The Lamb’s Book Of Life

You Must Be Born Again

Revelation 21:22-27 And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it. 23 And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. 24 And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honor into it. 25 And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there. 26 And they shall bring the glory and honor of the nations into it. 27 And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

A Wonderful Life Is Coming For Those Who Believe

I am so looking forward to Heaven. Some 13 souls have gone into glory that we have known and loved since January. Their eyes have seen Him that we read of. Those who are His by faith are looking upon Jesus today.

Revelation 21:5 … He that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new.…

I look forward to that wonderful day to come – that endless day. The Bible tells us that all things will be made new. You can’t help but feel that this present earth is not right. It is not as God initially made it. It was God’s intention that humanity rule the earth on His behalf. We are God’s image bearer. We are made for eternity.

Genesis 1:27-28 God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. 28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion…

Man – which is comprised of the marital unit, male and female – was to do five things on this earth. Man was to be FRUITFUL, to honor God with their lives. Man was to MULTIPLY, to procreate, to make more fruitful humans. Man was to REPLENISH, or be a good steward over the earth that God gave him. Man was to SUBDUE and HAVE DOMINION over this earth. This FIVE PART COMMAND was what humanity was supposed to do on the earth. FIVE is the number of Grace in the Scripture. Man had life, and the earth itself as a part of God’s Grace.

And man blew it. Rather than do as God commanded, man allowed the created being called “The Serpent”, who is:

Revelation 12:9 …. the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world

Adam allowed Satan to take that which was rightfully his, and control it. The Bible says:

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

Adam’s action had repercussions that have carried forward, and will carry forward, until the end of time. But God was not satisfied with this. It was God’s intention for man to rule the earth on His behalf. When we come to Revelation 21 we see God completing what He started in the Garden of Eden. In order for God to complete His plan, He has to eradicate the old earth, with its damaged sin sick system. When we come to Revelation 21 we read:

Revelation 21:1-2 And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. 2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

In this future new heaven and a new earth, there is no sin, nor corruption, nor death. This future earth and it’s very atmosphere will be erased of all that defiles. The sea itself will be gone. That which separates humans from one another, especially in John’s day, was the sea. There will be no separation between humans in that future world. God will even recreate Jerusalem in Heaven, and lower it down to the earth. God will rule the earth. The Bible tells us that:

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

Jesus Christ as the “Second Adam” will rule the earth, and those who are His children will rule and reign with Him from the New Jerusalem. This is a literal city, for we are given dimensions in Revelation 21:10-21. The New Jerusalem will differ from the Old Jerusalem in that:

Revelation 21:22-23 And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it. 23 And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.

The Presence of God will not be limited to the Temple Holy of Holies as was done in the Old Jerusalem. God’s Presence will shine – His Shekinah glory will shine throughout that New Jerusalem. I wish we all could grasp the concept of what the Scripture is saying. The Bride of Christ, His Church united, will rule with Him from the New Jerusalem. There will be joy in this future kingdom, and unity, and love unto God and to one another. The Bible speaks of …

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

Only the “SAVED” shall be in this future world. The Bible says:

Revelation 21:24-26 And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honor into it. 25 And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there. 26 And they shall bring the glory and honor of the nations into it.

I am so looking forward to that day when I see Jesus. Are you? Who shall be on this future earth? The Bible says:

Revelation 21:27 And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

You Do Not Want To Be Blotted Out
Of The Book Of Life!

The “Book of Life” is mentioned eight times as “Book of Life” in the Scriptures – seven of those times in the Book of Revelation. Only those who are written in the Book of Life shall gain access to Heaven, and that future New Earth.

The name of every human born into this world is written in the Book of Life. We are told in …

Revelation 17:8 … they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world

Our God is infinite in knowledge – there is nothing that He does not know. He has a Book and in that Book the names of all are written in that Book “from the foundation of the world”. My mind cannot grasp that, but it is true. Let us grasp this. IF you are living, IF you are under the sound of my voice, THEN God in His Grace has your name written in His Book.

God can BLOT your name out. He will BLOT your name out if you do not OVERCOME.

Jesus Christ told the Church at Sardis:

Revelation 3:5-6 He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels. 6 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

To reject faith in God the Son – then to die in your sins – is to be “blotted out”. Who is He that overcometh? It is the one who has given themselves to the Lord Jesus Christ, who has believed on Him and Him alone for salvation. God promises not to blot our names out of this Book when we believe on Jesus. The Bible says:

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

The “Book of Life” is mentioned in the Old Testament as “God’s Book”. In Exodus 32 Moses is on Mount Sinai, receiving the Law and the Old Covenant from God. The children of Israel have had Aaron the High Priest construct a golden calf to worship. Israel has rejected faith in God, and chosen to put their faith in a golden calf of their own making. God sees what they are doing, {for God always sees what we are doing} and tells Moses:

Exodus 32:9-10 … I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiff necked people: 10 now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them: and I will make of thee a great nation.

Moses, loving both God and the people, intercedes in prayer for Israel. He asks God to remember the covenant promises He made to Abraham. Then Moses goes down to correct Israel. The next day after destroying the golden calf and its worshipers, Moses tells Israel:

Exodus 32:30-33 Ye have sinned a great sin: and now I will go up unto the Lord; peradventure I shall make an atonement for your sin. 31 And Moses returned unto the Lord, and said, Oh, this people have sinned a great sin, and have made them gods of gold. 32 Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin—; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written. 33 And the Lord said unto Moses, Whosoever hath sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book.

When you reject salvation by faith in God, He can blot you out of His Book. I believe that all are in the Book of Life at birth – but can be blotted out of that Book because of the sin of unbelief.

The Psalmist David wrote against evil doers, saying,

Psalm 69:27-28 Add iniquity unto their iniquity: and let them not come into thy righteousness. 28 Let them be blotted out of the book of the living, and not be written with the righteous.

When God through the Prophet Daniel wrote of the Great Tribulation, he said:

Daniel 12:1 … there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.

The Book of Life is, in effect, a CITIZENSHIP list for God’s Heaven and New Earth. It is so very important that your name be in the Book of Life. We read again:

Revelation 21:27 And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: BUT they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

Only those written in the Lamb’s Book of Life will enter Heaven and that future New Earth. No one else will be allowed. Period.

The Work Of Surrendered Faith At The Right Time
Keeps You In The Book

Some think that, if they work very very hard to please God, that their names will be kept in the Book of Life. Some people place faith in their works for Heaven. They say, “I am not as bad as this one, or that one, so I know I am going to Heaven”. My friend,

Self Righteousness is just another Golden Calf.

God tells us what He thinks of a relation-less faith in Revelation 20 at “The Great White Throne Judgment”.

Revelation 20:11-12 And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. 12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God;

The Great White Throne is a place where the dead, small and great, stand before God. These are not believers in God, but unbelievers. They are the dead. Jesus said:

John 11:25-26 I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: 26 and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?

Those who receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior shall never die. These who stand before that Great White Throne are the dead. They are dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1; Colossians 2:13). They are NATURAL and not SUPERNATURAL. The Bible says:

1 Corinthians 2:14 … the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

Are you NATURAL or SUPERNATURAL?
Are you BORN ONCE or BORN AGAIN?
Are you ADAM’S CHILD or GOD’S CHILD?

These people left this earth without Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. They did works. They did many works. God the Son is on that Great White Throne, but they do not know Him.

Revelation 20:12 … and the books were opened:

BOOKS are opened. These are the Books of Works. The Bible says:

Revelation 20:12 … and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.

What were their works? Without Christ, it does not matter. The Bible says:

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

The plowing of the wicked is sinful. Anything a person does outside of faith in Jesus Christ is sinful. The dead are judged based on their works. Perhaps they did what looked like apparent good works. Perhaps they went to Church. Perhaps they tithed. Perhaps they even became deacons, elders, or preachers. Beloved, we need a relationship by faith with Jesus! Jesus warned those who followed after Him:

Matthew 7:21-23 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

The Books of Works contain all the things that a person did in their lives. But did they know Jesus? Jesus will say at this Great White Throne, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. Their works will not be sufficient. What is THE WORK OF GOD? Jesus said:

John 6:29 … This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him whom He hath sent.

The work of God is that you believe on Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Have you believed on Him?

Revelation 20:13-15 … they were judged every man according to their works. 14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. 15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

It Is God Who Makes All Things New

Those who have received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior are those who are “overcomers”. We are told in:

1 John 5:4 For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.

Those who are “born again” are those who overcome the world. So how am I “born again”? Only by calling upon the Lord Jesus Christ. Those who are “born again” are the people of God, whose name remains on “the Lamb’s Book of Life” (Revelation 21:27). Jesus said,

John 3:3 … Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

John 3:7 …. Ye MUST be born again …

New Birth is not a thing we can do to ourselves. As God said in

Revelation 21:5 … Behold, I make all things new …

Only God can take a broken life and make it whole. Only God can take a lost sinner, and bring that person home. Only God can take the sinner and turn them into a saint. Only God can do this. Do you wish to stay in the Book of Life? Then you must overcome. You can only overcome by letting go. I’m going to say that again:

You can only overcome by letting go!

John 1:12-13 But as many as received {Jesus Christ}, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: 13 which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

When you let go and receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, then God the Holy Spirit will come to you. When God the Holy Spirit comes He will cause you to be “born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God (Jesus is the Living Word of God – John 1:1-3), which liveth and abideth for ever” (1 Peter 1:23). Oh, the joy of being born again. You are not perfect, but you are changed when you come to Jesus.

2 Corinthians 5:17 … if any man be in Christ, he is a NEW CREATURE: Old things are passed away; BEHOLD, all things are become NEW.

It is God Who makes new. It is God Who saves the soul, and inhabits the body. It is God Who promises eternity to those who believe in Jesus. It is God Who says:

Revelation 21:6-8 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. 7 He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. 8 But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

So you have a choice. You can receive the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, and begin to follow Him as He bids – or you can continue to follow the golden calves of life unto the second death. There is no place in Heaven for those who do not love Jesus. There is only a lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death. Oh, how I pray that you will give yourselves to Jesus! God has declared,

Romans 14:11 … As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.

We all need Jesus. Do not delay. If you leave this life without Jesus, your name will be blotted out of the Book of Life.

And where will you be then?

May God drive this message deeply into your souls by His Holy Spirit. Amen and Amen.

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Receive Jesus, Receive Power

Photo by Alex Hockett on Unsplash

John 1:11-13 He came unto his own, and his own received him not. 12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: 13 which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

Let Us Strive To Finish Well

The most important part of the race is the finish. I don’t know about you, but I want to finish well. I don’t want to be like Judas Iscariot who, following Jesus for 3 ½ years, ended up hanging himself (Matthew 27:5-8). Peter said of Judas,

Acts 1:18 Now this man purchased a field with the reward of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out.

What a horrible ending that was! One author notes, “Perhaps Judas hanged himself and in the process also fell (lit. “flat on his face”) and tore open his abdomen. Perhaps the rope or branch with which he hanged himself broke. Or perhaps when others cut his corpse down it fell and broke open, as Luke described. … This description of Judas’ death stressed the awfulness of that apostle’s situation.”

I want to finish well. I have seen so many pastors and powerful Christian leaders fail because they allowed the devil to sidetrack their lives. Who can forget Tammy & Jim Bakker, and the mess they made of their lives. Or Jerry Falwell, Jr, who took over as President of Liberty University (a University his father started). He tragically fell and was fired, texting photos of his wife in provocative sexual poses. Or the Apologist Ravi Zacharias who was discovered abusing women, and seeking sexual favors from massage therapists. Or Carl Lentz, who was fired from Hillsong Church for sexual unfaithfulness in his marriage. Consider also mega Church pastors

  • Perry Noble, removed for alcohol abuse and family neglect from NewSpring Church.
  • Darrin Patrick, the teaching pastor at Seacoast Church who took his own life.
  • Tullian Tchividjian, the grandson of Billy Graham. He pastored Coral Ridge Presbyterian until he resigned due to marital infidelity.

I do not list these pastors with any sort of pride or gloating, but just to say this.

I want to finish well. I want to honor my Jesus until the day I see Him face to face. The most important part of the race is always the finish line. Let us strive to finish well.

Finishing Well Does Not Depend
On Your Physical Birth

People always seem to blame their failures on something in their physical placement, their physical birth. They say, “I was born poor, disadvantaged, disabled, and therefore I will do nothing but feel sorry for myself”. I can understand feeling sorry for yourself. I’ve been through many pity parties myself. We have no control over how we start out in life. But we do have control over how we will handle our “race”.

• You may be poor. It is no sin to be poor. Jesus said:

Matthew 26:11 … ye have the poor always with you …

If you are poor, it’s because God put you in that position to start. In America you can work hard, but even working hard, you may be poor. It’s not your fault, but a divine calling if you are NOT slothful but poor. Some are poor because they are slothful, lazy. That’s your fault if you are that way. But some are poor so that we all can learn kindness. The Bible says:

Proverbs 19:17 He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the Lord; and that which he hath given will he pay him again.

God uses people to shape people. Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend (Proverbs 27:17). God allows poverty so those WITH can love those WITHOUT in a practical way.

• You may be rich. It is no sin to be rich. It is a sin to WORSHIP your riches. The Bible says:

1 Timothy 6:9-10 … they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. 10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

Illustrate If God has given you riches, this is where God started you in the race. There is no sin in being rich, as long as you control the riches and the riches do not control you. Adrian Rogers once told the story about a man who loved gold. Then he inherited a fortune. With joy he redecorated his bedroom. He put gold parchment wallpaper up, hung yellow curtains, had a golden colored rug and a yellow bedspread. He even bought some yellow pajamas. But then he got sick and came down with, of all things, yellow jaundice. His wife called the doctor who made a house call and went up to that bedroom for an examination. The doctor stayed up there a long while. When he came down, the wife asked, “How is he?”

“Don’t know,” said the doctor. “I couldn’t find him.” Don’t get lost in your riches. The Scripture says:

1 Timothy 6:17-19 Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not high minded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; 18 that they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; 19 laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.

• You may be born beautiful, and may be born plain. It is no sin to be either beautiful, plain, or plain ugly – thank goodness! God made you the way you are. Always remember that you are made by God in the image of God, and do not sell yourselves as many have. I heard of a website called Fans Only where beautiful housewives sell naked pictures on themselves for $6.99. God’s Word says:

Proverbs 11:22 As a jewel of gold in a swine’s snout, so is a {beautiful} woman which is without discretion.

As God has made you, praise Him, for you are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14). God tells us all,

1 Peter 3:3-4 (NKJV) Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel— 4 rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.

When George Younce made his final public appearance with William Gaither, he sang an amusing rendition of “Side by Side”:

We got married last Friday, My girl was right there beside me
Our friends were all gone – We were alone – Side by side

We were so happily wed when, She got ready for bed then
Her teeth and her hair – She placed in a chair – Side by side

One glass eye so tiny, One hearing aid so small
Then she took one leg off, And placed it on the chair by the wall

I stood there broke hearted, Most of my girl had departed
I slept on the chair – There was more of her there – Side by side

• You may be born with a disability. It is no sin to be born disabled. God intended you to be born the way you are. I remember that one day Jesus and His disciples saw a man born blind. The disciples asked Jesus:

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

God made you the way you are. It is no sin to be born disabled or, “challenged” as so many like to call it. God has a purpose for your life, and He wants to show His glorious power through you. Let no one make you lesser than because of your birth. It is no sin to be broken.

• You may be born of a certain color. It is no sin to be born black, or white, or red, yellow, or brown. The Bible says:

Acts 10:34-35 … God is no respecter of persons: 35 but in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.

It is a sin to be racist. Martin Luther King, Jr preached in his sermon “I Have A Dream”, “I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character”.

Acts 17:26 … (God) hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth …

Your color is not a sin. I have heard that Critical Race Theory teaches if you are white, you are automatically racist. I don’t believe this is true. Billy Graham refused to preach revivals in any stadiums that forced the people of color into a roped off area. I applaud that. I have no control over my race, but my race is not a sin. Racism is!

We Must Receive Jesus As He Is

Do you know what the chiefest of sins is? The unpardonable sin is to refuse to receive Jesus Christ.

John 1:11-12 {Jesus} came unto his own, and his own received him not. 12 But as many as received him…

Word Study God wants us all to receive Jesus Christ. The word translated “received” is the Greek λαμβάνω lambánō, (pronounced lam-ban’-o), which means “to receive (of course), to grab hold of, to take with your hand, to take in order to possess or carry away, to claim for oneself, to take possession of”. The word carries with it the sense of desire. To receive Jesus is to greatly desire Him, to want Him above all else.

Oh how we need Jesus! What does it mean to “receive or lay hold of Jesus”. It means, first of all, to take Jesus as He is. Jesus is not just another Teacher or another Rabbi. Jesus is Eternal God in the flesh. When Job in his suffering questioned God, the Lord told him:

Job 38:4-6 Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding. 5 Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it? 6 Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof;

None of us were on this earth when God made it. The evolutionists and scientists merely guess at what happened before. None of us were there in the beginning.

But Jesus was. The Bible says:

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

When God said “Let there be”, it was Jesus Who interacted with the earth. God made all things through Jesus. Jesus Christ is not just Perfect Man – He is Eternal God in human form. Jesus Christ was with the Father and the Spirit at the beginning of creation – and has preexisted with God from eternity. The Bible says:

Colossians 1:16-17 for by {Jesus} were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: 17 and he is before all things, and by him all things consist.

The Father planned the heavens that we see – but spoke it into existence through Jesus. Like a prism bends light, Jesus focused the power of God in creation. All things – whether visible or invisible – were made through Jesus. When God said,

Genesis 1:26 … Let us make man in our image, after our likeness…

Jesus Christ was part of that “us” and “our”. Though He was not yet incarnate – that would much later occur through Mary – He was nonetheless there and active. Jesus Christ is called “The Word”, because Jesus is the expressed and visible image of the invisible God. The Scripture says:

Hebrews 1:2-3 {God} hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; 3 who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;

It is fitting that He Who made the earth and the heavens is the One chosen to be the Savior of the earth and the heavens. “By the Word of the Lord the heavens were made, and by the breath of His mouth all their host” (Psalm 33:6).

We must receive Jesus Christ as Creator and Savior. We must receive Jesus as the way to life.

John 1:4-5 In {Jesus} was life; and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

Jesus Christ is the only Source of eternal life.
Jesus Christ is the only Source of spiritual light.

When you receive Jesus Christ, you are receiving Him as Savior and Lord. There is no life nor light apart from Jesus. This morning we read the words of God in

Revelation 21:5 … Behold, I make all things new.

It is Jesus Who leads us from the darkness of sin and Satan, and into the light of God. The Book of John is all about God bringing light out of darkness – this is why the Book copies the beginning of the Book of Genesis. Only God can bring light – self existent light – to darkness. Man has learned, first by using flame, next by combining electricity and metal in a sphere we call the light bulb, how to bring light to darkness. But we who are human cannot form spiritual light. This is what God did. Through Jesus we are brought to spiritual light. Our blindness to God is removed. Through Jesus God causes us to have light and truth. The Bible says:

Isaiah 42:5-6 Thus saith God the Lord, he that created the heavens, and stretched them out; he that spread forth the earth, and that which cometh out of it; he that giveth breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein: 6 I the Lord have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles….

When Simeon was brought by the Holy Spirit into the Temple, and saw the Baby Jesus, he praised God and quoted this text:

Luke 2:29-32 Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: 30 for mine eyes have seen thy salvation, 31 which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; 32 a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.

Jesus Christ is the Light of the World. When we come to Him, receiving Him as THE Light of God, then we can see whereas the lost stagger about blindly. There are many who profess to be the Christ, but only Jesus is the …

John 1:9 … true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.

Some say that they have “received Jesus”, but they have received Him only as Savior. Jesus Christ is LORD. He is LORD OF ALL, and demands the allegiance of those who take hold of Him. The Bible says:

Philippians 2:5-11 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6 who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7 but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8 and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. 9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Jesus affirmed His Lordship over His people. He was affirmed by God while in the cradle:

Matthew 1:21 .. {Mary} shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.

And later told us:

John 15:14 Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.

When we receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, God works a miracle in our lives. We read:

John 1:12-13 … as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: 13 which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

Eternal Jesus Christ became incarnate, because God the Holy Spirit came to Mary. The angel told Mary:

Luke 1:35 … The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.

Mary agreed to this operation of God, and became with child, carrying the incarnate Son of God. There has only been one incarnation of the Son of God in all of history.

But God makes other sons, other children when we receive Jesus Christ as He is. When we believe on Him, the Scripture says:

to them gave he power to become the sons of God

Word Study The word translated “power” is the Greek ἐξουσία exousía, {pronounced ex-oo-see’-ah}, which refers to “the power of rule or government, endued power”. What is this referring to? When you receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, God the Holy Spirit comes into your life. The Spirit causes you to be born again:

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

The Word of God Who was in the beginning with God and is God calls upon the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirt comes to the life of the believer, and makes us “born again”. We are

John 1:13 … born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God

Born again of the Spirit of God, He makes us into sons of God. Sons of God are led by the Spirit of God (Romans 8:14). We are not led by the things of the world, but by the Spirit of God and the Word of God. We are called to reflect the Light of Christ into the world. We are called to run, looking unto Jesus. We are to live our lives so as to please our Heavenly Father. The Scripture says:

Philippians 2:12-16 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. 13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. 14 Do all things without murmurings and disputings: 15 that ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; 16 holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.

A Christian is not just a Christian in name only. A Christian – rightly understood – is a son of God, a child of the Most High, a believer empowered and enlivened by God the Holy Spirit. We are not of this world, but on mission for Jesus until He calls us home.

Let us strive to finish well, if we are Spiritually born, and Spirit led. Let us remember our heritage, a heritage that John spoke of, saying:

1 John 3:1-2 Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. 2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.

May God the Holy Spirit and the Word of God move you to follow Him in the light, for His glory. Amen and Amen!

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For A Bowl Of Lentil Stew

<img src="https://bibleteacherorg.files.wordpress.com/2021/06/artur-kornakov-kwjhh14nucs-unsplash.jpg?w=1024" alt="Photo by <a href="https://unsplash.com/@arturkornakov?utm_source=unsplash&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=creditCopyText">Artur Kornakov</a> on <a href="https://unsplash.com/s/photos/stew?utm_source=unsplash&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=creditCopyText">Unsplash

Turn with me in your Bibles to:

Hebrews 12:14-17 Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: 15 looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled; 16 lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. 17 For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.

Life is all about the choices we make. If we make the right choice, the God honoring choice, then God will bless us. But if we make the wrong choices it can have a lasting and permanent impact on our lives.

In our text today we see a reference to Esau. Esau’s name in the Hebrew means “he that acts or finishes”. Esau made decisions, and acted on them, without thinking “down the road”. Esau would be like the chess or checker player that just moves pieces without any consideration as to what others might do.

Esau was “ME” focused.

Pastor John MacArthur said about Esau:

Perhaps the saddest and most godless person in Scripture outside of Judas is Esau. On the surface, their acts against God do not seem as wicked as those of many brutal and heartless pagans. But the Bible strongly condemns them. They had great light. They had every possible opportunity, as much as any person in their times, of knowing and following God. They knew His word, had heard His promises, had seen His miracles, and had had fellowship with His people; yet with determined willfulness they turned their backs on God and the things of God. Esau not only was immoral, but was godless. He had no ethics or faith, no scruples or reverence. He had no regard for the good, the truthful, the divine. He was totally worldly, totally secular, totally profane.”

Background To Our Text

Esau’s story begins in the womb of his mother, Rebekah. But for the Grace of God, Esau would never have been born. Esau’s father was Isaac, the only son of the patriarch Abraham. Isaac was born to Abraham when he was a hundred years old (Genesis 21:5). Isaac was a grace-gift from God to Abraham. When Isaac was forty years old, he took Rebekah to wife (Genesis 25:20). But there was a problem – Rebekah was barren. What did Isaac do? He did the best thing he could do.

Isaac prayed to the Lord for his wife, and God gave them not one, but TWO children.

This is what God does. God blesses us when we, in love, seek Him out. God wants us to love Him more than anyone on earth. When we love God, God loves us back TWICE as much. That’s how our Creator is. He loves us.

When Rebekah conceived, “the children struggled together within her” (Genesis 25:22). This frightened Rebekah, because she was an older woman carrying children. Was it possible that her pregnancy would miscarry? Rebekah did the best thing she should do. Rebekah prayed to the Lord.

Choices – life is about choices. Oh, how I wish you would let God carry you through life’s ups and downs! Oh, how I wish you would rest in the arms of Jesus!

Isaiah 46:4 .. even to your old age I am he; and even to {gray} hairs will I carry you: I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you.

Isaiah 40:11 {God} 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.

If we would trust in God, and seek Him FIRST, life would be so much sweeter. God told Rebekah:

Genesis 25:23 Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger.

There are so many interesting things I can point out about this verse. First, God knew – even while the children were in the womb – the nature of each child. God knew the choices they would make, long before they ever made them. And yet, God nonetheless holds Esau accountable for the choice he will later make in life.

I have heard it said so many times, “I was born this way, so God made me thus – therefore the choices I make, they carry no guilt”. Yet that is not true. We are each responsible for the choices we make. We cannot pin our bad choices on God, as if it were His fault. The Apostle Paul addresses this in:

Romans 9:10-15 when Rebekah also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac; 11 (For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;) 12 It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. 13 As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated. 14 What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid. 15 For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.

God knew the decisions that Jacob and Esau would make in life, long before the children ever did any good or evil. And yet, God still holds Esau accountable for the choices that he makes. God knew that Judas Iscariot would make bad choices. Jesus said:

John 6:70-71 Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil? 71 He spake of Judas Iscariot the son of Simon: for he it was that should betray him, being one of the twelve.

Our Lord knew that Judas would betray Him for thirsty pieces of silver. He knew that Judas Iscariot would choose money and power over eternal life. And yet Jesus said:

Matthew 26:24 The Son of man goeth as it is written of him: but woe unto that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! it had been good for that man if he had not been born.

God knows our choices, but our choices are our own. We will stand before God one day and,

Romans 14:12 … every one of us shall give account of himself to God.

We cannot shunt our bad choices off on God. They are our responsibility. Let’s get back to Esau. The Bible says that Rebekah had her twins:

Genesis 25:25-28 … first came out red, all over like an hairy garment; and they called his name Esau. 26 And after that came his brother out, and his hand took hold on Esau’s heel; and his name was called Jacob: and Isaac was threescore years old when she bare them. 27 And the boys grew: and Esau was a cunning hunter, a man of the field; and Jacob was a plain man, dwelling in tents. 28 And Isaac loved Esau, because he did eat of his venison: but Rebekah loved Jacob.

Word Study Sometimes the King James translation obscures our understanding of the text. Esau was flamboyant, with his red hair and amazing skills. He knew how to go out and get what he wanted – and he was used to winning, and not losing. Esau would be the “Jock” on the Varsity Team in High School. He would be voted “Most likely to succeed” by his peers. Esau would date the head cheerleader, make the winning goal in football, always come in in first place in any race. Esau was the firstborn child, and his daddy was awful proud of him!

But then you have Jacob. The King James says Jacob was a plain man, dwelling in tents. The word plain is the Hebrewתָּם tâm, {pronounced tawm}, which means “one who is complete, sound, wholesome – an ordinary, quiet sort of person”. If Jacob were in a room, he would be the invisible man. In a “Where’s Waldo” book, he would be part of the crowd. Jacob was no risk taker, but cool and calculating – a home body.

One day Esau came back from hunting, but had caught nothing at all. Jacob is cooking a lentile stew (Genesis 25:34), and Esau tells his brother:

Genesis 25:30 Feed me, I pray thee, with that same red pottage; for I am faint

There’s no doubt that Esau was hungry. He had been hunting all day, trailing wild game, but couldn’t get anything. But he was far from dying of hunger. Esau does not focus on God, but focuses on a pot of lentil stew. So Jacob says:

Genesis 25:31-33 … Sell me this day thy birthright. 32 And Esau said, Behold, I am at the point to die: and what profit shall this birthright do to me? 33 And Jacob said, Swear to me this day; and he sware unto him: and he sold his birthright unto Jacob.

Esau sold his birthright for a bowl of lentil stew, and a loaf of bread. As the elder son, Esau had a right to the double portion of the inheritance. To Esau would have passed his father’s authority, and most of his properties. Yet Esau despised his birthright, choosing a bowl of lentil stew over the greater blessing.

We Need Grace, Not Lentil Stew

Hebrews 12:15-16 looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled; 16 lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright.

Word Study God brings this story of Esau into the message of Grace. God tells us first to be looking diligently, which is the Present Active Participle of the Greek ἐπισκοπέω episkopéō, {pronounced ep-ee-skop-eh’-o}, which literally means take charge of your eyes, and make them carefully inspect. Back in the Old West days, those traveling through hostile Apache territories would have been told, “keep your eyes peeled, boys and girls, or you might lose your hair!” If you were on a Safari in deep Africa passing through lion country the guide would say “keep your eyes wide open, boys and girls, or you’re liable to become a’Happy Meal’ ”. The writer of Hebrews tells us all to “wake up, and be very careful to watch out for this”.

You don’t want to fail of the Grace of God. Be diligent, keep your spiritual eyes opened lest any person fail of the Grace of God.

Word Study The word “fail” in our text is the Greek HUSTEREO (υστερεω pronounced hoos-ter-eh’-o), which means “to keep on falling short of”. You do not want to keep falling short of the Grace of God. We are exhorted in this text to keep on being on the lookout lest we keep on falling short of the Grace of God. We all need the Grace of God. We need the Grace of God to save us from damnation. We need the Grace of God to bless us once we are saved.

How does one “fall short of the Grace of God”? People do it every day. First of all, salvation is entirely of the Grace of God. We are not saved by our works, but are saved by the finished work of Jesus Christ. The Scripture says:

Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 not of works, lest any man should boast.

When a person realizes – through the operation of the Spirit of God – that they are lost and undone, and that person calls upon the name of Jesus, God the Spirit changes that person. Before we meet Jesus we are “dead in our trespasses”, unable to please God. But when we call upon Jesus as Savior and Lord, the Bible says:

Ephesians 2:4-5 God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)

We are told in:

John 1:12-13 But as many as received {Jesus}, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: 13 which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

The Child of God is saved by the grace of God. When Jesus Christ came to this earth, the Bible says that Jesus did not come as an Angel, but:

Hebrews 2:9 … was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor; that {Jesus} by the grace of God should taste death for every {person}.

Esau sold his birthright for a bowl of lentil stew. People today sell their birthright, salvation in Christ, for a bowl of lentil stew. People sell themselves sexually. They have pride in chasing human sexuality outside of God’s design. The devil says, “have a bowl of lentil stew with just a morsel of meat”, and people buy into this.

God designed marriage and human sexuality to bless us, to satisfy us, and to perpetuate the human race. We need to LOOK OUT, to be constantly on the lookout.

Hebrews 12:16 lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright.

The fornicator is the person who chases human sexuality outside of God’s parameters. The fornicator has chosen a bowl of lentil stew over the greater good, a blessed marriage with your God ordained opposite. Human sexuality in America today is represented by a number of man-made genders and a rainbow of colors. Yet what God has said is sin, is still sin. What God rejects as acceptable is still unacceptable.

Word Study The word translated profane is βέβηλος bébēlos, {pronounced beb’-ay-los}, which means “a wicked, ungodly, or unhallowed person”. So many people today satisfy their God given appetites in godless and sinful ways.

There are so many that choose lentil stew over faith in Jesus Christ. They choose something temporary and passing that will one day grow old, over a relationship with God, which will never grow old.

We all need Jesus. We all need to surrender to Him, to receive Him as Lord and Savior. This is our birthright as humans, to become the children of God by faith in Him.

Galatians 4:4-7 But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, [5] To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. [6] And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. [7] Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.

It is Grace that makes a child of God. It is Grace that causes the believer to receive the Holy Spirit of God. It is Grace that takes a person from a position of servant to Son. It is God’s unmerited favor – His Grace – that enters a person into the family of God, and keeps that person in the family of God.

The Grace That Saves Is The Grace
That Keeps On Saving

It is your birthright as a human to come to Jesus Christ and be saved. Once you are saved, it is your birthright to keep on coming to Christ. If you will again notice:

Hebrews 12:15 LOOKING diligently …

That word LOOKING is, as I said before, the Greek ἐπισκοπέω episkopéō, {pronounced ep-ee-skop-eh’-o}, which means “to take charge of your eyes”.

Watch what you are watching. Don’t give away your birthright for a bowl of lentil stew.
This applies to Christians as well.

Don’t give away your blessings, your birthright in Christ, for a bowl of lentil stew. So many believers do this. So many pastors do this. Over my last 25 years in ministry, I have seen so many that I thought were good people choose lentil stew over the greater blessing. I have seen Christians grow cold in their faith, so much so that when a trial or death came knocking they had no more spiritual strength than the lost person. Don’t choose lentil stew over God’s blessings.

The Bible tells us of a time when Jesus was visiting with His friends, Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. When Jesus came, Martha immediately began to play the part of good hostess. The Bible says:

Luke 10:39-42 {Martha} had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word. 40 But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me. 41 And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: 42 but one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.

For Martha, it was a good thing that she was waiting on the Lord. But the better thing would be to do as Mary did. Martha would be better blessed if she sat down at Jesus’ feet, and listen to His teaching. Jesus will not be at their home forever – He must be on His way. Meals will come and go. Parties will come and go. “But the Word of the Lord endureth forever” (1 Peter 1:25). Martha was choosing lentil stew over her birthright.

Our eyes need to be not on lentil stew, but on Jesus. The Bible says:

Hebrews 12:1-2 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, 2 looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Word Study The word translated lookingis the Greek ἀφοράω aphoráō, {pronounced af-or-ah’-o}, which means “to turn the eyes away from other things, and fix them on Jesus”. The Christian is to stay in a dynamic relationship with Jesus. The Apostle tells us to do three things as we focus out gaze on Jesus:

  • let us lay aside every weight”. Get rid of the unnecessary. The most important thing for you to do is to live in union with Christ. The devil will throw other things at you, things that are good, but not the best. Endeavor to love Jesus with your ALL, and to let the things that are of lesser importance go.
  • let us lay aside … the sin which doth so easily beset us”. Reject sin. Hate sin. Do battle with sin. Confess sin, and put it under the blood of Jesus (1 John 1:8-9). But do not rename sin. Do not justify sin. Do not be “proud” of sin. Consider sin to be poison, a thing to be confessed unto God and rejected.

    You cannot walk with the devil and run with Jesus

  • let us run with patience the race that is set before us”. Whatever our God puts before us to do, let us RUN. Let us do it as fast as possible, exactly as He has said. Let us RUN WITH PATIENCE. The devil will do much to cause us to get off track. Refuse the devil. Follow Jesus. Imitate God.

I want to close focusing on these words.

Hebrews 12:17 … ye know how that afterward, when {Esau} would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.

The choices we make have a last effect. We can make sexual decisions that will bring AIDS, STDs, or worse to our lives. I have an adopted granddaughter that has type 1 Diabetes because her birth mother made bad choices. The innocent suffer because of bad choices. Do not give away your birthright for a bowl of lentil stew. God wants the best for you. Give your lives to Jesus, and follow Him all the days of your lives. May God bless the reading and preaching of His Word. Amen and Amen.

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What About That Mansion?

Photo by Nick Romanov on Unsplash

One Sunday my Sunday School class was talking about “mansions”. What brought up the subject was Jesus’ wonderful and familiar words in:

John 14:1-2 Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.

That stayed in my mind, and the Spirit of God led me to research these mansions. The word translated mansions or mansion is only found ONE TIME in the King James Bible. I used to assume that these mansions are literal buildings in Heaven where we will live. When I think of a mansion, I think of a place of ultimate contentment where my every need is met.

Word Study But what the King James translates as mansions is much more than a brick and mortar building. mansions is the Greek word μονή monḗ, {pronounced mon-ay’}, which means “a place to stay, a residence”. The Vines Expository Dictionary Usage Notes says of monḗ:

Primarily “a staying, abiding” (akin to menō, “to abide”), denotes an “abode” (English, “manor,” “manse,” etc.), translated “mansions” in John 14:2; “abode” in John 14:23. There is nothing in the word to indicate separate compartments in heaven; neither does it suggest temporary resting places on the road.

As the Vines notes, the same word is translated abode in verse 23.

John 14:23 Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.

When we do as Jesus says, then God the Father and God the Son will come and MAKE THEIR ABODE within you. Now I love that old song “Mansion Over The Hilltop”. You know it, don’t you?

I’m satisfied with just a cottage below
A little silver and a little gold
But in that city where the ransomed will shine
I want a gold one that’s silver lined
I’ve got a mansion just over the hilltop
In that bright land where we’ll never grow old
But walk on streets that are purest gold

A lovely old song. However, old songs are rarely written by Bible scholars. After studying this text, I really have come to believe that the mansionor abode that Jesus was speaking of was MUCH MORE THAN A BRICK AND MORTAR BUILDING. Let me ask you:

Why would we need a MANSION in Heaven?
Would having a MANSION make me happier than being with Jesus?
Would I be miserable in Heaven if your MANSION was bigger than mine?
What about location: would I be jealous if your MANSION was on the shore of the River of life, and mine wasn’t?
Would there be just a “Buffaloe” MANSION, or would
each one of us get a MANSION?

I honestly think the “MANSION” that Jesus is referring to is our glorified bodies.

When Jesus came to this earth, He had no property to speak of. Jesus told His disciples “The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head” (Matthew 8:20). And yet, Jesus was happy. I think we will be happy in Heaven, just living in our glorified bodies.

God Never Places An Emphasis On Owning Stuff

  • Did Adam and Eve have a MANSION? Not that I can find. Adam and Eve were made in the image of God.

Genesis 1:26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness, and let them have dominion {over creation}

God put Adam and Eve in charge of the planet He created. God told them:

Genesis 1:28 … Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it …

God did not give Adam and Eve a MANSION.
He gave them a GARDEN, and they were happy –
At least, until they fell away from God.

Genesis 2:8 the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there He put the man whom He had formed …

Man was placed in a Garden east of Eden. God told man to “dress and keep the Garden” (Genesis 2:15). God told Adam he could eat the fruit of any tree in the Garden BUT of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:17). What does the Bible says of their lives?

Genesis 2:25 … they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.

Adam and Eve lived in a Garden, not in a mansion. They walked and talked with God. When Adam sinned, and did what the Lord told them not to do, the Bible says:

Genesis 3:8 … they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden.

Adam & Eve didn’t hide themselves in their mansion,
but “
amongst the trees of the garden”.

Adam and Eve had happiness and peace, with plenty of food and no need of clothing, until they day that they stepped away from fellowship with God. The Bible says:

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

Not having a mansion did not cause Adam and Eve to be unhappy. What caused them – and us – unhappiness was their sin against God. Sin against God brings with it misery. Sin caused our first parents to be cast, not out of a mansion, but out of the Garden. I looked further for mansions in the Bible. When sin caused God to bring judgment on the whole earth,

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

  • Noah had no mansion – he had an Ark and God. Noah loved God. So when God told Noah “Build Me an Ark”, Noah did just as God said. God flooded the earth, “and the waters prevailed upon the earth an hundred and fifty days” (Genesis 7:24). Noah stayed in the Ark until God told him to leave it. Though the Bible says:

Genesis 9:29 … all the days of Noah were nine hundred and fifty years: and he died

  • What of Abraham, the Father of faith? Did he have a mansion? No, not at all. Abraham followed God where ever the Lord led him. The Bible says:

Hebrews 11:8-10 By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. 9 By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: 10 For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.

Word Study Abraham left everything he ever owned, and was happy following where ever God led him. Abraham lived in tabernacleswith the other fathers of our faith, Isaac (Abraham’s son), and Jacob (Abraham’s grandson). The word translated tabernacles is the Greek σκηνή skēnḗ, {pronounced skay-nay’}, which means “a temporary and portable abode, a tent of cloth or animal skins”.

Say with me skay-nay’

You’ll hear this word again. A mansion is permanent, and huge. Abraham and the fathers of our faith were not interested in the things of this world. They sought a city whose builder and maker is God. The Fathers of our faith were happiest when they were pursuing God, when they were going where He wanted them to go. They sought fellowship with the Lord.

God Never Cared About Brick And Mortar Mansions

Word Study When God revealed Himself to Moses on Mount Sinai, God did not ask Moses to build Him a mansion, but a TABERNACLE (Hebrew מִשְׁכָּן mishkân, {pronounced mish-kawn}), a tent, a temporary place to be that was portable. God told Moses:

Hebrews 8:5 … make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the mount {Sinai}[a quotation of Exodus 25:9].

Israel was to remain nomadic, going wherever God told them to go. It was not until Israel settled in the Promised Land of Canaan that God had Solomon, King David’s son, build a more permanent Temple in Jerusalem. It is interesting that, for a big part of Israel’s history, God showed Himself to the people through the Tabernacle of the congregation (Exodus 33:7-10), also called “The Tent of Meeting”. This was a temporary tent set up outside the camp where you could go and meet with God. When Moses entered the Tent, a Pillar of Cloud would descend, and God would talk with Moses at the door of this Tent (Exodus 33:9). After the formal Tabernacle was built following God’s directions (see Exodus 25-27), the temporary Tent of Meeting was no longer needed. God began to meet with people in the Tabernacle.

When David became King of Israel by God’s decree, He was one day sitting in his palace. David told Nathan the Prophet:

2 Samuel 7:2-7 See now, I dwell in an house of cedar, but the ark of God dwelleth within curtains. 3 And Nathan said to the king, Go, do all that is in thine heart; for the Lord is with thee. 4 And it came to pass that night, that the word of the Lord came unto Nathan, saying, 5 Go and tell my servant David, Thus saith the Lord, Shalt thou build me an house for me to dwell in? 6 Whereas I have not dwelt in any house since the time that I brought up the children of Israel out of Egypt, even to this day, but have walked in a TENT {אֹהֶל ʼôhel, o’-hel, temporary tabernacle} and in a tabernacle {מִשְׁכָּן mishkân, mish-kawn’, portable permanent residence}. 7 In all the places wherein I have walked with all the children of Israel spake I a word with any of the tribes of Israel, whom I commanded to feed my people Israel, saying, Why build ye not me an house of cedar?

God never asked for, nor needed a house, much less a mansion. God walked with Israel in in a tent and in a tabernacle. That is, He met with Moses in the temporary Tent outside the camp, and met with Moses in the better designed Tabernacle, the Tent of Meeting.

God “Tabernacled” Among His People

God would later allow Solomon to build a Temple in Jerusalem, but even Solomon realized that God did not stay in the Temple. He prayed:

1 Kings 8:27 But will God indeed dwell on the earth? behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house that I have builded?

No Temple, nor Tabernacle, nor Mansion can contain all that is God. Our God is immense. God said:

Isaiah 66:1 … The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest?

No man could build God a mansion, nor a tent, nor a Tabernacle, nor a Temple that could contain God. God is immense. God is everywhere. No one can make God a place that He can stay in. God wanted to walk with man. God wanted to share Himself, personally and practically, with whosoever will. Man could not make a tent nor a temple that God could fully be present in. Meeting God in a tent as a descending cloud did not show us all that God is.

We are temporary – but God is eternal.
We are small – but God is immense.
How can the limited come to understand and relate to the unlimited?

The Bible refers to our earthly bodies as “tents”. The Apostle Paul said:

2 Corinthians 5:4 For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life.

Word Study The word tabernacleis once again the Greek σκῆνος skēnos, {pronounced skay’-nos}, which means A TENT. Our earthly bodies are TENTS that our souls dwell in. We groan daily, “being burdened. We want these mortal bodies to be swallowed up of life, to become more than they are.

There is not a day that goes by that I don’t pray for and look for the day when I am out of this broken, sinful flesh. And not just I, but every believer who has ever lived has looked forward to the time when this tabernacle, this fallen and failing body, will be replaced with a newer and better model. Medical cannot bring this to us. But God can. The Apostle reminds us as believers in Christ, saying:

2 Corinthians 5:1-3 For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven: 3 If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked.

I am so looking forward to the day that, as the Apostle Peter said, I put off this my tabernacle. When this old tent you are looking at goes, the Apostle Paul said:

we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens”

Our souls, dear Christians, will one day go to a mansion. Not a building like we think of, but a glorified, sinless, wonderful new container for our souls. The Apostle said “when your bodies – your TENTS dissolve – you HAVE A BUILDING OF GOD, a HOUSE NOT MADE WITH HANDS, waiting for you in Heaven”.

You have a better, more improved, better than this current “tent” you occupy waiting on the other side of eternity. I believe that this new body is your MANSION.

Humans Occupy Tents, So God Made Himself A Tent

God provides us immortality through Jesus.

There is no Tabernacle, tent, or Temple that can hold God. So God made Himself a Tent. The Apostle said:

John 1:14 And the Word was made 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.

Word Study As I told you before, the word TABERNACLE or TENT is the Greek σκῆνος skēnos, {pronounced skay’-nos}. Where our text says that the Word “dwelt” among us, this is the VERB of the word skēnos, the Greek σκηνόω skēnóō, {pronounced skay-no’-o}, which means “to have your tent among, to abide or live in a tent or tabernacle”. Eternal God the Son became like us, clothing Himself in flesh as we are. The writer of Hebrews put it this way:

Hebrews 2:14-17 Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, {Jesus} also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; 15 And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. 16 For verily {Jesus} took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham. 17 Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.

Eternal God the Son, infinite Creator of all things, through the operation of the Holy Spirit took upon Himself a tent just as we have. God lowered Himself for us. It was of Jesus that the Apostle spoke, saying:

Matthew 1:23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.

And the Archangel Gabriel told Mary:

Luke 1:35 … The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God

God made Himself a tent, a Tabernacle, so that He could dwell among us. God the Son came to this earth and took upon Himself flesh and blood so that He could make payment for our sins.

If you are a Christian by faith in Jesus Christ, I believe that you will one day be in something better than what you are in now. You will trade in this old tent for a Mansion, a perfect body, a sinless body. Beloved, we should not fear death, for we have a House in the Heavens, a perfect and sinless body, that God will give us.

That is so much better than a building – praise the Lord!

Do you know Him?
Have you received Jesus as Lord and Savior?

If you have received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, this is what you will see one day. In Revelation chapter 21 John saw “a new Heaven and a new earth” (Revelation 21:1). The earth and it’s atmosphere will be made new. John saw “the New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of Heaven”. God will establish His rule on the earth forever. Then we read:

Revelation 21:3 … I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.

Revelation 21:3 is a fulfillment of the promise God gave in Ezekiel 37:27, “My Tabernacle Shall Be With Them”

What is the tabernacle of God? It is Jesus Christ, the One Who “Tabernacled among us” (John 1:14). Jesus Christ will dwell with us on a renewed, sinless planet. Jesus Christ will be our God, and we will walk with Him in perfect bodies and sinless souls forever. The Bible says of this new earth:

Revelation 21:22 … I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it.

There will be no temple in the new Earth, for we will meet with our God face to face. Sin will be no more barrier, for sin will be eradicated. The Bible says:

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

Who will be in this wonderful place? A place where there is “no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof”. Who will be there? People of all colors will be in that future glorious new earth. “And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it” (Revelation 21:23). It will be a place where “there is no night there” (Revelation 21:25). It will be a place of eternal peace, and joy. The Apostle warns us all:

Revelation 21:27 And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

Only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life. Only those who have received Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord will be placed in that Book. Are you in the Book of life? If not, today is a great day to receive Jesus as He is. He is Savior. Jesus is the “Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). Jesus is the King Who will sit upon Heaven’s Throne. It is by His sacrifice that we are saved. Will you not call on Him? For “whosoever was not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the Lake of Fire” (Revelation 20:15). Do not delay – receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior today.

May God touch your hearts with His Word and His Holy Spirit this very day. Amen and amen.

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Living With Surety (A Wednesday Devotional)

Photo by Gift Habeshaw on Unsplash

2 Peter 1:10-14 Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: 11 for so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 12 Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth. 13 Yea, I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance; 14 knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath shewed me.

Even Apostles die. As Peter, the Chief Apostle, writes to the Church, He said:

“‘As long as I am in this tabernacle {vs 13}I’m going to remind you what you as believers should be doing” {my paraphrase}. Peter said:

2 Peter 1:14 …. knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath shewed me.

Word Study What is my tabernacle that Peter is talking about? Tabernacle is σκήνωμα skḗnōma, {pronounced skay’-no-mah} which means “a tent, a portable temple”. Peter, as well as Paul (2 Corinthians 5:1, 4) ofen used the term “tabernacle” or “tent” to refer to their earthly bodies. Before Jesus ascended into Heaven He told Peter:

John 21:18-19 Verily, verily, I say unto thee {Peter}, When thou wast young, thou girdest thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not. 19 This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, Follow me.

Peter knew that he would die by crucifixion, just as our Jesus did, for Jesus told him so. But Jesus told Peter “Follow me”, which is the mark of the Christian. The Christian follows Jesus. The Christian does as God says do. Peter could have avoided dying for Jesus. He could have refused to follow the Lord, and he would have been no threat at all. But Jesus said Follow me.

If you are saved, you follow Jesus.

Do You Have A “Know So” or a “SURE” Salvation?

Death comes to all, and none of us truly know when we will have to put off this my tabernacle. Sooner or later it must come. To avoid being frightened of that time – for it should not be frightening to the Child of God – Peter says:

2 Peter 1:10 … brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall

Give diligence or make sure you DO this. Make sure, first of all, that you are CALLED of GOD. Every person Jesus has ever saved, He has called. Jesus said:

Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men. (Matthew 4:19)
Follow Me; and let the dead bury their dead. (Matthew 8:22)
Follow Me, not money (Matthew 9:9)
Take your Cross and
follow Me (Matthew 10:38)
Cast away your false gods, and
Follow Me (Matthew 19:21)
Follow Me and be blessed (Matthew 19:28)

The Christian follows Jesus. I follow Jesus because I need miracles in my life. I follow Jesus because this world is a scary and lonely place. I follow Jesus, because He gives me confidence to live. The Scripture says – and I agree –

Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who strengtheneth me.

My life must be lived while following Christ Jesus. There is no power in the world. Jesus is the Vine, and I but a branch. My blessing is to be attached to Him. Jesus said in John 15:6

If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.”

We no longer run with the world, for that is destructive. To run with the world is to be cast forth as a branch, and is withered – then the world will destroy your life. We follow Jesus.

We do not follow the world,
the crowd,
my desires,
but ONLY JESUS.

It is Jesus Who called me into salvation. It is Jesus Who chose me to be His. The Apostle said:

give diligence to make your
CALLING and election sure

Word Study God not only CALLED you, He CHOSE you. God CHOSE to call you. The word election is the Greek ἐκλογή eklogḗ, {pronounced ek-log-ay’}, which means to be called out, to be selected, to be set apart. The very word “CHURCH” in the Greek is ἐκκλησία ekklēsía, {pronounced ek-klay-see’-ah}, which means “those who are CALLED or CHOSEN OUT”.

As Christians, you no longer belong to this world. You are on assignment here, but you are children of the Almighty. Your home is in Heaven.

1 Peter 2:7-9 Unto you therefore which believe {Jesus} is precious … 9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: 10 which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.

The Christian is a person set apart from this world, the chosen and beloved children of God. You do not belong to yourselves anymore – you belong to Him Who paid so much for you. By His Blood the Lord purchased our freedom from sin and hell. The Apostle said:

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.

God saved you, and God owns you.

When God saved Israel, He told them:

Leviticus 19:2 Speak unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say unto them, Ye shall be holy: for I the Lord your God am holy.

Peter applies the same standard to the Church. He said in:

1 Peter 1:13-16 Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 14 As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: 15 But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of {life}; 16 Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.

Holiness Is A Positive, Not A Negative

Israel was to be holy or separate from the world, because she was chosen out by God. In like manner you as Christians are chosen out of this world by God. We are to Be holy because God is holy. What does it mean to be holy? Some people view holiness as a series of NEGATIVES. They view holiness like the Pharisees viewed holiness. To the Pharisees, holiness is a list of things that you DON’T DO. But that’s not what holiness is.

Holiness begins with faith in God through our Lord Jesus Christ. It begins by giving your life to Jesus. When you give your life to Jesus, when you hear his CALL, He CHOOSES to bring you into the Family of God. Because of Jesus and the love that God has given you as His children, you are also given:

2 Peter 1:4 …. exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

The world has no hold on your soul. God has given you great and precious promises because of Jesus. Though you will one day have to put off this my tabernacle, when you do so this will just be Phase 1 of your life. Phase 2 is eternity. You belong to God. You are to be imitators of God, not of this world.

Holiness is not a negative, but a positive. It’s not about what you avoid, but what you do. If you are saved by faith in Christ, then Peter tells you to ADD some things to your life.

2 Peter 1:5-8 giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; 6 and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; 7 and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. 8 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

  • virtue”. Holiness means to do the right thing, the thing God said.
  • knowledge”. You only become holy by learning what Christ said, and doing what you learned.
  • temperance”. Control your desires. “Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled.” (Titus 1:15)
  • patience”. Be long suffering with others, and with yourself.
  • godliness”. Imitate God your Father.
  • brotherly kindness”. Be kind to those around you. Love your neighbor as yourself.
  • charity”. Love others by doing good to them, regardless as to what they do to you.

If you are saved by faith in Christ, then you are to work in partnership with God the Holy Spirit to be more like Jesus every day. We are called to GROW in our knowledge of Him. To DO the things He tells us to do.

The great Evangelist Dwight L. Moody said:

It is a great deal better to live a holy life than to talk about it. We are told to let our light shine, and if it does we won’t need to tell anybody it does. The light will be its own witness. Lighthouses don’t ring bells and fire cannon to call attention to their shining – they just shine.”

