On Wings Of Eagles

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Isaiah 40:28-31 (KJV)  Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding.  [29]  He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.  [30]  Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall:  [31]  But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

Audio of Message: 

We all have times when discouragement and trials seem to weigh us down. The difficulties of life drive happiness from us like a hawk drives a little mouse underground. We are tempted to run from the trials, fearful and uncertain. To hide in bed, to pull the covers up over our heads. To seek self medication and self solace in the trial. But then the Word of God cries out to us:

Have you not known?
Have you not heard?

We are not alone on this earth. The godless person is the hopeless person, for they have no one to turn to. But we who know the Lord do. As W.A. Criswell once preached:

The world is either a place where there is no God anywhere, or it is a place where there is everlasting God everywhere. And there’s no middle ground: this earth in which we live is without purpose and is nothing but a vast graveyard; or else it is our Father’s house and He keeps watch over His own.”

God Is Alive And He Is Able

Do you not know that God is there and He is not silent? I cries out through His creation that He is.

Isaiah 40:28 (KJV)  Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth,

Our God is EVERLASTING and ETERNAL. His immensity is seen in the creation all about us. We are told:

Isaiah 40:25-26 (KJV)  To whom then will ye liken Me, or shall I be equal? saith the Holy One.  [26]  Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things, that bringeth out their host by number: he calleth them all by names by the greatness of his might, for that he is strong in power; not one faileth.

It is God Who made the stars above, the earth below, the very body you occupy. Stand outside at night – God says – and lift up your eyes. Look at what I made. I bring out the host – the multitude of stars – by number. I have created all these things. I call every star by name, and know them, for they are My work.”

On a clear cloudless night a person can see about three thousand stars with the naked eye. In 1608 German-Dutch lensmaker Hans Lippershey invented the telescope, a design that Galileo Galilei improved in 1610 and with that instrument was able to see thirty thousand stars. Years passed, and man increased the strength of the telescope till he could see six hundred and forty thousand stars. Then from 1785-1789 Sir William Herschel invented a Great Forty Foot Telescope that could see twenty six million stars. Following this Sir Robert Ball improved the telescope to where fifty million stars could be seen. Now with the Hubble telescope we can see an estimated 170 billion galaxies or as astronomers now say a septillion stars in the observable universe. I had to look up “septillion”. This is a “1” with 24 zeros following it – or a thousand raised to the eighth power – or a trillion trillion. God not only made these stars, but has named every one of them. God is immense in power. He is the Creator of all things. The Psalmist says:

Psalm 147:3-6 (NKJV) {God} heals the brokenhearted And binds up their wounds. 4 He counts the number of the stars; He calls them all by name. 5 Great is our Lord, and mighty in power; His understanding is infinite. 6 The Lord lifts up the humble; He casts the wicked down to the ground.

Our God is immense in power – and yet has time for the smallest and most broken. Our God is our Creator, and He is not compassionless and dull concerning His creation. God cares. The Scripture declares:

Psalm 145:8-9 (NKJV) The Lord is gracious and full of compassion, Slow to anger and great in mercy. 9 The Lord is good to all, And His tender mercies are over all His works.

God cares. The God Who made the immensity of the stars cares for you, and cares for me. Jesus said of God:

Luke 12:6-7 (NKJV) Are not five sparrows sold for two copper coins? And not one of them is forgotten before God. 7 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.

Of all the birds sold in the market in Jesus’ day the sparrow was the cheapest, with five being worth just a few pennies. Men considered the sparrow worthless, but God created the tiny sparrow just as He created the timy human and the tiny hairs on our heads. God created everything with purpose and value. Without sparrows the poorest people would not have been able to eat. God cares. God loves. God is compassionate toward all of His creation.

Isaiah 40:28-31 (KJV) … the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding.

The Creator God does not get weary, nor does He pass out from use of energy. God is ALMIGHTY. He is El Shaddai, the God of all might and all power. God told Abraham our father:

Genesis 17:1 … I am Almighty God; walk before Me and be blameless.

We can know God by His names. God is:

  • Almighty (Genesis 49:25)
  • Creator of heaven and earth (Genesis 14:19)
  • Builder of everything (Hebrews 3:4)
  • King of Heaven (Daniel 4:37)
  • God of all mankind (Jeremiah 32:27)
  • Eternal King. (Jeremiah 10:10)
  • The only God (Jude 1:25)
  • The Eternal God (Genesis 21:33)
  • The Everlasting God (Isaiah 40:28)
  • Maker of all things (Ecclesiastes 11:5)

The Bible tells us that our God is …

Ephesians 3:20 (NKJV) … able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us,

There is nothing that our God cannot do.

Job 9:6-10 (NKJV) {My God} shakes the earth out of its place, And its pillars tremble; 7 He commands the sun, and it does not rise; He seals off the stars; 8 He alone spreads out the heavens, And treads on the waves of the sea; 9 He made the Bear, Orion, and the Pleiades, And the chambers of the south; 10 He does great things past finding out, Yes, wonders without number.

Our God is able! His power is without limits.

Psalm 115:3 (NKJV) But our God is in heaven; He does whatever He pleases.

The Prophet Daniel – who experienced the power of God in a lion’s den and in Babylon – declared:

Daniel 4:35 (NKJV) All the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing; He does according to His will in the army of heaven And among the inhabitants of the earth. No one can restrain His hand Or say to Him, “What have You done?”

God is able. He is awesome in power and yet loves us who are His. Are you His?

I heard a story told by a former Sergeant for the Los Angeles Police Department. He would demonstrate bulletproof vests to rookie officers by placing them on mannequins – then live firing rounds at them. After shooting the vests the rookies were then asked to examine them to see if any rounds had penetrated. The vests all passed with flying colors. Then the sergeant would turn to the rookies and ask them, “So who wants to wear a vest and let us test how it works on you?”.

The only way you can have confidence in a bullet proof vest is if YOU put it on and feel it stop the live rounds. Otherwise there is always doubt. God allows trials and tribulations to come into our lives to allow us to test Him and ourselves. Have I done as scripture says? Is Christ mine? Is God my Father?

Romans 13:12-14 (NKJV) The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. 13 Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.

Let us cast off the darkness. Let us reject depression and suicidal methods. Let us not rely on the darkness nor on the ways of this world, but let us rely on our God. He is able! He is able! He is able!

God Is Able To Make Us Able

Isaiah 40:29-20 (KJV)  He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.  [30]  Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: 

When we are young we thought we were immortal. But even young people grow old. In time human energy is expended, and we become faith and weary and utterly fail. But God is able to give power to the faint. When we bring our nothingness to Him He is able to make it into something. The broken life given to Christ becomes whole through Him. He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might He increases strength.

When we come to God as God then God can give us power for abundant living. The Apostle Paul said:

2 Corinthians 12:7-10 (NKJV) … lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. 8 Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. 9 And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

It is in our weakness that we surrender to God – and surrendered to Him we discover His power living through us.

Pastor Vince Gergardy wrote:

One of the great movies of all time was the 1959 epic Ben Hur. One of the movie’s most riveting scenes where Charlton Heston (who played Ben Hur) defeated his arch enemy in an extremely realistic chariot race. The scene required 5 weeks of filming, 15,000 extras, and 18 chariots. To add to the spirit of authenticity Charlton Heston actually learned to drive the chariots he’d be using in the race. But after weeks of practice, Heston was worried about the shoot. He confided in the stunt coordinator: “I can drive the chariot, but I’m not sure I can win.” The stunt man smiled and replied: “Chuck, you just make sure you stay in the chariot, and I’ll make sure you win the race.” You see, Heston had made the mistake of thinking that he actually had to win the race by his own power and skill. He had forgotten that the outcome had already been decided. It was in the script He couldn’t lose!

When we come to God and surrender to Him our weaknesses as well as our strengths God rewrites the script! The Church began on the day that Christ’s disciples did what Jesus told them to do. Jesus told them:

Acts 1:4-5 (NKJV) {Jesus} commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me; 5 for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

They were to WAIT on the Lord. WAIT for the Promise that Jesus made. WAIT.

Isaiah 40:31 (KJV) they that WAIT upon the LORD shall renew their strength;

What did it mean to the disciples that they should WAIT. Did it mean to do nothing? No! For after Jesus ascended into Heaven we read:

Acts 1:12, 14 (NKJV) Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey. … 14 These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.

They WAITED upon the Lord. They prayed. They sought God’s face. They obeyed God’s Word. They did as Jesus said to do. And they WAITED. They did not procrastinate. They did not play video games, nor go on vacations, nor go out to eat. They did not host “Super Bowl Parties” at the Church. They did not form a praise band and jam, dancing in the aisles. They WAITED. They did as Abraham did when he did not know which way to go. He sat up his tent and then prayerfully sought the Lord on the horizon. He did as Moses said. God told Moses:

Exodus 33:14-17 (NKJV) … “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” 15 Then {Moses} said to {God}, “If Your Presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here. 16 For how then will it be known that Your people and I have found grace in Your sight, except You go with us? So we shall be separate, Your people and I, from all the people who are upon the face of the earth.” 17 So the Lord said to Moses, “I will also do this thing that you have spoken; for you have found grace in My sight, and I know you by name.”

It is the PRESENCE OF GOD that proves the salvation of His people. If God is not Present, then we are not His. So we WAIT upon our Lord. We PRAY. We seek His will in His WORD. If God does not lead us to it, we will not go. We PRAY. We TRUST. We hear the words of the Apostle:

1 Thessalonians 5:12-23 (NKJV) … we urge you, brethren, to recognize those who labor among you, and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, 13 and to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. Be at peace among yourselves. 14 Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all. 15 See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all. 16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise prophecies. 21 Test all things; hold fast what is good. 22 Abstain from every form of evil. 23 Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Do good, for God is good. Trust God. Do not avenge, but trust God as avenger. Rejoice always. Praise God in the valleys as well as the mountaintop. God made everything, and controls all things. Trust Him, and praise Him, for He is your portion, a Portion that cannot be removed.

Pray without ceasing. Have you prayed about it, or is it just your opinion? Will what you want to do glorify God, or is it all about YOU?

James 4:10 (NKJV) Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord and He will lift you up.

When the world drives you down, go down on your knees before God and look up. He can lift you up, and will lift you up. He will defeat the enemy. Pray!

1 Peter 5:6 (NASB) … Humble yourselves under God’s mighty hand that He might exalt you at the proper time …

Seek Him in prayer. Trust and read His Word. Believe what He has said no matter what the world might say – His Word is truth. Do you remember the precious passage:

1 Corinthians 2:9 (NKJV) But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man the things which GOD HAS PREPARED FOR THOSE WHO LOVE HIM.

The Apostle is quoting Isaiah 64:4 in the Spirit, which says:

Isaiah 64:4 (NKJV) For since the beginning of the world Men have not heard nor perceived by the ear, Nor has the eye seen any God besides You, WHO ACTS FOR THE ONE WHO WAITS FOR HIM.

If you love Him, you wait on Him. You seek His face in prayer and adoration. You heed His Word.

Those Who Wait Are Rewarded

Isaiah 40:31 (KJV) But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

A CHICKEN hides from the wind. An EAGLE rides the wind. He stretches his wings and flies, gliding on the wind effortlessly. When the CHRISTIAN waits on God He sends His Spirit to us. Like the wind, the Spirit of God lifts us up, blessing us, taking us high above the cares of this world.

The eagle RESTS upon the wind.

The Christian RESTS upon the Spirit.

The eagle spreads it’s wings to rest.

The Christian spreads the wings of faith to rest.

The eagle RESTS on the wind above the darkness of the earth.

The Christian RESTS on the Spirit far above the fallen world.

The eagle does as it is designed to be blessed.

The Christian does as he is designed to be blessed.

The eagle is seeking prey.

The Christian is seeking the lost.

To WAIT on the Lord does not mean to do NOTHING. The word MOUNT UP is a verb which means “to go forth, ascend, climb, rise up”. We RISE UP by serving our God, by doing as He says. We seek His face if we are His, and He promises to renew our strength, to empower us, to give us victory over our enemies.

