The Only Begotten Son

maryMatthew 1:1 (KJV) The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.

Matthew 1:18 (KJV) 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.

This is the time of year that we focus on the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ. We have begun what the Church calls “Advent”. An “Advent” is the arrival of an event or a person that changes human history in a significant way. We have – in my lifetime – seen ..

The ADVENT of Television
The ADVENT of Computers
The ADVENT of the Internet
The ADVENT of Social Media
The ADVENT of the Smart Phone

Each one of these things – along with their creators – made a significant contribution (for better or for worse) to humanity. But there is one Advent that we recognize every year about this time. That fallen angel Lucifer – also known as Satan (and yes, I believe there is a Satan, for I see his handiwork every day) doesn’t want you to know about this Advent. He attacks this Advent in subtle ways. But Satan cannot overpower the significance of this Advent. It is the Greatest Advent in all of human history.

It is the ADVENT of Jesus Christ.
His ADVENT changed history and humanity forever.
This is what Christmas is about.

1 We See In Matthew Chapter 1 Verses 2-17 A History We Cannot Ignore. When people read the Bible (and few read the Bible anymore – I hope you are one of the few!) they come to passages like we find at the beginning of Matthew. They start reading:

Matthew 1:2-7 (KJV) Abraham begat Isaac; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat Judas and his brethren; 3 And Judas begat Phares and Zara of Thamar; and Phares begat Esrom; and Esrom begat Aram; 4 And Aram begat Aminadab; and Aminadab begat Naasson; and Naasson begat Salmon; 5 And Salmon begat Booz of Rachab; and Booz begat Obed of Ruth; and Obed begat Jesse; 6 And Jesse begat David the king; and David the king begat Solomon of her that had been the wife of Urias; 7 And Solomon begat Roboam; and Roboam begat Abia; and Abia begat Asa;

They get about this far and think “What in the world? Begat? This is boring!” So they skip forward, but in so doing miss something very important.

  • Why did Matthew go through such a boring list of names?

  • And what does “Begat” mean?

The word “Begat” (the Greek γεννάω gennaō) is used 39 times in this text. The word means “to be fathered by or to be born of”. This is an unbroken genealogy which starts with Abraham and ends at Joseph, the earthly Stepfather of Christ. This list of names is important because it established the legal, Jewish right of Jesus Christ to be the King of the Jews, the Promised Messiah. There are TWO ROOTS to this Family Tree. Those roots are found in verse 1:

Matthew 1:1 (KJV) The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.

a Abraham Is A Root Because God Made A Promise To Abraham. When God met Abraham (this is recorded in the very first Book of the Bible) the Lord promised him:

Genesis 12:1-3 (ESV) “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. 2 And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

God promised Abraham – a childless old man – that He would “make of you a great nation”. This meant that Abraham, a man who could NOT naturally have children would SUPERNATURALLY be given a child.

His wife Sarah – well past child bearing years – would have a child, and that child would have children that would develop into “a great nation”. But this wasn’t all of God’s promise. God told Abraham

in you ALL the FAMILIES of the earth shall be blessed”

God promised Abraham “there will be an ADVENT through you that will impact human history”. God promised Abraham that something WORLD CHANGING would happen through Abraham. God said later in

Genesis 18:18 (ESV) … Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him?

The Messiah – the Savior of the world – would come through Abraham. Many have come and claimed to be Messiah’s or Saviors. There have been Mohammeds, Buddhas, Hubbards, Smiths, Russels, gods and goddesses that people have followed after. But God promised the Messiah, the One and only Savior of the world would come to us through the Lineage of Abraham, And God keeps His promises. God repeated this promise in:

Genesis 22:18 (ESV).. and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.

God is “not slack in His promises”. Though this genealogy in Matthew 1 focuses on God’s promise to the Jews, it also fulfills God’s promise to the Gentiles. The Apostle Paul declared:

Galatians 3:6-9 (KJV) …. Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. 7 Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. 8 And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed. 9 So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.

We have an Amazing God Who keeps His Promises. The Messiah would come, and His lineage could be traced through Abraham. But this is not the only Root of this blessed Tree:

b David Is A root Because God Made A Promise To The Shepherd King David.

Matthew 1:1 (KJV) The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.

The Messiah would not just be descendant from Abraham, but He MUST be Descendant from the Shepherd King David. I often wondered why, of all the people on the face of the earth, why it was

to shepherds who were watching their sheep by night (Luke 2:8-14)

that the Angel of the Lord went to first on the night that Jesus came into the world. When

the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14)

wasn’t there anybody else outside at night that needed that good news? I suspect that the reason God told the shepherds first is because these people were doing the lowest and the least job. I can imagine them gathering around a campfire, cold and lonely, talking among themselves how one of their own was chosen by God to be King of Israel. Oh what a rags to riches story that would be! It would be like working in a hot sweaty factory and one of those who suffered with you was suddenly promoted to President of that Company! What a great story that would be! The David that Jesus came from is King David, the King who was Shepherd, a lowly Shepherd, until God called him. God promised David:

2 Samuel 7:8-13 (ESV) … ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep, that you should be prince over my people Israel. 9 And I have been with you wherever you went and have cut off all your enemies from before you. And I will make for you a great name, like the name of the great ones of the earth. 12 … I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.

The Messiah had to come from the line of David, of the house of Judah. The Messiah would be legally entitled to be King of Israel serving on an eternal Throne. The Messiah – also called “Shiloh” (Hebrew שִׁילֹה Shiyloh)

Genesis 49:10 (NASB) “The scepter shall not depart from Judah, Nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, Until Shiloh comes, And to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.

“Shiloh” means “He Whose It Is”. The throne of Judah, the throne of David would be occupied by mere mortals until “He Whose it is” would come. The King of Kings and Lord of Lords, the King of Israel, the Savior of the world was, is, and always will be Jesus Christ. Others are faint shadows of “He Whose it is”. Jesus Christ is the Promised Messiah. He comes from both Abraham and David, and is the fulfillment of God’s Promise!

2 God’s Promise Is Always Fulfilled, Regardless As To What Man May Do. When a school bus crashed the other week and six children were killed because of human carelessness I had people ask me:

Was this God’s intent?
Did He want those children killed?
Is God really in control?

When horrible things happen we are tempted to think that God lost control of the steering wheel. But God never loses control, even when people make bad decisions.

When things happen that we don’t understand God tells us:

Psalm 46:10 (ESV) “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”

Romans 8:28 (ESV) 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.

At the end of this genealogy we read:

Matthew 1:17 (KJV)17 So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David until the carrying away into Babylon are fourteen generations; and from the carrying away into Babylon unto Christ are fourteen generations.

Do you see what this text is telling you? Here is a bunch of names – many of which we do not know literally from Adam – but God had a plan. Read the text again:

All the generations from Abraham to David ARE FOURTEEN GENERATIONS

and from David until the carrying away in Babylon are FOURTEEN GENERATIONS

and from the carrying away into Babylon unto Christ are FOURTEEN GENERATIONS

This is not just some random list of names. This list is precise. It goes from fourteen to fourteen to fourteen. God is specifically in control. Every name on this list is there because God allowed it to be on the list.

Are these perfect people?
Are you kidding me?

a Consider The Life Of Isaac, The Promised Child. Abraham had this child by Sarah he was a hundred years old.

Surely this Child would be phenomenal. He was.
He was a phenomenal milksop.

He let people walk all over him. When others challenged his right to his father’s wells, Isaac just moved away and let them have them. God affirms His Covenant with Isaac in

Genesis 26:4 (ESV) I will multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and will give to your offspring all these lands. And in your offspring all the nations of the earth shall be blessed,

and yet just two verses later we read:

Genesis 26:6-7 (ESV) .. Isaac settled in Gerar. 7 When the men of the place asked him about his wife, he said, “She is my sister,” for he feared to say, “My wife,” thinking, “lest the men of the place should kill me because of Rebekah,” because she was attractive in appearance.

The man would not even protect his wife. Isaac was a poor parent, and he ignored the directives and prophecies of God. This led to his son Jacob to deceive his older brother Esau in order to get the blessing of his father. God would keep His promise in spite of Isaac’s shortcomings.

b Consider The Life Of Jacob, Isaac’s Younger Son. Jacob is a con man. He cons his father Isaac into blessing him instead of his older brother. But God told the mother of these two children Rebekah:

Genesis 25:23 (ESV) And the Lord said to her, “Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you shall be divided; the one shall be stronger than the other, the older shall serve the younger.”

It was God’s intent that Jacob be the one whom the lineage of Christ would go through. Yet did God ask Jacob and his mother to deceive? No. God does not appreciate lying. The Bible tells us that there will be no liars in Heaven (Revelation 21:8). God says:

Proverbs 12:22 (ESV) Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who act faithfully are his delight.

God does not condone sin – but Jacob was going to be the one through Whom Messiah would come. If Rebekah and Isaac had honored God’s will then it would have happened righteously. Nonetheless, God is in control.

c Consider The Lives Of Judah And Thamar (verse 3). Jacob had twelve children, but only Judah (the KJV translators here use Judas) was to rule over these twelve. Judah was to be the Tribe of Israel where the Ruler or King came. Tamar’s husband died, and the third son of Judah was supposed to marry her. He refused to do so, so Tamar committed incest with Judah (you can read about this in Genesis 38). God does not condone sexual sin, but condemns it, but

God does not condemn the innocent Child who had nothing to do with that union.

I have heard people justify abortion in the event of rape – but why penalize the child because of the evil of the parent? All life matters. All life is valuable. All are made in the image of God!

Matthew 1:3 (KJV)3 And Judas (Judah) begat Phares (Perez) and Zara (Zerah) of Thamar; and Phares begat Esrom; and Esrom begat Aram;

d Consider The Lives Of Perez and Zerah (see Genesis 38:27-29) who were twins. In the case of twins the firstborn was the one who came from the womb first. Zerah stuck his hand out first and the midwife tied a scarlet thread on his hand, but then Perez was born first.

The scarlet thread of the midwife was on Zerah,
but the Scarlet Thread of the Messiah was on Perez
God is in control, no matter what man might do

e Consider These Imperfect People And How God Used Them. I’d love to go through all of these names today, but time just doesn’t permit it. But I do want to look at just a few more names in this list of forty two men and four women.