Let us all shine for Jesus! Let us live our lives following Him, knowing that our life on this earth is but temporary – but a better time is coming. Let us live for Him! May God bless your hearts and grow you through this devotional. In Christ’s name I pray. Amen and Amen.

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Old And New Memorials

Bible opened up with text
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Turn with me in your Bibles to Luke chapter 22.

This Monday, May 31st, is a holiday we call “Memorial Day”. On Memorial Day we honor the memory of those who died while serving in our nation’s military – people who died to protect our freedoms. It was originally called “Decoration Day”, and only became an official holiday in 1971. Memorial Day also marks the beginning of summer.

Long before there was a United States, a lone Man – not tied to any earthly kingdom, but the Representative that God the Father sent to this earth – that lone Man died to bring freedom to whosoever will. The freedoms that this lone Man brought by His willing death are:

Freedom from the slavery of sin
Freedom from the DESPAIR of death
Freedom from the WEARINESS OF THIS WORLD
Freedom from the LEADERSHIP OF LUCIFER (the Devil)

This lone Man is the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Passover Is An Old Covenant Memorial

Before Jesus was betrayed of Judas Iscariot, and unlawfully tried by the Chief Priests, the Pharisees, and by Pilate, Jesus enjoyed the Passover Meal with His disciples. The Passover was a time when Israel commemorated their salvation and exodus from Egypt. It was on the final night that Israel was enslaved to Egypt that God told them to take a lamb without blemish, a male of the first year, and bring it into your home for four days. On the fourth day kill it, and take it’s blood, and “strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door posts of the house. The lamb is to be roasted, and eaten with bitter herbs that very night (author’s paraphrase of Exodus 12:3-10).

Exodus 12:11-13 … thus shall ye eat {the lamb}; with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and ye shall eat it in haste: it is the Lord’s Passover. 12 For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the Lord. 13 And the blood shall be to you for a TOKEN upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt.

Where the Blood of the Lamb was not, God took life. Death reigned where the Blood was missing. Pharaoh had been reluctant to release Israel until this Passover night. But once the firstborn of even his household died, Pharaoh released Israel. God said, when I see the blood, I will pass over you. It was the Blood of the Lamb that averted death. It was the Blood of the Lamb that freed souls.

God gave the Passover to Israel AS A MEMORIAL. God told Israel:

Exodus 12:14 this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it a feast to the Lord throughout your generations; ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance for ever.

Word Studymemorialis the Hebrewזִכְרוֹן zikrôwn, {pronounced zik-rone}, which means a MEMENTO, something to bring to remembrance or memory over and over again, a MEMORIAL.

God wanted Israel to remember the Lamb of God, and how only by killing it salvation would come.

Every year every Jew had to go to Jerusalem, and enjoy the Passover Meal, the Memorial of the Blood of the Lamb that brought salvation. Jesus is having the Passover – the Memorial – with His disciples. Let’s listen in and imagine ourselves with Jesus on the Passover Table:

Luke 22:10-18 And {Jesus} said unto {His Disciples}, Behold, when ye are entered into the city, there shall a man meet you, bearing a pitcher of water; follow him into the house where he entereth in. 11 And ye shall say unto the goodman {the owner} of the house, The Master saith unto thee, Where is the guest chamber, where I shall eat the Passover. with my disciples? 12 And he shall shew you a large upper room furnished: there make ready. 13 And they went, and found as he had said unto them: and they made ready the Passover. 14 And when the hour was come, he sat down, and the twelve apostles with him. 15 And he said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this Passover. with you before I suffer: 16 For I say unto you, I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God. 17 And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves: 18 For I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come.

Jesus has His disciples set up the Passover Meal in a large upper room furnished. As the disciples do this, they think it is just like every Passover they had ever had. They did not know that this would be THE LAST PASSOVER they would ever celebrate. Jesus told them:

Luke 22:15 With desire I have desired {literally “I have EAGERLY DESIRED} to eat THIS Passover. with you before I suffer…

Jesus knew that He was about to go to the Cross. Jesus was EAGER to do this last Passover with His disciples. The Old Covenant of sacrificing animals and shedding the blood of lambs and bulls and goats was about to end. Jesus was eager to see the Old Covenant ended. The Old Covenant Lamb of God was an animal, without spot or blemish. Under the New Covenant the True Lamb of God would be sacrificed for sins. The True Lamb of God is Jesus Christ. Jesus is:

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

The Old Covenant Passover could not permanently pay for the sins we commit, because ANIMALS cannot pay for the sins of HUMANS. We are NOT ANIMALS. We are created in the image of God. The Bible says:

Hebrews 10:10 … we are sanctified {consecrated to God the Father} through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

As a good Jew our Lord Jesus kept this Old Covenant Passover with His disciples. Jesus said:

Luke 22:16 I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God

This would be the only time Jesus would celebrate the Old Covenant Passover. The next time Jesus celebrates Passover, it will be the New Covenant Passover.

We are seeing the transition from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant in this very passage.

Luke 22:17-18 {Jesus} took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves: 18 For I say unto you, I will NOT DRINK of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come.

Jesus said I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come. Before the kingdom of God shall come, Jesus must die on Calvary and rise from the grave. The “Kingdom of God” cannot come to this earth and stay while God’s people are under the incomplete animal sacrifices. The Messiah is come. The Messiah MUST go to the Cross. The true Lamb of God MUST

Matthew 16:21 … suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.

As Jesus hung on the Cross, the soldiers tried to give Him wine:

Mark 15:23 {the soldiers} gave {Jesus} wine to drink mingled with myrrh: but He received it not ..

Jesus would not drink the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God shall come. Several hours later Jesus would say, “I thirst”. The Bible says:

John 19:28-30 … Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst. 29 Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar: and they filled a sponge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to his mouth. 30 When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.

Jesus drank VINEGAR, not WINE BUT VINEGAR, for He could drink no wine until the Kingdom of God came. This was a fulfillment of the prophecy in …

Psalm 69:21 … in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.

Jesus cannot drink this last Old Covenant Passover Cup. The Kingdom of God must come, but it will only come by the King of that Kingdom laying His life down for us all. Jesus Christ, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords (Revelation 17:14), must lower Himself to the status of a Lamb.

Jesus must die. He must be buried. He must rise again, else the Kingdom of God will not come.

The Lord’s Table Is The New Covenant Passover

As Israel had an Old Covenant MEMORIAL, a Passover, the Church that Jesus died for will have a NEW MEMORIAL Passover.

Luke 22:19 And {Jesus} took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me.

When the Old Covenant Jew celebrated the Passover, complete with the animal sacrifice, they did so in remembrance of God freeing them from Egypt.

Hebrews 10:3-4 … in those {Old Covenant} sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. 4 For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.

Word Study The word translated remembrance in the Book of Hebrews is the Greek ἀνάμνησις anámnēsis, {pronounced an-am’-nay-sis}, which means “a recollection, a remembering, a memorial”. The Old Covenant Passover was a MEMORIAL. Now Jesus gives His Church a New MEMORIAL, saying:

Luke 22:19 … This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me

Our Lord uses the EXACT SAME WORD found in Hebrews for remembrance. Under the Old Covenant, every believer had to yearlysacrifice the Passover Lamb. But now Jesus is ONCE AND FOR ALL replacing that Old Covenant Passover with another remembrance.

In the OLD Covenant the LORD told His people to kill a Lamb.
In the NEW Covenant, the LAMB tells His people the LORD will be killed.

Jesus is replacing the Passover Meal with what we Christians call either:

The Lord’s Supper(1 Corinthians 11:20)
The Lord’s Table” (1 Corinthians 10:21)
or
“The Communion of the Body and Blood of Christ” (1 Corinthians 10:16)

Jesus said, This is my body which is given for you”. Jesus willingly BLESSES the bread then BREAKS the bread. Jesus Christ is the Bread of Heaven. He told us:

John 6:47-51 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life. {48} I am that bread of life. {49} Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. {50} This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. {51} I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.

Jesus willingly died for our sins.

1 Peter 3:18 For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but {being made alive} by the Spirit

Jesus Christ blessed and then BROKE the bread. He Himself BROKE His own body. Had Jesus not laid His life down, we would yet be dead in our trespasses and sins. But Jesus WILLINGLY went to the Cross for us. He said:

John 10:18 … No man taketh {my life} from me, but I lay it down of myself.

Thank You, dear Jesus, for Your wonderful gift! Christ’s Blood was shed.

Luke 22:20 Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.

Word Study The words translated new testament are the Greek καινός διαθήκη kainos diathēkē, which means “New Covenant”. Jesus Christ gave us a New Covenant, making the First Covenant old” (Hebrews 8:13). The FIRST COVENANT was dedicated without {the Messiah’s} Blood” (Hebrews 9:18).

Our Lord Jesus came, saying:

Hebrews 10:9 … Lo, I come to do Thy will, O GOD. {Jesus} taketh away the FIRST {COVENANT}, that He may establish the SECOND {COVENANT} …

The animal sacrifices are gone. Jesus Christ has replaced them with His precious Body – blessed be the name of the Lord!

I say to the unbeliever, you must receive the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior, by faith, believing that He died for your sins and rose from the grave for your salvation. The disciples did not seize the Bread. It was not earned, it was not deserved, but it was all of Grace. We are saved not by our works, but by His work. We are saved by receiving the Bread of God, the Lamb of God as our Lord and Savior. You have the right to receive or reject Jesus, but if you reject Him, you have no hope of Heaven.

I say to the believer, insure that you are in a right relationship with God before taking of this wonderful Table. This is a MEMORIAL, a reminder of what Jesus Christ did for us.

This Table is also a reminder that we are under not just a New Covenant, but we are under a New Commandment.

John 13:34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.

As Jesus loved us, so we love one another. Sacrificially, willingly, lovingly we lay our lives down to our Lord and Savior, and to the citizens of the Kingdom of God. To partake of this Table unworthily is to court death (1 Corinthians 11:29). Would you all prepare your hearts, as our servant-leaders prepare this Table. To God be the Glory! May God the Holy Spirit drive this His Word deeply into your souls. Amen and Amen. Let us partake!

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No Root, No Fruit

No Root, no Fruit
Photo by Andy Watkins on Unsplash

Isaiah 1:1-7 The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah. 2 Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the Lord hath spoken, I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me. 3 The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master’s crib: but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider. 4 Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the Lord, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward. 5 Why should ye be stricken any more? ye will revolt more and more: the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. 6 From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrefying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment. 7 Your country is desolate, your cities are burned with fire: your land, strangers devour it in your presence, and it is desolate, as overthrown by strangers.

Why are we in the Old Testament, in the Book of Isaiah? Isaiah is often called the “Old Testament Gospel of Christ”. Isaiah had many visions and prophesies that related to the Lord Jesus Christ. But there’s another reason. The Apostle tells us in

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

The Old Testament was written aforetime, before the Apostles wrote. It was given to teach uspatience as we live out our lives, and comfort by showing us the faithfulness of God. Israel wandered away from God, just like America has wandered away from God. God calls us to His side when we wander. We are told in …

1 Corinthians 10:6, 11 Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted. 11 Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition

The these things the Apostle speaks of is – once more – Israel’s wanderings from God. God is faithful. I say again,

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

Preach! God is faithful to His people – ALWAYS. Whether under the Old Covenant of Sacrificial Law or the New Covenant of Christ’s sacrifice, God is faithful. But when God’s people wander from God – when Israel OR AMERICA wander away from the God of Scripture, nothing good comes of it.

When Israel and God’s people honored the Lord, and fulfilled His calling, they were blessed. Israel was not saved so that she could do what she wants. Israel was saved so, as God put it to Pharaoh,

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

God’s people are freed from sin and death (and Egypt is the epitome of sin and death) to GLORIFY GOD in this fallen world (which the wilderness epitomized). Again, God told Pharaoh:

Exodus 7:16 … Let my people go, that they may serve me in the wilderness

God does not save a people so they can be selfish and self serving. We are saved to serve the Lord Who loves us.

Israel, like America today, departed from God, and put their hope in the political process. That is how this prophecy starts – did you miss it?

Isaiah 1:1 The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.

Isaiah preached and prophesied for 40 years through the reigns of four different kings of Judah. Some kings, like Uzziah and Hezekiah, started off following God but drifted away. King Ahaz was pure evil, whereas King Jotham was righteous and faithful. Regardless of leadership, the people of Israel continued to wander from God. How tragic!

Psalm 33:12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord; and the people whom He hath chosen as His inheritance …

Our blessing as a nation, and as individuals, is in walking with the God Who made us.

Men And Women Are Created To Walk With God

Isaiah 1:2 Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the Lord hath spoken, I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me.

God calls on the HEAVENS and the EARTH itself, the angels of God and His own creation, as witnesses of His goodness and faithfulness to us all. When we were made, we were given something that no animal has.

God breathed into us the breath of life (Genesis 2:7). We have the very breath of God – His spirit – as our core component.

The animals do not have this “breath of God”. Men and women are not animals. We are created by God in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them” (Genesis 1:27).

We were created to rule the earth on God’s behalf. God told humanity:

Genesis 1:28 … be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and SUBDUE it: and HAVE DOMINION over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth …

Humans were made by God to rule creation. The late Dr. Adrian Rogers wrote in his book The Secret of Supernatural Living (pg 21):

The uniqueness of man is seen in that he has a spirit. Animals, by contrast, can be spoken of as having bodies and souls, but they are void of spirit. God describes the creation of the animals this way: “And God said, let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind, and it was so” (Genesis 1:24). The Hebrew word translated “creature” in this verse is nephesh and is usually translated “soul”. It means self conscious life, as opposed to plant life, which is without soul or spirit. Plants and animals have bodies. Animal also have souls. So what makes a man unique? It is his spirit. When God made man He breathed into him the “breath of life” (Genesis 2:7). This breath of life became the human spirit. … Man was endowed with a spiritual nature and thus the glorious ability to know and worship God. God did not breath this special breath of life into any other of His creatures.”

Humans are not animals – we have a spiritual component. We should strive to know our Creator. What happened in the Garden of Eden was a travesty of epic proportion. Instead of leading, Adam allowed himself to be led by a serpent, an animal indwelt of Satan.

Sin and death are not God’s fault. It is ours.

God said Isaiah 1:3 … The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master’s crib: but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider.

How sad it is that we were made to walk with God – and yet The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master’s crib. I read something the other day that stated “43% of milennials ‘don’t know, don’t care, don’t believe’ God exists: study”. The study, found at Christian Post, said:

The study also found that overall, younger Americans are significantly more likely than the two previous generations to embrace horoscopes as a guide and Karma as a life principle, to see “getting even” with others as defensible, to accept evolution over creation, and to view owning property as fostering economic injustice. On spiritual matters, Americans younger than 55 are far more likely to distrust the Bible and to believe God is uninvolved in people’s lives.”

Though this text speaks directly to ancient Israel, it could be written to America today. God said:

Isaiah 1:4-5 Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the Lord, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward. 5 Why should ye be stricken any more? ye will revolt more and more: the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint.

When a people draw away from God – for whatever reason – then the body is corrupted. Inscribed on the wall of the Jefferson Memorial are these words:

Can the liberties of a nation be secure if we have removed from the hearts of the people the belief that these liberties are a gift from God?”

When we depart from God, we depart from the blessings of God. Pastor Jim Henry said,

We are running on fumes, because we have forgotten God.”

When Sin Is Unchecked By God’s Moral Law,
Sickness and Death Abound

Isaiah 1:6-7 From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrefying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment. 7 Your country is desolate, your cities are burned with fire: your land, strangers devour it in your presence, and it is desolate, as overthrown by strangers.

Etched in memory is the picture of a television reporter standing in front of burning properties, saying “These are mostly peaceful protests” – and no one laughed!

The only cure for what ails us as a nation – as it was with Israel – is that we return to the Lord Jesus Christ. We must move away from progressiveness and permissiveness, and remember the Law of God. The Ten Commandments are the basis of all lawful truth in any nation. Over the past few years people have wrongly preached lawlessness and called it “Grace” and “Christian Faith”. The Christian is not lawless. Christ never eradicated the moral code of the Law.

Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God Who takes away sin,
So we sacrifice no lambs today.
But Jesus NEVER abolished the Ten Commandments.
Righteousness is always fashionable with God!
We need to return to God’s moral codes!

A young man came to Jesus asking, What shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” (Mark 10:17). Jesus replied:

Mark 10:19-20 Thou knowest the commandments, {then Jesus quotes six commandments} Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honor thy father and mother.

Christ expects us to follow the Ten Commandments. He said, “You know the Commandments”. Our nation must return to the Commandments of God. Only through then do
we see order and peace.

Illustrate Jesus said Honor thy father and mother. Children must be taught the Law of God, so that they will teach it to their children. We live in an age where the Law is horribly ignored. I watched a young father shopping with his son. The father passed by a display filled with large, rubber balls. When the child saw these balls he first pointed, then reached, and THEN began to scream and throw a tantrum. The father resisted for a moment but, as the child’s wails became louder and louder, he relented and gave the boy a ball. That wasn’t the ball he wanted, so he screamed some more until father gave him what he wanted. Later, as I was checking out, I had the privilege of seeing this father and son duo in front of me. The father emptied his cart, putting all on the conveyor belt so it could be checked out but the ball his son had. Once everything else had been paid for he took the ball from his son, saying “I’m not going to buy these”. The reaction from the child was expected – and immediate. The child screamed like a wild monkey caught in a trap. Dad quietened the child by saying “I’ll get it for you in just a moment. Be quiet!” He paid for his groceries and, quickly, before the child could start up again, walked out of the store – without the ball.

What is that child being taught? Certainly, not “Honor your father and mother”. The child is being taught lying, and self love, but not the love of God.

Any civilized society – Christian or not – to survive must stay under God’s Moral Code. Lawlessness and anarchy destroys a family and a nation. The Law of God tells us it is wrong to murder and commit sexual sin. The Spirit of God writes these laws on our hearts. The Christian does not murder nor commit sexual sin because it is written on stone, but because God has written it on our hearts. The Moral Law of “Thou shalt not commit adultery” tells us it is as wrong to steal another person’s goods as it is to steal another person’s spouse. The Moral Law of “Thou shalt not covet your neighbor’s possessions” tells us to be satisfied with what God has given us. The Moral Law extends even into the New Testament, telling us …

1 Corinthians 7:2 … each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband.

Free sex and free love is no more than slavery to the flesh. We are dead to the ceremonial and sacrificial law, but we are NOT dead to God’s moral commandments. The law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.” (Romans 7:12). When Christ comes into your life by faith, He works in your heart and makes you love as you should love. The Law then is written – not on tablets of stone – but on the very heart of the Christian.

God Wants Your Heart – Not Your Ritual

Isaiah 1:9-14 Except the Lord of hosts had left unto us a very small remnant, we should have been as Sodom, and we should have been like unto Gomorrah. 10 Hear the word of the Lord, ye rulers of Sodom; give ear unto the law of our God, ye people of Gomorrah.

Sodom and Gomorrah are long gone, having been destroyed in the Book of Genesis. But God calls His Israel Sodom and Gomorrah because they are like it – reincarnated! What would God call America today?

11 To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? saith the Lord: I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he goats. 12 When ye come to appear before me, who hath required this at your hand, to tread my courts? 13 Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting. 14 Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them.

The feasts and offerings were teaching tools that showed the need of a Messiah/ Redeemer. The Apostle said,

Galatians 3:24-25 the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25 But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.

The Law brought mankind to first a tabernacle, and later a temple, with an animal to be sacrificed. The sacrifices were not just once, but over and over again, showing that the blood of animals does not appease the righteousness of God. The feasts and the law of circumcision were all teaching aids, telling Israel that the Messiah must come. The animal brought before the priest was killed, it’s blood sprinkled, it’s flesh burned, all symbolic of the payment of sins before God.

Then Jesus Christ came. Our Lord Jesus:

Philippians 2:7-8 … made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: {8} And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

Eternal God the Son became mortal but Perfect Man. Jesus Christ came to replace the laws of circumcision and animal sacrifice. Jesus Christ died on Calvary to – once and for all – make payment for sins. The Bible says:

John 3:15 … whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.

Because Jesus stood in my place of judgment, my position before God has changed. The Apostle said:

Revelation 1:5-6 Unto {Jesus Christ} that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen

Dear Christian – if you are a Christian – you are not only loved, but you are washed of sin in Christ’s blood. When the Father looks at us now, He sees not sinners, but kings and priests unto God”.

God is not satisfied with our rituals. God wants our relationship. He wants us to walk with Him, and unto Him, and for Him.

And if you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior, God calls you into a relationship with Him through his Son. Jesus was supernaturally born – made a Man – by the Spirit of God. The Angel told us of Mary’s Child:

Matthew 1:20-21 … that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. {21} And she shall bring forth a Son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for He shall save his people from their sins.

The animal sacrifices and good works could not save. Our good works can never save us. We need not good works, but GOD works. We need Jesus. It was Jesus Who came to …

Mark 8:31 … suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.

Jesus Christ died for our sins. God calls whosoever will hear Him to come to Him and be saved. God cries out to America, just as He cried out to Israel so long ago,

Isaiah 1:18 … Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.

When you come to God through Christ, the Spirit of God changes you. Your sins are covered by the blood of the Lamb of God.

God says “Come”. Come to Him. Believe in Jesus.
God says “Come now”. Don’t delay. Run to Jesus today.
God says “Let us reason together”. He does not want to damn you.

What is the alternative? To reject God, to walk away from the embrace of God the Son, to commit the unpardonable sin of rejecting the Holy Spirit of God, is to bring cursing rather than blessing. God said:

Isaiah 1:19-20 If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land: {20} But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.

God puts before us blessing and cursing, and gives us a choice. What will you seek? Those who serve sin are so very temporary – for sin brings with it destruction. Jesus said:

John 8:34-36 Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. {35} And the servant abideth not in the house forever: but the Son abideth ever. {36} If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.

Will you be freed from Egypt? Then come to Jesus. Be not entangled again in sin, but live daily to please the Lord. You are released from Egypt to worship God in this present wilderness. You are released from Egypt to enjoy life in Christ, to be filled with the joy of God daily – not to wallow in the mire of the pigpen. The manifest proof of your salvation is the life that strives to please the Lord. The Apostle said:

1 John 3:10 In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother

If you were wise you would shake off your sin and turn to Jesus while there is time. There is a whole universe for God to govern, yet He makes time to talk to you. Come now. Today if you will hear His voice, harden not your hearts. Choose life. Choose Jesus. Receive Him as Lord and Savior. May God touch your hearts with His Word and His Spirit. Amen and Amen.

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The Preaching Of The Cross

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

1 Corinthians 1:18-25 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. 20 Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? 21 For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. 22 For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: 23 but we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness; 24 but unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. 25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

Illustration Opening For Mother’s Day a husband brought his wife a small but nicely made statue of Jesus. The statue had Jesus with a crown of thorns on His head. Though not on the Cross, this little statue had puncture marks in its feet and hands. Though the wife loved the gift, their little daughter loved it even more. Every morning she’s wake up, and run to where that little statue was. One morning the mother got up, and decided do a little waxing of the furniture, so she moved the statue to another place. That little girl got up and – running to where “Jesus” was supposed to be – she saw “He” was gone. She ran to her mamma crying, “Mamma, mamma, where’s Jesus?”.

I often hear sermons preached, and have preached some my own self, where at the end of the sermon I wondered “Where’s Jesus”? I have been to funerals where the preacher spoke on the deceased, and tried to comfort the family, but at the end of the message I asked “Where’s Jesus?”. There are families falling apart today, children confused about their divine design, people dying right and left. I ask again, “Where’s Jesus?”.

When Jesus Is Not In The Church,
It Is A Family Of Fools

A Church is designed by God to be a family – the Family of God on earth. When Paul recognized the Family of God on earth, the Church, he said:

Ephesians 3:14-15 For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named

The Church is not just Riverview, or the Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, Holiness, Pentecostal, Lutheran, Catholic, non-denominational, Church of Christ …. I could go on and on. Humans are so flawed, so divisive, that we segregate and sectionalize everything of God. But in Paul’s day the Church had no denominations (or non-denominations, which is a denomination, thank you very much). The Church is a family, governed by God the Father, entered into through the Lord Jesus Christ, and empowered by the Spirit of God.

Every person who has received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior is my brother or sister. Every person who has NOT received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior is NOT my brother or sister – though I desire them to be. The Family of God is not single colored – it is multicolored. It is distinguished by a people who have believed on the preaching of the Cross.

The Church at Corinth had many problems because they had gotten away from the unifying Cross of Christ. Earlier in the text the Apostle said:

1 Corinthians 1:10-13 Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. 11 For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. 12 Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. 13 Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?

Anytime a Church is divided and looks foolish, it is because the population has gotten away from the Cross of Christ. The Cross has become boring, or mundane, or out of date. The Apostle reminds us all that:

1 Corinthians 1:18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.

The Cross of Christ is the centerpiece of our faith. The Cross for the Christian is

Romans 1:16 … the power of God unto salvation for everyone that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

It is faith alone in the Cross alone gives
the believer a completed salvation.

Notice the Apostle says, unto us which are saved. When you receive what Jesus did for you on Calvary by faith – relying wholly totally upon His finished work, the Bible says you are saved. That’s not future tense, but past tense. It is what Jesus did for you on the Cross that saves you, that makes you right in the eyes of God.

Some, Like The Pharisees & Scribes, Reject The Cross

1 Corinthians 1: 21-22 … it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. 22 For the Jews require a SIGN …

Some are never saved and brought into the Family of God by the Spirit of God because they require a SIGN”, {Greek σημεῖον sēmeîon, {pronounced say-mi’-on}, means “a miraculous display, a sign, a token from God, a wonder”. God gave Moses “signs” to perform in front of Pharaoh and the people of Israel to prove that he was from God (Exodus 4:8-9).

The Pharisees and Scribes often saw Jesus do miraculous things – but then demanded a sēmeîon, a sign”. For instance, in …

Matthew 12:22-24 Then was brought unto him one possessed with a devil, blind, and dumb: and he healed him, insomuch that the blind and dumb both spake and saw. And all the people were amazed, and said, Is not this the son of David? But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils.

Jesus did a miraculous thing – He healed this man with the power of the Holy Spirit. When John preached on Jesus, the Pharisees asked Him “Are you the Messiah?”. John said that, no, he was not the Messiah, but the forerunner or Herald of the Messiah. Then John said:

John 3:34-36 For he whom God hath sent {the Messiah} speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him. The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand. He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.

Jesus received the Holy Spirit of God without measure. Jesus said,

Luke 11:20 if I with the finger of God cast out devils, no doubt the kingdom of God is come upon you.

Jesus is THE Messiah. He is THE One that God the Father sent. Yet when the Pharisees and Scribe – the religious crowd – saw Jesus cast out demons, they said “He casts out demons by the prince of demons”. They would not believe in Him. Ignoring and discounting the many SIGNS that Jesus gave, they wanted Jesus to give them another sign.

Matthew 12:28 Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from thee.

Jesus, we will believe in You if you show us a sign. Oh, to heal the sick, raise the dead, cause the deaf to hear, the blind to see, the cripple to walk – these things are not enough. Do you know why?

Because the Scribes, Pharisees, and Chief Priests thought themselves good enough to go to Heaven. After all, they kept the Law!

There are many today who believe they “keep the Law”, and are therefore certain to go to Heaven. They say, “We don’t need Jesus – we are just fine before God because we keep His Law. Now I want you to understand, the Law of God is perfect, and right, and true. The Law of God has never been rescinded. Our Lord Jesus said:

Matthew 5:17-20 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. … For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.

The Law of God is Holy – it is a reflection of God’s image. The Law of God was given by God to every person as a goal to meet. Every polite and civilized society has for it’s law an echo of the Law of God, or what we call “The Ten Commandments”. The Scribes and Pharisees thought that they kept the Law of God perfectly. Jesus disagreed. None of us keeps the Law of God perfectly.

The Law of God is the only thing that God every directly wrote without going through a human. The Law of God was written on tablets of stone with the “finger of God”.

Moses told Israel in Deuteronomy 9:10 the LORD delivered unto me two tables of stone written with the finger of God; and on them was written according to all the words, which the LORD spake with you in the mount out of the midst of the fire in the day of the assembly.

The Ten Commandments are the only thing DIRECTLY written by God’s own hand – His finger. The FINGER of God is the Holy Spirit of God (Jesus said in Luke 11:20, “I cast out demons with the Finger of God”). The Pharisees and Scribes thought, “We keep the Law perfectly, so we are righteous with God”, but Jesus said, “No, you are not. Your righteousness is NOT ENOUGH to get you into Heaven”. Why is this?

Because NO ONE can keep the Law perfectly –
No one BUT Jesus!

That was the whole point of Jesus’ “Sermon on the Mount”. You remember that? When Jesus was giving “The Sermon on the Mount”, He was telling the Scribes and Pharisees – all those who are SELF RIGHTEOUS – that they were not fully keeping the Law.

You are not fully keeping the Law if love is not in it!

Hear Jesus’ words. He said:

Matthew 5:21-24 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.

Jesus was saying “You have been taught that murder is just the taking of an innocent life – to actually kill is a violation of the sixth commandment. BUT I SAY UNTO YOU you can murder someone without spilling any blood. When you carry a grudge – or speak evil of a brother or a sister in Christ – or make yourself better than another – YOU ARE GUILTY OF MURDER.” Murder is to carry a loveless and hateful attitude toward anyone. It is a sin that will keep your service for God unacceptable. No one keeps the Law perfectly.

Or consider the seventh commandment against adultery. Jesus said:

Matthew 5:27-28 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.

Our God looks at the heart. When we look at the Ten Commandments, we are not to ignore them and just throw up our hands. The Law of God is righteous and pure. But we are to look at the Law of God written with the Finger of God, and say,

Lord, I am a sinner. I cannot keep your Law perfectly, that Law written with Your Finger. Lord, I ask for the righteousness of Jesus Christ to be applied to my account. I need more than the tablets of stone. I need Your Finger to write on my heart the love of God. I need You, dear Lord, to come into my life, and make me “born again of the Spirit”. I want the Blood of Jesus Christ to cleanse me from all sin.”

The Law brings us to Christ (Galatians 3:24-25). The Law brings us to the Cross of Calvary. When the Pharisees asked Jesus for a sign, Jesus told them:

Matthew 12:39-40 An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonah: For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

The only sign God will give to the “Jewish questioner” is the sign of Christ’s death. Jesus was crucified for my sins, and for your sins. The Bible says:

John 3:16-22 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. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.

When a person comes to Christ by faith and is saved, that person does not become lawless. That person is “born again of the Spirit” (John 3:3, 5-8). The same “Finger of God” that wrote on the stone tablets the perfect Law of God, this finger writes on you stony heart. This was what God foretold through the Prophet:

Ezekiel 11:19-20 I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh: That they may walk in my statutes, and keep mine ordinances, and do them: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God.

Being saved does not make you lawless, but it changes you. Being saved, God comes into your life, and guides you by His Spirit. And as the believer goes through this life, we know that we are saved:

Titus 3:5-6 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior;

The Christian is a “new creature in Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:7). I now approach the Throne of God our Father not with my own works for justification, but believing and lifting up the Cross of Christ. It is not the ritual of circumcision that saved me – but faith in the finished work of Jesus (Galatians 6:15).

The Jews Seek A Sign, The Gentiles Seek Knowledge

1 Corinthians 1:22-24 For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: 23 but we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness; 24 but unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.

The Jews relied on an imperfect keeping of the Law for their salvation – which is foolishness to God. But the Gentiles, the Greeks, they rely on inherent human goodness and good works.

The ATHEISTS discount the Cross of Christ because they believe there is no God. An off shoot of ATHEISM, the HUMANIST says “just be good – do good”. When the Apostle Paul preached in Athens, the Bible says:

Acts 17:16 … his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry.

When God made humans in His Image and after His likeness (Genesis 1:27), He gave each person an innate, pervasive knowledge that there is something greater than we are. When we do not move toward the God Who created us, the God of Scripture, then we will create a god, whether it be humanism, evolution, atheism, or some other deity.

The Physicist, Mathematician, and Philosopher Blaise Pascal spoke of what many call a “God Shaped Hole” in every person’s soul. Pascal wrote in Pensees:

What else does this craving, and this helplessness, proclaim but that there was once in man a true happiness, of which all that now remains is the empty print and trace?

This he tries in vain to fill with everything around him, seeking in things that are not there the help he cannot find in those that are, though none can help, since this infinite abyss can be filled only with an infinite and immutable object; in other words by God himself”.

Gentile people are desperately seeking happiness in human works, human things, human loves. Yet all the things that we Gentiles, in our search for wisdom, do not find our completion or our happiness except in the Cross of Christ. When Paul preached at Athens the Bible says:

Acts 17:18 …. certain philosophers of the Epicureans, and of the Stoicks, encountered him. And some said, What will this babbler say? other some, He seemeth to be a setter forth of strange gods: because he preached unto them Jesus, and the resurrection.

To the world, the Cross of Christ is foolishness.
But to the saved, it is the Power of God unto salvation.

  • We preach Christ crucified. It is Christ crucified that shows me how much God loves me. When Jesus prayed, He told the Father:

John 17:24 Father … Thou lovest Me before the foundation of the world …

Jesus is not just some Man, some Rabbi Who came along. Jesus Christ is ETERNAL GOD THE SON. We are told in …

John 1:1-3 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 The same was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made…. 14 And the Word was made 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.

Jesus Christ is Eternal God the Son. He pre-existed with both Father and Spirit before the world was made. This God became Man, Perfect Man, for us, to bring us to God. This Jesus was repeatedly announced by the Father as “My Beloved Son, in Whom I am WELL PLEASED” (Matthew 3:17). And yet, God was willing to have Jesus lay His life down for us. Jesus laid His life down for ALL of us. Born into this world a Jew, Jesus died for every man and woman. The Bible says:

Galatians 1:4 {Jesus} … gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father:

Jesus – a Jew – laid His life down for red, yellow, black, and white – we were all PRECIOUS in His sight.

  • We preach Christ crucified. It is Christ crucified that shows us how much we all really need God. The Bible says:

Matthew 26:59 Now the chief priests, and elders, and all the council, sought false witness against Jesus, to put him to death;

This is clearly a violation of God’s ninth commandment, “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor” (Exodus 20:16). The Jews had to break God’s Law in order to crucify Jesus. But what about the Gentiles? The Governor of Jerusalem,

Luke 23:4 … Pilate said to the chief priests and to the people, I find NO FAULT in this man.

The soldiers beat an innocent Man. The crowd cried out, “Crucify Him, and release Barabbas” (Mark 15:13). The innocent was crucified with the guilty.

It was not Christ’s beatings and scourgings that made payment for our sins. It was His beatings and scourgings that revealed how wicked we all truly are – and how we all need the Savior.

Jesus was so beaten that “He looked like a worm, and not a man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people” (Psalm 22:6). As Jesus hung on that Cross suffering, “they shake the head, saying, He trusted on the Lord that He would deliver Him: let Him deliver Him, seeing He delighted in Him” (Psalm 22:7-8). They mocked Jesus. He thirsted, and they gave Him vinegar and gall to drink. In His sufferings you see how badly we all need Jesus.

  • We preach Christ CRUCIFIED. This is past tense, not future tense. Jesus Christ paid the penalty for sin – He and only He did – once and for all. Jesus Christ came to do the will of God (Hebrews 10:9). The Bible says:

Hebrews 10:10 … we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

Jesus paid for my sins once and for all. Receiving Him as Lord and Savior, I am no longer enslaved to brokenness and sin. I belong to God. And that complete my very incomplete life.

Is your hope in Jesus Christ? If not, I pray that today God would draw you to Him through Jesus. Without Him, there is no life. May God’s Word and His Spirit bring glory to Him, and peace to us all. Amen and Amen.

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Seeking Father And The Sure Mercies Of David

Photo by Timothy Eberly on Unsplash

Isaiah 55:6-11 Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: 7 Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. 8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. 9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. 10 For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: 11 So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.

The greatest power that a person can have is to be in step with the God of the Universe.

There is no tragedy that can defeat the person in step with God. There is no evil that can befall the God following Christian. The Prophet Moses sang when the armies of Egypt were crushed under the waters of the Red Sea:

Exodus 15:2 The Lord is my strength and song, and he is become my salvation: he is my God, and I will prepare him an habitation; my father’s God, and I will exalt him.

Who is like unto our God? Why does He love us so? I have often found these flies in my home – you know the kind – that will lite on you when you are resting, annoying you, driving you crazy. I find a fly swatter and – whack! – it is gone! So much for the fly! How often are we like flies to God our Creator? He gives us clear instruction, and we do not heed it. We buzz around God’s head willy nilly, rather than seek Him and lovingly trust Him. Why does God love us so? And yet, He does. God loves us, and calls us to His side. The Bible tells us:

Genesis 1:27 … God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them.

Humans are not animals. Animals are NOT created in the image of God, but men and women are. Humans are not angels. Angels are sometimes called “sons of God” in the Scripture, but only because God made them. Only men and women are in God’s image. Being in God’s image, we are designed to have an ongoing relationship with God. We were made for God. It is …

Psalm 100:3 … God Who made us, and not we ourselves …

We are incomplete without God. Our text tells us:

Isaiah 55:6 Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near:

Word Study We are to chase God, to “seek” Him. The word translated “SEEK” is the Hebrew דָּרַשׁ dârash, {pronounced daw-rash’}, which means “to follow, to pursue, to chase after, to greatly desire”. The word is sometimes used for intense prayer.

When Isaac married Rebekah, Rebekah was barren or childless. Isaac “entreated” (עָתַר ʻâthar, {pronounced aw-thar}) or “prayed for Rebekah”, and God doubly blessed her with twins. As the twins began to “struggle together within her” the Bible says Rebekah inquired {dârash, {pronounced daw-rash’} of the Lord. She ran to God in prayer, seeking His face. God answered Rebekah, telling her that the twins, Esau and Jacob would be the fathers of two nations. God said:

Genesis 25:23 … Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger.

Those who belong to God by faith should seek Him when we are on the mountaintop, but also seek Him in the valleys. We need to build a habit of seeking God. We must build a habit of pursuing His direction.

Isaiah 55:7-11 Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.

God will not draw near to anyone while they are following the path of unrighteousness. It is God Who establishes right and wrong. Not us, but God. God will not come near while we have hidden sin in our lives. When we repent, humbling ourselves before God, and heed His Word, He will come near.

David Often Sought The Lord,
Whereas Saul Did Not

When King Saul defied God’s Word, and the Lord told him “because thou hast rejected the Word of the Lord, and the Lord hath rejected thee from being King over Israel”, rather than repent and seek God’s forgiveness, he ignored God’s Word. When Saul realized that God was going to put David in his place, Saul began trying to kill David. The Priests at Nob gave the fugitive David and his men shew-bread (1 Samuel 21), hallowed bread from the tabernacle. When Saul heard of this, he ordered:

1 Samuel 22:17 … turn, and slay the priests of the Lord; because their hand also is with David, and because they knew when he fled {from me}, and did not shew it to me

Saul had 85 priests killed. Saul ordered Nob, the city of the priests, smote with the edge of the sword, both men and women, children and sucklings, and oxen, and asses, and sheep, with the edge of the sword (1 Samuel 22:19). Saul so rejected the Word of the Lord that he murdered hundreds of innocent people. God was far from Saul.

But God was near David. David sought the Lord. He ran from Saul, but sought God daily. When the Philistines attacked the city of Keilah, the Bible says:

1 Samuel 23:2 … David inquired of the LORD, saying, Shall I go and smite these Philistines? And the LORD said unto David, Go, and smite the Philistines, and save Keilah.

David did not make assumptions. He sought out the Lord – and the Lord gave David victory over the Philistines. Saul heard that David had saved Keilah, and Saul said:

1 Samuel 23:7 … God hath delivered him into mine hand; for he is shut in, by entering into a town that hath gates and bars.

God was far from Saul, but Saul – in his sin – still thought God was with him. Oh, that Saul had repented! Saul gathered an army of men to take David captive, but David knew to Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near. David prayed:

1 Samuel 23:10-11 … O LORD God of Israel, thy servant hath certainly heard that Saul seeketh to come to Keilah, to destroy the city for my sake. 11 Will the men of Keilah deliver me up into his hand? will Saul come down, as thy servant hath heard? O LORD God of Israel, I beseech thee, tell thy servant. And the LORD said, He will come down.

David kept his eyes and ears on God, and Saul could not take him. The Bible says “Saul sought him every day, but God delivered David not into Saul’s hand” (1 Samuel 23:14).

David Heeded God, Not Man

Saul continued to chase David, seeking to kill him. David and his men went into the wilderness of Engedi. The Bible tells us that while pursuing David, Saul decided to take a rest in a cave in that wilderness. Saul didn’t know that David and his men were hiding in that same cave.

As soon as Saul slept, one of David’s men told him:

1 Samuel 24:4 … the men of David said unto him, Behold the day of which the Lord said unto thee, Behold, I will deliver thine enemy into thine hand, that thou mayest do to him as it shall seem good unto thee.

This sounded like a good idea. God is in control of all things. The Bible says:

Isaiah 55:8-9 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. 9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Saul was chasing you, David. Samuel has previously anointed you to be the next king over Israel. Now here – God has allowed Saul to go to sleep right here, in this cave. You can do what you want – just go on and kill Saul.

When the devil comes, he never advertises his coming. He never says, “Hi, I’m the devil, and I want to mess up your walk with God”. No, the devil comes as a wolf in sheep’s clothing (Matthew 7:15). The devil dresses up in suits and ties when he goes to Church, or dresses up in armor when he goes to war with us. Jesus said of the devil:

John 8:44 … He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.

When someone tells you something is a good idea, you had better check it against what God’s Word has said. David’s men are telling him “Go ahead and kill the King”. But God’s Word says:

1 Chronicles 16:22 … Touch not Mine anointed, and do My prophets no harm (see also Psalm 105:15).

Saul has already killed 85 anointed priests and their families. Will David follow the same path? No, for David knew the Word of God. David went so far as to cut off the skirt of Saul’s robe” (1 Samuel 24:5), but this was as far as he went. David told his men:

1 Samuel 24:6 The Lord forbid that I should do this thing unto my master, the Lord’s anointed, to stretch forth mine hand against him, seeing he is the anointed of the Lord.

God made Saul the King of Israel, and it would have to be God Who took Saul out. Saul would continue to pursue David. The Bible says that Saul pursued David with 3000 chosen men into the wilderness of Ziph. The Bible says that that very night:

1 Samuel 26:3 … David abode in the wilderness, and he saw that Saul came after him into the wilderness … 7 So David and {the mighty warrior} Abishai {went down to the camp} by night: and, BEHOLD, Saul lay sleeping within the {circle of the camp}, and his spear stuck in the ground at his {head}

Once more, David is in a perfect position to kill his enemy. Saul is asleep. The Bible says “a DEEP SLEEP FROM THE LORD was FALLEN UPON THEM” (1 Samuel 26:12). David’s companion, Abishai says:

1 Samuel 26:8 … God hath delivered thine enemy into thine hand this day: now therefore let me smite him, I pray thee, with the spear even to the earth at once, and I will not smite him the second time.

David, you say the word, and Saul will be dead meat! Oh, what a temptation! But what did David reply?

1 Samuel 26:9-11 … Destroy him not: for who can stretch forth his hand against the Lord’s anointed, and be guiltless? 10 David said furthermore, As the Lord liveth, the Lord shall smite him; or his day shall come to die; or he shall descend into battle, and perish. 11 The Lord forbid that I should stretch forth mine hand against the Lord’s anointed:

David was “a man after God’s own heart” (1 Samuel 13:4; Acts 13:22). David sought to please God more than himself or others. David was not perfect. There were many times he failed in his relationship with God. But David loved the Lord, and followed the Prophet in Seek{ing} the Lord while He may be found, call{ing} upon Him while he is near.

To get away from Saul, David moved into Philistine territory with his men, and ended up in the city of Ziklag:

1 Samuel 27:6 Then {the King of Gath} Achish gave {David} Ziklag that day: wherefore Ziklag pertaineth unto the Kings of Judah unto this day

But David’s troubles were not over. One day while David and his men were away, the Amalekites

1 Samuel 30:1-2 … {attacked} Ziklag, and burned it with fire 2 And had taken the women captives, that were therein: {the Amalekites} slew not any, either great or small, but carried them away, and went on their way

What happened when David found Ziklag burned – their wives, sons, and daughters all taken captive? The Bible says:

1 Samuel 30:4 Then David and the people that were with him lifted up their voice and wept, until they had no more power to weep.

It is all right to weep, to express pain and anguish. I have often heard people say “You shouldn’t question God”. I don’t believe that. I do believe that God is much higher, much greater than we are. The Almighty tells us:

Isaiah 55:8-9 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. 9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

When we are hurt, we weep. Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself wept. (John 11:35). David wept – with his mighty men – because it hurt him to see all that he loved destroyed. Yet David loved God. David said in another place:

Psalm 56:8-11 Thou tellest my wanderings: put thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in thy book? 9 When I cry unto thee, then shall mine enemies turn back: this I know; for God is for me. 10 In God will I praise his word: in the Lord will I praise his word. 11 In God have I put my trust: I will not be afraid what man can do unto me.

There is no shame in weeping. There is no shame in asking God “Why”. Asking “why” does not make us bad Christians. Asking “why” makes us good Children. Asking “why” makes me a good son of God. Compared to God, I will always be lesser, a child.
Parents expect questions.

Illustrate The Bible says in 1 Samuel 30:6, “David was GREATLY DISTRESSED”, the Hebrew מְאֹד mᵊ’ōḏ יָצַר yāṣar, which could be translated “was besieged”. When an ancient city was “besieged”, it was surrounded by the enemy, and deprived both food and water until it surrendered. David felt like a city besieged. On top of this, we are told:

1 Samuel 30:6 … the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters:

This is a common thing that happens when trials come our way – we seek someone to blame. David was handy, and these people followed David to Ziklag, so obviously it was David’s fault. This adds to David’s agony.

What will David do? Again, looking at God’s Word:

Isaiah 55:9-11 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. 10 For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: 11 So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.

We do not understand why things happen as they do – but God is in control. God said the rain and the snow have a purpose – to bring forth fruit in the land. If all we ever had was sunny days, we would never grow. Let me say that again:

If all we ever had was sunny days, we would never grow!

Just as the rain and the snow – though miserable when you are in the midst of it – has a purpose, all that comes to the believer has a purpose. God said “So it is with My Word. What I have said will stand. What I decree will be. Trust My Word. Follow My Word. Live to please Me. So David has a choice. David can respond in the flesh and nothing good will come of it, or David can do what he did:

1 Samuel 30:6 … David encouraged himself in the Lord his God.

When your city is in ruins, and your life is besieged, look unto God! David sought the Lord while He might be found.

1 Samuel 30:8 … David inquired at the Lord, saying, Shall I pursue after this troop? shall I overtake them? And {the Lord} answered him, Pursue: for thou shalt surely overtake them, and without fail recover all.

David sought out the Word of God. God told David:

Pursue
Overtake
Recover

As David and his men pursued the Amalekites, he came across an Egyptian slave that had been left behind because he was sick. That young Egyptian led David and his men to their camp. The Bible says:

1 Samuel 30:16-19 {the Amalekites} were spread abroad upon all the earth, eating and drinking, and dancing, because of all the great spoil that they had taken out of the land of the Philistines, and out of the land of Judah. 17 And David smote them from the twilight even unto the evening of the next day: and there escaped not a man of them, save four hundred young men, which rode upon camels, and fled. 18 And David recovered all that the Amalekites had carried away: and David rescued his two wives. 19 And there was nothing lacking to them, neither small nor great, neither sons nor daughters, neither spoil, nor any thing that they had taken to them: David recovered all.

In Conclusion

The greatest strength we have is not in ourselves, but in adhering to God and His Word. The solution to our problems is not found in a political party nor in grand technology. The solution to what ails us is to return to the Lord Who made us. God said:

Isaiah 55:3 Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David.

As God did with David, He will do with you. God is no respecter of persons. Peter told us:

Acts 10:34-35 Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: 35 but in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.

How do we get into the “Sure Mercies of David”? We do as David did. We believe on God our Creator. We have faith in Him, and do what He says, no matter what others might think. Our text for tonight started out with these words:

Isaiah 55:1-2 Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. 2 Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labor for that which satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness.

God freely gives salvation and blessing to those who put their trust in Him. If you are thirsty, come. Receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Cherish His Word. Commit to following what He says. Not what the world says, nor what others may say, but what Jesus says. What is in the Word. God’s Word is sure. Trust Him, and you shall live victoriously now, and eternally forever. Amen and Amen. May God the Holy Spirit and His precious Word cause a profound change in all our hearts!

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The Parable Of Two Idolaters

idols abound
Photo by Gabriel Meinert on Unsplash

Turn with me in your Bibles first to Matthew 5:17-20. We’ve studied this text in detail just a few Sundays ago, but I want to refresh our memories. Jesus said:

Matthew 5:20 For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.

When Jesus came to this earth – God become perfect Man – Jesus lived the Law. He fulfilled the Law of sacrifice by dying on the Cross as “the Lamb of God”. There are no more animal sacrifices accepted from God to cover sins. If you are saved, your sin is covered by the blood of Christ.

It is His Blood that brings us near God (Ephesians 2:13)
It is His Blood that establishes the New Covenant (1 Corinthians 10:16)
It is His Blood that makes it possible for us to serve God (Hebrews 9:14)
It is His Blood that covers our sins once and for all (1 Peter 1:19)

Under the Old Covenant, God called His people to the Temple to worship. Under the New Covenant, the people of God ARE His Temple. God lives in us who are saved! We are to cherish God above all else.

Jesus fulfilled the ceremonial and shadow laws of the Old Covenant, but did not erase the need to love and obey God. His commandments are still in effect, even today. The Law is holy, and the commandment Holy and Just and Good” (Romans 7:12). When Jesus spoke of the GREATEST COMMANDMENT, He said:

Matthew 22:37-38 … Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment.

God is to have ALL of our love. He is to be loved much more than those that are around you. God is to be loved more than you love yourself. God told His Old Testament believers

Deuteronomy 10:12 … what doth the Lord thy God require of thee, but to fear the Lord thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul,

God demands that His people love Him first and foremost. If we love God most, then we will love those around us who are made in God’s image (Genesis 1:26). If we love God most, then we will love the spouse God has given us, and the children that are His gifts. We are to “love the Lord our God with all our hearts, with all our souls, with all our might” (Deuteronomy 6:5). And if we love God, “we will keep His commandments” (1 John 5:3-5).

One of the most grievous sins in all the Scripture is to not love God, but to place your love on other gods. This is the sin of idolatry. Idolatry is to make a god in our image and in our likeness, to create a false god to follow. This is what the Pharisees and the Scribes did – they were idolaters.

Jesus told us in Matthew 5:20, “Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven. What did Jesus mean by that? In order to understand this, we will look at what many called “The Parable of the Prodigal Son”. Turn with me to:

Luke 15:1-2 Then drew near unto {Jesus} all the publicans and sinners for to hear him. 2 And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them.

The phrase “Prodigal Son” is not found in the Scripture. Many Bibles have it posted just before the parable, but this is an addition by the translators. Jesus never called it “The Parable of the Prodigal Son”. If I ask people “What does ‘Prodigal’ mean?”, most would not have a clue. Some would guess it to be “wayward” or “wandering”, but you would be wrong. The word “prodigal” comes from Latin, and means “one who wastes resources by spending it recklessly”. By titling the parable “The Parable of the Prodigal Son” you miss the entire point. Let’s focus. Jesus said:

Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven

Now Jesus is near all the publicans and sinners, but far off the scribes and Pharisees murmur against the Son of God. “This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them, they bitterly say. Their righteousness will not get them into the Kingdom of Heaven. It will not save them. They are self righteous. They are IDOLATERS. Go down to Jesus’ parable.

Matthew 15:11 And he said, A certain man had two sons:

Though Jesus doesn’t give the sermon a title, it is not “The Parable of THE Prodigal Son”. It is a parable about “two sons. It is a sermon about “TWO sons who were IDOLATERS. Neither son initially loved the Father of this parable.

The two idolatrous sons could be called
“Publican Sinner” and “Pharisee Scribe”

PS and PS – both initially missed the mark!

Since Jesus looked at “Publican Sinner” first, let’s read about him first.

Publican Sinner Worshiped SELF & STUFF

Luke 15:11-13 And he said, A certain man had two sons: 12 and the younger {Publican Sinner} of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And {Father} divided unto them his living. 13 And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living.

The younger son, Publican Sinner, took what the Father gave him. As the younger son according to Jewish Law, he was allowed 1/3 of the estate, and his older brother the double portion. Publican Sinner is like every person born into this world. Every person who has ever lived has benefited from the Grace of God. It is by God’s Grace that we are given life. It is by God’s Grace that we are not immediately destroyed because of our sinful nature. The Bible says:

Psalm 145:9 The Lord is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works.

God is so good to us all. Jesus said,

Matthew 5:45 … your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

Luke 6:35 … {our God} the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.

God gives life and breath to us all, even though we are born idolatrous. God does “good, and {gives} us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness”. Old Publican Sinner went to the Father and said, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. Give me what YOU owe me. And the Father – filled with Grace – is “slow to anger and great in power” (Nahum 1:3). He didn’t give his son what he deserved. He gave his son grace – the grace that God gives to us all. Note that our text states:

Luke 15:13 … not many days after the younger son gathered all together

Young Publican Sinner didn’t immediately wander away from the Father. He stayed home for a few days. But then he gathered ALL together. He is suppose to be loving the Father with “ALL his heart, ALL his soul, ALL his mind”, but his heart is set on his stuff, his things. Gathering up his things, he moved into a far country. What is a far country? It is a place in your heart where you turn away from the God Who loves you, and begin to follow false gods and goddesses. The far country is a life that ignores the kindness and Grace, the Presence of God. The far country is when I stop loving God with my all, and instead make myself a god.

