42 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. 39 For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. 40 And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation. 41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized

Peter preached the Gospel of salvation, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ. The first step to salvation is to “”, the Greek μετανοέω metanoeō, which means “to change the mind” or to “change your drive or motivation”. The Bible says that before we were saved, that the Christian:

Ephesians 2:1-3 (ESV) … 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.

Before salvation, the unsaved follows the passions of our flesh. We were no different than the rest of the lost world. Our sins might have been different – you may not have experienced same sex attraction or gender dysphoria, but you pursued other sins. Pride and selfishness drove you. But meeting Jesus Christ, you acknowledged that you were broken. Like the tax collector Matthew you met Jesus, and leaving your riches, followed Him Who is the riches of Heaven. The Christian loves and follows Jesus.

Are we broken? Yes, but we are daily growing more like Christ. As we associate with Jesus, His glory rubs off on our souls more and more. We are not ashamed to follow Jesus. Peter said:

Acts 2:38 Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ

Jesus said in John 15:4, “Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you”. Jesus commanded the believer be baptized in water. He said in 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 Ghost”. Baptism is part of Christ’s directive. Why did Jesus demand His followers be baptized? It is because baptism in water is a public profession of faith in Jesus. The Apostle Paul said:

Romans 6:3-5 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? 4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:

Baptism is a symbolic burial with Christ. Our old man dies and is buried with Christ as we are lowered into the water, and the new man is born as we are raised out of the water. Baptism shows our union with Jesus Christ, and publicly identifies us as children of God. The Apostle Peter likens water baptism to Noah’s Ark, saying:

1 Peter 3:20-22 Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. 21 The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ: 22 Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God …

Noah and his family were saved from certain destruction because he obeyed God, and built an ark, then GOT ON THAT ARK. When we are publicly baptized in water we are affirming to the world that we, like Noah, got on an Ark. We believed in Jesus, and have committed our lives to Him. As Jesus rose from the dead, we shall too rise above the grave, and live forever because of Him.

The early Church was publicly baptized after receiving Jesus as Savior, showing they believed Him also LORD of all. Though the Church was hated by Pharisees and Priests, as well as Roman authorities, the believers were baptized nonetheless PUBLICLY. They knew what Jesus said, that is,

Luke 9:26 For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father’s, and of the holy angels.

The Church Studied And Applied “Jesus” To Life

Acts 2:42 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine AND fellowship

The early Church studied the Bible. Our text says they continued steadfastly. This is the Greek προσκαρτερέω proskartereō, which means “to be devoted to, to persevere in, to steadfastly be attentive to”. What were they attentive to? The apostles‘ doctrine. What the Apostles taught. And what did the Apostles teach? They taught what Jesus taught. We are told in …

Matthew 10:1-2 … when {Jesus} had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease. 2 Now the names of the twelve apostles are these …

The original twelve disciples that followed Jesus were called by Jesus to be APOSTLES. They walked with Jesus, talked with Jesus, saw Jesus perform miracles, and allowed Jesus to empower themselves to do the miraculous. The apostles‘ doctrine is what the Apostles learned from Jesus. The early Church clung to what the Apostles taught about JESUS, and how the whole of Scripture testifies of Jesus. Our Lord Jesus said:

John 5:39-40 (ESV) You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.

The early Church immersed itself in the Scriptures, and focused on Who Jesus was, what Jesus taught, and the High Priesthood of Christ. Sadly, this is not true in our modern Church today!

Illustrate: I love to read. Recently I saw a “Guidepost” magazine, one that I used to subscribe to and read years ago. I grabbed it, and started reading. As I read further and further into the magazine – the lead story was about the faith of Harry Connick, Jr a musician I admire – I began to be disturbed. As I read through that magazine, I read of people who:

loved Amazing Grace
adored their Church
had “faith”

But one thing was conspicuously and insidiously missing. Throughout the magazine I saw absolutely NO MENTION of Jesus, of Jesus Christ, of Christ Jesus, of our Lord and savior. Jesus told us that when the “Spirit of truth comes, he will bear witness about ME” (John 15:26). The Guideposts I was reading at no point even mentioned Jesus Christ, the King of Kings and Lord of lords. Now, it may have been accidental to that issue, but I see this more and more in the world of “Christian” publications today. They speak of “God” and “Faith”, but no mention is made of Jesus. That Guideposts could have been a publication of the followers of Allah, Buddha, or some Hindu god.

We must know about Jesus. We teach about Jesus in our Sunday School. We must teach Jesus, if we will save the world from this present darkness.

Teaching Jesus, the apostles‘ doctrine, the early Church also behaved like Jesus.

Acts 2:42 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine AND fellowship

Word Study: The early believer focused on Jesus’ teachings, and it showed in how they loved people. They enjoyed fellowship. The word fellowship is the Greek κοινωνία koinōnia, which means “to participate in community, to have intimate or close sharing together with others”. The Church did not just hear and respond to the preaching of it’s pastors, but it gathered together to share with one another, a pursue the deeper truths of God’s Word. This is a primary component of Sunday School – FELLOWSHIP.