Pastor W.A. Criswell said:

For those who wait upon the Lord, there abides a certain victory: the glory, the good thing, the best thing that is yet to come for those who wait upon the Lord. This same great preacher Isaiah, in 64:4, says: “For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, beside Thee, what He hath prepared for him that waiteth for Him.” Listen to Habakkuk: “The vision is for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; it will surely come . . . ” [Habakkuk 2:3]. And Daniel 12:12: “Blessed is he that waiteth, and cometh to the thousand three hundred and five and thirty days.” They that wait upon the Lord shall achieve a certain victory. God hath prepared for them – some better and more precious thing.”

Victory is ours in Him and Him alone. He is our God, and He is able! May God touch your hearts with His Word.

Posted in Isaiah, Sermons Preached, trials, Trusting God | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

God Is Our Shepherd

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Isaiah 40:11 (KJV) {The Lord} shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.

Audio of Sermon 8:30 am 

Full Service 11 am 

Shepherds – those who care for sheep – have an important place in the Word of God.

  • Abel was a keeper of sheep (Genesis 4:2). The Bible tells us:

Hebrews 11:4 (NKJV) BY FAITH Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks.

Cain sacrificed a lamb without spot or blemish, trusting in God his Savior, believing that what God decreed was truth, and honoring his Heavenly Father. The sacrifice of the WICKED is an abomination unto the Lord … but God loves the one who follows Him in righteousness (Proverbs 15:8-9). Abel the Shepherd offered a faithful gift to his Creator, and he himself lost his life when wicked Cain killed him (1 John 3:12).

  • When God called to Moses from the burning bush he was a keep of the sheep, guarding the flocks of his father in law Jethro (Exodus 3:1). It was in the solitude and dedication of the shepherd that God called out to Moses:

Exodus 3:10 (NKJV) Come now {Moses}, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring My people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.

God had Moses trade Jethro’s sheep for HIS sheep. Psalm 95:7 (NKJV) He is our God, And we are the people of His pasture, And the sheep of His hand.

God loves His people!

  • One of the most known shepherds in the Bible is the one who would be King of Israel, David. Like Moses God would lead David out of the sheep’s flock and would have him oversee HIS sheep, HIS Beloved Israel.

The Greatest Shepherd Of All Is God The Son

Isaiah 40:11 (KJV) {The Lord} shall feed his flock like a shepherd …

The greatest event in human history was when God became man and dwelt among us:

John 1:14 (NKJV) And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

Christ was born of Mary, the Son of God, the Holy Child brought forth of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 1:20). It was to shepherds watching their flocks by night that God first announced the first Coming of Christ (Luke 2:8). This is only fitting as God is the Shepherd of His people, and Jesus Christ is that manifest Shepherd.

The Shepherd must lower himself to feed his flock, and God lowered Himself to be our Shepherd. The Shepherd must smell like sheep. He must be in the field with His flock. He must watch over the sheep in His care. God loves His people, and lowered Himself from Heaven to earth to save us. We are of the dust, but God is of light and truth. We are mortal, but He is immortal, eternal, higher than the Heavens. Jesus is:

Hebrews 7:26 (NKJV) holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens …

For our sakes God the Son became the son of man. He did this because:

Isaiah 53:6 (NKJV) All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.

We have all been born into this life wandering from God. But God became man so that He could bring us back to Him. Jesus said:

Luke 19:10 (NKJV) for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.

How did this Great Shepherd God save us?

  • God the Son became the DOOR of the Sheep. In ancient times the shepherd would lead his flock to a secluded and safe pasture. Once he had the sheep in that place the shepherd would block the access to the field with his own body. He would literally become a DOOR. Jesus Christ said:

John 10:2-5, 7-9 (NKJV) But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. 5 Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers. … 7 Then Jesus said to them again, “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. 9 I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.

Jesus Christ is the door of the sheep. He is God the Savior of His people. All others are robbers and thieves. Who are these others? Joseph Smith. Taz Russel. Mohammed. Buddha. The Hindu gods. These and all other false gods who are not Christ are but shams that rob you of eternal life.

Isaiah 40:11 (KJV) {The Lord} shall feed his flock like a shepherd …

Only God the Son shall feed His flock like a Shepherd. Jesus said “If ANYONE enters by ME, he WILL BE SAVED, and will go out and FIND PASTURE”. Christ is the door. He stands between us and life eternal, between us and Heaven. When Jesus Christ first came He came to save the weak, the fallen, the broken, the sinners aware that they were sinners. Pastor Jonathan Parnell wrote:

Christianity is summed up in these words: Jesus came to seek and save the lost. If we were asked to describe in a sentence the heart of the gospel, there it is. There is no other news like this. Every other religion says it backwards. Every other religion tells us to seek. We are advised to climb trees like Zacchaeus, to depend upon our own exertion for any hope of ascending to the divine. We are told to bridge the gulf by our effort. If you want salvation, they say, then seek it. In a sense, that is the world — we live in a planet full of seekers. We are, in one way or another, tree-climbers, maneuvering ourselves to gain some advantage, to achieve some perspective, to find personal peace. And then Jesus comes. We are lost in our own seeking until Jesus comes and says to us, “Hurry and come down” (Luke 19:5). Stop your searching. Stop trying to save yourself. I have come to seek and save the lost.”

Luke 5:31-32 (NKJV) Jesus answered and said to them, Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 32 I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.

Jesus stands alone as the Door of the Sheep. There is no other Door to salvation. Good intentions will not save. Good works will not save. But Christ will save. When we come to Him and Him alone Christ declares:

John 6:37 … him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out.

None will be cast out. God is a Shepherd to His people – and any who come by faith can be His people. God is not willing that any perish, but that all come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). Whosoever will believe on Jesus shall not perish, but have everlasting life (John 3:16).

  • God The Son laid His life down for His Sheep.

Jesus said in:

John 10:11 I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd gives His life for the sheep.

Jesus gave His life for His sheep. He laid His life down on Calvary for us. The Scripture tells us that …

Isaiah 53:4-5 (NKJV) Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted. 5 But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed.

The Good Shepherd took our sins on Himself. We not only wandered from God, but by our sins we brought eternal offense to our Creator. The wages of sin is always death (Romans 6:23), and we all merit death and eternal separation from God.

We deserve, dear ones, to go to hell.
We deserve, each of us, the eternal flame of separation.

Yet God the Son was not satisfied with our damnation. Like a Good Shepherd He came and put Himself in harm’s way for us. The sins that we should have paid for were poured out on Him and judged.

Isaiah 53:7-8 (NKJV) He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, And as a sheep before its shearers is silent, So He opened not His mouth. 8 He was taken from prison and from judgment, And who will declare His generation? For He was cut off from the land of the living; FOR THE TRANSGRESSIONS OF MY PEOPLE HE WAS STRICKEN.

The Good Shepherd gave His life for us. Oh happy day when Christ came, and by His Blood carried my sins far away! Oh great provision of God, the Shepherd became Lamb of God. Eternal God became sinless Man. Shepherd to Lamb, God to Man, the Scripture declares:

Hebrews 10:12, 14 But this {perfect and sinless} Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, … 14 For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.

The ONE OFFERING of Christ on Calvary paid for our sins. It was not the prayers of Mary that saves us, nor the efforts imposed by man made priests from a confessional, but what Jesus did. His act was singularly the salvation of whosoever believes in Him. Blessed be the Name of God.

Christ died on Calvary, but death did not defeat Him. He died, but raised from the grave. He said:

John 10:17-18 (NKJV) Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. 18 No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I HAVE POWER TO LAY IT DOWN, AND I HAVE POWER TO TAKE IT AGAIN. This command I have received from My Father.

The Good Shepherd Provides For HIS Sheep

Isaiah 40:11 (KJV) {The Lord} shall feed his flock like a shepherd …

God the Son provides for His people. The text does not say “He shall feed the goats”, or “He shall feed the wolves”, not even “He shall feed the sheep”. There are sheep who follow after others. There are sheep who chase after Mammon, after Pleasure, after Narcissism, after the things of this world. But what does the text say? The Lord shall feed HIS FLOCK – those whom HE HAS POSSESSED – like a Shepherd.

God the Son provides for His own because He is able. God the Father said to God the Son:

Hebrews 1:8 (NKJV) .. to the Son {the Father} says: “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom.

God is our Shepherd. There is nothing that God cannot do. Our text tells us:

Isaiah 40:10 (KJV)  Behold, the Lord GOD will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him: behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him.

Adonai Yahweh – the Eternal God – WILL COME with a STRONG HAND and HIS ARM shall rule for Him. There is nothing that God cannot do – and God our Shepherd will provide our needs. If we are born of His Blood, redeemed by Calvary, saved by Grace and faith in Him, He will not fail us. He our Savior is the God Who:

Isaiah 40:12 (KJV)  Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance?

Measured the waters in the hollow of His hand”. No one on the face of this earth knows exactly how much water is on this earth – but GOD KNOWS. He measured ALL THE WATERS in the PALM OF HIS HAND. If He can measure and did measure all the water in the palm of but ONE HAND, do you not think that God can provide for YOU?

He meted our Heaven with a span”. God said “Let there be light” and there was light. He spoke the worlds into existence:

Psalm 33:6-7 (NKJV) By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, And all the host of them by the breath of His mouth. 7 He gathers the waters of the sea together as a heap; He lays up the deep in storehouses.

This is the Lord Who saved us. He shall feed His flock like a Shepherd. God sustains us, providing for our physical needs. King David wrote:

Psalms 37:25 I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.

Many find themselves in tough times, struggling, barely making ends meet. I ask you – WHAT is YOUR FOCUS? Are your eyes on the Good Shepherd? Are you following Him not just now in this Church building, but when you leave this place? The Lord is our Shepherd, and if He is our Shepherd then He cares for us. The Psalmist wrote:

Psalms 23:1-2 … The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. {2} He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

If you are a believer and are hungry, then it’s because you have turned away from His pastures. “He maketh me to lie down in green pastures” but we need to be following Him if we want provision. Like the Prodigal son we can wander far from God by sin. We can leave the Christ and His provision and find ourselves in want. Jesus told us:

Matthew 6:33 (NKJV) But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.

Luke 12:32 (NKJV) Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.

As we follow Him He provides our needs. Our Lord loves to care for His own. We are told:

Isaiah 40:11 …. He shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, .…

There are times that we are saved, in fellowship with Him, but forget that He is our Daily Savior. Sometimes we wander away from Him not by sin but by self sufficiency, thinking that “I am able to handle this”. Oh Beloved, this is not where our strength lies. Our strength lies in our weakness. “He shall gather THE LAMBS with His arm”. One of the greatest Apostles of the Church Age was the Apostle Paul. It is said that:

Acts 19:12 (ESV) … even handkerchiefs or aprons that had touched his skin were carried away to the sick, and their diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them.

Then one day sickness came to Paul. We do not know what this sickness was, but we do know that:

2 Corinthians 12:8-10 … Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. 9 And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

When God gathers the lambs in His arm He does so because they are not struggling AGAINST Him, but instead are leaning INTO Him. God provides for His sheep, His little lambs, those who will rest in Him, in His arms. The safest place to be is nestled in the arms of the Good Shepherd, resting in His provision, trusting in His Presence. We listen to His Word knowing that:

Matthew 4:4 … Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.

God the Son purchased us at a great price. He will not abandon the ones He loves. He will come to us to provide for us. I have but one question to ask before I close.

Will You Be Of His Flock?

Isaiah 40:11 (KJV) {The Lord} SHALL FEED his flock like a shepherd: he SHALL GATHER the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and SHALL GENTLY LEAD those that are with young.

The Lord has promised to FEED His flock.

He SHALL FEED His flock.

The Lord has promised to EMBRACE His lambs.

He SHALL GATHER the lambs.

The Lord has promised to GENTLY LEAD us.

He shall GENTLY LEAD those with young.

If you are of His flock you will come to Him. You will hear His voice:

Matthew 11:28 Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

You do not need to clean yourself up to come to the Shepherd, but you do need to walk away from where you are spiritually to where He is. Turn away from this present evil world and run into His arms. WHEN we come to Jesus in faith, believing Him to be both Lord and Savior, THEN He gives us rest. Come weak, come thirsty, come wanting and come needing. But COME to Jesus! Come and be a part of His flock.

Come thirsty.

John 7:37-38 …. If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. {38} He that believeth on me, as the Scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.