Matthew 1:5-6 (KJV) And Salmon begat Booz (Boaz) of Rachab (Rahab); and Booz (Boaz) begat Obed of Ruth; and Obed begat Jesse; 6 And Jesse begat David the king; and David the king begat Solomon of her that had been the wife of Urias (Uriah);

Salmon begat (fathered) Boaz of Rahab

Rahab was a prostitute, a woman who sold herself to others. When Israel was going to go into the Promised Land Rahab hid the spies in Jericho (see Joshua 2:1ff). Rahab believed on the God of Israel, the same God Who loves us. Rahab was saved by Grace. The Old Testament doesn’t tell us all the details, but in the New Testament we see an ex-prostitute in the lineage of the Messiah.

God saves whosoever will.
God has a purpose for whosoever will.
God loves whosoever will.
God changes whosoever will come unto Him in faith.
Boaz begat (fathered) Obed of Ruth

Ruth was descended from the Moabite people, a hated people. The Moabites originated from Lot committing incest with his eldest daughter (see Genesis 19:32-27). The Moabites tried to stop Israel from going into Canaan (see Exodus 15:15), and became one of the most hated enemies of Israel. She was a Gentile, despised, but God loved her. God loves everyone. The Apostle Peter said:

Acts 10:34-35 (ESV) “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, 35 but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.

God does not look at your color.
God does not look at your past.
God does not care where you came from,
Nor does He care what you think you’re worth.
God loves you, and calls you to His side.
He calls you through the Messiah, Jesus Christ our Lord!

and God will forgive. He does not condone sin, but He does forgive.

Even David Himself failed.

David the king begat Solomon of her that had been the wife of Urias (Uriah)

David took another man’s wife, then had that man named Uriah killed. God does not condone murder. God does not condone adultery. Yet God does not punish the innocent Solomon for his parents sins. The lineage of the Messiah continued through flawed people,

Begating and begating

But I want you to notice something interesting.

3 Joseph Did Not “Begat” Jesus. The lineage of the Messiah is traced from Abraham, through David, and up to Joseph, where we read:

Matthew 1:16 (KJV) And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.

The text doesn’t follow the pattern of …

Joseph begat Jesus of Mary

It doesn’t say that. The birth of Jesus is not tied to Joseph, but to Mary. The Bible goes on to say:

Matthew 1:18 (KJV) 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.

Mary and Joseph were engaged to be married. Before they came together sexually, before they “slept with one another” as people so flippantly say,

She was found with Child OF THE HOLY GHOST (Spirit)

Christ was supernaturally born. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. The Bible says that the sign of the Messiah, the Savior is that He would be born of a virgin

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

Matthew 1:22-23 (KJV)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.

God would enter humanity. Every birth is a miracle, but Christ’s Advent is a double miracle. He was born of a virgin. He was born of God. God became man, not through perfect man, but the perfect came through the imperfect because God is always in control.

It is this same God that calls you to salvation.

God sent His Son into this world to be our Messiah. Jesus Christ was and is without sin,

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

Jesus came to this earth to pay for our sins, and to call whosoever will, whosoever broken, whosoever will believe in Him to salvation. Jesus Christ is the Greatest Gift you can receive this Christmas. Receive Him. Believe Him. Follow Him, to the glory of God in the highest!

May God lead a lost soul to Himself through His Word and Spirit!

Posted in Sermons Preached | Leave a comment

Looking Unto Jesus – A Christmas Plea

looking-unto-jesus

Hebrews 12:1-2 (KJV)  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.

I love this time of year. I love the Christmas Carols, the Parade, the cooler air, the trees. But I particularly like Advent and Christmas itself. Not because of presents, but because it reminds us of what Jesus Christ did for us. Christmas is a reminder. December is a reminder. Look unto Jesus and see what He did for us.

I just read another news story today about another young teen, imperfect, shy and overweight, but nonetheless created in God”s image. Bullied by those in her school several arrogant and evil young people went to social media, mocked her, made her life miserable. This young girl killed herself in front of her parents. Why wasn’t she told about Jesus? Why didn’t those in her family tell her how much God wanted to be in her life?

1 We Are Compassed About With So Great A Cloud Of Witnesses. In our text today God gives us a picture of the Olympic Games. In the ancient world you didn’t have television, nor radio, nor I-Pads, Smart Phones or Social Media. That was probably better, in my opinion, than the silly stuff we fill our minds with. As a matter off fact the common man had no access to books or Libraries as the Printing Press was not invented and all books were copied by Scribes. If you wanted entertainment you didn’t stay home or go to your bedroom. For entertainment you went to the Coliseum or the Theater. You got together with a crowd of people – and got there early if you wanted a good seat. It was a great cloud of witnesses – spectators – and you were part of that crowd if you wanted to be entertained.

God now takes the image of the Coliseum and the Olympic Games and inserts those who are His Children into the picture. WE are compassed about – surrounded – with a great cloud of witnesses. We who believe in Christ. We who are saved by Him.

God saved us by His Grace, but after salvation left us on this earth to live for Him.
And we are being watched.
Who is watching us?

a Those Elders Who Have Gone Before Are Watching Us. I have often been asked if those in Heaven can see what we are doing on earth. I used to think “Probably not”. My response was based not on what Scripture said but on what I thought. I thought “This world is a veil of tears. To see earth in its sinful misery would surely bring sadness to Heaven”. But I think now I’m wrong. I think that Heaven’s Citizens could see us, and I don’t think what they see diminishes the glory of Heaven. You see, in Heaven you see Jesus Christ ruling, sitting on the right hand of God. You hear His Voice, and you are privy to the oversight that God has on everything. Most of what brings us sadness in this life is that we do not understand, and only see tragic things from the side of tragedy. But in Heaven the Bible says:

Revelation 21:4 (ESV) {Jesus} will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.

The “former things” that frightened and hurt us are passed away in Heaven because we have direct contact with God’s hands. If we see tragedy on earth (such as we saw when a school bus was mishandled and six children died in the accident) we often say “I don’t understand that, and this hurts”. But if something like this happened and we ask why, and Jesus immediately says “Rest, my Beloved, I have a purpose even in this”, then the sadness is gone. When God is that close to us we can say with Job:

Job 13:15 (KJV) Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him …

I now believe that it is possible that those who have gone before us can see what we do on this earth. Why? Because of what the Lord tells us in this beautiful letter. Look at verse 1:

Hebrews 12:1 (KJV)  WHEREFORE seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses …

Do you see that word WHEREFORE. When you see a WHEREFORE ask yourself “What is it THERE FOR?” This is the Greek τοιγαροῦν toigaroun, and means “Consequently” or “For this reason”. Chapter 12 is tied to Chapter 11 by this word, just as two train cars are hitched together. In Chapter 11 we saw faith defined –

Hebrews 11:1-2 (KJV)  Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.  [2]  For by it the elders obtained a good report.

Last week we saw how the elders pleased God. These elders were listed:

Abel … Enoch … Noah … Abraham
Sarah … Isaac … Jacob … Joseph … Moses
Rahab … Gideon … Sampson
David … Jephthae … Samuel

The Lord wrote Hebrews 11:33-40 (KJV)  Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions,  [34]  Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.  [35]  Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection:  [36]  And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment:  [37]  They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented;  [38]  (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.  [39]  And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise:  [40]  God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.

These “elders” suffered on this earth, but are now in a better place. The “Wherefore” of this chapter tells us that they are part of this “mighty cloud of witnesses”.

The Saints in Chapter 11 who have proceeded before us into Heaven are watching us. Could this also mean that a Beloved Grandmother or Grandfather who prayed for your salvation is watching from Heaven, and cheering you on? It is possible. Since Chapter 12 tells us there is a mighty cloud of witnesses and Chapter 11 lists elders who have gone on before us I see no reason why this could not be true.

The Evangelist Billy Graham wrote:

The Bible doesn’t clearly tell us if people in heaven are able to observe what happens on earth – although THERE ARE SOME HINTS THAT THEY DO. In the book of Hebrews, for example, the writer recalls the great men and woman of faith who have gone before us and are now in heaven. Then he adds, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses … let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us” (Hebrews 12:1). Like spectators in an arena, he seems to suggest, they are watching and cheering us on as we seek to follow Christ.”

The Elders watch us as we run our race for Christ. If they watch, let us run looking unto Jesus.

b The Lost Watch Us As We Run Our Race. We are DAILY surrounded by a mighty cloud of witnesses who watch what we do. When Jesus walked this earth those who observed Him the closest were the lost Pharisees and Scribes. Jesus told us:

Matthew 5:14-16 (ESV) You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, LET YOUR LIGHT SHINE BEFORE OTHERS, SO THAT THEY MAY SEE YOUR GOOD WORKS AND GIVE GLORY TO YOUR FATHER WHO IS IN HEAVEN.

People watch what we do more than listen to what we say. Our life is to be a witness to the reality of our faith in Christ. Peter told the Church:

1 Peter 2:12 (ESV) Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.

Pastor Greg Laurie wrote:

So, how do I know if you are a Christian? How do you know if I’m one? There must be evidence. Jesus said, “By their fruits you shall know them” (Matthew 7:20). If someone examined your life, would they find any spiritual fruit—hard evidence to prove that you are a true follower of Jesus Christ? Or, let me put it another way: If you were arrested for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you? By “evidence,” I don’t mean how many Bibles you own, or how many bumper stickers you might have on your car with Christian sayings on them. I mean hard evidence. If your family members, neighbors, and coworkers were interviewed and asked the question, “Is (your name here), in your opinion, a real Christian?” we might not be happy with the response. The only way others can tell whether you are a Christian is by your works. WHILE ALL THE GOOD WORKS IN THE WORLD WON’T SAVE A PERSON (TITUS 3:5), THEY ARE REASONABLE EVIDENCE THAT SOMEONE IS SAVED.”

The unbelieving world watches what we are doing.

I have heard unbelievers say that they went to Church but found it to be an unfriendly place where no one spoke to them. Some would reply:

Well, they are just looking for a reason to not go to Church.

