God’s Design Of All Things

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Photo by Sandy Millar on Unsplash

The news is often interesting. This just in: A man was arrested for putting up Christmas decorations. The man came home high on drugs, and since he had been shopping for Christmas decorations decided to get an early start. He put the decorations up, and after he was done settled down to watch a little television. Then the family came home – but it wasn’t his family. High on drugs he had entered a neighbor’s home. Though he apologized the neighbor nonetheless called the police, and he was arrested. He was an intruder, not a member of the family. He was in the wrong place.

You’re in the right place this morning. We are here to study the Word of God and to get a blessing from our Heavenly Father. Last week we heard what our Lord had to say about how believers should live in relationship to the One Who saved us. God called we who are Christians to follow Him, to be His dear Children not just while in this building, but beyond this building. We are to be …

“filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18)

God is to possess all of us, not just part of us. God is to be the One Who “fills us up”, completes our lives. If we are blessed of God to be saved by faith in Christ, this will cause a change in our lives. Which brings us to the Christian Family. How did God our Father design the Christian Family? I am not talking about what the world thinks is right but am reciting what God says is right.

Ephesians 5:21 Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.

Submission Is Not A Dirty Word

The word “submitting” in our text is the Greek ὑποτάσσω hypotássō, (pronounced hoop-ot-as’-so) which means to obey, be in obedience toward, to be subject to. The worldly mindset is that of pride, of me first, of my god is the one I see in the mirror. Yet this is not to be the mindset of the Christian. The command:

Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God

tells us that the Christian is not to be prideful or domineering, but to be submitted to God (in the fear of God) and because of that relationship, to be submitting to others.

Submission is not a bad word!

Nineteen years ago the Southern Baptists got in trouble for re-writing The Baptist Faith and Message. Under the leadership of the late Adrian Rogers this denomination decided to use the word submit in reference to women. And the world blew up! Everyone was upset. Every news channel and feminist organization had a fit – what my mama used to call a hissy fit. Television sitcoms wrote whole episodes about how horrible it is that that nasty word “submit” was used toward women in marriage or toward women in general.

Let’s defuse this word “submit”.
I “submit” to you that …
Everybody must submit,
or we all will
be injured or die”.

  • You had to submit to get to Church this morning. You stopped at red lights. You drove on the RIGHT side of the road. You yielded to others. You stayed in your lanes of traffic. You had to, or you would have been injured, or died!

In 1988 I and my family were stationed in England at RAF Alconberry. When I got to England I had to SUBMIT and go to traffic school. I had to SUBMIT and learn the laws of the road. In England they drive on the LEFT side of the road. I could not get a British License unless I submitted and agreed to submit to their traffic laws. Now I could have went to England and said “I’m an America, not a Brit! We drive on the RIGHT side of the road. You’re ALL WRONG, and I’m gonna do what I think is best!” How do you think that would have played out? At the least I would lose my license. At the most, I could have been killed, killed someone else, or been imprisoned. Submission to the government is normal. The Apostle Paul, imprisoned for preaching the Gospel to a secular and religious society, wrote:

Romans 13:1-5 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. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God

God is behind the laws of every nation. We submit to the laws. In fact,

  • The Law itself submits to the law.

You live in a free country because the law submits to the law. No police officer has the right to come into your home without an invitation unless there is a clear threat to life or a clearly seen violation of the law. The law must get a search warrant to come into your home, and must convince a judge to issue that search warrant. Submission is part of an orderly society.

  • When you go shopping or do anything in public, you must submit.

IIf I’m shopping and someone is in my way I submit by saying “excuse me”. That person then moves out of the way, submitting to my request. We have order. What if I walk in the store and just push people out of the way. “I’m not submitting – get out of my way!” I can get a bloody nose, a slap in the face, or even be arrested for provoking a riot.

I was standing in line at a register one time when a rude young man of color pushed me to the side and got in front of me. I let it go. I submitted. I could have grabbed him by the hair of the head (and I thought about it) and slung him behind me. I could have went to jail where – there – I would have to submit. Submission is necessary.

  • Submission is necessary in any Church. As I preach this message you are submitting. If one of you jumped up right now and tried to take the stage I would ask you to sit down. One speaker at a time. Period. The Apostle addressed this in:

1 Corinthians 14:29-33 Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge. 30 If any thing be revealed to another that sitteth by, let the first hold his peace. 31 For ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted. 32 And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. 33 For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.

In the Church – in fact, in any business, organization, or group – there is submission. In the Fire Department Tony Scott is not the whole Fire Department. Though Assistant Chief, he both leads and submits. The same is true in the Church. God sets members in the Church. The Bible says:

1 Corinthians 12:19-20 And if they were all one member, where were the body? 20 But now are they many members, yet but one body.

If everyone were in charge all the time it would be as if there were no Divine Design – and if that were the case then there would be no body at all. We are called of God to be what HE has designed us to be. It is no shame to be as God designed you to be. It is a shame when we take upon ourselves roles and giftings that were never given us by God.

  • You had to submit to the speaker/teacher when you went to school. Children learn this while in Kindergarten. Sister Brenda cannot teach the children the Christmas Program if the children will not submit. Brother Jerry cannot lead the choir if the members will not submit. Without submission there is no learning, no growing, no doing.

Colleges that allow their students to stand up and scream while an unpopular speaker who is scheduled to appear is trying to talk are not doing their students any favors. They are tolerating uncivil and malicious insurrection in the veil of “freedom of speech”. Freedom of speech does not mean that we all speak at the same time.

  • We have the finest military in the world because of submission. If every man and woman in the military said “I’m going to do what I want to do when I want to do it” then we would have no military.

Every now and then I’d get some nut from a liberal state in my unit who thought he or she could do what they wanted when they wanted. They didn’t last long. Some I arrested and sent off to correctional custody. Others I just had booted out of the Air Force. Everyone – even the Base Commander – submits to someone else in the military. Submission is not a bad word.

  • It may surprise you to know that EVEN GOD submits. Our Lord Jesus is God in the flesh. The Bible makes this very clear. At Jesus’ birth the Angel said:

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. (see also Isaiah 9:6)

Jesus Christ is “God with us”. Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world, though God said in the Old Testament:

Isaiah 43:11 … I, even I, am the Lord, and beside Me there is no Savior!

We are told in Isaiah 44:24 that God created the world, and in John 1:3; Colossians 1:16 that Jesus made all things. Jesus Christ called Himself The Great I AM (John 8:58). Thomas called Jesus “My Lord and My God” … and Jesus did not correct Him (John 8:58). Jesus said:

I and My Father are ONE (John 10:30-33) and the Jews attempted to kill Him because He made Himself equal with God. Jesus is equal with God. And yet Jesus said:

John 14:9 … he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; …

Luke 2:49 {do you not know} I must be about my Father’s business?

Jesus Christ submitted to the Father. God the Son came to this earth because God the Father sent Him.

\Submission is not a dirty word. Jesus is not lesser than because He submitted to the Father. He submitted to the Father in Gethsemane. He prayed:

Luke 22:42 Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.

Jesus came to this earth because the Father sent Him. He said:

John 6:38 … I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.

God the Son submits to God the Father. But further, God the Spirit submits to God the Son. Jesus said:

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

God the Spirit submits to God the Son and God the Father. But did you also know THE FATHER SUBMITS TO THE SON. Because Jesus fulfilled His role as Redeemer the Bible says:

Ephesians 4:32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.

In the Trinity God the Father leads the Son Who leads the Spirit Who forgives us because of the Son. There is no confusion, but each Member of the Godhead both submit and lead. Submission is not a dirty word. It was because Adam failed to submit to God that we lost Paradise! God told Adam “in the day you eat of it, you shall SURELY DIE” (Genesis 2:17). Where submission is not, there is death! Adam brought sin into the world, and death by sin (Romans 5:12).

Submission to one another is so necessary in creation as well as in the Creator. You are not “less than” because of submission. Without submission nothing of value is accomplished. Without submission death reigns and evil rules.

Submission Is Necessary For A Successful Marriage

I’ve pulled the pin on that so called hand grenade of submission – so now let’s look at the rest of the text. It should be fairly easy to understand.

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

The wife is exhorted to be subject to the leadership of HER OWN husband. This has nothing to do with your value, precious ladies. It has to do with DESIGN.

This word “submit” has nothing to do with value
– but with Divine design. The Bible says…

1 Timothy 2:13 For Adam was first formed, then Eve.

Adam was made, then Eve. And yet the Scripture says:

Genesis 1:27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

Genesis 5:2 Male and female {God} created them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created.

God made BOTH Adam and Eve in His image.
God blessed them both.
God gave them BOTH dominion over the world.

Yet it was to ADAM – not Eve – that God gave the command that forbade the eating of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. It was not Eve’s act that brought sin into the world. It was ADAM’S act.

Romans 5:12, 15, 17, 19 … 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: 15 … if through the offense of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many. 17 … by one man’s offense death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.) 19 … by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.

The reason that Jesus entered this world as a MAN and not a WOMAN is because ADAM did not do the right thing. Eve ate as much of the forbidden fruit that Adam did – but Adam was the leader in that marriage. Eve was to follow, to submit to Adam, not to the serpent. Women are designed by God and called by God to follow the godly lead of their husbands.

Ephesians 5:22-23 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church:

Ladies are called to follow their husbands “as unto the Lord”. The man is not free to ask you to do evil or that which is ungodly. The husband is the leader in marriage – just as Jesus Christ is the Leader of His Church. The husband is called of God to follow the Lord and lovingly lead his wife – just as Jesus lovingly leads us.

Ephesians 5:24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.

The husband, like Jesus Christ, is to set the standard in love. As he does so the wife is to follow her husband. But Beloved, the husband also submits!

Ephesians 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;

Husbands are called to sacrificially love their wives just as Jesus did with us. The husband is to lay his life down for his wife. That was what Jesus did – and what we are commanded to do. We are called to be imitators of Jesus Christ. We too are to SUBMIT – and that’s not a dirty word.

Ephesians 5:28-29 … So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. 29 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:

The husband is to nourish and cherish his wife – to put her on a pedestal – to honor her, not shame her. Christian women do not wear burkas, or walk 3 feet behind us. When I and my wife walk into the store or the restaurant it is as we hold hands. And guess what?

I open the door for my wife.
I treat her with respect and love.
I encourage her in her faith.
When I don’t like something I treat her with respect.
If I am ever harsh, I apologize to her.
I want what is best for her life. Period.

Ephesians 5:31-33 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. 32 This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. 33 Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.

The husband is to submit to his wife by leaving mother and father. Some men degrade their wives because “what you cook is not as good as mama’s”. Shame on you. Elevate your wife. Encourage her. Speak well of her. Until this nation returns to God’s design we will falter and flail at life.

We need to DO as God says.

Submission Is Necessary For Salvation

I want to leave on this note. Submission is necessary for salvation. Jesus Christ submitted Himself to death on the Cross of Calvary to save you and I. The only way you can be saved is to submit to Him in faith, believing He died for your sins, and receiving Him as Lord of your life. Jesus Christ is the Head of His Church. Only those who are born again by faith in Him are a part of the Church. It’s not the name written on the roll that matters. It is the name written in the Book of Life. Have you met Jesus? Do you know Him? Do you follow Him? Do you submit your life to Him? If not, today is the day you need to begin. May God touch your hearts with His Word!

Posted in Ephesians, Sermons Preached | Tagged , , , , ,

Salvation Not A Counterfeit

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Matthew 7:21 … 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.

Key Thought: Christians Are People Changed By God To Follow The Son Of God.

The devil loves to counterfeit Christianity – and often uses Christian bookstores and Christian businesses to do this.

I was reading an article by Dr. Russell Moore the other day called Does Jeremiah 29:11 Apply To You? I’m sure you’ve heard Jeremiah 29:11, or seen it on a sign or a get well card. The verse is very rarely quoted in the King James Version. The King James reads:

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.”

But the text usually quoted is from the New International Version:

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

though sometimes it’s in the New American Standard:

“For I know the plans that I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.”

The verse is passed off as one that says the Lord loves everyone, and will cause everything to work out in your life to be for the best. Does this verse apply to you? Dr. Moore writes:

Many understand the text to be about God’s favor on one’s life and on one’s plans. If I just have confidence and follow my heart, someone following this line might think, God will bless me. … {That’s not what God is saying} … This verse comes in the context of a shocking message from the prophet. Those “left behind” in Jerusalem—anchored around the temple and the throne—assume that their relative fortune is a sign that God is for them, while those carted off in captivity to Babylon are seen to be under God’s curse. It’s not just those in Jerusalem who are tempted to think this way; those in Babylon are tempted to think it too. Israel’s God seems distant to them, and they seem as though they’ve been raptured away from the promises to Abraham. Jeremiah says, though, that God’s judgment will fall on Jerusalem, and that God’s purposes will come to being through the exiles.”

You can take a Bible verse out of context and make it say anything you want. The devil and the world are masters at doing this.