You can be in a “far country”, far from God, sitting in Church. Anytime your idol is yourself, you are far from God. Satan even tempted Jesus to leave God.

The devil told Jesus, “If you’re hungry, command these stones be made bread {That’s a “far country”}. If you’re the Son of God, cast yourself down, and God will save you {That’s a “far country”}. If you’ll worship me, the devil, I will give you all the best this world has to offer” {That’s a “far country”} (see Matthew 4:1-11). Jesus REFUSED to go into a far country – He refused to wander from God. Publican Sinner wandered from God.

Illustrate Beloved, God is everywhere, but in your mind you can go into a “far country”. I loved the illustration Pastor Kyle Idleman used, saying, “God is like electricity”. There is electricity all around you in this building, but few of you notice it unless it is mentioned. Electricity is there. If you were to probe into an electric socket, you would know it is there. God is there. He is there. In one sense Publican Sinner could not get away from God. In our minds, however, we can go into “a far country” by allowing idolatry & sin in our lives.

Proverbs 15:29 The Lord is far from the wicked: but he heareth the prayer of the righteous.

Publican Sinner took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living. He is his own idol, his own god. The Bible says “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). When you love yourself more than you love God, when you are your own idol, you invest everything into that god. But in time, the good times end. Jesus said:

Luke 15:14-16 And when {Publican Sinner} had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want. 15 And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. 16 And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him.

Idolatry always destroys those who worship it. Idols are nothing at all – they cannot do evil, nor is it in them to do good. Idolatry exchanges the truth of God with a lie (Romans 1:23-25). Idols were always placed in the “high places”, but worship of idols will always bring you low. The Bible says,

1 John 5:21 Little children, keep yourselves from idols.

The younger son Publican Sinner lost everything. Now he is off feeding pigs. Under the Old Covenant Law, pigs were considered unclean creatures (Leviticus 11:7; Deuteronomy 14:8; Isaiah 65:4; 66:1). The young idolater is hungry. No man gave unto him. He is eating the slop he is feeding the pigs. Then Publican Sinner REPENTS. That’s what we read:

Luke 15:17 … And when he came to himself

This is what the Bible calls REPENTANCE.

Preach This! REPENTANCE is when you stop making excuses and WAKE UP. REPENTANCE is when you get tired of eating the slop of the hogs. REPENTANCE is when you stop saying “I deserve this” and humble yourself, saying “I will go to my father”. You cannot be saved without REPENTANCE. You are not a child of God but for REPENTANCE.

The Apostle Paul preached, “they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance” (Acts 26:20). Repentance is when you wake up, and realize that YOU are not a god – that there is but ONE GOD – and there is access to this ONE GOD through ONE JESUS CHRIST ALONE.

God the Son said in John 7:37, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink”. The Holy Spirit says “Come”! The God of Heaven says “let the one who is thirsty COME. And whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely” (Revelation 22:17).

Young Publican Sinner repented, saying (Luke 15:17-18) “How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee”.

Notice there are no EXCUSES made here. God never forgives an EXCUSE. He will, however, forgive those who repent. The picture of REPENTANCE is in these words:

Luke 15:19 {I} am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.

Young Publican Sinner stopped doing things HIS way, and decided to let God be God. Like the Publicans and Sinners, he drew near to God.

Luke 15:20-24 {Publican Sinner} arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. 21 And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. 22 But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: 23 and bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: 24 for this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.

Publican Sinner is given a new name, a new start. In the arms of his Father he is blessed. In the arms of his Father he is made alive. Jesus earlier said:

Luke 15:7 I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.

Who need(s) no repentance? Everyone needs repentance. You cannot be saved without repentance. The Apostle Paul said:

2 Corinthians 7:10 … godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of …

Repentance is a gift of God that leads us to God. It is “God Who grants repentance that leads to life” (Acts 11:18). God gives the gift of life freely and daily. He kept young Publican Sinner alive until he “came to himself”, or woke up from the stupor of idolatry. Because God is longsuffering (2 Peter 3:9) and kind (Romans 2:4), this young man came to repentance. Repenting, he came to the Father. Repenting, he was received into the family of God.

Pharisee Scribe Stayed With The Father –
But He Too Was In A “Far Place”

The younger Publican Sinner has come home, and there is rejoicing throughout the house. Now we read:

Luke 15:25-27 Now his elder son {this is Pharisee Scribe} was in the field: and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard musick and dancing. 26 And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant. 27 And he said unto him, Thy brother is come; and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound.

I want you to notice what Pharisee Scribe did. He did NOT call the Father. He called one of the servants. He asked one of the servants what was going on. Jesus chastised the Pharisees and Scribes because:

Matthew 15:3 … {you} transgress the commandment of God by your tradition

and in Matthew 15:6 … {Pharisee Scribe} ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition.

Pharisee Scribe did not consult God, nor His Word, when determining right or wrong. Pharisee Scribe was faithful to be in Church, faithful to the Temple, faithful to the rituals, but had no personal relationship to the Father. Pharisee Scribe wanted the Father to wait on HIM – and was upset that Publican Sinner was being forgiven and blessed. Our Lord said:

Luke 15:28 {Publican Scribe} was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and entreated him.

Pharisee Scribe was just as much an idolater as his younger brother Publican Sinner used to be. The Father came out to him, and begged him to come in. The older idolatrous son says:

Luke 15:29-30 Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends: 30 but as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf.

Now, if you’ll notice, as Jesus speaks the parable, 2/3rds of the parable is devoted to the younger son, but only 1/3 to the older son. God first called the Pharisees and Scribes to Himself through Abraham. God chose out a nation to be His own, a nation called Israel. It was to Israel that God first made His covenants. And yet, when Jesus comes to save the lost, Jesus:

John 1:11 … came unto His own, and His own received Him not

Pharisee Scribe should be pleased that his brother repented, and returned to the fold. But instead he is jealous, and upset. “Why is Jesus sitting with Publicans and Sinners? If He were the Messiah, He would know what sort of people these are”.

Jesus never finishes the parable. There is never a “The End” placed on it. We read:

Luke 15:31-32 And {the Father} said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine. 32 It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.

Jesus does not say that the Pharisees and Scribes are not saved. He leaves that open. But He does tell us that – if they are saved – then they should be OVERJOYED that Publicans and Sinners are coming home to God. The saved should be ecstatic that the Kingdom of God is growing.

Jesus didn’t just tell this story to get REBELLIOUS people to repent. He told this story to convict RELIGIOUS people, to get us to repent.

The Kingdom of God is not about what I want. It’s about what Jesus wants. The Kingdom of God is calling whosoever will to repent – to come to themselves – and to return home. The “Prodigal” younger son took the grace of God, wandered off, and got far away from home. He wasted his life until he came to Himself. But the older brother was also “Prodigal”. He was upset because the Father did not give HIM a party. The Father said, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine. The Older Son had access to a party any time that he wanted. But the Older Son became complacent, then idolatrous. Though he was at home with Father, Father was miles away.

Christian – if you are a Christian – are you complacent in your faith? Have you wandered far away from God in your hearts? Are you just going through the motions? The Expositor’s Bible Dictionary says:

We call it the parable of the Prodigal Son; it might with equal propriety be called the Parable of the Bereaved Father, for the whole story crystallizes about that name, repeating it, in one form or another, no less than twelve times.”

Oh, how the Father loves us! Would that every one who reads this message or hears it’s preaching would open their hearts to Him. God is everywhere, but your heart makes God seem close or far away. As a Church, our righteousness must exceed the righteousness of the Pharisees and Scribes. Our Love must be Christ centered, and our focus joyfully on who we are in Christ. It is time for us to “break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the Lord, till he come and rain righteousness upon you” (Hosea 10:12). If we want God to bless our nation, revival must begin here. The Prophet Isaiah, tired of the mess that Israel had become, prayed:

Isaiah 64:1-2 Oh {God} that thou wouldest rend the heavens, that thou wouldest come down, that the mountains might flow down at thy presence, 2 as when the melting fire burneth, the fire causeth the waters to boil, to make thy name known to thine adversaries, that the nations may tremble at thy presence!

The Parable Jesus spoke – whether you call it to Parable of the Prodigal Son, the Parable of the Grieving Father, or the Parable of Two Idolaters – is left hanging, with no resolution. It is as if Jesus says, “Now, will you repent? The ball is in your court. I am here. The Father is here. The Spirit is here. What will you do?” Oh Father, make the Holy Spirit of God move in our midst. For your glory and honor. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen and Amen.

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Having An Attitude of Gratitude

Photo by Marcos Paulo Prado on Unsplash

Please turn with me in your Bibles to 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18.

The past few Sundays we talked about the Second Coming of Christ. The Scripture presents His Second Coming in two stages: His coming in the Air:

1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17 then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

Jesus’ Second Coming in the Air – the Rapture – will be to save the Church from a “great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be” (Matthew 24:21).

At the end of that seven year period Jesus will return with His Church to save Israel, and establish the Kingdom of God on the earth, a Kingdom of Peace, for 1000 years.

Though Jesus will return to save His Church from the Great Tribulation, there are times when His Church has gone through suffering and tribulation. The International Mission Board of the SBC notes that in 2020:

• 340 million Christians experience high levels of persecution
• 4,761 Christians were killed for their faith
• 4,488 Church buildings were attacked and destroyed

In Finland, former Interior Minister Päivi Räsänen was criminally charged with “hate speech” for posting a picture of the Bible opened to

Romans 1:24-27 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonor their own bodies between themselves: 25 who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshiped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.

26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: 27 and likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet.

Päivi said, “The early Christians did not renounce their faith in lions’ caves, why should I then renounce my faith in a court room?”.

In America we as Christians have freedom of speech. The big tech social networks are pushing hard to remove our freedom of speech. There may come a day when the American Christian loses our public freedom of speech. Facebook, I am told, is already blocking some Christian content, especially if it is Bible and Family based.

As I was mowing my grass this past Thursday, and talking with my Lord God, He caused a text of Scripture to pop into my head. In Exodus 1 the Scripture lists the twelve children of Jacob, and says:

Exodus 1:5-8 And all the souls that came out of the loins of Jacob were seventy souls: for Joseph was in Egypt already. 6 And Joseph died, and all his brethren, and all that generation. 7 And the children of Israel were fruitful, and increased abundantly, and multiplied, and waxed exceeding mighty; and the land was filled with them. 8 Now there arose up a new king over Egypt, which knew not Joseph.

God allowed Egypt to be a sanctuary for His Old Covenant people, Israel. Israel was blessed in that land. The Bible says “the land was filled with them”. Israel prospered in Egypt, just as the Christian has prospered in America. Yet over time Israel stopped being the light that God called them to be. Israel began to blend with the darkness. And in that blending, the light of God was not seen. A king rose up who “knew not Joseph”. Joseph changed his environment by living for and loving the Lord.

When you live for and love the Lord,
you change the world around you.

The King didn’t know Joseph because the believers in Israel compromised with the darkness. When you compromise with the darkness, it isn’t long before the darkness takes you. Because Egypt “knew not Joseph”, in time Egypt enslaved Israel and began to kill her children.

Let us love the Lord our God. Let us keep our eyes on Jesus, and have an attitude of gratitude to our Lord and Savior. We are told:

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 Rejoice evermore. 17 Pray without ceasing. 18 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

As children of the King, let us

Rejoice Evermore – At ALL times!

Word Study The little sentence “Rejoice evermore” is very powerful. It is two words in the Greek, χαίρω chaírō, {pronounced khah’-ee-ro} πάντοτε pántote, {pronounced pan’-tot-eh}, meaning “Overflow with joy at all times”. To “rejoice” is to let joy bubble up from your heart and overflow to your mouth and your face, your entire body. Why should we as Christians be filled with joy at all times? Quite simply, because …

1 Thessalonians 5:9 For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ

Word Study What wonderful words! “God hath not APPOINTED us to wrath”. The word “APPOINTED” is the Greek τίθημι títhēmi, {pronounced tith’-ay-mee}, which means “to assign, to lay down, appoint”. The same word is used in Acts 17:31, where we are told “God hath APPOINTED a day, in the which He will judge the world in righteousness by Jesus Christ…”. When Jesus returns, the rejecters of the Gospel will have an appointment with Him. He will judge them, and punish those who have rejected His offer of salvation. The Bible tells us:

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

The Christ follower is not “appointed … to wrath”. Our destiny is to be with the Lord Who loves us, and will love us into eternity. Those who reject Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior are under condemnation – and are the subjects of the future wrath of God. The Bible says:

John 3:17-18 God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. 18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

The “wrath of God” is a real thing. It was the wrath of God that killed the firstborn of every home NOT under the Blood of the Lamb. God’s wrath comes on those who …

Psalm 78:22 … believe not in God, and trust not in his salvation

God’s wrath came on Israel when she continually rejected His love.

Psalm 78:31 the wrath of God came upon them, and slew the fattest of them, and smote down the chosen men of Israel.

When you reject the Grace of God, and deny Him His glory, you bring His wrath into your life. The wrath of God is not just an Old Testament phenomenon. Listen Beloved,

I looked up the phrase “wrath of God” in the King James, and found that phrase ten times, nine of which are in the New Testament.

One day that grand old preacher John the Baptist was asked, “Are YOU the Christ?” John replied:

John 3:28-30; 34-36 …. I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before him …. THIS MY JOY THEREFORE IS FULFILLED … 34-36 For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him. 35 The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand. 36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.

Jesus Christ came to take the wrath of God from us. If we receive Jesus as Lord and Savior, we “hath everlasting life”. But there is something else we do not have. We are NEVER under the wrath of God. The Apostle said in:

Romans 5:6-9 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. 8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.

The wrath of God is not my heritage. God does have wrath. Oh yes, He does. We are told in Revelation 20:15, whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire. This “lake of fire” is a horrible place, described as:

Revelation 14:10-11 … the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: 11 and the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night

Regardless as to what is going on in your life, dear Christian, you are not appointed to wrath. What is your appointment? Again we read:

1 Thessalonians 5:9 For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ

Salvation is ours. Eternity is ours. Jesus is preparing a place for us, and it is a mansion, not a fire! As a believer in Christ I am never alone. We are told:

1 Thessalonians 5:10 {Jesus} died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him.

It is the Christian’s lot in life that we “live together with him”. We as Christians live in union with Christ. He is with us. He is our Lord. We live WITH Him and FOR Him. We are told in:

Romans 14:8-9 For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s. 9 For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living.

Rejoice, for Jesus has saved you. Rejoice evermore, because Jesus is with you in the valley and on the mountaintop. Rejoice, for God controls all things for your good. You are His Child by faith in Christ. As you love Him, know He loves you. One of my favorite texts is:

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

Rejoice at all times for whatever is happening in your life – regardless as to whether it seems beautiful or horrid – these things “work together for good” in your life. Rejoice evermore. Rejoice at all times!

The Attitude Of Gratitude Is For The Prayerful

1 Thessalonians 5:17 Pray without ceasing.

If God is in partnership with your life, and if the Scripture is true that says:

Hebrews 13:5 … I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. … then

We as Christians should find prayer as
easy and natural as breathing!

Prayer is not just asking God for things. Prayer is talking to God your Father. What a joy it is to know that I have the ear of God, especially when I am going through trials and tribulations. As we pray, we give God the glory by acknowledging that He is Father, and we His children. We honor His name in our prayers, seeking only the glory of God.

Matthew 6:9 Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.

Prayer honors God by seeking His will in our lives. When His Kingdom comes in our lives, we are filled with joy.

Matthew 6:10 Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.

Prayer changes our environment by changing our hearts. Moses prayed:

Exodus 33:13-16 … Now therefore, I pray thee, if I have found grace in thy sight, shew me now thy way, that I may know thee, that I may find grace in thy sight: and consider that this nation is thy people. 14 And he said, My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest. 15 And {Moses}{ said unto {God}, If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence. 16 For wherein shall it be known here that I and thy people have found grace in thy sight? is it not in that thou goest with us?

Prayer gives glory to God, and magnifies His will in our lives. Prayer invites God into our DAILY lives. “If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence”.

In prayer, we lay our needs at the Father’s feet. We pray:

Matthew 6:11-13 Give us this day our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil…

The closer we are to God, the greater will be our attitude of gratitude. Israel was more focused on where they came from, rather than where God was leading them. Invite God into your environment. Walk with Him: “walk in the light, as He is in the light” (1 John 1:7). Confess and repent of any active sin, knowing that sin in the heart muffles your union with God in Christ.

Proverbs 15:29 The Lord is far from the wicked: but he heareth the prayer of the righteous.

It is sin that quenches or grieves the Holy Spirit of God.

1 Thessalonians 5:19 Quench not the Spirit.

We suppress or grieve the Holy Spirit when we walk in the darkness, following the world instead of the Lord. We are not as we were before we were saved. As Christians, the Holy Spirit of God now lives in us.

We QUENCH the Spirit when we do NOT DO what He says do.
We GRIEVE the Spirit when we do what He says NOT to do.

The Spirit of God now lives inside you, dear Christian. “If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His” (Romans 8:9). You are now the Temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you, which you have of God (1 Corinthians 6:19). God knows your hearts. Confess any active sin in your lives, and repent of that way of life. Hear the Word of God, and apply it to your lives.

1 Thessalonians 5:20 Despise not prophesyings.

Hear what the Word of God says, and do it. The Bible that we have is written by God.

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

Heed the Word of God, and do what it says.

1 Thessalonians 5:21 Prove all things; hold fast to that which is good.

Do not live your life based on your feelings, but on what God has said in His Word. So many of us rob ourselves of blessing when we do not prayerfully weigh all things against the Word of God.

Illustrate A little girl came to her daddy and asked for a nickle. The father generously opened his wallet and handed her a five dollar bill. The child tossed the bill on the floor, and demanded the nickle. Her daddy said, “But honey, that’s a five dollar bill!” Her reply is like what many of us stubbornly give God. “I don’t want that. I want a nickle”.

Weigh everything by God’s Word and God’s Spirit. When someone tells you something to be true, verify it by the Word of God and the Holy Spirit. Make sure that what you are being told is not just a word from man. It is the Word of God that blesses. Your life should align with God’s Word if you expect to have power in prayer.

Be Thankful For All Things – Even The Hard

1 Thessalonians 5:18 In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

Did you get the Covid? Be thankful. That was God’s will for your life. Trials grow the Christian. Thank Him for it.

Are you in a hospital, or long term care facility? Be grateful. This is where God wants you to minister. Tell others of Jesus.

Do you have cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, or some other affliction common to mankind. Thank God for it. Do not be filled with sadness or depression or anxiety. Be FILLED with THE HOLY SPIRIT. The Bible says in …

Ephesians 5:18-21 be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; 19 speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; 20 giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; 21 submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.

Some people take a shot of whiskey, a mixed cocktail, a marijuana product, or a pill to “steady the nerves” or “calm you down”. God’s prescription is to FILL yourself with the Holy Spirit. Chase out the doom and gloom with song! Like a bird, let your hearts be filled with song!

When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

Count your blessings, name them one by one;
Count your blessings, see what God hath done;
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
Count your many blessings, every doubt will fly,
And you will be singing as the days go by.

When you look at others with their lands and gold,
Think that Christ has promised you His wealth untold.
Count your many blessings, money cannot buy
Your reward in heaven, nor your Lord on high.

So amid the conflict, whether great or small,
Do not be discouraged, God is over all;
Count your many blessings, angels will attend,
Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.

If it is true that “all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28), then the trial you are going through is GOOD. Trust God in it. Trials make us more like Christ. As we are told in

James 1:2-4 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers {trials}; 3 knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. 4 But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

Had the first generation of Israel trusted the God Who saved them, they would have entered the Promised Land. God will not do great things with those who have little faith. Thank God for what you have, and for what you lack. Seek an attitude of gratitude.

Pastor Max Lucado wrote:

“A grateful heart sees each day as a gift. Thankful people focus less on what they lack and more on the privileges they have. I attended a banquet recently in which a wounded soldier was presented with the gift of a free house. He nearly fell over with gratitude. He bounded onto the stage with his one good leg and threw both arms around the presenter. “Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!” He hugged the guitar player in the band and the big woman on the front row. He thanked the waiter, the other soldiers, and then the presenter again. Before the night was over, he thanked me! And I didn’t do anything. Shouldn’t we be equally grateful? Jesus is building a house for us (John 14:2). Our deed of ownership is every bit as certain as that of the soldier.”

God did a wonderful thing for us, dear Christian, when He saved our souls. We have Heaven before us, hell behind us, and a Savior and Lord Who cannot be defeated. When we rejoice at all times, pray at all times, and give thanks at all times, we will change our environment. We will be the light that Jesus calls His Church to be. Let us be the light of the world, a city that is set on a hill that cannot be hid (Matthew 5:14). May God touch your hearts with His Word and His Spirit. Amen and Amen.

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This Is Not A Commercial

Photo by Kate Trysh on Unsplash

The grandchildren asked grandma what she wanted for Mother’s day. She said, “I just want my family to go to Church with me this Sunday”. So come Sunday, her children and grandchildren got up, got dressed, and went to Church. After the service they gathered around Grandma’s table to eat. She asked her grandchildren, “So what did you think about the Church service”? The youngest child spoke up. “I really enjoyed the singing – but the commercial was way too long!”

Let’s play a little “pretend” right now. What if today was the last day on earth I could talk to you, and this be the last day you could hear from me? What words would I want to leave with you if I were to go to glory tonight? Better than that, if you were to hear the last words God spoke to you on this earth, what would these last words be? Well, we don’t have to guess on this last part. The last recorded words Jesus Christ spoke are found in the last book of your Bibles, in the last chapter, and in the next to the last verse of Scripture. Turn there with me.

Revelation 22:20 …. Surely I come quickly.

If you have a “Red Letter” Bible, these words of Jesus Christ would be in red. Jesus tells us that He is coming quickly. There is a sense of urgency in this last chapter, for Jesus says this not just here, but two other times for a total of three times. Three is the number of God in Scripture. Working backward through the chapter, we read:

Revelation 22:12-13 And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. 13 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.

Jesus is coming quickly! We do not know when He will come. He may come, and receive His Church by Rapture before I finish this message. Or Jesus may come and require your soul return to Him this very day. We do not know. As Pastor of this Church I have seen over twenty souls called to eternity, and few of those were expected when called. Jesus said I come quickly. Death, like a sleep, comes on us when we least expect it. Are you prepared? Jesus said in the third quote:

Revelation 22:7 Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book.

This Word that we will hear today is not a commercial for some do-dad that somebody wants to sell you. Jesus is coming quickly. Blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book. Are you ready if Jesus comes today? Tonight? Are you prepared to meet your Maker? As God spoke to the wayward nation Israel, He speaks to America today:

Amos 4:12-13 …. prepare to meet thy God, O {America}. 13 For, lo, he that formeth the mountains, and createth the wind, and declareth unto man what is his thought, that maketh the morning darkness, and treadeth upon the high places of the earth, The Lord, The God of hosts, is his name.

Why Should I Care That Jesus Comes Quickly?

Some of you may be thinking, “Why would I care if Jesus comes quickly? Jesus is no more than the founder of one religion among many. He’s dead anyway – why would I care?” You should care. Jesus is not just one founder of one religion among many. Jesus Christ is God Who became Perfect Man. Again, return to

Revelation 22:12 And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.

When next you see Jesus –

Revelation 1:7 Behold, He cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall WAIL because of him. Even so, Amen.

When Jesus comes – when you see Him in the air or when He comes to you at this life’s end – He will come as Judge of all. all kindreds of the earth shall WAIL because of him. The first Adam brought sin into the world – “and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Romans 5:12). Man ate of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and, from that terrible first error, man has developed his own sense of what he or she thinks is right or wrong. Today in our world it is common – even in Church settings – to hear people affirm actions and beliefs that are NOT taught in the Scripture. We as humans have become arbiters of what we think is true. Beloved, Jesus is true. He that sent Jesus – God the Father – is true (John 7:28). Those who know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior can affirm Him and His Words, as John did:

1 John 5:20 … we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.

When Jesus comes again, He comes as Avenging God, judging God, righteous God. Jesus said:

John 5:22-23 For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son: 23 That all men should honor the Son, even as they honor the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him.

God the Father judges no one. All judgment has been given to Jesus. Those who have honored Jesus have honored the Father. Jesus Christ is the sole Judge of eternal life. The Apostle Peter told the Gentiles at the Centurion Cornelius’ home:

Acts 10:38-43 God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him. 39 And we are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree: 40 Him God raised up the third day, and shewed him openly; 41 Not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before God, even to us, who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead. 42 And {Jesus} commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead. 43 To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.

Jesus Christ is ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead. It is only through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins. Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God Who makes payment for our sins. Jesus Christ is the Judge, and the Savior. Oh Beloved, it is Jesus Who comes quickly – unexpectedly – and certainly!

Revelation 22:12 And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.

Jesus has the sole commission of the Godhead to give every man according as his work shall be. Jesus Christ is God made Man. He is the Eternal Word of God:

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

Jesus Christ is God manifest in the flesh (1 Timothy 3:16). He was, is, and will always be God the Son. He was transformed when the Holy Spirit came upon Mary, the Angel told Joseph in Matthew 1:20

that which is conceived in {Mary} is of the Holy Spirit”

and the Angel told Mary in Luke 1:35

that Holy Thing which shall be born of thee shall
be called The Son of God

Not A Son of God”, but THE Son of God”. Jesus Christ, God become Man, so that God could call sinful man to His side. Jesus’ reward (Greek μισθός misthós, {mis-thos’}), literally his WAGES or what is OWED HIM is that He be the Judge of all souls. It was Jesus Who – in eternity past – agreed with both Father and Spirit to enter fallen humanity, to take upon Himself flesh and blood. The Bible says:

Hebrews 2:14 … as the children {of Adam} are partakers of flesh and blood, {Jesus} also Himself took part of the same; that through death He might destroy Him that had the power of death, that is, the devil

Man sinned against God, creating an eternal barrier between us. Jesus Christ came to break down that barrier. He is not “just a man”, or “just a founder”. Read with me again:

Revelation 22:12-13 And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. 13 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.

Jesus says not “I WAS Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last, but I AM Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last. Let us look at His titles for just a moment.

Jesus Christ IS Alpha and Omega

It was the fruit of the “Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil” that Adam ate, plunging us into the abyss of sin. When John the Revelator walked the earth (he is the God inspired chronicler of this Revelation) the Greeks were thought to possess all knowledge. The Greek language had spanned the world. Even among the Jews of John’s day, many Jews no longer read Hebrew. The Hebrew Bible was translated into Greek, a text called the “Septuagint”. In the Greek Alphabet the first letter is ALPHA, and the last letter is OMEGA. When Jesus said I am Alpha and OmegaHe is saying “I have ALL THE KNOWLEDGE AND WISDOM”. Humans believe ourselves to possess great knowledge and wisdom – but often our wisdom is foolishness.

1 Corinthians 3:18 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness.

Mankind in our foolishness have turned the simplicity of human sexuality into a mad, confused mess. We smile and nod at one another, believing we know better than God. When we depart from God, we enter the sea of madness. The Prophet said:

Daniel 2:20-22 Blessed be the name of God for ever and ever: for wisdom and might are his: 21 And he changeth the times and the seasons: he removeth kings, and setteth up kings: he giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding: 22 He revealeth the deep and secret things: he knoweth what is in the darkness, and the light dwelleth with him.

All Light and all Knowledge is found in Jesus Christ, in the Word He has spoken. Is your life in disarray? Is your family in trouble? Turn to Him Who is Alpha and Omega. Come to God and, by faith, receive the Gift of God – salvation by relationship to Christ. Bring your burdens to Him. Bring your brokenness to Him. He is able. Jesus is the Alpha and Omega. The Bible promises:

John 1:12 … as many as received {Jesus}, to them gave He POWER to BECOME the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name

When you receive the Son of God as Lord and Savior, you yourselves become “Children of God by faith in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:26). Receive Him as Alpha and Omega. The world stumbles around in darkness, the “blind leading the blind, and both falling in the ditch” (Matthew 15:14). To Him Who receives Jesus, and does as He says, that person is …

Matthew 7:24-25 … a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: 25 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.

The Child of the King of Kings lives their life victoriously. We do not stumble, but walk in the Master’s footprints.

I could care less for what Oprah said,
But heed Jesus Who rose from the dead.
Who is impressed by the talk show host?
Let’s love Jesus, Who gives us the most.

Adrian Rogers said,

There is power in the Word of God, and Satan does not want you to understand the authority of the Word of God. He doesn’t want you to get the power that will divert his fiery attacks away from your heart — his prime target. When the Word of the Lord and the Lord of the Word become your authority, then Satan and all of his demonic forces will flee, and you are going to have authority for your life.”

Jesus Christ Is The Beginning And the End

Revelation 22:12-13 And, behold, I come quickly … 13 I am … the beginning and the end …

In Jesus is contained all the wisdom of the Godhead. He is the Alpha and Omega. But Jesus is also the beginning and the end. It was Jesus at the beginning of human history that both Father and Spirit addressed, saying:

Genesis 1:26 … Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

The Father could not make man without the cooperation of the Son. Jesus Christ was there.

When Adam and Eve ate us out of house and home
our Lord Jesus was there.

Jesus has been with man from the beginning of human history, loving us, caring for us. When Adam led humanity into sin the Lord promised to come through the “seed of the woman” (Genesis 3:15). We see the first coming of Jesus promised in the Covenant God made with Abraham. We see Jesus in the Passover Lamb as Israel is freed from the grip of Egypt. There is Jesus in the Ark of the Covenant, for within the Ark is the manna or Bread of God, the Rod of Aaron, and the Ten Commandments.

Jesus is the Manna from Heaven
Jesus is the High Priest of His people
Jesus is the fulfiller of the Ten Commandments

Jesus is the fulfiller of the Law! By receiving Him as Lord and Savior, the Beginning and the End, your life will begin anew. Because Jesus lives, you shall live forever. Jesus is no shadow, but the very Bread of God. He said:

John 6:33, 35 … the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world. … 35 And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.

Jesus is the beginning of everlasting life.
Jesus is the ending of death.
Jesus is the beginning of peace with God.
Jesus is the ending of false gods.
Jesus is the beginning of victory.
Jesus is the ending of fear and victimhood.

If Jesus Christ is your Savior and Lord, then we have His promise:

John 5:24 … Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.

Jesus Christ Is The First And The Last

Revelation 22:12-13 And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. 13 I am …. the first and the last.

If Jesus Christ is first in your hearts, then He will be first and last in your life. In the Old Testament, God often referred to Himself as the first and the last. For instance:

Isaiah 44:6 Thus saith the Lord the King of Israel, and his redeemer the Lord of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God.

Isaiah 48:12 Hearken unto me, O Jacob and Israel, my called; I am he; I am the first, I also am the last.

The reason God took this name for Himself is because His First Commandment is:

Matthew 22:37 …. Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

To be saved, you must give God your ALL. He doesn’t want your leftovers, but your whole life. We are to love God with our ALL. Jesus Christ is God Incarnate. Jesus said in:

Luke 14:26 If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he CANNOT BE my disciple.

To be saved we come to Jesus, and lay our lives at His feet. The Apostle John commented right after noting Jesus’ three part declaration of Himself:

Revelation 22:14-15 Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. 15 For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.

Those who are allowed into Heaven are those who do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life. What is God’s great work? One day some people asked Jesus:

John 6:28 … What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?

Jesus replied in John 6:29, “This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent. What does God expect of us? “To believe on Him – Jesus – Whom the Father has sent”. Jesus is the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.” He is God’s Light to a sin filled and broken world.

If you do not know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, today is the day to call upon Him and be saved.

How Is One Saved? By Coming To Jesus. Period.

As we finish today, I now come to a place of invitation. Will you come to Jesus? Will you give your lives to Him? If you are a saved believer who, like a prodigal son, has wandered from home, will you not repent and return to Him? We are told in:

Revelation 22:17 … the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.

Jesus is coming soon. Don’t make Him chase you. Come to Him, now, and be saved. the Spirit and the bride say, Come. The bride is the Church of Jesus Christ, the people who have received Him as Lord and Savior. The “Bride is the Lamb’s wife” (Revelation 21:9-11). It is the city of Heaven, the place where Christ’s redeemed live. God’s people bid you come. God the Holy Spirit bids that you come.

Word Study The word translated “COME” in our text is the Greek word ercomai (pronounced er’-khom-ahee), which means “to move from where you are to go along with another”. The Holy Spirit and the Bride say “COME”. You cannot “COME” and continue following your own path. Dear friends, God does not follow us, but we follow God. If we want to be saved we must follow God.

So many linger, holding back when the invitation is given. “I cannot step out, and receive Christ publicly. What will the Church think? What will my neighbor think?” The answer is in our text. Let him that heareth say, Come. The believer in Christ will rejoice if you come! The angels of Heaven will rejoice if you come. Let him that is athirst come. If you are thirsty for life, come. Do not hesitate, but give your life to Him. Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely. Oh, what a wonderful day to be born into the Kingdom of God – on Mother’s day! May God move on your hearts through His Word and His Spirit. Amen and Amen!

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And You

Photo by Derek Story on Unsplash

Colossians 2:8-14 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. 9 For in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. 10 And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power: 11 in whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: 12 buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead. 13 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;

The Devil Attacks The Christian With
Philosophy & Vain Deceit

Word Study The word translated spoil is the Greek συλαγωγέω sylagōgéō, {pronounced soo-lag-ogue-eh’-o} means literally “to carry off as a spoil of war or booty, to lead captive”. Satan is constantly attacking the Church with the emptiness of human traditions and laws. Through a series of secular laws America has normalized godlessness.

Prayer removed from schools in 1962
The Bible removed from schools in 1963

Abortion legalized in 1973
The Ten Commandments removed from public view in 1980
Same sex marriage codified in 2015
Expanding homosexual & transgender rights in 2020

The nation was never meant to be the source of righteousness. Government exists solely to equally protect it’s citizens. The Apostle Paul, though imprisoned for preaching the Gospel of Christ, wrote:

Romans 13:1-4 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. 2 Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: 4 for he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.

The government was never meant to be the Church. The government is a kingdom of man established or allowed by God. The Kingdom of God is divinely appointed, headed by Jesus Christ, and inhabited by those who have received Christ as BOTH Lord and Savior. It is only the believer in Christ who is ordered to:

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

The person who puts their faith in philosophy and vain deceit are following the same path that the Pharisees and Sadducees of Jesus’ day did. King Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, chased after philosophy or human wisdom apart from faith in Christ. Solomon said:

Ecclesiastes 1:16-18 I communed with mine own heart, saying, Lo, I am come to great estate, and have gotten more wisdom than all they that have been before me in Jerusalem: yea, my heart had great experience of wisdom and knowledge. 17 And I gave my heart to know wisdom, and to know madness and folly: I perceived that this also is vexation of spirit. 18 For in much wisdom is much grief: and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow.

In this Internet Ready, connected world we live in, it is easy for a Christian to be side tracked, as Solomon was, into worldly wisdom and philosophy. If the devil cannot prevent a person from entering the Kingdom of God by faith in Christ, he will attempt to hamstring that person by polluting their soul with human philosophy and human traditions.

I talked with someone who told me his brother came home from Church one day. This man asked his brother, “What did you learn at Church today?” His answer was, “That the preacher must wear a suit to Church”. I do wear a suit to Church. But this “doctrine” is not found in the Scripture, and is patently divisive. I asked another what he heard at a Church revival. He told me, “That women must not wear pants or open toed shoes”. This is not the Word of God, but human tradition. Jesus chastised the Pharisees and Sadducees for following tradition and not the Word of God:

Mark 7:5-9 the Pharisees and scribes asked him, Why walk not thy disciples according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashen hands? 6 He answered and said unto them, Well hath Isaiah {Isaiah 29:13} prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoreth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. 7 Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. 8 For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. 9 And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.

Colossians 2:8 … after the tradition of men, after the rudiments {stoicheîon, pronounced stoy-khi’-on} {base elements} of the world, and not after Christ

There were two systems of philosophy that attacked the Church at Corinth:

  1. Stoicism which taught that the person is greater than any circumstance. Stoicism often focuses on human traditions. Whether a person faced poverty or prosperity, the Stoic is detached about it. “I can do all things” is what the Stoic believed. The ancient Rabbis

    The poet William Ernest Henley wrote the poem Invictus celebrating the Stoic power of man:

(1) Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
(4) It matters not how strait the gate,

How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.

Though there are Stoics in America today, the greatest false teaching is Epicureanism. Epicureanism teaches that there is no ultimate truth, that truth is fluid, changeable, based upon the viewpoint of the person. Jesus spoke of the Epicurean attitude in:

Luke 12:16-21 And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: 17 and he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? 18 And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. 20 But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? 21 So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.

The Epicureans, like Atheists, push any thought of God out of their heart.

We Are All Incomplete Apart From Jesus

Jesus Christ is not just another Man, another Charismatic Leader, another figurehead of a religion. The Bible says:

Colossians 2:9 For in Him {in Jesus} dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.

In Jesus is all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. Jesus Christ is fully God and fully Man. The Scripture says:

Colossians 1:19 … it pleased the Father that in {Jesus} should all fullness dwell;

Jesus told His disciples “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father” and “I am in the Father and the Father is in me” (John 14:9-10). When He prayed, He said “you, Father, are in me, and I in you” (John 17:21). The Bible tells us that the Eternal God came from glory, and became like us, but without sin. He is “God with us” (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23).

Humans are broken because of sin. The Bible says:

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

All humans are natural born sinners. When born into this world, we are born – not with a desire to do the good – but with a desire to pursue that which is against God. Our forefather Adam brought sin – like a plague – into this world and onto every son and daughter born from creation’s dawn. When you enter this world kicking and crying you enter it as a son or daughter of Adam.

You are not complete unless you have given yourselves to Christ. Ritual is not enough. Remember that Jesus said to the religious Pharisees:

John 8:44, 47 Ye are of [your] father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. … (47) He that is of God heareth God’s words: ye therefore hear [them]not, because ye are not of God.

Pharisees attempt to be “complete” or right with God apart from faith in Christ. That just won’t work. Jesus Christ contains “all the fullness of the Godhead bodily (in human form)”. We cannot be complete – qualified to enter Heaven – unless our lives are attached to Christ by faith.

Colossians 2:11-12 in {Jesus} also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: 12 buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.

When you receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, God the Holy Spirit acts on your life to make you “born again”. Your position before God changes.

A male child born into Israel was required by God to be circumcised on the eighth day of birth – or be cut off from Israel (Leviticus 12:3; Philippians 3:5). This circumcision was only performed on the boy, not on the girl. Circumcision did not save the child, but marked the boy child as a member of the Kingdom of God (Genesis 17). Because Jesus was “cut off” for our sins at Calvary, when we receive Him as Lord and Savior God “cuts us off” in our hearts. This is a God the Holy Spirit circumcision made without hands. The Apostle spoke of this in detail in:

Romans 2:25-28 For circumcision verily profiteth, if thou keep the law: but if thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision. 26 Therefore if the uncircumcision keep the righteousness of the law, shall not his uncircumcision be counted for circumcision? 27 And shall not uncircumcision which is by nature, if it fulfill the law, judge thee, who by the letter and circumcision dost transgress the law? 28 For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: 29 but he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.

The believer in Christ is circumcised in heart with the circumcision made without hands. That person is marked as a citizen of the Kingdom of God because their heart is tender toward God, seeking to please Him, and not man. Genuine believers – members of Christ’s Kingdom – can say “we labor, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of{be pleasing to}{Jesus}” (2 Corinthians 5:9).

You are complete in Christ because Christ
Your Savior is completely God!

Colossians 2:10 … ye are complete in him, {Who} is the head of all principality and power

We are told “in Him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily”. The word “dwelleth”in the Greek text means “to be permanently at home with”. All that God is permanently dwells in Christ. Jesus Christ has and will always have the full nature of God. Before Jesus ever came to this earth He was God, and is still God today:

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

Jesus Christ is Creator God. He is, was, and will always be God the Creator. Jesus is, as we are told in 1 Timothy 3:16 …

God … manifest in the flesh”

What a glorious love God has for us, that “the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). Jesus Christ is “the Brightness of God’s glory, and the express image of God’s Person, Who, upholding all things by the Word of His power, Who by Himself purged our sins, and is now seated on the right hand of Eternal God the Father” (paraphrase of Hebrews 1:3).

Jesus Christ is God.
Jesus Christ became perfect Man.
Jesus Christ purged our sins.
Jesus Christ is alive today.
And at the right hand of God the Father.
God the Son made us right with God the Father!

We Are QUICKENED TOGETHER With Jesus

Colossians 2:13-14 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;

Word Study There is an interesting term the Bible uses for the Christian, and it is the term is quickened together. We were dead in sins an in the circumcision of our flesh – separated from God because of the sin in us. We were in a helpless and hopeless situation. Then Godquickened {us} together” with Jesus, (“quickened together” is the Greek syzōopoiéō, {pronounced sood-zo-op-oy-eh’-o} which means made us alive together with Jesus”). As Jesus is eternal, we who are His are eternal. Our destinies are locked together.

Illustrate I’m sure you have all seen a railroad train. The locomotive is attached to the cars, and pulls the cars down the track. Jesus Christ is our Locomotion. We are bound to Him eternally. As we go through this life, we avoid sin, repent of sin, and try our best not to jump the track that Jesus has us on. The locomotive {Jesus} alone has life – the cars which follow it have no inherent life in them – only when they are bound to the locomotive do they do anything productive. They must go where the locomotive leads them. We who belong to Christ are bound to Him in life, and bound to Him in afterlife.

Beloved, if you are saved by faith in Him, God has switched where your car was attached! God has changed the track of your life. Whereas before you were attached to the Locomotive of Satan, and riding on twin rails of sin and death, now your life is different. You are bound to Jesus Christ by faith, and ride on the twin rails of love and hope. The destination of Locomotive Satan is damnation and condemnation. The destination of Locomotive Jesus is salvation and eternal life in Heaven. The wonderful truth of the Gospel is:

Ephesians 2:4-5 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)

We are quickened together with Christ. Praise Him, by Grace we are saved. God has blott{ed} out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which were contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to Christ’s Cross. We who are believers in Christ are bound to Him forever. As Adrian Rogers once said:

The train that runs with incredible speed on ribbons of steel is far freer to be what it was made to be than the so called free train that may choose an excursion through the meadow. It is only free to wreck.”

Trust in and follow Jesus. Believe that He is able to save you, and that He is able to keep that which He has saved. Blessed be the name of the Lord!

Pastor Wayne Stiles told the story one time of his two daughters. One child would ask him to throw her up into the air and catch her. Every time he caught her, she would say “Do it again, daddy!”. The other daughter asked her daddy to toss her into the air, but screamed in fear when he did so, and never asked to be tossed up again. What was the difference between the two children? One child focused on the ability of her daddy to catch her, whereas the other child focused on her inability to control the flight. Put your faith fully in Jesus, believer, and trust in Him.

May God drive His Word, by His Spirit, fully into your hearts and lives this very day. Amen and Amen.

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Happy People Will See God

God is immense!
Photo by John Fowler on Unsplash

Matthew 5:8 Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.

The Way To Happiness Is To Hear And Do

This morning we looked at Jesus’ “Sermon on the Mount”, and talked about how Jesus viewed the Law of God. Tonight I want to look at this small verse, a tiny portion of that Sermon on the Mount.

Word Study The first word is Blessed, which is the Greek μακάριος makarios which means “much happiness”. People look for happiness in many things. As Jesus went out the Bible says:

Matthew 4:25 … there followed him great multitudes of people from Galilee, and from Decapolis, and from Jerusalem, and from Judaea, and from beyond Jordan.

Many people followed Jesus for temporary relief. People with divers diseases and torments, and those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatics, and those that had the palsy” flocked to Jesus, and Jesus healed them all. Many people follow Jesus that same way today. They only seek out Jesus when some great negative comes into their lives. When life is good, they only want a part time Savior, a Jesus Who will stay in the background until needed, Who only – like a trained dog – comes when called. The Bible says:

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

No heart is born into this world “pure”. “Those that are in the flesh cannot please God” (Romans 8:8). It is because of the condition of the human heart that evil is perpetuated. Jesus told the Pharisees and Scribes:

Matthew 15:18-20 But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. 19 For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: 20 these are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man.

Illustrate I often people today say “just follow your heart”. Beloved, if you just “follow your heart” you will end up getting in terrible trouble. Case in point, consider the heart of the first human King of Israel, King Saul. When Saul was first chosen the Prophet Samuel told him:

1 Samuel 15:1-3 … The Lord sent me to anoint thee to be king over his people, over Israel: now therefore hearken thou unto the voice of the words of the Lord. 2 Thus saith the Lord of hosts, I remember that which Amalek did to Israel, how he laid wait for him in the way, when he came up from Egypt. 3 Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not…

God gave King Saul very clear (though brutal) instructions. In our modern world, that which God told Saul to do to Amalek seems harsh. But God owns everything and everyone on the big blue planet. If God wanted King Agag and the Amalekites destroyed, that is God’s business. God is God and we are not. What did Saul do?

1 Samuel 15:9 … Saul and the people spared Agag, and the best of the sheep, and of the oxen, and of the fatlings, and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them: but every thing that was vile and refuse, that they destroyed utterly.

Saul and Israel looked over the people and the possessions of the Amalakites, and what look vile or useless to them, they destroyed – but what they thought was the best, they saved. This is not what God told them to do.

So God decided to remove King Saul from office. Though the Prophet Samuel prayed to God all night long, interceding for King Saul, God would not relent. When Samuel got to Saul’s encampment the next day, Saul told him:

1 Samuel 15:13 … Blessed be thou of the Lord: I have performed the commandment of the Lord.

Samuel replied, What meaneth then this bleating of the sheep in mine ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear? (vvs 14). Saul justified his actions by saying the people spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen, to sacrifice unto the Lord thy God; and the rest we have utterly destroyed. (vvs 15)”. Saul heard the Voice of God, knew what God wanted. The instructions were very clear. But Saul “followed his heart” and allowed Israel to do the same. It cost Saul his Kingdom. God told Saul through Samuel:

1 Samuel 15:22-23 … Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. 23 For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, he hath also rejected thee from being king.

Doing only PART of what the Lord says is the same as
rejecting ALL of God’s Word. Let Us Be “Pure”

Matthew 5:8 Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.

Word Study “BLESSED” or “MUCH HAPPINESS” comes to those who are “ pure in heart”. The word translated “pure” is the Greek καθαρός katharós, {pronounced kath-ar-os’}. In other Scriptures, the word is translated as “CLEAN” (Matthew 27:59; John 13:10). How does one become “CLEAN”? It is only by listening to Jesus, and doing what He says. Jesus told His disciples:

John 15:3 Now ye are CLEAN {katharós} through the word which I have spoken unto you.

When the Word of God is heard AND DONE, it cleanses the heart. It is only the CLEAN heart that can see God. When the Apostle Paul speaks of the Church and Jesus, he said that Jesus …

Ephesians 5:26 … SANCTIFIES and CLEANSES {καθαρίζω katharizō} {the Church} with the washing of water BY THE WORD.

It is not just the Word of Christ that cleanses, but the Word of God that is both HEARD and DONE. We see this principle many times in Scripture. For instance:

Romans 2:13 … for not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified

and in James 1:21-25 Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and {all that remains of wickednessNASB}, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. 22 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. 23 For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: 24 for he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. 25 But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.

Throughout Jesus’ ministry on this earth, twelve men followed Him everywhere He went. Yet only eleven of these men were blessed. Jesus said to them:

John 13:10-11 … ye are CLEAN {katharós}, but not all. 11 For he knew who should betray him; therefore said he, Ye are not all CLEAN {katharós}.

Judas Iscariot heard the Word of Christ on a daily basis. Day after day, for some 3 ½ years, Judas heard Jesus preach. And yet, though a faithful Church member, Judas was not happy. He lost his blessing – and ended up taking his own life. Throughout the Scripture we see those who heed and do God’s Word being blessed. The Apostle in another place warns against blending God’s Word with the word or tradition of man. He tells Titus:

Titus 1:13 … rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith; 14 Not giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men, that turn from the truth. 15 Unto the PURE (better CLEAN) {katharós} all things are CLEAN {katharós}: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing CLEAN {katharós}; but even their mind and conscience is defiled. 16 They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.

You may not understand or know all of the Word of God. But as His Children, you are accountable to do that which you know. The stepbrother of Jesus declared, To him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.(James 4:17).

When You Both Hear And Do His Word,
You Have God’s Promise

Matthew 5:8 Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.

I have often been asked the question,

When we get to Heaven, will we see God?”

Every believer I meet has told me that they look forward to seeing God face to face. When John the Revelator looked into Heaven, he wrote:

Revelation 22:3-4 … there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him: 4 and they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads.

When Moses went up into Mount Sinai, he asked God:

Exodus 33:18 … I beseech Thee {dear God}, shew me thy glory.

God told Moses:

Exodus 33:20 Thou canst not see My face: for there shall no man see me, and live.

God allowed Moses to get into a “clift of the rock” to protect him, and covered Moses so that all Moses could see of God was “His back parts” (vvs 23) … “but My face shall not be seen”. Moses saw just a glimpse of God’s glory. But Moses did not see God face to face.

Can a person “see” God? It depends on what
you mean by “see”.

It is impossible to “see” God the Father or God the Holy Spirit due to the very nature of God. The Bible tells us that one of the characteristics of God is God is everywhere at all times. The theologians call this the Omnipresence of God. When I “see” something or someone, the seeing must be in my presence.

God is everywhere. God is Spirit.

The Psalmist said of God in Psalm 139:7-12 Whither shall I go from Thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from Thy presence? 8 If I ascend up into heaven, Thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, Thou art there. 9 If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; 10 even there shall Thy hand lead me, and Thy right hand shall hold me. 11 If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me. 12 Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to Thee.

God is everywhere – there is no where where God is not. God is spirit. When Jesus appeared to His disciples after His resurrection, He told them:

Luke 24:39 Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.

God is Spirit. Jesus taught us that. In John 4:24 He said, God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. ” As a Spirit, God is everywhere. We are told in

Jeremiah 23:23-24 Am I a God at hand, saith the Lord, and not a God afar off? 24 Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the Lord. Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the Lord.

God is everywhere at once, and every time at once – and yet He is fully present in the moment. God can manifest an image of Himself, and we can see that image. Yet we are not seeing God – but a representation of God. The Shekinah Glory was a visible demonstration that the invisible God was present (Deuteronomy 31:15) – yet this was not the all of God. The Lord tells us through Isaiah:

Isaiah 66:1-2 Thus saith the Lord, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest? 2 For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the Lord: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.

The Infinite God is present with those who both hear and do His Word. But can we “see” God like we “see” a tree, or “see” each other? No, because God is too infinite. It is the infinity of God that blesses us as believers. Because God is everywhere at once, He can promise to every one of His children by faith:

Isaiah 43:2-3 When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. 3 For I am the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Savior:

Only an omnipresent, omnipotent God can promise that – no matter where I go, no matter what I do, no matter what time of the day it is – “ I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. ” (Hebrews 13:5). Theologian Don Stewart notes:

The universe that God created finds the Creator everywhere. He is everywhere present. There is no place that a person can hide and no chance that a believer will out of His protective care. He is everywhere present in His works and in His personality. This does not mean that God is the same as the universe – merely that His presence is everywhere in the universe. The truth of God’s omnipresence if comforting for the believer for no one can escape God’s notice. ”

So in one sense, no, you will not be able to see God face to face as you see me face to face. We are told in …

1 John 4:12 … No man hath seen God at any time.

The nature of God makes seeing all that is God impossible.

This Is Why God Became Man

Is it possible to see God the Father or God the Spirit in a localized way with our eyes? No, it’s not. So God, in His great love, sent the eternal Jesus Christ into the world. God the Son became flesh, so that we who are flesh can see God face to face. When Jesus promised:

Matthew 5:8 Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.

He was making a promise that He Himself would keep. God Himself – Father, Son, and Spirit, from eternity past are “immortal, invisible” (1 Timothy 1:17). The Bible says of God that He dwells in unapproachable light, “whom no man hath seen, nor can see” (1 Timothy 6:16). Jesus was like this before the incarnation. Yes, God could manifest an image, a Theophany, or a Christophany, a Shekinah, or a person. But then …

Hebrews 2:14 … as the children (that’s us) are PARTAKERS OF FLESH AND BLOOD, He also Himself (Jesus) took part of the same

God the Son lowered Himself to become our Mediator. He represents God the Father and God the Spirit to us, and we to God. The Scripture says:

John 1:17-18 (KJV)For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. 18 No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.

There is only One Man Who has ever truly “seen” God, and that Man is God become Man, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Jesus said in John 6:45-47 It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me. 46 Not that any man hath seen the Father, save he which is of God, he hath seen the Father. 47 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.

Only Jesus has seen God as God is. But Jesus Christ is God, and when we get to Heaven we will see God face to face – for we will see Jesus! When you see Jesus, you will be seeing God. Jesus said “if you have seen Me, you have seen the Father” (John 14:9). All that is of God, we shall see in Jesus, God Who became Man. Why does God love us so much as to want to lower Himself to be like us? The Apostle called this a great mystery. He said:

1 Timothy 3:16 And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.

Will we see God face to face, it will be God the Son we see. When we hear and do His Word then God “shines in our hearts, giving the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6). We see God face to face through Jesus Christ. “There is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5).

Do you know Jesus as Lord and Savior? If not, you will never “see” God. But if you know Him, you will see God in Heaven. You will see Jesus Christ, our Lord and our God, and be with Him forever. May God touch your hearts with His Word and His Spirit. Amen and Amen!