Here is your responsibility. Do you thirst? Recognize it, and come to Jesus. Drink of His love and of His willing sacrifice. Come to Christ. Come to Christ. Come to the Good Shepherd, the Door of the sheep. Do not take the broad paths of the world, but the narrow road to Him Who loves you (Matthew 7:13-16).

He is the Lord Jesus, that Great Shepherd of the sheep (Hebrews 13:20)

And He calls to you today. Come! Come! Come! Rest in His arms. Know He is present with you. Does He know you as His? Do you know Him as yours?

2 Timothy 2:19 … The Lord knoweth them that are His. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.

May Christ lead you to His side this very day! Blessed be His Name!

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Three Stories From God

Photo on 8-23-17 at 1.18 PM

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Strengthen!

Isaiah 35:3 (KJV)  Strengthen ye the weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees.

1

Audio of Sermon: 

Sermon Notes: God speaks to His people. “Grow strong” (חָזַק chazaq) the weak hands and – NOT “confirm” but “make steady or brace up” (אָמֵץ ‘amats) the feeble knees. As we grow older our hands get shaky, our legs a little less stable. Physically we go down in strength. But in our text today …

God Is Not Addressing Physical Weakness

When you read these words you may attribute them to old age, but that is not what God is refering to.

God gave us hands and feet to serve Him.
God expects us to serve Him.
Every day we live is a day to serve our Lord.

God’s best servants and best saints were those who were advanced in age.

Abraham followed God and had the child of Promise, the Isaac or laughter of life, when he was 100 years old. Abraham continued to follow and serve the Lord in strength, and did not die until he was 175 years old. Old age does not keep us from serving God.

Moses heard God’s call and followed God when the Lord called to him from the burning bush, sending him to the courts of Pharaoh.

Exodus 7:7 (NKJV) … Moses was eighty years old and Aaron eighty-three years old when they spoke to Pharaoh.

Moses never entered the Promised Land in his earthly life, but served God faithfully until he was 120 years old according to Deuteronomy 34:7. When he died he passed leadership of Israel over to …

Joshua, who was between 68-78 years old when he led Israel into the Promised Land. Joshua led Israel faithfully serving God until he died at the ripe old age of 110 years old.

In the New Testament two of the stories that we didn’t get to cover during Christmas is the stories of Simeon and Anna the Prophetess. We do not know how old Simeon was, for the text does not tell us, but his words seem to imply he was of advanced age. We read:

Luke 2:25-32 (KJV)  And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him.  [26]  And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.  [27]  And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law,  [28]  Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said,  [29]  Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word:  [30]  For mine eyes have seen thy salvation,  [31]  Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people;  [32]  A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.

Here is this apparently old man who loved and walked with God. The Lord led him to the Temple and told him that he would see the Savior. Simeon had no weakened arms when he reached out and took Jesus to himself. Simeon said in essence – “I’m ready to go home, Father. Let me go in peace for I have seen Your Salvation, Your Jesus!”.

Right after Simeon saw and was blessed by Jesus we are told that the Prophetess Anna saw the baby Jesus. We know that Anna was old:

Luke 2:37 (KJV) … she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day.

…but her age did not stop her from serving God. She kept coming to the Temple. She refused to let old age rob her of her duty to God. She served God with FASTINGS and PRAYERS night and day. She made herself available to God.

I have pastored older members who – as age increased – they began to stay at home rather than come to Church.

When I was young I served the Lord – NOW I’ll retire”.

Beloved you are not retired from the service of God on this earth until God takes you home to heaven. Anna served God day and night. Anna departed not from the Temple.

When I think of Anna I think of my Grandma Elma who prayed for me and shared Christ with whoever came near her until God took her to glory just 30 days short of her 102nd birthday. As a young man I rebelled against my God and my parents, but when I was 17 years old I was saved and not long after that entered the military. I’ll never forget my grandmother’s words just before she died. She was not able to leave the Nursing Home she was at to come and hear me preach, but she told me “I always knew you would be a preacher.” I asked Grandma “How could you know that?”, to which she replied “I prayed for you every day”. Anna and Elma had a lot in common. Anna prayed day and night. Though 84 years old she was not feeble of hand and knee in the ways that mattered. Anna witnessed the blessing of Simeon on Christ and the Scripture says:

Luke 2:38 (KJV)  And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem.

She confirmed the Christ. She saw Jesus because she served God.
Old age is not a reason for spiritually weak hands and feeble knees.

Our Focus Must Be On God Not The Desert

Our hands become shaky in serving God and our knees wobbly in following God when our desire focuses away from our Lord. We read:

Isaiah 35:1 (KJV)  The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose.

Our text speaks of the “wilderness”, the “solitary place” and the “desert”. These are all places where you would not expect to find joy or happiness. A “wilderness” is a place without comfort, a “solitary place” somewhere where you have no companionship, and the “desert” a place without food or water.

But in these places there is, the Lord says, rejoicing and gladness.
What is it that brings rejoicing and gladness to these lonely and rugged places in life?
It is to be in that place with God.

Isaiah 35:2 (KJV)  It shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice even with joy and singing: the glory of Lebanon shall be given unto it, the excellency of Carmel and Sharon,
they shall see the glory of the LORD, and the excellency of our God.

If God is with you in the wilderness it will blossom abundantly, and rejoice even with joy and singing. In the lonely places if God is with you then you are never alone. Where God is, joy and happiness abounds. The Scripture says of God:

Psalm 107:31-35 (NKJV) Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness, And for His wonderful works to the children of men! 32 Let them exalt Him also in the assembly of the people, And praise Him in the company of the elders. 33 He turns rivers into a wilderness, And the watersprings into dry ground; 34 A fruitful land into barrenness, For the wickedness of those who dwell in it. 35 He turns a wilderness into pools of water, And dry land into watersprings.

Where God is glorified the knees are not weak nor the hands without strength. Regardless as to whether we are in the mountaintop or in the valley if our focus is on Him Who saved us and we are living to glorify His name, then joy and singing breaks forth. It is in the wildernesses of life that we find God.

Isaiah 43:18-21 (NKJV) Do not remember the former things, Nor consider the things of old. 19 Behold, I will do a new thing, Now it shall spring forth; Shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness And rivers in the desert. 20 The beast of the field will honor Me, The jackals and the ostriches, Because I give waters in the wilderness And rivers in the desert, To give drink to My people, My chosen. 21 This people I have formed for Myself; They shall declare My praise.

God saved us to praise Him, to dwell on His magnificence, to magnify His name.
Yet when our focus turns from Him to ourselves we become like the Laodicean Church.

Revelation 3:15-17 (KJV)  I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.  [16]  So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.  [17]  Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:

The people focused on themselves and not on the glory of God soon find themselves without God, for God will not honor selfishness and self seeking. Chuck Swindoll wrote:

Deterioration is never sudden. No garden “suddenly” overgrows with thorns. No church “suddenly” splits. No building “suddenly” crumbles. No marriage “suddenly” breaks down. No nation “suddenly” becomes a mediocre power. No person “suddenly” becomes base. Slowly, almost imperceptibly, certain things are accepted that were once rejected. Things once considered hurtful are now secretly tolerated. At the outset it appears harmless, perhaps even exciting, but the wedge it brings leaves a gap that grows wider as moral erosion joins hands with spiritual decay. The gap becomes a canyon. That “way that seems right” becomes, in fact, “the way of death.” Solomon wrote that. He ought to know. Take heed, you who stand; take heed, lest you fall! Be careful about changing your standard so that it corresponds with your desires. Be very cautious about becoming inflated with thoughts of your own importance. Be alert to the pitfalls of prosperity and success. Should God grant riches, fame, and success, don’t run scared or feel guilty. Just stay balanced.”

Christ gave ALL of Himself passionately for us.

God so loved the world that He – without reservation – gave His only Begotten Son for us. God laid it all on the table for us. We are to lay it all on the table for God. The misfocused people look at their pleasure and comfort and not at God’s glory. We must always be reminded the words of the Apostle:

Acts 20:34-35 (NKJV) Yes, you yourselves know that these hands have provided for my necessities, and for those who were with me. 35 I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’

It is always more blessed to give than to receive. Our Lord showed us that. Our hands become feeble and our knees weak when we stop serving the One Who loves us, and stop going where He says go. We must love Him more than we love ourselves. We must love Him most. It is always good to remember that the very thing that cost Israel the Promised Land is that the people stopped praising God and began to murmur against Him because they did not have what they wanted. The Scripture says:

1 Corinthians 10:9-11 (KJV) Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents. 10 Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer. 11 Now all these things happened unto them for examples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.

When the wilderness comes, let us look up and praise our God. Let us be as the Psalmist who praised the Lord, saying:

Psalm 63 (KJV) O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is; 2 To see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary. 3 Because thy lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise thee. 4 Thus will I bless thee while I live: I will lift up my hands in thy name.

To keep your focus on God you need to build a habit daily of turning to His Word. Dr. Charles Stanley wrote:

One of the primary reasons we struggle in adversity and give in to despair and hopelessness is ignorance of the Scriptures. The Lord wants to help us through affliction, but we must open His Word to receive His guidance, comfort, and assurance.”

Let us learn to focus on our God no matter what might come, honoring Him and serving Him all the days of our lives.

Failure To Share Faith Fosters Spiritual Weakness

God’s people are to work together in encouraging one another to glorify God. We read:

Isaiah 35:4 (KJV)  SAY TO THEM THAT ARE OF A FEARFUL HEART,
Be strong, fear not:
behold, your God will come with vengeance,
even God with a recompense; he will come and save you.

A self focused person cannot help a person overwhelmed by life. A God focused person can. When someone is going through trials and tribulations do not add to them, but point them to the Lord that loves them. Encourage them to look upward, to trust God’s heart even when we do not understand His hand. Do not just tell them …

Be strong, fear not

Suck it up! Be a man! Toughen up! Stiff upper lip!” No, these things all seek solutions in ourselves. The Apostle said:

2 Corinthians 3:4-5 (KJV) And such trust have we through Christ to God-ward: 5 Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God;

The strength of faith is not in ourselves, but in God. Isaiah wrote not just “Be Strong and Fear not” but …

Be strong, fear not: behold, YOUR GOD WILL COME WITH VENGEANCE, EVEN GOD WITH A RECOMPENCE; HE WILL COME AND SAVE YOU.

Our hope is not in ourselves, but in God.

I cannot tell you how many times I have tried to lead someone to Christ only to find out some religious fool has led them in the wrong direction. “Be self sufficient. Name it and claim it. You can do it, little engine. Choo Choo!” Hogwash. Our strength is in God. Our hope is in Christ.

Psalm 46:1-5 (KJV) God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. 2 Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; 3 Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. {REST!}. 4 There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High. 5 God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early.

Psalm 42:11 (KJV) Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.

My grandma used to tell me “If you can’t say somethoing nice to someone, don’t say anything.” Beloved, I want to modify that statement somewhat. “If you can’t direct the hurting and fearful to God, SHUT UP!” You do not help the cause of Christ by murmuring with the murmurers, nor by trembling with the tremblers. Remind those who are suffering that the Scripture does NOT say:

I can do all things …

but

I can do all things THROUGH CHRIST Who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13)

You must focus on trusting God in your own life, but must also direct those around you to focus on God. Tell the fearful that:

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

Fear of God is good, but fear of anything else can be a trap that weakens the hands and knees. Trust thou in God! When you share faith in God with others there is a wonderful blessing that comes from it. When our focus is on Christ …

Isaiah 35:5-6 (KJV)  THEN the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped.  [6]  Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing: for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert.

Darkness breeds darkness, but God is light, and light in God brings forth light. Do you see the word THEN in our text.

When you point the fearful to faith in God THEN the eyes of the blind are opened.
When you point the fearful to faith in God THEN the ears of the deaf are unstopped.
When you point the fearful to faith in God THEN the lame leap as an antelope.
When you point the fearful to faith in God THEN the tongue of the disabled sing.

It is God Who can bring order from disorder, and blessing from cursing. We must not only trust Him ourselves but point others to Him as well. We are to remind our brothers and sisters in Christ that the Lord left us here on this earth on purpose, and we are to serve Him on purpose until the day we see Him in glory.