Perhaps. But

they had to come to Church to be repelled from Church!

I can tell you from experience that Churches can be very unfriendly places for strangers. I recently went to a Church as an invited guest. While there, no one spoke to me but the ones who invited me. I went to several people and tried to speak to them but was coldly received. I went up to one older gentleman, put out my hand, and embarrassed, had to drop it a minute later as he ignored it.

I have preached revivals in Churches, and on the first Sunday went to Sunday School. No one showed me where to go until I chased someone down and asked “Where do I go?” When I went to class it was very chilly until I told the Teacher I was their Evangelist for the week. At that point EVERYONE got very friendly.

Now you may say “Our Church is not like this”. That may be true. But let me meddle for a minute. If we are friendly why, when we have visitors, people come up to ME and ask “What was that person’s name?” Why don’t YOU ask them their name?

When visitors come to Church they are not coming because some Law made them come. They are coming because they are lonely, or bullied, or frightened. God sent them to us. They are witnesses to us. We don’t need to judge them, we need to reach out to them. Jesus said:

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

Just as Jesus loved, we are to love. As our text says …

Hebrews 12:1-2 (KJV)  Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, …. let us run with patience the race that is set before us,  [2]  LOOKING UNTO JESUS

Jesus is walking home one day and a crowd is following Him. He stops at the base of a Sycamore Tree, looks up, and sees a hated Tax Collector called Zacchaeus sitting in that tree.

Luke 19:5-10 (ESV) … Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.” 6 So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully. 7 And when they saw it, they all grumbled, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” 8 And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.” 9 And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

What did Zacchaeus want? He wanted love. On another day Jesus was going from Judea to Galilee He met a Samaritan woman at a well. This woman wanted love. As Jesus told her, “You have had five husbands, and the man you are with now is not your husband” (John 4:18). Like the old song says, she was looking for love in all the wrong places. Most unbelievers are going through the same thing. But Jesus loved her. He reached out to her and explained that He is the Living Water of God. This unnamed woman left that place changed because she met the Savior and was loved. People need love.

2 As We Run, Let Us Keep Looking Unto Jesus.

Hebrews 12:1-2 (KJV)  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 …

Running is not optional. We run because we are saved. We run to please the Lord! God tells us that we were left on this earth to run with patience the race that is set before us. We were not saved to sit, to be in the stands, but to run. The Elders are in the stands – they are not in this race with us, but they watch us. The unbelievers are in the stands, watching how we run.

We Are Called By God To RUN, Not To WATCH, SIT, or SLEEP. Running is not easy. I don’t like to run. When you run you get out of breath. You get tired. Your muscles hurt.

We are called to RUN for Jesus as we are looking unto Jesus

How did Jesus run His race? When He came to this earth:

He was born of a virgin as the Father directed (Luke 1:34-35).
He was born unwanted – there was no room at the Inn (Luke 2:7).
He had no Baby Shower – only Shepherds visited Him.
Wise Men from Babylon later came to see Him,
which caused a hateful Herod to try and kill Him,
murdering many of the babies in Bethlehem.
Joseph and Mary had to flee to Egypt to protect the toddler Jesus.
He later grew up in Nazareth, the stepson of a common man,
a Carpenter, a blue collar worker.
Jesus was rejected in His hometown and even His own family did not believe Him,
Causing the adult Jesus to move to from Nazareth to Galilee.
Jesus was despised and rejected by the religious leaders
who watched and accused Him His entire ministry.
Jesus found friends in sinners, tax collectors, and fishermen who followed Him.
Jesus did good everywhere He went, offering life to all,
but ended up rejected by all, abandoned and betrayed by His few friends.
Jesus died on a Cross between two murdering thieves,
one of which mocked Him as He struggled to breath, dying for our sins.
The Father turned His back on Jesus as He paid for our sin,
Causing Him to cry out, “My God, My God, Why have You forsaken Me.
Jesus was laid to rest in a borrowed tomb,
and is despised and rejected by most of mankind today (Isaiah 53:3).

We are to run with patience the race set before us. Jesus ran with patience His race. He never gave up, but looked beyond the moment to what would one day be a reality.

Hebrews 12:2 (KJV)  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.

Jesus kept going for the joy that was set before Him. What was that joy? It was your salvation. Jesus went through all that He went through not for Himself, but for you and I.

He endured the Cross.
He did not give up through the pain.
He could have cried out, and I am sure ten thousand angels would have come.
But He despised the shame.
And is set down on the right hand of the Throne of God.
Jesus sits, but His race is over. Ours continues.
And Jesus is watching us.

Hebrews 12:3-4 (KJV)  For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.  [4]  Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.

Consider what Jesus went through for you, for me, for the whole world. We have not resisted unto blood striving against sin. Jesus did, but we do not. Yes, we struggle. But not as Jesus struggled. We suffer, but not as Jesus suffered.

So we run. We run patient. We do not give up, but run knowing that one day we will receive a prize. Run, blessed Children of God. Keep running while you are here, for in Heaven there is no running!

May God touch your hearts with His Word!

Posted in Sermons Preached | Leave a comment

Christ First This Christmas

christ-firstDeuteronomy 21:22-23 (KJV)  And if a man have committed a sin worthy of death, and he be to be put to death, and thou hang him on a tree:  [23]  His body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but thou shalt in any wise bury him that day; (for he that is hanged is accursed of God;) that thy land be not defiled, which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance.

In our day we do not believe in punishment as God believes in punishment. In the Age of Israel God told His people that there were sins worthy of death. People who broke God’s National Laws were “stoned with stones until they were dead”. The citizens of the town were brought from their homes. A person was convicted not on circumstantial evidence, but as God said just a few chapters before:

You must not convict anyone of a crime on the testimony of only one witness. The facts of the case must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses. (Deuteronomy 19:15, NLT)

The witnesses were the first ones to throw the stones, then the remainder of the citizens followed suit. Justice was sure. People saw the punishment. Nothing was done in the dark. And after the stoning the dead body was hung on a tree as a deterrent to others. It was a mute sign that said:

As he is, so shall you be, if you break His Laws

Law is necessary for a nation to be stable. People cannot just make up their own laws based on what they feel is all right. A nation based on feeling leads to chaos and anarchy. God gives us Laws and Law Enforcement for our own good. The Apostle Paul testified that:

For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. (Romans 13:4, NIV)

God gives Laws to nations to insure that chaos doesn’t rule. Where ever there is stability there is Law. Without Law, people do the most awful things. The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9). To break God’s Law is to find yourself face to face with death. The person spoken of in our Deuteronomy text is a person hanging on a tree.

The person violated the national Law, the Kingdom rule.
The person deserves to hang on that tree.
The person was dead on that tree, put there for others to see.
But the person was not allowed to hang on that tree all night long.
He was cursed of God.

To fail to bury the body of the convicted that same day (and the Jews considered the setting of the sun a new day) was to bring a curse on the nation. Law and order required that sin be punished. Those worthy of death were to be put to death. Sin was not winked at, but for the stability of the nation God demanded that sin be paid for.

Though sin was to be paid for, cruelty was not allowed. The Pagan world often killed those who were guilty of capital offenses, but then hung the body up to remain until it rotted and fell from the tree. In Medieval Europe people were often hung up in cages left to slowly die.

This is not the way of God. Cruelty is not allowed. Punishment is given where deserved, but grace always accompanied even the execution of even the greatest criminal.

thou shalt in any wise bury him that day;
(for he that is hanged is accursed of God;)
that thy land be not defiled

Even though a criminal, the lowest and cruelest criminal was made in the image of God. There was a limit to what punishment should do.

1 The Tree In Deuteronomy Shows We All Need A Savior. The Law of God demanded that sin be punished. There were many sins you could commit that were not worthy of death, but the intent of the Law was to show man the glory and holiness of God. Certain sins, like sexual sins, murder, kidnapping, were considered sins that are worthy of death. Any sin that devalued the human design or objectified people (again, we are made in God’s image – Genesis 1:27) could be a sin worthy of death. Yet even in death there was dignity.

You were not to rejoice when someone committed and was punished for a sin worthy of death. They were displayed, proven dead, then removed and properly interred. The Law was not cruel.

a Sin Entered The World Because Adam Ate Fruit From The Wrong Tree. The Bible tells us:

. sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned (Romans 5:12, ESV)

. death came into the world through a man .. (1 Corinthians 15:21, NLT)

When God placed Adam in the Garden of Eden it was a Garden filled with Trees. There were trees of every type. In the middle of the Garden – the Bible says:

The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. (Genesis 2:9, ESV)

The “Tree of Life” was not forbidden to man. He could eat of that Tree as often as he and his wife wanted. God wants us to live. He made us to live. God loved walking in the Garden with Adam in the cool of the day having a relationship with man. God is Eternal, and He wanted us to walk with Him eternally. But God wanted us to walk with Him as He is. You see,

God is God and we are not

We are made in His Image and after His Likeness, but we will never ever be God. Therefore it is important to listen to Him, and to understand that His Law is given to us because He loves us. He knows what is best for us. So we love Him and obey Him. That is what we are supposed to do.

But Adam got mixed up.

He could have all of the Tree of Life he wanted, but was NOT to eat the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. God said “In the day you eat of it, you shall die”.

God said “in the DAY”punishment is not delayed
God said “YOU eat”not your wife, but YOU Adam

God said “you shall DIE” – eating the right Tree brings life, but the wrong tree death

Adam ate of the wrong Tree and died. His progeny died. The Bible says that with his failure that everyone became sinners, separate from God. Hear the Witness of Scripture:

Isaiah 64:6-7 (KJV)  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.

Ecclesiastes 7:20 (ESV)  Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins.

Psalms 130:3-4 (CEV)  If you kept record of our sins, no one could last long.  [4]  But you forgive us, and so we will worship you.

All are sinners. This does not justify sin, dear ones, but is a truth of Scripture. Man sinned because Adam sinned, and we all needed a Savior. God established a Law to restrain sin, but the Law could not fix sin. Sin is in the human heart. Sin is in the heart of the soul. Sin is not overlooked by God, but sin is to be punished.

b Sin Grew Until Anarchy Reigned, But God Saved Noah By Trees. Where sin is unrestrained and lawlessness is tolerated anarchy reigns. By the time of Noah the Bible tells us that:

Genesis 6:5-8 (KJV)  And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.  [6]  And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.  [7]  And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.  [8]  But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.