Posted in Almighty God, Matthew, Sermons Preached | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Aspire To Inspire

Lion of Judah
Photo by Matthew Kerslake on Unsplash

Please turn with me in your Bibles to:

Colossians 2:6 As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, walk ye in Him

I hate most commercials I see on television. There’s an Aldi’s© commercial that is nauseatingly stupid, and a Smuckers© commercial that should be called schmuck. I like a few of the Progressive© commercials, and the GEICO© commercials, because they are usually humorous. Several years ago a commercial for a SAMSUNG© phone came on that was just beautiful! Listen to these words:

Nobody ever set their sights on second place. Who aspires to be almost remembered? There’s a reason there are no giant foam fingers that say “We’re number 3″. No one wants to tell an average joke, make an underwhelming entrance, go out with a whimper. No one ever stood in front of a mirror with a hairbrush pretending to be the tambourine player. And there are definitely more kids dressed as Batman, than Robin. We all aspire.”

I’m not sure we all aspire. It’s a good thought, I just don’t see it. I’ve eaten at restaurants where the waitresses are excellent, and where the waitresses don’t care. I’ve eaten food that was prepared with pride, and at places where the food was mediocre at best. I’ve worked – both in the Air Force and in civilian life – with people who sought excellence … but I’ve also worked with lazy people who had no concern over what they were doing. I tell you, if everyone DID aspire, our world would be a greater place!

The Apostle today encourages us to aspire to be like Jesus Christ – that is, IF you are a Saved Son of God.

We Must Receive Jesus As The Only Regent

Colossians 2:6 … As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord

What does it mean to received Christ Jesus the Lord”? The word “receive” is the Greek word παραλαμβάνω paralambanō which literally means “to draw to oneself in an embrace. To take to oneself. To make a part of your life. God the Father sent God the Son into the world to save Israel first. Jesus Christ is the Creator God. John tells us:

John 1:10-14 {Jesus} was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. 11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not. 12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: 13 which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. 14 And the Word was made 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.

This is not to say that every Jew rejected Christ. There were many who believed in Him, and received Him as He is, both Lord and Savior. There are many Jews today that know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, and are a part of His ever growing Kingdom. But Israel as a nation rejected the Messiah Who came for them. The Bible tells us that through the Apostle Paul:

Romans 11:25-28 For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in. 26 And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: 27 for this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins. 28 As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers’ sakes.

The nation Israel rejected Jesus Christ as Messiah, for their leaders (the Chief Priests, Jews, and Sadducees and Scribes) rejected Jesus. The Apostle calls this “a mystery”. God allowed Israel to reject Christ so that the Lord could save more than just Israel.

Through Christ God desired to save the WORLD. Though fully God Himself, and Co-Creator of all things, Jesus is God the Father’s Regent.

Jesus as a Child told His earthly parents:

Luke 2:49 {Do you not know} that I must be about my Father’s business?

And Jesus told His disciples:

John 14:9 … he that hath seen Me hath seen the Father …

In His First Coming Jesus Christ represented the Father and His Will on the earth. Though Jesus is co-equal to both Father and Spirit (He said “I and My Father are One”), He came REPRESENTING the will of God the Father. In His Second Coming Jesus as REGENT will destroy the enemy of God’s Kingdom, and set up a Millennial Kingdom on this earth. The Psalmist foresaw this:

Psalm 2:2-9 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against his anointed, saying, 3 Let us break their bands asunder,and cast away their cords from us. 4 He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh:the Lord shall have them in derision. 5 Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure. 6 Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion.7 I will declare the decree: the Lord hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee. 8 Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. 9 Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron;thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.

Israel as a nation rejected Jesus as Regent in His First Coming. God used this rejection to reach out and save the Gentiles. God wants to save “whosoever will”.

We are told in Colossians 1:15-17 {Jesus} is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: 16 for by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: 17 and he is before all things, and by him all things consist.

Though REGENT, Jesus is NOT a lesser God. Jesus is, according to Scripture, the Historic Creator of all that we see. Jesus is also the Operational Creator Who holds all things together. That is the sense of the text by him all things consist (συνιστάω synistáō, [pronounced soon-is-tah’-o] are held or put together). The Apostle said in another place:

1 Corinthians 8:6 but to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.

Darwinian Evolution claims that humanity came to be by chance. The Bible says “God … through {Jesus} also made the worlds” (Hebrews 1:1-2). Man was created by the Compound Unity we call the “Trinity”. “God said, Let US make man in OUR image, according to OUR likeness” (Genesis 1:26-27). Neither humanity nor the natural world are accidents. All that is, was created by the I AM that is Christ Jesus our Lord!

Knowing that Jesus is Creator, and receiving Him as such, drives fear from my heart. When Adam disobeyed the Creator in the Garden of Eden, he brought …

Death
Fear
Human Righteousness
& Slavery to sin

I believe it was God the Son Who told Adam,

Genesis 2:16-17 … Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

Spiritual Death came on all humanity when Adam disobeyed God. His seed from that moment on would produce bent twigs rather than righteous plants. Sin has a side effect of “self righteous, human good works”. We are told:

Genesis 3:7 … the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.

Covering their sin with their human works, Adam was fear filled. When Jesus came into the Garden, He cried out to Adam, “Where are you”? Adam replied:

Genesis 3:10 … I heard Thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid…

Fear causes us to run from rather than to the Lord. Fear causes us to play “let’s make a deal” with God. “God, IF You will do THIS, THEN I will do THAT”. We cannot work our way out of sin by our works – God proved this in the Garden when He killed animals to make coverings for Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:21), just before casting them out of Paradise. Sin enslaves us to false works that will never save us. Jesus as Regent came to save us from Death, Fear, Human Righteousness, and Slavery to sin. Praise God for His Regent!

We Must Receive Jesus As REDEEMER

Colossians 2:6 … As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord…

The first Adam brought ..

Death
Fear
Human Righteousness
& Slavery to sin

into the world. The second Adam, Jesus Christ, redeemed us from these four horrible things. The Apostle says in:

1 Corinthians 15:45-49 And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam {Jesus} was made a quickening spirit. 46 Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. 47 The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven. 48 As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. 49 And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.

It is our father Adam who gave us our brokenness, our sinfulness, our mortality. But it is the second Adam, Jesus Christ our Lord, Who gave us Himself, so that we might be redeemed to God. Jesus Christ died for your sin and mine. Jesus Christ rose again, and is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords to his people. The Scripture repeatedly tells us that Jesus Christ is ALONE the Redeemer.

Ephesians 1:6-7 {God Himself} hath made us accepted in the beloved {Son}. 7 in whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;

Romans 3:24 … being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:

As God made the world through Christ Jesus, He now makes His Kingdom through Christ Jesus.

It is not by our own works that we can be saved, else we would be able to boast about our inheritance of Heaven. The Apostle says:

Romans 3:27-30 Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. 28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law. 29 Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also: 30 seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith.

How is one saved?
It is by falling in love with Jesus.
It is by receiving Him into your life,
clinging to Him as your Preserver from hell.

The Apostle John, the lover of Christ, said simply:

1 John 5:11-12 And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.

You have either received Jesus Christ, or have not. If you have not, then you have not Heaven.

We Must Receive Jesus As RECONCILER

Look at Colossians 1:20-22 … and, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. 21 And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled 22 in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight:

The Biblical Doctrine of Reconciliation teaches that, though God created all humanity through Christ Jesus, God is ONLY the Father of those who have received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Jesus told the Pharisees who thought they were God’s children:

If God were your Father you would love Me … you are of your father the devil”
(John 8:42-44).

Every person who has ever been born and ever will be born belong to God. God said, “all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine” (Ezekiel 18:4). From the perspective of creation, everyone belongs to God. But not everyone belongs in God’s Kingdom.

You must be “born again of the Spirit” (John 3:3, 7)
You must be “born again … by the Word of God” (1 Peter 1:23)

The unsaved person who is not “born of the Spirit” (John3:6-7) hears the Word and Will of God, but is an enemy in their mind by wicked works”. They ignore what God said about the forbidden fruit. They unconcernedly do evil. They violate God’s Laws without concern. The lost violate God’s Commandments without thought.

We Must Receive Jesus as The RULER Of His Church

Colossians 1:18-19 And {Jesus} is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. 19 For it pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell;

Jesus Christ is the Head of His Church. When He gave what we call “The Great Commission” to the Apostles, Jesus ordered them (and us) …

Matthew 28:19-20 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you …

The Church in America today has done exactly what the Apostle Paul warned against. The Church largely has drifted from the Word of God, the Bible, into human tradition and myths. In Colossians 2:8-9 the Apostle wrote:

BEWARE lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. {9} For in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily

Word Study In Jesus and His teachings is all the fullness. Through Jesus we have all we need to be in a right relationship with God the Father. The Bible uses the word fullness” (Greek πλήρωμα plḗrōma, [pronounced play’-ro-mah]) seventeen times. The word refers to “complete purpose”. To live a God pleasing life, you must receive Christ as Lord and Savior. To excel in the Kingdom of God, you must follow the directives of the King. Jesus Christ is King of Kings and Lord of Lords to His people.

The local Church becomes spoiled or taken captive by the world when it departs from the Word of God.

We can only achieve the high ground, being like Jesus Christ, when we obey the Scripture that Jesus so loved. The power of the Church is to stay firmly in step with Christ. The Bible says:

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

As God planted the Church through His Apostles the devil continually sought to pervert it. When Paul and Silas went into the Synagogue at Berea, the Bible says:

Acts 17:11-12 These {Bereans} were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. 12 Therefore many of them believed; also of honorable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few.

When God’s Word is adhered to, the Church grows, and souls are saved. When the Church departs from the commandments of Christ, the light of God dims and goes out. We must follow the King of Kings and the Scripture He so cherished.

Conclusion

Colossians 2:6 As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, walk ye in Him

The Christian way of life is described in the Bible as “a walk”. If you have received Jesus Christ as Regent, Redeemer, Reconciler, and Ruler of His Church, then your life should reflect these truths. Our beliefs should reflect our walk. As Regent, we believe that Jesus is the manifest member of the Godhead. As Redeemer, we know that only the Blood of Jesus Christ makes payment for our sins. As Reconciler we know that we have direct access to God every minute of every day. And as Ruler, we know that we are not called to be lawless. We are called to follow the God Who saved us. As Christians:

We walk in the LIGHT, not in DARKNESS
Ephesians 5:8; 1 John 1:6-7

We walk as NEW CREATURES, not LOST CREATURES
Romans 6:4; Colossians 2:6

We walk in GOOD WORKS
Ephesians 2:10

We walk in WISDOM and TRUTH
Colossians 4:5; 2 John 4; 3 John 3-4

We walk in LOVE toward God and others
Ephesians 5:2; 2 John 6

We walk REJECTING SIN and EMBRACING CHRIST
Romans 6:1-6

We walk in DIGNITY as sons of God
John 1:12

Don’t waste your lives. Receive Christ Jesus the Lord, and walk in Him. May God touch your hearts with His Spirit and His Word. Amen and Amen.

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Christian, Take Up Your Cross

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Matthew 10:38 And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.

Matthew 16:24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

His Cross” Proves Every Human Life Is Precious

This past week former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin was convicted for second degree murder, third degree murder, and second degree manslaughter. Chauvin knelt on the neck of a suspect named George Floyd. Floyd plead with Chauvin. He said “I can’t breathe” at least 16 times. Floyd asked for “water”. I watched the video, and heard Floyd saying “Don’t kill me … I’m about to die”, and crying out for his mother. If I had been there I probably would have been arrested. My heart broke as I watched Floyd die.

Whether Floyd was a criminal or not, he was none the less made in God’s image and in God’s likeness (Genesis 1:26). When God made the animals no details are given, other than God allowed Adam to name them (Genesis 2:19). When God made humanity, He “breathed into Adam’s nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul” (Genesis 2:7). Humans are distinctively different from animals. When Noah got off the Ark, God told him:

Genesis 9:2-6 …. the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every fowl of the air, upon all that moveth upon the earth, and upon all the fishes of the sea; into your hand are they delivered. 3 Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things. 4 But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat. 5 And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man’s brother will I require the life of man. 6 Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.

Noah and his descendants were given the animal kingdom, and were allowed to take meat from those creatures. But God warned Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man. Man is allowed to kill man, but only to punish for and protect from capital offenses. I am told that Chauvin faces either 40 years imprisonment, or 75 years imprisonment (depending on whether sentencing is concurrent or consecutive). God’s law demands something else. To maliciously take any life is a capital offense in God’s Kingdom.

Life is precious. Every life is precious. If you don’t think so, consider the Cross. Jesus Christ came from eternity to this earth to demonstrate the love of God. The Apostle said:

1 Timothy 1:15 … Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.

Sin Causes Problems Humans Cannot Fix

With the Chauvin verdict in, I saw news reports of people applauding and cheering. I also heard people on the other side saying things like “Unfair! Floyd was on drugs – this is what killed him”. Neither side gets it. Neither conservative nor liberal understands. There should be no cheering, no taking of sides. A human life was needlessly taken. George Floyd should not have died that way.

This is why humans, as we are, cannot make us right with God. We are blind to sin. Sin blinds us. Sin comes to us, dressed up in filthy rags.

Isaiah 64:6 But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.

No human born of Adam can make things right with God, because we are all, at heart, corrupt. We cannot see sin, unless our seeing benefits us.

The only way that God could save sinners would be to become Man, and punish Himself. When Adam sinned, he caused an offense against an eternal and unchanging God. But Adam also brought disease into our minds.

Genesis 2:17 … of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

Have you ever noticed it is the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil” that Adam ate from? Eating of this tree makes US – the created – believe that WE KNOW WHAT IS BEST, BETTER THAN THE CREATOR. When Adam sinned, he immediately died spiritually and mentally, which would lead to eventual physical death. His natural born children are both spiritually and mentally broken. As humans, we have the audacity to believe that we know what is best for ourselves, and for those around us. We do not know. We are broken.

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

Adam brought mental and spiritual death on us all. A breach was made between us and God, a breach that only God could bridge. Guilty people cannot – nor in most cases are they even willing to try – to make themselves guiltless before an immutable, unchanging God.

God temporarily accepted animal sacrifices as a means by which humans could approach Him. The lamb was to be slain as a Peace Offering between God and man. God told the priests to kill the lamb without blemish, and pour all of it’s blood out at the bottom of the altar. Then:

Leviticus 4:35 … the priest shall burn {the lamb and it’s fat} upon the altar, according to the offerings made by fire unto the Lord: and the priest shall make an atonement for his sin that he hath committed, and it shall be forgiven him.

That this was but a temporary offering for sin is seen in that the lamb without blemish was killed year after year. “Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sin” (Hebrews 9:22). The Bible says that the Old Testament law of sacrifices was but a shadow of something better to come. The Bible says:

Hebrews 10:1-4 … those sacrifices which they offered year by year {over and over again could not} make {those who offered animal sacrifices} perfect {in the eyes of God}. 2 For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshipers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins. 3 But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. 4 For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.

If the animal sacrifices permanently covered our sins, the Bible would not have required that the sacrifices be made over and over again, year after year. The very repetition of these sacrifices shows that they were but temporary.

Preach This! Man is NOT an ANIMAL, so animal sacrifices could only, by God’s allowance, make a temporary covering for sin. These sacrifices looked forward to the coming of God Himself, dying for our sins. In order for God to die for our sins, God would have to become man, Perfect Man. Perfect Man in turn would have to live in this world, never following Adam’s sin, but always doing as God would require. Perfect Man would have to be like us in humanity. Perfect Man would NOT be like us in sin.

This Perfect Man is Jesus Christ. The Bible declares:

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

In the above text the items in brackets {} are my additions, but they seem true to the point the text is making. In the Old Testament an Altar was used to sacrifice animals, making a temporary atonement or covering for sin.

In the New Testament God did not use an altar of wood or of stone to atone for sin.
God used a Cross, a platform made from a tree.

The Cross was a killing tool by which criminals who wrongly took lives (like Derek Chauvin did with George Floyd). The ancient Jews normally stoned criminals to death outside the city square. But God prophetically spoke of the Cross in:

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

This was a prophecy of the Cross of Christ.
It was by a tree that Adam brought sin into the world.
It is by a tree – a Cross – that God permanently covers the sins of those who believe in Him.

The Apostle Paul quoted Deuteronomy when he wrote: Galatians 3:13 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:

Sin is no trifle, no small thing. We see the power of sin by looking at the Cross of Christ. Sin is a debt owed to God, a debt we cannot pay, but Jesus did. God hates sin, for sin makes humans treat one another like animals. God HATES sin (Habakkuk 1:13), whereas we as humans make light of it. Sin forced the death of the Lord Jesus Christ.

If You Are Saved, You Will Embrace The Cross

I find it interesting that twice in the Gospel of Matthew that Jesus tells us to “take up His Cross”. In the first text:

Matthew 10:38 And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.

The genuine Christian will take up His Cross and follow Jesus. The Cross was not forced on Jesus, but He willingly took it upon Himself. The Bible says:

Matthew 16:21 From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he MUST go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day

Jesus was not forced to go to the Cross – He willingly did so because, as the Son of God, He loves humanity as much as do the Father and the Spirit. Jesus was filled with compassion for us (Matthew 9:36; 14:14; 20:34; Mark 1:41; 6:34; 8:2; John 11:33). Love compelled Jesus to lay His life down for us. He said:

John 15:13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

Follow this line of reasoning, if you will.

God is love.
God died for us.

God willingly took the Cross.
We are saved by believing God died for us.
If we are saved, God indwells us.

If God indwells us, then we love like Him.
We willingly take the Cross.
We are love.

1 John 4:7-8 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.

The Christian embraces the Cross at New Birth – at the point of salvation – and the Christian embraces the Cross daily. It is no Christian who does not embrace the Cross. Jesus said:

Matthew 10:38 And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.

Word Study When Jesus said that the person who refuses the Cross is is not worthy of me, He is using the Greek ἄξιος áxios, {pronounced ax’-ee-os}, meaning “unworthy”, but it also means “does not have the weight of, does not measure up”. When God brought judgment on King Belshazzar, the ghostly hand wrote on the wall:

Daniel 5:27 TEKEL; Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting.

The Bible says “A false balance is abomination to the LORD: but a just weight is his delight” (Proverbs 11:1). Jesus told Belshazzar, and tells us, “If you will not take up your Cross and follow Me, your PROFESSION does not match your POSSESSION. The Christian takes up the Cross and follows Jesus. The non-Christian shuns the Cross and embraces the world of self”. The late Evangelist A.W. Tozer wrote:

Only in America can we develop instant potatoes, instant TV dinners, and instant coffee. Unfortunately, we have now given the world instant Christianity, whereby we believe that we can satisfy the demands of Christ in a once-in-a-lifetime walk down the aisle of a church or pray a little twenty-second prayer of surrender and think that we have fulfilled the calling of Jesus. … As a result, there is no essential difference between ordinary human life and the life of a person who claims to be a Christian.”

Christianity is a calling to the Cross. Today I hear over and over again:

You do you!”

What’s wrong with this? “You do you” is from Satan, not from Jesus. Jesus said:

Matthew 16:24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

let him deny himself” is certainly not “You do you”. It is the opposite. The Cross is self denial. The Apostle wrote:

Hebrews 12:1-2 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, 2 looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Jesus endured the cross. The Cross is not a party. It is not comfort. People are not lining up outside of some nightclub to gain entrance to the Cross. Jesus despised the shame. The Cross is shame. It is self denial.

  • The Cross is love “turning the other cheek”. Jesus said, “resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.” (Matthew 5:39). When someone hurts you, let the hurt come, and give them another chance. Doesn’t Jesus give us all another chance every day?
  • The Cross is “loving your enemy, doing good to those who did bad to you”. Jesus said, “I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you”.
  • The Cross is “waiting on God, rather than doing it yourself”. The Apostle said, “Recompense to no man evil for evil. … avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. 21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:17, 19-21). As Jesus hung on the Cross, suffering, being mocked, He cried out, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34).
  • The Cross is “rejecting the worldly minded while embracing God’s mind”. The Stepbrother of Christ wrote, “whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God” (James 4:4). The son of Adam does not want to carry the Cross of Christ. When Jesus fell under the burden of the Cross, no one stepped out of the crowd to help Him. Simon of Cyrene was COMPELLED to carry Christ’s Cross. If you must be compelled, dear one, you are not saved. I say again, if you must be COMPELLED to carry the Cross, you are not saved!
  • The Cross is “both a place of death, and a place of life”. Jesus Christ died on the Cross for our sins. Once dead, He was removed from that Cross, and laid in a tomb. Three days later Jesus resurrected from the grave. The Christian goes to the Cross, dying to self. The old you dies. Rising from the Cross, we then pick up the Cross and follow Jesus forever.
  • The Cross is “where the Christian is bound forever”. Our feet are nailed to the Cross – we only go where Jesus bids us go. Our hands are nailed to the Cross – we only do that which Jesus bids us do.

In the past few years, a number of what are called “High Profile Christians” have renounced their faith, and no longer follow Jesus. Popular Hillsong songwriter Marty Sampson wrote:

I’m genuinely losing my faith… Christians can be the most judgmental people on the planet – they can also be some of the most beautiful and loving people… but it’s not for me. I am not in anymore.”

Christian author Joshua Harris wrote:

I have undergone a massive shift in regard to my faith in Jesus. The popular phrase for this is ‘deconstruction,’ the biblical phrase is ‘falling away.’ By all the measurements I have for defining a Christian, I am not a Christian.”

Former Pastor of Grace Family Fellowship, Covenant Church, and Cedar Community Church Dave Gass wrote:

After 40 years of being a devout follower, 20 of those being an evangelical pastor, I am walking away from the faith. Even though this has been a massive bomb drop in my life, it has been decades in the making.”

How can such high profile, popular Christians suddenly be Christians? I believe it was because they never carried the Cross. When God spoke of the New Covenant that He would bring through Christ, He said through the Prophets:

Jeremiah 31:31-33 Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: … 33 but this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.

Ezekiel 36:26-27 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.

When Jesus gave us the Lord’s Table, He tied His death with the New Covenant when He offered the Cup, saying “This is My blood OF THE NEW TESTAMENT (Covenant), which is shed for the remission of sins” (Matthew 26:28). When we receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and are supernaturally born again of the Spirit, then God Himself, saving us by the Cross, daily draws us to the Cross. It is as God has said, “I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; and their sins and iniquities will I remember no more” (Hebrews 10:16-17). Christians are not “self made”. They are “God made”. They are drawn to the Cross when saved, and carry the Cross after they are saved. One final truth about the Cross:

  • There is only one person to a Cross. When Jesus said “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Matthew 16:24), He calls us to individual decisions. No one can carry your Cross. You will not enter Heaven because you had a mother, a father, a grandparent, or anyone else you loved carrying a Cross. You must carry the Cross. If you are saved, you are compelled by your changed heart to carry that Cross.

Do you belong to Jesus? Will you receive Him today to be your Lord and Savior, repenting of your old life, dying on the Cross? May God the Holy Spirit drive the Word of God deeply into your hearts this very day. Amen and Amen.

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Being Resurrection Minded

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1 Corinthians 15:1-4 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; 2 by which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. 3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4 and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

Are you resurrection minded?

Most people – even professing Christians – are not. We live our lives daily thinking rarely of our own deaths. Some of us dread death. Others ignore death. Yet death is a part of life. Death seems unnatural to us, because God did not make us to die. When Adam did what God told him not to do, “the day that he ate thereof he surely died” (Genesis 2:17). God made everything perfect, but man made death. “By one man sin entered the world, and death by sin, for all have sinned” (Romans 5:12). God manufactures life and peace. Man manufactures death and sin.

We must all die, unless, like Elijah of old, God takes us up into Heaven “by a whirlwind” (2 Kings 2:11).

Death Should Not Frighten We Who Are Saved

Death should frighten the lost person, but it should not frighten the saved. In the Old Testament King Hezekiah (his name means “God has strengthened me”), the King of Judah was 25 years old when he began to reign. His father, Ahaz, was one of the worst kings Judah ever saw. When Hezekiah took over the kingdom he honored God, and removed idolatry from among the people. Hezekiah loved the Lord, and proved it by his works. One day God came to Hezekiah and said:

2 Kings 20:1 Set thine house in order; for thou shalt die, and not live.

Hezekiah “turned his face to the wall” and “wept sore” (2 Kings 20:2, 3). Because of his grieving the Lord said, “I will add unto thy days 15 years” (2 Kings 20:6). What happened during those added years? Hezekiah had the worst 15 years of his life. When Babylonian emissaries visited the kingdom, Hezekiah in pride showed off the national treasury. God told Hezekiah that his foolishness would cause all in his house, all his kingdom’s treasures, would be carried off to Babylon (2 Kings 20:14-18). Hezekiah also sired the most evil king, his son Manasseh. Manasseh would have Isaiah the Prophet killed. Hezekiah would be responsible for Judah as a nation falling into idolatry and sexual immorality.

It would have been better had Hezekiah left this earth when the Lord had him scheduled to go. We should not fear death, dear Christian, for

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

God called Hezekiah for a purpose. He called you for a purpose. While we have the gift of physical life, we should live in the purpose of God. But when God calls us home we should not fear. We know something that Hezekiah did not know. We know and have heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

I Should Not Fear Death Because
Jesus Has Conquered Both Sin & Death

1 Corinthians 15:3 … For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4 and

The GOSPEL (Greek εὐαγγέλιον euangélion, {pronounced yoo-ang-ghel’-ee-on} or “good tidings” or “good news” that God has given us is in two parts. The first part is Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures.

The Old Testament prophecies repeated sets God forth as a “Physical Savior of His people”.

King David often praised God for saving him from death:

2 Samuel 22:2-7 The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; 3 the God of my rock; in him will I trust: he is my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my high tower, and my refuge, my savior; thou savest me from violence. 4 I will call on the Lord, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies. 5 When the waves of death compassed me, the floods of ungodly men made me afraid; 6 the sorrows of hell compassed me about; the snares of death prevented me; 7 in my distress I called upon the Lord, and cried to my God: and he did hear my voice out of his temple, and my cry did enter into his ears.

The Old Testament Saints saw God as Someone who savest me from violence. David praised God because the Lord saved {Me} from mine enemies. God is seen as a Savior from earthly enemies. God is seen as a Savior from harm, from loss of life. There are many passages that speak of great deliverance, where:

Psalm 106:21-22 … God their savior, which had done great things in Egypt; 22 wondrous works in the land of Ham, and terrible things by the Red sea.

The idea of “God as Savior” under the Old Covenant is that of God saving from the things that sting, that bite, that harm, that oppress the joy of life on this earth. God is more of a PHYSICAL Savior. The Prophet said:

Isaiah 19:20 … they shall cry unto the Lord because of the oppressors, and he shall send them a savior, and a great one, and he shall deliver them.

When God presented Himself as “Savior”, it was often as a PHYSICAL Savior. God told Israel,

Isaiah 43:3 … I am the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Savior: I gave Egypt for thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for thee.

God foretold of the time when He would send forth His Messiah, His Son Jesus. God foretold of salvation from sin in:

Isaiah 45:21-22 … there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Savior; there is none beside me. 22 Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.

And a clear presentation of Jesus Christ in Isaiah 53:3-6 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. 4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. 5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

Though there are numerous passages that foretell the coming of Jesus Christ, the fact that:

Matthew 1:21 … JESUS .. shall SAVE HIS PEOPLE FROM THEIR SINS

The Old Testament saints were more concerned with God SAVING THEM FROM PHYSICAL HARM than they were of God SAVING THEM FROM SIN. Even Isaiah the Prophet, when he looked into Heaven, cried out in dismay:

Isaiah 6:5 … Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.

Sin under the Old Covenant was seen as something that you could take care of with an animal sacrifice.

The “Gospel” under the Old Covenant is that God could protect you PHYSICALLY, but SPIRITUAL safety was not first and foremost.

The Gospel under the New Covenant is that God has defeated BOTH sin and death. God saves us physically, AND God saves us spiritually. The GOOD NEWS that Paul delivers is:

1 Corinthians 15:3-4 … For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4 and

Do you see the “and”? The Gospel teaches that Jesus …

Galatians 1:4 … gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil world …

1 Corinthians 15:4 … and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

Jesus did not just die for our sins. He saved us from sin. But Jesus also CONQUERED DEATH. The Bible says he was buried. He was done. There was no life left in him whatsoever. And yet he rose again the third day according to the scriptures. Jesus Christ died on Calvary being the covering for our sins, and not for ours only, but for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2). The Bible says:

Luke 24:46-47 Thus it is written, and thus it {was right for} Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: 47 and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.

Jesus Christ died, and rose again.
In His death He conquered sin.
In His resurrection He conquered death.

Many who profess to be New Covenant Christians are – sadly – Old Covenant Believers. Their fear of death proves this.

Prior to Jesus, there were SEVERAL who
were brought BACK FROM DEATH …
but NONE who were RESURRECTED.

The Prophet Elijah brought life back to a young boy (1 Kings 17:17-24).
The Prophet Elisha raises the son of a Gentile woman (2 Kings 4:32-37).
A dead man tossed into Elisha’s tomb comes to life (2 Kings 13:21).

Our Lord Jesus raised:

The widow of Nain’s son (Luke 7:11-17).
Jairus’ daughter (Luke 8:49-56).
His friend Lazarus (John 11).

These were all raised from the dead – but eventually died again. They were resuscitated, NOT resurrected. But the Apostle tells us:

1 Corinthians 15:20-23 But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first fruits of them that slept. 21 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But every man in his own order: Christ the first fruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.

The Old Testament saint understood resuscitation of the dead. There were examples where people died, and were brought back to life. There were examples where people SHOULD have died, but God extended their lives. BUT NEVER HAD THE OLD TESTAMENT SAINT SEEN RESURRECTION. God spoke of an awakening from sleep in passages like:

Daniel 12:2 … many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.

But the Old Covenant believer had no concept of resurrection. This is because Jesus Christ is the first fruits of them that slept. The first fruits was, to the Jew, the “first harvest of the field”. Jesus Christ is the prototype of the resurrection. We have the promise of God that in Christ shall all be made alive. You will NOT be RESUSCITATED. You will be made alive, just like Jesus is alive. There is coming a day when you will die. Yet beloved, this is but a bee sting. Why? Because every man in his own order: Christ the first fruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming. When Jesus returns, you shall be made fully Heaven worthy. You shall be made like Jesus.

1 Corinthians 15:5-8 {Jesus} was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: 6 after that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. 7 After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. 8 And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.

Jesus Christ rose from the grave. He is the first fruit of resurrection. He was seen of many, touched and spoken to in His resurrection body. And as the first fruit, you who believe in Him will one day be as He is.

This Present Body Is Not Heaven Worthy

I received a gift from the United States Government the other day. They sent me a “intestinal lavage”. It’s for an upcoming procedure that the V.A. is going to do. Yippee!!!

We must all die, or be changed, if we are going to go to Heaven. You may, like an Old Testament Saint, pray that God extend your earthly life, and God may do so. God loves us enough to extend our lives. But Beloved, you cannot enter Heaven in your current bodies. Your souls can enter Heaven, because Jesus Christ paid for your sins. If you have believed in Him the Bible says:

John 3:16-18 … God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. 18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

If you have received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior you are not condemned. The Bible says because we are BORN AGAIN of God’s Spirit (John 3:3, 5, 7), that …

Romans 7:6 … NOW WE ARE delivered from the Law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit …

1 John 3:2 … now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.

Our SOULS are made Heaven worthy … but our BODIES are not. The Apostle describes this in detail:

1 Corinthians 15:35-44 But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come? 36 Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die: 37 and that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain: 38 but God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body. 39 All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds. 40 There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. 41 There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory. 42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: 43 it is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: 44 it is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body.

The Apostle likens our bodies to the seed of a tree or a fruit. That which is sown, is sown into the soil a dead thing, but is raised through the power of God into something else. Our bodies are corrupted by an old sin nature. Sin is in our flesh. The Apostle said:

Romans 7:18 … I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. 19 For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. 20 Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.

This present body must be exchanged for another. This present body is not Heaven worthy. This is why,

2 Corinthians 5:6-8 Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: 7 (for we walk by faith, not by sight:) 8 we are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.

The Apostle did not see physical death as a thing to be feared. He viewed his walk with God under the New Covenant, not under the Old Covenant. He knew that his current body – as is all our bodies – is not Heaven worthy. Our bodies must undergo change before they are allowed in Heaven.

1 Corinthians 15:44 … There is a NATURAL body, and there is a SPIRITUAL body …

The first body you were given (you neither earned nor deserved that body) by God’s Grace. It is an EARTHLY body. The next body you will be given, dear Christian, will be HEAVENLY. We read:

1 Corinthians 15:45-49 The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. 46 Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. 47 The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven. 48 As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. 49 And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.

In Adam we have physical life, but in Adam that life is corrupted by sin. But in Christ we have right now spiritual life, and the promise of a Heavenly body in God’s own timing. Physical death for the believer is not a curse, but a blessing. When we physically die, we spiritually go to be with Jesus.

The Promise Of God Should Remove
Our Fear Of Death

Let us end with more of this precious text. The Apostle says:

1 Corinthians 15:50-58 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. 51 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. 55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? 56 The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.

In a 1972 Radio Message Billy Graham said:

The death of a Christian is unlike the tragic passing of the unrighteous. Though the Christian has no immunity from death and no claim to perpetual life on this planet, death is to him a friend rather than a foe, the beginning rather than the end. … It is as if the Lord of the harvest says to every weary laborer, ‘You’ve been faithful in your task. Come and sit in the sheltered porch of my palace and rest from your labors. Enter now into the joy of your Lord.’ … Death to the Christian is the exchanging of a tent for a permanent palace. Here we are as pilgrims or gypsies living in a frail, flimsy home subject to disease, pain and peril. But at death we exchange this crumbling, disintegrating tent for a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.”

Thanks be to God for His unspeakable gift” (2 Corinthians 9:15). Let us not fear what is to come, dear Christian. Let us be New Covenant believers. If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, run to His embrace today. He loves you, and has promised to give you eternal life both now, and forever. Amen and Amen!

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The Great Meeting In The Air

Photo by William Sinclair on Unsplash

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. 16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17 then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. 18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words.

The Bible Is Filled With Wonderful Meetings That
We Can Read Of, But Could Not Be At

I wish I could have been at that camp meeting when Israel passed through the Red Sea as if on dry land. I wish I could have been there when Miriam, Moses’ sister, led Israel in song:

Exodus 15:21 Sing ye to the Lord, for he hath triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider hath {God} thrown into the sea.

That must have been magnificent! I would have loved to have been at the meeting when Moses received the Law, or when Jericho fell as God’s people marched around it. There are so many wonderful meetings in the Old Testament I would have loved to have been at.

Wouldn’t you have loved to be at that meeting at the empty tomb when the Angel told the women:

Matthew 28:6-8 He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. 7 And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you. 8 And they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word.

Wouldn’t you have loved to have been at that meeting when the disciples huddled together, fearful, in a locked room? I would have loved to be there. I can imagine the conversation, the sadness, as we spoke of Jesus’ crucifixion. Jesus had told His disciples that “after three days He will rise” (Mark 9:30-32; Matthew 17:22-23). Jesus told them (Matthew 26:32) “after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee”. They heard His words, but the words didn’t register. In that locked room 11 defeated men gathered – oh, how I wish I could have been there – when suddenly and miraculously Jesus appeared. Can you imagine it? It would have made me shout. Jesus has conquered death. He passed through a locked door to see us, saying:

Luke 24:39-43 Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have. 40 And when he had thus spoken, he shewed them his hands and his feet. 41 And while they yet believed not for joy, and wondered, he said unto them, Have ye here any meat? 42 And they gave him a piece of a broiled fish, and of an honeycomb. 43 And he took it, and did eat before them.

What a wonderful meeting that must have been! Then Jesus “shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God” (Acts 1:3). What a wonderful series of meetings this must have been. The Sermon on the Mount was well attended, and a great blessing – but just imagine the meetings with the resurrected Jesus! Praise God!

On the fortieth day following His resurrection from the tomb, Jesus commissioned His Apostles. He told them – and us – to carry the Gospel message into the world. How it must have moved their hearts when they saw Jesus – defeating gravity – ascend to glory:

Mark 16:19-20 So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God. 20 And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen.

What a powerful meeting that was! Neither you nor I could be at any of those wonderful meetings. I read of them, and believe that they happened just as they said. But I can only read of them, and imagine the joy of seeing Jesus – the resurrected Jesus – face to face. I was born in the wrong time to see those wonderful meetings. But there is a meeting that will be greater than that first meeting with Jesus was. This meeting is a meeting that every Christian will attend. The old time Evangelist Billy Sunday said of this coming meeting:

… “no meeting has ever been held anywhere or in any time that could begin to compare in importance with the greatest of all meetins that is to be held in the air, when our Lord comes to make up His jewels. That meeting is the one for which all others have been preparing the way. It will be the crowning meeting of all history. The purpose of all that has been done in this world up to the present times has been prepared for that great meeting in the air.”

Jesus is Coming! Jesus said He would be crucified. He said that He would lay His life down for us. He said that He would die, and rise again on the third day. But Jesus also said that He is coming again. Jesus said that His coming would be like lightening, quick and unpredictable. He said:

Matthew 24:27 as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.

Jesus told His disciples that the day of His Second Coming is known only to the Father. He said:

Matthew 24:36 But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.

Matthew 24:42-44 Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. 43 But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. 44 Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.

The Second Coming of Christ is referred to over 350 times in the New Testament.

Water Baptism is an important Biblical truth. The Apostle Paul refers to Water Baptism about 13 times. But the Apostle refers to the Second Coming of Jesus 50 times. Our Jesus is coming again. He is coming to save, and He is coming to judge and rule. If you are a child of God by faith in Christ (Galatians 3:26) then you WILL be at this great meeting, one way or the other.

All Christians Will Be At That “Meeting In The Air”

Word Study In 1 Thessalonians, we see the Apostle Paul use the word “sleep” in two different technical ways.


1. The Apostle uses the word “ASLEEP” {Greek κοιμάω koimáō, [pronounced koy-mah’-o], meaning “to be in a state of rest or sleep”} in chapter four to describe the saved Child of God who is physically dead.
2. The Apostle uses the word “SLEEP” {Greek καθεύδω katheúdō, [pronounced kath-yoo’-do], meaning “to fall asleep”} in chapter five to describe the lost child of Adam who is spiritually dead.

This morning we are going to talk of the “Meeting In The Air”, the first phase of our Lord’s Second Coming. Let’s begin.

1 Thessalonians 4:13 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.

When an unbeliever in Jesus physically dies, it is called “die” or “death”. But when a believer in Christ physically dies, the Bible refers to this as “sleep” or “asleep in Jesus”. Why is this? Because our Lord Jesus said:

John 11:25-26 …. I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: 26 and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.

Again, “whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die”. The Christian does not DIE. The Christian SLEEPS. The body of the believer RESTS in repose. The body of the Christian in that casket looks like it is sleeping. Death is but a sleep for the genuine believer in Christ. When the Evangelist Stephen was being stoned to death by the Pharisees the Bible says:

Acts 7:60 {Stephen} kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.

Stephen did not drift off into normal sleep while his body was being beaten with stones. His body died – but to him it was like drifting off into sleep. “He fell asleep”. When Jesus’ friend Lazarus died, our Lord told His disciples:

John 11:11 … Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep.

The disciples did not understand. They said:

John 11:12-15 … Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well. 13 Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep. 14 Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead. 15 And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe; nevertheless let us go unto him.

For the Christian, death is but a sleep.

When the Apostle Paul wrote of the some 500 brethren who saw the resurrected Jesus, he wrote:

1 Corinthians 15:6 … {Jesus} was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep.

The Apostle was speaking of the believers who had physically died. They were “fallen asleep”. Death for the Christian is indeed much like sleep. Both death and sleep are inevitable. Everyone must die, and everyone must sleep. When you as a Christian die, you do not cease to exist, no more than you cease to exist when you sleep. When you sleep, you awaken to a different time. When you as a Christian die, you awaken in glory, in a different time. Both death and sleep sneak up on us. When I lay in bed at night thinking about going to sleep, I cannot sleep. But when I think on other things, sleep sneaks up on me. It is a surprise, albeit a pleasant one. Death and sleep for the Christian are the same.

When the Bible refers to the Christian sleeping, this sleep refers to the body, not the soul. When the Christian experiences physical death, the believer’s soul goes to be with the Lord. The Bible says:

2 Corinthians 5:6-8 Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: 7 (for we walk by faith, not by sight:) 8 we are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.

When we are “absent from the body”, that is, my soul departs this vessel, then we are “present with the Lord”. Believers go to be with Jesus, where Jesus is. When John the Revelator looked into Heaven, he said:

Revelation 6:9 … I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held:

He did not see their bodies. He saw their SOULS. He said the same thing in Revelation 20:4, “I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the Word of God …”. When the believer in Christ dies, their BODY sleeps “in the dust of the earth” (Daniel 12:2). The Apostle, writing to the Church at Philippi, said:

Philippians 1:21-24 … For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not. 23 For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: 24 nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you.

Physical death for the Apostle was GAIN, not loss. Why? He said “I have a desire to depart, and to be with Christ”. Paul rightly saw that physical death for the believer was when our bodies sleep, but our souls go to be with Jesus, to see Him face to face.

Christians Sleep And Have Hope.
Unbelievers Die Without Hope.

1 Thessalonians 4:13 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.

The Apostle did not want the Thessalonians to “sorrow as others which have no hope”. When unbelievers die, their souls go to a place of TORMENT (Luke 16:22-23). “The rich man lifted up his EYES IN HELL, BEING IN TORMENTS”. Lazarus, on the other hand, was “being comforted”.

1 Thessalonians 4:14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.

Here then is the great news of salvation. The Christian who “sleeps” or physically dies prior to the return of Jesus Christ, then “them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him”. Those loved ones who have gone on ahead – who have “fallen asleep in Jesus” – when Jesus comes back God will bring them – their souls – WITH HIM. Our loved ones – my grandma and grandpa, my momma and daddy, the loved ones who were “in Christ”, and who “fell asleep in Christ”, or have physically died, these precious souls will come back with Jesus when He returns.

1 Thessalonians 4:15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.

Word Study Those Christians who are alive when Jesus returns in the air “shall not prevent them which are asleep”. The word translated “prevent” is the Greek φθάνω phthánō, [pronounced fthan’-o], which means “to come before or precede”. When Jesus returns, He brings the souls of those who have believed in Him with Him, like a mighty cloud of witnesses.

1 Thessalonians 4:16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:

At this wonderful meeting in the air that some call “The Rapture”, the souls of those who departed this life, “asleep in Jesus”, will be given resurrected bodies FIRST. Those who go the sleep first receive resurrected bodies first. What a blessing this is!

1 Thessalonians 4:17 … Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

Word Study The words “caught up together” is the Greek ἁρπάζω harpázō, [pronounced har-pad’-zo]. This is a very interesting word, as it means “to seize, to carry off or be claimed eagerly for one’s self”. After Jesus unites the believers who have previously “fallen asleep” with glorified bodies, He takes those Christians who are alive and remain off of this earth. What great news! “And so shall we ever be with the Lord”. Christ’s Church, the believers of every age, will forever be with Jesus. The Apostle of love said:

1 John 3:2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.

“when he shall appear, we shall be like him”. What a glorious truth this is, dear Christian. As you have received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, one day – and we do not know when that day will be – Jesus will come back to receive you to Himself. If you “fall asleep in Christ” prior to His second coming, then He will bring you back with Him when He returns “in the air”. Jesus is coming – we do not know when. The Moody Bible Institute notes:

“Before He establishes His kingdom on earth, Jesus will come for His Church, an event commonly referred to as the “Rapture.” At that time the dead in Christ will be raised and living Christians will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air and be with Him forever. In this resurrection, those who have died in Christ will have their redeemed souls and spirits united with a body similar to Christ’s glorified body. Christians living at the time of this event will not die, but will be changed to be like Christ. This expectation is a motivation for holy living, as well as a source of comfort.”

If You Plan On Meeting Jesus In The Air
You Will Live For Jesus On The Ground

Knowing that the Lord shall return at any moment – and we do not know when that moment will be – we as Christians are to live expectantly and in a holy manner every moment of every day. When we started this message we read:

1 Thessalonians 4:13 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep

We skipped over that little word “But”, but that word is important, too. Preceding this teaching on the Second Coming of Christ the Apostle said:

1 Thessalonians 4:1-4 Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more. 2 For ye know what commandments we gave you by the Lord Jesus. 3 For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: 4 that every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honor…

If you are a Christian, and are expecting to one day to “fall asleep in Jesus” and not to die, then you should “know how to possess {your} vessel in sanctification and honor”. The lives that God has given you are stewardships. “You are not your own, but are bought with a price, the Blood of Jesus Christ. Glorify God in your BODY, and in your SPIRIT, which are God’s!” (1 Corinthians 6:20). You are to be living your lives as if Christ might come at any moment. You are to live your lives to please Jesus.

Understanding the Second Coming of Christ should spur us into actively serving Jesus. We do not know when Jesus will return. If you are saved, and looking forward to SLEEP and not death, then:

1 Thessalonians 4:7 … God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness.

We are to be a holy people. God tells His Children:

1 Peter 1:15-16 as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of {your way of life}; 16 because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.

We are called as believers to holiness, to living our lives so as to please our Lord. Knowing that Christ is returning without warning, the Apostle exhorts us:

1 Thessalonians 4:9-12 But as touching brotherly love ye need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another. 10 And indeed ye do it toward all the brethren which are in all Macedonia: but we beseech you, brethren, that ye increase more and more; 11 and that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you; 12 that ye may walk honestly toward them that are without, and that ye may have lack of nothing.

The Second Coming of Christ is in two phases. In phase 1, Jesus saves His Church from the Great Tribulation. The Church goes with Jesus to glory for seven years, while the judgment of God and the rule of the Antichrist grips the earth. At the end of that seven year period Jesus returns to the earth with His Church to save Israel, and to judge sin. Jude wrote of this in:

Jude 14-15 And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, 15 to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.

There is a Second Coming “In the Air” and a Second Coming “On the Ground”. The first is to save the Church from Tribulation. The second is to save Israel, and establish the Kingdom of Christ on the earth. What wonderful truths!

Will you be at this meeting? Will you be at the Second Coming of Christ? You will be, but only if you know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. You will be, but only if you have been born again of the Spirit, and are Children of God by spiritual adoption. You will be, only if you love Jesus, and follow Him. Jesus will not return for a stranger. He is returning for those He loves. Will you be at that great Meeting in the Air? May God the Holy Spirit draw you to call upon Jesus Christ as both Lord and Savior. The Bible says:

John 3:15-18 … whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. 16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. 18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

Amen and Amen!

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The Day Of The Lord

Photo by Michael & Diane Weidner on Unsplash

Please turn with me in your Bibles to 1 Thessalonians 5. As you are turning, I will give you an introduction to Chapter Five.

Rapture (Second Coming Phase 1) &
Great Tribulation (Time of Jacob’s Trouble)

This morning we studied the Second Coming of Christ when we “meet the Lord in the air” (1 Thessalonians 4:17). Jesus will return from Heaven to take His Church from this earth. We saw this morning that:

1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 … the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17 then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

The Church has historically referred to this text as “The Rapture”, or what I call “The Second Coming Phase 1”

Jesus is coming again. In His Second Coming in the Air the Bible says:

1 Thessalonians 4:14 … if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.

You cannot be saved unless you believe that Jesus died and rose again. Dr Charles Stanley notes:

Believing that the Lord Jesus Christ rose from the dead is essential for Christians. Merely recognizing that He died for our sins is not enough; we must accept His resurrection in order to receive eternal life. Christ paid our debt, but His sacrifice on the cross means nothing if He possesses no power over the grave. In vanquishing evil and death, the Lord made our salvation possible.”

The Bible says in Romans 10:8-11, “what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; 9 that if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. 10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.”

You must believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead if you would be saved. Period! If Jesus did not die on the Cross, then our sins were never paid for. If Jesus died and did not resurrect, then His promise and performance were all lies. The Bible says in

1 Corinthians 15:13-17 … if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: 14 and if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. 15 Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. 16 For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: 17 and if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.

The resurrection of Christ shows us that it is God’s intent not only to forgive our sins, but to give us resurrected bodies in the future. The souls that have gone on to be with Jesus before the Rapture, Jesus will bring them back with Him, and they shall be given glorified bodies first. Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them, to meet the Lord in the air. Why does Jesus do this? Because God never does things halfway. The salvation we have in Jesus is a complete salvation. What did the Apostle say?

Colossians 2:9-10 For in {Jesus} dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. 10 And ye are complete in {Jesus} …

Jesus returns to save His Church from the coming Great Tribulation in Phase 1 of His Second Coming (the Rapture).

I believe that the Scripture teaches while the Great Tribulation unfolds, during that 7 year period the Church will be with Jesus in Heaven. Jesus warned of this Great Tribulation in:

Matthew 24:15-22 When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) 16 then let them which be in Judæa flee into the mountains: 17 let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house: 18 neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes. 19 And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days! 20 But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day: 21 for then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. 22 And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.

As Jesus addressed this warning He was talking to Israel, not to His Church. The Great Tribulation is known as “The Time Of Jacob’s Trouble”. This is from the Prophet:

Jeremiah 30:7-9 Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble; but he shall be saved out of it. 8 For it shall come to pass in that day, saith the Lord of hosts, that I will break his yoke from off thy neck, and will burst thy bonds, and strangers shall no more serve themselves of him: 9 but they shall serve the Lord their God, and David their king, whom I will raise up unto them.

The Great Tribulation is the time of Jacob’s trouble. The name Jacob is the name of the lost man who would one day be named “Israel”. Out of “Israel” would come twelve sons that would be the twelve tribes of Israel, God’s Chosen nation. The Great Tribulation will be a seven year period where Israel (who is now acting like Jacob) will look for and receive the Lord Jesus Christ. Dr Adrian Rogers said of the Great Tribulation:

It is the last seven years of God’s dealing with the nation of Israel before they are brought to a final crisis—and prepared for receiving their Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ. We know this because of many Scriptures connecting the Great Tribulation to the nation of Israel.” (Deuteronomy 4:39; Jeremiah 30; Daniel 12:1; Matthew 24:22) … “Another purpose of the Tribulation is to punish the Gentiles for their arrogance, rebellion and godlessness. Isaiah 24 and Jeremiah 25 beginning with verse 30 describe the Great Tribulation coming upon the Gentiles. God will pour out His wrath upon a world that has spurned Him, that has laughed at and ridiculed His precepts and principles and said, “We don’t want any God to rule over us” (Psalm 2:3). ”

The Great Tribulation is a time for Israel to be tried, so that God’s people might return to Him and be saved. The Bible says in:

Romans 11:26 … so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:

The “Day Of The Lord” Is When Jesus Saves Israel, And Establishes His Kingdom On The Earth

1 Thessalonians 5:1-2 But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. 2 For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.

The day of the Lord is when God the Son returns to this earth – not “in the air” but ON THE GROUND. Jesus Christ returns to the earth with His Church. Jesus overthrows the world powers, and sets up His Throne in Jerusalem. Jesus will come as a thief in the night. No thief ever phones ahead, texts, or emails you to say “I’m going to come to your home at such and such a time”. That wouldn’t make sense. When Jesus comes again with His Church it will be a surprise to the lost world. It will not be a happy event. The Apostle writes:

2 Peter 3:9-11 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. 11 Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness,

The Second Coming of Jesus for Israel will be a cataclysmic event! God our Savior will be judging sin on the earth. Can you imagine it? I was watching a somewhat comical show the other day called Third Rock From The Son. In that show they had an office party for Christmas. In that party, the song “O Little Town of Bethlehem” was playing, while they drunkenly did a conga line in mockery to it. Jesus is coming again! He is coming with His Church.

The first time Jesus came, He rode a donkey into Jerusalem (Zechariah 9:9; Matthew 21:1-11). During His Second Coming (Phase 2) John writes:

Revelation 19:11-16 And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. 12 His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. 13 And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. 14 And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. 15 And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. 16 And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.

The KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS will come and take back His world. The entertainment industry which, through movies, internet, radio and television has gotten rich selling sin – Jesus will crush it. The colleges, filled with professors who teach Marxism and godlessness to our children, will be destroyed. The Bible says sudden destruction cometh upon them. God will directly intervene in human history. The world at present ignores the Lord, and His Word. But Jesus will come, and change all things.

1 Thessalonians 5:3 For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.

The “Day of the Lord” is when God will righteously judge those who have rejected Gods our Savior. The Prophet writes of the Second Coming:

Isaiah 2:11-12 The lofty looks of man shall be humbled, and the haughtiness of men shall be bowed down, and the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day. 12 For the day of the Lord of hosts shall be upon every one that is proud and lofty, and upon every one that is lifted up; and he shall be brought low:

God will send His Son Jesus to reclaim the earth, which belongs to Him, from those who have used it in godlessness. Those who have rejected the Lord are told:

Isaiah 13:6-9 Howl ye; for the day of the Lord is at hand;it shall come as a destruction from the Almighty.7 Therefore shall all hands be faint, and every man’s heart shall melt: 8 and they shall be afraid:pangs and sorrows shall take hold of them;they shall be in pain as a woman that travaileth: they shall be amazed one at another; their faces shall be as flames. 9 Behold, the day of the Lord cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate:and he shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it.

Jesus came to this earth the first time to save sinners. As He returns to earth with His Church He comes not to save, but destroy, to rid the earth of those who will not hear His Word, to rid the world of those who have hardened their hearts to the Gospel. The Prophet said:

Joel 2:10-11 The earth shall quake before them; the heavens shall tremble: the sun and the moon shall be dark, and the stars shall withdraw their shining: 11 and the Lord shall utter his voice before his army: for his camp is very great: for he is strong that executeth his word: for the day of the Lord is great and very terrible; and who can abide it?