Failure To Serve The Lord Causes
Weak Hands And Knees

Isaiah 35:8 (KJV)  And an HIGHWAY shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called The way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it; but it shall be for those: the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein.

God makes a highway for His people, a Highway of Holiness. He calls us to walk that path with our Lord Jesus. The Lord said:

John 14:6 (KJV)  Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

Jesus Christ is the One in Whom we walk with. We have a personal relationship with Him, loving Him, doing as He says. Solomon twice repeated the admonition:

Proverbs 14:12 (NKJV) There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.

Proverbs 16:25 (NKJV) There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.

We are to walk in the way with Christ. We have often sang those beautiful words:

When we walk with the Lord in the light of his Word
What a glory he sheds on our way!
While we do his good will, he abides with us still,
And with all who will trust and obey.
Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.

Where He goes, we go.
What He says we will do.
We trust and love Him Who saved us.

God gave us hands and knees to walk with Him, to serve Him, to be with Him daily. The step brother of Jesus James exhorted the Church:

James 4:7-10 (NKJV) Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.

God calls you to salvation in Christ. Once called, He bids you follow Him Who saved you. Put your faith into action. I have often told those placed in rehabilitation at one of our Nursing Homes that they MUST get up and walk, MUST reach out, MUST do. If you do not, then in time you cannot do even if you wish to do.

So it is with Christ. Do not delay. Trust Him. Follow Him. Love Him. May God touch your hearts with His Word.

Posted in Faithfulness of God, Following Disciples, Following Jesus, Isaiah, Sermons Preached | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Three Veils

Audio of Sermon: 

2_Corinthians_3Sermon Notes: 2 Corinthians 3:13-18 (KJV)  And not as Moses, which put a vail over his face, that the children of Israel could not steadfastly look to the end of that which is abolished:  [14]  But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ.  [15]  But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart.  [16]  Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away.  [17]  Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.  [18]  But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.

The Apostle talks of “vails” throughout this text. The word “vail” is the Greek κάλυμμα kalymma which means a curtain, a covering, something that separates. Though women often wore veils in the east for modesty’s sake, in our text today we are introduced to three vales or veils that are significant to the message of salvation. There are:

The Veil of Moses
The Veil of The Temple
The Veil of Unbelief

The Veil Of Moses

God saved Israel by grace. God saves everyone by grace. God started Israel’s salvation by a directive. He told Israel:

Exodus 12:5-13 Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male a year old. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats, 6 and you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month, when the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill their lambs at twilight. 7 Then they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat it. 8 They shall eat the flesh that night, roasted on the fire; with unleavened bread and bitter herbs they shall eat it. 9 Do not eat any of it raw or boiled in water, but roasted, its head with its legs and its inner parts. 10 And you shall let none of it remain until the morning; anything that remains until the morning you shall burn. 11 In this manner you shall eat it: with your belt fastened, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. And you shall eat it in haste. It is the LORD’s Passover. 12 For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the LORD. 13 The blood shall be a sign for you, on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you, when I strike the land of Egypt.

Grace comes to us through the blood of the Lamb, the sacrifice made. This was symbolic of the Coming Messiah, Jesus Christ, as John the Baptist called Him “The Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). Though Christ had not yet come God wanted all to understand His Grace comes through His Christ. So Israel sacrificed the Lamb without spot or blemish, a forerunner of the Christ which we have today:

1 Peter 1:18-19 (NKJV) knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.

They sacrificed the Lamb. They marked the home with the blood of the Lamb. God entered Egypt and, as He promised, Judgment fell on every household where the Blood was not found. This Divine Massacre caused Egypt to release Israel. Israel was saved by grace, saved by the Blood, saved by faith.

But Israel hardened their hearts to God’s Grace.

They hardened their hearts to God’s loving provision, and rebelled against His Grace. Eventually the Lord led Israel to Sinai, the Mountain of God. God told Moses to come up the Mountain to receive the Law. The Law was given because Grace was rejected. We are told in:

Romans 5:20-21 (NKJV) Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more, 21 so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

God gave the Law to Israel to convict of their sins, to make them realize how much they needed the Savior. As I looked at the giving of the Commandments I discovered an interesting truth I never knew. When God first spoke the Law – the Ten Commandments – He spoke before the words were ever engraved on stone. We are told after God spoke the Ten Commandments:

Exodus 20:18-19 (NKJV) Now all the people witnessed the thunderings, the lightning flashes, the sound of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they trembled and stood afar off. 19 Then they said to Moses, “You speak with us, and we will hear; but let not God speak with us, lest we die.

These people had drifted so far away from God that they would not hear Him.
Fear stood between them and their Savior.
“Let not God speak to us, lest we die!”.
Moses looked at the mountain and, loving God, was not threatened by His majesty.
Israel looked at the mountain and, rejecting God, was frightened by His majesty.

Little faith says “You pray for me”. Big faith approaches God.They trusted Moses to speak to God and Moses to speak to them, but they themselves rejected the love of God and His Grace. This is why the Law entered in. Moses told the people:

Exodus 20:20-21 (NKJV) … Moses said to the people, “DO NOT FEAR; for God has come to test you, and that His fear may be before you, so that you may not sin.” 21 So the people stood afar off, but Moses drew near the thick darkness where God was.

Moses loved God.
I want you to notice again the difference between Moses and the people.
The people stood far off from God.
Moses drew near to God despite the darkness.

The Bible says:

1 John 1:5 (NKJV) This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and IN HIM IS NO DARKNESS AT ALL.

Our God is light and love, good and pure. Moses was not afraid of the apparent darkness because he loved God and knew that God loved him. There are times in our lives when things seem to go against us, dark periods, but God is there if we but trust and believe on Him. God enters the darkness so that He can change it.

2 Corinthians 4:6 (HCSB) For God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of God’s glory in the face of Jesus Christ.

If the light is there WITHOUT God it is a bad thing.

If the darkness is there WITH God it is a good thing.
As long as God is there we need not fear.
For God loves us. He loves us.

The people are afraid to go to where God is, but Moses runs to God. He receives the Law for Israel in Exodus 21-23. In Exodus 24 Moses delivers the Law to the people, and we read:

Exodus 24:3-4 (NKJV) So Moses came and told the people all the words of the Lord and all the judgments. And all the people answered with one voice and said, “All the words which the Lord has said we will do.” 4 And Moses wrote all the words of the Lord. And he rose early in the morning, and built an altar at the foot of the mountain, and twelve pillars according to the twelve tribes of Israel.

Israel promised that they would keep God’s Law. So Moses makes another trip up the mountain to receive the plans for the Tabernacle and the stone tablets on which the Ten Commandments were written. This is in Exodus 25-31. But when Moses comes down the mountain he discovers that the people have violated the very commandments they promised to keep. They made and worshiped a false god, a golden calf of all things. They had betrayed their Savior.

Oh how fickle the human heart is! Moses addresses the sin of the people. There are many who will attend and even support a church faithfully until the preacher addresses sin. As long as the sinner is petted he will stay in the Christian zoo. But once sin is addressed, the exhibits escape back to the world that they love.

After Moses dealt with the sin of the people he headed back up the mountain to talk with God. Moses begged for Grace for the people. And God responded to Moses’ request. God will always respond to a request for Grace. He is the God of Grace.

Pastor Phillip Holmes writes:

when we, his sinful and rebellious prodigal children, spit in his face, wallow in our sin, and grieve his Spirit, he calls us to repentance with open and loving arms saying, “Come home, child.” He’s not ignorant of all the ways we’ve sinned against him. He knows everything we’ve ever done and is able to stomach it. His knowledge of who we really are will never hinder his love for us. He’s even aware of the evil behind our righteous deeds. The intimacy by which the Lord knows us but is able to lovingly embrace us as his children is supernatural. God’s grace is mind-blowing. Every time I think of this reality, I’m brought to tears because I serve a God whose love and grace baffle me.

When Moses headed back up the mountain to receive the Law a second time we read:

Exodus 34:6-9 (NKJV) … the Lord passed before {Moses} and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, 7 keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children to the third and the fourth generation.” 8 So Moses made haste and bowed his head toward the earth, and worshiped. 9 Then he said, “If now I HAVE FOUND GRACE IN YOUR SIGHT, O Lord, let my Lord, I pray, go among us, even though we are a stiff-necked people; and pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us as Your inheritance.”

I want you to notice that even in the giving of the Law GRACE ABOUNDED.

Moses went up the mountain by Grace.
He came down the mountain by Grace.
He went up the mountain again by Grace.

When Moses came down the mountain this time the Bible tells us that:

Exodus 34:29-35 (NKJV) … when Moses came down from Mount Sinai (and the two tablets of the Testimony were in Moses’ hand when he came down from the mountain), that MOSES DID NOT KNOW THAT THE SKIN OF HIS FACE SHONE WHILE HE TALKED WITH HIM. 30 So when Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses, behold, THE SKIN OF HIS FACE SHONE, AND THEY WERE AFRAID TO COME NEAR HIM. 31 Then Moses called to them, and Aaron and all the rulers of the congregation returned to him; and Moses talked with them. 32 Afterward all the children of Israel came near, and he gave them as commandments all that the Lord had spoken with him on Mount Sinai. 33 And when Moses had finished speaking with them, he put a veil on his face. 34 But whenever Moses went in before the Lord to speak with Him, he would take the veil off until he came out; and he would come out and speak to the children of Israel whatever he had been commanded. 35 And whenever the children of Israel saw the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses’ face shone, then Moses would put the veil on his face again, until he went in to speak with Him.

Moses stood before God not by Law but by Grace. He spoke to God by Grace. And though he carried the Law of God to Israel, Moses was very much a recepient of the Grace of God. I believe it was this Grace that was making his face shine. Grace brought Moses into proximity to the glorious God we love, and that proximity caused his face to reflect the glory of God. The Apostle tells us that …

2 Corinthians 3:13-18 (KJV)  And not as Moses, which put a vail over his face, that the children of Israel could not steadfastly look to the end of that which is abolished:

Moses put the veil on his face so that they could not look to the end of that which is abolished. What is that a reference to? The Bible tells us that …

Romans 10:4 (NKJV) … For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.

The Law was given because Grace was rejected. The shining face of Moses was the fruit of Grace. Israel saw this shining face and rather be attracted to it were repelled. Why? Because they were in unbelief. The veil of Moses covered the Grace that he enjoyed because of their own sinful hearts.

The Veil Of The Temple

Through the Law God gave Israel first a Tabernacle, then once they were in the Promised Land a Temple where they were to worship God. In that Temple a veil separated the Holy of Holies – a place that symbolized the Presence of God – from the rest of the Temple. We are told in:

Hebrews 9:2-8 (NKJV) … a tabernacle was prepared: the first part, in which was the lampstand, the table, and the showbread, which is called the sanctuary; 3 and behind the second veil, the part of the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of All, 4 which had the golden censer and the ark of the covenant overlaid on all sides with gold, in which were the golden pot that had the manna, Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tablets of the covenant; 5 and above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat. … 6 Now when these things had been thus prepared, the priests always went into the first part of the tabernacle, performing the services. 7 But into the second part the high priest went alone once a year, not without blood, which he offered for himself and for the people’s sins committed in ignorance; 8 the Holy Spirit indicating this, that the way into the Holiest of All was not yet made manifest while the first tabernacle was still standing. …

The veil separated the people from God. That veil represented the sins of the people. We are told in:

Isaiah 59:1-2 (NKJV) Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, That it cannot save; Nor His ear heavy, That it cannot hear. 2 But your iniquities have separated you from your God; And your sins have hidden His face from you, So that He will not hear.

Sin separates us from God. This is what the veil of the Temple signified. The High Priest went into the Holy of Holies once a year with blood to make atonement for the people and for himself. Again, this was temporary, an act of Grace. The Bible tells us that when Jesus Christ died on Calvary:

Matthew 27:50-51 (NKJV) … Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. 51 Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split,

The veil of the Temple was thick. It was around 60 feet high, and was composed of blue, purple, and scarlet material. As Jesus died the True Lamb of God was sacrificed for the sins of the world. On that day God destroyed the Holy of Holies, exposing it to the world, because the Blood of Jesus Christ is sufficient for all our sins FOREVER. We are told:

2 Corinthians 3:16 (KJV) Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away.

The veil of the Temple was taken away because of Christ. We are told that the first Covenant – the Covenant of Law – was given because of unbelief. The first Covenant was written on stone. But through Christ there is a returning to Grace. God says:

Hebrews 10:16-25 (NKJV) This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I WILL PUT MY LAWS INTO THEIR HEARTS, AND IN THEIR MINDS I WILL WRITE THEM,” 17 then He adds, “Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.” 18 Now where there is remission of these, there is no longer an offering for sin. 19 Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, 21 and having a High Priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.