Unrestrained sin always leads to greater sins.
Lawlessness ruled in the days of Noah.
God made man to dominate the earth, but
He did not make man to be dominated by sin.

When the conscience is hardened, sin comes easier. Though man is a sinner God never meant sin to go unrestrained. Sin must be repented of. People must heed what God has said, and give Him the glory. King David said:

O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day. (Psalm 119:97, KJV)

Man departed from God and stopped listening to Him. As a result society collapsed. I think that America came very close to a collapse of our society – and we aren’t out of the woods yet. When lawlessness reigns, and God is ignored, it isn’t long until judgment falls. The world was going to be destroyed …

But Noah found Grace in the eyes of the Lord

Where did Noah find Grace. In God’s EYES. Not in His EARS, not in His MOUTH, but in His EYES. Noah lived loving God, and his life showed it. I want to tell you, dear ones, God WATCHES you.

For the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His. … (2 Chronicles 16:9 NASB)

The eyes of the LORD are in every place, beholding the evil and the good. (Proverbs 15:3 KJV)

For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil. (1 Peter 3:12)

God is watching. When I was a young child I was told, “Santa Claus is watching you”. When I grew up I found out that Santa Claus was a fictitious person based on a real Christian – Nicolaus of Myra in Asia Minor (4th century AD). Nicolaus gave of his substance to help those who were in need, and tried to do his giving in secret “for your Heavenly Father Who sees in secret will reward you” (Matthew 6:4). Santa Claus isn’t watching us, but God is. He saw Noah, and saw Noah’s love for Him. And God told Noah

Go build Me an Ark

An Ark is a bunch of dead trees cut down into lumber and put together to float. Salvation of humanity would come through these trees. Noah and his family would be saved, whereas the rest of the world would drown. How do I know? Because God tells us so in the Scripture.

Though mankind was saved by Noah’s obedience, humanity was still sinful. When he got off the Ark Noah planted a garden, harvested the grapes, made wine, and got drunk. His sin (see Genesis 9:21ff) brought sin and sorrow into his own family. The wages of sin is always death.

2 The Tree In Deuteronomy Was A Prophecy Of The Coming Christ. In the New Testament the Apostle Paul wrote:

Galatians 3:10-13 (KJV)  For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.  [11]  But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.  [12]  And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them.  [13]  Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:

As the Apostle explains, the Law proves every person to be a sinner. Though you may not commit sins worthy of death in this life (and I hope you don’t), the testimony of the Scripture is:

no man is justified by the law in the sight of God

The Law never justified anyone. That word “justified” means “to be declared right by the Judge”, and God is the Judge. When any person stands in front of the Holy and Pure God of all we immediately “come short of the glory of God”. We are all marred by sin, and the Law declares this. But God never meant us to be saved by keeping His Law. The Bible says in the Old Testament (and Paul quoted this in verse 11 above):

The just (the Justified) shall live by faith

This is a quotation from Habakkuk 2:4 (KJV)  Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith.

Those who are right in the eyes of God have faith in this same God.

They believe Him.
They receive Him.
They trust Him.
They hear Him.

Which brings us back to the Tree of Deuteronomy. The Tree of Deuteronomy is mentioned in Paul’s explanation of our salvation. He said:

Galatians 3:13 (KJV) Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:

Man ate the wrong tree, and fell in sin. Sin reigned, so Noah had to kill a bunch of trees to save humanity. Then God established the Law and spoke of the Tree of Cursing where the Lawless hung. But that Tree in Deuteronomy looked forward prophetically to the Day that Jesus would come. Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law. How did He do this? Jesus went to that Cross to pay for our sins. He was made a curse for us. He hung on that cursed Tree of Calvary. The Bible says:

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

Jesus died on the Tree of Calvary for us. The early Christians understood that imagery. When Peter and the Apostles were told they shouldn’t preach about Jesus, Peter quickly replied:

Acts 5:29-30 (KJV)  Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, 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.

The Pharisees and the Romans killed Jesus, hanging Him on a Tree, that Tree of Calvary. While Peter was at Cornelius’ the Centurion’s home he preached:

Acts 10:38-39 (KJV)  How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.  [39]  And we are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom THEY SLEW AND HANGED ON A TREE:

Calvary is the Tree that Jesus died on. His death was not a mistake, but is your redemption. The Apostle Paul preached in the Synagogue:

Acts 13:28-30 (KJV)  And though they {the Pharisees} found no cause of death in him, yet desired they Pilate that he should be slain.  [29]  And when they had fulfilled all that was written of him, THEY TOOK HIM DOWN FROM THE TREE, and laid him in a {tomb}.  [30]  But God raised him from the dead:

Jesus Christ went to the Tree for you and for me. He died for us on Calvary, but rose again to rule His Kingdom and His Church. Jesus is alive, and we who have believed in Him are alive from the dead. Blessed be the Name of Jesus! Jesus Christ Who is God’s Son is sinless, and He died for OUR sins. He was cursed in our place.

3 Put Christ First This Christmas. Several years ago I knew a man who was more filled with truth than he was with Grace. The Bible says:

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

Jesus gave us GRACE AND TRUTH. Grace without Truth leads to error and sinful anarchy, but Truth without Grace leads to legalism.

This man was all of truth, but none of Grace. One Christmas he began to mock and berate Christians who had Christmas Trees. He had done some research, I suppose, and found out that ancient Pagans brought trees into their homes during the Winter. Since Pagans did it he felt that to have a Christmas Tree was somehow sinful.

It’s not.

Now let me say I don’t care if you have a Christmas Tree or not, and you can do what you want. But if you have a Christmas Tree, use it to explain Christ to your Children and Grandchildren.

I am told that Martin Luther, the founder of the Protestant Reformation was walking through a pine forest near his home in Wittenberg, Germany one night. Praying and seeking a sermon from God he looked upward and saw thousands of stars glittering like diamonds through the branches of the trees. Luther later cut an Evergreen and put it in his home. He decorated the tree with candles, and lighting the candles used the tree to describe the Coming of the Savior and what He did for us to his children.

Rather than be a Scrooge. use your tree (if you have one)
to discuss Christ with your children and grandchildren.

Jesus Christ died on a tree. Out of His death came forth Light and Life for us. The glory of Christmas is NOT the presents under the Tree, but the PRESENCE of Christ in your homes. This Christmas don’t be a Scrooge, but use the Blessed Season to share Christ with your children. Tell of the Tree that Christ died on.

He is the Greatest Present of all!

Posted in Sermons Preached | Leave a comment

Better Than A Shadow (Hebrews Series “Better than”)

girl-afraid-shadow-today-tease-150911_5d1a13fac7bc2283c53df9f3d9cbd4b3Morning Communion Message

As we come to our Lord’s Table I wanted to read something to you from Hebrews chapter 10. Hebrews chapter 10 is a summary of all that we have learned in the Book up to this point. Please listen as I read and talk about the text:

Hebrews 10:1 (KJV) For the law having a SHADOW of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect.

The Law of Moses is a SHADOW of good things TO COME.
A SHADOW is an absence of light.

I saw a little girl the other day in the park walking with her mom. Every other step she would jump forward, straining to catch her shadow. He mother smiled. “Are you trying to catch your shadow honey? You can’t.” But the child kept trying. A shadow cannot be caught. It has no substance. It is real, but cannot be touched. The Law was a shadow of GOOD THINGS to come. As a shadow, the Law could not make those who came to it PERFECT. And you need to be PERFECT to be with God.

Hebrews 10:2-4 (KJV) For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins. 3 But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. 4 For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.

A SHADOW cannot make perfect. An ANIMAL cannot pay for man’s sins.

The SHADOW of the Law reminded God’s people that they were sinners. You see that word REMEMBRANCE. The Law reminded us. It reminds us still. It is a REMEMBRANCER.

Hebrews 10:5-10 (KJV) Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me: 6 In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure. 7 Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God. 8 Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law; 9 Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. 10 By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

The SHADOW could not save, so God the Son came to this earth to do God’s Will.
The SHADOW was the glory of God shining behind Christ. The Law was Christ’s SHADOW.

God had no pleasure in the sacrifices of the Law. An animal cannot pay for the sins of a non-animal. We are not animals. We are created in God’s image. Christ came to do the will of God, to remove the SHADOW of the Law for those who would receive the REALITY. Jesus Christ is the REALITY. We are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

13_better_than_tetelestai

In Roman times when a person was convicted of a crime their criminal act was written on a parchment and nailed to the prison door. Until that crime was paid for the sign stayed up so that all could see your punishment was just. But when the crime was completely paid for the word “Tetelestai” was written on the document by the judge. The same was true of debts owed. The Greek-English Lexicon by Moulton and Milliagan states:

Receipts are often introduced by the phrase [sic] tetelestai, usually written in an abbreviated manner…” (p. 630). 

The day that Jesus died on the Cross on of the last words He spoke was tetelestai or “it is finished”.

John 19:30 (KJV) … Jesus … said, It is finished:
and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.

The Greek tetelestai is in the Perfect Tense meaning the action was completed, and the result of that action is ongoing and with full effect. What Jesus did on Calvary was completely pay for our sins. Back to Hebrews …

Hebrews 10:11-14 And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: 12 But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; 13 From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool.

14 For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.

We are set apart unto God by the Blood of Christ. When we received Christ as Lord and Savior, confessing with the mouth that Jesus is Lord and believing in our heart that God raised Him from the dead, we were saved (Romans 10:9-10). We were saved not by our actions, but by His actions.

The Law is a REMEMBRANCE of our sinfulness.
But we come to another REMEMBRANCE today.
We come to the Lord’s Table.

Luke 22:19 (KJV) …. this do in remembrance of me.

When we come to the Lord’s Table we remember that we are flawed creatures who love a flawless God. We remember that Jesus was broken for us. We remember that He suffered and died once for all to bring us to God. We remember that He rose again, and is the Master of His Church and of His people. We remember. Let us all prepare our hearts for this Table.

Will our Deacons and Assistants come forward and help with the preparation of the Lord’s Table?

Evening Message

Hebrews 10:14-20 (KJV) For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. 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; 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;

I stood waiting in line the other day (I always pick the worst lines to wait in) trying to keep a good attitude. My turn finally came, and thankfully I was able to pay for what I had. As I got ready to leave I told the lady in line behind me “Have a blessed day”. She replied, “I will, if they ever wait on me!”

This lady was saying was that her happiness or blessedness is based on what another human agency did. Now that is strange! I cannot base my happiness on what another human agency does. We are all flawed creatures, subject to doing foolish things. I really shouldn’t base my happiness on what I MYSELF DO. My Joy should be ever focused on my God, my Savior, my Lord!

1 Our Joy Should Be In God Because God Profoundly Showed His Love For Us At The Cross. The Scripture says:

Hebrews 10:14 (KJV) For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.

  • By ONE Offering. God offered Himself for us. The Bible tells us that God offered Himself for us. The Perfect offered Himself for the flawed. No one made the Father do what He did. The Bible says:

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

God had every right to condemn the world. In Noah’s Day God condemned the world for its corruption and sinfulness. God did not have to send His Son to pay the penalty of our sin. But He did. God sent His Son to this world so that the world MIGHT be saved. He did not force salvation on any, but offers salvation to whosoever will. This is an OFFERING. None are forced to it, but whosoever will may come unto Him.

  • By ONE Offering. No one forced Jesus to come from Heaven to this earth. Jesus said:

John 6:37-40 (ESV) All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. 40 For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

Jesus willingly came down from Heaven on a mission from God. He came to save. No one forced Him to go to the Cross. As Max Lucado once said, and I paraphrase,

He chose the nails.

Jesus Christ chose the nails. He chose the shame. He chose being abandoned. He chose the beating. He chose the humiliation. He chose it. And if you choose to believe and receive Him, then He chooses to make you His Child.

John 10:18 (NLT) No one can take my life from me. I sacrifice it voluntarily. For I have the authority to lay it down when I want to and also to take it up again. For this is what my Father has commanded.

Hebrews 10:14 (KJV) For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.

  • He hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. We do not perfect ourselves through the Cross, but God perfects us through the Cross. His sacrifice on Calvary pays for our sins. His sacrifices does not JUSTIFY sin. No, sin is wrong, and sin will always be wrong. We who are His are to run from sin, and to acknowledge and agree with God on sin. The Bible says:

Ezekiel 18:20 (KJV) The soul that sinneth, it shall die. ..

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

Sin is to do that which God considers unnatural and ungodly. Sin always leads to death. Sexual sin leads to death, whether homosexual or heterosexual. Lying leads to death. Do you know that the Bible says there will be no liars in Heaven?

Revelation 22:15 (NAS) Outside {of Heaven} are the dogs and the sorcerers and the immoral persons and the murderers and the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices lying.

God does not justify sin, but He justifies or makes right the sinner. How does He do this? He pays for our sins on the Cross. What does our text say?

Hebrews 10:17-18 (KJV) “And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. {18} Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin.”

God said “I’ll forget your sins and iniquities” like they never happened. Well now, that’s a wonderful thing. How do we reach this state, Lord? What work can I do? What thing can I achieve for you? If I can get in that state where you have, as the Greek text says, me eti, no more remembrance of me as an enemy of Yours, no more a reminder that I was not just as sinner, but I was also a law breaker – just as we all are sinners and law breakers.

The Blood of the Cross paid the penalty for our sins. Where sins are remitted – paid for – there is no more offering for sins. The Child of God born into His Kingdom by faith in Christ stands clean before God.

2 Our Joy Should Be In God Because God Profoundly Shows His Love For Us By Binding To The Believer. In the Old Testament the Law was written on tablets of stone, then later on animal skins and parchment (early paper). The Law was EXTERNAL. But God promises under the New Testament …

Hebrews 10:16 (KJV) … 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;

God puts His Laws into our hearts. God cleans us up. He starts a work in us that does not stop until the day we enter yonder Heaven. Like a Parent – or a Potter – God the Holy Spirit enters the framework of our souls and begins to change the Child of God. The Prophet said:

Isaiah 64:8 (KJV) “But now, O LORD, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand.”

I remember when I was a little boy I hated to take a bath! I just spent a long day playing in the fields and in the woods, running and climbing and jumping and climbing trees. I used to climb those pine trees and get that old pine sap all over me, on my hands and feet, on my clothes. Oh, it smelt so good! I can still smell it. I’d come in at the end of the day, tired and happy, and momma would say “You go get in the tub”. She’s run the tub full of hot, soapy water – nearly scalding, and tell me “Get in the tub and get clean”. You know what I’d do? I’d wait till momma went out of the bathroom, and I’d close the door. Then I’d get in the tub and walk around in it, splashing around, making sounds like I was getting clean. Then I’d get out, dry my feet off, splash a little of dad’s cologne on, and head to my bedroom.

And I’d run smack dab into momma!

She’s ask me, “Did you get a bath?”, to which I’d reply “Yes, momma”. She’s thump me on the top of the head and say “No you didn’t – get back in there!” Then she’d take me and wash me from head to toe, scrubbing hard until all that pine tar came off and into the water. How did momma know I wasn’t clean? I made all the sounds, I splashed the water, I used the towel and the rag. She knew because when she looked at me my head was still dirty, my hair gummed together, my upper torso was still marked by dirt. I might have done it my way, but my way didn’t clean me!

So it is with God. Once you receive Christ as Lord and Savior God Himself – the Holy Spirit – comes into your life. And He begins working with you, changing you, writing His Laws into your hearts. The Holy Spirit is the Companion and Comforter of the believer. Jesus told His disciples:

John 14:15-17 (KJV)   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.

The Disciples knew of the Spirit, but Jesus promised His followers a greater knowing. He promised that the Holy Spirit would come and indwell His people. He would be our Comforter. The Holy Spirit Who indwells us teaches us of Jesus:

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

Jesus told His disciples that He had to leave so that the Comforter could come:

John 16:7-13 (KJV)   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:   [9]   Of sin, because they believe not on me;   [10]   Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more;   [11]   Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.   [12]   I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.   [13]   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.

Oh what love that God would come to dwell in imperfect vessels such as us. God comes ands makes a gift of Himself. Last Wednesday when I was reading my morning devotional (C.H. Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening) I came across these words:

The Lord is my Portion, saith my soul” (Lamentations 3:24)

It is not “the Lord is partly my portion” nor “the Lord is in my portion” but He Himself makes up the sum total of my sdoul’s inheritance. Within the circumference of that circle lies all that we possess or desire. The Lord is my portion. Not His grace merely, nor His love, nor His covenant, but Jehovah Himself. He has chosen us for His portion, and we have chosen Him for ours. … all that we can wish for is to be found in our divine portion. “Whom have I in Heaven but Thee? And there is none upon earth that I desire beside Thee!”

What a beautiful truth. God indwells the Christ follower, and we live in Him. He lives with us now, and we will live with Him for all eternity.

We have something that no Old Testament believer had. We have BOLDNESS to enter into the Presence of God. We read:

Hebrews 10:19-22 (KJV)  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.

We have boldness to come into God’s Presence. Not because of who WE are, but because of what GOD has done for us. WE can enter into prayer with our Heavenly Father ANYTIME. We do not have to go through an earthly High Priest or earthly religious figure, but every Child of God has access to his or her Father through Jesus Christ our High Priest. Look at verse 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.

We draw near to God in full assurance of faith. Not doubting, but trusting. Draw near to God claiming the Cross and the Christ. The Priests of the Old Covenant drew near to God when sprinkled with the Blood of the Sacrifice. We who are Christ’s draw near to God sprinkled with His Blood, our bodies washed with pure water (a picture of baptism).

3 As We Draw Near To God, We Will Draw Near To One Another. I have heard some say “If I have Jesus, I don’t need the Church”. But that is wrong. The Church and Christ go hand in hand. Jesus said:

I will build My Church, and the gates of hell
will not prevail against it

Jesus is the builder of His Church. The Church is not to be ignored. The Church is the Children of God gathered. And as we draw near to God, we will draw near to one another. Read with me:

Hebrews 10:23-24 (KJV)  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: 

Every believer is called to hold fast the profession of OUR faith. Faith is not held fast in a vacuum. There is no singular Christianity. Our faith relies on love, love of God for us, our love toward God, and our love toward one another.

Here I have a Cross representing what Jesus did for us. If you on the left side of this auditorium draw near to this Cross representing Christ and you on the right side of the auditorium draw near to this Cross representing Christ and you at the back of this auditorium draw near to this Cross representing Christ then as you come closer to God you would naturally draw closer to one another. Drawing near to God as a focal point draws you near to one another. You come together.

This is what God demands of us.

Coming into the Presence of God together we are not to fight and claw at one another. We are to:

let us consider one another to provoke unto love
and to good works

As we gather together under His banner of love we encourage one another. When one stumbles we lift that one up in love and encourage them to good works. The person who says:

I love God, but I hate or dislike my brother

Cannot be a Christ follower. Don’t believe me? Read the witness of

1 John 4:20 (ESV) If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.

You cannot love God and hate your brother. As you come into the Presence of God you are drawn closer to one another. And while in His Presence you realize

It is all of Grace

I have nothing in myself, and neither do you. Our position with God is all of Grace. We should not provoke one another to evil or hatred, but to love. As we all draw near to Jesus, we draw nearer to one another.

Hebrews 10:25 (KJV)   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.

We are called together in the Presence of God to exhort one another, to encourage, to lift up for Christ’s sake, to be members of God’s Kingdom on this present earth. And we are to stay focused on the Gospel. Too many Churches have forsaken the Gospel for something else. Note the warning:

Hebrews 10:26-31 (KJV)  For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins,  [27]  But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.  [28]  He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses:  [29]  Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?  [30]  For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people.  [31]   It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

There are many different interpretations in the commentaries and in the pulpits about what these verses mean. Some believe that these verses talk of believers losing their salvation. No, that is not true. These verses are addressed to those who …

who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted

the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified,
an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace

You tread underfoot the Son of God and do despite to the Spirit of Grace (the Holy Spirit) when you reject what Jesus did for you on the Cross. There is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. As Jesus told the Rabbi Nicodemus:

John 3:18 (KJV)   He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

To reject Calvary in favor of something else is to reject Grace and to reject Heaven. There is no way unto God the Father but by Christ the Son. So we preach His Gospel. We believe His Gospel. We share Him with others.