Is there any hope for salvation during the Day of the Lord? Yes, according to Peter there is. He preached on the Day of Pentecost:

Acts 2:17-21 it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: 18 and on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy: 19 and I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke: 20 the sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come: 21 and it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.

If people would repent, God would yet save them. Yet few will be saved because of the hardness of their hearts. During the Great Tribulation some will take the Mark of the Beast upon themselves (Revelation 13:1-2, 11-18). Those who are so marked will be under the wrath of God forever (Revelation 14:9-12). Salvation is possible, but in order to be saved those who are saved during the Great Tribulation must suffer for their faith.

Those Who Are Believers Prior To The Second Coming (Phase 2) Will Not Be Overtaken By God’s Judgment

1 Thessalonians 5:4-5 But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. 5 Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.

Those who will be overtake you as a thief by the Day of the Lord are those who are in darkness. The Second Coming of Christ (the Day of the Lord) will be a direct judgment of God on the lost people of earth. It is not for us to go through. We have

John 12:36 … believe(d) in the Light, that (we) may be the Children of Light

We “were at other times darkness, but NOW are Light in the Lord. We are to WALK as CHILDREN OF LIGHT” (Ephesians 5:8). As we are told, Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. We are not under the wrath of God, for we have received Jesus Christ as both Lord and Savior. Jesus said:

John 3:16-18 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. 18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

The lost person is in a state of CONDEMNATION right now. If Jesus returned for His Church, the lost would go through seven years of hell on earth, culminating with the Judgment of the Son of God. “Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.” (Revelation 1:7). Jesus will come and conquer the sinful, who hold His creation in slavery. Knowing this, the Apostle says:

1 Thessalonians 5:6-8 Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. 7 For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. 8 But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.

Word Study This morning we saw the word “sleep” used by Paul to describe the physical death of the Christ follower. In the Greek text Paul uses the word κοιμάω koimáō, [pronounced koy-mah’-o] in Chapter Four. But in our text above the Apostle uses the Greek καθεύδω katheúdō, [pronounced kath-yoo’-do], which means “to fall asleep”. Unbelievers have “fallen asleep” from the presence of God, being lulled by Satan’s song and being comforted by the night. The Apostle charges us who are believers to be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation. The words be sober is the Greek word νήφω nḗphō, [pronounced nay’-fo] which means “WATCH”. We as believers in Christ are to daily put on faith and love, faith in God and love for our Lord and those around us. We are to make sure we slip on – every day – the head covering, the hope of salvation. We know that any day now our Lord Jesus Christ could come back and take us in Rapture. He will take us from this earth, for …

1 Thessalonians 5:9-10 For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him.

The future hell of the Great Tribulation is not to be mine. The Lord saved me so that I can be with Him every day of my life. As Christians, whether we wake, that is, live our lives in Him, or whether we sleep” (καθεύδω katheudō), that is, physically meet death, we should live together with him. I am a living creature that can never die BECAUSE OF JESUS. So I want to live my life in the light, in Jesus, living for Him.

The Apostle closes with:

1 Thessalonians 5:11 Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.

If you are saved by faith in Christ, you should be living your lives, looking for Jesus to come and Rapture you at any moment. You are under the promise Christ made to the Church of Philadelphia:

Revelation 3:10-13 Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. 11 Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown. 12 Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name. 13 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

If you do not know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, today would be a great day to receive Him. If you are merely religious, a “Church going” person, you fall under the promise Jesus gave to the Church at Sardis:

Revelation 3:2-3 Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God. 3 Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.

Do not wait for Jesus to “come on you as a thief”. Give yourselves to Jesus, and be saved by faith in Him. Now is the time. Now is the day of salvation. May God touch your hearts with His Word and His Spirit. Amen and Amen.

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The Church Is Not Like The World

Light of the world - the Church
Photo by NASA on Unsplash

Colossians 2:1-3 For I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for you, and for them at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh; {2} That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgment of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ; {3} In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

I remember my Grandma Elma telling me that she was a little girl when the unsinkable ship called The Titanic sunk. She couldn’t remember a lot of the details as she was in her late 90s at that time. She did remember the adults being so upset because so many people died. What caused the deaths of more than 1500 people? No one is certain of any one cause, but all the causes related to human error. The ship was traveling at high speed – 22 knots – in waters known to harbor icebergs. The wireless radio operator received a warning an hour before the accident. Another ship close by named The Californian radioed to say it had been stopped by dense ice. The operator did not pass the information on to the Captain of the ship. There is also the possibility that the builders of the Titanic cut costs by using lower quality rivets than they should have when constructing the ship. When the accident occurred, the Titanic only had the bare minimum of lifeboats, and in the panic many of these lifeboats were launched at less than their capacity.

Human error. Though it was claimed that the Titanic’s Captain Edward John Smith said, “Even God Himself couldn’t sink this ship”, I don’t believe God did it. I believe human error did it. Human error brought sin into this world. Human error is responsible for much of the evil found in the world today.

As the Apostle addresses the Churches of Colossae and Laodicea, he says:

Colossians 2:1 For I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for you, and for them at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh;

Word Study The words great conflict are very interesting. The Apostle uses the word ἀγών agṓn, {pronounced ag-one’}, which was often used to describe the Greek Olympic games. You could say that Paul is saying “there are forces within me, emotions, competing with one another because of my love for you”. He knows that the Churches at Colossae and Laodicea are located in areas where they can be overcome with human error. As he writes this letter to the Colossians, he directs that this letter be read in the Church of Laodicea:

Colossians 4:15-16 Salute the brethren which are in Laodicea, and Nymphas, and the church which is in his house. {16} And when this epistle is read among you, cause that it be read also in the church of the Laodiceans; and that ye likewise read the epistle from Laodicea.

Both Colossae and Laodicea were in danger of shipwreck. Many local Churches today are shipwrecked because of these factors.

Biblical Love Binds The Church Together

Colossians 2:2-3 That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgment of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ; {3} In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

The Church can get off course in love. Jesus made love one of the great focuses of our faith. Jesus was asked, “What is the Great Commandment in the Law”? Jesus promptly answered:

Matthew 22:37-38 Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment.

God is to be loved ABOVE all others and ABOVE all else. God is to occupy FIRST PLACE in our hearts. Not our spouses, not our children, nor even ourselves. God.
God is to be first.

Our Lord was quoting the Law of God. The Second giving of the Law states:

Deuteronomy 6:5 thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.

What God has said takes precedent over what others have said. What God has recorded in Scripture is what we are to give preeminence to. Those who are saved by the Blood of the Lamb are to love the God Who demands the Lamb. We are to hear what our God says and obey it. The Scripture says:

1 John 5:2-5 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous. 4 For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. 5 Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?

I am told that there are preachers who have backed away from the truth of the Scripture because one of their children or one of their relatives has “come out”. What has God told us?

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

God must be loved first. He must have our hearts above all others. Jesus said:

Luke 14:26-27 If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. 27 And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.

The believer in Christ must hate, the Greek μισέω miséō, {pronounced mis-eh’-o} their loved ones! That word miséō literally means “to hate, detest, by extension, to love much less”. Now did Jesus mean for us to literally HATE our offspring and those closest to us? No, absolutely not. We will see in a few moments that we are to love even our enemies, and do good to those who do bad to us. What was Jesus saying? He was saying that, when we compare the love we have for Him and His commandments with the love we have for others, that our love for Christ will be much, much greater in scope and drive than our love for other humans. God must occupy and rule our hearts.

Our love for God must be greater – much greater – than any love we have for those who are NOT God.

As much as I love my wife and children, I love my God more. This is natural. This is for what I was created. The Christian faith is a supernatural faith. When a person receives Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, God the Holy Spirit comes to that person and causes them to be “born again of the Spirit” (John 3:3, 7; 1 Peter 1:23). God then causes a change of that person’s heart. The Bible says:

Hebrews 10:12-17 but this man {Jesus}, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; 13 from henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. 14 For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. 15 Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before, 16 This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; 17 and their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.

Salvation from sin is always accompanied with a great l.ove for God and His Word. Jesus asked His disciples:

John 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.

John 15:10 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.

God must be premier in our hearts and minds. We must love Him IF we are saved. The Apostle said:

Romans 8:5-9 For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. 6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. 8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. 9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.

Right after Jesus said:

Matthew 22:37-38 Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment.

He continued with Matthew 22:39-40 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

Love for God must be premier. Following love for God, we are to love people made in the image of God. We are to treat others the way that we want to be treated. This even applies to our enemies. We are told in another place:

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

Love is the driving force of God’s Church. Believers in Christ are follow Jesus’ command:

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

The sacrificial love that Jesus showed to us, by which we are saved, is the same sacrificial love that we are to show to one another as His Church. It is this love that causes their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love” (Colossians 2:2).

Passion For God’s Truth Empowers The Church

Colossians 2:2-6 … to the acknowledgment of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ 3 in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. 4 And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words. 5 For though I be absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit, joying and beholding your order, and the steadfastness of your faith in Christ.

The wisdom and knowledge that we find in Biblical truth is called a “treasure”. The Apostle said in another place:

Romans 11:33 O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!

What God has said is true, and has established is true, is true even today. God is infinite in wisdom and knowledge. The Church must always be careful to cherish and feed from the Word of God, and to never accept the lesser word of man in it’s place. The Apostle says:

Colossians 2:8-9 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. {9} For in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily

When philosophy and vain deceit from the world enter into the congregational thought, it is not long before the traditions of men rather than the Word of God reign. Jesus excoriated the Pharisees – the religious conservatives of His day – for departing from the Word of God in favor of the word of man, or the traditions of the elders. He said:

Mark 7:6-13 … Well hath {Isaiah} prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. 7 Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. 8 For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. 9 And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition. 10 For Moses said, Honor thy father and thy mother; and, Whoso curseth father or mother, let him die the death: 11 But ye say, If a man shall say to his father or mother, It is Corban, that is to say, a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; he shall be free. 12 And ye suffer him no more to do ought for his father or his mother; 13 making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye.

I have seen this first hand in churches I have pastored. In one Church, two deacons – who should have been filled with the Spirit – were filled with hatred for one another. Their constant battling caused the Church to divide, and eventually collapse. Though I spoke to these men frequently on the subject of love and forgiveness, they rejected God’s Word, to the damage of their own souls and the life of the church. The Bible warns us:

Galatians 6:6-10 Let him that is taught in the Word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things. 7 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. 8 For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. 9 And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. 10 As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.

God’s Word is Truth (John 17:17). The word of man may or may not be valid truth, but what God has said will stand forever. When we allow the Word of God and our love for it to be replaced with worldliness, it will not be long before Christ leaves the Church. In the Book of Revelation Jesus warned the Church at Laodicea (as well as the Church at Colossae):

Revelation 3:14-20 And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; {15} 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 spew 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: {18} I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eye salve, that thou mayest see. {19} As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. {20} Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

The Church at Laodicea had so rejected the Word of Christ for the word of the Lord that our Lord was literally locked outside of the church. Sadly, this is true in much of the Church in the world today. Jesus rebuked them, and called them to return to Him. I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eye salve, that thou mayest see. The Church must get back to the Word of God.

The Church of Christ is to be IN the world, but not OF the world. We are to cling to the Scripture, the Holy Bible. God saved us through the sacrifice of His Only Begotten Son so that He might bring us into HIS Kingdom. We are His, and He is ours.

Galatians 4:3-7 Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world: {4}But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, {5} To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. {6} And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. {7}Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.

Dear Church, we do not belong to the world, but to God our Savior. We are adopted Children of the Most High. Let us not act like children of Adam, nor children of the devil, but like Children of God. Let us “follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness … laying hold on eternal life (1 Timothy 6:11-12)”.

Colossians 2:6 As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him ..

Have you received Christ Jesus the Lord? If you have, walk in him. Jesus said:

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

We were at one time darkness. But having received the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior, we are LIGHT IN THE LORD (Ephesians 5:8). We do not belong to this world. We belong to Christ. We belong to God. If we say we have fellowship with God and yet walk in the darkness of this world, then we are liars, and the truth is not in us (1 John 1:6). We are children of God, children of the light.

May God draw you close to His side as you walk before Him in love. Amen and Amen!

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Elijah and Prayer

Photo by Tehzeeb Kazmi on Unsplash

Turn with me in your Bibles to James chapter 5.

I came across the works of a Puritan Preacher named John Bunyan. One of his most famous works was a book called Pilgrim’s Progress. What impressed me most about Bunyan is that, when God called him to preach, he was warned not to preach because his preaching was not authorized by the state. Wikipedia notes:

Bunyan was arrested under the Conventicle Act of 1593, which made it an offense to attend a religious gathering other than at the parish church with more than five people outside their family. The offense was punishable by 3 months imprisonment followed by banishment or execution if the person then failed to promise not to re-offend.”

Imprisoned for 3 months, Bunyan refused to stop preaching the Gospel, and eventually ended up imprisoned for 12 years. Though his imprisonment caused a great hardship to his family, Bunyan continued to share the Gospel, and wrote 60 titles until his death 31 August 1688 at the age of 59. Bunyan said of prayer:

Prayer is a sincere, sensible, affectionate pouring out of the heart or soul to God, through Christ, in the strength and assistance of the Holy Spirit, for such things as God has promised, or according to the Word of God, for the good of the Church, with submission in faith to the will of God.”

If the Church will stand as America goes through the shaking of satanic darkness, then God’s people must be a praying people. Solomon once noted “there is no new thing under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9). The darkness that grips America today is the same darkness that gripped England during John Bunyan’s day, the same darkness that gripped Israel during Elijah’s time. The forces that are pushing so called sexual freedom and gender fluidity are the same dark forces that have always been, from the time that Adam listened to a serpent and unto today. When John Bunyan was afflicted, he immersed himself in God’s Word and prayer.

James 5:13-18 Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms. 14 Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: 15 and the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. 16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. 17 Elias {Elijah} was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. 18 And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit.

Word Study James encourages us to effectual fervent prayer. The words effectual fervent is the Greek verb ἐνεργέω energéō, {pronounced en-erg-eh’-o}, a word that means just like it sounds. Doesn’t this sound like energetic? That’s what it means. “Energetic, active, not complacent, to be mighty in, to work hard at”. For prayer to be effective, you need to lose yourself in it. Prayer must be a daily, moment by moment, focus on the God Who loves you. The word translated prayer is the Greek δέησις déēsis, {pronounced deh’-ay-sis}, which means a “seeking type of prayer. Before the Holy Spirit came to the early Church, that small congregation of 120 were in an upper room:

Acts 1:14 … with one accord in PRAYER {déēsis} and supplication

Prayer is to be energetic. Prayer is to seek God. What does the Scripture say? We read:

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

Prayer that is infrequent, half hearted, or double minded will not be blessed of God. The Bible says:

James 1:5-7 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. 6 But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. 7 For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.

The energetic prayer pursues God, seeking His blessing, and will not cease until an answer is found. God will not bless the half hearted prayer!

Effective prayer is energetic, seeking God. But further, the prayer God answers must come from a righteous person.

James 5:16 … The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

When Jesus healed the man born blind, the Pharisees claimed that our Lord was a sinner. The healed man told them:

John 9:31 Now we know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshiper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth.

This is a clear principle in the Scripture. Listen:

Proverbs 15:29 The Lord is far from the wicked: but he heareth the prayer of the righteous.

The only prayer that God will hear of the son of Adam is the prayer seeking salvation. Sin corrupts our ability to communicate with God. The Psalmist said “The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous and his ears toward their cry. The face of the Lord is against those who do evil, to cut off the memory of them from the earth” (Psalm 34:15-16). Sin must be confessed to God. God has promised “ If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Only the prayers of the RIGHTEOUS, that is, those in a right standing with God, shall be heard. This is “the prayer of faith”. The Scripture says:

James 5:15-16 … the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. 16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed.

An Example Of A Righteous, Praying Man Is Elijah

James 5:17-18 Elias {Elijah} was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. 18 And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit.

Though James was not acquainted with John Bunyan, he knew of Elijah. Every Jew knew about Elijah. During the Passover meals the Orthodox Jew would pour a cup and set a place for Elijah at the table. Elijah was a powerful Prophet. Why? Elijah was a praying Prophet.

Word Study The King James says Elias {Elijah} was a man. The more modern versions replace the word Elias with Elijah, and that is perfectly appropriate. The King James translator did not translate, but rather transliterated the Greek word for Elijah (which is Ἡλίας Hēlías, {pronounced hay-lee’-as}). Hēlías is the Greek equivalent for the Hebrew nameאֵלִיָּה ʼÊlîyâh, {pronounced ay-lee-yaw’}, or the English Elijah. Elijah’s name means “My God is Yahweh”.

Elijah was no superman. The Bible says that Elijah wassubject to like passions as we are. This is the Greek ὁμοιοπαθής homoiopathḗs, {pronounced hom-oy-op-ath-ace’}, which means “to suffer like others, to have like feelings and affections as others have”. Elijah was not a special person, like the Nazarite Samson, whose power was in his hair; or like the Nazarite John the Baptist, filled with the Spirit from birth.

Elijah was just like us.

Turn with me in your Bibles to 1 Kings 17

1 Kings 17:1 Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead

Elijah was not famous. He was not born in a mansion. He was an unknown country boy!

Elijah was from Tishbe, a place that no one really knows where it is today. It would be like Sawdust or Glendale, Tennessee, or Climax, Georgia. Elijah was just one of the inhabitants of Gilead – a plain man. But Elijah was a believer in God. He lived his life trusting in God’s provision.

Background: Elijah lived in the time when Israel was divided by civil war. King Solomon’s son Rehoboam raised taxes on the ten northern tribes of Israel, and these tribes broke away from Judah, setting up their own king and their own religion. Jeroboam was the first king of these ten tribes. To keep the people of the ten tribes from going to Jerusalem to worship, Jeroboam set up two golden calves and a priesthood to serve them. By the time Elijah began to prophesy, Ahab was the seventh king to rule Northern Israel.

1 Kings 16:30-33 Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the Lord above all that were before him. 31 And it came to pass, as if it had been a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, that he took to wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Zidonians, and went and served Baal, and worshiped him. 32 And he reared up an altar for Baal in the house of Baal, which he had built in Samaria. 33 And Ahab made a grove; and Ahab did more to provoke the Lord God of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel that were before him.

It was during this terrible time when Israel was divided, and the nation was far from God, that the Lord called Elijah. Beloved, America is in a similar state today.
Oh, how we need prayer warriors!

1 Kings 17:1 And Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead, said unto Ahab, As the Lord God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word.

Notice Elijah’s statement. As the Lord God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand. He didn’t say, “I came FROM God”, now did he say “I was talking to God YESTERDAY”. Elijah said “I am standing before God right now”. Beloved, if you are standing BEFORE God right now, then GOD IS BEHIND YOU AS YOU SPEAK. Elijah stood BEFORE God. He represented God. He didn’t even say “I’m standing BEFORE you, Ahab”. Ahab was inconsequential. Ahab was a nobody, a nothing. God was everything!

James 5:17 Elias {Elijah} … prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months.

Word Study{Elijah} prayed earnestly. These are two Greek words, προσεύχομαι προσευχή proseuchomai proseuchē, which literally means He offered prayers with prayer.

Elijah prayed as John Bunyan said, “Prayer is a sincere, sensible, affectionate pouring out of the heart or soul to God. Elijah’s prayer was not a selfish prayer, but a prayer that God be glorified and man be afflicted. This is Elijah’s recorded prayer:

As the Lord God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word

Elijah represented God, and prayed in accordance with God’s will. Elijah put his entire trust in God his Savior. If Elijah’s prayer was to be answered as he prayed it, then not only would King Ahab and Northern Israel experience a terrible drought, but Elijah himself would suffer along with the people. Elijah did not pray that God stop all rain and dew everywhere but where he was. His prayer glorified God, and showed his trust in the Lord.

When you do God’s business, God takes care of you!

1 Kings 17:2-4 And the word of the Lord came unto him, saying, 3 Get thee hence, and turn thee eastward, and hide thyself by the brook Cherith, that is before Jordan. 4 And it shall be, that thou shalt drink of the brook; and I have commanded the ravens to feed thee there.

Word Study Elijah did as God told him. He went to the brook Cherith. Cherith is an interesting word, because in the Hebrew it means “cutting, piercing, or slaying”. That is certainly a scary name for a place of rest. And yet, Elijah did as God directed. Prayer is not one sided, but COMMUNICATION with God our Savior.

1 Kings 17:5-7 So he went and did according unto the word of the Lord: for he went and dwelt by the brook Cherith, that is before Jordan. 6 And the ravens brought him bread and flesh in the morning, and bread and flesh in the evening; and he drank of the brook. 7 And it came to pass after a while, that the brook dried up, because there had been no rain in the land.

Elijah had a perfect place to hide from Ahab. Who would expect him to go to such a terrible named place? As it got dryer in Northern Israel, the brook Cherith dried up. And yet, God looks after His children.

1 Kings 17:8 And the word of the Lord came unto him, saying, 9 Arise, get thee to Zarephath, which belongeth to Zidon, and dwell there: behold, I have commanded a widow woman there to sustain thee.

To Pray is not just to talk with God,
but to LISTEN to God.

Beloved, the word of the Lord came unto Elijah because he was seeking God’s direction through prayer. God said in His Word:

Proverbs 8:17 I love those who love me; And those who diligently seek me will find me.

How does one diligently seek God? This is done by prayer. Prayer is communication with the Lord Who loves us, and has given Himself for us. We seek God by being available to Him, by heeding His Word. Elijah lived his life available to the Lord. He was receptive to the Word of God. He loved God above all else, and God loved him. As the Brook Slaying dried up, God told Elijah “Go to the widow of Zarephath … I have commanded her to sustain you”. Elijah does as God says. He came to Zarephath and, seeing the widow gathering sticks for a fire, asked her to do two things:

1 Kings 17:10-11 Fetch me, I pray thee, a little water in a vessel, that I may drink. 11 … Bring me, I pray thee, a morsel of bread in thine hand.

God told Elijah that this widow was supposed to “sustain” him. He took God at His Word. He asked her for water, then food. The widow tells Elijah:

1 Kings 17:12 As the Lord thy God liveth, I have not a cake, but an handful of meal in a barrel, and a little oil in a cruse: and, behold, I am gathering two sticks, that I may go in and dress it for me and my son, that we may eat it, and die.

But Elijah was not deterred. He told the widow:

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

The widow went on to do as Elijah said, giving water and bread to him as God so commanded. The Bible tells us:

1 Kings 17:16 … the barrel of meal wasted not, neither did the cruse of oil fail, according to the word of the Lord, which he spake by Elijah.

The story doesn’t stop here. Elijah’s prayer stopped the rain and dew for 3 years and 6 months. Elijah’s prayer led him to Cherith and the ravens, and then to the widow of Zarephath. But God will test both Elijah and the widow of Zarephath.

Prayer warriors do not WORRY, but
WORK AT PRAYER when afflicted.

1 Kings 17:17-19 And it came to pass after these things, that the son of the woman, the mistress of the house, fell sick; and his sickness was so sore, that there was no breath left in him. 18 And she said unto Elijah, What have I to do with thee, O thou man of God? art thou come unto me to call my sin to remembrance, and to slay my son? 19 And he said unto her, Give me thy son. And he took him out of her bosom, and carried him up into a loft, where he abode, and laid him upon his own bed.

Why did God allow this sickness to come into Elijah and the widow’s life? To test and strengthen Elijah’s faith. It won’t be long before Elijah will stand on Mount Carmel, facing a multitude of false prophets in the name of God. Faith must be exercised, and trials come our way to exercise and grow our faith. God is able to defeat anything – even death. The Bible says:

Psalm 68:20 He that is our God is the God of salvation; and unto God the Lord belong the issues from death.

Elijah had been staying in an upper loft at the widow’s house. Note that Elijah did not take the boy to his own room, but to Elijah’s room. God had been faithfully looking after Elijah throughout this drought. Elijah put the dead child in Elijah’s place of rest – then Elijah himself rested in prayer.

1 Kings 17:20-21 {Elijah} cried unto the Lord, and said, O Lord my God, hast thou ALSO brought evil upon the widow with whom I sojourn, by slaying her son?

Elijah’s prayer is simple, and in two parts. He first asks God a question. O Lord my God, hast thou ALSO brought evil upon the widow with whom I sojourn, by slaying her son. Note the use of the word ALSO. What Elijah is asking is, “Lord, you have brought a bad drought on Israel – did you ALSO bring death to this child?” Elijah is seeking clarification. If it is the will of God that the child be dead, Elijah was not going to pray outside of the will of God. Elijah is not accusing God, but seeking clarification. “Lord, is it your will that this child remain dead?” Receiving an answer from God, Elijah

1 Kings 17:21 … stretched himself upon the child three times, and cried unto the Lord, and said, O Lord my God, I pray thee, let this child’s soul come into him again.

Elijah laid hands on the childthree times, and prayed simply O Lord my God, I pray thee, let this child’s soul come into him again. In the Bible only nine named individuals are ever raised back to life after death1. This is the very first time anyone was ever raised from the dead, so there was no precedent for this. Elijah just trusted God. We “walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7).

Elijah’s prayer was very simple. When we pray, we do not need to make long, rambling prayers. We are to pray simply, sincerely, and within the will of God to glorify God.

1 Kings 17:22-23 And the Lord heard the voice of Elijah; and the soul of the child came into him again, and he revived. 23 And Elijah took the child, and brought him down out of the chamber into the house, and delivered him unto his mother: and Elijah said, See, thy son liveth.

Before rain would come on the earth, God would use Elijah to destroy the 400 prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel, demonstrating once more the wondrous power of God. Once the false prophets were destroyed the Bible says:

1 Kings 18:41-45 Elijah said unto Ahab, Get thee up, eat and drink; for there is a sound of abundance of rain. 42 So Ahab went up to eat and to drink. And Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; and he cast himself down upon the earth, and put his face between his knees, 43 and said to his servant, Go up now, look toward the sea. And he went up, and looked, and said, There is nothing. And he said, Go again seven times. 44 And it came to pass at the seventh time, that he said, Behold, there ariseth a little cloud out of the sea, like a man’s hand. And he said, Go up, say unto Ahab, Prepare thy chariot, and get thee down, that the rain stop thee not. 45 And it came to pass in the mean while, that the heaven was black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain. And Ahab rode, and went to Jezreel.

Though Elijah’s prayer is not recorded, we know that he prayed because of what James tells us:

James 5:18 And {Elijah} prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit.

It is God Who brings the rain, and God Who blesses us with fruit. God used a man named Elijah to get it done. The Lord blesses us by allowing us, through prayer, to do great things for Him on this earth. God expects us to pray. Let us follow Elijah’s pattern, and diligently seek God in prayer. And dear one, if you do not know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, please seek Him in prayer today. Those who are in Him will survive the coming days. May God touch your hearts with His Word and His Spirit. Amen and Amen.

______________ Footnotes ________________

1 Elijah raised the son of the widow of Zarephath from the dead (1 Kings 17:17-22). Elisha raised the son of the Shunammite woman from the dead (2 Kings 4:32-35). A man was raised from the dead when his body touched Elisha’s bones (2 Kings 13:20, 21). Jesus raised the son of the widow of Nain from the dead (Luke 7:11-15), the daughter of Jairus from the dead (Luke 8:41, 42, 49-55), and Lazarus from the dead (John 11:1-44). Jesus Himself rose from the grave (Matthew 28:5-8; Mark 16:6; Luke 24:5, 6). Peter raised Dorcas from the dead (Acts 9:36-41). Paul raised Eutychus from the dead (Acts 20:9, 10).

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The Cure For Very Dry Bones

Dry bones
Photo by Trollinho on Unsplash

Ezekiel 37:1-3 The hand of the Lord was upon me, and carried me out in the spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones, 2 and caused me to pass by them round about: and, behold, there were very many in the open valley; and, lo, they were very dry. 3 And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord God, thou knowest.

Before I was called of God to pastor, as a young Christian I sat under several preachers who loved to preach from this text. I have heard this text preached from different perspectives.
1. Some speak of these dry bones, and tell us that it speaks of the Resurrection of the Christian. The bodies that we have are but “earthen vessels” that will one day pass away (2 Corinthians 4:7). When the Christian dies, the body goes into the ground, but the soul goes to be with the Lord. Our Lord Jesus said:

John 12:24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.

For the believer in God, death is but a momentary veil. When we are absent from the body, we who have Christ are present with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:6-8). Jesus said,

John 11:26 … whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?

Though one day we will all pass through physical death if the Lord tarries (for I believe that some, like Elijah and Enoch, will pass into glory apart from death), that those dead bones shall live, for God shall make them live. What a wonderful truth our faith has in the resurrection of Christ. However, this text does not actually deal with the glorification and resurrection of God’s children.


2. I have heard this text preached to revive dead and Laodicean churches. One pastor, the late Frank O’Brien, often used this approach when challenging Loch Laurel Baptist to stir itself, and reach out to a lost and dying world. Though there are many local churches that are filled with “dry bones” today, this text is not addressing the Church of Christ when it asks “Can these bones live?”. It is certain that the Church in America is lethargic, entertainment driven, and in many cases indistinguishable from the darkness. But there are better passages that would rebuke the spirit of Laodicea. In particular, I think of the words of our Lord Jesus:

Revelation 3:15-18 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: 18 I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eye salve, that thou mayest see.

No, our text today doesn’t speak of the wayward Church in America. There are other texts that address this sad truth in a direct way.


3. I have heard this text used to encourage those who are discouraged, who have lost the zeal for life because of dark days and trials. I must admit that there are days in my life when it is hard for me to get up and go – that I feel like a bunch of dried up bones! It seems as if God is miles away, though I know that He is not, for He has promised

Hebrews 13:5 … I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.

No, rather than preach this text on depression, there are better and more appropriate texts that address this. Texts like:

Psalm 80:19 Turn us again, O Lord God of hosts, cause thy face to shine; and we shall be saved.

Or Isaiah 57:15 For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.

What is this text specifically about? When you are reading your Bible, always read the context. The context will often answer the questions you have much better than the best commentary will. God tells us what these bones are. He says:

Ezekiel 37:11 Then he said unto me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel:

This valley of dry bones is a picture of Israel, which has departed from following the Living God. God gives this vision to Ezekiel, whose name means “The Strength of God”. Ezekiel was a pastor in Israel, a Levite Priest, the son of Buzi (Ezekiel 1:3). We know little about “Buzi” except that his name means “My Contempt” or “Condemned of Jehovah”. Ezekiel is a picture of the Grace of God. Born in sin, of a father called “Condemned of Jehovah”, grace made him “Ezekiel, the Strength of God”. Chuck Swindoll tells us:

“Ezekiel lived among the Jewish exiles in Babylon at a settlement along the river Chebar called Tel-abib (Ezekiel 3:15), less than one hundred miles south of Babylon. The invading Babylonians brought about ten thousand Jews to the village in 597 BC, including Ezekiel and the last king of Judah, Jehoiachin (2 Kings 24:8–14).”.

This text is addressed specifically to Israel, an Israel that had wandered away from God. Though addressed to Israel, there are many truths in the text that apply to us.

Israel Was Started From Dry Bones

Ezekiel is given a vision from God. Notice the first few verses:

Ezekiel 37:1-2 The hand of the Lord was upon me, and carried me out in the spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones, 2 and caused me to pass by them round about: and, behold, there were very many in the open valley; and, lo, they were very dry.

Ezekiel is not given the vision because he is better or worse than anyone else. Ezekiel is given the vision entirely by Grace. Notice how Ezekiel opens the vision: “the hand of the Lord was upon me”. God grabbed hold of Ezekiel. He lifted Ezekiel’s spirit up. God “carried me out in the spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones”. God did not ask Ezekiel “Where would you like to go today?” No, there was no free will involved in this. God grabbed his soul. God moved him to a valley. God “caused me to pass by them round about”.

Our God is the Sovereign God. He has a right to do with what He created as He wishes. God is not apologetic or politically correct when He says:

Isaiah 45:7-9 I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things. 8 Drop down, ye heavens, from above, and let the skies pour down righteousness: let the earth open, and let them bring forth salvation, and let righteousness spring up together; I the Lord have created it. 9 Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker! Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth. Shall the clay say to him that fashioneth it, What makest thou? or thy work, He hath no hands?

Our God is sovereign! I am glad our God is sovereign, because Ezekiel saw:

Ezekiel 37:2 … there were VERY MANY {bones} in the open valley; and, lo, they were VERY DRY.

These are not fresh bones, nor bones with a little flesh on them. These bones were VERY MANY: more than Ezekiel could number. These bones were VERY DRY: absolutely dead – there was nothing of life in them. As Ezekiel views these bones, God asks Ezekiel a very simple question:

Ezekiel 37:3 … Son of man, can these bones live?

These bones are VERY MANY and VERY DRY. It is an overwhelming darkness, a place where there was absolutely no light. What can we do? Can we form a committee and look into this thing? Can we hire some specialists who know about reconstitution? What can we do? Ezekiel gives the only sane reply that anyone can give. He tells the Lord:

Ezekiel 37:3 … O Lord GOD, Thou knowest

Ezekiel addresses God as אֲדֹנָי יְהֹוָה or Adonai Yahweh. Only the Creator God can take the “dust of the ground” and make a person (Genesis 2:7). Only God can take dry bones, very dry bones, and bring life to them.

Israel the nation came from dry bones, very dry bones. An old man named Abram was childless (Genesis 11:30), and at the age of 75 years old (Genesis 12:4) was well past child bearing years. Abram was a “very dry bone” when God reached out to him, saying:

Genesis 12:1-2 … Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: 2 and I will make of thee a great nation…

God was going to do something fantastic with Abram – one day to be Abraham. God would take a man who could not bear children, and bring life out of him. God offered this by Grace. God in essence told Abraham:

“Follow Me, and I will make you live, and bring forth life
where there is no possibility of life”

When Abraham was 100 years old Isaac was born to him (Genesis 21:5). This is Grace. God brings life out of death. Thank God for His unspeakable gift! (2 Corinthians 9:15).

But Abraham and Isaac are only the beginning of God’s Grace. God would allow a child of Abraham named Joseph to be sold into slavery by his jealous brothers. Joseph was 17 years old (Genesis 37:2) when his brothers betrayed him.

Genesis 41:46 Joseph was thirty years old when he stood before Pharaoh king of Egypt. And Joseph went out from the presence of Pharaoh, and went throughout all the land of Egypt.

Joseph – the apple of his father Jacob’s eye – was made a very dry bone. Imprisoned for 13 years, first as a slave, then as a prisoner, God gave life where there was death. Joseph rose up to be the right hand man to Pharaoh. God used Joseph to make

Israel the family become Israel the nation. It was God Who grew the very dry bones into Israel.

Over time, Israel the nation, like Joseph before her, became slaves, a nation of very dry bones. The Bible says:

Exodus 12:40-41 Now the sojourning of the children of Israel, who dwelt in Egypt, was four hundred and thirty years. 41 And it came to pass at the end of the four hundred and thirty years, even the selfsame day it came to pass, that all the hosts of the Lord went out from the land of Egypt.

Over 430 years Israel the family became Israel the nation. God took that very dry bony nation called Israel out of Egypt. Again, we see the Grace of God. Israel was in an impossible place, but as our Jesus said:

Matthew 19:26 … With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.

It is by Grace that very dry bones are brought to life. It is by Grace that life comes out of death. Only God can bring forth this Grace. “Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord God, thou knowest”.

God offered free Grace to Abraham, offered to bring life out of death to Israel. God did not choose Israel because she was a great nation. She was nothing before God called her in an old, wore out Chaldean. God reminded His people:

Deuteronomy 7:7-8 The Lord did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people: 8 but because the Lord loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers, hath the Lord brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.

Israel was Israel because of God’s Grace. She did not earn it, nor deserve it, but was brought from a state of very dry bones because she responded to the offer of God’s Grace.

The Word Of God Brings Life Out Of Death

Ezekiel 37:4-6 Again he said unto me, Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. 5 Thus saith the Lord God unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live: 6 and I will lay sinews upon you, and will bring up flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and ye shall live; and ye shall know that I am the Lord.

How does life come into very dry bones? It comes only by the Word of God. The Lord GOD – Adonai Yahweh – told Ezekiel:

Ezekiel 37:4 Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the Lord

In order for life to come into these very dry bones Ezekiel had to so something that looked foolish! He was to PROPHESY (Hebrew נָבָא nâbâʼ, {pronounced naw-baw’}) – to speak the Word that God says. Ezekiel was to say to the very dry bones, “HEAR” (שָׁמַע shâmaʻ, {pronounced shaw-mah’}), which means “listen to and OBEY”. This is an impossible thing that Ezekiel is to do. He speaks to dry bones, to very dry bones. But not his word, but HIS WORD, God’s Word. It is the Word of God that gives life. Ezekiel cannot give life, but he can do what God says, and God will cause life.

We see this amazing thing frequently in the ministry of Jesus. Jesus told the man who had been crippled for 38 years – THIRTY EIGHT YEARS –

How can one who was crippled 38 years do this? Is this not cruelty? No, it is the Word of the Lord. “Immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked” (John 5:9). The God Who commanded creation into existence can certainly cause dry bones to live. The God Who told Moses, “Stretch out thy hand over the sea, and divide it” (Exodus 14:16) is the same God Who told the man with the withered hand:

Mark 3:5 … Stretch forth thy hand. And he stretched it out: and his hand was restored whole as the other ..

John 5:8 … Rise, take up thy bed, and walk!

Israel is now a alley of very dry bones, but if she will hear the Word of God, the Lord will restore her to power. Salvation comes by Grace.

Life comes by the Word of God.
Death comes as the wage of sin.

To be reconstituted, to be made more than a valley of very dry bones, Israel must remember and return to the Word of God. God told His people:

Deuteronomy 7:9-11 Know therefore that the Lord thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations; 10 and repayeth them that hate him to their face, to destroy them: he will not be slack to him that hateth him, he will repay him to his face. 11 Thou shalt therefore keep the commandments, and the statutes, and the judgments, which I command thee this day, to do them.

Salvation is by Grace, but blessing by obedience to God.

Israel must return to the Word of God if they will be blessed. The Psalmist said

Psalm 119:25 My soul cleaveth unto the dust: quicken thou me {give me life} according to Thy Word.

It is God’s Word that can make these very dry bones live. Only God’s Word can do this. Ezekiel can do nothing but

Hebrews 10:23 … HOLD FAST the profession of our faith without waivering (for He is faithful that promised)

It is the Word of God that gives life. Though the world itself considers the Word of God to be foolish – it is the Word of God that will bring life to death. God said:

Ezekiel 37:5-6 Thus saith the Lord God unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live: 6 and I will lay sinews upon you, and will bring up flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and ye shall live; and ye shall know that I am the Lord.

So what did Ezekiel do? He did as God said. And as he did what God said, miraculous things occurred:

Ezekiel 37:7-8 So I prophesied as I was commanded: and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold a shaking, and the bones came together, bone to his bone. 8 And when I beheld, lo, the sinews and the flesh came up upon them, and the skin covered them above: but there was no breath in them.

Ezekiel spoke the Word of God, and the dry bones came together. The skeleton assembled, and the sinews, the flesh and muscle, along with the skin came on the bones. But there was a problem. “there was no breath in them”. The Word of God alone did not bring life. There must be a connection with God. God tells Ezekiel:

It Is The Word of God AND The Holy Spirit
That Brings Life

Ezekiel 37:9-10 Then said {the Lord GOD} unto me, Prophesy unto the wind, prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind, Thus saith the Lord God; Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live. 10 So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army.

Ezekiel was to prophesy or speak the Word of God to the dry bones. But he was also to prophesy or speak “to the wind”. The word translated “WIND” is the Hebrew רוּחַ rûwach, {pronounced roo’-akh}, which indeed means “WIND” but can also be translated “SPIRIT”. The Blue Letter Bible notes that rûwach can refer to “{the} Spirit of God, the third person of the Triune God, the Holy Spirit, coequal, co-eternal with the Father and the Son”. It is not just the Word of God that brings life, but THE SPIRIT OF GOD MUST BE INVITED INTO THE PROCESS.

Many followed after Jesus when He walked this earth. But one day as He preached a hard truth the Bible says:

John 6:60-65 Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it? 61 When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you? 62 What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before? 63 It is the Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. 64 But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him. 65 And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.

God the Holy Spirit must be involved in the salvation of very dry bones. The Apostle Paul told the Church at Corinth:

2 Corinthians 3:3-6 … ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart. 4 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; 6 who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the Spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.

It is “the spirit {that} giveth life”. Life comes when the Word of God is spoken in the power of God. Paul warned in another place:

Galatians 6:7-9 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. 8 For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. 9 And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.

Israel sowed to the flesh, and reaped corruption as a nation. But God promised to bring life back to the very dry bones of that nation. How would He do this? Only by Ezekiel doing as he was told. Ezekiel must speak the Word of God, partnered with the Spirit of God – and those very dry bones can live. The power of salvation is totally in God! God told Ezekiel:

Ezekiel 37:11-14 Then he said unto me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel: behold, they say, Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost: we are cut off for our parts. 12 Therefore prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. 13 And ye shall know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves, 14 and shall put my spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the Lord have spoken it, and performed it, saith the Lord.

Is There An Application For Us In Today’s Text?

Absolutely! I hear so many Christians bemoan the fact that America has fallen far from God, and it seems as if only darkness reigns. America is in no worst a state than Israel was in under Babylonian captivity. We are captured today by cancel culture, political correctness, extreme leftism, and our culture as well as our children are being taught that God’s design in gender is totally optional, based upon the desire of a person. What is the solution to our country’s woes? It is to share the Word of God in partnership with the Spirit of God.

When Christ ascended into Heaven He told His little Church of 120 souls:

Acts 1:4, 8 … that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but WAIT FOR THE PROMISE OF THE FATHER, which, saith He, ye have heard of Me .. 8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy {Spirit} is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judæa, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

Our God is able to bring America – and the Church in America – back from the brink of destruction. But we must adhere to and share His Word in the power of His Holy Spirit. The true Christian, like the true Jew:

Romans 2:29 … is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.

Do you know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior? If so, you have the Spirit of Christ (Romans 8:9, 11). The Holy Spirit is in you. The only way we will reverse the fall of America is to, as Ezekiels, speak to the very dry bones the Word of God in the power of God the Holy Spirit. We need to be a Bible believing, Bible living, Spirit empowered Church to be the light of the world. This begins by each one of us committing to love God with all that we are, and to love our neighbor – even our enemies – the way that we want to be loved. We can no more rely upon someone else – we must be someone else. Our God is able! Let us not despair, but rise up, and share Christ in the power of God’s Spirit with those around us. May God give us the strength and faith as His Church to do this – for Christ’s glory! Amen and Amen!

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The Marks Of The Christian

Child walking in lion's prints
Photo by Hugues de BUYER-MIMEURE on Unsplash

Turn with me in your Bibles to

Colossians 1:21-23 And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in [your] mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled (22) In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight: (23) If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled,and [be] not moved away from the hope of the gospel,which ye have heard, [and] which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;

What marks a Christian, a Christian? What are the signs or evidences in the life that stand as proofs that you are sons of God by faith in Christ Jesus? It is not the man made denomination that makes a Christian, but God does this when we receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. The Apostle of Love wrote:

John 1:12-13 But as many as received {Jesus}, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: 13 which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

The Position Of The Christian Is Different To
The Position Of The Lost

A Christian is distinctly different to a non-Christian. A Christian is a “Son of God”. Someone once asked, “But doesn’t God have any daughters?”. Well yes, He does. But “Son of God” is a technical term for the genuine Christian.

When Jesus Christ was incarnate, He became the Son of Man. But Jesus is eternally THE Son of God. Satan acknowledged this.

Matthew 4:3 And when the Tempter came to {Jesus}, he said, if Thou be THE Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.

Satan addressed Jesus two times in the wilderness as THE Son of God (Matthew 4:6). When Jesus walked on water to His disciples, the Bible says:

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

When on trial before the Sanhedrin, the High Priest Caiaphas asked Jesus,

Matthew 26:63 … I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be THE Christ, THE Son of God.

The Messiah, the High Priest knew, was prophesied to be THE Son of God. When Jesus affirmed that He is indeed the Son of God, the High Priest pronounced Jesus guilty of blasphemy, “He is guilty of death” (Matthew 26:66).

Jesus Christ is THE Son of God. We who believe on Him are born again of the Spirit of God, and are ourselves sons of God, different from the lost world.

Colossians 1:21 And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in [your] mind by wicked works..

Let’s see how the Apostle develops this. And you, that were sometime. The word rendered “SOMETIME” is the Greek particle ποτέ poté, {pronounced pot-eh’}, which means “in past time” or “at one time”. There WAS a time that the Christian was alienated. This is the Greek παλλοτριοω, apallotrioo, {pronounced ap-al-lot-ree-o’-o}, which means “to be permanently separated from [God]”. You were far from God because you did not view sin as God did.

To the world, the son of Adam, sin is anything that we do not like. But to the son of God sin is anything that God does not like.

Sin takes us positionally far from God. The Prophet said:

Isaiah 59:1-3 Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: 2 BUT your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear. 3 For your hands are defiled with blood, and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies, your tongue hath muttered perverseness.

The lost person does not have the same frame of reference that God has. What God considers “sin”, the lost consider “free choice” and “human rights”. The sons of Adam are apart from God in [their] minds by wicked works. When God corrects them, they will not heed God, because they put themselves and their desires above God. A good example of this is found in the life of Cain and Abel. Both Cain and Abel brought an offering to God.

Genesis 4:3-5 … in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the Lord. 4 And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering: 5 but unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect.

What was the difference between Cain’s offering, and Abel’s offering? Cain was a farmer, so he brought the fruit of the ground to God as an offering. Abel was a stockman, so he brought the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof, or an animal sacrifice. They both brought a tithe of their increase to God. But God only received Abel’s offering. Why? At this point I can go into detail and tell you that God taught Adam and Eve that only an offering of blood would cover or atone for sin (see Genesis 3:21). This shedding of blood taught Adam and Eve the severity of sin, and how only an innocent outside of the sinner could make payment for sin. God would later tell Israel:

Leviticus 17:11 … the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.

The offering of blood in the Old Testament was symbolic, and looked forward to the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. In the New Testament we are told:

Hebrews 9:11-12 But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; 12 neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.

Under the old Covenant until Christ was crucified, God demanded that there be shedding of blood. The Bible says:

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

That is why God received Abel’s offering, and not Cain’s offering. Abel was a son of God by faith, and brought the blood offering that God showed his parents in Eden. Cain, however, brought what he thought was best. When God rejected his offer, Cain’s response was just like every son of Adam’s response:

Genesis 4:5 Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.

Rather than repent, and do what God said, Cain got angry.

If he had a social media account, Cain would have unfriended God, and blocked Abel.

God encouraged Cain to do the right. God said:

Genesis 4:6-7 … Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? 7 If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.

Cain was alienated and enemies in [his] mind by wicked works. The word translated enemies is the Greek εχθρος, echthros, {pronounced ekh-thros’}, which comes from a word εχθωechtho which means “to hate, to be hateful or actively hostile to”. When God corrected Cain, Cain did not repent, but his hatred of God spilled over onto Abel, so much so that he murdered his own brother. The son of Adam is mentally and positionally far apart from where the mind of God is. The Bible says that:

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

The lost person or the son of Adam not only sins, but comes short of the glory of God. The lost person has no desire to bring glory to God, but wants to bring glory to themselves. When corrected by God, the lost respond with negative emotion, being hateful toward God and toward the sons of God. They do not love God, especially when God rejects their standard of living. They reject the Law of God, preferring instead to be a law unto themselves. The Christian is in a different position:

Colossians 1:21-22 And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in [your] mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled (22) In the body of his flesh through death,

The Christian is no longer a son of Adam, but is reconciled to God. The word translated reconciled is the Greek ἀποκαταλλάσσω apokatallássō, {pronounced ap-ok-at-al-las’-so}, which means “to bring into harmony with God”. Jesus Christ died on the Cross of Calvary to provide a permanent covering for our sin, thereby making us at peace with God. When we receive Christ as Lord and Savior the Bible says:

Ephesians 2:14-16 For {Jesus} is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between {us and God}; 15 having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; 16 and that he might reconcile both {us and God} unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby:

The Christian is reconciled or at harmony with God. We are no longer in the position of enemies, but are NOW sons of God. We were permanently separated from God and enemies in our wicked works. This was a permanent and total separation, and we could do absolutely nothing about this. Then God made a way.

God the Father sent Christ to give His life for us, and once we receive Christ as Savior, God the Father sends God the Holy Spirit to bring us new birth and a new position in God. We are positionally reconciled!

Because Of Our Positional Change,
We Now Pursue What Pleases God

Colossians 1:21b-22 …yet now hath He reconciled, {22} In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight:

Because the Christian is no longer a son of Adam, but a son of God because of THE Son of God, our outward expression changes. The Apostle said in another place:

2 Corinthians 5:21 {The Father} hath made {Jesus} [to be] sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

The Christian is no longer HATEFUL to God in works, but is HOLY unto God. When God called the ancient Israelite out of Egypt, He told them:

Leviticus 20:7-8 Sanctify yourselves therefore, and be ye holy: for I [am] the LORD your God. (8) And ye shall keep my statutes, and do them: I [am] the LORD which sanctify you.

The Israelite position was changed from that of a slave to Egypt, to that of a servant of God. They were called into a new position and a new relationship with God. God fed them in the wilderness, loved them, cared for them. They were a people reserved unto Himself – therefore God required that they remember this and follow Him.

In like manner you are holy, dear believer. You are holy because the Blood of God was shed for you. You are holy, set apart for God’s own use. You are His purchased possession –and you are therefore to serve Him with all your hearts. The devil will – just as he did with Jesus – tempt the believer to wander away from God our Father. The devil will do with us as he did with Jesus, saying:

Matthew 4:9 … all these things {the kingdoms of the world} will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me …

Our answer must be like the Master’s answer:

Matthew 4:10 … Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.

As sons of God, we are to live our lives to please and glorify our Father. We do not belong to the sons of Adam. We are God’s cherished possession. The Scripture says we are not to follow in the pathway of sexual sin as the sons of Adam do:

1 Corinthians 6:17-20 But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit. 18 Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body. 19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? 20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.

Dear Christian, we belong to God. Let us Flee fornication”, πορνεία porneia, that is “sexual sin”. Many Churches today encourage sexual sin by minimizing it or normalizing it. It is certain that the lost will visit our local Churches. However, we are to stand firm in what God has said is true, and not accept into the membership of the Church those engaged in open sexual sin. The Apostle said in another place:

1 Corinthians 5:9-13 I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators: 10 yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world. 11 But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat. 12 For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within? 13 But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.

Sexual sin is incompatible with holiness. Son of Adam freely engage in sexual sin, but sons of God do not. We live as those who belong to God. The Apostle said:

1 Corinthians 7:22-23 … he that is called in the Lord, being a servant, is the Lord’s freeman: likewise also he that is called, being free, is Christ’s servant. 23 Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men.

Because of the Blood of Jesus and because of the indwelling Holy Spirit, every believer lives so as to please God, and not man. We are, in God’s sight:

Colossians 1:22 … holy and unblameable and unreproveable

Jesus took the blame for my sin on the Cross. I am unblameable, the Greek ἄμωμος ámōmos, {pronounced am’-o-mos}, which means “without spot or blemish”. Because Jesus was:

1 Peter 1:19 … a Lamb without blemish and without spot

and I have received Him as Lord and Savior, I am without blemish and without spot. The blood of animals only provided a temporary covering for sin. But Jesus Christ came, being a permanent solution for our wayward position.

Hebrews 9:14 … How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

The Christian is not a Pharisee, outwardly righteous but inwardly dead (Matthew 23:27-28). The Christian is a good tree that brings forth good fruit (Matthew 7:17-18).

Time Will Tell Your Position

Now we come to one of the Ifs of Scripture:

Colossians 1:23 If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and [be] not moved away from the hope of the gospel …

The proof of the Christian is that the Christian abides in Christ. The Bible makes it very clear that you become a Christian by the operation of the Spirit of God, by “new birth” or “being born again” (John 3:3; John 3:7; 1 Peter 1:23). The Christian has encountered “the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself” (Ephesians 1:5). The Christian has received the Spirit of adoption (Romans 8:15), the adoption of sons (Galatians 4:5). We are internally and positionally changed from sons of Adam to sons of God.

The faith that saves cannot help but endure, for God is in it. False faith falls away. Genuine faith “overcomes”.

The Apostle warns:

1 John 2:18-20 Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time. (19) They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would [no doubt] have continued with us: but [they went out], that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us. (20) BUT ye have an UNCTION from the Holy One, and ye know all things.

The child of God has an UNCTION, a χρῖσμα chrîsma, {pronounced khris’-mah} or ANOINTING from God. The Holy Spirit has touched the genuine son of God, and in that touch has permanently changed us. Genuine faith endures. The Christian is HOLY and UNBLAMABLE and UNREPROVABLE in God’s sight. We live our lives pleasing our Lord and Savior. When we err and sin, we confess our sins to God, knowing that He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).

Dear Christian, we live our lives as sons of God. We live our lives to please God. If you do not know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, I plead with you, call upon Him today. He can change you, and make you into one of God’s sons. Blessed be the Name of the Lord. Amen and Amen.

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

Jesus Unclothed So We Can Be Clothed

Photo by Pisit Heng on Unsplash

Turn with me in your Bibles to John 19.

Last week we looked at the crucifixion of Jesus. Darkness was over all the earth from the sixth to the ninth hour.

Luke 23:45 And the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was rent in the midst.

In the midst of the darkness the veil of the Temple was torn into from the top to the bottom. The Evangelist Mark tells us:

Mark 15:37-39 And Jesus cried with a loud voice, and gave up the ghost. 38 And the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom. 39 And when the centurion, which stood over against him, saw that he so cried out, and gave up the ghost, he said, Truly this man was the Son of God.