Through the veil of Christ’s flesh the old veil was torn. No longer do we come unto God by the Law and by sacrifices, but we come unto Him in love and in faith.

But there is one other veil we need to discuss.

The Veil Of Unbelief

2 Corinthians 3:14 (KJV) But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ.

The Veil of the Temple was done away with in Christ, but many still cling to the Veil of Unbelief. Some still reject Christ even today, choosing to lay veil on their hearts. They cling to salvation without Christ, believing good works will bring them into union with God. But they are wrong.

It was Grace, not Law, that brought Moses to the mountaintop with God.
It is Grace, not Law, that brings us to the mountaintop with God today.

We who are saved come to God without the veil of the Temple and without the veil of the Law. We come “with open or unveiled faces”. Like Moses, we look upon God in faith, heed His Word, and love Him with all our hearts.

2 Corinthians 3:18 (KJV) But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.

And as we behold our Beloved Savior the Holy Spirit slowly changes us, just as He changed Moses. We shine as he shined. The Grace of God our Savior makes us shine. Oh that all would approach the Lord, seeking His Grace! It is by looking on our Savior that we are lightened. It is by looking on Jesus that our sins are forgiven. It is by trusting Him that we are saved to be like Him, changed from glory to glory.

May God touch someone with His Word this very day.

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Kingdom Culture

wonderful word from a beautiful brother

Jonathan Camac

kingdom_culture_710Why do I exist?

Such a simple question. And yet, perhaps the most confusing. New theories for life are constantly being developed and followed. Explanations for a statistically near-impossible universe are mass produced on the conveyer-belt of human reasoning. Even the most mind-boggling advances in design and technology, in this day and age of such incredible knowledge, leave us wanting. It’s beyond us. We can’t reach a consensus conclusion.

And so the answers to why we exist range on a ridiculously large spectrum.

And here’s the deal. Everyone answers the question of why they exist. Whether consciously or not. If not in words, then it shows up in actions. Because what you believe, will always impact how you respond to the world. And how you respond to the world, will always be a reflection of what you believe.

And so this post comes with two prongs.

First, to those of you…

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Three Stations Of God

Isaiah 33:10-22 (KJV)  Now will I rise, saith the LORD; now will I be exalted; now will I lift up myself.  [11]  Ye shall conceive chaff, ye shall bring forth stubble: your breath, as fire, shall devour you.  [12]  And the people shall be as the burnings of lime: as thorns cut up shall they be burned in the fire.  [13]  Hear, ye that are far off, what I have done; and, ye that are near, acknowledge my might.  [14]  The sinners in Zion are afraid; fearfulness hath surprised the hypocrites. Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?  [15]  He that walketh righteously, and speaketh uprightly; he that despiseth the gain of oppressions, that shaketh his hands from holding of bribes, that stoppeth his ears from hearing of blood, and shutteth his eyes from seeing evil;  [16]  He shall dwell on high: his place of defence shall be the munitions of rocks: bread shall be given him; his waters shall be sure.  [17]  Thine eyes shall see the king in his beauty: they shall behold the land that is very far off.  [18]  Thine heart shall meditate terror. Where is the scribe? where is the receiver? where is he that counted the towers?  [19]  Thou shalt not see a fierce people, a people of a deeper speech than thou canst perceive; of a stammering tongue, that thou canst not understand.  [20]  Look upon Zion, the city of our solemnities: thine eyes shall see Jerusalem a quiet habitation, a tabernacle that shall not be taken down; not one of the stakes thereof shall ever be removed, neither shall any of the cords thereof be broken.  [21]  But there the glorious LORD will be unto us a place of broad rivers and streams; wherein shall go no galley with oars, neither shall gallant ship pass thereby.  [22]  For the LORD is our judge, the LORD is our lawgiver, the LORD is our king; he will save us.

Audio of Sermon: 

God is love.

We know that God is love. The Scripture teaches us that God is love. The Bible says:

1 John 4:7-8 (KJV)  Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.  [8]  He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.

There is nothing that I like preaching more of than the Love of God. It is the Love of God that brought about His Gospel. God loves us, so He reaches out to save us. But in talking of the love of God we often forget something very important.

God is love, but God’s love has a standard.
God is love, but God is also holy and righteous.
The righteousness of God places demands on His love.

One of the most famous texts of Scripture states:

John 3:16 (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.

How did God GIVE His Son? He gave His Son to die for us. He gave Jesus to suffer on Calvary, to pay the penalty of sin. He gave His Son to be whipped, to be brutalized, to be nailed to a tree. God loved us enough to forgive us, but only when His justice was expended on His Son. The Scripture declares:

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;

God is LOVE, but God is first and foremost JUST. As we are told in our text today:

For the LORD is our judge,
the LORD is our lawgiver,
the LORD is our king;
he will save us.

The God Who loves us is first of all our Judge. He establishes right and wrong. He alone has the right to codify what is right and wrong. The Lord Who loves us is our Lawgiver. He knows what is best and what is not best. Finally, the Lord Who loves us is our King. He rules over His people. Let’s look at these truths.

The LORD Is Our Judge

It is God Who judges right from wrong, good from evil. God knows what is best. We as humans only have a limited understanding, but God has infinite understanding. He is Judge. The Psalmist said:

Psalm 75:7 But God is the Judge; He puts down one and exalts another.

Psalm 50:6 And the heavens declare His righteousness, For God Himself is judge. Selah.

God is our Judge. I read a wonderful illustration in last Sunday’s Sunday School Lesson. (You need to go to Sunday School so you can learn God’s Word. God is the Judge.)

An old man lived in a tiny villiage, and he owned a beautiful white horse. His neighbors told him such a beautiful horse would be stolen, but he refused to lock it up. One day the horse was missing and his neighbors told him, “See, we told you so!”. He simply replied, “Whether I have been cursed or not, how can you know? It is not my place to decide.” A week later the horse returned to the stable. It had siomply run into the forest, and when it returned, a dozen wild horses came with it. The neighbors said “You were right! It was not a curse, but a blessing.” The old man replied “Who is to know?” The next day the old man’s son was injured when the herd of horses stampeded. Again the neighbors declared the man cursed, but the old man replied “Who is to know?” A few weeks later the country entered into a war and required the young men to enlist. Because the old man’s son was injured, he was exempt. The neighbors said “We were wrong. Your son’s injury was a blessing after all.” The old man simply replied, “Who is to know?”

I thought that was a very good illustration with one exeption – we cannot know, but God knows. God is the Judge. He is always the Judge. He knows right from wrong, good from evil, and establishes what is and is not normal. The text says:

The LORD is our Judge

The word capitalized LORD is the Eternal Name of God. The Great I AM – the Ever Present Creator – is our Judge. God begins our text today by warning:

Isaiah 33:10-12 (KJV)  Now will I rise, saith the LORD; now will I be exalted; now will I lift up myself.  [11]  Ye shall conceive chaff, ye shall bring forth stubble: your breath, as fire, shall devour you.  [12]  And the people shall be as the burnings of lime: as thorns cut up shall they be burned in the fire.

What we ourselves conceive as right or wrong from our own finite minds is not right or wrong, but wishful thinking. As we moved into the 21st Century Progressive Thought and Progressive Politics became popular. Who doesn’t like Progress?

I love Progress! I love that I can get in a car and in about 7.5 hours see my grandchildren. In the days of the horse an buggy it would have taken myself and my wife 2 weeks or more to get where our grandchildren are.

I love Progress! I love that I can access the Internet, a World Wide Web of knowledge. It’s like having a portable library. Are there bad things on the Internet? Sure. Just don’t access them. Use it for good. To research years ago I had to go to a library and pour through books. The Internet has made research easier. I thank God for it.

I love Progress! I preach every week to you, and post sermons on Facebook and on my WordPress Blog. I reach several thousands all over the world with the Gospel of Christ. We couldn’t do that before, but we can now. Praise God for it.

I love Progress! Medical progress has wiped out diseases that used to take whole cities out. We no longer have Small Pox or Black Plague infestations because of medical progress. Thank God for the advances that medicine has made.

Yet with every wonderful advance of progress, one of the worst things that has come out is Progressive Thought.

Mankind has made itself a judge as to what is right and wrong, and as God said If you conceive chaff, you will bring forth stubble, and the your breath shall catch you on fire.” It is not “Progressive” to turn away from God as Judge to become our own arbitrators of good and evil. It was dangerous in the Garden of Eden, and it is dangerous now.

Planned Parenthood released the 2017 statics, telling us proudly that they killed 321,384 babies last year. This is about half of the population of Nashville, or more than the population of Columbia, Mount Pleasant, Spring Hill, Murfreesboro, and Pulaski Tennessee combined. Progressive thought says that the child in the mother’s womb is a lesser important life than the mother. Yet the Bible says that the child in the mother’s womb is planned of God.

Psalm 139:13-16 (NIV) For you {O God} created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. 15 My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. 16 Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

God is our Judge. Who shall be in Heaven with our God? Shall I? Shall you? If God is your Judge and you honor Him by obedience then you shall be with Him in eternity.

The LORD Is The Law Giver

Salvation is by faith and not by works.

We are saved by placing ourselves in Christ, trusting Him fully for our salvation. This is the grand theme of Scripture. We read:

Romans 3:28 (NKJV) Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law.

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

Though salvation is indeed by Grace and not by works – I certainly do not wish to put this aside – God is still the Law Giver. For many years the Church in America has promoted a nominal type of Christianity as normative.

You can say the sinner’s prayer, then go back to living your life as you did before you were saved. This type of pitiful preaching has flooded America with pseudo-Christians, people who know the vocabulary but not the Father, Son, nor Spirit. I read an article by Baptist Ethicist Russell Moore where he stated:

“I do not believe that we’re living in a post-Christian society if you define Christian the way that the New Testament does. When people ask me that, I usually say we’re living in, at best, a pre-Christian society. I don’t think there’s a golden age in the past where there has ever been a nostalgic Christian society … There was a previous era {in America} when people had a certain basic understanding of biblical truths and some connection to the church. That brought some benefit because, in many cases, there was some sort of stable understanding of morality. But it also brought a lot of drawbacks because a nominal Christianity doesn’t save.”

When a person is saved by faith in Christ there is always – ALWAYS – a point of CONVERSION. A converted person begins to desire to live for the Lord Who savcd them. A converted person is not sinless, but a converted person loves the Lord more than his or her self.

There is what the Bible calls “fear of the Lord”, a respect for the Judge Who saved us.

Look at our text once more. We read:

Isaiah 33:14 (KJV) The sinners in Zion are afraid; fearfulness hath surprised the hypocrites. …

Before salvation there is NO FEAR in sinning against God. Hypocrites and false converts are not ashamed of sin. But those who are CONVERTED begin to understand that God – our Lord – is the Law Giver. We read in the last half of this verse:

Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire?
who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?  

The “Devouring Fire” is a reference to God. The Bible says that:

Deuteronomy 4:24 (ESV) For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.

Deuteronomy 9:3 (ESV) Know therefore today that he who goes over before you as a consuming fire is the Lord your God.

Who shall dwell with “The Devouring Fire” that is God our Creator? We read:

Isaiah 33:15 (KJV) He that WALKETH RIGHTEOUSLY, and SPEAKETH UPRIGHTLY; he that DESPISETH THE GAIN OF OPPRESSIONS, that SHAKETH HIS HANDS FROM HOLDING OF BRIBES, that STOPPETH HIS EARS FROM HEARING OF BLOOD, and SHUTTETH HIS EYES FROM SEEING EVIL;

Who shall be in Heaven with the Father, Son, and Spirit? The one who WALKS RIGHTEOUSLY – that is, according to God’s direction. The one who lives according to His standard, for HE IS THE LAW GIVER.