The often misquoted Jeremiah text is actually a promise to those who obey God’s Word that they will not be destroyed with those who denied God’s Word. God’s Word is most important. We must DO what God says to be blessed. The reason much of Israel is going to be destroyed is because they heard God’s Word but did not DO God’s Word.

This is what Jesus is telling us in our text today. Jesus said:

Matthew 7:21 … 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.

Not everybody is going to be saved. No. Only those who do the will of Jesus’ Father shall enter Heaven. We must DO what God says. This applies whether we are in the Old Testament or in the New Testament.

God’s Word has two covenants.
And OLD Covenant and a NEW Covenant.
Israel was under the OLD Covenant.
The Church is under the NEW Covenant.
The Old Covenant is Moses on a Mountain receiving the Law from God.
The Old Covenant is the people at the base of the mountain,
frightened by the Law.
The New Covenant is Jesus on a Mountain sharing God’s love.
Our text today is Jesus’ sermon from the Mountain.
As God spoke through our Lord Jesus, He spoke to those on the mountain.

What a grand difference there is between the Old and New Covenants. When Moses went up the mountain:

Exodus 19:16 And it came to pass on the third day in the morning, that there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount, and the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud; so that all the people that was in the camp trembled.

Did you hear God say “the third day in the morning”? Oh Beloved, when Moses was on the mountain the people trembled, for Moses gave the Law but did not enable anyone to fulfill the Law. The Law of God should make you tremble if you do not know Jesus. IT SHOULD MAKE YOU TREMBLE. The third day in the giving of the Law made Israel tremble, tremble, tremble! But when Jesus went up on the mountain “Jesus sat down, and His students – His disciples – came to hear Him speak” (Matthew 5:1). Our Lord Jesus would:

Matthew 16:21 … be killed, and be raised again the third day.

Matthew 17:23 … they shall kill him, and the third day he shall be raised again.

Luke 18:33 … And they shall scourge him, and put him to death: and the third day he shall rise again.

1 Corinthians 15:4 … He was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

What a difference it makes! Moses come off the mountain with the Law, a Law that none could keep. But Jesus, Oh Jesus, He went up the mountain. He spoke the Law of God. And He promised that those who believe in Him would be enabled to keep what He said. That’s what this message is about today.

It Is Not Enough To Know Bible Doctrine

The Law is good. The Scripture is wonderful. Nothing bad comes from reading the Bible. Oh, how I wish that everyone would read the Bible. I am glad that, as a Church, we support the Gideon’s International. God’s Word brings light. As David said:

Psalms 119:105 … Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.

Jesus started preaching His “Sermon on The Mount” back in Matthew chapter 5. A lot of people went up that mountain with Jesus that day. I am sure that the path up the mountain was tricky. I get out of breath climbing the hill from our Fellowship Hall to our Sanctuary! The people came up, sat down, and heard Jesus. Some perhaps left before the sermon was completely. I have had people walk out on sermons before, and never heard the application. I have had people distracted by bugs flying around in the sanctuary, by someone coughing, by a baby passing gas or crying, or by disobedient children along with their parents who will not make them behave. Imagine Jesus preaching on the mountain that day. I imagine – knowing how people are – not every one stayed the full sermon, not every one payed attention to the whole sermon. But as Jesus comes to the end of the sermon He says:

Matthew 7:21 … Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven

There were many on the mountain that day that heard what Jesus said and called Him LORD. They knew Who Jesus was. Their DOGMA or DOCTRINE was right. When they came to Jesus they did not see Jesus as a mere teacher, but saw Him as Lord. The word “Lord” is the Greek KYRIOS, which was a title used for God under the Old Covenant:

Genesis 2:4 … the LORD God made the earth and the heavens,

Genesis 2:7 … 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.

Psalm 113:1-2 Praise ye the LORD. Praise, O ye servants of the LORD, praise the name of the LORD. 2 Blessed be the name of the LORD from this time forth and for evermore.

You may know a lot of Bible doctrine. You may know a lot of Scripture truths. That’s not a bad thing. But mere knowledge of truth will not get you into God’s Heaven.

II remember one episode of the Andy Griffith Show that was about the Mayberry Men’s Club. Called The Golden Door To Good Fellowship the men who were part of that club could get past that “Golden Door” (yes, there was actually a golden door) – BUT YOU HAD TO KNOW THE PASSWORD. Goober Pyle guarded the door, and unless you knew the password you couldn’t get in. But once you got in – oh what pleasures there were! You could drink all the root beer you wanted – oh, and play cards, too!

It’s not enough to know Bible Doctrine. It’s not enough to know that Jesus is “Lord”. A lot of people believe Jesus is “Lord”, and not just a good teacher. But do you follow Him? Has your knowledge changed your life? Jesus said:

John 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.

John 14:23 … 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.

Does your knowledge of Jesus effect your life? Do you do what Jesus says do? Or do you just hear and then walk away? Do you hear Jesus and then do what He says? Do you judge yourself before you judge others? Jesus told us:

Matthew 7:1-5 Judge not, that ye be not judged. 2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. 3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? 4 Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? 5 Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.

The danger of judging others rather than yourself is that it can make you a Pharisee. No one wants to be a Pharisee, or self righteous. Jesus told the Pharisees:

Matthew 23:12-13 And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted. 13 But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.

Self righteousness does two terrible, destructive things. It first of all keeps the self righteous person from realizing that we all are sinners in need of the Savior. What did our Lord say?

Luke 5:32 I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

Luke 19:10 For the Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.

It is good to know that Jesus is Lord – but do you know that none of us are worthy for Heaven? It is Jesus Who paid our way into Heaven. It is Jesus that we need to come to in humility, realizing we need a doctor.

We need to come to Him not just saying Lord, but surrendering to Him as Lord. Are you in love with Him?

It Is Not Enough To Be Excited

Matthew 7:21 … Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven

We are emotional creatures. We get excited – and we were designed that way. There were many people who were excited when Jesus first came and began to preach. When John the Baptist told his disciples about Jesus, saying:

John 1:32 … I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him.

Two of his disciples followed Jesus home that day. They thought that Jesus had come to save Israel from Roman occupation. When Philip, who followed Jesus, went and spoke to his friend Nathaniel he was excited. He said:

John 1:45 … We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.

Oh, they were excited! I have preached the Gospel of salvation many years now. I have seen the Holy Spirit of God touch lives and change people’s lives. I have seen people excited, EXCITED, and come forward to give their lives to Jesus. They were on fire the day they were saved.

Then they cooled off. They heard the Gospel as if it were Fire Insurance, and Jesus Christ as the Salesman. But the Gospel is not just a momentary thing. I know you’ve been told this by others, but it’s not true.

As Jesus preached, more and more “disciples” followed Him, excited to see the Messiah, the Lord Who was going to overthrow Rome. When Jesus fed the 5000 with a two fish and five little biscuits the people were excited. Surely Rome is going to fall if we follow this Miracle Man!

John 6:14-15 Then those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world. 15 When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone.

Jesus was “Lord, Lord” to these people. Jesus crossed the sea and moved to Capernaum – and the crowds followed Him! When Jesus saw this crowd – this excited crowd – He told them:

John 6:26-35, 40 Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled. 27 Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed. 28 Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? 29 Jesus answered and said unto them, THIS IS THE WORK OF GOD, THAT YE BELIEVE ON HIM WHOM HE HATH SENT. 30 They said therefore unto him, What sign shewest thou then, that we may see, and believe thee? what dost thou work? 31 Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat. 32 Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world. 34 Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread. 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.

John 6:40 And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.

It is fine to be excited about Jesus. I am. But mere emotion will not save you, no more than merely hearing the doctrinal truths will save you. You must receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

Receiving Him as LORD I will follow Him,
and DO what He says.
Receiving Him as SAVIOR I will trust Him to change me,
and make me His child.

When Jesus told the crowd what He expected of them the Bible says:

John 6:66 From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.

To be saved is not just fire insurance. To be saved is to give Christ all that you are, and to let Him give you all that He is. To be saved is to be changed.

The Truly Saved Follow Jesus. Period.

Matthew 7:21 … 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.

The Christian is the person who has received Christ as Lord and Savior. Because that person has received Christ their lives are changed. The changed life shows in the fruit we produce.

Matthew 7:17-20 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. 19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. 20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

What makes a good tree good, and a bad tree bad? It is in its design. How was it made? You see a good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. It is God that tests the fruit. We who are saved are God’s garden (1 Corinthians 3:9). We who are saved are God’s trees.

Where are your roots planted?
God can see where your roots are planted!

If your life is rooted in Christ then the things that you do for God will be pleasing, because you are one of His children. But there are many people who say:

Matthew 7:22-23 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.

Too many people think “because I have done this good thing or that good thing I am saved”. But ARE you? Jesus said that on judgment day there would be MANY who were doctrinally correct. There would be MANY who were excited about Jesus. There would be MANY who preached or taught Bible classes. There would be MANY who volunteered to help others. There will be MANY who tithe, or were baptized, or on Church rolls. MANY, MANY, MANY. Then Jesus will tell them:

then will I profess unto them, I never knew you:
depart from me,
ye that work iniquity

Oh you sang in the Choir, you preached in the pulpit, but you never knew Jesus – and He didn’t know you. This brings or should pause to each and every one of us. Pastor Greg Morse writes:

Jesus shows the fantasy of mere activism — of the one who would say, “I’ve done great things for God and thus I am saved.” … They thought and felt and acted, at times, like saints, but their lives were marked by self and sin. They listened to the Sermon on the Mount, only to go away not to cut off limbs of lust, nor cease their adulteries, nor end the hatred toward their brother, nor renounce the love of money, nor forgive their neighbor, nor relinquish their anxieties, nor resolve to be charitable in their judgments — all by faith in and love for the Preacher. Nor would they be bothered to ask, seek, and knock for the Spirit’s help (Matthew 7:7–11). Their righteousness would not exceed that of the Pharisees (Matthew 5:20).

They vainly thought — as I thought for many years, and ache over how many in our day still think it — that hearing was sufficient. That feeling was enough. That public displays of religion would do the trick. They wandered, as in a dream, trusting in the fact that they heard, that they felt, or that they did, even though they continued to practice sin.”

The saved are saved by unconditionally surrendering to Jesus. The saved love Jesus with a desperate love, and being saved by faith in Him obey Him in all things. He is Lord. Period.

If Jesus is your Lord, and you follow Him as Lord and Savior, then you know Him and He knows you. But if not, dear One, today is the day to receive Him as Lord and Savior. Call upon Him, dear one, and receive His salvation. Believe He died for you as Savior, and lives for you as High Priest. Obey Him in all things. Develop a desire to seek out the habit of righteousness. I end with His promise:

Matthew 7:24-27 Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: 25 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. 26 And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: 27 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.

May God the Spirit touch your hearts with His Word!

Posted in Matthew, Sermons Preached | Tagged

The Unworthy Servant

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Photo by Jordan Whitfield on Unsplash

Luke 17:3-10 Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. 4 And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him. 5 And the apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our faith. 6 And the Lord said, If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamine tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you. 7 But which of you, having a servant plowing or feeding cattle, will say unto him by and by, when he is come from the field, Go and sit down to meat? 8 And will not rather say unto him, Make ready wherewith I may sup, and gird thyself, and serve me, till I have eaten and drunken; and afterward thou shalt eat and drink? 9 Doth he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? {I do not think so} 10 So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.

It pays to read the Scripture in context. I have heard preachers speak on the Parable of the Unworthy Servant but never look at the text around that parable. Context makes all the difference.

First of all let’s make note that this parable is only found in the Gospel of Luke. I think that is very important. The other Gospels were written by men who ministered for Christ. Matthew and John were Apostles, hand picked by Christ. Mark was written by an Evangelist (see acts 12:12; 15:37) who worked with Paul. Who did God use to write the Book of Luke? A physician, an early doctor who followed the Apostles and recorded what they said about Jesus. Luke was a Gentile who, based on various commentaries I read, never actually met Jesus face to face. What Luke knew of Jesus was from his encounters with the Apostles (including the Apostle Paul). He writes at the beginning:

Luke 1:1-2 Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us, 2 Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word;

Luke received what he wrote from eyewitness accounts of others. Someone told Luke about the Parable of the Unworthy Servant, and God allowed Luke to put it in the Scripture. The parable may have been an especially wonderful thing to Luke as he was a follower of those who saw Jesus but he himself had never seen the Lord other than with spiritual eyes. Jesus went to the Jews first, then to the Gentiles. Luke was a Gentile in the midst of a bunch of Jewish believers.

In Luke 17:3-4 Jesus emphasizes the need to forgive others if you will be used of God. What Jesus said was:

Luke 17:3-4 Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. 4 And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him.

Christians are not to harbor grudges. Our faith demands that we be forgiven as we have been forgiven. If we as believers sin by word or deed the Bible says:

1 John 1:7 But if we walk in the light, as {God} is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.

As we imitate God our Savior we love one another and fellowship with one another. We are saved because of the blood of Christ. We are not saved because we are perfect. We are not saved because we are worthy. It should not shock us when a brother or a sister in Christ sins against us, because we all are imperfect beings subject to sin.

Who among us has not sinned?
Let him or her cast the first stone! (John 8:7)

We all sin, have sinned, and will sin.
We are not saved because we are worthy.
We are saved because HE is worthy!

It is Jesus Who:

“… is worthy… for Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by Thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; and hast made us unto our God kings and priests; and we shall {one day} reign on the earth (Revelation 5:9-10).

We are not worthy. When we take and hold a grudge we put ourselves above God. We all have sinned and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). We must forgive others. No one is saved out of worthiness. No one. Not Billy Graham, nor David Jeremiah, nor John MacArthur, nor Charles Spurgeon, nor even David Buffaloe.

Therefore we must forgive. In response to this teaching the …

Apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our faith. (Luke 17:5)

To live a life of forgiveness requires a strong faith – not in ourselves, but in God. I’ll say that again:

To live a life of forgiveness requires
a strong faith in God and God alone!

If I had that much faith in God then that tiny bit of faith would be able to move a mountain. Where my faith is placed very much matters. I don’t need to scatter my faith out. My faith must be in my God, my Heavenly Father, my Blessed Redeemer Jesus. To have a great faith we all need to be like John the Baptist was. Do you remember John? John the Baptist was a mighty man of God. He was greater than Billy Graham, greater than Joel O’Steen, greater than any preacher we have ever heard of. You know how I know he was greater?

John did not have a big Church.
He never dressed in a fancy suit.
God led him to the wilderness to preach.
And people – without Facebook, Twitter,
Without NBC, ABC, or CBS,
Without free coffee and doughnuts to all who came,
Without good PR and a large advertising budget,
People flocked to John to be baptized!

One day those who followed John came to him and said:

John 3:26 … Rabbi, he that was with thee beyond Jordan, to whom thou barest witness, behold, the Same baptizeth, and all men come to him.

Listen John – we’ve got a competing Church. That Man that YOU baptized has a BIGGER CROWD than YOU have! What do you think we ought to do?”

Well if John pastored a megaChurch today he would have went out and discussed Church Growth Strategies with the experts. Maybe John needed to start a coffee house to reach the Millennials. Maybe Generation Z needed a place that they could work out. Maybe we needed a few more billboards. But John didn’t buy into any of these things. Notice John’s words:

John 3:27 … A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven.

If it didn’t come from God, it won’t come. If it is of God it can’t be beaten. But if it’s my program, or John’s program, or some slick PR thing, Beloved, it will come to nothing. John went on to say:

John 3:28-30 Ye yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before him. 29 He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled. 30 He must increase, but I must decrease.

John did not see himself as a “great man of God”, but as a recipient of God’s Grace. God called John to be the forerunner of Christ. What an honor that was! But John was not called to that position because he was a better person than others. God did not desperately need John the Baptist to do what he was called to do. What John had, he had by Grace.

John was saved by Grace.
John was appointed by Grace.
John baptized large numbers of people by Grace.
John’s ministry was for but a season.
And John had to decrease while Jesus increased.
So that Grace could go forward.

Beloved, none of us are worthy. None. That is what the Parable of the Unworthy Servant is about. God chose Luke to write the Gospel of Luke. Why? Because God wanted to. Period. God chose 12 that He named Apostles. Why? Because God wanted to. Period. God sent His Son to die for us on the Cross. Were we worthy? No! Why did God do this? Because He wanted to.

God doesn’t owe us anything. We owe Him everything. Now let us see the parable with us as the unworthy servants.

Luke 17:7 …. which of you, having a servant plowing or feeding cattle, will say unto him by and by, when he is come from the field, Go and sit down to meat?

I have a servant who has been out working all day. Do I call him in to supper, feeding him before I feed myself? Absolutely not! The one plowing was my servant. He’s doing his job. I’m recompensing him for his job. He’s doing what he’s supposed to do.

Luke 17:8 And will not rather say unto him, Make ready wherewith I may sup, and gird thyself, and serve me, till I have eaten and drunken; and afterward thou shalt eat and drink?

If I’m paying a servant to plow the field and to wait on me, I’m not going to wait on him. That’s foolish. He is only doing his job. His job is to wait on me because I am paying him for it.

Every day God gives us life. Every day we enjoy the riches of America. God gave me a life I do not deserve. God gave me salvation through His Son Jesus Christ. God doesn’t owe me anything. But I, and you too, dear ones, we together owe God everything. And that’s how we need to approach our service to God. Jesus said:

Luke 17:10 So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.

We are doing our duty when we serve the Lord. He saved us to serve Him. We are blessed beyond measure. We owe God everything, and God owes us nothing. We serve Him because this is our reasonable service. The Apostle Paul put it this way:

Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, [which is] your reasonable service.

If we are saved, it is our reasonable service to live for Him. Let us do so every day, to the glory of God our Savior!

Posted in Luke, Sermons Preached | Tagged , , ,

What Can We Learn From Judas Iscariot?

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Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

My mamma had a pretty good sense of humor. We would often talk about what she called “Things that make you go hmmmmmm”. Some of the things we might talk about were:

  • What hair color do they put on the driver’s licenses of bald men?
  • Why do banks charge you a “non-sufficient funds” fee on money they already know you don’t have?
  • Why do they put Braille on the drive through bank machines?
  • What was Preparation A through Preparation G?
  • How do “Do not walk on the grass” signs get there?
  • How do they get the deer to cross at that yellow road sign?
  • Why didn’t Noah swat those two mosquitoes?
  • Why do hot dogs come 10 to a package and hot dog buns only 8?
  • Why do we park in driveways and drive on parkways?

I miss my mamma. As I was thinking about her the other day and the conversations we used to have (things that make you go hmmmm) I thought about Judas Iscariot. I want to add this to the list of “Things that make you go hmmm”:

  • Why did Jesus Christ choose Judas Iscariot to be an Apostle?

The Bible tells us in …

Luke 6:13 And when it was day, {Jesus} called unto him his disciples: and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles;

If you read it clearly and carefully the text says – in essence – of the disciples Jesus had following Him, He chose twelve to be Apostles. Now Judas Iscariot was in this group of disciples. Why make him an Apostle?

Now I know that the Scripture foretold that Jesus would be betrayed for 30 pieces of silver. We read in …

Zechariah 11:12-13 … And I said unto them, If ye think good, give [me] my price; and if not, forbear. So they weighed for my price thirty [pieces] of silver. 13 And the LORD said unto me, Cast it unto the potter: a goodly price that I was prised at of them. And I took the thirty [pieces] of silver, and cast them to the potter in the house of the LORD.

That is what happened with Judas. He plotted against Jesus. Read these accounts:

Matthew 26:14-16 Then one of the twelve, called 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 {Jesus}.

Mark 14:10-11 And Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve, went unto the chief priests, to betray him unto them. 11 And when they heard it, they were glad, and promised to give him money. And he sought how he might conveniently betray him.

Luke 22:3-6 And the chief priests and scribes sought how they might kill him; for they feared the people. 3 Then entered Satan into Judas surnamed Iscariot, being of the number of the twelve. 4 And he went his way, and communed with the chief priests and captains, how he might betray him unto them. 5 And they were glad, and covenanted to give him money. 6 And he promised, and sought opportunity to betray him unto them in the absence of the multitude.

Now some may say that Jesus wasn’t aware of Judas Iscariot’s heart, but I don’t believe that for one moment. In John 13 Jesus washed all of the Apostles feet, then said:

John 13:10-11 Jesus saith to him, He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all. 11 For he knew who should betray him; therefore said he, Ye are not all clean.

John 13:17-18 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, He that eateth bread with me hath lifted up his heel against me.

John 13:21 When Jesus had thus said, he was troubled in spirit, and testified, and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me.

Jesus was not surprised by Judas Iscariot. He knew that Judas would betray Him from the beginning. His choice of Judas was deliberate. Jesus referenced a prophecy from …

Psalm 41:9 Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me.

Jesus knew. The Scripture declares “the Lord knoweth them that are His” (2 Timothy 2:19). Our Lord was not surprised. It was foretold from the Old Testament times that a betrayer would rise up against the Messiah and turn Him over to death. I know that. But here’s my question:

If God knows all things (and He does), and
If God controls all things (and I believe He does), then
WHY was it necessary that God include a betrayer as Apostle?
WHY did Jesus choose 12 Apostles out of the many disciples,
and choose one “A Devil?” (John 6:70)

Judas Iscariot Is Proof That God Is In Control

Jesus knew from the beginning that Judas Iscariot would betray Him. He knew because He is God the Son. He knew because He intimately knew the Father’s plan. Jesus understood something that we hear but barely grasp.

God is always in control!

Our Lord Jesus is building a Church, His Church. As He chooses leaders – Apostles – for this Church the Lord knows that 1 of the 12 will betray Him. If you were running a company and one of your major board members was skimming from the company profits, or selling company secrets to the enemy, this could be catastrophic to the company.

Judas Iscariot reminds us that evil is not stronger than God.
Nothing is stronger than God.
God can and will manipulate the evil to bring great good.

Years ago at Rock Hill Baptist Church we had begun to grow and build. We built an education annex, and started to reach out into the community and invite others to come to Church. We were growing in leaps and bounds. I chose a young man I knew to be our Recreational Director because he seemed to be gifted and, I thought, spiritual. This same young man would later bury a knife in my back and, when called out, would accuse me of being demon possessed and devil driven. But the devil did not win. That young man and his supportive family left our Church to go and plague another Pastor. God is in control.

Many times in my life I have been lured into precarious places by my flesh. I have made decisions without securing the full guidance of God. It happens. Yet my decisions were – at the time – meant to be God honoring. And God has saved me time and time again from the serpent’s tooth.

We can’t always grasp what is evil among us. It hides itself among the Apostles, in the pulpits of America, in the sermons of preachers that have little concern for that grand old Book we call the Bible. We all can be fooled. When we think of Judas Iscariot we think of him with preconceptions – just like we think of Satan or Lucifer. We envision Judas as a horrible looking person, and think of Satan as a horrible looking red devil. Yet this is not the truth. The Bible tells us that Lucifer is a beautiful creature, the most gorgeous of all God’s creation …

Ezekiel 28:15 Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee.

Adam was made perfect, but rejected Christ and brought sin into the world and death by sin (Romans 5:12). Lucifer was made beautiful but chose through his own will to reject the Lord Who created him (Isaiah 14:13-14). When Adolf Hitler was a baby he was a sweet, innocent thing – not like the monster who eventually, satan possessed, was guilty of ordering the murder of over 6 million innocent Jews, about 2/3rds of Europe’s Jewish population, and an unknown number of other innocents. The serial killer Ted Bundy was once a normal child till sin found him out. If I had to guess I would tell you that there was nothing about Judas Iscariot that stood out, marking him as the traitor and betrayer of Christ. Dr. John MacArthur writes:

“Judas was an ultimate tragedy—probably the greatest tragedy that ever lived. He is the perfect and prime example of what it means to have opportunity and then lose it. He becomes all the more terrible because of the glorious beginnings he had. Judas followed the same Christ as the others. For three years, day in and day out, he occupied himself with Jesus Christ. He saw the same miracles; heard the same words; performed some of the same ministries; was esteemed in the same way the other disciples were—yet he did not become what the others became. In fact, he became the very opposite. While they were growing into true apostles and saints of God, he was progressively forming into a vile, calculating tool of Satan.”

God is in control. Do the best you honestly can do and trust God for protection. A shepherd named David took a rock to a knife fight – and won. Why? Because God is greater than Goliath, greater than Judas Iscariot, and greater than us all. He is in control!

Jesus Christ Gave His Life On Calvary For All,
Even The Judas Iscariots Of Life

What else can we learn from Judas Iscariot? When God the Son came into this world Jesus came for everybody. We often tend to think that Jesus came for those who are just a little bent. But this is not what the Scripture says. Jesus came for the lowest sinners. He gave His life for everyone. This is what the Scripture says:

2 Corinthians 5:15 {Jesus} died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.

The Bible does not tell us that Jesus died for ALL of the elect. The Scripture does not say that Jesus died for ALL the moral people. The Bible doesn’t decree that Christ died for ALL the black, or white, or red, or yellow people. Our Lord died for all. The Apostle John said:

1 John 2:1-3 My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: 2 And {Jesus} is the propitiation 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.

It saddens me that many Christians doubt the power of God to heal the homosexual and heterosexual, the alcoholic and the drug addict. Our God can save anyone! He can change anyone!

God did not choose to save just a certain people group like the Jews. God chose to save whosoever will. And God the Son came to give His life – how did the Apostle Paul put it?

1 Timothy 2:3-6 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior; 4 Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; 6 Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.

The Calvinist through philosophical argument mandates that Jesus Christ came only for “the elect”. The Racist through xenophobia and misplaced narcissism mandates that Jesus Christ came only for “the white person”. The Pharisee and the morally superior religious crowd through self righteousness mandates that Jesus Christ came only for “people like me”. John the Baptist had it right when he cried out on seeing Jesus:

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

Jesus told the ever judging Pharisees,

Matthew 9:12-13 … They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. 13 But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

Jesus came for every person who would come to Him in faith. Judas Iscariot reminds us that Jesus came for everybody. Judas had every chance to be saved. There was nothing in Scripture that mandated Judas and Judas alone be the betrayer. Again, his name was not mentioned prophetically. What was mentioned was that there would be a betrayer. And Judas Iscariot became that betrayer. God did not do that to Judas. Judas did it to himself by rejecting the Gospel call. He was there the very day that Jesus said:

Mark 8:34-37 And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. 35 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it. 36 For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? 37 Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?

Jesus Ordered That We Love Unconditionally
And Followed His Own Order

When Jesus Christ walked this earth He commanded we who love Him:

John 15:11-12 These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. 12 This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.

We are to love one another the same way that He loves us. Now this was not the first time Jesus made this statement. The first time He said it was 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.

We are to “love one another the way that Jesus loves us”. Now as we read these words we think well that’s easy to say – but much harder to do. It is easy to love someone who loves you. I say again, it is easy to love someone who loves you. But what of your enemies? What or those who betray you?

When we first start reading John 13 the chapter begins this way:

John 13:1-2 Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end. 2 And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him;

Jesus loved everyone who was in that room that night – even Judas Iscariot. As you read through this chapter you learn Jesus knew who would betray Him (John 13:11). Jesus had known who was going to betray Him ever since He called him to be an Apostle. And yet – how did Jesus treat Judas Iscariot?

John 13:4-5 {Jesus} riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself. 5 After that {Jesus} poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded.

Jesus washed Judas Iscariot’s feet just as He did the other Apostle’s feet. In fact, Jesus treated Judas Iscariot with the utmost respect and kindness. When Jesus revealed that He knew who was going to betray Him our Lord said:

John 13:26-27 … He it is, to whom I shall give a sop, when I have dipped it. And when he had dipped the sop, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon. 27 And after the sop Satan entered into him.

The “sop” was a piece of bread dipped into the sauce of the Passover Lamb. The Passover host often gave this sop to an honored guest. Jesus blessed Judas Iscariot, even as the devil entered him and led him away into destruction (see also Luke 22:3). Jesus treated Judas Iscariot with kindness and love even up till and beyond His betrayal. This is what the Lord expects we who are His people to do. Jesus said:

Luke 6:26-35 Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets. 27 But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, 28 Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you. 29And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloke forbid not to take thy coat also. 30 Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again. 31 And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise. 32 For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them. 33 And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same. 34 And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again. 35 But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.

Jesus Christ loved Judas Iscariot when He called him into ministry. Jesus loved Judas daily. Jesus loved Judas on the day that He was to be betrayed. Jesus never wavered in His love toward the enemy. We who have been saved by grace are commanded of our Lord Jesus to love in the same way that He loved. Love fervently. Love frequently. Just love, and let God take the vengeance. We are to be living sacrifices, holy, acceptable unto God (Romans 12:1).

Romans 12:19-21 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. 20 Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. 21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

If you live for God you will have those around you who are haters and hecklers. There will be Judas Iscariots. Love them anyway. Do not allow them to pull you down to their level, but keep doing as Jesus did, knowing that in the end God will even all things out.

Never Allow Unconfessed Sin To Remain In Your Life

What made Judas Iscariot into the poster child for betrayal? It was that he harbored unconfessed sin in his life. In John chapter 12 we are told that Jesus’ friend Mary:

John 12:3 … {took} a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odor of the ointment.

No one said anything but Judas Iscariot. John writes:

John 12:4-6 Then saith one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, which should betray him, 5 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.

Do you know what I found interesting? Very few of Judas Iscariot’s words are recorded in the Scripture. In fact, all I can find is in our above verse and in Matthew 26:15 where he asks the chief priests:

“What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you?”

Judas Iscariot let the love of money begin to rule him like a god. Unconfessed sin opened a door into Judas’ soul, and Satan stepped right through that door to ruin his life. In all three Gospel lists of the Apostles (Luke 6:14-16; Mathew 10:2-4; Mark 3:16-19) Judas Iscariot is listed last among the Apostles. Yet Jesus always treated Judas with love and respect. Listen Beloved: If you allow sin to reign in your life you may find yourselves in the same boat with Judas Iscariot. Reject sin. Confess it to God as soon as you recognize it, placing that sin under the Blood of Jesus Christ. As the Apostle Paul said:

Romans 6:12-14 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. 13 Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. 14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.

Live for God, not for stuff. Do not allow sin to move your center. The one who begins to play with sin will eventually find themselves enslaved by satan. Reject sin. Let your love be on Jesus Christ.

“In an age when many are abandoning the faith they once professed, the story of Judas warns us to guard our hearts, lest we drift away. The story of Judas also equips us to reach out to those who may be close to walking away from the faith. Christ calls us to “be merciful to those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire” (Jude 22–23). Finally, the story of Judas reminds us that nothing good can come from giving up on Jesus Christ. He is of supreme value, and following him is worth any cost.” (Colin Smith, London School of Theology)

May God touch you with His Word!

Posted in Sermons Preached, topical | Tagged , ,

Be Filled With The Spirit

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Photo by Davide Cantelli on Unsplash

Ephesians 5:15-18 See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, 16 Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. 17 Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. 18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;

God is calling a people to Himself through Christ Jesus. God is calling a people to have an INTENTIONAL RELATIONSHIP with Him, not a RELIGION. A RELATIONSHIP.

Are You In A Relationship With Jesus –
Or In A Religion?

If you are in a RELATIONSHIP with Jesus it will effect your daily lives. Before I was married I dated other women. But now that I am married the Sherry this is the relationship I pursue and live by. The same is true of Jesus Christ.

Your “Walk” Or Manner Of Life Changes
If You Are In A Relationship With Jesus.

The Christian is called to walk “circumspectly”. When I first read this word I quite frankly didn’t know what it meant. So I looked it up. “Circumspectly” is the Greek adverb ἀκριβῶς akribōs, (pronounced ak-ree-boce’) which means:

to be careful or diligent, to walk (that is, live) in the right or correct way.

This text is addressed to Christians, saved by faith in Christ. We are commanded to walk in the right way, that is, live our lives the way that God wants us to live them. The Scripture then says we are not only to live our lives in the right way, but we are not to live as unbelievers do. You see, the word “fools” is a reference to the lost person. The Bible tells us that:

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.

The “fool” is someone who lives their lives as if there is no God.
The “fool” wastes every day of their lives.
The “fool” – those who reject Christ – does not cherish life, but squanders it.
The “fool” wastes life by doping up, drinking up, partying down.
The “fool” puts more pleasure in stuff than in the God Who gives life.
The “fool” is someone who does not love the God of Scripture.

Life is so very precious. Life is the greatest gift you have been given. Do not squander it, but live following Jesus. The Christian way of life is a life that follows Jesus.

The Christian is never too busy to follow Jesus.
Walking with our Redeemer, we “Redeem the Time”.

If you are too busy to follow Jesus, then Beloved you are just too busy. Jesus calls busy people to follow Him – to put Him first. Our Lord Jesus called Simon and Andrew to follow Him:

Mark 1:14-18 … Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, 15 And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel. 16 Now as he walked by the sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. 17 And Jesus said unto them, Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men. 18 And straightway they forsook their nets, and followed him.

Work is a great thing – but your greatest work is to follow Jesus!

Jesus called James and John busy mending their nets (Mark 1:19-20).
Jesus called Matthew Levi working as a tax collector (Mark 2:14).

Too many people say “I will follow Jesus when I have more time – but now I’m busy. Maybe when I’m older I’ll follow Him.” Oh Beloved, redeem the time, for the days are evil. Jesus warned us to be careful to not let STUFF steal our time. He said:

Luke 12:15 … Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.

Your stuff is just not that important. What is most important? Your life. Where is life? It is in following Jesus.

Matthew 16:24-26 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. 25 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. 26 For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?

Be FILLED With The Spirit

Ephesians 5:18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;

God wants to have all of your life. Several years ago I saw a bumper sticker that I put on my car. It’s not there now because I’m in a different vehicle. The bumper sticker said:

“God is my Co-Pilot”

That sounded good to a young Christian named David. But as I’ve studied the Scripture and lived my life I found out this bumper sticker theology is all wrong. You see, “God is my Co-Pilot” assumes that I am driving and controlling my life, and God is sitting in the right hand seat ready for me to call on anytime I need Him. In short, this assumes that God is lesser than I am, and that God is my Servant. But that is not what the Scripture teaches. The Scripture says:

be filled with the Spirit

Let God have ALL of you.
Let Him have ALL of your heart ALL the time.
“Religion” says “let’s get a little Jesus”.
The devil loves it when you have “a little jesus”!
The devil parties when you trade relationship for religion.

Let me tell you something about “religion”:
Everyone is “religious”.

Now you may not agree with me, but it is true. “Religion” is a belief in something that may or may not effect your life. Atheists believe in nothing – but that’s a belief. Politicians believe in the swill that they try to sell you. Everyone has a religion. The Bible tells us this.

1 Corinthians 8:5-6 … there be gods many, and lords many, 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.

Did you know that the King James Version of Scripture has, I am told, 783,137 words in it’s text. Of the 783,137 words in the Bible the words “religion” or “religious” is only found 7 times. SEVEN TIMES! God is not calling us to “religion” but to a day by day walk with Him.

We are not to be filled with OURSELVES.
We are not to be filled with PRIDE.
We are not to be filled with FEAR.
Our focus is to be the LORD JESUS CHRIST!

Matthew 16:24 … If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

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

Luke 9:23 … If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.

God gives us a new day every day to choose to take up our Cross and follow Jesus. The Cross that Jesus bore is a mark of unselfish love. Jesus did not have to die for us, but He did. Jesus did not have to give His life for us sinners, but He did. Even while suffering He carried His Cross to Calvary. While suffering, He was nailed to His Cross for you and I. He loved us with an infinite love, so much so that the Son of God gave His life for us. Beloved, if you are a Christian then you are a Christian because of Christ’s Cross. His Blood saved you. The Son of God loved you. Now YOU as SONS OF GOD are to walk through this life LOVING GOD FULLY. Again:

be filled with the Spirit

We are not told to be 50% percent filled with the Spirit and 50% us. No, we are called to complete devotion to Him Who loved us and gave His life for us. We are not told to be filled with the Spirit when it is convenient or comfortable. We are not called to be filled with the Spirit when it feels good, or when it is popular with the world. We are called to be wholly dependent on the Lord. We are called to be like the Apostle John who was often seen leaning into Jesus’ arms (John 13:23). If you love Him then you are called to let Him live through you, fully in you, all day, all the time.

You are not called to a religious moment or a religious act, but to a life of surrender to Christ.

What Does Jesus Call Us To Be?
We Are To Be Like Jesus.

What does a relationship with Christ look like? Our text is very specific.

  • We Are To Imitate Jesus In Sexual And Sensual Purity.

Ephesians 5:2-6 And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savor. 3 But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; 4 Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks. 5 For this ye know, that no whore monger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. 6 Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.

We who are saved by Christ’s grace – by the Blood of the Lamb – are to walk sexually and sensually submitted to the Savior. We avoid fornication (heterosexual sin), uncleanness (homosexual sin), and covetousness (greed). When we are filled with the Spirit – for the Christian is indwelt by the Holy Spirit of God …

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy {Spirit} 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.

You are God’s Child if God’s Son died for you. Jesus had many female disciples who followed Him, but our Lord never committed sexual sin with any of them. God’s children are to be filled with Christ’s Spirit. We are not to follow the ways of this fallen world.

  • We Are To Imitate Jesus In The Use Of Our Tongues.

Ephesians 5:4 … Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.

The New American Standard text makes this much clearer. It reads:

.. there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks.

Jesus always chose His words carefully. He did not REACT when attacked, but carefully ACTED so as to bring the maximum amount of glory to our God. God hears our words, dear Ones. Our Lord Jesus told us:

Matthew 12:36-37 But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. 37 For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.

What you say matters. What you put on a social network matters.

When I GRUMBLE, my life gets darker.
When I GOSSIP, I tear down and infect others.
When I am GREEDY it hurts my body and my spirit.

It is better to praise God, and thank Him for the things He has allowed me to have. My God has been exceptionally good to me. He did not have to save me, but He did. No matter how rough the road I travel I know God says:

Hebrews 13:5-6… I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. 6 So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.

  • We Are To Imitate Jesus, Not The World.

Ephesians 5:8-12 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. 11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. 12 For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret.

You cannot change the world being like the world.
You’ve got to be like Jesus.
You’ve got to give glory to the Heavenly Father.
He adopted you, He loves you, and you should love Him.

The believer in fellowship with Jesus will walk in goodness, righteousness, and truth. We are to walk as Children of Light. We are not self righteous, but God glorifying. We do not reject fellowship with the lost – but we refuse to be as the lost are. That’s what we are told in this text. Read it again:

Ephesians 5:11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them …

We are to fellowship with SINNERS,
But not with SIN.

Every Christian should love and treat others with love, even those who walk in darkness. Where did Jesus spend a large amount of His time? He sat and ate with sinners. Jesus was brutally criticized by the religious crowd for fellowshipping with sinners. He told the Pharisees:

Luke 7:34-35 The Son of man is come eating and drinking; and ye say, Behold a gluttonous man, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners! 35 But wisdom is justified of all her children.

God wants His people to love the lost, to reach out to them, to care for them, to show them what a Child of God looks like. We are not to be self righteous, but Christ righteous. Jesus Christ came to seek and save those who are lost (Luke 19:10), to save sinners, not righteous people (Matthew 9:13). Let us be like Jesus. We are NOT to approve of sinful behavior, but we ARE to love the sinner and encourage that lost soul to “come and see Jesus”. The Scripture says:

Matthew 9:9-10 And as Jesus passed forth from thence, he saw a man, named Matthew, sitting at the receipt of custom: and he saith unto him, Follow me. And he arose, and followed him. 10 And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house, behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with him and his disciples.

Imitating Jesus Will Give Me Joy

Ephesians 5:18-21 … 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.

There is joy in following Jesus. Like that old song:

I have found His grace is all complete,

He supplieth every need;

While I sit and learn at Jesus’ feet,

I am free, yes, free indeed.

Refrain:

It is joy unspeakable and full of glory,

Full of glory, full of glory;

It is joy unspeakable and full of glory,

Oh, the half has never yet been told.

I have found the pleasure I once craved,

It is joy and peace within;

What a wondrous blessing, I am saved

From the awful gulf of sin.

I have found that hope so bright and clear,

Living in the realm of grace;

Oh, the Savior’s presence is so near,

I can see His smiling face.

I have found the joy no tongue can tell,

How its waves of glory roll;

It is like a great o’erflowing well,

Springing up within my soul.

Barney E. Warren, 1900 – in Public Domain

Posted in Ephesians, Sermons Preached | Tagged , , , ,

Scripture Our Teacher

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Psalm 19:8 The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.

Psalms 119:105 … Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.

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.

Galatians 3:24 … the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.

2 Peter 1:19 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:

I have been asked as a Pastor why I often preach out of the Old Testament. Many preachers skip over the Old Testament. This is why few people today know the great old stories of the Bible. When people hear “Old Testament” their eyes roll back in their head. “Let’s stay in the Gospels. Let’s stay with Jesus. Let’s ignore that “Old” stuff.”

But this is foolish, and limiting. The Bible that the early Church had was only the Old Testament. The New Testament that we have was not written until long after Christ ascended into Heaven. The whole New Testament did not come together for the Church until around 350 years after Christ rose from the grave. The King James text I’m reading tonight wasn’t published until the 1700’s. It is a fact that the Bible Jesus used was the Old Testament Scripture.

The Old Testament Scripture teaches of the coming of Jesus Christ. That which was written by the Prophets of that wonderful Old Testament were written to “lead us, like a school teacher, to Christ”. The Psalmist David declared it. The Apostle Paul said it. The Lord Jesus Christ confirmed it. The Old Testament declared Who Jesus Christ is, and taught us many wonderful truths about God.

There are two Testaments, two Covenants, but only One Bible and One God. The Scripture tells us:

1 Timothy 2:5-6 … For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave Himself a ransom for all ..

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.

In the Old Testament we see animals without spot or blemish sacrificed – a foretelling of “the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). The Blood of Jesus Christ is all that cleanses us from sin (1 John 1:7). The Temple of Israel where all worshiped foretold the day when every believer would be a Temple inhabited by God (1 Corinthians 3:16; 6:19-20). The specialized priesthoods of Levi are replaced with the priesthood of the believer. Now every believer is a priest before God, and Jesus Christ our High Priest (1 Peter 2:3-9; Hebrews 10:12).

The Old Testament Scripture – God’s Law – leads us to Christ. Pastor John Piper writes:

when we are born again, God gives us a new heart and a new spirit, and the result is that the law of God written in Scripture is no longer offensive to us. We are no longer hostile to it like Paul says in Romans 8:7. We are not hostile to the word of God, but rather, we are submissive. We delight to do God’s commandments. It doesn’t mean that we know them all by heart, because they are written on our hearts. It doesn’t mean that. It means that, when we read them in the word, the inclination to do them is in our hearts by the Holy Spirit. This is a great work of the Holy Spirit, purchased by the blood of Christ called the new covenant.”

The Ark Of The Covenant Represents Jesus

 2 Samuel 6:1-9 Again, David gathered together all the chosen men of Israel, thirty thousand. 2 And David arose, and went with all the people that were with him from Baale of Judah, to bring up from thence the ark of God, whose name is called by the name of the LORD of hosts that dwelleth between the cherubims. 3 And they set the ark of God upon a new cart, and brought it out of the house of Abinadab that was in Gibeah: and Uzzah and Ahio, the sons of Abinadab, drave the new cart. 4 And they brought it out of the house of Abinadab which was at Gibeah, accompanying the ark of God: and Ahio went before the ark. 5 And David and all the house of Israel played before the LORD on all manner of instruments made of fir wood, even on harps, and on psalteries, and on timbrels, and on cornets, and on cymbals. 6 And when they came to Nachon’s threshingfloor, Uzzah put forth his hand to the ark of God, and took hold of it; for the oxen shook it. 7 And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Uzzah; and God smote him there for his error; and there he died by the ark of God. 8 And David was displeased, because the LORD had made a breach upon Uzzah: and he called the name of the place Perezuzzah to this day. 9 And David was afraid of the LORD that day, and said, How shall the ark of the LORD come to me?

As you read this morning the Ark of the Covenant was being brought to Israel by King David and the priests. The Ark of the Covenant was a box that God told Moses to construct. The Ark was to be composed of wood from the Shittah tree (see Exodus 25:10), a beautiful box crowned with a golden plate upon which two statues of angels made of gold we placed. The “mercy seat” was the place between the angels on this special box. The box was large enough to hold the two tablets of stone on which the Commandments were written. God told Israel that He would meet with His priests:

Exodus 25:22 And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubims which are upon the ark of the testimony..

God would speak to Israel from the Ark.
I believe the Ark represented Jesus Christ.
God the Son said “There I will meet with thee”.
Jesus would speak with His people.

Hebrews 9:4 tells us that the Ark contained the golden pot that had manna, Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant (Tablets of Stone that the Law was written on). The Ark of the Covenant represented the Messiah – the Lord Jesus Christ – to the Old Testament Saint. The Ark was carried by the Priests, high and lifted up, between two poles. It was carried reverently. Israel was to follow the Ark. When they entered the Promised Land God told the people:

Joshua 3:3 … When ye see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, and the priests the Levites bearing it, then ye shall remove from your place, and go after it.

God’s people were to lift up the Ark. God’s people were to follow the Ark.
God’s people are to lift up Jesus.
God’s people are to follow Jesus!

Why do I think the Ark represented Jesus? Because …

1 The Ark contained the Law. Jesus Christ is the Fulfiller of the Law:

Romans 10:4 … Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.

Matthew 5:17 … {Jesus said} Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.

2 The Ark contained the manna from Heaven. Jesus Christ is the Manna or Bread of Heaven.

John 6:57-58 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.

3 The Ark contained Aaron’s rod that budded (became alive again). Jesus Christ is the Ruler of those who are born again & eternal.

1 John 2:25 And this is the promise that {Jesus} hath promised us, even eternal life.

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.

How Did Israel Lose The Ark?

In our focal text we read:

2 Samuel 6:1-2 Again, David gathered together all the chosen men of Israel, thirty thousand. 2 And David arose, and went with all the people that were with him from Baale of Judah, to bring up from thence the ark of God

King David is trying to bring the Ark of the Covenant back to Jerusalem. Why was David bringing the Ark to Jerusalem? Israel lost the Ark of the Covenant because they acted faithlessly. In 1 Samuel 4 the Bible tells us that Israel went out to battle the Philistines – the worldly Philistines. Israel was soundly defeated. Why?

They were not following the Ark of the Covenant.
They were not following Jesus.
Church, are WE following Jesus?

I am told I can do ALL THINGS THROUGH CHRIST which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13). And Jesus said:

John 15:5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.

Israel went to battle without Jesus Christ. The Church today tries to make a difference in the world without Christ. What happened to Israel?

1 Samuel 4:2 … Israel was smitten before the Philistines

Israel miserably lost. Beloved, God has not called us to get the maximum amount of butts in the seats of this Church. He has called us to be the Church, to be a following Church, following the Lord Jesus Christ, following our Ark of the Covenant!

After going forward without the General and Lord Who saved them now God’s Old Covenant Church has a bright idea.

1 Samuel 4:3 … the elders of Israel said, Wherefore hath the LORD smitten us to day before the Philistines? Let us fetch the ark of the covenant of the LORD out of Shiloh unto us, that, when it cometh among us, it may save us out of the hand of our enemies.

Let’s bring Jesus in as an afterthought. Let’s make a mess then seek His face. How foolish, yet I myself have done this, and you probably have done so as well. This was when the Ark was lost. The Philistines not only defeated God’s people, but they took the Ark captive.

But they couldn’t hold the Ark, for God is stronger than the strongest enemy. In time the Philistines delivered the Ark back to Israel on a new cart (1 Samuel 6:7). The Ark was placed in the house of Abinadab and cared for by Eleazor his son for 20 years (1 Samuel 7:1-2). This explains why David was bringing the Ark back to Jerusalem. His intentions were good. He wanted to put the Ark back in the Tabernacle where it belonged.

Good Intentions Kill. Obedience To God Blesses.

David’s intentions were good. First, King David arranged a parade with all the best people:

2 Samuel 6:1 Again, David gathered together all the chosen men of Israel, thirty thousand.

Just as the Philistines did many years before David …

2 Samuel 6:3 … And they set the ark of God upon a new cart

The Ark is not leading the way, but is part of a great big parade, filled with pomp and circumstance.

2 Samuel 6:3-5 And they set the ark of God upon a new cart, and brought it out of the house of Abinadab that was in Gibeah: and Uzzah and Ahio, the sons of Abinadab, drave the new cart. 4 And they brought it out of the house of Abinadab which was at Gibeah, accompanying the ark of God: and Ahio went before the ark. 5 And David and all the house of Israel played before the LORD on all manner of instruments made of fir wood, even on harps, and on psalteries, and on timbrels, and on cornets, and on cymbals.

Everything was going well, then it didn’t. We read:

2 Samuel 6:6-8 And when they came to Nachon’s threshingfloor, Uzzah put forth his hand to the ark of God, and took hold of it; for the oxen shook it. 7 And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Uzzah; and God smote him there for his error; and there he died by the ark of God. 8 And David was displeased, because the LORD had made a breach upon Uzzah: and he called the name of the place Perezuzzah to this day.

Then God rained on the parade. The wagon hit a hole in the road, the wagon upon which the Ark sat. The Ark was in danger of being cast out onto the ground so one of the priest – Uzzah – put out his hand to steady the Ark, to hold up the Ark. And Uzzah died.

Uzzah had good intentions. The King had good intentions. The parade was filled with those who had good intentions.

2 Samuel 6:9 David was afraid of the LORD that day, and said, How shall the ark of the LORD come to me?

How do we get Jesus back into the Church? How does the Ark get to Jerusalem? First of all, we the Church must look the the Word of God. God told Israel how the Ark of the Covenant was to be moved. It was not to be moved on a new cart. God told Israel that the Ark was to be covered,

Numbers 4:15 … after that, the sons of Kohath shall come to bear it: but they shall not touch any holy thing, lest they die. These things are the burden of the sons of Kohath in the tabernacle of the congregation.

The Ark was to be carried – high and lifted up – on poles by the sons of Kohath. Jesus Christ is to be high and lifted up by His people. We come into this place to worship and adore Him, not to put Him on a cart. We honor God when we do what He says. Jesus said:

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.

John 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.

Three months later David has the priests move the Ark of the Covenant in the way that God said do it (1 Chronicles 15:12-15). God’s people sanctified or set themselves apart by focusing on God’s Word. What God has said, He commands. His commands are NOT OPTIONAL. Ever. Period.

We must follow Jesus. We must do what He says in His way and in His time. It does not matter what our opinion of the situation is. There are many Church denominations that are following the opinion of man. This denomination does this, that denomination does that. “Let’s get a vote, and let the majority rule. Beloved majority rule only counts if JESUS CHRIST is the MAJORITY. What has the Lord said for us to do? What has God written in His Word? What does our Heavenly Father think? This is found in the Scripture.

King David conferred with all the best people before moving the Ark (see 1 Chronicles 13:1-4). The Church voted, and what was decided on was approved by the majority. But at no time did anyone consult God, nor turn to His Word. And Uzzah died for it!

We must obey the Lord. We must get back to the Bible. We must consult God’s Word, and heed God’s Spirit. If we do, we will be blessed. If not, we can bring death on ourselves. Let us follow the Lord! In Christ’s name I pray. Amen!

Posted in Belong To God, Bible Study, Church, Sermons Preached | Tagged ,

Bitter Root, Bitter Fruit

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Photo by Anqi Lu on Unsplash

Hebrews 12:14-15 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;

In the days before medicine had found a cure a certain man was bitten by a rabid dog. As a result the man contracted rabies, at that time a fatal and incurable disease. The Doctor told the man as solemnly as he could to “Get your affairs in order – there is nothing we can do”. The man asked for paper and pen, and began to write furiously. The good Doctor left, and came back a while later to find the man still writing. He said, “It’s good to see you working on your will.” The bitten man replied, “I’m not working on my will. This is a list of people I plan on biting before I die!”

A bitter heart cannot find happiness. The word “Bitter” comes from an Old English root which means “to bite”. Bitter people are those who have been hurt by others – perhaps even – they think – by God. They have allowed the pain of the hurt and the negative anger to ferment in their soul until they become spiteful, biteful people, caustic and sour. In our text the King James text uses two words to warn against the bitter heart:

Looking diligently

Do you see it in verse 15? This is actually one word in the Greek: ἐπισκοπέω episkopéō, (pronounced ep-ee-skop-eh’-o) which means to carefully and diligently watch or oversee so that it does not enter in, to beware, to look out for. The Apostle Peter used the same word when he warned the Pastors of the Church against false teachers, saying:

1 Peter 5:2 Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind …

That phrase “taking the oversight” is the word episkopéō, (pronounced ep-ee-skop-eh’-o). Guard against the evil. Look out! Pastor A.W. Tozer said once that there are a number of words that will NOT be found in Heaven, words like “look out”. While we are on this earth we – even if we are saved – are creatures subject to failure. One of the most dangerous things that we can fall into is the bitter heart.

Bitterness Can Set In When We Get Our Eyes Off Of Jesus

We read at the beginning of our text:

Hebrews 12:1-3 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. 3 For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.

Somebody’s Watching You!

As we run that race of life as Children of God we are to understand that we are to be light in the midst of this devil’s fallen world. We will not be treated fairly. We will be mocked, and we will be unfairly judged. There will be others who are not running the race toward Heaven, but whose soul purpose is to pretend to run so as to try and trip us up. These are agents of the devil, not children of God. Children of God love one another, and guide one another to race so as to bring glory to God. Children of Adam – also known as Children of Lucifer – serve no purpose other than to disrupt our race, our course, and cause us to fall.

We are surrounded by “so great a cloud of witnesses”. People watch what we do. People listen to what we say. People watch how we run our race. The Lord tells us to ..

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, Looking unto Jesus

We are to be GRACE ORIENTED in our lives. Bitterness causes us to fail of the Grace of God. Bitterness makes us ineffective in our calling, and trips us up or defiles us so that we cannot do that which Christ wants us to do.

I have known Pastors, Deacons, and great Teachers who have fallen into the trap of bitterness. They got their eyes off of Jesus and became walking wounded, unable to do any good for the Lord.

How many of you have ever heard of Franklin Pierce? I must admit – red faced and embarrassed – that I never heard of Franklin Pierce until this week. Who was Franklin Pierce? He was the 14th President of the United States, a northern Democrat that saw the Abolitionist Movement as a threat to the unity of the United States. Pierce was a bitter man. He was married to a wife that suffered illness and depression most of her life, and all of their children died while young. Just before Pierce’s inauguration his last child died in a train accident. Pierce could not imagine how God would let such a thing happen. He refused to to place his hand on a Bible during his swearing in as President, choosing instead to use a Law book. His policies as President are recognized by most historians and scholars as contributing to our eventual Civil War. Pierce drank heavily most of his life, and died of cirrhosis of the liver in 1869. To date historians and scholars rank Pierce as one of the worst and least memorial of the U.S. Presidents. A bitter heart leads to a bitter, unblessed life.

When life hurts us, let us look unto Jesus. Jesus did not have an easy path. In fact, Jesus could have easily become bitter. We are told:

Hebrews 12:3 For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.

What did Jesus do? He left Heaven to come to this earth to save us. He was born in the lowest of places, a baby in a manger. Before He could ever walk He was hunted by Herod, a spiteful and bitter King who was never satisfied. This evil man killed all the babies in Bethlehem (Matthew 2:16-18), fulfilling the prophecy of Jeremiah 31:15. When Jesus began His earthly ministry He was not welcomed by the religious leaders of the day. He was attacked at every point, even accused of being evil for healing people on “the sabbath Day” (Matthew 12:12; Mark 3:4; Luke 6:9). When Jesus was “taken” in the Garden of Gethsemane at the end of His earthly ministry He was betrayed by the kiss of a friend who betrayed Him, Judas Iscariot (see Luke 22:48). This was foretold by the Lord in Psalm 41:9. Jesus knew that Judas was going to betray Him, because 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.

When Jesus stood in front of the Jewish Ruling Council, the Sanhedrin, they hired liars to offer false testimony about Him. When Jesus was taken to Pilate the Governor he said:

Luke 23:14-15 … Ye have brought this man unto me, as one that perverteth the people: and, behold, I, having examined him before you, have found no fault in this man touching those things whereof ye accuse him: 15 No, nor yet Herod: for I sent you to him; and, lo, nothing worthy of death is done unto him.

Neither Pilate nor Herod found fault in Jesus, yet still ordered His execution because the religious leaders incited the people to violence. As Jesus hung on Calvary – beaten, bloody, tortured beyond belief, so much so that the Scripture says:

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:

How many indignities were heaped upon our Lord? How many terrors did He go through? And yet, never was He bitter. Never was He hopeless, or eaten up of anger. But as He hung on that Cross what was ever before Him was the finish line, the glory of God the Father and the salvation of a people unto Himself. He prayed though in anguish and in humiliation:

Luke 23:34-38 Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots. 35 And the people stood beholding. And the rulers also with them derided him, saying, He saved others; let him save himself, if he be Christ, the chosen of God. 36 And the soldiers also mocked him, coming to him, and offering him vinegar, 37 And saying, If thou be the king of the Jews, save thyself. 38 And a superscription also was written over him in letters of Greek, and Latin, and Hebrew, THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.

Jesus never wavered for the joy set before Him.

The Root That Leads To Bitterness Is A ME Centered Life

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

What seed can plant the fruit of bitterness? It is a ME CENTERED life. Most people become bitter because:

1. Of What Is SAID About ME (Slander).
2. Of What Is DONE To ME (Bullying).
3. Of What Is TAKEN From ME (Theft).

If you belong to Jesus and are doing the best you know how in serving Him, you need to be more concerned about what Jesus says as opposed to what the world says.

The darkness will never like the light.
Cain will always seek to kill Abel.
Goliath will always despise and try to overthrow David.
Daniel will always find himself in a pit of lions.
Joseph will be attacked by jealous brothers.
Lucifer and the Lord Jesus will never be One!

Jesus told us in:

Luke 15:17-21 These things I command you, that ye love one another. 18 If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. 19 If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. 20 Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. 21 But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me.

1. When SLANDERED What Shall I Do? Jesus was slandered, and we who serve the Lord Jesus will be slandered. What are we to do? Jesus said:

Matthew 5:11-12 Blessed are ye, when [men] shall revile you, and persecute [you], and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. 12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great [is] your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

Jesus tells us that rather than focus on the slander, praise God for what is being said. Evil will always say bad things about the righteous. Now Beloved, DO NOT BE SELF RIGHTEOUS. God despises self righteousness, and considers such tings to be a smoke in His nostrils. The self righteous …

Isaiah 65:5 Which say, Stand by thyself, come not near to me; for I am holier than thou. These are a smoke in my nose, a fire that burneth all the day.

If you are living for Jesus as a holy new Creation then as much as possible, live at peace with all (Romans 12:8). But understand that the lost do not have the light of Christ. Understand also there may be lost people on the roll of the Church! Do not allow what others say about you to cause you to be bitter. Look unto Jesus. As He was slandered and reviled…

1 Peter 2:22-23 Who 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:

When Jesus was verbally attacked and slandered He did not come back with an evil foul mouth. He did not allow bitterness to enter His heart and thus pollute His thought process. No, but Jesus blessed those who cursed Him, and advised we who are His Children to:

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.

When Jesus was slandered He trusted that the Father would one day make all things right, that all things worked together for good, controlled by the Almighty.

2. When BULLIED What Shall I Do? When Jesus was struck by His accusers He did not REACT but He ACTED. He controlled how He responded. This is what He tells us to do. When you are hit, your old man leads you to strike back. Yet if you strike back you become part of the problem rather than the solution.

Act And God Is In Control
React And You Lose Control

The Apostle Paul had one of the hardest ministries ever in Church history. A Jew who was originally on the Ruling Council of the Jews, Paul was regarded as a traitor to Israel and in the beginning was mistrusted by the Church. The Apostle said:

2 Corinthians 4:6-11 For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. 8 We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; 9 Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; 10 Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. 11 For we which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.

The Apostle saw himself as an earthen vessel, continually overseen by the Potter Who is God. He saw His life as a dedicated bowl or pitcher, dedicated to the Lord Jesus Christ. As a result the Apostle refused to allow his life (his bowl) to be filled with bitterness. He wanted his life to be filled with Jesus. Rather than strike back when a lost person struck him, the Apostle Paul trusted that God would bring it all out for His glory and for the blessing of God’s Kingdom. This is what Jesus told us to do. When bullied heed the Master’s words:

Mathew 6:38-39 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.

Love will win the heart, not one upmanship or vengeance. Love like Christ has shown us will win the world for Him.

3. When We Are ROBBED, What Shall I Do? Jesus told us:

Matthew 5:40-41 And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also. 41 And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.

Jesus wanted us to understand the difference between the eternal and the temporal. All things that we see and touch right now are temporal, temporary, and will one day pass away. The reality of your salvation and the sonship that accompanies it is eternal.

Stuff is just stuff.

One of my favorite movies is an old John Wayne movie called Angel and the Badman. It’s a wonderful story where the gunslinger Quirt Evans (played by John Wayne) is hurt and nursed back to health by a Quaker family. The daughter of the family named Penelope (played by Gail Russell) falls in love with Quirt. As Quirt is recuperating in the Quaker home he sees a sign on the wall. He says:

That {sign} on the wall: “Each human being has an integrity that can be hurt only …by the act of the same human being. and not by the act of another human being. Is that Quaker stuff? You mean nobody can hurt you but yourself?”

Penelope says “That’s what the Friends {Quakers} believe.” Quirt asks, “Are there many of you Quakers?” She replies, “Very few.” To which Quirt retorts, “I sort of figured that.”

The way of the world is that is someone takes from me, then I will take from them. But the Way of Christ is to live a life of sacrifice. The Apostle said:

Romans 12:1-2 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

The stuff we have is just “stuff”. If someone robs us of TIME, then what would this matter to a child of Christ. Eternity is ours. We will live beyond this life, into eternity with the Jesus Who loves us so. In Jesus’ Jerusalem the conquering Roman soldiers had the right to ask you to provide cover for them, and to carry their packs for them for up to a mile. Jesus told His listeners that if they wanted to be light, provide cover – ample cover – even to the Roman enemy. If they demanded that you carry their pack for a mile, carry it for two. Do so not out of compulsion, but because this is what LOVE DEMANDS. It’s like that wonderful song Love Is Not A Fight, that states:

Love will come to save us, if we’ll only call
He will ask nothing from us,
but demand we give our all!

The heart of our faith is love in action. To avoid bitterness, consider stuff just to be stuff. Serve the Lord Jesus. Do as He says. Give, and God will give, more than you can imagine.

This is what our God expects us to do. May Christ’s Holy Spirit guide you as you live out your purpose in Him! Amen!

Posted in Hebrews, Sermons Preached | Tagged , ,

Living As Children Of Light

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Photo by Michael Hart on Unsplash

In the Old as well as the New Testaments people were saved by faith in the God of Scripture. The phrase “The just shall live by faith” covers both testaments.

Habakkuk 2:4 Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith.

Romans 1:17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.

Galatians 3:11 But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.

Hebrews 10:38 Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.

The father of faith Abraham was saved by faith in God.

Romans 4:3 For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.

Genesis 15:6

And {Abraham} believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.

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

Salvation has always been by faith in God.

But what position did the Old Covenant believer have?
The great theme of the Old Testament is that believer served God.
The great theme of the New Testament
is that the believer is a Child of God.

You can see the difference when you look at two of my Old Testament heroes. One is Joshua, a wonderful believer, God’s warrior. Before Joshua passed into glory he charged the people to serve the Lord:

Joshua 24:15 … choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.

Or that wonderful old Prophet Elijah who, on Mount Carmel, commanded the people to choose:

1 Kings 18:21 … How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word.

As we come to the New Testament and the wondrous work of Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord we see a change of tone. Yes, we are still to serve God. But now we serve God for a more intimate reason.

We who are saved are the children of God.

Ephesians 5:1-2 Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; 2 And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savor.

How Does One Become A Child Of God?

Our text tells us:

Ephesians 5:1 Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children;

In the world today it is popular to say that “all are quite naturally the children of God”. But we know this is not true based upon the words of the Holy Scripture. The Apostle Paul said:

2 Timothy 2:19 Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.

God does not say that ALL are His. He created all, but not all are His children. So how do we become a child of God? The Pharisees, scribes, Sadducees, and many religious people today believe they are children of God if the DO religious things.

If I say so many “Hail Mary’s”.
If I genuflect at a statue and cross myself.
If I give to the Church or to charity.
If I celebrate holidays and am careful to say “Merry Christmas”.

Jesus told the Pharisees – a people with spotless religious records:

John 8:42-51 Jesus said unto them, 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. 43 Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word. 44 Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. 45 And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not. 46 Which of you convinceth me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me? 47 He that is of God heareth God’s words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God. 48 Then answered the Jews, and said unto him, Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil? 49 Jesus answered, I have not a devil; but I honor my Father, and ye do dishonor me. 50 And I seek not mine own glory: there is one that seeketh and judgeth. 51 verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death.

Jesus was very clear in this text. The Pharisees – religious as they were – were nonetheless the children of the devil. Why? Because they did not love Jesus. They did not heed His Word. They did not see Him as the Messiah, the Redeemer of His people.

God gave the Law to us – the Old Testament – to make us realize that we all need a Redeemer. We are born sinners. We are born into this world children of the devil – not children of God. We read earlier in Ephesians that the Christian is someone that God has raised from spiritual death. We read:

Ephesians 2:1-5 And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; 2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: 3 Among whom also we all had our {way of life} in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. 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😉

Before we met Jesus and realized our need for the Savior we walked as if we were gods and goddesses, following the rebelliousness of the flesh and of the devil. But once we met Jesus and realized the great love He ha for us, that He alone is Savior and Lord, we turned from our own strength to His strength.

We surrendered to Him!

We are told in Galatians 3:22-29 But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. 23 But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. 24 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. 26 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

Jesus Christ took upon Himself humanity, coming to this earth to be our Redeemer. He died on Calvary for my sins and for your sins. His sacrifice made it possible for God to forgive us our sins, and to bring us into His Family. We are dear children of God. Not because we were perfect, but because Jesus is perfect. We are beloved children of God. Not because we are good, but because our good and gracious Jesus bore our sins on the Tree.

We who are Christians are not perfect, but we are perfectly saved because of Jesus!

Oh what Grace God has given us! Hear His Word!

John 1:10-13 {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 {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.

When a person hears the call of the wondrous Gospel and, repenting of their sins, falls into the arms of Jesus by faith – then God brings that person into the Family.

God saved us and brought us into His Family so that we can be imitators – not of the world – but of Him. God wants us to imitate Christ. Hear what the Apostle said in another place:

1 John 3:1-3 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. 3 And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.

How Does A Child Of God BEHAVE?

Ephesians 5:1-2 Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; 2 And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us ..

The Christian is told to be a “follower” or imitator of God. This is the Greek μιμητής mimētḗs, (pronounced mim-ay-tace’) which comes from μῖμος mîmos and means to mimic or imitate. Now, we are made in God’s image but we are not gods. There are certain things we cannot mimic.

God is omnipotent – all powerful. Jesus said:

Matthew 19:26 “with God all things are possible“.

There is nothing that God cannot do – but there are many things you and I cannot do. Only God is omnipotent – all powerful. I cannot mimic that.

God is also omniscient – all knowing. The Psalmist said:

Psalm 147:4-5 {God} telleth the number of the stars; he calleth them all by [their] names. 5 Great [is] our Lord, and of great power: his understanding [is] infinite.

God knows all things. He knows the end from the beginning (Isaiah 46:10). God is never confused, but always in control and knows all things. At times I barely know MYSELF, much less what is going to happen next. I cannot mimic this great being of God.

God is also omnipresent – at all places at all times. He says:

Isaiah 66:1-2 1 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: ..

Though we as humans are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27) we cannot imitate the immensity of God.

But if we are saved by the Grace of God by the Son of God we can imitate God as dear children. We are commanded to do so. God saved us by Grace. He sent Jesus Christ to this earth to be born among mankind.

We bring glory to God when we imitate Him.
We bring glory to Christ when we act like Him.
We bring glory to the Spirit when we honor God in our actions.

The Christian is to be like God’s child. The Christian is not to be like the world, but like the One Who fathered us. God saved us by the Blood of the Cross and by the power of the Holy Spirit of God. We are Christs in progress, being made like Jesus. We entered the Kingdom of God by becoming like little children. Like little children we are to be CHRIST CONTROLLED.

Matthew 18:2-4 And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, 3 And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. 4 Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Hell is for the person who leaves this life rejecting Christ as Lord and Savior. Heaven is for the little child, the obedient child, the adopted child of God who heeds the words of the Father. We imitate God, surrendering to His will. As God’s sheep we are to be LIVING SACRIFICES.

Romans 12:1-2 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, [which is] your reasonable service. 2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what [is] that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

To imitate God is to NOT imitate the world.

It is to do as God has said. It is to do as God has shown. We are to be like Jesus, like God our Father. We are to be Spirit led.

Galatians 5:16, 26 Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh …. if we live in the Spirit let us also walk in the Spirit.

Our walk, our daily – minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day, step by step WALK must be WITH GOD and not with the world. What did our precious Savior command us to do?

Matthew 5:43-48 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy. 44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; 45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? 47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? 48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

We are to be living lights. We are to shine not just in this sanctuary – this room of teaching – but particularly in the world out there.

In order for salt to do any good,
it must get out of the salt shaker.
In order for light to do any good,
it must leave the bulb.

We have to be LIGHT and LOVE in here and out there. The children imitate God’s love. The children imitate God’s goodness, even to those who do not deserve it. The children imitate the love of God in their daily lives.

If You Are His Child Then Love As Jesus Loved

Ephesians 5:1-2 Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; 2 And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savor.

Jesus gave Himself for every person, though not every person will receive Him. There will be many who never heed the Gospel. There will be many who will reject Christ as Lord and Savior, and leave this life to go to a place of eternal death.

You see, we were all made in the image of God. All of us have eternal souls. our soul shall never cease to be. Where will that soul spend eternity? That is entirely up to you. Are you saved? Are you Christ’s child? If so, it will show.

I was at a Pastor’s breakfast the other day at the Lifecare Facility. As we sat down to eat a wonderful meal I saw the beautiful cloth napkins and elegant silverware. It looked like the finest of silver was put into this knife, fork, and spoon. But when I picked it up something was wrong. It LOOKED like silverware, but it was the very finest of …. plastic! It had no weight to it. Now I’m not complaining – it fed me just as well as heavy silver would have fed me. But it was imitation.

Are you an imitation Christian or are you a Living Child of the Light? If you belong to Jesus you are called to walk in love, not in lust.

Ephesians 5:3-8 But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; 4 Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks. 5 For this ye know, that no whore monger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. 6 Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. 7 Be not ye therefore partakers with them. 8 For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light:

If you are a Child of God then you are a Child of Light. You do not walk as children of darkness. Sexual sin – heterosexual or homosexual – should not be a part of your lives. You should not be imitating the darkness around you. You should be radically different, loving, kind, but standing firmly on the truths that God has presented us in His Word.

You do not belong to the devil. He is not your father.
You do not belong to this world.
You belong to God your Father.
You were purchased from evil by the Blood of Christ.
You are Redeemed, loved, and Light.
Be what God your Father has called you to be.
For His glory!
Amen!

Posted in Ephesians, Following Jesus, Foundation Series, Sermons Preached | Tagged , , ,

Five Steps To Rest A Worried Mind

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Photo by Anh Nguyen on Unsplash

Philippians 4:6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.

I love the King James Bible – it is a good and reliable translation. Yet the Bible uses archaic language – after all, it’s last authorized revision was in 1881 (called the English Revised Version, or Revised Version, this was the only officially authorized revision). Language has changed quite a bit from 1611 and 1881. The word “careful” in the King James is the Greek μεριμνάω merimnáō, (pronounced mer-im-nah’-o) which in today’s language means:

To be ANXIOUS, or have ANXIETY, to be WORRIED,
to be TROUBLED about something

The same word is translated differently throughout the King James. From our Lord Jesus in Matthew 6:25

Therefore I say unto you, Take no THOUGHT for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?

Or in Matthew 6:31

Therefore take no THOUGHT, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?

Or when Jesus told the worrying Martha in Luke 10:41

Martha, Martha, thou art CAREFUL AND TROUBLED about many things:

The Lord does not want His people to be worried – and yet, we often are. Worry is a fertile ground that grows many dangerous plants. It can lead to:

Panic Attacks
Racing Heart,
Sweating and Shaking,
Deep Depression,
Listlessness and Loss of Joy,
even Suicidal Thoughts … or worse!

If you are a Christian – saved by faith in the Grace of God – the Lord does not want you feeling this way. The Bible tells us that:

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

Jesus did not save you so that you could be ruled by the negative. And even as I say this, I want you all to understand God does not want you to feel like less than a son or daughter because you are anxious or worried. One of my favorite Pastors, C.H. Spurgeon, often called The Prince of Preachers, suffered depression and worry. In his sermon The Christian’s Heaviness and Rejoicing Spurgeon said:

My spirits were sunken so low that I could weep by the hour like a child, and yet I knew not what I wept for.”

King David, a man after God’s own heart (see Acts 13:22) said:

Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me?” (Psalm 42:5)

As Christians, there are five Biblical steps you can take to help overcome worry before worry overcomes you. Let me say this, though. If you are chronically worried, or habitually depressed, you may need to see a healthcare professional. We live in a fallen world in broken bodies. The mind, just like the heart, can become disabled. Reach out to me, to someone who loves you, and let us come together in love to find a solution. Jesus Christ gave everything for your blessing. You’ve got a lot to live for, both now, and forever!

Just Cast It On The Lord

Philippians 4:6 Be careful for nothing
or better – “Do not be anxious or worried about anything!”

Sometimes we as humans take too much on ourselves. This characteristic started in the Garden of Eden when a talking snake convinced Adam “you really want to be like God” (Genesis 3:4). No, we do not want to be like God. But too often we try and be God, and it hurts us.

I’m sure you’ve all done this, because I’ve done it many times. I go into the grocery store or the local Walmart to get just one thing, so I don’t take a shopping cart with me. I head back into the store, pick up the one thing … then remember something else I need. I go and get that something else, and now I have two things in my hands. But as I head toward the check out line I think of something else. It’s getting harder and harder to hold what I have, and I’m struggling – but then I remember something else. By the time I get to the one register that’s open (and filled with people) I’m struggling to hold all these items in my two arms. My muscles and tensing, and I’m frustrated as the customer at the register (and I’m at the end of a long line) counts out pennies and digs through her handbag for elusive coupons “I just know I have” … and my arms stretch out of joint about 3 inches. Finally as I get close enough to the register I drop everything on the conveyor belt. The tension is relieved, and my mood starts to get better.

I never should have taken all that stress on myself in the first place!
Why didn’t I just take the shopping cart?

The same truth applies to our lives. We pick up too many stresses that don’t belong to us in the first place. We are told in:

1 Peter 5:6-7 … Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: 7 Casting all your CARE upon him; for he careth for you.

The word translated CARE is the Greek μέριμνα mérimna, (pronounced mer’-im-nah) which means “worry or anxiety”. Things happen in our lives that we cannot control. God does not want us to worry about these things. He wants us to be who we are, and let God be God. The same Greek word is used in Luke chapter 8 in Jesus’ Parable of the Sower. Jesus said that some of the seeds of Grace – when cast by the Sower – fall among thorns and never produce fruit. Jesus said:

Luke 8:14 … {they are} choked with the CARES {mérimna – worries} … of this life, and bring forth no fruit to perfection.

Worry makes a fruitless and miserable life. God’s solution to worry is for me to stop trying to be God, and to cast my worries on the Lord. Let it go! You cannot fix it by worry. You cannot make it better by worry.

Express The Problem To God

Philippians 4:6 Be careful for nothing {quit worrying};
but in every thing by PRAYER and supplication

When we cast our burdens upon God we use the spiritual disciplines of prayer and supplication. The word translated PRAYER is the Greek προσευχή proseuchḗ, (pronounced pros-yoo-khay’) which means to earnestly seek God in prayer. It is a dedicated focus – not on yourself – but on your Savior and Lord.

Our Lord Jesus chose twelve men to be His choicest leaders – called Apostles – and of these twelve chose three men – Peter, James, and John – to be the leaders of the leaders. These twelve were to be the beginning of Christ’s Church. One day Jesus took Peter, James, and John up into a high mountain apart from the other 9 men (Matthew 17:1). Jesus’ intent was to teach these three men of His inner circle that He and He alone is Messiah. While these 3 men were on the Mount of Transfiguration with Jesus the other 9 men were in the valley. While Jesus and the inner three were on the mountaintop a man with an insane, demon possessed son came to the nine Apostles. The 9 did what they could, but in the end did nothing. As Jesus came back from the mountaintop with Peter, James, and John, the father of this poor boy came to Jesus saying:

Matthew 17:15-16 Lord, have mercy on my son: for he is lunatic, and sore vexed: for ofttimes he falleth into the fire, and oft into the water. 16 And I brought him to thy disciples, and they could not cure him.

Jesus rebuked the father and the 9 disciples for their failure, and stepped in, rebuking the devil and curing the child (Matthew 17:18). Right after this the 9 disciples asked Jesus “Why couldn’t we do what You did?”. Jesus told them:

Matthew 17:20-21 … Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. 21 Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by PRAYER and fasting.

Jesus uses the same word for PRAYER that is used in Philippians 4:6 – proseuchḗ, (pronounced pros-yoo-khay’). The prayer that moves the heart and hand of God is the prayer focused on God, not on oneself. In fact, Jesus includes FASTING with prayer. When you FAST you do without something so that you can focus purely on God. This type of prayer is POWERFUL!

Philippians 4:6 Be careful for nothing {quit worrying};
but in every thing by prayer and SUPPLICATION

The word SUPPLICATION is the Greek δέησις déēsis, (pronounced deh’-ay-sis) which means to to seek for, to earnestly request something from God. Déēsis, (pronounced deh’-ay-sis) is the cry of the broken heart totally submitted to God.

A wonderful example of this is found in the Old Testament in the life of a woman named Hannah. The name Hannah means “Grace”. Hannah had a problem. Hannah was childless. She wanted a child more than anything in the world, but was unable to conceive. It wasn’t her fault, and it wasn’t her husband’s fault. She was just unable. The Bible says Hannah was bitter in her soul. Her inability was destroying her outlook on life. She had a good life, a good husband, but felt less than because of her perceived failure. Do you know what Hannah did?

1 Samuel 1:10 … Hannah prayed unto the Lord, and WEPT SORE.

Hannah laid her burden on our Heavenly Father, Who’s shoulders are able to bear whatever weight we may have. Hannah promised to honor the Lord in her surrender. She humbled herself before Him – and He blessed Hannah with not just a child, but one of the greatest Prophets who ever was: the Prophet Samuel. What did the Psalmist say?

Psalms 37:5 Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.

Psalms 55:22 Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.

You are not gods, so stop trying to be that way. Let the Lord have the burden!

Sing And Praise The Lord

Philippians 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice.

Philippians 4:6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving

The Bible does not tell us to rejoice or be thankful only while we are on the mountaintop. It’s easy to praise God on the mountaintop. But when we are in the valleys of life we often express our gloom rather than remembering how good God our Father has been to us in the past. There are a lot of times that hard things happen to my life that I do not understand. Nonetheless, I am to thank God anyway. We are told in Ephesians:

Ephesians 5:15-21 See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, 16 Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. 17 Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. 18 And 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.

The will of God our Father is that we not be like the dark world around us, but that we walk as light in the Lord:

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.

Jesus calls His followers to come together frequently and to worship God in song and praise. When I have a blue day it lifts me up to come into this place and celebrate Jesus with others. When I am down singing – both private as well as public singing – releases my heart from despair and to the control of God the Holy Spirit. God calls His people to work TOGETHER. What better way to be TOGETHER than for us to sing TOGETHER and praise our Savior and Lord TOGETHER.

We as believers are not called to walk in darkness, but to walk in light. What does the Scripture say?

Ephesians 5:8 .. For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light …

We walk together looking to Jesus. We work together for His glory. When you are down, pray. When you are depressed, seek out God’s people, and sing praises unto Him TOGETHER. Our God inhabits the praises of His people (Psalm 22:3). Praise Him!

Understand That God Is Absolutely
And Always In Control

Philippians 4:6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto GOD.

When the great Pastor C.H. Spurgeon was depressed he always looked to the Sovereignty of God. He said:

It would be a very sharp and trying experience for me to think that I have an affliction which God never sent me, that the bitter cup was never filled by his hand, that my trials were never measured out by him, nor sent to me by his arrangement of their weight and quantity.”

Take your requests to God, for our God is able. The Apostle James told us that when trials come:

James 1:2-7 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; 3 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. 4 But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. 5 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.

When tried we are to understand that God worketh in us to will and to do of His good pleasure (Philippians 2:13). The Bible says:

Ephesians 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

God works in us to bless us and make us more like Jesus. It is through trials and faith that we are shaped. God wants us to be like Jesus, to shine like Jesus, to enjoy life like Jesus.

Study or Meditate On God’s Word

Philippians 4:6-8 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. 7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

What we dwell on effects how we feel. If we muse or meditate or study on negative things we will feel less than or negative. Let us focus on our God and His Word. Jesus prayed for His Church before going to Calvary, saying:

John 17:16-17 … {My Church is} not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.

What you set your mind on is what will influence your heart. Let the Word of God infiltrate your soul. Let God’s truths be engraved on your hearts by His Holy Spirit.

As we close, let me restate these five steps:

Just Cast It On The Lord
Express The Problem To God
Sing And Praise The Lord
Understand That God Is In Control

Study or Meditate On God’s Word

Dear friends, give it all to Jesus! Look unto Jesus. Pray to the Father through Jesus. His Kingdom will never fail. May God richly bless you as you seek Him this very day!

Posted in Philippians, Sermons Preached | Tagged , , ,

The Gospel In Three Words

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Photo by Cristian Palmer on Unsplash

Acts 2:36, 38-39 Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ. … 38 … Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. 39 For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.

 

Our message today is part of a larger sermon preached by the Apostle Peter. On the first day of the Church, this first of the Apostles preached the first sermon the Church ever heard foillowing the ascention of Jesus. Three words stand out in this sermon Peter preached, three very important words, the basis of the Gospel of salvation. The first word is ..

Lord

Peter said:

God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified,
both Lord and Christ

The heart of the Gospel is found in the truth that Jesus is Lord. That word “Lord” is very interesting. The word LORD is used 7836 times in our KJV Bible – and it’s first use is for God, the Creator of all. When we speak of “God” we are speaking of the Creator of all. But when we say “Lord” we are recognizing that God created all things and is Ruler above everything. In the creation account we read in …

Genesis 2:4 These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens …

Creation was made by God. It did not evolve as an accident,
but was made on purpose by
the God Who yet rules it.

God made everything, both seen and unseen.

Hebrews 11:3 Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.

It is the Word of God that spoke all things into existence. It is the Word of God that created the Angels. The Angels were made beautiful, servants of God. The chief Angel was called Lucifer which means “The Bright and Shining One”. Lucifer rejected God because of his own pride. We are told by the Prophet …

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 be like the most High.

It was the Love of God that made Lucifer. Lucifer rejected the lordship of God. Falling from his place as Chief Angel he led a third of the angels of Heaven in a senseless revolt against God. You see, Lucifer like many of us don’t mind God as long as He is NOT LORD. He is Lord.

And God is love (1 John 4:7). The Lord God created the heavens and the earth, and in the midst of this planet, in the most perfect of places, the Lord placed Adam and his wife Eve. Hear God’s love:

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

The Lord made all perfect, and turned the Lordship of earth over to Adam and Eve. But the Bible tells us that Lucifer crept into Eden.

Ezekiel 28:13 … Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God;

In that wonderful Paradise Lucifer whispered to our foreparents:

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.

Oh, how we must break the heart of God! He made us, He gave us, and we wanted more. Adam was made in God’s image, and given the earth to rule. Adam listened to Lucifer and, trying to take the place of the Lord, plunged us all into sin. This is the human condition.

Romans 3:9 … they are all under sin

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

Ecclesiastes 7:20 For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not.

At one point humanity grew so far from God that the Lord decided to destroy it by flood. Yet even then God was not willing to totally erase all.

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

When I think of the Flood my heart hurts, but then I praise the Lord, for …

Psalm 145:8-9 The LORD is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy. 9 The LORD is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works.

Psalm 113:1-8 Praise ye the LORD. Praise, O ye servants of the LORD, praise the name of the LORD. 2 Blessed be the name of the LORD from this time forth and for evermore. 3 From the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same the LORD’S name is to be praised. 4 The LORD is high above all nations, and his glory above the heavens. 5 Who is like unto the LORD our God, who dwelleth on high, 6 Who humbleth himself to behold the things that are in heaven, and in the earth! 7 He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth the needy out of the dunghill; 8 That he may set him with princes, even with the princes of his people.

Our God is Lord! Think of the blasphemies perpetrated on the Lord our God every day in this nation, and all over the world. And yet He in love humbles Himself to watch over us. Our Creator, our God, our Lord did not reward evil for evil, but tolerated mankind another day, and another day, and another day. Why did He do this? This brings us to our second word:

Christ

Though Adam rejected the Lord our God and obeyed Lucifer, and though he brought sin and death and thorns and thistles into the world, the Lord God from the beginning decided to save us. Lucifer led willing humanity into rebellion against God. In the Garden of Eden God promised a Redeemer.

Genesis 3:14-15 the LORD God said unto the serpent … I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.

The LORD God promised that one day the seed of the woman would come forth and crush Lucifer’s power (his head). God would one day send a Christ, someone Who was anointed, chosen of God, to overthrow Lucifer and rescue those enslaved to sin. God told Lucifer that it would be “the SEED of the woman”, an interesting phrase, because women carry the egg of fertilization, not the seed. Man carries the seed. Yet God spoke of “the seed of the woman” coming as Christ, as God’s anointed, to destroy the works of the devil:

1 John 3:8 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.

God promised in Eden that the “Seed of the woman” would come forth to destroy the works of the devil. Further along in human history the Lord God in love sought out a man called Abram.

Genesis 12:1-3 Now the LORD had said unto Abram, 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, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: 3 And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.

God promised Abraham – that out of him would come a great nation (Israel) and a great blessing to all the nations (Christ). The Christ – the Messiah – would be a man from the lineage of Abraham. But how would He be the “Seed of the woman”? The Prophet said:

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

The miraculous Child, the Messiah, would be “Immanuel” or “God with us”. He would be virgin born. Further, the Christ would be born in Bethlehem:

Micah 5:2 But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.

Furthermore God decreed that the Christ – when He came among humanity – would not only be from the lineage of Abraham, but He would come from the Jewish Tribe of Judah, from the lineage of King David. The Prophet said:

Jeremiah 23:5-6 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. 6 In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.

God had promised a Christ – a Messiah would come. That this Messiah would bless the nations while destroying the works of the devil. This Messiah would be virgin born, born in Bethlehem, and born of the line of King David. This Messiah would be “God with us”, God in the flesh. Who is this wonderful Messiah? This brings us to our third word:

Jesus

The Lordship of God and the promise of the Christ
meets in the name of Jesus!

The name “Jesus” literally means “The Lord our Savior”. Before Jesus entered into this world the Angel Gabriel told Mary:

Luke 1:30-33 And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. 31 And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. 32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: 33 And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.

Jesus would be born of a virgin, and would be “God with us”. He would rule an eternal kingdom (of His kingdom there shall be no end). How would Christ enter this world? 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.

Christ would be God. He would be God in the flesh. Why was Christ coming? The Angel Gabriel told Joseph:

Matthew 1:20-23 Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. 21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. 22 Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, 23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.

Jesus is the Messiah, the Christ, the Prophet that God promised. As Peter preached in Jeruisalem he clearly stated that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God.

Acts 3:19-26 … Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; 20 And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: 21 Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began. 22 For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you. 23 And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people. 24 Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days. 25 Ye are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed. 26 Unto you first God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities.

Peter saw Jesus as the One Whom God through Moses prophesied:

Deuteronomy 18:15 The LORD thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken;

Jesus is both Lord and Christ. He alone is both Lord and Christ. Many false prophets declare “there are many ways unto God” to which I reply, WHICH GOD? If you are speaking of the God of the Bible then there is but one way to read Him, and that is THROUGH JESUS.

Jesus is God the Son, Co-Creator with the Triune God.

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: 17And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.

Jesus is the Only One sent to redeem us. There is no other but JESUS!

Galatians 4:4 But when the fulness 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.

As Russell Moore wrote:

In Jesus, all the promises of God find their “yes” and “amen” (2 Corinthians 1:20). Jesus is the heir of God’s promises to Abraham, and if we are hidden in Him, those promises become fully ours (Galatians 3:29). Those of us who were outsiders to God’s promises are now, in Him, by the Blood of His Cross, “brought near” to God (Ephesians 2:13). We are all now, in Jesus, “no longer strangers and aliens”, but “fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God” (Ephesians 2:19). …

We are saved to be a people.”

As we come to the Lord’s Table this Sunday we recognize Jesus as more than just a man.

God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified,
both Lord and Christ.

There is no other Savior but Jesus. If you would be saved, you need to recognize Him as Lord. If you would be saved you need to recognize Jesus as Christ. If you would be saved then do as Peter said:

Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Do your part and God will do His part. Repent, turn to Jesus and Jesus alone. Follow Him as Lord. Revere Him as Christ. When you do, you will be saved! Blessed be the Name of the Lord forever!

May God touch your hearts with His Word!

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