The Centurion in charge of executing our Lord had seen many men and women executed by crucifixion in his lifetime. Most died begging for mercy. Some begged that their lives be ended quicker, for the agony of crucifixion is horrid. This Centurion heard Jesus as He quietly hung on that Cross. He heard Jesus tell the thief to His right, “Today shalt thou be with Me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43). He heard Jesus, caring for His mother Mary, put her in John’s care (John 19:25-27). This hardened soldier heard Jesus say “It is finished” (John 19:30). But what moved that soldier’s battle hardened heart was our Lord’s final words:

Luke 23:46 … Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost.

Jesus’ last words were not the words of a defeated Man. They were those of a soldier Who had fought and died on a battlefield for His nation. The Centurion said:

Truly this Man WAS the Son of God” (Mark 15:39)

Jesus Christ, Clothed In Humanity
Became An Unclothed WAS For Us

The Bible tells us that God made man:

Hebrews 2:7 … a little lower than the angels; thou crownedst him with glory and honor, and didst set him over the works of thy hands:

Humanity was made in God’s image, and in God’s likeness (Genesis 1:26). Humanity was placed in a perfect Garden, in a perfect world, to follow a perfect and loving God. But Adam sinned, and caused humanity to fall. But God was not satisfied to leave us alone and undone. Jesus Christ, Himself infinite God (John 1:1-3), was made like us. Jesus “was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death … that He, by the Grace of God, should taste death for every man” (Hebrews 2:9).

Jesus WAS born of a Virgin. Jesus WAS a man, a Perfect Man, Who died for our sins. The crowd looks on the body of Jesus. To them, Jesus WAS.

John 19:37 … And again another Scripture saith, They shall look on Him Whom they have pierced ..

The crowd which earlier called for Jesus’ crucifixion now are awakened by God. God prophesied:

Zechariah 12:10 … I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.

Jesus has become a “WAS”. The Centurion speaks again, glorifying God,

Luke 23:47 … saying, Certainly, this WAS a righteous Man

Satan’s fever had passed from the people. God opened their eyes. Here was Jesus, a Man Who only did good to others. Because of Jesus …

Luke 7:22 … the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached.

The ones who drove the nails into Jesus now are awakened. He was innocent, righteous. Jesus is now a “WAS” because of them. And the people? The Bible says:

Luke 23:48-49 …. all the people that came together to that sight, beholding the things which were done, smote their breasts, and returned. 49 And all his acquaintance, and the women that followed him from Galilee, stood afar off, beholding these things.

Preach It! It amazes me that today some so called scholars believe that Jesus did not die on that Cross. He was pierced, and blood and water ran from His side (John 19:34), a clear sign of death. The Centurion had killed many – was he now stupid, uneducated on the nature of death? He did not achieve his rank by being sloppy. Jesus “WAS”. He is no longer. He is dead. All that is left is the cleanup.

What do you do with a naked Someone Who WAS?
You bury Him.

John 19:38-40 And after this Joseph of Arimathæa, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus: and Pilate gave him leave. He came therefore, and took the body of Jesus. 39 And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight.

As God moved in the hearts of the people, He changed the heart of Joseph of Arimathæa, a wealthy man who was secretly a disciple of Jesus. A naked, bloodied Jesus who WAS hangs on the Cross. Joseph’s fear is gone. He goes to Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus. Jesus WAS. There’s only a broken, empty shell of the Messiah. Another man, Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, comes out of hiding. Jesus’ body is unclothed. Look to John 19:23-24!

John 19:23 … when they crucified Jesus, took His garments … and also His coat … that the Scripture might be fulfilled, which saith, They parted My raiment among them, and for My vesture they did cast lots …

Jesus’ body is naked. He was unclothed for our sins. He, the Son of God, became a WAS so that we could become Sons and Daughters of God.

1 Peter 3:18 … For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh…

Jesus WAS. His body is naked. He must be clothed for burial. Nicodemus comes, bringing with him a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight. What is this myrrh and aloes for? The Jews used this paste on a person who WAS to wrap the body for burial. As Mary His Mother helped wash and wrap her Son’s body, I imagine her tears mingled with the wash water. Mary would remember her little baby boy, Jesus, on the day that the Wise Men came bearing gifts (Matthew 2:11), ONE OF THOSE GIFTS BEING MYRRH. As Mary His mother helped wrap the Jesus Who WAS, she would be reminded how, the night when He entered this earth, she …

Luke 2:7 … wrapped Him in swaddling clothes, and laid Him in a manger

The body washed, John 19:40 … Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury.

Word Study The phrase in linen clothes is the Greek ὀθόνιον othónion, {pronounced oth-on’-ee-on}, which means “strips of linen cloth used for swathing the dead”. As the body was wrapped with strips of linen, the paste of myrrh and aloe was used on those strips to bind them to the body. The Free Bible Commentary states, “This was according to Jewish customs described in the Talmud (i.e., Betsah 6a).”

Jesus’ body, now clothed for burial, is laid to rest …

John 19:41 … in the garden a new sepulcher, wherein was never man yet laid.

Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a borrowed donkey, “Whereon never a man set” (Mark 11:2). Jesus’ body was carried to a tomb, “Wherein was never man yet laid” (John 20:41)!

The stone of the tomb was put in place, sealing the Jesus who WAS into that place. That should have ended things. But the Pharisees and Chief Priests were not done with Jesus. Matthew, a Levite, tells us:

Matthew 27:62-66 Now the next day, that followed the day of the preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate, 63 saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again. 64 Command therefore that the sepulcher be made sure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead: so the last error shall be worse than the first. 65 Pilate said unto them, Ye have a watch: go your way, make it as sure as ye can..

The Jewish Leaders who sought Jesus’ execution wanted to make sure that the Jesus Who WAS would be kept in the Tomb. Jesus had told them that He would stay in that Grave “for three days and three nights, just as Jonah was in the belly of the great fish three days and three nights” (Matthew 12:40; Jonah 1:17). They wanted to make sure that this Jesus Who WAS stayed in the WAS state. They wanted to ensure that His disciples would not come along and steal the body and say that He had risen. Jesus must remain a WAS. Armed guards were placed on the Tomb.

Matthew 27:66 So they went, and made the sepulcher SURE, sealing the stone, and setting a watch.

Jesus WAS. He was going to stay WAS. But He didn’t.

Three days and three nights have passed, and the women go back to the Tomb of Jesus. The Evangelist tells us:

Mark 16:1-4 … when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him. 2 And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulcher at the rising of the sun. 3 And they said among themselves, Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulcher? 4 And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away: for it was very great.

This was not what the women expected. They expected to get to the sealed Tomb, and hoped that they could get someone to roll the stone from the doorway so they could further anoint the Jesus Who WAS. Mary Magdalene was most heartbroken over the discovery. We read:

John 20:1-2 The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulcher, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulcher. 2 Then she runneth, and cometh to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and saith unto them, They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulcher, and we know not where they have laid him.

Mary believed that They have taken away the Lord, supposing a final act of cruelty by the Jewish Pharisees and Priests. While the Disciples of Jesus were in the Levitical Sabbath (that Sabbath day was A HIGH DAY1) Mary assumed that the enemies of Christ had come and taken Him away.

John 20:3-4 Peter therefore went forth, and that other disciple, and came to the sepulcher. 4 So they ran both together …

The commentaries notethat other disciple is traditionally believed to be John. Peter and John had a foot race to the tomb, and John got there first.

John 20:4-5 and the other disciple did outrun Peter, and came first to the sepulcher. 5 And he stooping down, and looking in, saw the linen clothes lying; yet went he not in.

This part of the Scripture is very important. Jesus’ body had been wrapped with strips of linen, secured with about 100 pounds of a myrrh and aloe paste. When John looked into the tomb he saw the linen strips “lying” there. Had Jesus’ body been stolen, as Mary supposed, then they would have taken the body with the strips, as the myrrh and aloe paste acted as a glue.

John 20:6-7 Then cometh Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulcher, and seeth the linen clothes lie, 7 and the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself.

Though John was the first to the tomb, he waited until Peter went in. It was well known that Peter was the Chief Apostle, and I believe John was deferring to him. Peter saw the linen strips, and saw the head covering rolled up neatly, and in another place in the tomb.

Jesus was wrapped, as a baby, in swaddling clothes. When He ceased to be a baby, these wrappings were removed. Jesus’ body was wrapped with strips of linen and a hundred pounds of embalming paste. Had grave robbers taken Him, the head covering would not be rolled up, nor the linen strips present. The Soniclight Commentary notes:

That Person who had “rolled up … the face-cloth” had apparently been the resurrected Jesus. A grave robber would not have taken the time to fold the head covering neatly, but would have left it lying in a heap. Neither would friends who might have removed the body done this; they would have hurried away from the tomb as quickly as possible to avoid being apprehended. It is not clear whether the head covering lay where Jesus’ head had lain. What is clear is that someone had folded (“rolled”) it up carefully.

Why did the grave clothes lie as they had been before the body of Jesus exited them, and why had the face-cloth been carefully folded and laid aside? One explanation is that these were deliberately given as two different witnesses to Jesus’ resurrection.”

John 20:8 Then went in also that other disciple, which came first to the sepulcher, and he saw, and believed. 9 For as yet they knew not the scripture, that he must rise again from the dead.

The Apostles knew that Jesus said He was going to rise from the grave, but knowing a thing and actually believing are two different things. John saw the two mute witnesses – the burial clothes and the face covering – and believed that Jesus rose from the Grave. Jesus passed through the grave clothes and through the rocky tomb. An angel rolled back the stone so the disciples could see that Jesus had risen (Matthew 28:2), not to let Jesus out!

Over the next 40 days Jesus will appear again and again to His disciples. Jesus has defeated death, and the devil. Beloved, in order to be saved you must believe in the resurrection of Christ from the dead. Jesus Christ “bore the sins of many, and made intercession for the transgressors” (Isaiah 53:12). He died on Calvary making payment for our sins. But Jesus went farther than this. The Bible says:

Romans 8:34 Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.

Jesus died on Calvary to save a wretch like me. But He rose from the grave, and is at the right hand of God the Father, making intercession for those who are His people. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is absolutely integral to the salvation of the believer. The Apostle said:

1 Corinthians 15:14-23 … if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. 15 Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. 16 For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: 17 and if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. 18 Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. 19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. 20 But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first fruits of them that slept. 21 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But every man in his own order: Christ the first fruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.

The empty tomb of Christ tells us as believers that:

  • Jesus Is Who He Says He Is:The Bible says in Romans 1:4, “Jesus Christ … {was} declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, BY THE RESURRECTION FROM THE DEAD. Death cannot hold Jesus. Since He has defeated death, and told us whosoever liveth and believeth in Me shall NEVER DIE” (John 11:26), I know His guarantee is true. Jesus is the fulfillment of Isaiah 25:8, saying “He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of His people shall He take away from off all the earth: for the lord hath spoken it.”
  • The Afterlife Is What Jesus Says It Is: There is indeed a Heaven and a Hell, and Jesus alone leads the way to God. Jesus said in John 14:6, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life; No One cometh to the Father but by Me”. Jesus is the Door to Heaven. He said in John 10:7-9, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep. All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”
  • Proper Life Is What Jesus Says It Should Be: No person is sinless but Jesus (John 8:7; Hebrews 4:15; Hebrews 9:28). No Christian is sinless. But once we are saved by faith in the resurrected Christ, we are born again of God” (John 3:3,7; 1 Peter 1:23), “not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God, which liveth and abideth forever. We who are saved are resurrected creatures, heading toward a future resurrection. 2 Corinthians 5:17-18 tells us “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. 18 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ”. The “born again” believer views sin differently from the lost son of Adam. It is sin that killed our Master. It is sin that Jesus paid for, very painfully, on the Cross. When a “born again” believer sins, he or she are convicted of sin by the Holy Spirit, and will repent, confessing that sin unto God for Christ’s sake. The Apostle was quite adamant on this. He said in 1 John 2:4, “He that saith, I know {Jesus}, and keepeth not His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him”. Our Lord Jesus said in John 8:12, “I am the light of the world: he that followeth Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life. Jesus Christ was unclothed on Calvary so that we could be clothed in the light and righteousness of God. We used to be children of darkness – now we are to walk as children of light” (Ephesians 5:8). “Our old man is crucified with Jesus, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin (Romans 6:6).

Do you know Him? Do you know my Jesus? He gave His life for you and I, so that we can begin to live life the way the Lord intended. If you do not know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, I beg you, receive Him today. We who are Christians now serve an amazing Savior, and are headed toward a wonderful eternity, filled with “joy unspeakable”. May God the Holy Spirit use His Word to move your hearts to Christ. Amen and Amen!

___________________Note On The “Sabbath”_____________________

1 “High Days” are annual holy days or annual Sabbaths as defined in Leviticus 23:7, 8, 21, 25, 28, 31, 32, 35, 36 & 39. These are special Sabbaths not to be confused with the weekly Sabbath. There were seven annual Sabbaths in addition to the weekly Saturday Sabbath:

  • The first and seventh days of Unleavened Bread
  • Pentecost
  • Trumpets (Rosh Hashanah in Hebrew)
  • Atonement (Yom Kippur)
  • The first day of Tabernacles (Succoth)
  • The Last Great Day.

The “High Day” of John 19:31 is the first day of Unleavened Bread, which falls the day after the Passover (Nisan 15).

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Touch Me Not

Sunrise
Photo by Lefty Kasdaglis on Unsplash

In our 8:30 service today we’re going to be looking at the empty tomb of our Lord. We’ll be in John 19:38-20:10. For our Sunrise Service I wanted to look at the verses that come after this. Having seen the burial clothes of Jesus in the empty tomb, Peter and John go back home:

John 20:10-13 Then the disciples went away again unto their own home. 11 But Mary stood without at the sepulcher weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulcher, 12 and seeth two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. 13 And they say unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? She saith unto them, Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him.

Invasion Of The Body Snatchers!

But Mary stood without at the sepulcher weeping”. Peter and John saw the empty tomb and the clothes left behind, but Mary lingered. When she first found the tomb opened she ran back to the disciples, telling them:

John 20:2 … They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulcher, and we know not where they have laid him.

Mary had not found Jesus’ body, so she was not satisfied. Someone must have taken Jesus’ body!

Mary was often found sitting at the feet of Jesus, hearing Him teach (Luke 10:38-39). When Mary’s brother Lazarus died she told Jesus, while weeping,

John 11:32 … Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.

Her weeping and hurt caused Jesus Himself to weep, though He would raise Lazarus from that grave in short order. Mary wanted Jesus. Peter and John looked in the tomb and saw Jesus’ grave clothes, but Mary looked in the tomb and saw “seeth two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain”. They ask her “Woman, why weepest thou?”, to which she replies “they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him”.

God has promised in His Word:

Jeremiah 29:13 … ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.

Mary sought Jesus with all her heart. Peter and John were happy with empty grave clothes, but Mary wanted Jesus. So Jesus came! We read:

John 20:14-15 And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away.

There is Jesus! Mary is being driven by FEELINGS right now, and she does not recognize that this is Jesus speaking to her. How is that possible? It is very early in the morning, and waning darkness is difficult on the eyes. I also believe it is because the resurrection body is so glorious, so different than the earthly bodies that we now have, that it will amaze us when the Lord gives them to us. The last time Mary saw Jesus He was beaten so badly that the Prophet said:

Isaiah 52:14 As many were {astonished} at thee; his visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men:

Isaiah 50:6 I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting.

The Jesus that stood before Mary now was in His glorified eternal state. She supposed He was the gardener. But then, Jesus called her name:

John 20:16 … Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master.

When God the Son called her name, the tears were chased from Mary’s eyes. Mary knew this was Jesus. It is such a blessing when God calls your name – that is, when you are seeking him. In the Garden of Eden …

Genesis 3:9 … the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?

On that day Adam and his wife hid from the Lord, knowing that they had sinned against His command. On that day Jesus told the serpent, that old Devil, also called Satan (Revelation 12:9):

Genesis 3:15 … I will put enmity between thee {you old Serpent} and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.

This was the very first prophecy that a Messiah would come, being born of the woman. This Messiah would be bruised by the devil – and oh, how our Savior was bruised! But this Messiah would also crush the head of the serpent. It shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel, but only His heel would be hurt. Jesus is alive.

Jesus appears to Mary early on so that we can see that God always keeps His promises! What God said in Genesis is fulfilled in John. Our God is faithful!

Touch Me Not, For I Have Not Ascended

John 20:17 Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.

Why did Jesus tell Mary Touch me not? One of the stupidest explanations I ever heard was that “Jesus’ wounds were still sore, and He didn’t want to be touched”. Let’s look to the text rather than to fantasy.

Word Study The word TOUCH is the Greek ἅπτομαι háptomai, {pronounced hap’-tom-ahee}, which means “to fasten one’s self to, adhere to, cling to”. Mary wasn’t just touching Jesus – she grabbed Him and held on! In Matthew 28:9 we are told “they came and held him by the feet, and worshiped him”. Mary grabbed hold of Jesus and didn’t want to let go. But Jesus had to go. His mission was not fully completed. Jesus said I am not yet ascended to my Father. The Resurrected Christ must ascend to the Father. For what? The Book tells us:

Hebrews 9:11-14 But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; 12 neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. 13 For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: 14 how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

Our Jesus, a High Priest after the order of Melchizedek (Psalm 110:4; Hebrews 5:6; Hebrews 6:20-7:3; Hebrews 7:17, 21), entered into the Heavenly Holy of Holies by his own blood. It is His Blood that and His Blood alone that was accepted by the Father God as payment for our sins (Ephesians 1:7; 1 John 1:7; Galatians 3:13; Ephesians 2:13). The Lamb of God paid our sin debt in full. The Scripture says:

Romans 4:20-24 {Abraham} staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; 21 and being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform. 22 And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness. 23 Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; 24 but for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; 25 who was delivered for our offenses, and was raised again for our justification.

Jesus Christ was delivered to the Cross “for our offenses.
Jesus Christ was delivered from the tomb “for our justification”.

Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift! (2 Corinthians 9:15). The grave could not hold Jesus, so Mary must not hold Him now. But He will return many times over the next 40 days showing us that death and the grave are defeated, along with sin, for all who have received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

May God touch your hearts with His Word and His Spirit this wondrous Resurrection Sunday. Amen and Amen!

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The Praying Christian

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A little boy went to Church with his mamma and daddy. He promised his parents he would behave if he could sit in the “big” service, rather than go to the Children’s Church he usually attended. As the little boy watched the service unfold, the preacher began to pray. As the preacher ended the prayer, he said “We ask this in Jesus’ Name”, and sat down. Without thinking, the little boy blurted out:

You didn’t say AMEN”!

Does Your Prayer Hang On An “Amen”?

There’s really nothing in the Bible that says “you must say ‘Amen’” for your prayer to be acceptable to God. The word “amen” comes from both Greek and Hebrew. In Greek it is ἀμήν amēn (pronounced am-ane’), and the Greek itself came from the Hebrew אָמֵן ʼâmên, (pronounced aw-mane’). The word means “this word is true, this is sure, so be it, of a truth”. The Greek Lexicon states:

At the beginning of a discourse – surely, truly, of a truth. At the end of a discourse – so it is, so be it, may it be fulfilled. It was a custom, which passed over from the Synagogues to the Christian assemblies, that when he who had read or discoursed, had offered up solemn prayer to God, the others responded Amen, and thus made the substance of what was uttered their own.”

Jesus often used a double amen in His sermons, quite apart from prayer. The King James often quotes Jesus’ amens as “verily”, as in:

John 1:51 … verily, verily (amen, amen) I say unto you …
John 3:3 … verily, verily (amen, amen) I say unto thee …

Jesus uses “amen, amen” some 25 times in the Book of John alone. The doubled “amen” makes what Jesus says emphatically strong. So “amen” does not have to be in a prayer, but is a statement of affirmation. What DOES have to be in prayer?

Healthy Christians Frequently Pray

Prayer should not be something you do just every now and then, or only during special times (like before a meal or prior to bed). Prayer should be frequent. In fact, the Bible says in 1 Thessalonians 5:17,

Pray Without Ceasing

The Christian’s lifestyle should be thoroughly interlaced with prayer. We live in a rough, fallen world. Beloved, if we would pray more, we would worry less. Prayer reminds us that not only is God in control, it tells us that we are weak, and desperately need His presence in our lives.

When Peter was imprisoned for preaching the Gospel, the Bible says that:

Acts 12:5 … prayer was made without ceasing of the Church unto God for him …

The Church prayed together, remembering that Jesus promised “where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20). When God’s people come together and pray, the power of God comes to earth. The Church prayed for Peter, and called an angel from Heaven to let him out of prison.

Prayer moves mountains.
Prayer calls angels.
Prayer stirs the heart of God.

The Apostle Paul had power with God because he prayed. He told the Church at Rome:

Romans 1:9-10 For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers; 10 making request, if by any means now at length I might have a prosperous journey by the will of God to come unto you

Paul also prayed for his disciple Timothy, telling him:

2 Timothy 1:3-4 … without ceasing I have remembrance of thee in my prayers night and day; 4 greatly desiring to see thee

Defining The Concept: When the Bible tells us to “pray without ceasing”, I do not think that it means we should never stop praying. There are times when we must interact with other people, at the store, at work, and in our homes. Though Paul said he “prayed without ceasing”, we know that God used him to write scripture, and to preach the Gospel. So it is certain there were times when Paul was not praying. I think the intent of “pray without ceasing” is that we should never be far from our God, and never be lacking in addressing Him. The praying Christian is the joyful Christian.

When we pray, we are not doing so for show, or to be seen of men. We are praying to our Heavenly Father. Jesus said:

Matthew 6:5-6 And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. 6 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.

When thou prayest”. Jesus doesn’t say IF you pray,
but WHEN you pray.

Prayer is something that every Christian should do. Jesus tells us that when we pray, we are not to be praying so as to impress a fallen world. Prayer is communication with the Almighty God. Do not pray just so that others can hear you.

Some have taken Jesus’ statement, “when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door”, to mean that no one should ever hear us pray. This is not the Lord’s emphasis. He doesn’t mean that we should never pray publicly, but that we should never pray to be seen of others. Prayer is not a stage performance.

However, there are times when public prayer is perfectly acceptable. Herbert Lockyer’s “All The Prayers Of The Bible” notes there are 650 prayers listed in the Bible, and that Jesus Himself prayed 25 different times during His earthly ministry. One of Jesus most well known prayers is recorded in John 17, often called “Jesus’ Priestly Prayer for the Church”. Jesus obviously prayed publicly, else the prayer would have not been recorded in the Bible. We may pray publicly, but only if we can do so and keep our mind focused on God and not on those who might be around us.

Prayer speaks to God.
Good prayer always has a purpose.

Jesus tells us:

Matthew 6:7-8 But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. 8 Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.

What Jesus calls vain repetitions is a reference to just mouthing words, over and over, thinking that this serves some purpose. God knows what our needs are, and yet wants us, as His children, to ask Him for things. James said:

James 4:2 Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not.

We who pray are not to use words with no purpose, but are to always remember we are speaking to a Person in prayer. God is Almighty, but He nonetheless is a Person. He does not want us to say just a mouthful of words without purpose. Let us “ask in faith, nothing waivering” (James 1:6).

Pray Specifically and Purposefully

When we pray, let us pray specifically and purposefully until we get a definite answer from God. Jesus illustrated this in:

Luke 18:1-8 {Jesus} spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint; 2 saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man: 3 and there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary. 4 And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man; 5 yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me. 6 And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith. 7 And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? 8 I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?

There are times when we pray that God does not answer our prayers immediately. What should we do? We should keep approaching the Throne of Grace. We should pursue God in prayer just as this widow pursued the unjust judge. God will answer our prayers, but we must seek His face until we get an answer. In the Garden of Gethsemane our Lord Jesus prayed three times:

Matthew 26:39 … O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.

Jesus knew that the Cup of Divine Judgment would be poured out on Him at Calvary. Jesus prayed three times that this cup pass, if it were possible. It was not possible. After the third prayer (Matthew 26:44) Jesus got up, and with purpose told His disciples:

Matthew 26:46 Rise, let us be going: behold, he is at hand that doth betray me.

Once the prayer is answered, Jesus goes on to do the Father’s will. We should do like Jesus. We are to pray, knocking on the door of Heaven, until we get an answer. Once we get an answer, let us move forward, crossing the Jordan into the Promised Land. Let us live for God!

Jesus’ Model Of Prayer

It was after a session of prayer that:

Luke 11:1-4 … one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples. 2 And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth. 3 Give us day by day our daily bread. 4 And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.

Matthew records the more familiar format of the Lord’s Prayer we are acquainted with:

Matthew 6:9-13 After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. 10 Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

Proper prayer always honors God first. In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus started by emphasizing that “Our Father God is in Heaven – and we want to hallow or glorify His Name”. Many times when we pray, we immediately turn to our needs. Jesus tells us that before we address our needs, we are to address God’s glory. We pray that Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. We acknowledge that we will receive God’s answer to prayer and rest in that answer, whether it is according to what WE think it should be. God is ultimately in control – that is His nature. If it is God’s will that we suffer, then it is for the best that we suffer, for God always knows best.

The Apostle Paul recounts this time in his life:

2 Corinthians 12:7-10 … lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. 8 For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. 9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

We do not truly know what Paul’s thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me was. We know that Paul sought God three times that this thorn be removed. God’s response? My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. God told Paul that he would have to live within this valley. Paul, rather than being bitter, recognized truly that what God was doing was for his own good. The Apostle then began to praise God for the thorn in the flesh, as well as for other “infirmities, reproaches, necessities, persecutions, {and} distresses for Christ’s sake. Paul truly believed the Scripture that:

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

After seeking the glory of God in prayer, the believer is supposed to pray for his needs. Jesus simply said:

Matthew 6:11 Give us this day our daily bread.

This part of the prayer focuses on our present needs. Notice that this part of the prayer is very short, and to the point. We pray directly to God our Father, asking Him for our needs for that day. But we also pray for our yesterdays.

Matthew 6:12-13 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil …

We pray for our failures before God. We all fall short of His glory, of His desires for our lives. So we ask our Lord to forgive us, in Jesus’ name.

Prayer Demands A Forgiving Spirit

But our forgiveness is conditional on how we ourselves have forgiven others. Jesus said:

Matthew 6:14-15 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: 15 but if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

If we are carrying grudges or hardness in our hearts toward others, then we will not be forgiven. God wants us to forgive as we have been forgiven. Though we fail daily, our God never fails. We are to forgive even our enemies. Jesus said:

Matthew 5:44-45 … But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; 45 that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

If we want our prayers answered, we must be sure to forgive those who have wronged us. This includes – but is not limited to – our spouses. The Apostle said:

1 Peter 3:7 Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honor unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.

Carrying grudges against anyone, especially toward a spouse, definitely hinders our prayers before God. The marital relationship is supposed to reflect the same love that Jesus Christ has for His Church, and the Church has for Jesus Christ (Ephesians 5:25-28). The Bible says:

Colossians 3:17-19 whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him. 18 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord. 19 Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them.

After praying that God will forgive our sins against Himself just as we have forgiven sins against ourselves, we close our prayers by acknowledging our desperate need of the Lord’s guiding hand (13) “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Some versions read “Deliver us from the Evil One”. As believers we need God’s daily intervention in our lives. I am so frail and subject to failure that I feel like that old song said:

Oh Lord, I can’t even walk without you holding my hand
The mountains too high and the valleys too wide
Down on my knees that’s where I learned to stand
Oh Lord, I can’t even walk without you holding my hand

Christian, Pray With Confidence, For God Is Faithful

Our God is faithful to His promises. He tells us:

1 John 1:5-9 This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: 7 but if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. 8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

God is faithful to forgive sin, but only when we confess sin in Jesus’ name. God is faithful to bless His children, but only when we pray in Jesus’ name. Jesus said:

John 14:14 If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.

Some people believe that this means to just tack a “in Jesus’ name we pray, Amen” at the end of a prayer. It means much more than that. To pray in Jesus’ name is to love and believe what Jesus has said about Himself. Jesus told the Pharisees,

John 8:42 If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me.

God the Father sent Jesus to be the payment for our sins. He also sent Jesus to be our King and Lord. Jesus said, “If ye love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15). When you hear the Word of Jesus and do not do it, you are not living in Jesus’ name. Jesus said:

John 14:21, 23 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. … 23 … If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.

You are praying “in Jesus’ name” when you are living according to His Word and His directives. Jesus said, “he that loveth Me NOT keepeth NOT My sayings” (John 14:24). When we as believers live in obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ, then our prayers will be heard of God. When you, dear Christian, depart from the Way of Truth, repent! Confess your sins to your Father above, and ask forgiveness for Jesus’ sake. Live your lives walking the path of righteousness, doing as Jesus has told us. Practice praying as you go through your day – “{constant} in prayer” (Romans 12:12). If you keep God close to you as you move through the day, He will be close to you when you pray.

God honors the one who prays while sitting (2 Samuel 7:18), standing (Mark 11:25), kneeling (Daniel 6:10; Luke 22:41), laying prostrate (Matthew 26:39; Mark 14:35), or with uplifted hands (1 Timothy 2:8). God honors the humble prayer that honors the name of Jesus Christ. God honors the prayer that is submissive to His glory. But God cannot honor the prayer from a sinful son, nor from a procrastinator who will not take the time to pray. Christian, we desperately need to be people of prayer. Let’s make a commitment to seek our God’s Face daily, “without ceasing”, for the glory of the Father and the honor of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen and Amen!

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What Love Looks Like

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Turn with me to Matthew 27.

The world struggles to see what “love” is. You hear it’s cry in secular songs. The Rock Group Foreigner sang, “I Want To Know What Love Is”. Tina Turner sang “What’s Love Got To Do With It? What’s Love But A Second Hand Emotion?”. Elvis Presley “Can’t Help Falling In Love”. Dolly Parton sang “I Will Always Love You”. For Willie Nelson, “You Are Always on My Mind”. Heavy D is happy, “Now That We Found Love”.

If you want to see what true love is, then you need to look at Jesus Christ. Look at Him as He willingly laid His life down for us. Jesus said in:

John 10:17-18 Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. 18 No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself.

God laid His life down willingly for us, that we might be saved. This is love. We see what love is when we look at Jesus, and how He responded to the Cross.

1 John 3:16 Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.

As Jesus laid His life down, He calls us to lay our lives down. He laid His life down for us on Calvary. He expects us to lay our lives down for Him. If we are to be friends of God, we must have this type of love. A sacrificial love. A willing love. Jesus said:

John 15:13-14 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. 14 Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.

Love is not about me, and getting my way. Love is to sacrifice myself for the blessing of another.

I heard a worship song the other day where they kept singing:

And oh, how He loves us, oh
Oh how He loves us
How He loves us all.
Yeah, He loves us.

It is true that God loves us. And we are to love Him as He loves us. We are to love others as He loves us. That is what love is. It is not a carnal satisfaction found in a feeling. Love is defined by the Cross. Love is a willing surrender to elevate another. “To us there is but One God, the Father, OF WHOM ARE ALL THINGS, and we in Him; and One Lord Jesus Christ, BY WHOM ARE ALL THINGS, and we by Him” (1 Corinthians 8:6). Jesus willingly chose to “bring many sons to glory” (Hebrews 2:10) by going to the Cross for us. Let’s look to the Cross.

Love QuietlyDied Took My Cross

Matthew 27:21-26 The governor {Pilate} answered and said unto them, Whether of the twain will ye that I release unto you? They said, Barabbas. 22 Pilate saith unto them, What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ? They all say unto him, Let him be crucified. 23 And the governor said, Why, what evil hath he done? But they cried out the more, saying, Let him be crucified. 24 When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it. 25 Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children. 26 Then released he Barabbas unto them: and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified.

Barabbas had previously been found guilty of both insurrection and murder (Mark 15:7). An insurrectionist is someone who violently rebels against lawful authority, and Barabbas had done it and got caught. We don’t know much about Barabbas. His name means, according to Hitchcock’s Bible Dictionary, “a son of shame”. Barabbas may not be a name, but a description of this terrible sinner. He was a prisoner, a number, a nameless criminal, a murderer. Stripped of his name, the “son of shame” waited to be executed.

Matthew 27:16 and they had then a NOTABLE prisoner, called Barabbas.

The Romans – and in particular Roman soldiers – took great pleasure in public executions. Barabbas was waiting for death in a dank cell.

According to Roman custom, the accused was
made to create his own cross.

Though he had not wanted to make it, I am sure the soldiers scourged Barabbas, and beat him, until he made his cross. Now he waited to be nailed to it, to die for taking another’s life. Someone comes to the door of the cell. It is a soldier. “Barabbas, get up! It is time.” He comes out of the darkness, and hears the cry of the crowd.

Crucify Him! Crucify Him!”

I’m sure Barabbas thought it was for him they cried. But as he came into the light, Pilate asks, “We have Barabbas, the son of shame, and Jesus. Which shall I release?” The crowd, egged on by the Jewish Court called the Sanhedrin, says “Let Jesus be crucified”. Pilate cries out, “What evil has He done?” The crowd does not answer. They just shout, “Let Jesus be crucified!”. When Pilate saw that there was no way to do otherwise, he washes his hands of the verdict, saying

Matthew 27:24 {Pilate} took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it.

Focus It is interesting that only Matthew records Pilate “washing his hands” when passing verdict on Christ. Matthew was Jewish, and the Priests washed their hands before making a sacrifice.

When the Pharisees were debating whether to betray Jesus to Pilate, the High Priest Caiphas said in John 11:50,{It is} expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not.” This was an inadvertent prophecy that Jesus Christ would be sacrificed for the greater good of humanity. When Pilate washed his hands before sacrificing Jesus, it was an eerie parallel to the priest who would kill a lamb for the people. Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God! (John 1:29).

Throughout this entire episode our Jesus does not complain nor defend Himself. This is as the Prophet some 700 years before wrote:

Isaiah 53:7-8 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. 8 He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.

Jesus was innocent of any sin, and yet He willingly went to the Cross. He had every right to complain, and yet did not. Jesus knew before He ever went to Jerusalem that last time that He was going to be sacrificed – and yet, He went anyway. He had earlier told His disciples:

Matthew 20:18-19 Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be betrayed unto the chief priests and unto the scribes, and they shall condemn him to death, 19 and shall deliver him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify him: and the third day he shall rise again.

Jesus died instead of Barabbas. Remember the cross that Barabbas made? On that day, Barabbas was set free, and Jesus took Barabbas’ cross. The Jewish court unlawfully denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you; and killed the Prince of life” (Acts 3:14-15). As it was with Joseph in the Old Testament, “they thought evil against Jesus, but God meant it for good, to save many people to life” (my paraphrase of Genesis 50:20).

Jesus died for Barabbas. We are all Barabbas.

We are all, like Barabbas, guilty of sin. The Bible says:

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

Now you might say, “But wait a minute, preacher. I’m a sinner – but I never murdered anyone.” You may not have physically murdered anyone, but we are all guilty of sin. Jesus said, “anyone who looks at another with lustful intent has already committed adultery in their heart” (Matthew 5:28). Sin is not always an action. It is a thought. “whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment” (Matthew 5:21-22). Sin is anything that is against the order or design of God. Sin starts in the heart, then moves outward from there. We are all born sinners. The Bible says:

Romans 6:23 … the wages of sin is DEATH

God warned Adam in Genesis 2:17, “of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” The wages of sin is death. Adam sinned, and brought spiritual death on himself, and on all his progeny (that’s us). We are all Barabbas. Our hands formed the crosses that will kill us. But Jesus took our cross. He took our penalty on Himself. We stand, in our own selves, condemned before God, sinners, lost and undone. But Jesus, in His great love, took Barabbas’ cross. He died in our place. What a wondrous love this is! The Bible declares:

1 Peter 3:18 For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:

2 Corinthians 5:21 For {God} hath made {Jesus} to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

That day an incredulous Barabbas walked free. He should have died for his sin, for God said in Genesis 9:6, “Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man. ” Barabbas deserved death. But he was freed because Jesus took his place. We are freed because Jesus took our place.

John 6:29 … This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.

Love Does Not Strike Back, But Trusts God

Jesus is delivered to the soldiers to be crucified – but they must first have their sport. The Bible tells us:

Matthew 27:27-31 Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the common hall, and gathered unto him the whole band of soldiers. 28 And they stripped him, and put on him a scarlet robe. 29 And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews! 30 And they spit upon him, and took the reed, and smote him on the head. 31 And after that they had mocked him, they took the robe off from him, and put his own raiment on him, and led him away to crucify him.

Jesus Christ as the Son of God is indeed the King of Heaven,

1 Timothy 6:15 … the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords

It is Jesus Who, “in the beginning was with God, and was God” (John 1:1), alongside of Father and Holy Spirit, created all things. The Bible says of Jesus:

John 1:3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.

Jesus Christ is the revealed Member of the Godhead. God cannot be seen by man, but Jesus is God manifest and seen. Jesus is:

Colossians 1:15-17 … the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: 16 for by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: 17 and he is before all things, and by him all things consist.

The word “CONSIST” in our above text is the Greek συνιστάω synistáō, {pronounced soon-is-tah’-o}, which means “to pull together” or “constitute”. Jesus not only made all things, He designed all things. He knows their order. He is the Ultimate Ruler. When the Sanhedrin came to get Him in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus told Peter that He did not need his sword:

Matthew 26:53 {Peter}, Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels? 54 But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?

Jesus had an immense force waiting for His beck and call. Considering that it took but one angel to kill 185,000 armed men in one night (2 Kings 19:35), had Jesus called 12,000 angels to His side, the earth itself would have been destroyed. Here is immense power in the Person of Christ.

And yet struck, He did not strike back. He was capable of striking back, more than capable. But He did not. They clothed Him on as scarlet robe so as to mock Him, and crushed a crown of thorns down on His precious Head. All of Heaven watched, and waited for his call. And yet, love bore up. Scripture must be fulfilled. The Promise of God must be kept. As Jesus said,

But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?”

The Lord told us to

Matthew 5:44-45 … Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; 45 that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

The Son of God could easily have struck back. But He loved the soldiers. He loved us and loves us even when we are unlovable. “We love him, because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19). Jesus “bore His own Cross” (John 19:17), but at one point fell under the load. The soldiers “found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name: him they compelled to bear his cross.” (Matthew 27:32).

Matthew 27:33-38 And when they were come unto a place called Golgotha, that is to say, a place of a skull, 34 they gave him vinegar to drink mingled with gall: and when he had tasted thereof, he would not drink. 35 And they crucified him, and parted his garments, casting lots: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots. 36 And sitting down they watched him there; 37 and set up over his head his accusation written, THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS. 38 Then were there two thieves crucified with him, one on the right hand, and another on the left.

As they nail a naked and beaten Jesus to that terrible tree, the soldiers gather at the foot of the Cross. They are not there to look upon Him Who is dying for them, but to game for His clothing. The Bible tells us that this was yet another fulfilled prophecy, spoken of in:

Psalm 22:14-18 I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels. 15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death. 16 For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have enclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet. 17 I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me. 18 They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture.

Jesus is thirsty before He is nailed to the Cross. As a “kindness”, they offer Him vinegar to drink mingled with gall: and when he had tasted thereof, he would not drink. His tongue stuck to the roof of His mouth. As He is nailed to the Cross and dropped into the socket of the earth, His dripping blood makes His thirst more acute. Yet Jesus says nothing. He does not cry out for mercy, nor curse His tormentors.

Love Becomes A Curse For Our Sake

Pastor R.C. Sproul wrote: “When on the cross, not only was the Father’s justice satisfied by the atoning work of the Son, but in bearing our sins the Lamb of God removed our sins from us as far as the east is from the west. He did it by being cursed. “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree’” (Galatians 3:13). He who is the incarnation of the glory of God became the very incarnation of the divine curse.”

In Psalm 22, often called “The Crucifixion Psalm” or “The Psalm Of The Cross”, we have a very vivid description of what our Lord went through as He hung, naked and bleeding, for us. Jesus was mocked by those who watched Him suffer.

Matthew 27:39-44 And they that passed by reviled him, wagging their heads, 40 and saying, Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross. 41 Likewise also the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said, 42 He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him. 43 He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, I am the Son of God. 44 The thieves also, which were crucified with him, cast the same in his teeth.

What happens to Jesus is again prophesied in Psalm 22.

Psalm 22:6-8 But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people. 7 All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, 8 He trusted on the Lord that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him.

They mock Jesus. They spit on Jesus. Again, Jesus could have come down from that Cross. But had He done so, we would yet be dead in our trespasses and sins. As Jesus suffers, He says not a word. Peter says of our Master:

1 Peter 2:22-24 {Jesus} did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: 23 who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: 24 who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.

Jesus has said nothing. No groans are even recorded. But suddenly, the atmosphere of Golgotha (aka Calvary) changes. The sun blots out. Darkness falls in the midst of the day.

Matthew 27:45-46 Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour. 46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?

After three hours of darkness – unnatural darkness – Jesus cries out. The words that Jesus says were prophesied over 1000 years before this moment. My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?. If you remember, this is not the first time we see Psalm 22, often called “The Crucifixion Psalm” or “The Psalm Of The Cross”, fulfilled. The first words of Psalm 22 are:

Psalm 22:1 My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?

Jesus knows why the Father has turned His back on His Son. Our sins are being poured out on Christ. Jesus – dying for Barabbas – dying for us – hangs on a borrowed Cross. He dies not for His sins, but for ours. Pastor Jon Courson says “Great is the mystery (of godliness) that God became a man (1Timothy 3:16). But greater still is the mystery that the MAN became a LAMB (Jn 1:29) and the LAMB became a WORM to save you and me!” That is so very true!

Beloved, if you do not know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, I beg you to come to Him this very day. “How shall we escape, if we neglect so great a salvation”? (Hebrews 2:3). Jesus Christ went through hell on earth so that you can inherit God’s Heaven beyond time. Will you not believe on Him. I close with this little poem I found in the devotional Streams In The Desert by L.B. Cowman:

The day when Jesus stood alone
And felt the hearts of men like stone,
And knew He came but to atone
That day “He held His peace.”

They witnessed falsely to His word,
They bound Him with a cruel cord,
And mockingly proclaimed Him Lord;
“But Jesus held His peace.”

They spat upon Him in the face,
They dragged Him on from place to place,
They heaped upon Him all disgrace;
“But Jesus held His peace.”

My friend, have you for far much less,
With rage, which you called righteousness,
Resented slights with great distress?
Your Savior “held His peace.”

–L. S. P.

Jesus suffered and died for us, so that we might live. Let us live through love of Him.

Surrender your souls to Jesus, for
He surrendered His soul for you.

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

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The Eyes Of The Lord Do Not Change

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1 Peter 3:12-20 For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil. 13 And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good? 14 But and if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled; 15 but sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: 16 having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ. 17 For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing. 18 For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: 19 by which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; 20 which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.

The Whole Bible Is The Christian’s Moral Guide

Many professing Christians today refuse to read the Old Testament. They think that the Old Testament is obsolete, no longer valid, because of Jesus Christ. Many preachers believe that the various statements made in the New Testament, statements like …

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

Romans 6:14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the Law, but under Grace.

Galatians 2:21 I do not frustrate the Grace of God: for if righteousness come by the Law, then Christ is dead in vain.

… erase the Old Testament. They do not. The Old Testament is the foundation upon which the New Testament rests.

We who are Christ followers are no longer under the portions of the Law that relate to animal sacrifices, special feast days, dietary laws, or laws determining cleanliness.

We are complete in Christ (Colossians 2:10)
Jesus is our High Priest and we are a Kingdom of Priests
(Revelation 1:5-6)

Jesus fulfilled the ceremonial and symbolic aspects of the Law
(Matthew 5:17)

The New Testament believer is freed from the law of circumcision, because we are “circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of our sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ” (Colossians 2:11).

The New Testament believer celebrates the Sabbath on the day Jesus rose from the grave, Sunday (the first day of the week), the same day the early Church worshiped (Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:2; Revelation 1:10).

Yet Christians are STILL under the moral codes
found in
BOTH Testaments.

When our Lord Jesus and His Apostles referred to sinful or godless behavior, they used the Old Testament moral codes as the standard. The New Testament writings frequently refer back to the Old Testament. In fact, our focal text today reminds those who profess Christ as Savior that we are under the SAME MORAL STANDARD the Old Testament believer was under.

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

For instance, this statement from the Apostle Peter. Did he just make this up? No! Peter is quoting:

Psalm 34:15-16 The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry. 16 The face of the Lord is against them that do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth.

The words are not exactly the same, because Peter is writing in Koine Greek, and quoting Old Testament Hebrew. But the words are evidently a quotation from the Old Testament.

What was morally evil in the Old Testament is
still morally evil in the New Testament.

God is watching ALL of us. Though it may seem at times that God is absent, the Bible is very clear that He watches, and He will intervene when He believes the time is right. Solomon wrote:

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

God is there, and He is not silent. The witness of creation shouts that He is there, ever watching, ever ordering. Humanity has, from Adam’s day, often walked far away from God, justifying and excusing sin and evil. The ostrich buries its head in the sand, and the unbeliever buries his head in the sands of time, saying:

Psalm 14:1 … there is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works. There is none that doeth good.

Whether Old or New Testament, God hears those who walk with Him, who walk RIGHT or RIGHTEOUSLY. God hears the prayers of the RIGHTEOUS. But to those who reject His moral design, His face is against them.

1 Peter 3:13-14 And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good? 14 But and if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled; 15 but sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer

The believer will suffer for Christ, for to walk in the light of God is terribly offensive to the darkness. We who are God’s Children are to …

Ephesians 5:1 … followers of God, as dear children …

Whether Old or New Testament, the Lord tells us to …

1 Peter 1:15-16 … But as He which hath called you is holy, so BE YE HOLY in all manner of conversation {or way of life}; 16 BECAUSE IT IS WRITTEN, Be ye holy, for I am holy …

Once more the Apostle quotes the Old Testament (Leviticus 11:44; Leviticus 19:2). As we serve the Lord we are “be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled; but sanctify the Lord God in your hearts”. Our driving force must not be political correctness nor cancel culture nor the fads of the social justice warriors. Our driving force must be to please the Lord. We as Christ followers need to

1 Peter 3:15-16 … be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: 16 having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good {ἀναστροφή anastrophḗ, [pronounced an-as-trof-ay’] way of life} in Christ

Word Study Our answer to the dark world is not to be characterized by arrogance or superiority, but is to be “with meekness and fear”. The word translated “meekness” is the Greek πραΰτης praÿtēs, {pronounced prah-oo’-tace}, which means “a gentle spirit, or a spirit of humility, not of superiority”. When Jesus told the disciples that they would all betray Him, Peter said “though all men shall be offended because of Thee, yet will I never be offended!”. This is not praÿtēs, which Peter later found out. We are all broken – we need not brag that we have been changed, but we are to glorify the God Who changed us. We are also to respond in “fear”. Not in fear for the darkness, but in fear of God. Jesus said “fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28).

If we are reviled by the world, we are still to do good toward those who do badly toward us. The Scripture says:

Romans 12:21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

Do the right thing, even though you are the only one doing it.

1 Peter 3:17-18 For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing. 18 For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit

Jesus suffered for doing good so that He could bring others to God. When we suffer for doing good, we are imitating Jesus at the highest level. This is true whether in the Old or New Testaments. As believers in Christ, we are to cling to Him. If we suffer for Him, we will ultimately be blessed.

The Old Testament Gave Shadow Teachings
Related To Jesus Christ

Jesus told the Pharisees who constantly hounded Him:

John 5:39-40 Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. 40 And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.

As Jesus said these words, THERE WAS NO NEW TESTAMENT. “the scriptures” that Jesus referred to was the Old Testament. Jesus said the Old Testament TESTIFIES or IS A WITNESS to Him. Jesus went on to say:

John 5:45-47 Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father: there is one that accuseth you, even Moses, in whom ye trust. 46 For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me. 47 But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?

It is MOSES who wrote – under the inspiration of God – the foundation of the Old Testament: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. Jesus said that Moses’ writings “wrote of me”.

This is why much of the Old Testament is quoted in the New Testament writings. This is why much of the Old Testament history is recounted in the New Testament writings. For instance:

1 Peter 3:20 … which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.

The Bible tells us that, in the days of Noah,

Genesis 6:5 God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

God determined that the best way to act would be to destroy His creation. And yet, the scripture says:

Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD Genesis 6:8.

Noah saw God in creation, heard the call of God, and was saved. After being saved by faith in Him the Lord told Noah “Build a large boat, an ark, and get ready – for judgment is coming”. Noah had a relationship with God by faith – but he proved his faith by his works. He immediately began to build exactly as God directed. God’s design was going to be turned upside down. Water would drown all who would not get on the boat, judgment would claim any who rejected that which God said. Noah built a boat, an Ark, and got on the boat.

My friends, those who are going to Heaven do not just say “Lord, Lord”. The saved are those who repent, who turn away from their old way of life and turn strictly to Jesus Christ by faith. The saved are those who – like Noah – find Grace in the eyes of the Lord. But after they find Grace the saved do as God their Creator directs them to do. When God says “build a boat” they build a boat. When God says “get on the boat” they get on the boat”. They do not merely mutter the words “Lord, Lord”. The Christian believes what God the Creator has said. The Christian trusts the God Who has made all things to get him to Heaven. The Christian, like Noah, lives his life under the Lordship of God his Savior, doing as God has directed no matter what the world may say.

God established a covenant of faith with Noah and his family. Those who believed would get on the Ark. Those who believed had a relationship with God. They were in covenant with Him. In a covenant two parties are in relationship with one another. God said, “You believe Me, Noah – a flood is coming. I know you’ve never seen rain. I know you’ve never seen a flood. The ground is watered by the dew – but I’m going to show you a new thing. Believe Me, build the Ark, and get on it and you will be saved.

Noah’s Ark is an Old Testament shadow of the New Testament Jesus. God judged sin, and promised to rain down destruction on the world. But God gave people plenty of time to repent. God said:

Genesis 6:3 My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.

For 120 years while Noah built the Ark, the Spirit of God through Noah called the world to repentance. The Spirit of God strived with man – but people rested in their sins rather than in God. God offered mankind ONE WAY to escape condemnation, and that way was to GET ON THE ARK with Moses and his family. In the same way, God today offers ONE WAY out of eternal condemnation – and that way is by faith in Jesus Christ. Jesus said:

John 14:6 I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No {one} cometh unto the Father but by Me.

Noah was raised above Divine Judgment and certain destruction because of a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. God commanded the Ark, and Noah made the Ark his own. He trusted in God, and got on the Ark, which lifted him and his family above divine judgment. Those who receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior have the promise of God:

John 3:15-18 … whosoever believeth in {Jesus} should not perish, but have eternal life. 16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. 18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

To Be Saved, You Must Get On The Ark

It is so terribly important that you get on the Ark if you will be saved. Noah’s Ark was a shadow of what Christ has now done on the Cross. The Ark was man made but God directed. The Cross was man made but God directed. When you believed in Noah’s day, you got on the Ark. You made the Ark your own. When you believe today, you get on the Cross. You make the Cross your own. Jesus said:

Matthew 10:38 … he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.

And Matthew 16:24 … If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

Noah could have chosen his own path, but had he done so, he would have perished with the rest of creation. The saved get on the Ark. The saved take up the Cross. The saved follow the Lord.

But what about those who are too young to follow the Lord? What about the children who do not understand? In today’s world, the youth have departed the Church and the Christ because their parents have not been faithful to follow the Lord. Oh Beloved, the Bible warns the parent:

Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

God’s earliest commands to His people was that they train their children to love Him. God told His people:

Deuteronomy 6:5-7 … thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. 6 And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: 7 and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children…

Parents, you must put your children on the Ark. You must teach them the things you have learned of God. God illustrates this great truth in the life of Moses.

When Moses was a baby, the Egyptian Pharaoh decided that he would have all male Israelite babies killed. Pharaoh was determined to do this! But little Moses’ mother made up her mind that she wanted her child saved. When he was born, his mother Jochebed kept him hidden. But in time babies cannot be hidden. The Bible says:

Exodus 2:3 And when {Jochebed} could not longer hide him, she took for him an ARK of bulrushes, and daubed it with slime and with pitch, and put the child therein; and she laid it in the flags by the river’s brink.

This is the Second Ark we see mentioned in Scripture, the Ark that saved baby Moses.

Noah’s Ark saved mankind from God’s judgment.
Moses’ Ark saved God’s people from man’s judgment.

Had Jochebed listened to Pharaoh and allowed Moses to be aborted from the womb or murdered after the womb, God’s people Israel would have never come out of Egypt. Had Moses never been born, we would not have our Bible as we know it today. Oh Beloved, the children are so precious, with so much potential. Love your children enough to put them on the Ark. Love your children enough to train them in the ways of Jesus Christ.

It was Godly parental training that led Daniel to believe in God. Cast into the Lion’s den, Daniel rested in Jesus, and trusted God for life. It was Godly parental training that led the Hebrew Children to trust in Jesus, even in a fiery furnace. It was Godly parental training that gave the Shepherd David the courage to face Goliath. While others though Goliath too big, David believed God was bigger, and that Goliath was too big to miss.

Have You Trusted In The Ark That Is Christ?

1 Peter 3:18 For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:

The greatest Ark in the Bible is Jesus Christ. God is going to judge this world one day. If you have believed in Jesus, if you have a relationship with Him by faith, you will be above the judgment of God. Jesus Christ the Just suffered for the unjust. He hung on a wooden Cross to make payment for our sins that He might bring us to God. Put to death in the flesh, He was quickened by the Spirit. Those who have believed in Him shall rise above the judgment that God has – in righteous wrath – reserved for this world.

If you are in Christ then you are in the arms of Jesus.

John 10:27-29 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: (28) And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. (29) My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.