Who shall be in Heaven with the Father, Son, and Spirit? The one that SPEAKS UPRIGHTLY, according to the words of the Lord. What God says we say. How God says, we do.

Who shall be in Heaven with the Father, Son, and Spirit? He that despises gain from oppression. The thief and swindler shall not be in Heaven, for these people worship mammon and not the Magnificent God Who saved us.

Who shall be in Heaven with the Father, Son, and Spirit? He that shakes his hands from holding brides. The person who can be bought will not be seen in glory. We who are His are purchased not with silver and gold, but with the precious blood of Christ.

Who shall be in Heaven with the Father, Son, and Spirit? The one who stops his ears from hearing of blood, the one who refuses to plot and plan and backstab and murder others. Those who sneak around carrying tales to gain control of God’s Church will blister in hell eternally.

Who shall be in Heaven with the Father, Son, and Spirit? The one who shuts his eyes from watching evil, who spends his time honoring God not the devil or satan.

Those who are saved by faith in Christ walk righteously. For us The LORD is our Judge. We live to serve Him. We love to serve Him. We walk righteously, for God calls us to righteousness. He says to those whom He has saved:

1 Peter 1:15-20 (NKJV) but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.” 17 And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear; 18 knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. 20 He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you

Salvation by faith in Christ always brings a change to a person’s life. We stop living for others and what others think is acceptable and begin to live to please our Father Who loves us. It is not PROGRESSIVE to walk away from the Father. It is REGRESSIVE, devilish and satanic. It is COUNTER PRODUCTIVE. We are to live so as to please Him Who gave Himself for us.

We are to live to honor our Savior and Lord.

Galatians 5:19-21 (NASB) Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, 21 envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things WILL NOT INHERIT THE KINGDOM OF GOD.

1 Corinthians 6:9-11 (NASB) Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, 10 nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.

Saved by faith in Christ God is still our Law Giver. He establishes what is right and what is wrong behavior. We are to live for our God knowing that one day we will stand before Him and give an account of our lives.

The Lord Is Our King

We are not King, but the Lord is our King. We live our lives to honor Him. We live our lives, if we are saved, at His command. Because we have received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior we are entered into His Kingdom, and will one day see Him face to face. Isaiah said:

Isaiah 33:16-17 (KJV) {The Saved} shall dwell on high: his place of defence shall be the munitions of rocks: bread shall be given him; his waters shall be sure.  [17]  Thine eyes shall see the king in his beauty: they shall behold the land that is very far off.  

In this life we live with the Lord as our King, and when we depart this life we will continue to live under His rule. As the Apostle said:

Romans 14:7-12 (NKJV) For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself. 8 For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. 9 For to this end Christ died and rose and lived again, that He might be Lord of both the dead and the living. 10 But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. 11 For it is written:

As I live, says the Lord,
Every knee shall bow to Me,
And every tongue shall confess to God.”

12 So then each of us shall give account of himself to God.

God is our King. There is coming a Judgment Day. Are you living for Him? If not, do you belong to Him? I cannot answer that question for you, but you had better make a choice now. Will you please the world, or will you please the LORD your King? Joshua put it plainly:

Joshua 24:14-15 (NKJV) Now therefore, fear the Lord, serve Him in sincerity and in truth, and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the River and in Egypt. Serve the Lord! 15 And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

I choose to follow my King, the Lord Who loves me. His side is the winning side! May God touch your hearts with His Word!

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In Christ

inChrist

2 Corinthians 2:14-17 (KJV) Now thanks be unto God, {who} always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savor of his knowledge by us in every place. [15] For we are unto God a sweet savor of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish: [16] To the one we are the savor of death unto death; and to the other the savor of life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things? [17] For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ.

Audio of Sermon: 

Sermon Notes: It is “in Christ” that we have victory. As the Apostle Paul went out to preach the Gospel he encountered the same things we encounter today. People look at our current world and believe that it is worst than its ever been. The truth is, the only difference between the world NOW and the world THEN is that our level of technology is greater. In Paul’s day he didn’t have to contend with the network news on television and radio, nor did he have to deal with the Internet. Technology was less. There were no automobiles. But the human spirit was still the same. The darkness was still just as dark. Nevertheless the Apostle said:

2 Corinthians 2:14 (KJV) Now thanks be unto God, {who} always causeth us to triumph in Christ,

The Church will triumph, but only if the Church remains “in Christ”. Our Lord Jesus said:

John 15:5 (ESV) I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for APART FROM ME YOU CAN DO NOTHING.

The Church will win. The Kingdom of God will win. The people of God shall cross the Jordan and defeat the enemy – not with swords or guns – but by being “in Christ”.

It Is “In Christ” That We Are Saved

We are not saved by our own works, but by the works of Christ. The Scripture declares:

Titus 3:3-7 (NKJV) For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another. 4 BUT when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, 5 not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

The testimony of every believer saved by Grace is that we are not saved of ourselves, but saved of the Grace of God in Christ. We preach His Grace, His free Gift of salvation. We preach His GOSPEL by GRACE.

Think about the word GRACE for a moment.

  • The “G” of Grace stands for GOD. A perfect God created a perfect world.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1)

God made everything that is. This God is Holy, Righteous, and Just. He is Loving with an infinite Love. When we look about us evolutionary confused scientists try to make everything an accident, but the Bible tells us:

Psalm 19:1 (NKJV) The heavens declare the glory of God; And the {earth} shows His handiwork.

God made everything. He made you and He made me. He made us to worship and enjoy Him, to live in His Kingdom and under His power.

Revelation 4:11 (NKJV) You are worthy, O Lord, To receive glory and honor and power; For You created all things, And by Your will they exist and were created.

God not only made us, but He keeps us in existence. O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Your Name in all the earth! You have set Your glory above the Heavens! (Psalm 8:1 – ESV). We who are human were distinctly made different from animals. We were made in God’s image (Genesis 1:27). This brings us to the second letter in Grace:

  • The “R” of Grace Stands For REBELLION. Man rebelled against God. We were created and called to follow God, not to be Gods. Yet Adam walked away from God. And we as humans have walked away from God and His directive ever since. The so called “Progressive Thought” of the 21st century is no more than the rebellious thoughts of Adam, inbred in each of us his children. The Bible declares:

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

Sin separated man from God. God is holy and cannot abide sin. But sin also causes man to walk far away from God.

Isaiah 59:2 (ESV) … your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear.

This is not a good place to be. Sin not only separates us from God, but our rebellion leads us down destructive pathways. The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). As man became more and more sinful God reached out.

  • The “A” of Grace Stands For ATONEMENT. Mankind rebelled against God, but God in love reached out to our fallen selves. Where there was division between us and God, the Father sent His Son to bridge that gap. The first five letters of ATONEMENT are AT ONE. Christ came to make us AT ONE with God. Jesus Christ died for our sins. He took the penalty of our rebellion upon Himself.

1 Corinthians 15:1-4 (ESV) Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. 3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,

When we believe “in Christ” and rest “in Christ” then salvation comes through God’s Administration “in Christ”. Jesus Christ – the miraculous Son of God – lived a life completely free of sin (1 Peter 2:22). The Word became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14). Jesus Himself declared of Himself:

John 6:29 (ESV) This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom {God} has sent.

Jesus died as a substitute for sinners. He died, being punished in our place. Peter declares:

1 Peter 3:18 (ESV) For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit,

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

In Christ” we have salvation.
“In Christ” we are made AT ONE with God.

  • In Christ” There Is CONVERSION. The “C” of Grace Stands For CONVERSION. If you do not receive the atonement of Christ, believing His Blood was shed for you, you are not converted. It is by faith in Him that we are saved. As the Apostle preached the Gospel he said:

2 Corinthians 2:15-16 (KJV) For we are unto God a sweet savor of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish: [16] To the one we are the savor of death unto death; and to the other the savor of life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things?

The Gospel has a different effect on different people.
It is like the Sun rising.
The same Sun that melts snow can harden concrete and clay.
The same Sun that causes plants to grow can wither others.

The Gospel is the Sun of Righteousness. God spoke in Malachi:

Malachi 4:2 (ESV) But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall.

The Gospel of Grace is to some a savor of DEATH unto DEATH. Some will hear the Gospel and reject the Grace that God has offered. Some are hardened in their sins by the preaching of the Gospel. The Apostle writes of …

Jude 4 (ESV) …. UNGODLY PEOPLE, WHO PERVERT THE GRACE of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

When Grace is received there is ALWAYS conversion. Christ saves us so that we can be AT ONE with God, not continue in the darkness. We who are saved are …

Colossians 1:13 (ESV) … DELIVERED … FROM THE DOMAIN OF DARKNESS and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son,

In Christ we are saved, and once saved, Christ comes into us. Sin and the way we perceive sin changes in us. The Christian is by no means perfect, but our attitude and motivation changes. The Apostle John describes it this way:

1 John 3:4-10 (ESV) Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. 5 You know that {Jesus} appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. 6 No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; NO ONE WHO KEEPS ON SINNING HAS EITHER SEEN HIM OR KNOWN HIM. 7 Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. 8 Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. 9 No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him; and he cannot keep on sinning, because he has been born of God. 10 By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.

For a person to SAY “I am a Christian” is one thing, but does that person glorify God in his or her activities? If you are a Child of God then God is in you. You have undergone CONVERSION. You are not the way you were before. Sin is no longer of trifle, but when you sin (and you will) you will not make a practice of it. Jesus came to this earth to die for us to bring us into a state of oneness with God, and God is Holy. When I sin now, conviction enters in. My conscience is hurt, and I return to my Father as soon as possible. I confess my sins before Him.

Proximity to Christ does not save.
What saves is being IN CHRIST,
trusting HIM, receiving HIM as Lord and Savior.

The Apostle JUDAS ISCARIOT had the title of righteousness – he was an APOSTLE. He walked with Christ. He saw the same miracles that all the other Apostles saw. And yet in the end he rejected Christ, committed suicide, and went to eternal death. He never experienced conversion because though he was WITH Christ he was never IN Christ.

Some refuse conversion because they love their sins and their selves. The Bible declares:

John 1:11-13 (ESV) {Jesus} came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

Receiving Christ – being IN CHRIST – brings about conversion. God changes you from a sin loving sinner to a sin hating saint. God changes you from darkness to light, and from death to life. It is as simple as:

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

  • The “E” of Grace Stands For ETERNAL Life. In Christ we have Eternal Life.

2 Corinthians 2:16 (KJV) … to the other the savor of life unto life.

To those who reject Christ, who turn His Grace into lasciviousness or mock what He has done, conversion will not come. But to those who have been converted, to those Christ gives “life unto life” or eternal life. Jesus said:

John 5:24 (ESV) Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. HE DOES NOT COME INTO JUDGMENT, BUT HAS PASSED FROM DEATH TO LIFE.

Jesus gives eternal life to all who believe on Him. Now listen to me Beloved –

EVERYONE LIVES FOREVER
BUT THERE’S LIFE AND THERE’S LIFE

God made us in His image and in His likeness. And the Bible tells us that two things are ultimately true for every person on the face of this earth.

Hebrews 9:27-28 (NKJV) And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, 28 so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.

Every person will face death, and immediately following death the judgment. You will stand before a Holy and righteous God. Is He your Father by faith in Christ, or is He the nameless Judge of Revelation 20? If you are IN CHRIST then the Bible says:

2 Corinthians 5:17 (NKJV) Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

If IN CHRIST you have been born into the Kingdom of God. You will – as Jesus declared – not come into judgment, but have been passed from death to life. Upon leaving this life you will enter the next life into the presence of God. Because of Christ – because you are IN CHRIST – you shall be IN HEAVEN.

2 Corinthians 2:16 (KJV) … And who is sufficient for these things?

The answer to the Apostle’s question is no one is sufficient. I cannot receive eternal life through my efforts. But IN CHRIST I have eternal life. It is IN CHRIST that I am God’s Child, and I cannot be separated from my Savior.

Romans 8:35, 37-39 (NKJV) … Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? … 37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, SHALL BE ABLE TO SEPARATE US FROM THE LOVE OF GOD WHICH IS IN CHRIST JESUS OUR LORD.