What has washed away my sin?
Nothing but the Blood of Jesus!
What can make me whole again?
Nothing but the Blood of Jesus.
Oh, precious is the flow, that makes me white as snow,
No other fount I know.
Nothing but the Blood of Jesus!

May God bring His Church together through this Word!

Posted in Sermons Preached | Leave a comment

Some Awakened Today

iur.pngSome awakened today in the midst of tragedy. I heard yesterday that a brother of a dear friend awoke to find his house on fire. I can only imagine the pain of losing years of cherished memories the day before Thanksgiving. But what if he and his wife had not awoken? What if they had slept through the fire? What then?

Others awaken today in suffering. Another dear friend has a wife who is battling cancer. She has hurt so long. I can only imagine the pain of years of cancer, only to wake to enjoy more pain the day of Thanksgiving. But what if the cancer had taken her years ago? What then?

I awaken today remembering a tragedy, my son, bloody and broken, lying on the floor of a house that no longer exists. Perpetually 17 years old I miss him every day. Awkward, he had a gentle soul. But what if I had never known him, never enjoyed his presence for those 17 years? What then?

Life is filled with tragedy. Some tragedy just happens, while other tragedy is of our making. As I thought on the suffering of life it came home to me that suffering and want have brought growth to me much more than pleasure ever has. Few trees survive on a mountain top, and those that do are often weak and spindly. The strongest trees grow in the valley, struggling upward, rising up to God. I watched a movie last night called “A Christmas Angel”. In it I heard this said:

“Everyone suffers. Good people sometimes suffer. There is no reason for the suffering.”

Though this was a pretty good movie the closing sentiment was incorrect. Yes, we all suffer. The gentle suffer storms, the good hurt, the pleasant endure the unpleasant. It is not without reason that we suffer. We suffer because we live in a broken world. We ourselves are broken. But God is there. God loves us. And God promises throughout the Scripture, and especially in Romans 8:28:

All things work together for good to those who love the Lord,
To those who are called according to His purpose.

You may not see the good in your tragedy at this moment, but a good and grace filled God is above the tragedy. He is there. He will hold you, and be with you, if you will but call to Him. Some awoke today to tragedy, past, present, and future. But God is there. Lay the burden of it down, take His nail scarred hand, and let Him lead you through it.

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

Posted in General, Strictly Blog, Suffering | Leave a comment

The Ageless Children Of America

1 Corinthians 13:11 (KJV)  When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

When my children were young they often misbehaved and were sometimes sources of embarrassment for myself and my wife. When tiny as babies they disrupted Church Services and public places, crying and fussing, often without apparent reason. Like good parents should do, if we could not comfort the noisy child, we got up out of our seat and took them out of the room. This is good manners. If your child will not behave, take him or her out.

If your child will not behave, take the child out of the room.
If your child will not behave, take the child out of the room.
If your child will not behave, take the child out of the room.

Do not sit there and allow the child to disrupt the Church, the Play, or the Restaurant. Quietly remove the child until order is restored, both in the child and in the room.

As my children grew from babyhood to toddler they learned to sit still and maintain a decent posture around other adults. They learned because I and my wife taught them to do so. My children learned something that many in America never have been taught – RESPECT. Respect for others, respect for God, respect for Law and Order. If my children showed disrespect in public they were quietly removed from the public and paddled in private. They learned to behave.

People who were not parented, but raised disrespectfully &
to disrespect others are everywhere today.

People who do not respect cannot be good citizens, but are perpetual unruly children who contribute nothing but noise and confusion to the world. They become “useless people who just get in the way” as Comedian Bill Burr once said. They disrespect others by texting and driving, causing others loss of time and in many cases loss of life. They disrespect others in the marketplaces of America.

I stood in long lines at two different stores yesterday suffering because of perpetual disrespectful children. At one store – a Hobby Lobby – there were three long lines because two of the cashiers were moving as slow as they could possibly move. One cashier sped up seeing the crowd, trying to get the customers through in a timely manner. The other two just yawned, and s-l-o-w-l-y took as long as possible to scan and bag customer items. I gave up on my cashier and moved to the faster aisle. But sadly, I stood behind another child in an adult body. After checking out rather than get out of the way so the line could move this forty-something year old little girl took her time. She slowly returned things to her purse, adjusted her clothing, combed her hair, and finally put her bags in her shopping cart. It took her about a minute to move. I left Hobby Lobby and went to Lowe’s. There I got in a line attended by a cashier who obviously had just discovered a long lost friend. Rather than do her job they had a family reunion while I watched, waiting to be waited on. Disrespect.

Disrespect and the fruit of bad parenting is everywhere. This morning I awoke and, as is my custom, read the news on my internet feed. It seems that Mike Pence – a good and honorable man – went with his family to attend a musical called “Hamilton”. The headlines read,

Pence Booed At Hamilton

When I saw the headlines I thought “How odd that Mr. Pence didn’t like the play”. But I misunderstood the headline. It seems that a bunch of poorly parented children in adult bodies saw a man who – of all the candidates – behaved honorably and with respect throughout the recent Presidential election. These childish adults thought it was right and honorable to disrupt a play so they could disturb and rob a man of his money and his dignity because they didn’t get their way. Mike paid to be at that play and had a right to see it undisturbed. Let me ask you this:

What if Mike were a black man going to a play and the audience booed him
for being a black man in a room full of whites? Would that be all right?

Absolutely not! Every person deserves respect. Every person should be treated with civility. Every person is made in the image of God. Every person, regardless of color, culture,  or even lifestyle, should be treated with basic human decency. We all bleed red!

Poor parenting has ripped the infrastructure of our nation in two. Adults who should be adults are acting as children because they were not disciplined when they were children. Children must be taught both right and wrong. Parents must enforce this teaching with disciplinary measures. You cannot job this out to the schools and the Church. Get up. Love your children. Care for your children. Teach your children respect NOW so that when they become adults they put away childish things.

Sadly, it is too late for  many of these riotous, booing, bedding, tantrum throwing children in adult bodies. Hopefully we will not raise another generation of these miscreants. But that depends on you, momma, and on you daddy. Be parents! For God’s sake and ours, BE PARENTS.

Posted in Disrespect, Strictly Blog | Leave a comment

Broken Vessels — TheWannabeSaint.com

“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.” Second Book of Corinthians, Chapter 4 Broken Vessels – Yesterday, on my way to work I backed the truck up to turn around in the driveway and heard a loud crash. I checked […]

via Broken Vessels — TheWannabeSaint.com

Posted in General | Leave a comment

Teach Us To Number Our Days

numberPsalms 90:10-12 The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away. [11] Who knoweth the power of thine anger? even according to thy fear, so is thy wrath. [12] So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.

Throughout the Book of Psalms you will find Moses, the Man of God mentioned by name in only eight verses. Psalm 90 has the distinction of being the only Psalm actually a Prayer – written by Moses.

Psalms 90:1 A Prayer of Moses the man of God.

Look at that statement. Moses a called “THE man of God”. Moses loved the Lord, and proved his love by how he lived his life. He is “THE man of God” because this is “A Prayer of Moses”. Moses prayed. He spoke to God more than once. He was continually looking to God. As THE Man of God Moses understood that every day of his life was a gift from God.

1 Life Is A Gift From God. Live Your Lives So As To Please God, For He Is The Source Of Life.

Moses, more than any other person of his day, realized that life is a gift from God.

When Moses was born he shouldn’t have been born. His mother and father were Egyptian slaves, and hated by the Egyptians. Just as the Arabs hate Israel today, Moses’ people were hated. Enslaved, beaten, treated harshly, at one point the Pharaoh decreed:

Exodus 1:16 (ESV) When you serve as midwife to the Hebrew women and see them on the birthstool, if it is a son, you shall kill him, but if it is a daughter, she shall live.

The midwives – believing God is the Author of Life – refused to do this. So Pharaoh decreed to all (Exodus 1:21) “every son that is born to the Hebrews you shall cast into the Nile”. Moses should have been drowned in the Nile. But his mother, believing life is a gift from God, refused to drown her son. She cast Moses into the Nile, but not until she made a little Ark and put him in it (Exodus 2:3).

Life is not to be wasted.

When Moses was forty (40) years old (Acts 7:23) when he learned that he was a Hebrew who grew up in the Egyptian palace. At 40 years old Moses killed an Egyptian Taskmaster who was beating some Hebrews. He ran away into the desert of Midia, and when he was eighty years old (80) (see Acts 7:30 & Exodus 7:7) when God called him out of the Burning Bush to go and speak unto Pharaoh.

EIGHTY Years Old!

Now when we think of EIGHTY years old, we think “that’s pretty old”. Moses prayed …

Psalms 90:10-12 The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away. 

Some people live to be three score years and ten (that’s 70 years old) and others fourscore years. Some don’t even come close to that. In my time as a Pastor I have buried people who were 0 years old (yes, zero) and as old as 102 years old. It is GOD Who gives life. As Job said:

Job 33:4 The Spirit of God has made me, And the breath of the Almighty gives me life.

We live because God gives us life. It is God Who sustains us:

Acts 17:25 {God} Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things;

It is God Who sustains us, and gives us one more day on this earth.

Deuteronomy 32:39 ‘See now that I, I am He, And there is no god besides Me; It is I who put to death and give life I have wounded and it is I who heal, And there is no one who can deliver from My hand.

Every day, every moment of life is precious, and we should continually praise God for that which He has given. The doctors and hospitals and “ObamaCare” can sustain life to a certain point. It is God Who gives life.

Moses spoke of life being upwards of eighty years old – then being cut off suddenly so that we “fly away”. Yet Moses was called to serve God when he was 80 years old. Do you know how old Moses was when he died?

Deuteronomy 34:5-7 … So Moses the servant of the LORD died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the LORD. And he buried him in a valley in the land of Moab, over against Bethpeor: but no man knoweth of his sepulchre unto this day. And MOSES WAS AN HUNDRED AND TWENTY YEARS OLD WHEN HE DIED: his eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated.

Do you know WHY Moses died at 120 years old, and not 140 or 160 or (as Methuselah was) 969 years old? Because the first Generation of Israel refused to follow God into the Promised Land. Because they refused God made them wander in the wilderness for 40 years, until that generation died∫. Moses wandered with them. Moses could have gone into the Promised Land, but

Moses failed to honor God at Meribah

Rather than do as GOD said Moses cried out at the people,

Hear now, you rebels, must WE bring forth water?

God told Moses, THE Man of God,

Numbers 20:12 “Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them.”

By the way, God told both MOSES AND AARON this same thing. Aaron could have helped Moses, but didn’t, so he died outside of the Promised Land. Listen Beloved,

God is the Source of Life.
Honor Him with the life that He has given you.

2 Teach Us To NUMBER, Not SQUANDER, Our Days. Do you realize that in an average lifetime:

You spend an average of 25 years sleeping
You watch television 9.1 years (2 of which are watching commercials)
You spend 2.5 years cooking and 3.6 years eating
You drive a car 4.3 years
You walk a total of 110,000 miles (4 times around the world)
You spend 1.1 years cleaning

God does not waste His life (which is limitless) – so why would we waste our lives? Moses prayed:

Psalms 90:2 Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.

God is so infinitely creative. God does not squander time, but makes time and uses time for His glory. Though science will not acknowledge God and His Creative power it recognizes God in the BIG BANG, and notes that space is ever expanding.

God has a plan, a purpose, and is never aimless. We are all products of His Grace! God is …

Our dwelling place in all generations (verse 1)
Creator “before the mountains were brought forth” (verse 2)
Eternal God “from everlasting to everlasting” (verse 2)
Timeless “a thousand years are like yesterday” (verse 4)

but compared to God, we are …

Destroyed and distressed at a word from God (verse 3)
Like grass, growing in the morning but withering at night (verse 5-6)
Temporal, living on this earth 70 or 80 years

We are weak – God is strong. We squander our lives when we do not live our lives in God for His glory. Israel squandered their lives looking backward. When the going got tough on the way to the Promised Land they looked BACK instead or UP. They complained. They grumbled. They found fault. We squander our lives when we grumble and look backward.

You cannot sail a ship on yesterday’s wind!

Our Jesus said:

Whoever puts his hand to the plow and looks back
is unfit for the Kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62)
.

Our strength is found not in squandering our lives, but in living our lives unto the Master.

If Adam had lived his life unto the Lord our race would not be fallen
If Cain had lived his life unto the Lord he would not have been marred for life
If Moses had lived his life for the Lord he would have entered the Promised Land
If David had lived his life for the Lord he would not have lost his baby by Bathsheba
If Iscariot had lived his life for the Lord he would not have died hanging by his own hand

The best life is the life lived with God.

There are people tonight squandering their lives watching reruns of the Simpsons instead of coming together to worship the Lord as His Church.

There will be people this Sunday who – like many other Sundays – refused to take time to worship the Lord Who made them.

They will spend more time planning a vacation at the beach that planning what happens when “they fly away” from this earth.

For there will be a day when we “fly away”, as Moses called it. We will “fly away” to meet the God Who made us. What will we find Him to be?

Psalms 90:11 Who knoweth the power of thine anger? even according to thy fear, so is thy wrath.

When we “fly away” what state will we find God in? Will He be filled with wrath? Will He be angry? Moses prayed for Israel as that nation wandered forty years, praying that God would forgive His people.

3 Teach Us To Number Our Days In The Presence Of God. As Moses concluded his prayer he said:

Psalms 90:13-15 Return, O LORD, how long? and let it repent thee concerning thy servants. [14] O satisfy us early with thy mercy; that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. [15] Make us glad according to the days wherein thou hast afflicted us, and the years wherein we have seen evil.

The first thing Moses asked for was the Presence of God. He said “RETURN, O Lord”.

Psalms 16:11 Thou {O God} wilt shew me the path of life:

in thy presence is fulness of joy;
at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.

We need the Presence of God bringing MERCY. We all fail God, but He remembers we are but dust. We cry out for mercy. We cry out for His Presence. Satisfy us EARLY with mercy, that we may REJOICE and be GLAD all our days.

Help us to remember that GOD IS FAITHFUL even when life deals us the harsh blows.. Make us glad even when the bad stuff happens. I do not know why the bad stuff happens to good people, but I do know if we walk with God then His Word says:

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.

Finally Moses prayed:

Psalm 90:16-17 Let Thy work appear unto thy servants, and Thy glory unto their children. 17 And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us: and establish thou the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands establish thou it.

What we do is not useless. It is God’s work. Let us live for Him, love for Him. Moses prayed that the Israel he led would be a part of God’s greater work. It is what we do for Jesus that lasts.

Illustrate In the old John Wayne movie Angel and the Badman a cantankerous cattleman named Frederick Carson blocks his neighbors from drawing water from a stream that ran through his land. John Wayne – playing the gunman Quirt Evans – goes to the cattleman and demands he allow his neighbors have some of his water. Understanding who Quirt is Mr Carson relents. When Mr Carson meets his neighbors and tells them he is letting the water through he says something very interesting. He said to Quirt:

You know I was scared to death when I made that speech to the people.

I’m glad you made me do it.

It makes me feel good.

You choose how you live your life. Number your days. Live your life for Jesus, not for yourself or for your selfishness. Live for Him!

May God touch your hearts with his Word.

 

 

 

Posted in Sermons Preached | Leave a comment

You Cannot Be In The Will Of God If You Are Not Obeying The Will Of God

love-one-another1That is not a confusing statement. If you are a Christ Follower you want to BE in the Will of God. How can you know you are in the Will of God? You must DO the Will of God.

Someone comes to me angry at another someone, a flawed person coming to a flawed person about another flawed person. “That person hurt me”. My response, “Have you forgiven him?”. The reply: “I can’t forgive him. What he did was so terrible.” And so a grudge begins, and is carried in the heart becoming what the scripture calls “A root of bitterness” (Hebrews 12:15). There is no doubt that you are hurt. I understand. I have been hurt by flawed people many times, just as I have hurt others in my flawed state. Yet Jesus said taught us to pray:

Matthew 6:9-15 (KJV)   After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.   [10]   Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.   [11]   Give us this day our daily bread.   [12]   And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.   [13]   And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.   [14]   For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:   [15]   But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

You cannot be in the Will of God while carrying a grudge and an unforgiving heart. Anger is to be dealt with in one day. The Apostle Paul said “do not let the sun go down on your anger” (Ephesians 4:26). It is all right to be angry, but it is not all right to let anger control you. I have seen people stomp off  – one person nearly running me over with his vehicle – over anger.

You can get angry, but don’t let anger get you!
Don’t let others get your goat or you’ll be an old goat!

Christ follower, you must forgive. Jesus said if you have issues with a brother or a sister go to them and work it out privately (see Matthew 18:15, 21-22). Forgive that person 70×7 – infinitely. All are flawed, and all fail. Forgive. Do not carry a grudge, or it will carry you. Forgive not so much for the other person’s sake, but for YOUR sake.

I used to like Wanda Sykes the Comedian, but now I cannot watch her. She got on stage the other day and began to attack the audience. She was mad – frankly, consumed by madness. Her candidate didn’t win the Presidential Election so she began to curse “angry white men” who didn’t vote for her candidate. She began to vilify and curse her enemy so much that her audience began to boo her — then she began cursing the audience. Folks, never curse your audience! The more she cursed, the more the booing, until finally she stomped off stage. I doubt she’ll be invited back. One thing I did notice is that Wanda has become what she hates. Anger has turned her into a hater and a racist. That’s what anger does – it turns you into what you hated and feared the most.

Forgive. Love. Discuss. The person you are talking to is just like you. And Beloved, you’re not always right! I talked to someone the other day who began using the “Holy Spirit” card on me. “I have the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit told me it was ok”. No, it’s not. The Holy Spirit will not deny what Christ said. The Holy Spirit will not go against the witness of the Apostles. It reminded me of a story I heard of a person being stopped by a Police Officer for speeding. The Offender said “I’m good friends with the Mayor”. The Police Officer replied, “If that’s the case have the Mayor come to court as a character witness. You were still speeding, and here’s your ticket.”

You are under Grace, Christ Follower, and are supposed to extend Grace to others just as Grace was extended to you by God. And remember what Paul told us:

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. – Philippians 2:3-4 (NIV)

What about the people who will NOT work with you? The people you smile to your face, but when you are gone paint you like Satan. Realize in your heart that this person is actually doing the work of Satan. He is being the “Accuser Of The Brethren”. Forgive that person anyway. When near them, seek to do good to them. Jesus said, nay, DECREED:

Matthew 5:44-48 (KJV)   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.

The mark of maturity is that you love your ENEMIES. God loved us when we were enemies. We are to love Him, to love others, and even to love the haters. Love does not agree with sin, but neither does love tear down. Do good to those who hate you. Let the haters hate, but let the Redeemed Love. Amen? Amen!

Posted in General, love, Strictly Blog | Leave a comment

A Better Judgment

light_over_cross_2

Hebrews 9:24-28 (KJV) For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us: (25) Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others; (26) For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. (27) And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: (28) So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.

When our Lord Jesus was on this earth – God in humanity manifest – He did many things. One day John the Baptist sent a delegate to Jesus asking simply “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” Jesus answered them,

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.

Jesus did a lot of healing. He did a lot of preaching. He did a lot of traveling. He did a lot of loving. Jesus went to Church (they called it “Synagogue”) every chance He was able. He kept every feast and went to every eating meeting that He as a Jew was supposed to go to. And Jesus did a lot of offending. He didn’t intentionally try to hurt anyone’s feelings, but Jesus spoke the plain truth in love. Jesus didn’t beat around the bush. He called it the way it was.

But the one thing Jesus did not do is sacrifice an animal. He did not bring an animal to the Temple to be killed. The blood of an animal was never sprinkled on Him as it was on other Jews. Nor did Jesus try and take the place of the Levite Priest. Jesus was born of the Jewish Tribe of Judah, not of Levi. He was not – while on this earth – supposed to be a priest. Christ was a priest not after Levi, but after Melchizedek.

1 Jesus Came To This Earth On An Appointment. Why did God the Son become the Son of Man? Why did the Perfect come down to this earth? That Baby born in a manger in Bethlehem, why was He born of a Virgin? That Child – born as old as His Father and older than His mother – why was He here?

He was here on assignment, on an appointment from Heaven. We read a few weeks ago:

Hebrews 3:1-2 (KJV)  Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus;  [2]  Who was faithful to him that appointed him, as also Moses was faithful in all his house.

God appointed Jesus to come to this earth. Jesus said:

John 5:43 (KJV)   I am come in my Father’s name ….

Jesus came to this earth because the Father sent Him. Jesus is the Word of God made flesh. He came not promoting His own agenda, but came out of love for us. We are broken. We are broken. We think we have it together, but we are broken.

a The Law Cannot Fix What Ails Humanity. We read:

Hebrews 9:24 (KJV) For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true;

In the Old Testament the High Priest of Israel would take an animal that had neither spot nor blemish, sacrifice it, and sprinkle it’s blood on the people. He would then carry the blood of that animal into the inner place, the Holy of Holies. By going through this ritual the High Priest made atonement or a covering for sin. But this was only a temporary covering because the Priest would go this ritual year after year. Why? Because this temporary covering did nothing to correct the problem of the people.

People are sinners.
People are born sinners.
People are born broken.

The Bible declares this over and over.

The WORLD says “People are basically good”.

But GOD says Romans 5:12,19 (ESV) .. sin came into the world through one man,
and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned
… by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners

The WORLD says “Surely there must be exceptions to this.
Some had to be “good”. What about Enoch and Elijah whom God took?

But GOD says Romans 3:23 (ESV) for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God

2 Chronicles 6:36 (ESV) “there is no one who does not sin”

Isaiah 53:6 (ESV) All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way

Romans 3:9-12 (ESV) “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands;
no one seeks for God. All have turned aside;
together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”

Mark 10:18/Luke 18:19 (ESV) … No one is good except God alone.”

The Bible does tell us that Enoch walked with God and he was not, because God translated him (Hebrews 11:5). The Bible tells us that Elijah was caught up by a chariot of fire (2 Kings 2:11). But we also know that neither of these men went into Heaven proper, but into Paradise to await the coming of the Messiah.

(If you didn’t learn this last week I hope you’ll learn to be in Church every week.
When you miss Church you miss a blessing
.)

Enoch and Elijah went to Abraham’s Bosom or Paradise to await the coming of Christ.
No one entered Heaven proper under the Old Covenant.

Yet God took them with Him. If neither Enoch nor Elijah died, but were taken by God but did not enter Heaven proper, then why did God take them? If man is at heart a sinner (for the Scripture says):

Jeremiah 17:9 (ESV) The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?

Ecclesiastes 9:3 (ESV) … the hearts of the children of man are full of evil, and madness is in their hearts while they live, and after that they go to the dead.

then why did God call Abraham to follow Him?

Why did God seek the a Shepherd David, and make him King over Israel?

Why did God call Israel, an assuredly broken people, and lead them through the Red Sea?

Because though we are all broken, God loves us all. Because God

2 Peter 3:9 (NKJV) The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

God wants us to understand that He loves us and REPENT. Repent does not mean to get better nor to clean yourselves up.

Hebrews 9:25 (KJV) … the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others;

Neither the works of our hands nor the works of the Law are able to bring eternal life. The High Priest of Israel dressed up in holy clothing, doing holy work, working in the Holy of Holies for a holy God. And yet this priest (though outwardly holy) still had to sacrifice an animal for himself. The innocent animal had to die for him. But the problem is …

Man is not an animal

If Man was an animal (and Darwinism is true) then the sacrifice of the animal would have covered our sins. But the sacrifices of animals were but a shadow of that which was to come, something better, Someone better. This Someone is Christ.

God loves us, but we are all broken. But all lives matter. All are created in the Image of God, what the ancients called Imago Dei.

We were not made to be racist.
We were not made to be hateful.
We were not made to hurt one another, nor to objectify one another.
We are not things, and we are not animals.
We are people, humans.
And we needed a human solution for our sins.

This is why Christ came. He IS THE Solution.

I love my grandchildren, and are so grateful that we had time to go and spend a week with them. Thank you for this, Riverview. They grow up so quickly, and we look forward to that time. One day while we were with our Valdosta family (and yes, we missed our Columbia family) my grandchildren came in our bedroom. They started by jumping on the bed. Grandpa said “Ya’ll need to get off that bed!” They kept jumping. “Please get off of that bed!”, I said a little louder. They jumped a little longer, then looked at me and ran out. They came back about a minute later with toy airplanes, and started throwing them around the room. I said “Throw those planes somewhere else!”.

They turned, faced me, and drew back their arms to throw the planes at me.

I said “If you throw those planes at me I will tear them up.” They stopped, looked at me askew and thought about what I said. They took the planes outside. Not because they are “good boys” but because they weighed the threat of punishment against the joy of the sin. My word controlled them, but did not change them. I love my grandkids but they are sinners in need of the Savior. We can punish and threaten and control behavior, but we all are at heart sinners.

But God loves us in spite of ourselves

b Jesus Christ Came From Heaven To Earth To Fix What Ails Us. The Father sent His Son, the One of Whom He said:

Matthew 3:17 (NKJV) … This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

The Father sent the Son so that we might have life. Jesus said:

John 10:10 (KJV) …. I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.

You do not have life if you are not in Christ. You have animation. You have a form of godliness, but deny the Power thereof. Without Jesus you worship stuff, you worship paper, you devalue life and value stuff.

There is nothing wrong with having stuff, but it’s wrong when stuff has you.
Jesus offers life in Him. He gave Himself for us.
Jesus died for us!

Hebrews 9:28 (KJV) So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.

How does salvation work? Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many. The Levitical High Priest made offering after offering, but Christ made one sinless offering. He was willing to die for us. He took our punishment, He paid our penalty. Sin in us and done by us made us unacceptable to God. I know that “sin” is an old fashioned word that we no longer believe in the modern, post Christian America. But there is sin. And there is a God Who made us sinless, but we became sinful through the works of our hands and the intents of our hearts.

1 Corinthians 15:3 (KJV) … Christ died for our sins …

1 Peter 3:18 (KJV) For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit;

1 Thessalonians 5:10 (KJV) (Christ) died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep, we will live together with Him.

Someone once said “He laid down His everything for our nothing”. He gave Himself for you and for me. But I want you to look at out text once more:

Christ was ONCE offered to bear the sins of MANY

It doesn’t say that Jesus was offered many times, but ONCE. But His offer to God is not for ALL, but for the MANY. Why doesn’t it say He bore the sins of ALL?

2 The Gospel Is A Whosoever Will Offer. God does not force the Gospel on anyone. Christ has paid the penalty for our sin, but we must choose to receive that payment. Our text tells us:

Hebrews 9:26-28 (KJV) but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. (27) And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: (28) So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many

Jesus came on an appointment to this world because we ALL have an appointment we must keep. What is this appointment?

It is an appointment with DEATH
It is an appointment with JUDGMENT

The Apostle Paul witnessed in the Athens that …

Acts 17:30-31 (ESV) The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.

God will judge the world and all that is in it by Jesus Christ, the One He appointed to be the Savior. Every person has a double appointment. It s not an appointment that WE made, but an appointment our MAKER has made.

it is appointed unto men (mankind) ONCE to die, but AFTER THIS THE JUDGMENT:

This is a general appointment, a universal appointment, and a mandatory appointment. The great King Solomon, the richest and wisest man who ever lived, wrote:

Ecclesiastes 3:17 (ESV) … God will judge the righteous and the wicked, for there is a time for every matter and for every work.

Judgment is sure, and God is the Sure Judge. Jesus came to this earth with an appointment because WE have an appointment both with death and with judgment. This one time appointment is certain, it is sure, and it is to every person.

Now I want to ask you …. do you know when you are going to die?
Did you receive the engraved invitation?
Did God ask you to RSVP?
No, and neither did I!

God controls the exact moment of physical death for each and every one of us. The Bible says:

Psalm 68:20 (ESV) Our God is a God of salvation, and to God, the Lord, belong deliverances from death.

It is God Who gives us over to death, so said King David (Psalm 118:18). The Great Evangelist Billy Graham (who is now 97 years old) wrote …

When we will die is not a matter of accident or chance; the Bible makes it clear that our lives are in God’s hands. He knows the time of our death, and He has even appointed it. The Bible says, “Man’s days are determined; you (God) have decreed the number of his months and have set limits he cannot exceed” (Job 14:5).”

God is the Appointer, the Ultimate Controller of death. He lengthens physical life, He shortens physical life. There was a time when people understood this principle of Scripture. You are here, today, alive and listening to this message because God has willed it to be so. Your life is not guaranteed. James, the Step Brother of Christ Jesus, wrote:

James 4:13-15 (ESV) Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— 14 yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. 15 Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.”

God has given you and I one more day but, as my momma always said, “Tomorrow never comes”. Today is the day to hear God’s Gospel and respond to it. Today is the day to become part of the MANY.

Hebrews 9:27-28 And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: (28) So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many

3 What Must I Do To Be Saved? Christ did the doing. The answer to your question is …

Acts 16:31 (ESV) … Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.

Believe He died for your sins. Believe that His death was sufficient. Believe what the Scripture says, that Christ appeared in the Presence of God for us. The Beloved Son of God represents all who believe in Him.

Hebrews 9:26 … but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.

Jesus Christ died once and for all on that Cross of Calvary for all who believe.

If you have received Him as Lord and Savior then you need not fear death.

When you stand before God at your Divine Appointment Jesus will stand with you.

For you belong to Him – forever.

May God bless your hearts with these words.

Posted in Sermons Preached | Leave a comment