God’s watches over His little lambs with as much care – nay, with more care – than Jochebed watched over little Moses. If you are in Christ The Bible says:

Matthew 10:30 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.

No matter what the world will throw at you, be it Pharaoh or even someone more evil, God is in control! If you are His, you are guarded. Christ is your Ark.

And finally, dear Christian, as Christ is your Ark, follow Him all of your life.

If you are in the Ark, you are with the Ark no matter where you go. Are you in the Ark that is Christ?

Follow God first, live under His Lordship, and no enemy can conquer you.

C.H. Spurgeon said:

From whom did Christ suffer? Mark how unlimited is the text: “Christ also hath once suffered.” From men falsely accusing him, and slandering him? Yes; and that is the comfort of his slandered people; but he suffered not from wicked men alone, but even from good men; the best of his disciples cost him many pangs, and sometimes made his heart ache. He suffered from devils, he suffered from the Father himself. There it stands, — a sky without horizon, — a sea across which I look, and see no end or bound: “Christ also hath once suffered.” I think that Joseph Hart spoke well when he said that Christ — “Bore all incarnate God could bear, With strength enough, and none to spare.” So we leave this part of our theme; it is a statement without any limit: “Christ also hath once suffered.”1

If you do not know Him, then come to know Him today. May God the Holy Spirit compel you to surrender to Him, the last Great Ark of God, and so be saved. If you are saved I beg you to let your lives be so bound up in God that He is more real to you than those around you are. Follow Christ in your heart first, then in your actions. If you do so, you are bound to Infinite God. You can never be defeated while trusting in Him.

Like Noah’s Ark, cling to Jesus.
Like Moses’ Ark, rest as a child in His arms.

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

1 UNPARALLELED SUFFERING. NO. 2573, INTENDED FOR READING ON LORD’S-DAY, JUNE 5TH, 1898, DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON, AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON, ON LORD’S-DAY EVENING, MARCH 4TH, 1883.

Posted in 1 Peter, Sermons Preached | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

The IF Of Salvation

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Turn with me in your Bibles to Colossians 3.

Colossians 3:1-3 If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. 2 Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. 3 For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.

We often skip the little words in the Bible – but these little words add so much to the text. Take, for instance, the word “IF”. The dictionary says that the word “IF” imposes a conditional clause. When I told mama “I wish we weren’t eating liver tonight”, she replied, “IF wishes were horses, beggars would ride”. I didn’t know what that exactly meant when I was a kid, other than the fact was I was to shut up and eat the liver. Daddy would say, “IF you’d study harder, your grades would be better”. Then I’d be sent to my room to study – a room that had no television, no radio, no internet, nothing but two twin beds and a table and a chair to use for study.

The word “IF” occurs in the King James Version of the Scripture 1,595 times in 1,420 verses. The first use of the word “IF” occurs when Cain was upset that God would not accept his sacrifice. God told Cain:

Genesis 4:7 If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.

God was emphasizing to Cain that He expected Cain to bring an animal sacrifice, not the fruit of the field. Had Cain done that, the Lord would have accepted it. God demanded animal sacrifices because, as we later learn in Scripture, these animal sacrifices pointed out that human works cannot permanently cover our sins in God’s eyes. We all needed Jesus Christ as the “Lamb of God” to come and give His life for us. Jesus is “the Lamb without spot or blemish (John 1:29), “Christ our Passover sacrificed for us” (1 Corinthians 5:7). Cain refused to listen to the IF of God, and murdered his brother Abel. Cain not only lost the possibility of salvation, but lived the rest of his life a marked man for the evil he did.

IF is used so many ways in the Scripture:

Noah released a dove to see IF the waters were receding (Genesis 8:8)
Abraham by IF gave grace to Lot, allowing him to choose (Genesis 13:9)
IF God found just ten righteous in Sodom, they would live (Genesis 18:32)

Some of the great IF statements come from Jesus.

Matthew 16:24 … If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

Matthew 18:8-9 if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire. 9 And If thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire.

Or one of my favorites:

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

The Christian faith is built on an IF. It is certain that Jesus is the Lamb of God that “taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29; Hebrews 9:26). But to be included in this saved group you MUST have a personal encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ. You MUST repent, and come to Him and Him alone to be saved. You MUST follow Him if you are saved. One of the great Evangelists, Billy Graham preached at Earl’s Court (in London, England, On June 27, 1966):

Religion without a personal encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ will not save the soul, and will not bring the peace that your soul longs for. … You’ve got to know Christ for yourself. And when you come to know Christ for yourself, there is a peace and a fulfillment, and life takes on a purpose, and there’s a sense of forgiveness of your sins, and there’s a joy unspeakable, and full of glory..”

I had the privilege of hearing a young man’s testimony just last Sunday. In it, he said he “walked the aisle” at the age of 9, but it was not until just before his 16th birthday that he was actually saved. The same was true of me in my life. “Saved” and baptized at 9 years old, there was no change in my life. I walked the aisle, but never committed my life to Jesus. It wasn’t until I was 17 years old that the Lord spoke to me during a youth service at a Church I was visiting, and I gave my life to Jesus. Beloved, you need to …

Take Heed Of The “IF” Of Salvation

Colossians 3:1 If ye then be risen with Christ

The Apostle, as he writes the Church at Colossae, does not assume everyone at that Church is saved. He uses the DIVINE IF. The lost person is a lost person because they have wandered from God. God made everyone in His image – we are all His creation. But Adam brought sin into the world. All of Eve’s children have one thing in common, and that is SIN. Whether you are red, yellow, black, or white, the universal truth is …

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

We humans are born into this world “alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in us” (Ephesians 4:18).

We are all quite naturally broken. Apart from Christ we are “dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1). Humans are born believing themselves complete in themselves, but we are not. We are broken, and in need. The animal sacrifices – performed over and over – reminded ancient humanity that we are broken, and cannot fix ourselves.

We need God.

We were made to walk with God, but are born walking away from God. But, praise God, when we were unable to fix ourselves ….

Romans 5:6 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.

He died on Calvary for the sinner. He died for people like you, and people like me. God loves His creation, but cannot draw us into union with Himself unless our sins are covered. Since we were unable to save ourselves, the Lord made a way through Jesus Christ to save us. The Bible promises:

Romans 5:8 … God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

But here is the IF of salvation. We must receive Him as He is.

John 1:10 {Jesus} was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. 11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not. 12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: 13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

The IF of salvation is “Have YOU received Him?” Not the Church, not the denomination, not me, but HIM. He is to be RECEIVED as both SAVIOR and LORD.

Jesus as Savior died for our sins.
Jesus as Lord
roseto commandHis people.
The Saved OBEY The Savior!
Jesus SAVES
us, as Savior.
Jesus LEADS us as Lord.

Romans 14:9 For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that He might be Lord both of the dead and the living.

Romans 8:34 Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.

Jesus did not die on Calvary, and rise again to no reason. He died for our sins, to cover our sins, to make payment for our sins. Then He rose again from the dead that He might calls us to Himself, a people who are risen from the dead.

Colossians 1:21-23 And you, that were {in past time} alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled 22 in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight: 23 if ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard

Because you have had a personal encounter with Jesus Christ, you are now in God’s eyes holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight. God sees you as His Child. But this is only true if ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard.

True salvation has permanence. Judas Iscariot followed Jesus for 3 ½ years, but was never saved.

Genuine faith OVERCOMES THE WORLD.

1 John 5:4-5 For whatsoever (πᾶς pâs, {pronounced pas} literally whosoever”) is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. 5 Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?

The day the Christian is saved, that old lost person DIES. The IF of salvation says:

Colossians 2:20 Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ

The Christian is a person who died with Christ. On the day I was saved, the old David died with Jesus on Calvary. Sin is no longer a joy, but it was sin that drove the nails that killed my Savior. I hate my sin, because I hate those nails!

Illustration I am sure you all heard of the terrible shooting that was perpetrated by Robert Long in Atlanta, Georgia on March 17, 2021. One of the headlines I saw was, “Christian mass shooter Robert Long was tired of ‘temptation’ posed by massage parlors: police”. Something is missing from this headline. It is the word “PROFESSING”. The 21 year old who murdered eight people is scripturally NOT a Christian, regardless as what he may say. He is no more a Christian that Judas Iscariot was. If you are saved, you walk in the light with Christ. The Bible says:

1 John 1:5-7 This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: 7 but If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.

Again, you see the IF of salvation. IF you are saved, then you walk with Christ, loving others, loving even the unlovable. The old you dies the day you are saved. We say, along with the Apostle:

Galatians 2:19-20I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God. 20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

The Christian loves Jesus. The Christian walks with Jesus. The Christian may sometimes step into the darkness, but God is in us, and will not leave us in that dark, evil place.

The Christian Is Quickened TOGETHER With Christ

Colossians 3:1 If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.

When the Christian believes on Jesus Christ, God causes us to be “risen with Christ”. We are “quickened” or made alive by God. The Christian is no longer spiritually dead to God, but is now alive to His leading.

The spiritually dead person follows darkness.
The spiritually alive person
follows Christ.

The day you called upon Jesus the Holy Spirit of God visited you and made you spiritually alive. The Bible calls this “quickened” or “quickening”. We read:

Ephesians 2:2-6 …. in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: 3 among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. 4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) 6 and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:

The believer is QUICKENED by God, RAISED UP with Christ. The Christian is called into a “new and living way” (Hebrews 10:20). God the Holy Spirit indwells us. We are no longer dead in our trespasses and sins, but are “new creatures in Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Colossians 2:13 And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath {God the Holy Spirit} quickened together with {Jesus}, having forgiven you all trespasses …

Yes, you are still enclosed in this “body of sin”. Yes, this weak and mortal flesh still holds us. But Beloved, the God “Who searcheth the hearts” (Romans 8:27) no longer considers you a child of hell, but willingly and freely accepts you as a Child of Heaven, an Eternal Son, one who has been promised a great promise:

1 Peter 1:4-5 … an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

You belong to God, dear one, if you are indeed saved.
Sin nor Satan is your master.

1 Thessalonians 1:9-10 … {you have} turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God 10 and to wait for his Son from heaven…

The living should not walk with the dead.

Colossians 3:1 If ye then be risen with Christ, SEEK those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.

Word Study The word translated “SEEK” is the Greek ζητέω zētéō, {pronounced dzay-teh’-o}, which means “to make a priority, to pursue until you reach it, to set your mind on to get”. The same word was used by Jesus to explain what He expects of us. He said:

Matthew 6:31-34 {Do not worry about} what shall we eat? Or, what shall we drink? Or, wherewithal shall we be clothed? 32 (for after all these things the {lost} seek:) for your Heavenly Father knoweth that you have need of all these things. 33 But “SEEK” ye first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

We as believers are to passionately pursue the things of God. Where is our passion? Too many who profess to be Christian have turned from a passionate seeking of God. We are to:

Colossians 3:2 Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.

We are to be like old Enoch. Do you remember Enoch? Enoch had a living relationship with the Living God. Enoch walked with God until he was …

Hebrews 11:5 … translated, that he should NOT SEE DEATH; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation {Enoch} had this testimony, THAT HE PLEASED GOD.

Living Creatures are supposed to serve the Living Lord. We are to live for the Lord, to please Him in all that we do. We are to be like Jesus, who was always “about My Father’s business” (Luke 2:49). Jesus passionately served the Father. His love for the Father exceeded even His desire for food. “My meat is to do the will of Him that sent Me, and to finish His work” (John 4:34).

Jesus took the high road so that we might be saved. We are to take the high road so that others might find Christ through us. The Bible tells us:

Ephesians 5:7-10 Be not ye therefore {partners} with {the lost world}. 8 For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: 9 (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) 10 proving what is acceptable unto the Lord.

Our God is watching. Our God will judge this world. Let us live knowing that Jesus could return at any time, taking the Church from this earth.

1 Thessalonians 5:2-5 For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. 3 For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. 4 But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. 5 Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.

The Lost Are Dead To God, But Alive To Sin
The Saved Are Dead To Sin, But Alive To God

Colossians 3:3 For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.

The lost person pretending to be saved will have an inordinate affection for the things of this earth. The saved person will have affection for some of the things of this earth, but their greatest affection will be on God and the Word of God. The saved person is a different person than a lost person is. The saved person is different in their spirit. The Apostle said in:

Philippians 2:3-5 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. 4 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. 5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:

Before the Apostle Paul knew Jesus Christ, he was very religious. His focus was on pleasing the Pharisees, and on following the traditions of men. But once he was saved, life changed for him. He said:

Philippians 3:7-10 But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. 8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, 9 and be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: 10 that I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death

Christian, you will stand before Jesus one day, and your works will be judged. You will not be judged for salvation. If you are a Christian, your salvation is secured by the Blood of Jesus Christ. But your works will be judged. The Apostle said:

1 Corinthians 3:11-15 For other foundation can no {one} lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if any {one} build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; 13 every {one’s} work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every {one’s} work of what sort it is. 14 If any {one’s} work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. 15 If any {one’s} work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.

Your salvation is a FOUNDATION, a very important foundation. God gave you the riches of Grace in Christ. You have been given eternal life if you have received Christ as Lord and Savior. But another great gift was given. God calls you to partner with Him in this life, sharing Christ with others. How you live your lives will impact the Kingdom of God on this present earth. People watch the Christian. You are the Bible that the unsaved will read.

Chuck Swindoll told this story in his book, The Tale Of The Tardy Oxcart:

After His Sunday messages, the minister of a church in London got on the trolley Monday morning to go back to his study downtown. He paid his fare, and the trolley driver gave him too much change. The minister sat down and fumbled the change and looked it over, counted it eight or ten times. And, you know the rationalization, “It’s wonderful how God provides.” He realized he was tight that week and this was just about what he would need to break even, or at least enough for his lunch. He wrestled with himself all the way down that old trolley trail that led to his office. And finally he came to the stop and he got up, couldn’t live with himself, walked up to the trolley driver, and said, “Here you gave me too much change. You made a mistake.” The driver said, “No, it was no mistake. You see, I was in your church last night when you spoke on honesty, and I thought I would put you to the test.”

The Christian is being put to the test in America and throughout the world, much more today than ever. The darkness looms. Will we shine for Jesus? What we do today will effect the state of our nation tomorrow. May God lead us all to live as risen creatures, saved by the glorious power of our God. May God the Holy Spirit touch your hearts with His Word this very day. Amen and Amen.

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Being A Sober Minded Christian In A Sin Soaked World

Photo by Nick Rickert on Unsplash

1 Peter 4:1-7 Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; 2 that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God. 3 For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revelings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries: 4 wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you: 5 who shall give account to him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead. 6 For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.

7 But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer …

Being A Sober Minded Christian
In A Sin Soaked World

I want to start out by focusing on verse 7 of our text. The Apostle says, “The end of all things is at hand”.

Romans 6:23 … For the wages of sin is death …

The Roman Empire, much like America today, had given itself fully over to sin. The wages of sin is death. Sin unconfessed, sin renamed, sin justified by humanity, sin is a disease much worse than the Coronavirus ever was. It was sin that brought about a world wide flood in the days of Noah, sin that caused Adam and Eve to leave Paradise.

America shares much with the ancient Romans, as sin is cherished by many in our nation. We are today living in a post-Christian America. As a nation our leaders are making bad decisions, decisions that are not supported by the God of the Scripture. I believe, as Peter believed, that “the end of all things is at hand”. Believing this, Peter exhorted the Church that Jesus loves to

be ye therefore SOBER and WATCH unto prayer”

Word Study Let’s focus on these key words. Be “SOBER and WATCH”. What do these words mean? The word translated SOBER is the Greek σωφρονέω sōphronéō, (pronounced so-fron-eh’-o), which means “to be in the right mind, to be sane, of sound mind”. The word translated WATCH is the Greek νήφω nḗphō, (pronounced nay’-fo), which means “to not be drunken, be discreet, calm and collected, temperate, careful in disposition, watchful”.

Christians Are Not To Be Part Of The Problem,
But Part Of The Solution

Christians are to be “of sound mind”. The Bible says, “we have the mind of Christ”. To be “of sound mind” or “in your right mind” is to share the same mind that Jesus had.

Christians are also to be “temperate, not drunken, or controlled by outside influences”. Believers are to “walk in the Spirit of God” (Galatians 5:16).

Galatians 5:25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit

Christians are not to be controlled by outside influences, but by the Word and the Spirit of God. This command to be sober minded is not just in Peter, is a theme carried by other Biblical writers.

1 Thessalonians 5:5-11 Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. 6 Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober {nēphō}. 7 For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. 8 But let us, who are of the day, be sober {nēphō}, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation. 9 For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him. 11 Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.

Though the Greek “nēphō” can be used to address those intoxicated with alcohol, neither Peter nor Paul are using it the word in that sense.

Paul tells us to “be sober”. We are “sober” when we …

Recognize WHOSE We Are

The Christian belongs to God. We are by nature different from the non-Christian. If you are saved by faith in Christ, then,

Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.”

Though all people are broken, the sacrifice of Jesus Christ brought us out of the darkness of this lost world, and into the Kingdom of God. Last week we heard that:

Colossians 1:13 {God the Father} hath delivered us FROM THE POWER OF DARKNESS, and hath TRANSLATED us into the Kingdom of His dear Son

We belong to the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, not the Kingdom of Adam or the Kingdom of Satan. We are translated, what we call positionally sanctified. God has, because of Christ, given us “the adoption of children” (Ephesians 1:5; Romans 8:15). We are called, as God’s Children, to be

putting on the breastplate of faith and love;
and for an helmet, the hope of salvation”

The “breastplate” of the Roman warrior protected his heart, lungs, and stomach from damage. Our faith in Christ and in God’s sure Word, the Holy Bible, covers our hearts. We love God with all our hearts, and love Jesus more than anyone else. The “helmet” that covers the head – and the brain from damage – is the “hope of salvation”. We who are saved have a KNOW SO salvation. If I KNOW that I am saved, then I am to ACT as if I am saved. The Apostle tells us:

1 Peter 1:13-16 Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober (nēphō), and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 14 as obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: 15 but as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; 16 because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.

The sober believer strives to be like the One Who save him, to be like Jesus. We do this by focusing our minds on what Jesus did for us on the Cross. We meditate on Him Who died for us.

1 Peter 4:1-2 Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; 2 that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God.

When tempted to follow the crowd, fill your mind with the picture of Christ on the Cross. See Him …

Isaiah 53:3-5 … despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. 4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. 5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

It is the “blood of Jesus Christ that cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). See Him hanging on that Tree called a Cross. See Him, “smitten of God, afflicted, wounded for OUR transgressions, bruised for OUR iniquities”. It was His “stripes” that healed us, His suffering, His torment. Knowing what it cost Jesus to make payment for our sins, to bring us into the Family of God, then we …

no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God”

We who are saved are “bought with a price”!

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

We are to serve God, not the world. We all know that:

1 Peter 1:18-21 … ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: 20 who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, 21 who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God.

As Pastor John Piper said:

We were not bought with the wealth of nations,
but with the wounds of love!”

Jesus Christ came in the flesh to “give Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil world” (Galatians 1:4). Jesus “loved me, and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).

Recognize WHOSE You Are Not

1 Peter 4:3 For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revelings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries:

There was a time when we all walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revelings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries:”. We walked according to the direction of the darkness. We went along with the ways of the world. However, we have changed because of Jesus Christ.

1 John 5:19 … we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness.

We no longer walk with the darkness, but wrestle against principalities, powers, the rulers of the darkness of this world, and against spiritual wickedness in high places (Ephesians 6:12-13). At one time we followed “the god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4), but now we follow Jesus. We do not lust, but love. We walk in peace with God. A judgment day is coming. The lost will consider the Christian peculiar …

1 Peter 4:4-5 they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you: 5 who shall give account to him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead

… but a Judgment Day is coming for all. Are you ready? Peter warns us:

1 Peter 5:5-9 God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. 6 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: 7 casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you. 8 Be sober (nēphō), be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: 9 whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.

We are not to give in to the devil, but are to resist him in the faith. We are not to give in to the things that the world promotes. The world did not die for my sins. Jesus Christ died for my sins. I belong to Him, and to none other.

Let Love Reign In Your Lives

1 Peter 4:7-9 But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer. 8 And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins. 9 Use hospitality one to another without grudging.

Love is more than just a word. Love is a verb. To be sober minded is to love on another in practical ways. Your salvation is a stewardship, not something to be used selfishly. We are saved from the Law of God so that we might serve God. The Apostle said:

Romans 6:12-18 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. 13 Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. 14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. 15 What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. 16 Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? 17 But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. 18 Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.

As servants and sons of God, we are to serve God by love as Christ served God by love. We are not to live selfishly, but selflessly. Our salvation and our lives are gifts from God. We represent God on this planet earth. Live so as to please the God Who saved you. Jesus told us:

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

The Christian is supposed to be different than the non-Christian. We are to love one another as Christ loved us. This is a sacrificial sort of love. The Apostle says:

1 Peter 4:10-11 As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. 11 If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

How we live our Christian lives are to bring glory to God Himself. “We are His people, the sheep of His pasture” (Psalm 100:3). Pastor John Piper again notes:

The sober minded recognize and embrace the costs along the path of love. They expect to be disappointed, offended, betrayed – and they keep loving anyway. They keep showing hospitality, even when it is inconvenient …

1 Peter 4:9 Use hospitality to one another without grudging …

They keep speaking the truth in love, even when it would be easier to say nothing (1 Peter 4:11). They keep serving, even when it costs them far more than they receive”.

We who belong to Christ keep on loving others, even when we are hurt in the process. Jesus Christ kept on loving, even though He was betrayed by all. We are to love others, and leave the judgment and the vengeance to God. It ruins the sober mind to carry a grudge against another. Instead we are to trust in our God, and do good to those who do badly to us. The Apostle said:

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

Do good to those who do bad. Love as Jesus loves. Trust that, in the final analysis, God will make all things right. Stay in your right mind. Be sober minded. Do not take of the accursed thing. Achan dishonored God by taking of the accursed thing (Joshua 7:1), and brought disaster upon Israel. Turn from what God has rejected, and toward what God endorses. Fill your minds with the Word of God, and do the things that Christ has commanded. Remember the Word of the Lord:

Romans 13:12-14 The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. 13 Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. 14 But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof.

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

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Failing Forward

Photo by Hugo Fergusson on Unsplash

After Jesus had celebrated the Passover Meal with His Disciples, and instituted the “Lord’s Table”, we read:

Matthew 26:30-32 And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives. 31 Then saith Jesus unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad. 32 But after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee.

All shall be offended”? Not just Judas Iscariot, but all the disciples who followed Jesus for 3 ½ years shall be offended”. This is an interesting word our Lord used here. It is the Greek σκανδαλίζω skandalízō, (pronounced skan-dal-id’-zo), from which we get our word “SCANDALIZED”. It means “to be morally offended, shocked at, to be brought into reproach, or to be maliciously or falsely spoken of”. We have all seen scandals in the world, and even in the Christian community. Not too long ago we learned that a noted Bible Scholar and Preacher was involved in a scandalous relationship with women. A well respected Pastor I knew many years ago was accused of, and convicted of, child molestation. That was a scandal. We have all heard of scandals. Jesus said, “All will be scandalized because of Me this very night”.

Jesus’ Ministry Was Scandalous

From the beginning of His ministry, Jesus was known as a scandalous person. Those who did not believe in Him thought Him to be a mad man. Hear a few of His statements:

John 6:38 … I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of Him (the Father) that sent me.

John 12:46 I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness.

John 18:37 … for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.

Mark 2:17 They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

Nearly every word that Jesus spoke scandalized the Pharisees, Sadducees, the Priests, and the Lawyers. Jesus spoke as if He were somehow preexistent with God. Jesus was not secretive about His mission. “I CAME DOWN FROM HEAVEN, not to do mine own will, but the will of Him that sent Me” (John 6:38). What! The Pharisees said, “This is Jesus, the son of Joseph. We know His mother and father. What does He mean by “I came down from Heaven” (John 6:42).

Throughout His ministry, Jesus sought to change how people thought of God. He knew that His time was at hand. Jesus always knew – and told His disciples – that as Messiah “he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day” (Matthew 16:21). He would do this for our salvation. And Jesus would walk this path alone. Jesus knew that each and every one of these men, men who ministered alongside of Him for 3 ½ years, every man would abandon Jesus. Jesus knew that He would betrayed because “it is written”. He quoted the prophesy of …

Zechariah 13:7 … smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered…

Jesus must go the Way of the Cross, for this is what God has decreed in His Word. The Old Testament wrote of the coming of Christ, as Jesus told His disciples.

Luke 24:44-46 … These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. … Thus it is written, and thus it {was necessary for} Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day…

Jesus is going to be falsely judged by man, but appropriately judged by God the Father. Jesus will be “the Lamb of God, Who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). And Jesus will go to the Cross alone, God the Son giving Himself for the sons of Adam. Why? Isaiah said it this way:

Isaiah 59:15-16 … the Lord saw it, and it displeased him that there was no judgment. 16 And he saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor: therefore his arm brought salvation unto him; and his righteousness, it sustained him.

Humanity was fallen, and there was none who could help it back up. A sinner cannot make payment for sin before an immortal and everlastingly Holy God. So God must clothe Himself with flesh. God must come down from Heaven, a one Man Calvary to save “whosoever believeth on Him” (John 3:15-16; 11:26).

We Are All Broken, Like Peter

Matthew 26:33 Peter answered and said unto him, Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended.

There is a little Peter in all of us. We think we are strong enough. We think we are good enough. “Though every one else betray You, Jesus, I will NEVER be scandalized”. We all nurse this self righteous, “I am good enough” mentality. I always hear it when someone public falls. The self righteous amongst us take shots at the fallen because, after all, “I would never do that!” Beloved, we are all broken. We all fail.

The beginning of spiritual power with God only comes when we realize I AM BROKEN and I DESPERATELY NEED JESUS. Not just every now and then – but daily. Daily!

  • It was self righteousness that caused Sarah to send Hagar into her husband Abraham, so she might have a surrogate child. No need to wait on God. Let’s “do it yourself”. It was self righteousness that later caused Hagar, the mother of Ishmael, to brag to Sarah how much better she was because she had a child. Self righteousness! Oh, how horrible it is.
  • It was self righteousness that led to the first murder in humanity. Abel offered an appropriate sacrifice to God, but Cain did not and would not. Rather than repent, he murdered his brother – and Abel’s blood cried out to God!
  • It is self righteousness that is evident when people will not repent, and turn to Jesus for salvation. Self righteousness is a “smoke in God’s nostrils, a fire that burns all day long” (Isaiah 65:5). The self righteous person is warned of God:

1 Corinthians 10:12 … let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.

We all desperately need Jesus to be both our Lord and Savior. We need not be self righteous. It is foolish. Let us look to Him Who loved us, and gave Himself for us (Galatians 1:4; 2:20).

Jesus tells Peter:

Matthew 26:34 Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice.

You ought to be happy when Jesus reminds you that you are NOT perfect! Jesus knew the nature of humans. Not only is Jesus Creator God, but He is God become Man. He has lived among humanity for some 30+ years from His incarnation. Jesus knew what was in mankind” (John 2:25).

Jesus knew my heart before He called me to salvation. He knew I was imperfect, and would remain broken until the day I see Him face to face. And yet He loves me anyway. Jesus loves Peter, and all His disciples. When Jesus told Peter and Andrew his brother:

Matthew 4:19 … Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.

He knew that Peter and Andrew were imperfect. When Jesus told the Tax Collector Matthew:

Matthew 9:9 … Follow Me ..

He knew Matthew was imperfect. But this is the reason Jesus called the broken. Jesus does not call “many wise people after the flesh, many mighty, many noble ones” (1 Corinthians 1:26). Jesus calls the broken. The marred. The sick. The sinner. He calls us from our brokenness to follow Him.

But Peter wants to argue with Jesus:

Matthew 26:35 Peter said unto him, Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee. Likewise also said all the disciples.

Peter was leading the “Holier Than Thou” Choir – and after he sings, the Choir backs Him up!

None of us will fail You, Jesus. You just wait and see!”. But they do fail – they fail in first of all the simplest thing they can do.

The Disciples Fail Jesus In Gethsemane

Matthew 26:36-38 Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder. 37 And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy. 38 Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me.

When Jesus prepared to do a hard thing, He prayed. He sought the Father’s will and the Spirit’s power. Jesus takes Peter, James, and John with Him into the inner part of the Garden. Jesus needs their companionship as He prays. So Jesus asks them to Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder. This is not a hard thing. And yet, they cannot do this simple thing. We read:

Matthew 26:40-41 And {Jesus} cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour? 41 Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.

Jesus has prayed about an hour – and Peter, James, and John are fast asleep. Our Lord tells them to “Watch and Pray”. The word “WATCH” is the Greek “γρηγορεύω grēgoreúō, (pronounced gray-gor-yoo’-o)”, which means “WAKE UP!”. They were supposed to be vigilant.

1 Peter 5:8 Be sober, be vigilant {grēgoreúō, “Wake Up!”}; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:

After rebuking them, Jesus goes back to pray, and returns a second time.

Matthew 26:43-44 … {Jesus} came and found them asleep again: for their eyes were heavy. 44 And he left them, and went away again, and prayed …

Jesus didn’t wake them up this time, but returned to prayer once more. After He has finished praying, Jesus wakes them, and they are immediately betrayed by Judas, and surrounded by the Chief Priest’s men. Jesus is taken, for we are told:

Matthew 26:56 … all this was done, that the scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled. Then all the disciples forsook him, and fled.

It was just as Jesus predicted. His men all betrayed Him, and ran away. But we are told:

Matthew 26:58 But Peter followed him afar off unto the high priest’s palace, and went in, and sat with the servants, to see the end.

What caused Peter to follow at a distance? Could it be that he remembered Jesus’ words:

Matthew 10:33 But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.

And guilt drove him? Some commentaries say it is because Peter was curious, and wanted to see what happened to Jesus. I don’t think so. I think Peter was regretting abandoning Jesus, and so he decided to follow, but from a distance. But as Jesus told him before:

vs 41 the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak

Peter, James and John should have spent more time praying in the Garden, and less time relying on their swords. As Peter watched, he saw the priest’s followers:

Matthew 26:67 … spit in {Jesus} face, and buffeted him; and others smote him with the palms of their hands,

… making a game of tormenting Jesus. Who slapped You, Jesus? Prophesy this!” Peter, who said he would never deny Jesus, stood in the darkness. But Jesus knew. Peter has given the devil a foothold – and now he will be stepped on. We read:

Matthew 26:69-70 Now Peter sat without in the palace: and a damsel came unto him, saying, Thou also wast with Jesus of Galilee. 70 But he denied before them all, saying, I know not what thou sayest.

A young girl was the first to test Peter. “I saw you with Jesus of Galilee”. In the first denial, Peter says “I don’t understand what you mean”. Strike One, Peter! You have denied the Lord for the first time. Peter quickly moves to another area, a porch.

Matthew 26:71-72 And when he was gone out into the porch, another maid saw him, and said unto them that were there, This fellow was also with Jesus of Nazareth. 72 And again he denied with an oath, I do not know the man.

A young girl accused Peter the first time. “You were with Jesus of Galilee”. Now a young woman accuses Peter. “You were with Jesus of Nazareth”. Notice the difference in their words. One saw Peter with Jesus while He ministered in Galilee, the other in Nazareth. Peter’s betrayal becomes stronger:

Matthew 26:72 … again he denied with an oath, I do not know the man.

Jesus told His disciples to never take oaths:

Matthew 5:34-37 But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God’s throne: 35 Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King. 36 Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black. 37 But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.

Peter has begun to drift into sin, and the farther he drifts, the darker he will become. To the young girl he said, “I don’t know Him”, but now his denial is stronger, an oath, taking God’s Name in vain. In addition, Peter says,

I don’t know – and here he uses the Greek ἄνθρωπος ánthrōpos, which means “that person” or “the human”!

This is the same Peter who, in Matthew 16:16 said to Jesus, “Thou art the Christ, the son of the Living God!” See how far he has fallen! Meyer’s New Testament Commentary states, “Alas, such is the language, cold and distant, which Peter uses with reference to his Master!” The Pulpit Commentary notes, “He calls his Beloved Master ‘the man’!”, and Vincent’s Word Studies notes, “As if he did not know Jesus’ name”. But Peter’s test is not done.

Matthew 26:73-74 And after a while came unto him they that stood by, and said to Peter, Surely thou also art one of them; for thy speech betrayeth thee. 74 Then began he to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man. And immediately the cock crew.

Pinned down, this time Peter “curses and swears” as he says “I know not that person (anthropos)”. The Bible says that with this denial, the cock or rooster crows. What makes this more tragic is, that as the rooster crows …

Luke 22:61-62 … the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. 62 And Peter went out, and wept bitterly.

Matthew 26:75 And Peter remembered the word of Jesus, which said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And he went out, and wept bitterly (see also Luke 22:62).

Peter wept bitterly {πικρῶς pikrōs, [pronounced pik-roce’]}, “with great grief”. What is interesting is that this word is only used here, and in Luke 22:62, which also speaks of Peter’s bitter grief. Peter denied the Lord, but had a singular repentance over this denial. Peter is now brought to the realization that he is broken, just as we all are broken.

When you repent and acknowledge your brokenness, it is then and only then that God can work in and through you. The Bible says:

James 4:10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.

We are all subject to fall. God knows this. This is why Jesus Christ came. He did not come to us because we have it all together. He came to us to give us the treasury of salvation. The Apostle said:

2 Corinthians 4:5-7 …For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 7 we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.

We do not preach ourselves. We preach Jesus. We are all broken, like Peter – and we are but jars of clay. What Peter did was awful, and he grieved over it. But even in Peter’s failure we see the sovereign Grace of God. Peter’s failure became a part of the story of the Cross, teaching us that the Grace of God is limitless.

The Aftermath Of Failure, Or, Failing Forward

What happened to Peter after this gross betrayal? Was he now unusable by God? Well, let me ask you – what happened to King David after he took another man’s wife, and had that man murdered? David repented, and God used him in a mighty way. And so it is with Peter.

After Jesus died and was buried, three days later He rose from the Grave. When Mary Magdalene went to the tomb of Jesus with Mary the mother of James and Salome,

Mark 16:4-7 … they saw that the stone was rolled away: for it was very great. 5 And entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment; and they were affrighted. 6 And he saith unto them, Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him. 7 But go your way, tell his disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see him, as he said unto you.

Did you get that? “Tell his disciples and Peter”. Peter has been beating himself up for three days, in misery over his betrayal of Christ. The Lord told His angel to make sure that Peter specifically knew that he was still in the plan of God. When the Apostle Paul talks about the resurrection appearances of Jesus, he says:

1 Corinthians 15:5 … {Jesus} was seen of Cephas {a name Jesus gave to Peter}, THEN of the twelve:

Jesus appeared to Peter FIRST following His resurrection. One of the most beautiful pictures we have of the Resurrected Jesus is when He ate fish with His disciples. Following the meal, Jesus asks Peter:

John 21:15-17 … Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs. 16 {Jesus} saith to him again the SECOND time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep. 17 He saith unto him the THIRD time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the THIRD time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.

Jesus never directly confronted Peter for his betrayal. But, as Peter denied Jesus three times, Jesus asked Peter three times, “Do you love Me?” When Peter said, “Yes, Lord, I love you more than anything”, Jesus told him “Feed My sheep”. Do what God has called you to do. If you are saved by faith in Christ, but have failed Him, may I say His Grace is sufficient to cover your sins. Run to the arms of the Savior. Love Him above all else. And do as He commands you to do, for the glory of God. Returning to Jesus, strengthen your fellow believers (Luke 22:32). May God’s Word and His Holy Spirit drive this message deep into your hearts this day. Amen and Amen!

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Faith – Hope – Love

Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash

Colossians 1:1-5 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timotheus our brother, [2] To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. [3] We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, [4] Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints, [5] For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel;

What Is The CAUSE Of The Christian?

Every Book in our Bible serves a Divine Purpose – and that is to teach us more about Jesus, more about living as Kingdom People, more about living life as our Heavenly Father designed it to be. The Book of Colossians was written by the Apostle Paul during his first Roman Imprisonment. The proof of this is found in the last verse of this Book, which reads:

Colossians 4:18 The salutation by the hand of me Paul. Remember my bonds. Grace be with you. Amen.

Paul is imprisoned for preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Colossians 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God

God said of Paul, “he is a chosen vessel unto Me, to bear My name before the Gentiles, and

kings, and the children of Israel” (Acts 9:15). Paul was to focus on sharing the Gospel with the Gentiles first, but also to “kings” and “the children of Israel”. Paul was not arrested for preaching the Gospel to the Gentiles. He was arrested and bound over to Rome for trial because he preached the Gospel to the Jews of Jerusalem.

Paul had never been in Colossae, nor amongst the Christians in the Church there. Easton’s Bible Dictionary notes:

It does not appear that Paul had visited this city when he wrote his letter to the church there.”

Paul did not have to visit this Church to write to it. As an Apostle, God the Holy Spirit worked through Paul to address the Church in that city. The Bible says that:

2 Peter 1:20-21 no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. 21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.

The Apostle Paul knew that what he wrote was God’s Words, not his opinion. He said in another place:

1 Corinthians 14:37 If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord.

Word Study Paul is an APOSTLE of Jesus Christ. The word apostle, the Greek αποστολος, apostolos, ap-os’-tol-os), is a word that comes from the Athenian or Greek Navy. The apostolos was, in the Navy, similar to the rank of “Admiral” in our Navy today. Just as the

“Admiral” relays the orders of a greater authority to the ships under his control, the Apostle relays the directions of God Himself to the Church. Paul is addressing the :

Colossians 1:2 … saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse

Who Are “Saints”? The word translated “SAINTS” is the Greek αγιος, hagios, (pronounced hag’-ee-os) , meaning someone who is “set apart for specific use by God, someone who is sanctified”. Who is a “Saint”? The Bible says:

1 Peter 1:15-16 but as he which hath called you is HOLY, so be ye HOLY in all manner of {living}; 16 because it is written, Be ye HOLY; for I am HOLY.

The Christian, called of Christ and saved by the Blood shed on Calvary, is to be HOLY. The word translated “HOLY” in our 1 Peter text is the same αγιος, hagios translated “saints” in our Colossian text. In short, the Christian is supposed to be a “Saint”, or set apart for God’s glory. How does one become a “saint”? By receiving the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior. The members of the Church at Colossae heard ….

vs 5 … the word of the TRUTH of the GOSPEL

They heard the preaching of the Gospel from someone – I do not know who. But they heard that they needed to repent, and receive the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior. They acted on what they heard ….

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

They heard the Gospel – and Paul, though imprisoned, heard of them.

Colossians 1:3-5 We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, [4] Since we heard of your FAITH in Christ Jesus, and of the LOVE which ye have to all the saints, [5] For the HOPE which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel;

What is the CAUSE of the Christian? Is it our works, our goodness, how we inherently please God? NO! The CAUSE of the Christian is God Himself. Three words are emphasized in our text:

FAITH in Christ Jesus
LOVE toward all the saints
HOPE laid up for us in Heaven

All of the things we have in this life will one day erode away. Our bodies fail us. Our property leaves us. Our jobs, and our talents, will one day be gone. Our loved ones are as fragile as we are. What does the Bible say?

James 4:14 whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.

What you have in life is but an early morning fog. As the day grows, the fog dissipates. But the Bible says that three things abide: FAITH, LOVE, and HOPE (1 Corinthians 13:13).

The Christian Puts Their Faith In The Right Place

I came across an interesting article today as I prepared for this message. What grabbed my attention was the title of the article:

The Soul Crushing Legacy of Billy Graham”

This article, written by Bob Moser for Rolling Stone Magazine (February 23, 2018), raged against Evangelist Billy Graham. The author was a gender confused individual who, throughout the article, slammed the Evangelist for speaking out against same sex marriage. It’s not my intent to plagiarize that article, nor to spend much time focused on gender dysphoria. What I do want to focus on is five words that begin the article:

Billy Graham saved my soul.”

Billy Graham cannot save a soul, no more than David Buffaloe can save a soul. God must save a soul. Faith put in the wrong Person will not save anyone.

We All Have Faith In Something Or Someone. This is true of the Christian, and true of the lost person. The Bible defines “FAITH” as …

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Saving faith is to believe in the unseen God, to trust what He has said in His Word, the Bible. Faith is the substance of things hoped for, belief that there is a future world called Heaven. Faith is to believe the evidence of things not seen, to believe that Jesus Christ did indeed come from Heaven to save sinners such as us. There is no faith when you can clearly see and possess what you desire.

Faith is to believe something that isn’t right there in front of you.

  • Evolutionists have faith. Evolutionary Scientists – relying on carbon dating – believe that the earth is billions of years old. They were not here when the earth was made, but they use methods to check fossils then declare truth based on what they find. They have FAITH in their carbon dating methods. They have FAITH in what they call the fossil records. They believe in a “Big Bang” that they have never seen. They believe in a concept that has never been proven, that something as complex as this planet and all that is within it can just accidentally come to be. Evolutionary Theory is not science. Science is provable and repeatable. No, they have “faith in the unseen”.
  • Abortionists have faith. The Abortionist believes that life does not actually begin until the baby leaves the womb. The Abortionist places FAITH in human emotion over actual scientific fact. Medical science now knows and can prove that the fetus in the womb is, indeed, a living creature. The baby in the womb reacts to pain and to other stimulation. Yet the abortionist believes that the life of the mother is much more important than the life of the child with. They have “faith in the unseen”.
  • Socialists and Humanists have faith. Both believe that all people are at heart just good, even though you only need to turn on the television for a moment and watch the news to realize the fallacy they believe. Every Socialist society has eventually faltered and fallen, for the reality is that no one is inherently good. It is as the Scripture says:

Romans 3:22-23 … there is no difference: 23 for ALL have sinned, and come short of the glory of God

Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?

  • Atheists have the same faith that Humanists and Socialists have. They believe there is no Creator God, though His Divine Design is seen all throughout nature. The faith of the Atheist is so foolish that God designates them as “Fools”:

Psalm 14:1 The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.

Where else do people misplace their faith? Some place their faith in MONEY, though “the love of money is the root of all evil” (1 Timothy 6:10). Others place their faith in BEAUTY, though the Bible warns “beauty is vain” (Proverbs 31:30). Some put their faith in IDOLS, which can do nothing at all for you.

Psalm 115:3-8 our God is in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased. 4 Their idols are silver and gold, the work of men’s hands. 5 They have mouths, but they speak not: eyes have they, but they see not: 6 they have ears, but they hear not: noses have they, but they smell not: 7 they have hands, but they handle not: feet have they, but they walk not: neither speak they through their throat. 8 They that make them are like unto them; so is every one that trusteth in them.

When you put your faith in the wrong thing, the wrong Person, the wrong Kingdom, the wrong Book, you waste your life. Jesus told us exactly where to put our faith. He said:

Have FAITH IN GOD” (Mark 11:22)

The one that God uses to write this letter we are now studying once had faith in the wrong place. As Saul, he studied at the finest schools of his time. He was well pedigreed. He came from the finest family. He was super conservative, and well to do. The man worked for the highest office in his nation, and was a type of detective with wide reaching powers. When he was told that a terrorist organization had arisen that was committing acts of treason against his beloved people he went out, broke up many of these groups, and was responsible for “neutralizing” many. As he was heading down an ancient interstate road one day something happened. Saul met Jesus.

SAUL had his faith in the Statutes, the Sanhedrin,
the Sacrifices, the
Scholars.
PAUL put his faith in God. He put his faith in Jesus Christ.

Saul was knocked down on the Damascus Road, but it was Paul who stood up and asked,

Acts 22:10 …. What shall I do, Lord?

Paul would later say,

Philippians 3:7 But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.

God will not save those who put their faith in the wrong thing. God will not bless those who invest their faith in anyone outside of Christ. For faith to be valid and valuable it needs to be solely vested in Christ!

We are all broken things. The Bible declares:

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

That is the BAD NEWS. But the GOOD NEWS is this:

Romans 5:6 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.

Think on this, dear ones, and let it sink deep within your soul. “When we were yet without strength”. None have the power to save themselves. Have faith in yourself to be saved, and be ye damned! But like the leper come to Jesus seeking cleansing. Like the blind man come to Jesus seeking sight. Like the cripple come to Jesus seeking legs. Like the deaf come to Jesus seeking sound. When we were without strength – unable to help ourselves – unable to get in the healing waters on our own – Jesus passed by. He said take up your bed and walk. And being saved, we did!

The Saints Of God Are Called To A Ministry Of Love

Colossians 1:2, 4 To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. … [4] Since we heard of your FAITH in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints,

Once a Christian is saved by faith in Christ, God commands us to love. Love is the natural fruit of a properly placed faith.

The Scripture says:

1 John 4:7-13 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. [9] In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. [10] Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. [11] Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. [12] No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us. [13] Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit.

Outward love is the proof of an inward faith. Periodically I have people call me up and say “I’m just not satisfied with my life. Are you living your life as Jesus commanded? If not, you will never be happy. While you are being waited on rather than waiting on others, you will never be blessed.

In John 13:17 Jesus said, If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them. What was Jesus talking about? Our Lord knelt down, and washed the feet of the disciples. He told them:

John 13: 13-15 Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.

The most miserable people I meet are those who are always being waited on, but never serve anyone else. The Christian – once saved – is called to a ministry of loving service. We are called to:

Matthew 22:37-39 Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.

God is to be loved FIRST and FOREMOST. We are to love Him with our ALL. But after this, we are to love our “neighbor”, that is, those in proximity to us, as we wish to be loved. Jesus even carried this further. He said in:

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

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

We are to love even the unlovable, for we ourselves are often unlovable. We are to love as God has loved us.

of the love which ye have to all the saints,

We are to love without qualification. We are to love without prejudice. As the Apostle said:

1 Thessalonians 4:9 … ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another.

Love is the proof of our salvation. A compromised love, a love that is racist, white only, or specific to a certain type of person is not the love that Christ bestows on us. The Apostle says:

1 John 2:9-11 He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now. [10] He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him. [11] But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes.

The grand Preacher C.H. Spurgeon said:

We have a common hope, let us have a common affection: we are on our way to God, let us march in loving company; we are to be one in heaven, let us be one on earth. One is our Master and one is our service; one is our way and one is our end; let us be knit together as one man. We all of us expect to see our Well-beloved face to face, and to be like him; why should we not even now love all those in whom there is anything of Christ? Brethren, we are to live together for ever in heaven: it is a pity we should quarrel. We are for ever to be with Jesus Christ, partakers of the same joy, of the same glory, and of the same love; why should we be scant in our love to each other? On the way to Canaan we have to fight the same enemy, to publish the same testimony, to bear the same trials, and to fly to the same helper: therefore let us love one another.”

Proper Faith Produces Love, Which Reminds Us Of God’s Promise

Colossians 1:5 .. For the HOPE which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel;

We who are Christians, saved by faith in Christ, have a sure promise from God that we have a place reserved for us in Heaven. Jesus said:

John 14:1-3 Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. [2] In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. [3] And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.

You see, there is a place beyond this place that our Jesus has gone to. He died on that Cross of Calvary, rose again the third day, and ascended unto the Father in Heaven. Jesus died for us. And this same Jesus that we place ALL our faith in has promised us that there is a blessed hope LAID UP FOR US IN HEAVEN. Jesus does not nor cannot lie.

Heaven is a prepared place for a prepared people.
Not a perfect people, but a prepared people.

It is a place where those who have surrendered to the Lordship of Christ will go. Those who are in Heaven love God and love one another. Hope is not a make believe, should have been steak but is only liver place. Hope is the certain promise of God. We don’t have it yet. We must walk and live through this veil of tears first. But one day we who are His will receive that Blessed Hope.

Titus 2:11-14 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, 12 teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; 13 looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ; 14 who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.

Faith, love and hope. Faith saves. Love proves. Hope is our promised Destination, a Heaven where love, peace and joy rule. Praise the name of the Lord! May God the Holy Spirit plant this Word deep into your hearts, for the glory of Christ. Amen and Amen!

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Dead With Christ

Photo by Rhodi Lopez on Unsplash

Colossians 2:20 … Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ …

How many of you are DEAD? Raise your hands! Did you know that the Apostle Paul called the genuine Christian “dead”. I’m sure you have all seen someone physically dead. They cease moving about. The dead body is put in a beautiful casket. It is made up, and often dressed in what was once favorite clothing. The dead body is placed in a casket, and loved ones stand about it, weeping for the soul that has departed.

The body, being dead, knows nothing of this. The soul has departed to be with Jesus. Whether dressed in a three piece suit or a formal gown, that body does not know nor experience what the living are experiencing all around it. The corpse is dead!

The Christian is dead. Oh, we are alive in so many ways. I personally do not believe you begin living until you meet and receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. But we who are Christ’s are DEAD:

The Christian Is Dead To Self

Look at Colossians 2:6-7 … As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: 7 rooted and built up in him, and established in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.

Have you received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior? No person can be saved without receiving Christ as He is. Jesus Christ is the Savior of Sinners. He is the Messiah Who came to save a people for Himself.

Romans 5:8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Jesus often “sat at meat” with great sinners, fellowshipping with them (Matthew 9:10). “Jesus, Why do You eat with publicans and sinners?” Oh, but Jesus knew why He came. Our Lord said:

Matthew 9:13 I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

Jesus came to this earth for sinners like you and I. But not all sinners will be blessed of Jesus. Jesus came calling SINNERS TO REPENTANCE. Repentance of what, you might ask. REPENTANCE OF SELFISHNESS. We are born into this world self driven, selfish, me first, always me. That is the basis of all sin.

The VERY FIRST SINNER was Satan. Beautiful as he was, he stared at himself for too long. His heart stopped serving God, and started serving self. He said in Isaiah 14:13-15:

I WILL ascend into Heaven
I WILL make my throne over all others like me
I WILL sit where I want to sit
I WILL ascend above all creation
I WILL be God

When Satan fell, he slithered into Eden, carrying his “I WILL” platform with Him. When addressing Adam and Eve, Satan, that Old Serpent (Revelation 12:9), said:

YOU shall not surely die!
God knows the day you eat the forbidden,
You will be like God!
Join me … be like God! (Genesis 3:4-5, paraphrased)

The Christian can only become a Christian, “not by works of righteousness which we have done” (Titus 3:5), but by bending our knees to Jesus Christ. We admit that we are sinners, and that we need Him as Savior. We die to self and do the hard thing – we cease being the center of our own universe, and acknowledge Him as both Savior and Lord.

Matthew 1:21 And {Mary} shall bring forth a Son, and thou shalt call His name JESUS: For He SHALL SAVE HIS PEOPLE FROM THEIR SINS

Jesus did not come to save “people” from sins. He came to save “HIS people”, those who will bow the knee, dying to self, and come to Christ as He is. To show this change of allegiance, from the KINGDOM of ME to the KINGDOM of GOD, the Christian is publicly baptized in water. The Apostle said:

Romans 6:1-11 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? 2 God forbid. How shall we, that are DEAD to sin, live any longer therein? 3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his DEATH? 4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into DEATH: that like as Christ was raised up from the DEAD by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his DEATH, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: 6 knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. 7 For he that is DEAD is freed from sin. 8 Now if we be DEAD with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: 9 knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. 10 For in that he DIED, he DIED unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. 11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be DEAD indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

In water baptism we are “buried” under the water, showing that the old me DIED with Jesus and is buried. We are raised out of the water, signifying that just as Jesus was raised, so are we raised TO WALK IN NEWNESS OF LIFE. The Christian is not a dead soul following a dark lord called Satan. The Christian is dead to self and selfishness, and alive unto God because of Christ.

It is unnatural and sinful to live for self. All of creation cries out that life is about loving and giving of self, not about receiving and taking. I was listening to a mega-Church Pastor, who said:

Get up in the morning and invite good things into your life. ‘I am blessed. I am strong. I am talented. I am disciplined. I am focused. I am prosperous’. When you talk like that, talent gets summoned by almighty God”

This is no more than an echo of Eden. The only “I AM” is God Almighty – we are not to be “I AM”, but we are to point to Him Who is “I AM”, and serve Him.

The Christian lives for God, and lives for others. Rivers do not drink their own water. Trees do not eat their own fruit. The sun doesn’t shine to light its own path. Flowers make fragrance and color so that their pollen can be shared with others, bringing life. Birds sing early in the morning to bless us. It is unnatural and Satanic to live for self. The I AM of me died the day that I received the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior.

Two thieves died next to Jesus, as He suffered on Calvary. The thief on the left cried out to Jesus:

Luke 23:39 … If thou be Christ, save thyself and us.

This is the worldly religion of convenience that has invaded many local Churches today. IF you are the Christ, WAIT on me! But this is not the Christianity that Jesus Christ came representing. No. No, this is not the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God is represented in that thief not on the left, but on the right:

Luke 23:40-42 … Don’t you fear God? We are dying. We deserve this death for what we did. But Jesus, He is innocent. Jesus. Jesus, LORD, will You just remember me when You come into Your Kingdom? (paraphrased)

The thief on the right was saved. He died with Jesus. He died to self. He acknowledged his sin, and sought Him as both Lord and Savior – to which Jesus replied, “today you shall be with Me in Paradise” (paraphrased vs 43).

The Christian Is Dead To Worldliness

Colossians 2:8-9 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. 9 For in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.

The purpose of the Christian is to shine for Christ, not for the world. The Christian is called to love everyone, and to do good to everyone. Jesus said:

Matthew 5:38-45 Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: 39 but I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40 And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy clokel also. 41 And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. 42 Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.

43 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy. 44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; 45 that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

We are to love the sinners around us, but we are NEVER to justify nor help support their sin. I am sometimes shocked at the things that go on even amongst our Baptist family. In 2016 Russell Moore and Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention got involved in a legal battle defending Muslim rights to construct mosques in the United States. Moore likened his and the ERLCs stance to standing up for the “invisible”, like the unborn child. Personally I believe the ERLC went too far.

As Christians, we are to love and do good to our enemies. But we are always to “speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15), even when that truth is abhorrent to the world. As a military man I fought for, and retired from active duty with 20+ years of military service. I believe in the First Amendment right of every person. However, I will do nothing as a Christian to further the building of Mosques, Jehovah Witness Kingdom Hall, Mormon or Buddhist Temples, nor any other religion. As Christians we are to shine for Jesus. We are to affirm that there is but one Way to God, faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. We are to stand first on what our Lord said:

John 14:6 … I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

I will preach alongside of the Church fathers:

Acts 4:10-12 be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole. 11 This is the stone which was set at naught of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. 12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

What good is done by a Christian in helping build a building unto idols? None! Though we are to love all, as Christians we must not, as many other Churches have, baptize and endorse members into the flock who are actively participating in things which God considers abhorrent. The Christian is to be dead to the world, and alive unto Christ.

I do not understand why Southern Baptists, or any Baptists, are making public statements on things like “Critical Race Theory”. Frankly, I do not understand it. It seems confusing, and our God is NOT the Author of Confusion (1 Corinthians 14:33). Christians, “our God is no respecter of persons” (Acts 10:34; Romans 2:11-16). All people are created in the image of God, and those saved by faith in Christ are my brothers and sisters. Heaven will be populated by people of all colors who have received Christ:

Revelation 7:9-15 I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; 10 And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb. 11 And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshiped God, 12 Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honor, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen. 13 And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? 14 And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 15 Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them.

The color of a person should not make a difference to anyone. If you have believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, if you died with Him on Calvary, then you are part of God’s Family, and my kin. That is enough.

We must love others, but not aid philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. We must not justify sin, but reject it, and point all toward Christ. Shine for Jesus!

2 Timothy 2:11 It is a faithful saying: for if we be dead with {Jesus}, we shall also live with {Jesus}

And closer to our current context: Colossians 3:1-4 If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. 2 Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. 3 For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.

Blessed be the Name of the Lord!

The Christian is DEAD to SELF. The Christian is DEAD to WORLDLINESS. And thirdly,

The Christian Is Dead To Phariseeism

Colossians 2:16-22 Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holy day, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: 17 which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ. 18 Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshiping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, 19 and not holding the Head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God. 20 Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, 21 (touch not; taste not; handle not; 22 which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men?

The Law of God often confuses the Christian. The Bible tells us that God gave us the Law,

Galatians 3:24-25 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25 But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.

Some have taken these verses to mean that the Christian can do ANYTHING he or she wants without repercussions. Yet this is not what the Bible tells us. As Christians, we are no longer under the SHADOWS of the Law. God gave some Old Testament SHADOWS that foretold the coming of Christ.

Once Christ came, “the Light of the World” (John 8:12) chased away the shadows!

The Christian is no longer under the dietary laws (meats). “What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common” (Acts 10:15, 19). God used clean and unclean animals in the Old Testament to foreshadow the coming of “The Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). We no longer sacrifice animals for sin, because Christ took their place:

Hebrews 10:8-10 … Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law; 9 then said {Christ Jesus}, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first {covenant}, that he may establish the second {covenant}. 10 By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

We do not sacrifice animals, so we may eat all good things. The holy days or feasts no longer are applicable to the Christian. New moons mean nothing. Our Sabbath is no longer the seventh day, but the first day of the week. Why?

Mark 16:9 Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared …

The Sabbath the early Church adopted was the first day of the week, the day our Lord Jesus rose from the grave.

We are complete in Him (Colossians 2:10).

We make every special day about our Jesus. We no longer are under a mandate of circumcision. The Old Covenant shadow of circumcision showed that a male was of the family of Israel. The New Covenant circumcision is not done on the male penis, but on the believer’s heart.

Colossians 2:11 … in whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ:

What makes us members of Christ’s family? It is not the outward ritual of circumcision, but the inward circumcision that occurs when God enters the believer’s life.

Romans 2:28-29 … he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: 29 but he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.

The “Circumcision”, or those who are of the Household of Christ (Hebrews 3:6), are not those who are outwardly religious or followers of ritualism. Those who are of the Household of Christ are those who …

Philippians 3:3 … worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.

So many people put their confidence in the flesh. Beloved, we died with Him. When He died on Calvary, I was nailed to that cruel “T” with Him. We who are saved have no confidence in the flesh. We trust neither denomination, nor Church affiliation, nor ritual, nor holy day. We are complete only in Jesus. He is our Peace (Ephesians 2:14). I do not trust myself to get myself to Heaven. I trust Jesus, and cast off anything which does not honor Him daily. As the Apostle said:

1 Corinthians 15:31 …. I die daily

There is not a day that passes that I do not see sin me, and, by the Grace of God, cast it off. I am freed from sin so that I might serve my Savior and Lord. Beloved, the Church God needs in America today, needs to be the Church that serves Jesus. Let us daily put away the old sinful clothing: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, idolatry, anger, wrath, malice, slander, obscene speech, and lying (Colossians 3:5-9). Let us instead daily be more like Jesus. Let us put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, forgiveness, and love as Jesus loved(Colossians 3:12-14).

We are dead to the darkness, alive and in the Light.
We are dead to self idolatry, but alive unto God.

In closing, I was reading a devotional the other day that spoke of God’s version of E=mc2. This was a theory of special relativity that Albert Einstein developed. If you are a scientist, you know that E=mc2 means “energy E of a system is equal to its mass m multiplied by c2, the speed of light squared” (Scientific American). In the devotional, the author equated “E”, energy or the Christian’s ability to overcome to “mercy” + “c2” or Christ squared. If you’re going to make it through this life, remaining faithful to your God, you must have His mercy daily, and Christ squared. We need more and more of Jesus. Oh Beloved, cling to Him Who will cling to you. Let us be dead to self, dead to worldliness, and dead to Phariseeism – but alive unto Christ! For God’s glory, I pray, that His Holy Spirit and His Word would be driven deeply into our consciousness this very day. Amen and Amen!

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What Is Truth? God’s Word Is Truth!

Jesus, Lion of Judah
Photo by Kazuky Akayashi on Unsplash

Turn with me in your Bibles to John 18:28. We are going to look at our Lord Jesus, and Pilate’s response to Jesus, as He stood before that Roman Governor to be judged.

John 18:28-38 Then led they Jesus from Caiaphas unto the hall of judgment: and it was early; and they themselves went not into the judgment hall, lest they should be defiled; but that they might eat the passover. 29 Pilate then went out unto them, and said, What accusation bring ye against this man? 30 They answered and said unto him, If he were not a malefactor, we would not have delivered him up unto thee. 31 Then said Pilate unto them, Take ye him, and judge him according to your law. The Jews therefore said unto him, It is not lawful for us to put any man to death: 32 that the saying of Jesus might be fulfilled, which he spake, signifying what death he should die.

33 Then Pilate entered into the judgment hall again, and called Jesus, and said unto him, Art thou the King of the Jews? 34 Jesus answered him, Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or did others tell it thee of me? 35 Pilate answered, Am I a Jew? Thine own nation and the chief priests have delivered thee unto me: what hast thou done? 36 Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence. 37 Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice. 38 Pilate saith unto him, What is truth?

Our Lord Jesus knew that He must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day” (Matthew 16:21). Jesus knew He was going to Calvary. He knew His betrayer – Judas Iscariot. He knew the time.

Before Jesus stood before Pilate, He was examined by a crooked, untruthful the Jewish Court called the Sanhedrin (the Seventy). Matthew tells us:

Matthew 26:59-61 the chief priests, and elders, and all the council, sought false witness against Jesus, to put him to death; 60 but found none: yea, though many false witnesses came, yet found they none. At the last came two false witnesses, 61 and said, This fellow said, I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to build it in three days.

Jesus was struck when He attempted to speak. False witnesses came in, all given bribe money by a corrupt system. But finally the High Priest accused Jesus of blasphemy (Matthew 26:65-66) when Jesus claimed to be “the Son of Man sitting on the right hand of power, coming in the clouds of Heaven”. After further abusing Jesus, the Jewish court took Jesus to the Gentile Court of Pilate. Pilate asks:

John 18:29 … What accusation bring ye against this man?

The Jewish Court knew, in their conscience, that the way they handled Jesus was dishonest and ungodly. They do not respond clearly. When truth is twisted, people try to hide what they are doing. They respond:

John 18:30 If he were not a malefactor, we would not have delivered him up unto thee”.

An honest court would have explained the charges, but evil does not like the light of truth. Pilate was having none of it. Take ye him, and judge him according to your law(31). They hid behind Roman Law. It is not lawful for us to put any man to death” (31). That never stopped them before. Evil uses confusion. Satan loves confusion.

Pilate extensively examined Jesus. Jesus was no threat to the Roman empire. My kingdom is not of this world” (36). Pilate asked Jesus if He were a king. Jesus refused to assume the title at this point in history. Jesus is indeed “King of Kings and Lord of Lords” (1 Timothy 6:15), but His primary role at this time is “to bear witness to the truth”:

John 18:37 To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.

Our Lord Jesus Christ came to this earth to “bear witness to the truth”. Those who are of the truth hear Jesus. Those who are of the world ignore Jesus, judge Jesus, mock Jesus. Pilate asked, “What is truth?” (38). Jesus is truth. God’s Word is truth.

The trial of Jesus gives us an insight into the eternal struggle between “Truth” and “truth”. The religious court, which was suppose to support God’s Truth, ignored the truth. Pilate, a career politician, ignored Capital “T” Truth. If you ask people about truth today, they will tell you:

Truth is what you make it.
Truth is based on what you feel.
Truth varies from person to person.

If truth is little “t”, constantly variable, then a young child born biologically male can self identify as female, regardless as to their genetic equipment. If truth is little “t”, constantly variable, then marriage does not have to be male to female, but it can be same sex, or even animal to human, adult to child. If truth is little “t”, then feelings are what matter most. Feelings define facts, not the other way around.

Pilate examined Jesus stringently, and even had Christ beaten. After a thorough examination, Pilate told the waiting Jewish Court:

John 18:38 … I find in {Jesus Christ} no fault at all.

That should have ended the matter. Jesus was acquitted. But the crowd was operating on feelings, not facts. They cried out for Jesus’ death. Reason had no place in the matter. They were feeling hatred and feeling rage, so they demanded His death. Pilate knew why they wanted Jesus dead.

Matthew 27:18 {Pilate} knew that for ENVY they had delivered {Jesus up to die}. (also Mark 15:10)

Crucify Him! the crowd yelled! Pilate asked,Why, what evil hath he done?” (Mark 15:14). The Court cared nothing for Capital “T” Truth. They were being driven by emotions. Crucify Him! Pilate tried again. The Romans had scheduled a murderer named Barabbas to be executed. Pilate now gives the crowd a choice.

Matthew 27:17 … Whom will ye that I release unto you? Barabbas, or Jesus which is called Christ?

Barabbas was a known murderer. No charges could be found against Jesus. The Capital “T” Truth would have released Jesus. The crowd yelled out. Release Barabbas, destroy Jesus (20). Having Jesus beaten, and mocked by the soldiers, a crown of thorns on His head, Pilate presented Jesus to the crowd.

John 19:4 I find no fault in {Jesus Christ}.

Behold the Man!” Pilate told the Jewish Court,

John 19:6-7 … Take ye him, and crucify him: for I find no fault in him. 7 The Jews answered him, We have a law, and by our law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God.

And so Jesus was crucified. His crucifixion was necessary and foreordained by God. “God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved (John 3:17). Jesus Christ came to this earth on a mission to save sinners. “This is the work of God, that you believe on Him whom God hath sent” (John 6:29). God is calling people into His Family. “This is life eternal, that they might know the ONLY TRUE God, and Jesus Christ, Whom God hath sent” (John 17:3). The crucifixion of Christ was by divine design, accomplished to cover our sins so that we might know God. Jesus told Pilate:

John 19:11 … Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from Above

God allowed the deceptive and corrupt Jewish Court, the False Witnesses, the Politically Correct Pilate, and human “feelings” to accomplish His greater purpose. Praise God that “Jesus Christ came to this earth to give His life a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28). Praise God that:

1 Peter 3:18 … Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God….

Praise God for Jesus! But I also want you to see another thing at work here. When there is no Capital “T” Truth, but truth is little “t”, and feelings have preeminence over facts, then justice is miscarried. When truth is fluid, ever changing, then we put ourselves in the position of Adam in the Garden of Eden. “Hath God really said that?”, the serpent asked. If truth is defined not by facts, but by my feelings, then there is no truth at all.

Jesus Endorsed The Bible As Truth

How did our Lord Jesus define “truth”? Jesus believed the written Word of God to be Capital “T” Truth. In His final prayer for the Church, given just before He went to the Cross to die for us all, Jesus said:

John 17:17 {Father}, Sanctify {or, “set them apart from the world”) them {your believers} through Thy Truth. Thy Word is Truth.

God the Father has a Word for us, and this Word is Capital “T” Truth. Jesus promised us that God would send forth “The Spirit of Truth”, the Holy Spirit of God. He said:

John 16:13 … when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth…

The Holy Spirit of God would come and guide Christ’s believers into “all Truth”. Not into feelings, but into what God has said is fact. As Jesus told Pilate:

John 18:37 … Every one that is of the Truth heareth My voice

There is a Capital “T” Truth. It is the Written Word of God, the Holy Bible. Throughout Jesus’ ministry we find the words, “It is written”. When the Wise Men came seeking the Baby Jesus, Herod demanded of the priests and scribes where Christ was to be born. No one came back with, “Well, I feel. No, they said:

Matthew 2:5 … In Bethlehem of Judæa: for thus it is written by the prophet

a quotation from Micah 5:2. When Jesus was attacked by Satan in the wilderness, our Lord replied to his attacks with:

Matthew 4:4 … It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. (quoted from Deuteronomy 8:3)

Matthew 4:7 … IT IS WRITTEN AGAIN, thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God (quoted from Deuteronomy 6:16)

Matthew 4:10 … IT IS WRITTEN, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve (quoted from Deuteronomy 6:13-14)

When questioned about John the Baptist, Jesus said:

Matthew 11:10 … this is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. (quoting Malachi 3:1 & Isaiah 40:3)

When Jesus ran the money changers out of the Temple, He declared:

Matthew 21:13 … It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves. (quoting Jeremiah 7:11 & Isaiah 56:7).

  • As Jesus prepared to go to the Cross, He said: “The Son of man goeth as it is written of him” (Matthew 26:24). Here He referred to the Old Testament texts that spoke of Christ being handed over for our sins (Isaiah 50:6; 53:2-12; Psalm 22:1-31).
  • When Jesus was asked about marriage, our Jesus said Have ye not READ, that He which made them at the beginning made them male and female?” (Matthew 19:4), a reference to Genesis 1:27.

Throughout Jesus’s ministry you read “it is written” or “have you not read?”. Jesus was speaking of our Bible.

Have ye not READ what David did…” (Matthew 12:3)
“Have you not READ in the Law ..” (Matthew 12:5)
“Have you not READ, out of the mouth …” (Matthew 21:16)
“Did ye never READ in the Scriptures …” (Matthew 21:42)
“Have ye not READ that which was spoken by God ..” (Matthew 22:31)
“Have ye not READ in the Book of Moses ..” (Mark 12:26)
“What is WRITTEN in the Law? How READEST thou?” (Luke 10:26)

It is impossible to read the Gospels, and not see the high standard Jesus held our Bible in. The Bible is God’s Word, written down, and preserved for us, Christ’s Church. Pastor Rick Warren wrote in “The Purpose Driven Life”,

What we need is a perfect standard that will never lead us in the wrong direction. Only God’s Word meets that need.”

King Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, wrote:

Proverbs 30:5-6 Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him. 6 Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.

When the Apostle Paul wanted to encourage Timothy, and the Church so buffeted on every side by evil, he reminded Timothy:

2 Timothy 3:14-17 … continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; 15 and that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

The Scripture, our Bible, is theopneustos or literally “God Breathed”. It is the very Word of God. Some people would counter with this. They would say,

Every major and minor religion believe that their holy writings are God inspired, God breathed. The Muslims view the Quran (often spelled Koran) as the words of God dictated to their Prophet Muhammad by the Archangel Gabriel. The Mormons view the Book of Mormon to be the words of God dictated to their Prophet Joseph Smith by the Angel Moroni. There are other religions, and other so called sacred writings that contradict the Christian Bible. How is the Bible a better religious “Word of God” than all these other religions?”

My answer is very simple. It is Jesus.

Jesus never quoted the Quran, the Book of Mormon, the Ramayana or Bhagavad Gita of Hinduism, or the Sutras of Buddhism. Jesus never appealed to feelings or wants when establishing truth. Jesus appealed to the Holy Bible the Jews received through Moses and the other Prophets.

The early Church Fathers, called “Apostles”, were quick to point out that our unique and true faith was …

Ephesians 2:20 … built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;

The Way of Christ was “revealed unto {Christ’s} holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit” (Ephesians 3:5). It is God Who “gave us Apostles, and Prophets, and Evangelists, and Pastors, and Teachers”…

Ephesians 4:12 … for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:

Every Spiritual Gift given by God is tied to the Bible,
the Word of God.

That which Christ refers to and we have written through the Apostles and Prophets is the Bible, the Word of God. The other holy books of the other religions do not prophesy the coming of Christ, nor are they quoted or upheld by Christ. Only the Bible has this as it’s main characteristic. Others say,

But this Book is so ancient. Surely it is out dated, out of touch with the 21st Century”.

If this Book was written by the whim of humans, by the creativity of people now long deceased, then this would be true. But the Scripture declares:

2 Peter 1:19-21 … We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: 20 knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. 21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

Over and over again, Jesus endorsed our Bible, quoted our Bible. The Apostles whom Jesus called all wrote Capital “T” Truth. God’s Word is TRUTH. God’s Bible is TRUTH. As Baptists we believe:

The Holy Bible was written by men divinely inspired and is God’s revelation of Himself to man. It is a perfect treasure of divine instruction. It has God for its author, salvation for its end, and truth, without any mixture of error, for its matter. Therefore, all Scripture is totally true and trustworthy. It reveals the principles by which God judges us, and therefore is, and will remain to the end of the world, the true center of Christian union, and the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and religious opinions should be tried. All Scripture is a testimony to Christ, who is Himself the focus of divine revelation.”

What is Truth? Jesus said it in John 17:17, “God’s Word is Truth”. If the Bible is not valid for today, or if portions of it are invalid for today, then is Jesus Christ in any way a Savior? Jesus extensively quoted the Bible. If the Bible is wrong, then Jesus is wrong. Jesus said the Bible is true, and for me and my house, Jesus is never wrong. Jesus told the Pharisees who doubted Him as Messiah:

John 5:46-47 … had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me. 47 But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?

The Bible we have is “God Breathed” (2 Timothy 3:16), a Truth that endorsed and was endorsed by Jesus. If the Bible is in error, then Jesus is in error – and we have no assurance of salvation. As Pastor Michael J. Kruger noted:

While a person doesn’t have to believe the Bible is true to be saved, the Bible has to be true for them to be saved.”

It is in the Bible we find the precious promises of God, promises to save the sinner if they but believe in Christ. We read the wonderful message of Scripture:

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

How can we know this is Capital “T” Truth? Because Jesus came to endorse the Truth – and He endorsed His Apostles, the Old Testament Writings, the Bible itself. We can rest in God’s Word.

May God touch your hearts with His Word, and bring you to Christ for salvation if you are yet without Him. Amen and Amen! For the glory of God, we pray. Amen!

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Humans Are Not Nor Will Ever Be Angels

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Humans Are Not Nor Will Ever Be Angels

Every time a bell rings an angel gets his wings”. A six year old Karolyn Grimes, who played Zuzu Bailey, said these words in that classic 1946 film, “It’s A Wonderful Life”. The film was cute. Over the past many years as a Pastor, I have read obituaries written by well meaning people who sought to honor a deceased loved one. One of the phrases I often read are either:

Heaven gained another angel today”
or
“___ earned his wings, and is in the Presence of the Lord”

I am sure the writer of the obituary means well, and is sincere. But does the Bible teach the deceased Christian becomes another “Angel”? No, it doesn’t.

In the Book of Hebrews we are told that believers in Christ are not brought to Mount Sinai, but by the Blood of Christ are brought to Mount Zion.

Heaven is our home, Christian, if you have received Jesus Christ as both Lord and Savior. As God describes Heaven through the writer of Hebrews, He says:

Hebrews 12:22-24 ye {Christians} are come unto mount Zion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, 23 to the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men {Greek δίκαιος dikaios, literally “of the Justified”} made perfect, 24 and to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.

As we read about Heaven, we see that there is an innumerable company of angels, but there is also the spirits of THE JUSTIFIED made perfect. There are three types of beings in Heaven. There are ANGELS, which are created by God, there are those who have been JUSTIFIED or made right with God BY FAITH IN JESUS, and there is Creator God Himself, uncreated and eternal.

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

When the Christian gets to Heaven, we will be given some of the attributes that angels now possess. Jesus told us in Matthew 22:30 that in the resurrection there will be no marriage as we know it today, but we will be “like” the angels of God in this perspective. Angels never were given the power to reproduce. Humans, however, are given the ability to reproduce NOW, because it was the will of God for us to “be fruitful, and multiply and replenish the earth, and subdue it” (Genesis 1:28). This earth was to be populated by humans who, loving one another, made more humans.

The earth is populated by physical birth.
Heaven, however, is populated by spiritual birth.

Those who are “born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God” (1 Peter 1:23) are the ones who will populate Heaven. “You must be born again” (John 3:7). Humans are created in the image of God, and are given the ability to reproduce. Angels have NEVER had the ability to reproduce.

Humans Are “A Little Lower Than The Angels”

The Bible says in Psalm 8:3-8, When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; 4 what is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? 5 For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honor. 6 Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet: 7 all sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field; 8 the fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas.

Though humanity is made “a little lower than the angels”, both angels as well as humans were made perfect.

Genesis tells us “God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good” (Genesis 1:31). Humanity fell from perfection through the failure of Adam. Angels fell from perfection through the failure of the Archangel Lucifer, also known as “Red Dragon”, “The Old Serpent”, “Satan (or Accuser)”, and “The Devil”. Lucifer’s fall is partially chronicled in:

Revelation 12:3-4, 9 … there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads. 4 And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth…. 9 the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.

The reason Lucifer, a Chief Arch Angel, a General of the Angels in Heaven, revolted against God is PRIDE.

What both Adam and Lucifer had, they received from God. Pride caused them to create the false narrative that they somehow deserved more. Adam chose a forbidden fruit. Lucifer chose a more direct approach. He wanted the Throne of God. The Prophet said:

Isaiah 14:12-14 How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! 13 For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: 14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.

When Lucifer could not get the throne of God by direct revolt, he entered the Garden of Eden to try and steal God’s glory through Adam. This is why he is called “that old serpent”. It was Lucifer, the Devil, the Serpent who tempted Adam, defying what God said.

Genesis 3:4-5 … Ye shall not surely die: 5 for God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.

You know the rest. Adam ate that which was forbidden, following Lucifer rather than the God Who loved him. Here we come to a key difference between humans and angels.

God sent His Son Jesus to give His life a ransom and an atonement for humanities sins. God did NOT send Jesus to die for the Angels. Fallen angels cannot be saved.

Since mankind is made “a little lower than the angels”(Hebrews 2:5-8) , our

Hebrews 2:9-11 … Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor.; that he by the grace of God should taste death for {Greek πᾶς pas, for every one [lower than the angels]}. 10 For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. 11 For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren

Jesus, by the grace of God {tasted} death for every EVERY ONE. Not for the Angels, but for every one of us who are “lower than the angels”. Jesus did not come to pay for the sins of Angels, but for the sins of humanity. When Jesus spoke of the Final Judgment, the time that God separates His people from the evil, the evil went into everlasting fire. Jesus said:

Matthew 25:41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels

Eternal damnation, that place we call “The Lake of Fire” or “Hell”, was designed with the devil and his angels in mind. Jesus was made lower than the Angels so that He might redeem believing humanity. The Apostle spoke of …

1 Peter 1:7-12 … Jesus Christ: 8 whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: 9 receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls. 10 Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: … 12 … which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into.

The Angels do not understand the salvation we are offered through Christ. When Satan walked away from God with 1/3 of the Angels in Heaven, God made no effort to offer them Grace. Yet God did offer us Grace through faith in Christ Jesus. Why did God offer to save us, but not to save Angels? The Bible does not say. And yet, God did. The Bible says that Angels watch humans – and rejoice when a human repents and believes of Jesus. Our Lord said:

Luke 15:10 … I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.

As the Apostles went about – under the power and authority of Christ – establishing Churches, Angels watched their progress (1 Corinthians 4:9). The Bible calls Angels “Principalities and powers in Heavenly places” (Ephesians 3:10), and these superior beings watch the Church of Christ on the earth. Angels watch how saved humanity obeys the will of God in the creation and maintenance of the family (1 Corinthians 11:9-12). Bible Teacher Don Stewart writes:

Though there are some things that angels and humans have in common, there are many things that separate them. Humans have been made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27). They are able to bear children and have family relationships. Though sin entered into both the angelic and human sphere, only the sin of humans can be forgiven (2 Corinthians 5:21). Christ came to die for the sins of humanity, not of angels. Those humans who have trusted Christ as their Savior will eventually judge angels (1 Corinthians 6:3). Because of these things, the humans who have believed in Jesus will have a superior position to the angels in the ages to come (Ephesians 2:6). ”

Angels Are Not Humans, But Often Look Like
Or Interact With Humans

Angels can assume the appearance of a human. Scripture says:

Hebrews 13:1-2 … Let brotherly love continue. 2 Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.

Angels walk among us, and watch us. Throughout the Bible God used Angels to carry messages to and to interact with humans.

  • Angels met Jacob (Genesis 32:1) in the wilderness.
  • When Daniel was thrown in the lion’s den, he was not eaten. Why? Because, he said, “My God hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lions’ mouths, that they have not hurt me” (Daniel 6:22)
  • An Angel brought “Israel out of Egypt” (Numbers 20:16).
  • In the birth of Christ into this world, Angels were very active (Mathew 1; Luke 1,2).
  • An Angel sent Philip to share the Gospel with an Ethiopian Eunuch of great authority (Acts 8:26-28).
  • It was an Angel that rolled back the stone of Jesus’ tomb (Matthew 28:2).
  • When Jesus returns to this earth to rule and reign, our Lord said, “When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory” (Matthew 25:31).

There Are Many Different Types Of Angels In The Bible

Among the Angels, the Archangels are the highest rank. The Bible reveals three Archangels: Lucifer who has fallen away from God, Michael, and Gabriel.

The Archangels rule all the other angels under the authority of God. Michael is a warrior Archangel, who will – with the other warrior angels – cast Satan out of Heaven just prior to the Tribulation:

Revelation 12:7-9 And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, 8 and prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. 9 And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.

Michael often fought for Israel (Daniel 12:1). Gabriel is an Archangel, but he is more of a Messenger than a warrior. Gabriel and the other messenger angels …

  • announced the coming birth of Christ to Mary and Joseph (Matthew 1:20; Luke 1:26-27)
  • prophesied the birth of John the Baptist to Zacharias his father (Luke 1:19)
  • heralded the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem to the Shepherds (Luke 2:9ff)
  • warned Joseph to flee to Egypt with the baby Jesus and Mary (Matthew 2:13)
  • rolled the stone from the tomb of Jesus (Matthew 28:2)
  • and was very active in the early Church guiding and protecting God’s people (Acts 5:19; 10:3; 12:7).

Among the Angels, there are Cherubim and Seraphim.

  • The Cherubim had four faces: a man’s face, a lion’s face, an ox face, an eagle face. They had four wings, with a human hand protruding from underneath the wing. They had cloven calves feet that were shiny like brass (Ezekiel 1:4-28; 10:1-22). Lucifer the fallen Archangel was “the anointed cherub that covereth” (Ezekiel 28:14).
  • The Seraphim or “The Burning Ones” have six wings. Two covered their face and two covered their feet, while two wings were used to fly. The Seraphim are in charge of leading the worship of God in Heaven. (Isaiah 6:1-7)
  • The Four Elder Angels, also called “Beasts”, are around the Throne of God in Heaven. Revelation 4:6-9 tells us “round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind. And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle. And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come. And when those beasts give glory and honor. and thanks to him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever.” Their focus is to worship God (see also Revelation 5:8; 6:1, 3, 5, 7).
  • The Guardian Angels watch over believers in Christ (Matthew 18:10). The Bible says that they are “ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation”. Those who have trusted in God, “making the Lord their refuge”, have been assigned Guardian Angels by God Himself. The Psalmist said, “he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.” (Psalm 91:11-12)
  • A Water Angel is mentioned in Revelation 16:5. This angel controls the flow of the seas and the tides.
  • A Abyss (Deep Pit) Angel guards the prison where some fallen angels are bound. (Revelation 9:1).
  • Revelation 14:18 speaks of “another angel came out from the altar, which had power over fire”, a Fire Angel.
  • God uses Angels to dispense judgments on the earth during the latter half of the Great Tribulation (Revelation 8:1; 15:1).

Angels are not like us humans. Peter said “angels are greater in power and might” (2 Peter 2:11). Angels are not composed of the dust of the ground of this earth, but are beings of light. Zondervan Academic notes, “The author of Hebrews suggests that all angels are “spirits” (Hebrews 1:13-14). When Jesus appears to the disciples, he asserts that “spirits” don’t have bodies like he does (Luke 24:39). In the Bible, angels can’t usually be seen by humans unless God reveals them (see Numbers 22:31, 2 Kings 6:17, Luke 2:13).” Angels are immensely powerful.

  • It was two angels that destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah: “we will destroy this place, because the cry of them is waxen great before the face of the Lord; and the Lord hath sent us to destroy it” (Genesis 19:13).
  • God sent one angel to destroy the Assyrian Army, as it was encamped against Israel. 2 Kings 19:35 tells us that night, that the angel of the Lord went out, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians an hundred fourscore and five thousand: and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses.
  • When Peter was imprisoned by King Herod, sleeping chained to two soldiers (Acts 12:6), with guards on the locked prison door, “the angel of the Lord came upon him, and a light shined in the prison: and he smote Peter on the side, and raised him up, saying, Arise up quickly. And his chains fell off from his hands. 8 And the angel said unto him, Gird thyself, and bind on thy sandals. And so he did. And he saith unto him, Cast thy garment about thee, and follow me. 9 And he went out, and followed him” (Acts 12:7-9). The Angel caused the guards all to sleep on, even while freeing Peter to return to ministry.

In his book, Angels: God’s Secret Agents, Billy Graham wrote:

““We may not always be aware of the presence of angels. We can’t always predict how they will appear. But angels have been said to be our neighbors. Often they may be our companions without our being aware of their presence. We know little of their constant ministry. The Bible assures us, however, that one day our eyes will be unscaled to see and know the full extent of the attention angels have given us (1 Corinthians 13:11, 12).”

Christians Will One Day Be Greater Than The Angels

Dear one, if you have received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, you will not one day leave this life to be an Angel. When you get to Heaven – if you are a believer – the Bible says:

1 Corinthians 6:3 … we shall judge angels

While we are on this earth we are “a little lower than the angels” (Psalm 8:5; Hebrews 2:7). But in Heaven, we will be a little higher than the angels. Why? Because of Jesus. Because we have received salvation by faith in Him. Receiving Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior we are made “Sons, or Children of God”. We who have received Christ have this promise:

John 1:12-13 … as many as received {Jesus Christ}, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: 13 which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

Upon your outward profession and confession of Jesus (for no child of God is ashamed of Jesus), God brought you into His Family. You are born again – not of blood nor of the will of man, but by the will of God! The Bible says of us, dear Christian, that:

Romans 8:16-17 The Spirit {Himself} beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: 17 and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.

We are no longer sons of Adam, but sons of God because of what the Son of God did for us. We who are Christians are led by the Spirit of God (Romans 8:14). We are not perfect by any means, for we are yet in our human frail but broken flesh. But we are, according to the Apostle:

Philippians 2:15 … blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world

When we get to Heaven, praise God, “we shall be like Jesus; for we shall see Him as He is (1 John 3:2). This is not because we have either earned nor deserved it. This is because we, broken as we are, received the Grace of God by “calling on the name of the Lord Jesus”.

Do you know my Jesus? If not, I beg you, call upon Him today. The Bible promises:

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

May God the Holy Spirit move His Word into your hearts this very day! Amen and Amen. For the glory of Christ I preach this! Hallelujah! Come quickly, Lord Jesus. Maranatha!

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Judas Must Leave The Table!

Photo by James Coleman on Unsplash

Mark 14:16-26 And his disciples went forth, and came into the city, and found as he had said unto them: and they made ready the Passover.

17 And in the evening he cometh with the twelve. 18 And as they sat and did eat, Jesus said, Verily I say unto you, One of you which eateth with me shall betray me. 19 And they began to be sorrowful, and to say unto him one by one, Is it I? and another said, Is it I? 20 And he answered and said unto them, It is one of the twelve, that dippeth with me in the dish. 21 The Son of man indeed goeth, as it is written of him: but woe to that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! good were it for that man if he had never been born.

22 And as they did eat, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and brake it, and gave to them, and said, Take, eat: this is my body. 23 And he took the cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them: and they all drank of it. 24 And he said unto them, This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many. 25 Verily I say unto you, I will drink no more of the fruit of the vine, until that day that I drink it new in the kingdom of God.

26 And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives.

What Is The “Feast Of The Passover?”

The Feast of the Passover was an annual celebration held in Israel, a celebration commanded by God. It commemorated the night that God “passed over” Egypt, looking for the Blood of the Lamb. The Israelis were to take, “on the tenth day of the month, a lamb without blemish, a male of the first year. The lamb was to be kept until the 14th day of the month, when it was then killed. The Blood of the Lamb was to be put on the sidepost and upper door post of the home. The lamb was to be roasted with fire, eaten with unleavened bread and bitter herbs” (see Exodus 12:1-10). God told Israel:

Exodus 12:12-14 I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the Lord. 13 And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt. 14 And this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it a feast to the Lord throughout your generations; ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance for ever.

God did exactly as He promised He would do. He “passed over” Egypt, looking for the Blood of the Lamb.

Where God found the Blood of the Lamb, God did not execute judgment, but mercy.

The Passover commemorated the judgment of God on sin. The Passover celebrated the mercy of God to sinners. The Passover was also a foreshadowing of what God would one day do in Jesus Christ. When John the Baptist saw Jesus, he saw the Passover. He said:

John 1:29 … Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. (also vvs 36)

The Apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 5:7-8 … Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us: 8 therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

The Passover lamb was pierced, and it’s blood drained.
Jesus was pierced on the Cross, His Blood shed.
The Blood of the Passover was put on the doorway of the home.
The Blood of Christ is applied to the heart of the person.
The Passover Lamb was mounted on a stick, roasted on fire.
Jesus was mounted on the Cross, roasted by God’s judgment on sin.
The Passover lamb was eaten fully – (Exodus 12:10)
.
Jesus Christ is to be received fully, both Lord & Savior.

Jesus said:

John 6:53-58 Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. 54 Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. 55 For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. 56 He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. 57 As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. 58 This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever.

There are many who want Jesus as Savior, but not as Lord. They say, “This is a hard saying; who can hear it” (John 6:60). They walk away from Jesus.

John 6:66 From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.

Jesus as the Lamb of God, “suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18). But Jesus is also Lord of His people. “Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the Throne, and unto the Lamb forever and ever” (Revelation 5:13; 6:16; 7:10). See His Throne! “For the Lamb which is IN THE MIDST OF THE THRONE shall feed them; and lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes” (Revelation 7:17). Jesus is both Lamb and Lord. He must be received AS HE IS, or not at all.

The Lord Prepares To Become The Lamb,
While Judas Prepares To Betray The Lamb

Every one of the Gospels tell us more about Jesus’ final preparations to fulfill His duty as the Lamb of God. For instance, John tells us:

John 13:1-5 …. before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end. 2 And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him; 3 Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God; 4 he riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself. 5 After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded.

Jesus wanted His disciples to remember that Love is the mark of His Kingdom. Jesus washed the feet of His disciples, a job that only a servant would do. Jesus modeled the love that He wants us to have. We are a people SAVED TO SERVE. We are to GO OUTSIDE OUR COMFORT ZONE, and love. Jesus said:

John 13:35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

You must HAVE love. Not RECEIVE love, but HAVE love. Jesus modeled how to HAVE love. Jesus also began to expose what FALSE LOVE LOOKS LIKE.

Six days before the Feast of the Passover

Mary took “a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair” (John 12:3). This is Christlike love. This is what God through Christ saves us to do. Not to be served, but to serve one another, just as Christ serves us. The King in the Kingdom of God is not ME, but Christ. When John F. Kennedy was inaugurated to be our 35th President (January 20th, 1961 … I was 3 years old!), part of his speech had the famous line,

Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country”

Selfishness and a “me first” attitude has, in the last 20 or so years, taken over our country. God the Son is calling a people to HIS Kingdom, not to OUR kingdom.

In stark contrast to what Mary did to Jesus, Judas Iscariot stood on the outside looking in, complaining …

John 12:5-6 Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor? 6 This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein.

Jesus gently rebuked Judas for his murmuring and selfishness. What was his response? The Bible says:

Matthew 26:14-16 … Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests, 15 and said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver. 16 And from that time he sought opportunity to betray him.

Jesus knew the state of Judas’ heart. When Jesus washed the feet of the disciples, – Judas included – our Lord said:

John 13:10 … ye are clean, but not all. 11 For {Jesus} knew who should betray him; therefore said he, Ye are not all clean.

Jesus told His disciples:

John 13:15-18 I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. 16 Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. 17 If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them. 18 I speak not of you all: I know whom I have chosen: but that the scripture may be fulfilled, {Jesus now quotes Psalm 41:9} He that eateth bread with me hath lifted up his heel against me”.

Happiness is what our Savior and Lord wants for us. We will only have this when we emulate Jesus, not Judas.

Jesus “being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made Himself of NO REPUTATION, and TOOK UPON HIMSELF the form of a SERVANT, and was made in the likeness of men” (Philippians 2:6-7). Judas, on the other hand, chose to serve not God but money. In Luke 16:13 Jesus said Ye cannot serve God and mammon”. Jesus knew who Judas was. He knew from the beginning. He said:

John 6:70-71 … Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil? 71 He spake of Judas Iscariot the son of Simon: for he it was that should betray him, being one of the twelve.

In Grace, Jesus calls Judas. Will he repent? Will he turn to God? No, Judas had a god. He had himself.

Jesus goes to the Cross, He once more wants to show us what love is. He wants to show us His love for us.

Judas Iscariot Must Leave The Room

I have not forgotten our focal text, but had to go to the other Gospels to give you the background. Now we return to our focal text. Jesus and the disciples – all twelve – are celebrating the Passover meal. Then Jesus drops a bombshell on the little group. Jesus exposes evil at the table. We read:

Mark 14:18-21 And as they sat and did eat, Jesus said, Verily I say unto you, One of you which eateth with me shall betray me. 19 And they began to be sorrowful, and to say unto him one by one, Is it I? and another said, Is it I? 20 And he answered and said unto them, It is one of the twelve, that dippeth with me in the dish. 21 The Son of man indeed goeth, as it is written of him: but woe to that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! good were it for that man if he had never been born.

When Jesus declared that one of those at the table with Him would betray Him, several disciples started to ask, “Is it I?” We at the Table should “examine ourselves, whether we are walking by faith or not” (2 Corinthians 13:5). Am I in Jesus, or am I in Judas? The Gospel of John gives us another view of the Table. When the eleven asked “Is it I, Lord?”, Jesus tells them:

John 13:26-30 He it is, to whom I shall give a sop, when I have dipped it. And when he had dipped the sop, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon. 27 And after the sop Satan entered into him. Then said Jesus unto him, That thou doest, do quickly. 28 Now no man at the table knew for what intent he spake this unto him. 29 For some of them thought, because Judas had the bag, that Jesus had said unto him, Buy those things that we have need of against the feast; or, that he should give something to the poor. 30 He then having received the sop went immediately out: and it was night.

It was normally a great honor – like a modern “toast” – to be given the sop. It is not an honor today. It is a sign, a trigger.

Judas must leave the Table. Jesus is going to give us another example of love, a perpetual Feast that will replace the Feast of the Passover.

Beloved, Judas Must Leave The Table

In a moment we will celebrate “the Lord’s Table” (1 Corinthians 10:21), also called “Communion” (1 Corinthians 10:16), and “The Lord’s Supper” (1 Corinthians 11:20). Before we celebrate, Judas must leave the Table. I tell you, dear ones, a lost person who partakes of the Bread and the Cup will eat a cracker and drink an unsatisfying amount of grape juice. If you come to the Table lost, you will leave the Table lost. You who do not know Jesus as Lord and Savior are welcomed to partake, but it will mean nothing to you. “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is IN YOU, except ye be reprobates?” (2 Corinthians 13:5). I am not your judge, nor am I called to be. But Judas must leave the Table. Judas will not understand nor enjoy the Table. Come to Jesus if you do not know Him as Lord and Savior. “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief” (1 Timothy 1:15). Jesus said,

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

If you but confess with your heart that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. You need to leave Judas and come to Jesus. Judas must leave the Table.

And CHRISTIAN. If you have examined yourselves, if you are in the faith, have you active sin in your life. Jesus said to us who believe:

John 12:46 I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness.

Do you have sin in your life? JUDAS MUST LEAVE THE TABLE. The Bible says:

1 Corinthians 11:28-32 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. 29 For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. 30 For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. 31 For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. 32 But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.

Confess your sins unto God. Not to a Priest, for YOU are Priests, YOU are Kings and Priests unto God because of Christ (Revelation 1:6; 5:10). Jesus Christ is your HIGH PRIEST (Hebrews 2:17). Confess your sins unto God. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

Judas must leave the Table. He must. Now, will our servers come forward as we celebrate the Lord’s Table.

Mark 14:22-26 And as they {the eleven} did eat, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and brake it, and gave to them, and said, Take, eat: this is my body. 23 And he took the cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them: and they all drank of it. 24 And he said unto them, This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many. 25 Verily I say unto you, I will drink no more of the fruit of the vine, until that day that I drink it new in the kingdom of God.

26 And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives.

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

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Abiding In Christ IS Christianity

Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash

Tonight I want to talk about “abiding in Christ”. Turn with me in your Bibles to John 15.

The Bible makes it clear that the Christian is called to abide in Christ. When Jesus spoke of our abiding in Him, He used the illustration of the grape vine, something all Jews were familiar with. Jesus said:

John 15:4-8 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. 5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. 6 If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. 7 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. 8 Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.

The Normal Or Natural State Of The Christian
Is To ABIDE In Christ

Jesus uses the word “ABIDE” seven times in this short text. The Lord God RESTED on the 7th day, the first time 7 is used in Scripture. God RESTED because creation was complete. We find our completion in Christ!

When we come to Jesus in faith, surrendering our lives to Him, we begin to “ABIDE”. But “ABIDE” refers to more than just resting. The Greek Lexicon tells us the word translated “ABIDE” is the Greek μένω ménō, {pronounced men’-o}, which means:

  • To REMAIN
  • To REST on or in
  • To DWELL in or on
  • To WAIT for
  • To ENDURE or CONTINUE with

The branch, the Christian, is spiritually attached to the Vine, Who is Jesus. The branch does not attach itself, but grows out of attachment to the Vine. Before salvation, we were not branches from Jesus – we were detached from Jesus, and under condemnation of sin. The Scripture says:

John 3:18 … He that believeth on {Jesus} is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

Before you received Christ as Lord and Savior, you were not attached to Jesus Christ. Once saved by faith, God the Father “qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in light” (Colossians 1:12). The Bible says:

Galatians 5:1 Christ has MADE US free
Ephesians 1:6 God has MADE US accepted in the Beloved (in Jesus)
Ephesians 2:6 God has raised us up, and MADE US sit with Him
Revelation 1:6 God has MADE US kings and priests unto the Father

The Christian is not self made, but God made. When we call on Jesus, we are “brought into union with Christ”. Transformed, we are branches, and are attached to the Vine. When Jesus commanded:

John 15:4 Abide in me, and I in you.

This “ABIDING” is mutual. The Christian ABIDES in Christ, and Jesus ABIDES in us. His life essence flows through us. When a person is saved by repenting of their idolatry, and by receiving Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior (Romans 10:9-13), the Holy Spirit of God acts to cause us to be “born again” (John 3:3, 7). The Apostle said:

1 Peter 1:18-23 forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: 20 who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, 21 who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God. 22 Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: 23 being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.

You cannot make yourself “born again” no more than you made yourself physically born. You call upon the Lord Jesus, believing and receiving Him, and God causes your new birth. When you are born again, God brings you into union with Christ. The saved person is “in Christ”:

Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

The Christian is not as they were before. “In Christ”, we are new creatures. If you are IN CHRIST, attached to Jesus, you are guaranteed eternal life.

John 10:28-29 … I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. 29 My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.

The believer is spiritually bound to Christ. He becomes part of us, and we become part of Him. It is the natural state of the branch to abide in the Vine. The Apostle John further clarifies “abiding” this way:

1 John 2:1-6 My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: 2 and he is the propitiation {the covering that satisfies God the Father} for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. 3 And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. 4 He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5 But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him. 6 He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.

If we are “abiding” in Christ, then we are keeping Christ’s commandments. If we are “abiding” in Christ, we are to walk as Jesus walked.

Those IN CHRIST Follow The Same Law Jesus Followed: The Royal Law

Jesus gave His Church – those believers gathered together in His name – a Royal Law that we are to follow. The Royal Law has three parts. We studied this last week when we started our study in James. The first two parts were given by Jesus when He was asked, “Master, what is the GREAT COMMANDMENT in the Law?” Jesus answered:

Matthew 22:37-40 … Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

The first part of the Royal Law (Christ our King’s Law) is that we love God with our ALL. God is not a leftover, but we are fully dedicated to live for His smile. The second part of the Royal Law is that we love those near us as WE want to be loved. Jesus said that these two commandments are the PRIMARY PRINCIPLE of the whole of Scripture (called “the Law and the Prophets” by the Jews).

As Jesus prepared to go to the Cross, He gave His disciples a “new commandment”, the third part of the Royal Law:

John 13:34 A new Commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.

Jesus restated this in John 15:12, “This is My commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you”. This is a sacrificial love, a love toward even our enemies. This is how Jesus loved. So the Royal Law is:

  1. Love God with your all
  2. Love others the way you want to be loved
  3. Love sacrificially the way Jesus loved

Abiding in Christ is the normal state
all true believers seek.

What We Learn From Judas Iscariot: Those who do not “abide” in Christ are, according to the Apostle John, NOT saved. Pretenders to the faith act as if they are attached to the Vine. But in time, trials and tests will come, and they will fall away. They are like Judas Iscariot. Judas was called by Jesus to be an Apostle. Judas followed Jesus. Judas was loved by Jesus. Judas fellow-shipped regularly with other believers. Judas outwardly kissed Jesus, but deceptively denied Jesus. Jesus was not in his heart. Though Peter and the other disciples also denied Jesus, those who were in Christ, attached to the Vine, returned to Jesus after He resurrected. Judas did not. Judas killed himself! The Bible says:

1 John 2:19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.

The saved person who has indeed been saved will return to walk with Christ, even when sorely tried.

God will COMPLETE His Work in the saved one. He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6).

Please turn with me in your Bibles to Acts 6, where we will see …

Iscariot Teaches Us False Faith,
Stephen Shows Us Abiding Faith

There are a lot of men and women that we can refer to when we talk about ABIDING in Christ. There are Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Deborah, David, Jeremiah, Daniel …. I can name many names. But one of the great ABIDERS was a man called Stephen. Turn in your Bibles to Acts chapter 6.

The early Church took care of “widows” by feeding these poor women daily. The early Church did not sit, soak, and sour – but it SERVED. The Apostles were busy sharing the Word of God and preaching as the Lord led, so they encouraged the Church to find and find from ….

Acts 6:3 … among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy {Spirit} and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.

Full of the Spirit, not full of OURSELVES. Iscariot was full of himself. Stephen was full of God!

To Jesus Christ was given the Holy Spirit without measure” (John 3:34), and if you are abiding in Christ the same Spirit is in you. Those who are filled with the Spirit will also have wisdom, the wisdom to learn from Scripture (James 1:5). Stephen was FULL!

Acts 6:5 … they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy {Spirit} …

There is no glamour in tending to widows. The mega Church Pastor loves the crowds, not the widow. But God is glorified when the least and the lesser are loved. Stephen abided in Christ. He loved the widows, and loved the Lord!

If you will serve God in the small things first, you will be blessed with the greater gifts later! Stephen …

Acts 6:8 … full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people.

When you are living for and in Christ, you will often go against the powers the be. Those who were enemies of the Cross “were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spoke” (Acts 6:10). Stephen stood up for Jesus, even when it went against the thought process of the world he was in. Jesus told us who love Him:

John 15:18-20 If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. 19 If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. 20 Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you;

A Christian who is spiritually lazy or passive, turning a blind eye and giving a mute testimony to the darkness, will never be persecuted by the world. It saddens me when “Christian artists” come into the spotlight during a worldly interview, and will not stand up for Christ. Beloved, there is a cost to paid in pleasing God. When Jesus came, the Bible says “He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.” (1 John 3:8). Those who are abiding in Christ, attached to Him as a branch is to a Vine, will “love the Lord, and yet hate evil” (Psalm 97:10a). We are to remember that “the Lord loves the souls of His saints; He delivereth them out of the hand of the wicked” (Psalm 97:10b). Jesus loved and forgave, but Jesus NEVER justified sin.

Biblical Illustrations: To the woman taken in adultery Jesus said in John 8:11 … “Neither do I condemn thee: GO and SIN NO MORE”.

To the man Jesus healed at the pool of Bethesda, our Lord told him in John 5:14 .. “Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee. ”

When asked about the Galileans who Pilate killed, if they died because of their great sins, Jesus said in Luke 13:3 … “except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish”.

Beloved, neither God the Father, God the Son, nor God the Holy Spirit has ever justified sin. Jesus Christ died to make payment for sin – but sinners must REPENT!

Stephen abided in Christ. This world was not his home – he lived his life for Jesus. Back to Stephen’s story. As he stood for Christ, the Bible says:

Acts 6:11-15 … they suborned {literally, bribed} men, which said, We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses, and against God. 12 And they stirred up the people, and the elders, and the scribes, and came upon him, and caught him, and brought him to the council, 13 and set up false witnesses, which said, This man ceaseth not to speak blasphemous words against this holy place, and the law: 14 for we have heard him say, that this Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy this place, and shall change the customs which Moses delivered us. 15 And all that sat in the council, looking steadfastly on him, saw his face as it had been the face of an angel.

Those poor, lost souls SUBORNED or bribed liars, willing to violate God’s 9th Commandment (Exodus 20:16). They STIRRED UP the people, for “hatred stirs up strife; but love covers all sins” (Proverbs 10:12). The dark troops SEIZED Stephen, and SET UP false witnesses to SLANDER dear Stephen. The hiss of the serpent was in what they did that day. But as they looked at Stephen, they SAW as it was the face of an angel. Stephen is in union with Christ. God is with Stephen as He is with all His children.

Jeremiah 1:8 Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the LORD.

Stephen saw this moment in front of the Jewish court not as a trial, but as an opportunity to share the Gospel of Christ. Stephen, on trial for his life, did not even attempt to defend himself. In the power of God the Holy Spirit, Stephen preached perhaps one of the finest sermons ever recorded from the early Church. In Acts chapter 17 Stephen recounts the history of Israel. Stephen started with God calling Abraham from Mesopotamia (Acts 7:2), and spoke of Israel’s history as Joseph was sold into Egypt (Acts 7:9), and how God used the great famine and Joseph to bring Jacob and his twelve sons to Egypt. If you do not understand the history of Israel, the founding of that great nation, I highly recommend you read Stephen’s sermon. Oh, what a God honoring text it is! He told of Moses, his calling from the wilderness of mount Sinai, and how God used Moses to redeem Israel from Egypt. Stephen spoke of Israel’s wandering for 40 years, the Tabernacle of God in the wilderness, of the calling of King David, and Solomon building the Temple.

Oh, how I wish you would read all of Stephen’s sermon! It is a perfect Word from God. After Stephen reminded the court – occupied by Pharisees, Sadducees, and Chief Priests who should have known the history of their nation – of Israel’s blessings and failures, Stephen spoke harshly and clearly. Beloved, if a sermon has never REBUKED you, then you are either perfect (which you aren’t), or you have REFUSED to listen. Stephen preached:

Acts 7:51-53 Ye stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy {Spirit}: as your fathers did, so do ye. 52 Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers: 53 who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it.

Stephen did not mince words. I inherited high blood pressure and diabetes from my father. Stephen told the court that THEY inherited stiff necks, uncircumcised hearts, a desire to resist God. Stephen called them prophet killers and betrayers. This court should know the Law of God, but instead has conspired against the truth, entertained false witnesses, and is guilty of destroying the nation of Israel. When the leadership of a people begins to compromise the truths of God, it is not long until the nation falls. This court was corrupt. “The Law is slacked, and judgment doth never go forth: for the wicked doth compass about the righteous; therefore wrong judgment proceedeth”. Stephen stood up for Jesus. Stephen was abiding in Jesus.

When the court heard these things, it did as the darkness always does. “They were cut to the HEART, and they GNASHED on Stephen with their teeth” (Acts 7:54). Stephen was surrounded by wild dogs. They literally bit at him, like a rabid dog will bite. But Stephen was abiding in Christ.

Acts 7:55-56 … But {Stephen}, being full of the Holy {Spirit}, looked up steadfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, 56 and said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.

Jesus told the High Priest at his own trial, “ye shall see th