If you are IN CHRIST you are immersed in the love of God. Your eternity is secure. You belong to God.

If I Am IN CHRIST His Light Shines Through Me

If we are IN CHRIST then our lives reflect it. If we have been CONVERTED – born again – our lives reflect it. Show me a hate filled people and I will show you the lost. Show me a forgiving and loving people and here we see a people IN CHRIST.

You cannot carry a grudge and be in Christ. You cannot live like the world and be in Christ. To be in Christ you must LOVE.

2 Corinthians 2:10-11 (KJV) To whom ye forgive any thing, I forgive also: for if I forgave any thing, to whom I forgave it, for your sakes forgave I it in the person of Christ; [11] Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.

Satan uses grudge bearing and other devices to hinder the Gospel of Grace. The world may never read the Book we cherish, but the world watches our lives. We are called to be loving and forgiving. If IN CHRIST we are to be not self serving, but Christ serving. The Apostle said:

Acts 20:35 (KJV) I have shewed you all things, how that so laboring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.

If IN CHRIST we love as Jesus loved, forgive as Jesus forgave, and do as Jesus did. We support the weak. We reach out to our community in love, providing food for the hungry and alternatives to the horror of abortion to young women. We do good. We reach out and minister to young people, offering them charity and a safe place to be. But through all our giving we stay focused on the presentation of the Gospel of Grace. The Apostle said:

2 Corinthians 2:17 (KJV) For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity…

As people of God’s Kingdom we start this New Year as we left the Old Year. We will not corrupt the Word of God. We will not re-write the Bible in order to become one with the darkness. Someone once told me:

The problem with the Bible is that it doesn’t change with the times.

Truth doesn’t change with the times, and the Bible is true.

Proverbs 30:5 (KJV) Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him.

We will not lower the Word of God into the mud so that the pigs will be happy. We will trust Him, and stand in Christ together. This is where victory will come. Not by compromise, but by His promise and His Word clearly spoken. Do not forget that, dear Ones. Never!

2 Corinthians 2:17 (KJV)  … in the sight of God speak we in Christ.

God watches us. Are we honoring His Gospel of Grace? We must, for no where else is there triumph but in Christ.

May God touch your hearts with His Word.

Posted in 2 Corinthians, Blood of Atonement, Cross of Christ, Faithfulness of God, Following Jesus, gospel, grace, Sermons Preached | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Our New Year’s Resolution

Audio of Sermon:

A New Year's ResolutionSermon Notes: Every year people make New Year’s Resolutions. I never do myself, though in times past I did. When we enter a New Year we all want to do something different, be something better. It’s time for a fresh start. I used to make resolutions:

I’ll do this, I’ll do that”

But as I’ve aged I realize that my best intentions are nothing if God is not in them. Of myself I can do nothing, but with Christ I can do all things. James the stepbrother of Christ wrote:

James 4:13-15 (NKJV) Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”; 14 whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. 15 Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.”

Our lives are but vapor, spirit and smoke. We are of ourselves so very temporal, very fleeting, very fragile. James – who did not begin to believe in his Brother Christ until after Christ rose from the grave – said “Instead let’s make this resolution – I will do as the Lord wills. I will go as my Lord sends me.”

Jonathan Edwards the Puritan Evangelist and grandfather of Aaron Burr the 3rd Vice President of these United States made a series of resolutions to God. His very first resolution was:

Resolved, that I will do whatsoever I think to be most to God’s glory …

I think that’s a good resolution we can all keep. A resolution contains I WILL in it’s body. Tonight we’re going to look at seven I WILL statements or resolutions that our Lord Jesus made, and consider how these resolutions our Savior and King made impact our lives as Christians. These I WILL statements are all taken from the Book of John, a Book that emphasizes the Godhood of Christ. The Book starts with:

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

The I WILLS of Christ are more than the I WILLS of David or of any person, no matter who. The I WILLS of Christ are the I WILLS of God in the flesh, Messiah, the Lord Who is with us.

1. Jesus Resolved To Conquer Death

Jesus went to the Temple and found there not people worshiping God our Father, but self righteous people making merchandise and money on religion. The Bible tells us that Jesus made a scourge of small cords – probably the cords that were used to bring the animals into the Temple – and “drove them out of the Temple, and poured out the changer’s money”. This angered the Pharisees for they were making profit on the exchange of money and sacrifices. So they asked Jesus:

Show us a sign that you are authorized to do this!”

John 2:19 (KJV) Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I WILL raise it up.

They thought that He was speaking of the Temple of Israel, but the text tells us (verse 21) “He spoke of the Temple of His Body”. Jesus knew that the Pharisees were going to kill Him, that He would in just a short time die on Calvary. But Christ was not afraid. He was going to defeat death. “In three days I will raise it up”. Jesus’ words puzzled His disciples as well. We are told:

John 2:22 (KJV) When therefore {Jesus} was risen from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this unto them; and they believed the scripture, and the word which Jesus had said.

They HEARD Him say this, but in reality did not believe Him any more than did the Pharisees. But Jesus spoke truth. No one took His life, but He laid His life down for us. Notice what Jesus said.

Destroy this TEMPLE”

Christ’s body – just like ours – is a TEMPLE, a TENT that holds something far greater. These bodies are temporary. Christ’s body at that time was temporary. That body was given to Him by the Spirit and Mary for a specific use. He is the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29). His Temple will be destroyed.

And in THREE DAYS I will raise it up”

Jesus would die, but the grave would not hold Him. He would defeat death in three days. And in the end of the Tomb life would triumph. Jesus is the Destroyer of Death.

1 Corinthians 15:26 (NKJV) The last enemy that will be destroyed is death.

The hand of death would wrap itself around Christ, its bony fingers grasping His Body and choking His soul. But He would come forth triumphant, and rise from the grave in a glorified body, one we His children will one day have. Dying, He died, but rose again holding the sword of life, death beheaded at His feet!

I could talk of this all day, but I must continue on or we will never finish. I want to finish with the words of Pastor Sam Allberry of the Gospel Coalition:

The resurrection is the outworking and proof of our salvation because death is the outworking and proof of our sin. Jesus’s new life shows us the cycle of sin and death has finally been broken. There is new life to be had. Sin has been conquered. It is therefore the resurrection of Jesus—and can only be the resurrection of Jesus—that assures us of salvation. Only the resurrection proves that our sins have been fully dealt with, that death is no longer our destination but a gateway to perfect, endless life.”

2. Christ Resolved To Receive Whosoever Will Come

John 6:37 (KJV) All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.

When Jesus said these words it was the day after He had fed the five thousand. He took five little biscuits and two fish, multiplied it, and fed a multitude of people. Jesus moved to another Capernaum after this, and the multitude followed Him – not because they loved Him, but because they wanted another great free meal. Who doesn’t like a free meal? Jesus told the people:

John 6:26-27 (KJV)26 Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled. 27 Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed.

Jesus wants to give everyone who will come to Him everlasting life. The people were not coming to Him but to a meal. They were not seeking the Messiah nor the Savior, but a restauranteur. When Jesus fed the five thousand He was showing that He could take care of all who came to Him by faith. These people did not want Jesus – they wanted the stuff that Jesus could provide.

The old sin nature enslaves us. It binds our hearts to darkness. God must open our eyes so that we can see the glory that is Christ. Unless God quicken our spirits and enable us, we are like the blind man who cannot see, the cripple who cannot walk, the deaf who cannot hear. To us Christ says:

All that the Father giveth Me shall come to Me”

The Father opens the eyes. The Spirit clears the ears. Those who come to Christ are given to Christ by the Father. Christ is the Gift of God to us, and we who believe are the gift of God to Christ. He cherishes us as His gift. He loves us. And Jesus does not re-gift. To re-gift is to get a gift that you do not want, one that you eventually wrap up and give to someone else. That is re-gifting. Perhaps you did so with something you received on Christmas past. But God the Son does not re-gift. He says:

and the one that comes to Me I will not cast out”

What a blessing it is to know that no matter what my and your calling and election are sure. Jesus does not throw out the gift of the Father. He cherishes us, as we should cherish Him. Oh, how I love Jesus!

3. Christ Resolved To Raise Us Up

John 6:40, 44 (KJV) And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day. 44 No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.

This resolution rests on the first two resolutions. Twice in this text Christ says:

I will raise him up on the last day”

If a mere man were to say this I would be very skeptical. All men (and women too) die. We all die. If you were to look at me and say “Don’t worry about death, because I’ll give you eternal life. I’ll make sure you are raised up on the last day.” My response would be “That’s nice, but WHO are YOU to make such a promise? You’re going to die, too. Who’s going to raise YOU up?” But Jesus died, and rose again on the third day just as He promised. He proved His mastery over death in His own dying and resurrection.

And what He does is in agreement with the Father. He said “This is the will of His that sent Me, that everyone who looks upon me and believes on Me shall have eternal life”. The Father opens the eyes of every person who comes to Christ. He lets us see ourselves as we are, so that we can see Christ as He is. Seeing Him, we repent and turn to Him. Believing on Him we are saved. And being saved Jesus promises “I will raise you up at the last day”. People try to get all theological with what Jesus said, but I’m going to keep it simple.

You are all all going to have a last day on this earth. The Bible says:

Hebrews 9:27 (NKJV) …. it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment ..

We all will have a “last day” on this earth. But Jesus has promised to raise us up on the last day. He promised this not once, but twice.

John 12:26 (NIV) Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.

Jesus will not leave His child apart from Himself. He will raise us up, dear believer, if we are indeed believers in Him.

4. Christ Resolved To Be A Full Time Savior

John 6:51 (KJV) I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.

You cannot understand this resolution unless you go back to the Old Testament. Every Jew knew what Jesus was talking of when He spoke of bread from Heaven. The first generation of Israel had rejected the Promised Land that offered them. They were too afraid of the world, but not afraid enough of God to do as He said. So the Lord set them to wandering in the wilderness.

But God still loved His people.

There are many Churches today filled with belligerent Christians wandering in the wilderness. But God does not abandon His people. God did not abandon Israel. He gave Israel manna from Heaven. God gave them this blessing even though they complained, even though the murmured. God told Moses:

Exodus 16:4 (NKJV) … Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you. And the people shall go out and gather a certain quota every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in My law or not.

God’s Children are to obey their Father. God’s Children are to honor their Jesus. Israel was given manna from Heaven, the bread of angels feeding His beloved people. They were to gather just enough manna to feed themselves every day. They were not to hoard, but to consume all they had gathered.

What a beautiful picture of Christ.

The manna that Israel gathered gave them sustenance for that day. Christ is the Living Bread from Heaven. He gave Himself to us. We consume Him, bringing Him and His Words to our lives. We hear Him, obey Him. We gather and eat His Word daily.

Jeremiah 15:16 (NKJV) Your words were found, and I ate them, And Your Word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart; For I am called by Your name, O Lord God of hosts.

The lost chase after Jesus for what He can give them. The saved chase Jesus because He and He alone has the words of life. When He comes into our lives and commits Himself to us we are promised that we shall live forever. This life is but a trial run on the great life that is yet coming. Oh praise His Holy Name forever!

5. Christ Resolved That We Would Stay With Him

John 14:3 (KJV) And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.

Before Jesus went to the Cross of Calvary He told His disciples that He was going to prepare a place for us. Jesus has gone ahead of us to make a place for us. He even prayed:

John 17:24 (KJV) Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.

Listen dear Christian. Jesus will raise you up on the last day. Jesus will one day come and receive you to Himself. When your last day on this earth comes, Christ will be the one you see. I have heard preachers say that angels came and took Lazarus to Abraham’s bosom, and angels will take us. Hogwash. Abraham’s bosom was the place where saints went prior to Calvary. But following Calvary angels do not come and get us. You know who comes and gets us? Jesus.

It is by His Blood we are saved.
It is by His Resurrection that death is defeated.
It is He that has prepared a place for us.
And one day He will take us to that place to be with Him forever.

6. Christ Resolved That He Would Stay With Us

John 14:16-18 (KJV) And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; 17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. 18 I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.

It was Jesus’ prayer and promise that the Holy Spirit would abide with every Christian, living within our Temple with us. The Spirit is with us to guide us into truth. Jesus said “I will come to you” to let us know that the Spirit Who indwells us is the Spirit of Christ. We are indwelt so that we can follow Him. We are indwelt so that we can hear His Word and grow by it.