A Church that does not study and share God’s Word together soon becomes filled with worldliness, and subject to failure. The Apostle Paul defined the Church when he wrote:

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

The Church is built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets. The prophets wrote the Old Testament as moved by the Spirit of God, the apostles wrote the New Testament as moved by that same Spirit. The foundation or base of the local Church is the Holy Scriptures, with Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone. The ancient architects were always very careful in placing the corner stone of a building. All walls aligned to the corner stone. Every brick aligned to the corner stone. Every part of Scripture aligns to Jesus Christ, and the Church must align to Jesus Christ, else it will be built on a poor and shaky foundation. Sunday School strengthens the foundation of the Church as it focuses on the Scripture, and how the believer is to align their lives through that Scripture to Jesus Christ.

Acts 2:42 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.

The apostles’ doctrine, or teaching about Jesus and what He held dear, resulted in a Church that looked like Jesus. The early Church fellowshipped – they enjoyed one another’s company. Jesus was often found sharing with sinners and publicans, much to the chagrin of the Pharisees. As the Church grew in fellowship, it progressed to breaking of bread, or sharing food together, as well as to prayers. They shared their burdens one with another, and lifted each other up to Jesus Christ.

Sunday School Is Not Just A New Testament Concept

Dr. Elmer L. Towns is Dean Emeritus of the School of Religion and Theological Seminary at Liberty University, which he co founded with Dr. Jerry Fallwell Sr. in 1971. He teaches the Pastor’s Bible Class at Thomas Road Baptist Church each Sunday. Dr. Towns writes:

This Old Testament verse is often used to express the fourfold nature of Sunday school:

Gather the people together, men and women and little ones, and the stranger who is within your gates, that they may hear and that they may learn to fear the LORD your God and carefully observe all the words of this law” (Deuteronomy 31:12).

This verse reflects the four distinct “arms” of Sunday school ministry.”

  • Sunday School is a “Reaching Arm” of the Church. Visitors to our Church may or may not know the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior. If they are invited into the Sunday School, they can see the love that we have for Jesus, and the love we have for them. Many are often converted, and receive the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior, because they attended a caring and nurturing Sunday School. Sunday School is not just for children. God said to “Gather the people together, men and women and little ones, and the stranger who is within your gates.
  • Sunday School is a “Teaching Arm” of the Church. God said the whole reason for gathering is “that they may hear and that they may learn”. People need to hear what God’s Word says, and need to learn how to apply that Word practically to their lives. People need to learn about Jesus Christ! In 1996 around 27% of Americans supported same sex marriage. Today around 70% of Americans affirm same sex marriage as natural. This is because Gay Rights activists have come into the homes through television and internet, creating story lines where this activity is normalized. People need to hear and learn what God has said. In the absence of the light, the darkness will grow.
  • Sunday School is a “Winning Arm” of the Church. It teaches people to fear the LORD your God. In the intimate setting of the Sunday School, those who attend share their experiences and breakthroughs with God and His Word. People discuss how God gave them confidence and blessing as they went through some of life’s harshest valleys. God is personalized to the lost when we show Jesus as He is – a living and powerful Lord and Savior. People today have little “fear” of the Lord, but the Bible teaches that our Creator is holy, righteous, and pure. Jesus Christ is our High Priest and our Sacrifice before God. Hebrews 4:14 tells us “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”. Through Sunday School, people can be told of the great salvation we have in our Jesus.
  • Sunday School is a “Caring Arm” of the Church. Though the Worship Services of the Church are wonderful and much needed by the Church, it is in Sunday School that members can get to know one another better. The Bible says that we are to “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed” (James 5:16).

Sunday School is a wonderful place to show hospitality to all. 1 Peter 4:9 states, “Use hospitality one to another without grudging”. The Church is to be “given to hospitality”. What a wonderful opportunity we have, when we come together in Sunday School!

As our world becomes more and more broken, people are desperately looking for a fix. That fix is only found in Jesus. Let us promote Sunday School, invite others to Sunday School, and show we care for the stranger in our midst in Sunday School. May God use this Scripture and His Spirit to empower and grow our Church to His glory. Amen and Amen.

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Have You The Right Faith?

Photo by Caleb Jones on Unsplash

John 4:43-45 Now after two days he departed thence, and went into Galilee. 44 For Jesus himself testified, that a prophet hath no honor in his own country. 45 Then when he was come into Galilee, the Galilæans received him, having seen all the things that he did at Jerusalem at the feast: for they also went unto the feast.

The Witness Of The Saved

Last week we spoke of Jesus going through Samaria, and meeting the woman at the well. This woman fell in love with Jesus, and put her faith in Him as Messiah. She went into Sychar, leaving her water pot at Jacob’s well, and began to witness for Jesus.

What does it mean to “witness” for Jesus? It is to tell others what Jesus did for you – how He impacted YOUR life. The devil is only defeated by:

Revelation 12:11 … by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of {your} testimony

I love to watch scary movies, and often yell at the screen when the characters of the drama fall victim to the vampires, the werewolves. The characters always get messed up when they go – by themselves – into a dark and spooky place! Then when they are attacked, they try to fend off the evil with some token, like “holy water”, a “cross”, a “silver bullet”, or “garlic”. These are fantasies. The way you ward off evil – truly ward it off – is by trusting in Jesus, and living by faith in Him. This is what defeats evil. The world needs the witness of the genuine believer in Christ. The world is desperate for Jesus! Once this woman witnessed about Jesus, the Samaritans asked Jesus to stay with them.

Jesus stayed two days with the Samaritans. Having done His work there for the Father, Jesus heads toward Galilee. Galilee is about 18 ½ miles north of Nazareth. John writes:

John 4:44 For Jesus himself testified, that a prophet hath no honor in his own country.

Why does it say Jesus testified? That is a very interesting word, the Greek μαρτυρέω martyréō, {pronounced mar-too-reh’-o}, from which we get our word “martyr”. The word means “to give a witness”, but it has a sacrificial quality to it. It is to give a witness that costs something.

Our Lord Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of Man, the Only Begotten of God. Our Lord Jesus is the Godhead revealed, the Lamb of God, the Incarnate Son of God.

Our Lord Jesus turned water into wine at Cana.

Our Lord Jesus moved a Samaritan woman, that caused a revival in Sychar.

Jesus – this miraculous and wonderful Savior and Lord – heads toward His hometown of Nazareth. Though not born in Nazareth, He was raised in Nazareth. Though John does not give us the details on Jesus’ failed mission to Nazareth, Mark does. Mark tells us:

Mark 6:2-6 And when the sabbath day was come, {Jesus} began to teach in the synagogue {at Nazareth}: and many hearing him were astonished, saying, From whence hath this man these things? and what wisdom is this which is given unto him, that even such mighty works are wrought by his hands? 3 Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him. 4 But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honor, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house.

The Faith Of Nazareth Sees Only The Man In Christ

The people of Nazareth grew up with Jesus and remembered Him as the Carpenter’s Son. Though Jesus did miracles in Nazareth – not many, but some – they believed Him more a man than they believed Him Messiah. They said “What’s this wisdom that has been given him, that he even does miracles! Isn’t this the carpenter?” The Bible says:

John 1:12-13 But as many as received {Jesus}, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: 13 which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

Preach! Emphasize! To “believe on His name” is to receive and acknowledge Jesus as He is. Jesus Christ is Perfect Man, but He is no mere mortal. He is no mere human teacher. It is a weak and faltering faith that makes Christ out to be as common as you or I. Jesus is distinctly different from every human who has ever been.

As Adam in his creation was perfect before his choice to fall, Jesus is perfect, unique. He is like us in that He tired, He hurt, He ached, He hungered, He thirsted. He suffered all the failings this human body has. But Jesus Christ was and is without sin. He is God in human flesh!

Jesus is without sin- whereas we are sinners. When the Bible speaks of us humans, it says:

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

all have sinned”. Little babies, fresh from birth, are sinners. Toddlers are sinners. Every person who has ever been born human is a sinner – all but One. This One is Jesus. The Bible says:

Hebrews 4:15 … {Jesus} was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

2 Corinthians 5:21 He {God the Father} hath made him {God the Son}to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

Jesus is not a sinner as we are. He is without sin, a unique human/ divine Person. The faith of Nazareth sees Jesus as no more than a mortal man. Jesus is, to them, just a great teacher or a wonderful preacher. If your idea of Jesus is as Nazareth, then your faith is not sufficient to bring about the miraculous. To say that Christ is merely a great moral teacher is to make Him to be what He is not. Jesus Christ is eternal God, incarnate as a perfect man, among us. From the time of the fall of Adam unto Jesus, there had never been a perfect man. There was Enoch, who walked with God till he was not, but Enoch was not perfect. Just as all fallen creatures do, we must rely on the Grace of God. Throughout Scripture, the Bible tells us:

The JUST shall live by faith.

To be “Just”, or “Justified”, righteous in the eyes of God, we ourselves cannot produce this. We must live by faith in God’s provision. All humans are fallen. Eliphaz told Job,

What is man, that he can be pure? Or he who is born of a woman, that he can be righteous?” (Job 15:14 – ESV)

Noah, the Old Testament savior of humanity, was himself imperfect. God used Noah, because:

Genesis 6:8 But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.

Jesus is perfect Man. When God wanted to draw man closer to Himself, He gave us the Law to lead us to Christ. John 1:17 tells us,

The Law was given by Moses, but GRACE and TRUTH came by Jesus Christ”

Throughout the Scripture, when anyone found Grace in the eyes of God, they found it through Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the very Source of the Grace of God. You cannot find grace in a Walmart, nor a Target, nor a Walgreens, nor in a farmer’s market. You cannot find grace in a local Church, or a denomination. You cannot find grace in a preacher like myself. Grace and truth are found ONLY in Jesus Christ. Jesus is perfect Man, and perfect God.

Years ago as a young Christian I was introduced to the works of C.S. Lewis. Lewis was a very deep thinker, a theologian of the first order. In his book Mere Christianity (which I highly recommend), Lewis said:

… people often say about Him [Jesus Christ]: “I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God.” That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic … or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse …. You can sh