Christ did not save us from sin and death so that we could wander aimlessly through this world. Christ saved us so that we could honor God and serve Him. The Spirit “comforts” us by His presence. He is in every believer as a guide, and a seal or future promise of Heaven.

7. Christ Resolved That We Would
Obediently Follow Him

John 14:21 (KJV) He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.

We are not called of God to a part time Christianity. We follow a full time Lord. Thus Christ tied our obedience to our love. Jesus said “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments”. You will do as Jesus says BECAUSE He says it.

When you obey Christ He manifests Himself to you. Oh what a blessing it is to experience His presence. So often life confuses me, but Christ stabilizes me. God is not the Author of Confusion, but of peace (1 Corinthians 14:33).

This year resolve with me that we will – together – hear and keep our Lord’s commandments. That we will love. That we will share His Gospel. That we will be His hands and feet. The Church that becomes ME oriented is the Church that eventually wanders in the wilderness like Israel did. The Church that follows Christ crosses the Jordan for His glory, and let’s Him defeat the enemy through us. Let’s resolve to be that kind of Church, a Kingdom people for His glory.

Posted in John, Living God, salvation, Sermons Preached, sin, sinners, Trusting God | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

The God Of All Comfort

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2 Corinthians 1:1-4 (KJV)  Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, unto the church of God which is at Corinth, with all the saints which are in all Achaia:  [2]  Grace be to you and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.  [3]  Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort;  [4]  Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.

Everyone suffers.

Some of you may think that life has been good to you, and that your suffering is little. But everyone suffers. Everyone I know or have known has suffered, is going through suffering, or will suffer. The writer of this Book, Paul the Apostle, suffered. Now you would think that someone as blessed as Paul would never suffer. The Bible tells us that ..

Acts 19:11-12 (NKJV) Now God worked unusual miracles by the hands of Paul, 12 so that even handkerchiefs or aprons were brought from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out of them.

The Apostle had an unusual gift of healing, as did the Apostle Peter. The Bible says that when Peter’s shadow passed over a sick person, that person was made well (Acts 5:15). These powers were the gift of God to these men. It did not come from their own abilities, but through God flowing through them. You would expect that the Apostle Paul would never be afflicted. You would expect that if anything came his way that Paul could just heal it.

Physician, heal thyself (Luke 4:23)”

And yet the Apostle suffered. He said:

2 Corinthians 1:8 (KJV)  For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life:

Trouble pressed down on Paul and those who were with him so much that they were pressed out of measure. It seemed the burden was too much to bear. They despaired even of life. There are times when trouble can press down on you to the point where you pray that God take you home, that this life is but a curse and the next the blessed hope. “Oh Lord, I am so ready to come home. Take me, dear Jesus. Take me.” This is nothing to be ashamed of. Even the Apostle was that way at one time or the other. Trouble can weigh us down to the point where we feel like the axle on the old truck is about to break.

Why would God allow such a burden to be placed upon us? Why does trouble at times seem to weigh us down so? Is there a purpose in suffering? Yes, there must be. The Apostle tells us in another place:

Romans 8:28-29 (KJV)  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.  [29]  For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.

If “all things” work together for our good, then “all things” literally means “ALL things”. That is a theologically profound statement but one we need to carefully examine. Either “ALL things” work together for our good, or “ALL things” do not. Either God is true and every man a liar, or God a liar and every man is true. I declare with the Apostle:

Let God be true but every man a liar! (Romans 3:4)

If all things work together for Good, for our Good, for the Church’s Good, for Christ’s Good, for the Father’s Good, then all things are good. If you love God:

The Dark is as GOOD as the Light
The Tears are as GOOD as the Smiles
The Illness is as good as the Health
The Disappointments and Losses are as GOOD as the Victory and the Win

There is a purpose behind each of the valleys of our lives. The purpose is never negative, but always positive. The Apostle said:

2 Corinthians 1:3 (KJV)  Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort;

He blesses God. The God Who permits trials and tribulation is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the loving Father Who sent His Son to suffer and die for us. Jesus paid the penalty for our sins. His suffering was not for nothing, but that we might be redeemed from sin and satan. This same God Who sent His Christ is also the Father of mercies. God did not have to send His Son. He could have allowed us to die in our sins. But our Heavenly Father is the Father of mercies. His love is limitless. His salvation is perfect and permanent. His love endures forever.

1 Peter 1:3 (KJV)  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

Romans 9:16 (KJV)  So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.

The Father of Christ is the God of all mercies and the God of all comfort. It is He Who allows trials for purpose.

Trials Allow Us To Be Like Christ

2 Corinthians 1:4 (KJV) Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, THAT we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.

It is the desire of God that every Christ follower be like Christ. God uses trials to form Christ in us. In His ministry Jesus was constantly reaching out to the suffering, encouraging the discouraged, and lifting up the crippled. God allows trials in us so that He can comfort us and see us through the trial, but also that we may comfort those around us going through the same thing.

Most all of us have experienced death and suffering from a distance. You may have a friend or a co-worker who has suffered the effects of sin and death. You may have been touched by this, but do not grow in the experience until you yourself have the experience.

As a pastor I have gone through suffering with many, but it was not until I had experienced suffering myself that I was able to minister as Christ to the suffering. I have lost a son name Stephen to death. I have experienced not only the suffering of his death, but the foolishness and crassness of people. People ask me “How did he die?” which is not Christlike nor particularly helpful. “How did he die?”

If he died in a traffic accident
or was shot down by a bullet
or was taken hostage and killed by terrorists
or fell out of a pine tree and was taken by gravity

… what difference would it make? “How did he die?” is not the response of Christ to the grieving. But having gone through his death with his mother and knowing he professed Christ as Savior and was voluntarily baptized prior to his death I know that we came through that valley knowing that God is good and God had a purpose. One year later I began to minister at a small but sweet little farm Church called Okapilco Baptist, and during that first year ministered to 9 families as they went through the Valley of the Shadow of death. Stephen’s death equipped me to minister to others as God ministered to me.

Some of you have lost parents, some children, and some spouses.
Each valley is different.
Some of you have experienced disease.
Each valley is different.

You were not brought into this valley to be tortured of God, but to be ministered to by God so that you, like Christ, can some day minister to others. Do not wallow if your grief, but through His Word and prayer grow by it. Let God’s promise minister to you. And then you reach out and minister to others.

I have experienced the loss of mother and father, and THE FATHER guided me in my grief through that valley. But I have never experienced the loss of my Beloved Sherry. I have never been through this valley. If you have, and have experienced the comfort of God as you have walked through this valley, reach out to others who are similarly afflicted. Be the hands and feet of Christ. Be the encourager. The Bible says that we are interconnected:

1 Corinthians 12:26-27 (KJV)  And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honored, all the members rejoice with it.  [27]  Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.

There is none who can speak the words of encouragement to us like someone who has been through the same valley. Those who have suffered understand. Our Jesus suffered. He understands. Be like Christ to those in need.

Trials Draw Us Into The Embrace Of Christ

2 Corinthians 1:5-7 (KJV)  For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ.  [6]  And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation.  [7]  And our hope of you is steadfast, knowing, that as ye are partakers of the sufferings, so shall ye be also of the consolation.

We do not experience the maximum blessings of Christ while on the mountaintop. No, we must venture into the valleys. I remember one of the hardest Churches I ever pastored. It was a sweet community, but the power of God was not in it. Week after week I preached, but it seemed as if none would join. The well was dry. The pump was busted. Critics abounded.

Then I fell to my knees. Daily I would lay praying on the carpet before the pulpit, begging Christ to enter that place. The members harbored bitterness and anger, and though satan did not rule, he kept the rule of the Spirit out. So I prayed. I prayer walked. I walked through the community seeking Christ, and Christ found me. And He found that little Church, today a successful and vibrant Church. Because of me? No. Because of Christ.

Trials drive us into the arms of Christ.

Before trials come we need a flat screen TV.
We need another piece of property.
We need a shiny new truck.
We need another boyfriend or girlfriend.
We need more money in the bank.
We need a steak dinner.
We need. We need.

But when trials come we need above all else our Savior. As the child with the skinned knee needs his or her mommy’s embrace, we need the arms of the Master wrapped around us. As we partake of suffering, we partake of His consolation. When we suffer the things of this life do not matter, but the Creator of life does. We need the Lord! We need His Grace. And God is sufficient. If I have nothing else, God is enough. Knowing that He is there is all that matters.

The Prophet Job – suffering as no man ever suffered – losing all that he had – said:

Job 1:21 (NKJV) … “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of the Lord.”

Trials bring us into the awareness that Christ is enough in our lives. There was a time in His ministry when people chased after Jesus for the temporary things that He could provide. They wanted the dinner on the grounds, the free meal they didn’t have to pay for. Professional moochers, many plague the Churches today seeking sustenance without spirit, mammon and not the Magnificent God we serve. When Jesus told them they weren’t getting any more free meals they “went away, and never came back” (John 6:66). When they left – these snowflake sons of satan – Jesus asked His remaining disciples, “Will you leave Me also?”. The Apostle Peter said it best:

John 6:68 (NKJV) … “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”

To have God’s presence in the valley is what matters most. One of my favorite passages in Isaiah is:

Isaiah 41:10 (NKJV) Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’

Why are we not to fear? Because Christ is with us. Why should we not be discouraged? Because my God is with me. He stands by my side. His hand is over me, under me, all around me. I am embraced by Him Who cannot fail. He will stoop to help ME. He will bend over to hold my hand. His nail scarred hand is in my hand. I need to know this. I need to feel this. Trials prove this.

In the midst of the trial we can look downward and moan, or we can look upwards and praise Him, inviting Him into our midst. What did Jesus say?

Come unto Me all you who are on vacation and at unburdened, and I will give you rest!

No! No! No! He said:

Matthew 11:28-29 (KJV) Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

Who were Christ’s followers when He walked this earth?
The rich white collar people?
The Herod in the palace?
The self righteous Pharisees and the Scribes who thought they had it all together?

No.

Christ’s followers were fishermen, struggling to make a living.
Christ followers were lepers who were outcast.
Christ followers where stumbling blind people.
Christ followers were hated tax collectors.
Christ’s followers were questionable women, and crippled men.
Christ’s followers were the broken. The lonely. The lost.

It is in the trials that we experience His Presence, if we would hear Him. He waits that you might come to Him. Praise Him in the trial. Billy Bray, the Cornish evangelist, used to say:

If they were to put me in a barrel I would shout
glory to God through the bung-hole!”.

Pastor Martin Rinkart buried 4480 people in his life, many dead by war (the Thirty Years War) and epidemic. Rather than be discouraged he sought the embrace of Christ, and finding it, wrote a song in our hymnal (Page 638) Now Thank We All Our God:

Now thank we all our God

with heart and hands and voices,

who wondrous things has done,

in whom his world rejoices;

who from our mothers’ arms

has blessed us on our way

with countless gifts of love,

and still is ours today.

Trials Teach Us That We Are Not God

2 Corinthians 1:9-10 (KJV)  But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead:  [10]  Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us;

Trials draw us into a place where we cease being God, and begin to trust God as God. We are to trust in Him, the God which raises us from the dead. It is God Who gives us life, God Who grants us eternal life, and God that we should glorify forever.

In verse 10 we see three tenses that remind us of God’s great provision.

God DELIVERED us from so great a death.

We have been delivered from death, sin, and hellfire because of God’s great salvation in Christ. As we are told in 2 Timothy 1:9:

For God saved us and called us to live a holy life. He did this, not because we deserved it, but because that was his plan from before the beginning of time–to show us his grace through Christ Jesus.

God saved us – past tense. But also ..

God DOES DELIVER.

He is currently saving us, protecting us, loving us.

Psalm 46:1-5 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. 2 Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; 3 Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah. 4 There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High. 5 God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early.

God has been with me every day since the day He saved my soul. God will always be with me … even to the end.

God will yet deliver us.

What God has begun, He will not leave unfinished.

2 Timothy 1:12 (NASB) For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day.

God is with His people. God loves to save His people. May God lift up your hearts to Him this very day.

Posted in Isaiah, Sermons Preached, trials | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments