A Vision Of Hell

Fires of Hell
Photo by Cullan Smith on Unsplash

John 3:17-21 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. 18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. 21 But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.

I sat in a Veterinarian’s Office waiting on the doctor to treat my dog “Scooter”. Bored, I overheard a man talking with the doctor about the problems that he had with his goats. The Vet said something I found very interesting. She said:

The main objective of any goat is to die. They eat any number of things, regardless as to whether or not it’s good for them”.

I thought that statement was very interesting. I remember an episode of the Andy Griffith Show when a farmer named Hutch brings his pet goat into Mayberry. Men are working on an underpass for the town, and the goat gets away from his owner and eats a case of dynamite. It’s a hilarious episode that ends when Andy leads the loaded goat out of town, as Barney serenades the goat with his harmonica.

The Main Objective Of Any Goat Is To Die.

Our Lord Jesus often talked of believers in Him being “sheep”, and unbelievers were depicted as “goats”. Our Lord said, “the Son of Man {that’s Jesus}shall set the SHEEP on His RIGHT hand, but the GOATS on the left” (Matthew 25:33). Jesus said that His Sheep would be welcomed into “the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Matthew 25:34). The GOATS, however, are told:

Matthew 25:41 … Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels..

The SHEEP are those who receive the “Good Shepherd”, the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior, these Sheep go into Heaven. They enter Heaven because the “good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep” (John 10:11). But to those who reject Jesus as Lord and Savior, Jesus tells these GOATS:

Matthew 25:41 … Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels..

Hell Is Real – And Necessary

Word Study: What is uniquely sad about this assignment to hell is that no human was ever meant to go to hell. Hell is a place prepared for the devil and his angels. The word prepared is the Greek ἑτοιμάζω hetoimázō, {pronounced het-oy-mad’-zo}, meaning “to make ready, to make the necessary preparations, to get everything ready”. Our Creator engineered hell as a place for demons, not for humans made in His image. Hell is a real place, but God doesn’t want anyone there. Someone wrote Billy Graham once and said,

I can’t believe that a loving God would ever send anyone to hell when they die. Jesus is too loving to do that.”

Billy responded with, “It may surprise you to learn that no one in the Bible spoke more about the reality of hell than Jesus. He declared, “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28).

Those are sobering words, and we need to take them seriously. Hell is real, and not one word about it in the Bible would ever make you want to go there. Those who thoughtlessly say that they look forward to going there because all their friends will be there simply haven’t realized its horror. If there is no hell, then we live in an unjust world in which tyrants and abusers and other evildoers will never pay for their evil deeds. The Bible calls it a place of “outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 25:30, KJV).

But it’s important to realize that Jesus spoke about hell’s reality not out of hate or anger, but out of love. Yes, hell is real, but God doesn’t want you to go there! This is why He provided a way for us to be with Him in heaven forever, by sending His Son into the world to die for our sins.”

Jesus wants everyone to be “SHEEP” and not “GOATS”. Anyone can change from “SHEEP” to “GOAT” by receiving Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Jesus said:

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

I want to talk to you tonight about the subject of Hell. I am praying that God the Holy Spirit will give you a real VISION of Hell. Many today do not believe in Hell. Many who profess to be Christians do not believe in a Biblical Hell. Some believe that – if a person were assigned to Hell by Jesus – that this soul would be annihilated, wiped out by it’s flames.

That’s just not true.

Hell is a real place, a place every person should fear to go to.

Fifteen times in the Scripture Jesus mentions
that place called “Hell”

Our Lord Jesus preached in one of His first sermons:

Matthew 5:29-30 And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. 30 And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.

Jesus also preached in one of His last earthly sermons:

Matthew 18:8-9 Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire. 9 And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire.

If Hell were just a place of annihilation, then why would Jesus emphasize it had EVERLASTING fire? If Hell is not a place of eternal and ongoing punishment, then why would Jesus tell you it is better to cut off a limb, or pluck out an eye, rather than go there?

Hell is an eternal place of punishment, a prison for souls that do not wish to honor God. Humans are all created in God’s Image (Genesis 1:27), and that part of our being – our human soul – is by nature eternal. Our bodies are temporal, but every soul is eternal – and belongs to God. God said through the Prophet Ezekiel, “Behold, all souls are mine – they belong to Me. The soul of the father as well as the soul of the son belongs to Me” (my paraphrase 18:4). Every soul is – because it is in God’s image – FOREVER. Every soul, upon the death of the body, leaves and enters HEAVEN (a.k.a. Eternal Life) or HELL (a.k.a. Hell).

Answering “I Don’t Believe A Loving God
Would Cast Anyone Into Hell”

This is a common statement I hear from people today. Many of the more liberal Christians love to quote God is love” (1 John 4:8). God is, indeed, “love”. But God is not JUST “love”. The Bible says that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5).

In John’s writings, He mentions God as “LIGHT” before he ever mentions God is “LOVE”.

Light” in the Bible is a reference to RIGHTEOUSNESS or a lack of sin. In

Proverbs 4:18 (ESV) But the path of the RIGHTEOUS is LIKE THE LIGHT OF DAWN, which shines brighter and brighter until full day.

In Philippians 2:15 tells us that God wants us to be “children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world”.

God is Light, and His Children are to reflect His Light to a dark and desperate world. Jesus tells the Christ follower to let your LIGHT shine before others, that they may see your GOOD DEEDS” (Matthew 5:16). Our God is HOLY, and we who follow Him are to be HOLY. When John looked into Heaven, he saw four angels about the Throne of God crying out,

Revelation 4:8 Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come

Our God is Holy. The Creator Who made all things is LIGHT, without sin, without darkness. Our God is also eternal. The angels cried out that God, was, and is, and is to come. You can offend me, and in time I will forget all about it. Time washes away the memory of the offense. But to God, God is ETERNAL, without change. An offense against God is never forgotten. When Isaiah was allowed to look into Heaven, and to see God on His Throne, Isaiah cried out:

Isaiah 6:5 Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts

Illustrate: Seeing God in his holiness, in His perfect righteousness, in His light, Isaiah was frightened, for compared to God he needed to be cleansed. How can a sinful man hope to stand in the Presence of this Perfect, Holy, Eternal Being we know as God? It is like looking into the Sun. You can do it a moment, but your eyes tear up, and will burn out of your head if you keep looking. Isaiah’s lips were unclean! So God sent an angel to Isaiah with a live coal from that altar of God. Touching that light – that burning coal – to Isaiah’s lips, his sin was covered. The angel said,

Isaiah 6:7 … Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged.

Just as the angel purged Isaiah’s sin with the burning coal, Jesus purges our sin by applying the work of the Cross to our lives when we receive Him.

John 3:17 … God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him MIGHT be saved.

God wants all to be saved, to leave this life and enter eternal life (Heaven) as opposed to eternal death (hell). To be in a right place with the Eternal God Who made all, you must believe on Jesus.

John 3:18 He that believeth on {Jesus} is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

If you have believed on Jesus, the Biblical Jesus, then you are NOT in a state of condemnation. If you have believed on Jesus, you, made in the image of God, are now a Child of God. The “child of God by faith in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:26) is NOT condemned. But the unbeliever in Christ is condemned already. The word translated condemned is the Greek κρινω, krinom {pronounced kree’-no}, which means “judged in the past so that the judgment stands”. God came into this world, became flesh as Jesus Christ, specifically to save us all from eternal death. The unbeliever in Christ rejects Jesus as Lord and Savior because:

John 3:19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.

The lost, the goats of this life, have chosen to reject Christ so they can continue in evil. When a person submits to Christ as Lord and Savior, they follow HIM, not the world. The lost follow the lost world. They will not come to Jesus because they prefer darkness, prefer sinning, prefer wallowing in the mire of this life.

John 3:20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.

Jesus says to the unbeliever,

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

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

Jesus came for every person. But some refuse to come to Him. Jesus told the self righteous Pharisees:

John 5:24, 39-40 … He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. … 39 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.

How sad that is! The reason people go to hell is because they will not come to Jesus. People do not go to hell because of sin. People go to hell because they pursue sin rather than Christ. It is a terrible thing to go through this life without Jesus! I have seen cartoons where the character drawn would have a dark cloud over their head. In truth, those who have rejected Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior have a dark cloud called CONDEMNATION hanging over their head. We are told:

John 3:36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.

The wrath of God abideth on the unbeliever. It is now, and will continue while the unbeliever is in a state of unbelief. The Apostle said:

1 John 5:10-11 HCS … The one who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has given about His Son.) {11} And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.

The sinner without Christ is given a day of life to receive Christ. It is the common Grace of God that allows the lost another day to live. But that person is already marked with condemnation, just as Cain was marked for killing his brother. If that person dies without Christ, the Bible says:

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

Hell is not a place where you go to cease being. Hell is an eternal prison, a place of flames and smoke and torment and grief. It is a place where the wrath of God is poured out. Jesus said of the lost who rejected Him as Lord and Savior:

Mark 9:44 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched…

Repent While There Is Time, And Come
To The Light Of Christ

John 3:21 But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.

This morning I spoke on the need for “Repentance”. To “Repent” is to stop following the gods of self and sin, and to turn and run into the open arms of Jesus. Jesus rejects no one. Jesus loves to save souls – thank God for that!

People think, “Well, I’m not ready to receive Jesus just yet. I want to sow my wild oats. I want to “have fun”, and live a little. I’ll receive Jesus LATER ON IN LIFE so that I won’t go to hell”. Dear one, this is a bad idea. The Bible says:

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

The point of our focal text we read today is that the unbeliever is in a state of condemnation RIGHT NOW. We do not know when our last day on earth will be. We do not know when the grim reaper will come. Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, NOW is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2). It is foolish to assume that you always have tomorrow. As my mama used to say, “Tomorrow never comes”. In Luke chapter 16 our Lord Jesus told a story about two men, one rich and one a beggar. The rich man probably thought he would live forever, for he lived in the lap of luxury. Jesus preached:

Luke 16:22-24 And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; 23 And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. 24 And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.

The rich man – forever nameless because he refused to repent and hide under the name of Jesus – died and immediately was in hell. In hell, he was in torment. In hell, he was lonely. In hell, he was thirsty. Hell is hell. That rich man died unexpectedly, and in hell he lifted up his eyes. But there’s something else about this rich man you may not have noticed.

The lost rich man – this goat – refused to repent while on the earth, and refuses to repent even in hell. “Send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water to cool my tongue”.

The longer a person goes without Christ, the more hardened that person becomes to the call of God. What a sad truth this is! Jesus Christ allowed Himself to die on Calvary, forsaken of God, so that we who are believers in Him will never be forsaken (Matthew 27:45-54). As Christ purchased our salvation with His Blood, He cried out “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” How terrible that He would make such a payment, and people would yet reject Him.

Christ took your place on the Cross so that you could enter His place in Heaven. Yet if you will not come, if you will not repent, then you stand already marked for judgment. Your destination is set to a terrible place. Will you not come while there is time? If you do not know Him as Lord and Savior, call upon Jesus this very day, and He will save you. The Bible says:

Romans 9:33 … whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.

Romans 10:11 … Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.

If you have received Jesus Christ as Savior, tell others about Him. Hell is real. Hell is eternal. Hell is torment. Oh, that God the Holy Spirit and this Word of truth would give us all a vision of hell. Amen and amen!

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The Dog And The Sow

Photo by Nicolas Castez on Unsplash

2 Peter 2:22 But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.

A True Proverb

This verse is unique in that it is the only place in the Bible that mentions a dog and a pig in the same verse. The Chief Apostle, Peter, tells us that he is quoting a “true proverb”. Peter is not quoting a Biblical proverb {for the closest verse proverb that comes to this text is in Proverbs 26:11, “As a dog returneth to his vomit, so a fool returneth to his folly”}. Peter is quoting a proverb that was common among the people of that day. It was a proverb much like the often stated:

Idle hands are the devil’s workshop.

This is not from the Bible either, but probably was adapted from the English poet and writer Geoffrey Chaucer who wrote “Idle hands are the devil’s tools”. That’s a true proverb. When we’re not working for God, we’re working for the devil. When Adam & Eve stopped laboring in the Garden of Eden, it was then that Satan as a serpent presented himself. When King David stopped laboring for God his eyes wandered to Bathsheba – and no good came of that! The Bible says:

1 Peter 5:8 your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.

Those who are Satan’s tastiest morsels are the ones who refuse to come to the Lord, and rest in the Lord.

Jesus bids all to come to Him – to rest in Him – to serve Him. This is the way of peace and joy and contentment.

Matthew 11:28-30 Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

To come to Jesus, to come to God and be blessed, you must REPENT. False prophets do not teach you this great truth. They teach you that God loves you, but expects nothing of you. This is not so. In 2 Peter chapter 2 the Apostle focuses on false prophets, false messages, and false salvation. You must REPENT to be saved!

False Prophets Never Speak Of Repentance

True Prophets are moved by God. In the previous chapter Peter wrote:

2 Peter 1:20-21 … knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. 21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

The Scripture of our Bible, that precious Book we revere, was written by holy men of God {who} spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. The God inspired preacher will speak from God’s Book, and will be motivated by the Holy Spirit of God. The false prophets who abuse the Word of God are motivated by greed and lust for power. False prophets and false teachers are everywhere. The Apostle writes:

2 Peter 2:1 But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.

False prophets never speak of REPENTANCE. To REPENT {the Hebrew word נָחַםשׁוּב shûwb, pronounced shoob, the Greek word μετανοέω metanoeō} means to cease going in the direction you are going, and to willingly and willfully return to God as your LORD. To change your mind, and begin to follow Jesus. In the Old Testament God said:

Ezekiel 14:6 Thus saith the Lord GOD; Repent, and turn yourselves from your idols; and turn away your faces from all your abominations.

Ezekiel 18:30 Repent, and turn yourselves from all your transgressions; so iniquity shall not be your ruin.

The first recorded sermon of our Lord Jesus Christ

Matthew 4:17 … Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

The intent of the false prophet is to get you to following anything and anyone BUT the God of the Scripture.

Israel had false prophets (pseudoprophētēs). Under the reign of King Ahab and Queen Jezebel there were …

1 Kings 18:19 … the prophets of Baal four hundred and fifty, and the prophets of the groves four hundred

God raised up Elijah to stand against these false prophets on Mount Carmel, to bring Israel back to the Lord. The Prophet Jeremiah dealt with false prophets in both Samaria and Jerusalem (Jeremiah 23:13-16; 26-27). These false prophets always depart from the Word of God, the Bible:

Jeremiah 23:26-32 How long shall this be in the heart of the prophets that prophesy lies? yea, they are prophets of the deceit of their own heart; 27 which think to cause my people to forget my name by their dreams … he that hath my word, let him speak my word faithfully. What is the chaff to the wheat? saith the Lord. 29 Is not my word like as a fire? saith the Lord; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces? 30 Therefore, behold, I am against the prophets, saith the Lord, that steal my words every one from his neighbor. … they shall not profit this people at all, saith the Lord.

There were false prophets in the age of Israel, and there are false teachers (pseudodidaskalos) in the Church age. Peter said that they privily {or secretly} shall bring in damnable heresies {false teachings}. They mask what they teach a “true”, though it cannot be supported by God’s Word. This is key:

vvs 1 even denying the Lord that BOUGHT them

If you are saved, you are “BOUGHT” by Jesus. You belong to the One Who saved you.

The “LORD is MY SHEPHERD, I shall not want” (Psalm 23:1).
“We are the sheep of HIS Pasture” (Psalm 100:3).
“O LORD, Thou art our Father;
we are the clay, and THOU our Potter” (Isaiah 64:8)

The believer in Christ is under Christ’s yoke. The believer belongs to God. As Americans, we like to be “Free Range Christians”, but there is no such thing Biblically. If you are saved, you belong to the One Who saved you. If you are redeemed, you have been purchased by God. God says to His people:

Isaiah 43:1 (ESV) … Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.

Our lives were saved by God so that we can live for God. We REPENTED and came to Jesus to be saved

Romans 14:7-9 For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself. 8 For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s. 9 For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living.

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

The saved believer is only saved because they allowed themselves to be yoked to Jesus. We belong to God. We belong to God because He purchased our salvation with His very Blood.

1 Peter 1:18-19 … ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot..

God paid a high price for you, dear Christian. He became incarnate – very God of very God became Perfect Man. Perfect Man walked among us so that we could see the invisible God. The Scripture declares:

Galatians 4:3-5 … when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world: 4 but when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, 5 to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.

The false prophets never speak of repentance, and the fruit of the false prophet is a “Cultural Christ” as opposed to an “Actual Christian”.

2 Peter 2:2-3 And many shall follow their pernicious {ἀπώλεια apōleia, indecent} ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. 3 And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.

The false converts who heed the false gospel of the false prophets will cause the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. These false prophets do not preach because they care for the souls of those they minister to. Nor do they care nor love God. These false prophets speak with feigned words make merchandise of you. They want your money, your “stuff”, but care little for your soul. To them, you are but merchandise.

False Prophets Want Your Worship And Your Stuff
God Wants Your Heart And Your Best

Twenty years ago yesterday on September 11, 2001, terrorists attacked our nation. The 110 story Word Trade Center was struck by two hijacked aircraft. I remember watching that on television. Some 25,000 people were injured in the coordinated attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. There were 2977 deaths – more than were killed during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in World War 2. The nation was shocked. For a few weeks, Church attendance was up all across America. People asked, “Where is God in all this?” God was there. God is always there. People say,

How can a good and loving God have allowed the tragedy of 9-11? How can a good and loving God allow such evil things in the world?

People are asking the same questions today. How can God allow HIV? How can a good and loving God allow COVID-19?

Peter tells us that our Good and Loving God has not only ALLOWED, but ORCHESTRATED horrific events in the history of humanity. Our God judges sin. He watches over all that He has created, and judges when necessary – even harshly – in order to accomplish a greater good. Peter writes:

2 Peter 2:4 For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell {ταρταρόω tartaroō, the pit}, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment;

Though angels are in many ways superior in creation to humans, God assigned some to a place called Tartarus, a holding cell of darkness. These angels were cast into this horrible place for rebelling against God.

2 Peter 2:5 and spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly;

It was a loving and merciful God Who brought about a worldwide flood, killing all who were not on the Ark of Noah. Why? Because God saw that mankind had gone into such deep evil that, “the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually (Genesis 6:5)”.

2 Peter 2:6-7 and turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly; 7 and delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked:

Is God overly harsh for destroying Sodom and Gomorrah for sexual sin? No. He delivered the man who repented, and listened to His leadership, as well as his family. God delivered Noah and his family because Noah listened and did as God said.

I read an article the other day written by Joni Eareckson Tada that helps us understand this better. Over 50 years ago Joni had a swimming accident that fractured the fourth and fifth cervical vertebrae, causing her to become a quadriplegic. Coming home from the hospital she asked her friend Steve Estes – in essence – how a loving and kind God didn’t protect her from that accident that so changed her life. Steve told her:

God permits what he hates to accomplish what He loves.

God either allows, or causes, all things that happen. God is omniscient (all knowing), omnipotent (all powerful), and omnipresent (everywhere). “God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5). “God is love” (1 John 4:8, 16). So whatever happens, it happens because a loving and good God, a God who knows best, has either allowed or decreed it.

When Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery, Joseph would later tell his brothers:

Genesis 50:20 … ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.

When Peter was threatened not to preach the Gospel, he led a prayer meeting where he said:

Acts 4:26-28 The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ. 27 For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, 28 for to do whatsoever Thy hand {O Lord} and Thy counsel determined before to be done.

The Chief Priests, the Pharisees, and Judas Iscariot did evil – but God used their evil to accomplish a greater thing, the salvation of our souls. God permits what He hates to accomplish what He loves. God used Joni’s accident to give her a worldwide ministry by which the Gospel of Christ is preached.

God does not rejoice when He has to discipline, when He has to chastise, when He has to harm. God warned Israel to REPENT and return to Him. When Israel refused, God allowed the Babylonians to destroy Jerusalem in 587 BC. The Bible said of that event:

Lamentations 3:31-33 (ESV) For the Lord will not cast off forever, 32 but, though He cause grief, he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love; 33 for he does not afflict from his heart or grieve the children of men.

God does not afflict from his heart or grieve the children of men. God does not rejoice when He must bring the flood. God does not clap His hands with glee when Sodom and Gomorrah burn to the ground. God is not pleased with Himself when He sends snakes into the camp to afflict the sinner. God told us through the Prophet:

Ezekiel 33:11 Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?

God bids we come to Him in repentance. That we turn from the evil, and run into His open arms. God said:

Ezekiel 18:23 Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord God: and not that he should return from his ways, and live?

It is God’s wish that we live joyous lives, serving Him in gladness and loving one another. God wants to “rejoice over them that do good” (Jeremiah 32:41). But God will discipline us – God will discipline America – if we do not repent. When Jesus walked the earth, He was asked about God’s Presence when disasters occurred. Jesus told them simply – just as He tells us –

Luke 13:3 … Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.

To REPENT is not just to feel sorry or guilty that you were caught. It is to CHANGE YOUR MIND and YOUR DIRECTION. REPENTANCE is a Godly sorrow, whereas REMORSE is an earthly sorrow. The Bible says:

2 Corinthians 7:10 For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.

Rely On The Lord, Not The False Prophets

The false prophets cannot bring you blessing from God. They are – as Peter so aptly puts it – wells without water.

2 Peter 2:17-19 These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved for ever. 18 For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error. 19 While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage.

You cannot gain any lasting blessing from God from a false prophet. You must repent if you would be saved. You must commit to following the Lord. The false prophets have nothing for you.

False prophets only make false converts. As Paul preached on Mars Hill:

Acts 17:30-31 the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: 31 Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained {Jesus Christ}; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.

If you would be saved and blessed, you must REPENT. You must receive the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior. You must be willing to be bound to Him, to “take His yoke upon you, and learn of Him”. When you do so, you will become one of His Sheep, one of His Children, one of the Family of God.

If you have been saved, you are no longer a
spiritual dog or a pig. You are a child of God.

You are one of Christ’s sheep. You are the people of His pasture. You are the clay in His hand. But if you have never repented, and never turned to Christ for salvation, then you never changed internally. You may look like a genuine Christian, but you will, in time, return to the vomit or the mire, because that’s what you really are. To the question,

What must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:30)

The answer of God’s Word is “Repent! Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved” (Acts 16:31; Acts 2:38). Those who are not saved will, like the dog, eventually return to it’s own vomit. Those who are only outwardly “Cultural Christians” will, like the pig, wallow in the mire in due time. You must repent! You must turn from the other gods and goddesses of this world, and turn to Jesus Christ in faith. May God the Holy Spirit draw you to Christ’s side this very day. Amen and amen!

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Rejoice In The Yoke Of Jesus

Photo by Paul Jai on Unsplash

Matthew 11:28-30 Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

This morning we studied this text in a sermon called “Rest In The Heart Of Jesus”. We focused on the words “for I am MEEK and LOWLY in heart”.Jesus is πρᾷος prâios, {pronounced prah’-os}, “gentle, mild as opposed to arrogant”. As God His heart dictated that He lower Himself for us, to walk with us. Jesus also described His heart as ταπεινός tapeinós, {pronounced tap-i-nos’}, “of low degree, base, not of high stature”. Though Jesus Christ is King of Kings and Lord of Lords (Revelation 17:14; 19:16), He lowered Himself to be accessible to the least and lesser of all. There are none so low, nor so vile, that Jesus will not save them if they whosoever will.

Tonight we will look at this text from the perspective of the yoke. Most people today – and certainly none of the Millennials – have no idea what a yoke is. Jesus said:

Matthew 11:29 … Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me

What is a yoke”, Greek ζυγός zygós, {pronounced dzoo-gos’}? Smith’s Bible Dictionary tells us that yoke means:

A well-known implement of husbandry, frequently used metaphorically for subjection , e.g. (1 Kings 12:4, 9-11; Isaiah 9:4; Jeremiah 5:5) hence an “iron yoke” represents an unusually galling bondage. (Jeremiah 28:13)

A yoke is a curved piece of wood that was placed around an animal’s neck, so that you could bind the animal to a wagon or a plow. Without the yoke, it was impossible to plow a field or draw a wagon without hurting the creature. It is a harness that binds one or two creatures to one another, so they could work together to accomplish a common goal.

A “Yoke” When Applied To Humans Is Symbolic Of Submitting Yourself To Someone Or Something Else.

Everyone Is Yoked To Something

Jesus did not tell us, “Come to Me, and I will remove ALL YOKES from you so you can have rest”. Jesus said,

Matthew 11:28-29 … Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you

It is the devil’s lie that it is possible to live without a yoke. We all will be under some type of yoke.
That is the nature of life.

In America today it is a favorite saying of Satan, “Just You do You”. In my day we called this “Do Your Own Thing”. But the real truth is, whether you are animal or human, everyone and everything has a yoke.

  • For many young people, peer pressure and pride arethings you can yoke yourself to. Young people want to fit in with the group, not to be shunned, not to be considered lesser than the others. Popularity is sought on the social networks, whether it be Youtube, Facebook, Twitter, or something else. Peer pressure was in the crowd that cried out “Crucify Jesus, and release Barabbas” (Mark 15:1-5), though Jesus was clearly an innocent man. It was peer pressure that led Aaron to create a golden calf for Israel to worship while Moses was on Mount Sinai receiving the Law (Exodus 32:1-6). It was peer pressure that caused Daniel to be cast in the lion’s den (Daniel 6:1-16), and caused Daniel’s friends Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego to be cast in a fiery furnace (Daniel 3:13-26). Peer pressure leads young people into premarital sex, drugs and alcohol, and dangerous behavior that may take their lives. Jesus said:

Luke 12:4-6 … Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. 5 But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him.

  • Relationships like marriage and business are things you can yoke yourself to. When you enter into a marriage, you yoke yourself to another human. You make a promise before God that you will care for this person. When you bind yourself to someone else in a business venture, you are yoking your future to this other person’s future. The Bible warns us to be careful about who we relationally yoke ourselves to. As a Pastor, I will not officiate wedding ceremonies between a believer and an unbeliever. To do so will be to eventually destroy two lives! The Bible says:

2 Corinthians 6:14-18 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? 15 and what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? 16 and what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, 18 and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.

  • You can yoke yourself to SIN. The Bible tells us that “the WAGES of SIN is DEATH” (Romans 6:23). Sin brings with it physical death as well as spiritual death. When Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit, “the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths” (Genesis 3:7, ESV). Sin blinds us to righteousness, and separates us from God. Brian Hedges of Christianity.com notes:

As scary as infectious diseases are, there’s a more deadly virus that you and I already have – the sin virus. As the 16th Century Reformer John Calvin wrote in his Institutes of the Christian Religion, “all of us, who have descended from impure seed, are born infected with the contagion of sin.” The disease is hereditary, of course, passed down to us from our earthly father, Adam. In the words of the Apostle Paul, “just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned” (Romans 5:12, ESV). To put it simply, we aren’t sinners because we sin, we sin because we’re sinners – fallen from our created perfection in our earthly father, Adam.”

To yoke yourself to sin is to invite death. The stepbrother of Christ said:

James 1:14-15 (ESV) … each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

  • You can yoke yourself to the Law of God. The Pharisees did this in Jesus’ day, and Pharisees do it today. God did not give the Law to Israel when He saved Israel from Egypt. No, God gave the Law after Israel repeatedly refused to follow God by faith. Israel refused to yoke themselves to God, but yoked themselves to sin, to self, and to satanic idols. God was faithful with Israel. He led Israel through the Red Sea. The Bible says in Exodus 13:21 that “the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night (ESV)”. Israel was safe while yoked to God by faith. God gave Israel water out of the rock, bread from Heaven, meat from the skies around them, and caused their clothing and shoes to NOT wear out as they traveled. Yet Israel resisted faith in God.

So God gave Israel the Law. Israel promised to obey the Law of God, though they never did. The Law of God did not bring a release, but a harsh bondage on those who received it. The …

Pharisees codified the Mosaic Law into some
365 prohibitions and 250 commandments,
and required those who followed them to
submit to the Pharisees’ interpretations”.
(Dr. J. Dwight Pentecost, Design for Discipleship)

The intent of the Law of God was never to save anyone. The Apostle Paul said:

Romans 3:20 (ESV) For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.

The Law of God is a mirror that we hold up to our souls. In that mirror is reflected our sinfulness, our inability to reach the perfection necessary to be with God or to enter Heaven. The Apostle Peter called the Law:

Acts 15:10 … a yoke upon the neck … which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?

The Pharisees taught that it was sinful do do any internal healing on the Sabbath day. If you broke your arm, you could put an external splint on it. But if you took any internal medicine, you were bearing a burden. If you had a toothache, you could take a sip of wine if you spit it out, then rinsed your mouth out. But if you swallowed the wine, you were taking internal medication, and were a Sabbath violator. Jesus said of those Pharisees:

Matthew 23:15 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.

The Law of God – if followed with a sense of pride and self righteousness – does not make believers ion God, but children of hell. The Quest Study Bible notes:

To be a child of hell is to be deserving of hell, that is, to be awfully wicked. In Matthew 23, Jesus explains that the Pharisees and Sadducees displayed their wickedness in many ways. They did not practice what they preached (verse 3). They burdened the people with religious rituals and ceremonies of their own invention and made no effort to help them to bear them (verse 4). All their religious rituals were done in a public manner in order to receive the praise and glory from others (verses 5–7).”

The Bible says in Galatians 3:24-28 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.

Jesus Calls Us To Yoke Ourselves To Himself

I have often heard it said, “You can be saved, and not be a disciple of Christ”. I do not believe this, and can prove this in our text of today. Jesus offers to save us – whosoever will:

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

But Jesus ties the salvation He gives to His Lordship of His people. He continues:

Matthew 11:29-30 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

The Bible says that Jesus “shall SAVE HIS PEOPLE from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). Jesus said:

Matthew 11:27-28 All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him. {28} Come unto me .…

The Father has given All things – the Heaven, the Heaven of Heavens, and the earth to Jesus. All things belong to the Son. You cannot enter God’s family apart from faith in the Son. You cannot enter God’s Heaven apart from faith in God’s only begotten Son. Jesus is Lord! The Scripture says:

Romans 14:10-11 … we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. 11 For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.

As a sheep willingly yokes itself to the Shepherd, we willingly yoke ourselves to Jesus. Without the Shepherd we are in danger. With the Shepherd, we are protected. Jesus said:

John 10:11, 14 I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. … 14 I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.

When we willingly yoke ourselves to Jesus Christ, we yoke ourselves to the same Creator Who made all things. Are we not in a blessed position when we repent, and turn away from yoking ourselves to other things, and instead yoke ourselves to Christ?

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

Salvation demands we love Jesus. Salvation demands we obey Jesus, that we willingly yoke ourselves to Him. Jesus said:

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

And again, 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.

Jesus says to those He has saved, “take My yoke upon you”. This “yoke” is not an instrument of torture. Jesus said, My yoke is easy, my burden light. The yoke is in place to protect and guide the believer. Jesus’ yoke on my life insures that I will go through the terrors of this life, for Jesus is by my side, guiding me, protecting me. The Christian is a work in progress. Saved by faith in Christ, every believer lives under the easy yoke and the light burden of Christ Jesus. Only the believer fully submitted to Christ is unafraid of death and unafraid of life. While in His yoke, He is with me, and I am with Him. What a blessed life it is, this life in Christ! Pastor John MacArthur said:

“The yoke of the law, the yoke of human effort, the yoke of works, and the yoke of sin are all heavy, chafing, galling yokes. They represent large, unbearable burdens carried in the flesh. They lead to despair, frustration, and anxiety. Jesus offers a yoke we can carry, and He also gives the strength to carry it (Philippians 4:13). Therein is true rest. … Unlike the Pharisees and scribes, He does not desire to oppress us. He does not want to pile burdens on us that we cannot bear. … Obedience under His yoke is a joy. It is when we disobey that the yoke chafes our neck.”

The eagle has learned that it can fight the wind and fly, or it can surrender to the wind and soar.

Jesus Christ Is The Stronger Ox

When I read the words of Christ,

Matthew 11:29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me …

my first thought is of the old time farmer on the plow. I see Jesus as the Farmer, and myself as the ox pulling the plow. But Dr. J. Dwight Pentecost pointed out to me that this is too narrow a definition. Jesus said Take my yoke upon you. He is not necessarily speaking from the superior position of the Farmer, but insinuating that He, Jesus, is in the yoke WITH ME. Dr. Pentecost wrote:

Back in my college days, I observed an incident that made this Scripture clear to me. On Sunday afternoons I used to go out to a little rural Sunday School to teach. One such day the superintendent, a farmer, and I were visiting in the community. We saw an old farmer plowing with a team of oxen. As I saw this team, I was somewhat amazed, for one was a huge ox and the other a tiny bullock. That ox towered over the little bullock that was sharing the work with him. I was amazed and perplexed to see a farmer trying to plow with two such unequal animals in the yoke and commented on the inequality.

The man with whom I was riding stopped his car and said, “I want you to notice something. The large ox is pulling all the weight. That little bullock is being broken in to the yoke, but he is not actually pulling any weight.”

In the normal yoke, the load is equally distributed between the two that are yoked together, but when we are yoked with Jesus Christ, He bears the load, and we who are yoked with Him share in the joy and the accomplishment of the labor but without the burden of the yoke.”

Our Lord Jesus is the larger Ox. He bids us to get in the yoke with Him. This is what salvation is all about. Because I am in the yoke with Jesus, I will one day be with Jesus.

I am a son of God because I am yoked to THE Son of God.
I am indwelt with the Spirit of God because I am yoked to Jesus.
I am a
lesser priest before God because I am yoked
to the GREATER Priest, Jesus.
I am fit for Heaven because Jesus, to Whom I am yoked,
is the
Lamb of God, acceptable, and fit.

The Bible says:

Hebrews 13:5-6 (ESV) Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” 6 So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?”

Because I am yoked to Jesus, and Jesus is yoked to me, I will be able to go through the roughest parts of this life. In Acts chapter 27 the Bible tells us that the Apostle Paul is in chains, and headed toward Rome, Italy to be judged by Caesar. Paul was yoked to Jesus, though he was chained to a Centurion. Paul told the Centurion:

Acts 27:10-11 (ESV) “Sirs, I perceive that the voyage will be with injury and much loss, not only of the cargo and the ship, but also of our lives.” 11 But the centurion paid more attention to the pilot and to the owner of the ship than to what Paul said.

Of course, what Jesus told Paul came to pass. For three days the ship was buffeted by the winds and the waves. But Paul was yoked to Jesus! Paul encouraged his shipmates, and told them:

Acts 27:23-26 (ESV) … this very night there stood before me an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I worship, 24 and he said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before Caesar. And behold, God has granted you all those who sail with you.’ 25 So take heart, men, for I have faith in God that it will be exactly as I have been told. 26 But we must run aground on some island.”

On the fourteenth night of this terrible voyage, all were frightened by Paul. Why? Because Paul is yoked to Jesus. Paul tells his shipmates:

Acts 27:33-37 (ESV) “Today is the fourteenth day that you have continued in suspense and without food, having taken nothing. 34 Therefore I urge you to take some food. For it will give you strength, for not a hair is to perish from the head of any of you.” 35 And when he had said these things, he took bread, and giving thanks to God in the presence of all he broke it and began to eat. 36 Then they all were encouraged and ate some food themselves. 37 (We were in all 276 persons in the ship.)

Was this amazing courage on Paul’s part? No. He just remembered that he was yoked to Jesus, and Jesus was yoked to him. They safely landed on the Island of Malta, and set about to make a fire. The Bible says:

Acts 28:3-6 (ESV) When Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks and put them on the fire, a viper came out because of the heat and fastened on his hand. 4 When the native people saw the creature hanging from his hand, they said to one another, “No doubt this man is a murderer. Though he has escaped from the sea, Justice has not allowed him to live.” 5 He, however, shook off the creature into the fire and suffered no harm. 6 They were waiting for him to swell up or suddenly fall down dead. But when they had waited a long time and saw no misfortune come to him, they changed their minds and said that he was a god.

Paul was not “a god”, but he was yoked to God the Son, and God the Son was yoked to him.

Jesus said “take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me”. Rest in Jesus. Willingly yoke yourselves to Him. As you go through the trials and tribulations of this life, remember that you are yoked to Jesus.

In recent years, many Millennials and Generation Z-ers have “fallen away from the faith”. John Stonestreet of Breakpoint Ministries notes:

What if we are seeing the fruit of a generation that was sold endless attempts to make Christ cool and likable, worship relevant and hyper-emotional, and Christian morality more about politics and cultural influence than obedience to God? And what if this generation has now found those experiences elsewhere? What if all the trendy marketing, political capital, and massive concert experiences inadvertently taught a generation to love the glamour and the feelings, but not Christ?

God doesn’t want our success; He wants us. He doesn’t demand our achievements; He demands our obedience. The Kingdom of God is a kingdom of paradox, where through the ugly defeat of a Cross, a holy God is utterly glorified. Victory comes through defeat; healing through brokenness; finding self through losing self.”

You must be yoked to Jesus Christ to be saved. But if you are yoked to Christ, He is always with you, and you with Him. We are victors, because He is THE Victor. Death has no hold on us, because death has no hold on Him.

Oh, that all here today would discover the joy found in the yoke of Jesus! May God the Holy Spirit lead you to surrender to the yoke of Jesus! May God the Holy Spirit through His Word draw you closer to Jesus Christ is day. Amen and Amen.

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Rest In The Heart Of Jesus

Turn with me to Matthew chapter 11, where we find these familiar and blessed words:

Matthew 11:28-30 Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. {29} Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. {30} For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

Though God has given us four Gospels – four points of view of Christ’s earthly ministry – rarely one Gospel will report something that the others do not mention. The words we read today are unique to the Gospels. Though you will find the Lord’s Prayer in both Matthew 6:9-13 & Luke 11:2-4, and the Great Commission in Matthew 28:16-20 & Mark 16:14-18 (as well as Acts 1:8), these words of our Lord are only found in this text.

What makes this text unique is that it is the ONLY place where Jesus tells us about His own heart!

What Is The “Heart”?

Word Study: Jesus tells us I am meek and lowly in heart. Let’s talk about the heart first. What is the Lord referring to when He speaks of the heart? The Bible mentions the word heart” 884 times, and it never refers to the muscle that’s in your chest pushing blood. God Himself has a heart. The Lord God said of King David,

Acts 13:22 … I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfill all my will.

God has a heart, so that which He is talking about cannot be that beating muscle in your chest.

The heart is the center of your being. The Bible says that we are born with broken or damaged hearts. God spoke through His Prophet Jeremiah on the fallen condition of our hearts:

Jeremiah 17:9-10 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? I the Lord search the heart…

God knows what is in the heart of man. It is the sin damaged heart of man that brings evil into the world. Jesus told us that the SOURCE of our problems is a broken heart. He said:

Mark 7:20-23 …. That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man. 21 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, 22 Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: 23 All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.

We are all born in sin, with broken hearts.
All, that is, but Jesus Christ.

God told Israel to to “love the Lord your God with all your heart” (Deuteronomy 13:3). Jesus tells us today that we are to:

Matthew 22:37 Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. (also Mark 12:30 & Luke 10:27)

This is a standard we cannot keep with a broken heart. God must fix our broken hearts, He must put His Law in our inward parts, and write His Law in our hearts(Jeremiah 31:33; Hebrews 8:10). Only God can fix what is wrong with our hearts. God will only fix us through faith in Jesus Christ.

Jesus, Pure Of Heart, Wants To Fix Our Hearts

Jesus calls whosoever will to His loving embrace. Jesus’ – Eternal God born into the human race to be our Savior (for He shall save His people from their sins {Matthew 1:21}). Jesus is equipped to be the only Savior of mankind because His heart is pure and unbroken. Jesus Christ was, is, and will always be without sin. His heart is pure. The Bible says:

Hebrews 4:15 {Jesus Christ} was in all points tempted like as we are, yet WITHOUT SIN. Emmanuel – God with us – our Lord Jesus never sinned, from birth in a manger to death on the Cross. Jesus told the Pharisees and Chief Priests who stood against Him:

John 8:28-29 … When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things. 29 And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him.

From eternity past and beyond His life on earth, Jesus always did that which pleased God the Father. ALWAYS. He is perfectly sinless. When Jesus describes His heart, He says:

Matthew 11:29 I am meek and lowly in heart

Word Study: His heart is not “desperately wicked, who can know it?”. Jesus’ heart is meek. This is the Greek πρᾷος prâios, {pronounced prah’-os}, which means “gentle, humble, meek”. The word prâios is only found here in the New Testament, and is only applied to Jesus. The word usually used for humility is the Greek ταπεινόω tapeinoō. James, the stepbrother of Jesus said “Humble (tapeinoō) yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He shall lift you up” (James 4:10). The Apostle Peter said, “Humble (tapeinoō) yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time” (1 Peter 5:6). Jesus Christ is unique in His humility. He is prâios. Though Eternal God in human form, Jesus voluntarily humbled Himself. Though King of Kings and Lord of Lords the Bible says:

Philippians 2:6-8 {Jesus}, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

Jesus Christ humbled Himself – from birth to death – so that He might save the souls of sinners. Compare Jesus Christ to Mohammad of Islam. As American troops departed Afghanistan, Islamic forces called “Taliban” (which means “A Student of Mohammad” began attacking and killing people. When our Lord Jesus came, He said:

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

Compare our Lord Jesus’ words to the words of Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini: “Islam says: Kill all the unbelievers just as they would kill you all! Islam says Kill them (the non-Muslims), put them to the sword and scatter [their armies]. Kill in the service of Allah those who may want to kill you!” (quoted in “Islam Unveiled” by Robert Spencer, p. 35). As C.H. Spurgeon once said:

The very strength of the false prophet lays
in the absence of any meekness”

Jesus bids all to come to Him, but He does not do so at the point of a sword, nor at the promise of a beheading. Jesus Christ is, at this time, prâios. He reaches out in love, bidding all to enter the Family of God through faith in Him. When Jesus was captured in the Garden of Gethsemane, the Apostle Peter “drew his sword, and struck a servant of the High Priest, and cut off his ear”. Jesus told Peter:

Matthew 26:52 … Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.

Jesus had to go to the Cross for our sins. Jesus had to willingly die for us, to cover our sins, to make atonement for us. Jesus told Pilate:

John 18:36 … My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.

Jesus calls the broken hearted to His humble side! We often misunderstand this great truth, dear Christian. When Jesus was hindered from going to Jerusalem through Samaria, the Apostle John asked Jesus:

Luke 9:54 … Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as {Elijah} did?

The Muslim or the Hindu may cut off the head of those who reject their religion, but not Jesus. Jesus told John,

Luke 9:55-56 … Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. 56 For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.

Jesus Christ came to save souls. Jesus preached a long time in Jerusalem, and yet they would not receive Him. Did Jesus curse Jerusalem? No, but He wept over that city, saying:

Luke 13:34 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not!

When Jesus was beaten by the whips of the soldiers, did He curse those who harmed Him? When Jesus was laid down on the rough wood of the Cross, and nails pierced His hands and feet, did He call on Heaven to bring death to those hurting Him? As He hung naked, bleeding our His life, abandoned of man and God, did Jesus call on the angels to avenge Him? No, for Jesus is prâios. He has Godlike humility. Even as His tongue clung to the roof of His mouth for want of water, Jesus pulled against His bonds, and lifted Himself up, praying:

Luke 23:34 … Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.

Meekness Does Not Excuse, But Corrects Sin

Jesus upheld the Law of God, and upholds it still. He never flaunted God’s Law, but held it to the Divine Standard at all times. Jesus did not come to eradicate the Law, but to fulfill it.

Matthew 5:17-18 … Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. 18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.

Jesus humbled Himself, becoming the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world (John 1:29). Jesus never excused sin, but bid sinners to repent of sin and follow Him. The Apostle said Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15). Jesus did not come to shun sinners, nor to belittle sinners, but to save sinners. In John chapter four we are told that:

John 4:4 … {Jesus} must needs go through Samaria.

Why did He have to go THROUGH Samaria? Most Orthodox Jews would go out of their way to AVOID Samaria. But Jesus must needs go through Samaria. Why? Because there is a Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well that needs to be saved. When Jesus reaches out to her, she says:

John 4:9 … How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans.

No self respecting Jew would reach out to a Samaritan. Yet Jesus did. Jesus is uniquely humble. He is prâios”, He is humble.

Matthew 11:29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart

Word Study & Illustration: The word translated lowly is the Greek ταπεινός tapeinós, {pronounced tap-i-nos’}, which means “of low degree, humble, base, near to the ground”. As a Pastor, I have moved and preached in three different states, and in my moving I usually use a Hertz Rental Trailer. One thing about these trailers is they are low to the ground, so it is easy to carry heavy burdens onto their decks. Our Lord Jesus is low to the ground. Though Eternal God in human form, He is easily accessible to the least of any person, while being strong enough to handle any burden we put on Him.

The Samaritan woman wondered why a Jew like Jesus would talk to her at all. Jesus will talk to anyone. This not only shocked her, but it shocked His disciples. The Bible says that they …

John 4:27 … marveled that he talked with the woman

Jesus Christ came to save the lowest, just like you and I are. Jesus did not excuse her sins. He told her “Ye worship ye know not what” (John 4:22). Jesus told her “thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband” (John 4:18). This woman had a broken heart that needed fixing. She was an idolater, and a sexual sinner. This woman needed Jesus. She needed to receive Him as Lord and Savior – which she did. Then she ran home, excited, and told all her friends “Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?” (John 4:29). Her heart was fixed, healed by Jesus.

Jesus Christ is lowly in heart. He came to reach the least of us. When a woman taken in adultery – in the very act – was cast in front of Jesus, her accusers asked Jesus what should be done to her. Jesus said,

John 8:7 … He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.

Who among you is NOT broken? Who among you has NOT sinned? One by one, each of her accusers realized a truth that we all need to grasp.

We are all sinners, deserving of hell.
This is why Jesus came.

When the last person left, Jesus said to her:

John 8:10-12 … Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? 11 She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more. 12 Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

Jesus never excuses sin – but He does offer salvation from it. Jesus offers to change the life of those who follow Him, who love Him. He is uniquely humble. Though in Jewish society the leper was shunned. To touch a leper was to become unclean yourself. But with Jesus, He was never afraid to touch the lepers. The Bible tells us that …

Matthew 8:2-3 … there came a leper and worshiped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. 3 And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.

Jesus is meek and lowly in heart. He did not hesitate to touch the leper. When Jesus touched the leper, Jesus did not become unclean, but the leper became clean. Jesus’ righteousness rubbed off on him. You cannot be too low for Jesus to heal. You cannot be too broken for Jesus to fix. The Pharisees mocked Jesus for His lowliness.

Luke 15:2 … the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them.

Jesus doesn’t just allow those sinners to come to Him. Jesus actually lowers Himself down to eat with them. No one is too low to be received by Jesus. Salvation comes when you realize that ..

Psalms 38:3-4 There is no soundness in my flesh … neither is there any rest in my bones because of my sin. {4} For mine iniquities are gone over mine head: as a heavy burden they are too heavy for me.

Our solutions for what ails us does not work. We cannot fix our own hearts. We all need Jesus.

Illustration Benny was known by all his friends as a chronic worrier. He came into work one day whistling and happy. No matter what happened that day – good or bad – Benny smiled right through it. At the end of the day his best friend asked him why his life was suddenly so different. Benny said, “I used to worry about everything. Then it came to me – why not hire someone to worry for me? That’s what I did. I put an advertisement in the local paper offering 500.00$ a day to anyone who would worry for me. Believe it or not I had someone call and take the job. Now I don’t worry – my worrier worries for me!” Benny’s friend looked at him and said, “Well, that’s fine. But 500.00$ a day? You don’t make that much money! How are you going to pay your “worrier”. Benny replied, “That’s not my worry”.

I don’t think what Benny did was a solution – but I do believe you should cast your cares on Jesus. Beloved, do not carry your sin on trembling knees and on bent back. The words of Christ are for you. He pleads, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest “. Oh that you would come believing, for the Scripture says:

Romans 10:11,13 … Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. … {13} For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Jesus Bids You To Come …

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

When we come to Jesus Christ, trusting Him as our Savior and committing to Him as our Lord, He gives us spiritual rest. Oh, what a joy it is to be in Jesus! Those who are in Christ are under His New Covenant. As we participate in the Lord’s Table today, we will remember His words when He “took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it;

For this is My blood of the New Testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.”

Jesus gave His life for you. Jesus reaches out to you. Will you receive Him as Lord and Savior? Oh, how I pray that you would this very day. May God the Holy Spirit cause this Word to bring forth fruit unto Eternal Life in your souls this very day. Amen and Amen!

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Live Graciously, Not Grudgingly

Obadiah 8-16 Shall I not in that day, saith the Lord, even destroy the wise men out of Edom, and understanding out of the mount of Esau? 9 And thy mighty men, O Teman, shall be dismayed, to the end that every one of the mount of Esau may be cut off by slaughter. 10 For thy violence against thy brother Jacob shame shall cover thee, and thou shalt be cut off for ever. 11 In the day that thou stoodest on the other side, in the day that the strangers carried away captive his forces, and foreigners entered into his gates, and cast lots upon Jerusalem, even thou wast as one of them. 12 But thou shouldest not have looked on the day of thy brother in the day that he became a stranger; neither shouldest thou have rejoiced over the children of Judah in the day of their destruction; neither shouldest thou have spoken proudly in the day of distress. 13 Thou shouldest not have entered into the gate of my people in the day of their calamity; yea, thou shouldest not have looked on their affliction in the day of their calamity, nor have laid hands on their substance in the day of their calamity; 14 Neither shouldest thou have stood in the crossway, to cut off those of his that did escape; neither shouldest thou have delivered up those of his that did remain in the day of distress. 15 For the day of the Lord is near upon all the heathen: as thou hast done, it shall be done unto thee: thy reward shall return upon thine own head. 16 For as ye have drunk upon my holy mountain, so shall all the heathen drink continually, yea, they shall drink, and they shall swallow down, and they shall be as though they had not been.

We last studied the Book of Obadiah Sunday, March 24, 2013 – some 8 years, 5 months, and 7 days ago. How many of you remember what we talked about that day? Just joking – I can’t remember what I had for breakfast on most days.

Obadiah is a great book, though it is the smallest book in the Old Testament. But it’s packed with great truths.

Obadiah’s name means “Slave of the Lord”.

Obadiah is a very interesting person. On the Jewish site chabad.org we find out that Obadiah was an Edomite (a descendant of Esau) by birth. Obadiah found the God of Israel – or was found of the God of Israel – and gave his life to the Lord. Obadiah was the steward or chief butler of the household of King Ahab and Queen Jezebel, the seventh King of Israel. Obadiah was also the disciple of the Prophet Elijah. We read in

1 Kings 18:3-4 … Obadiah, which was the governor of {Ahab’s} house. (Now Obadiah feared the Lord greatly: 4 For it was so, when Jezebel cut off the prophets of the Lord, that Obadiah took an hundred prophets, and hid them by fifty in a cave, and fed them with bread and water.)

The Book of Obadiah is written to the Edomites, the descendants of Esau, a mountain dwelling people. As Obadiah writes, he is writing at the direction of God the destruction of his own people, the Edomites.

God does not hate the Edomites, or else He would have never chosen Obadiah to be His Prophet.

But the Edomites, like their father Esau, harbored hatred in their heart for Israel, and always stood with the enemy when Israel was attacked.

God Blessed Esau And The Edomites

God told Israel:

Deuteronomy 23:7 Thou shalt not abhor an Edomite; for he is thy brother: thou shalt not abhor an Egyptian; because thou wast a stranger in his land.

God does not want His children to carry grudges. He wants us to love Him, and love others.

When you carry a grudge, it doesn’t take long before the grudge is carry YOU. Believers in God are NEVER to harbor grudges. In the Lord’s Prayer – a prayer I say often, and I’m sure you all know, God tells us to pray:

Matthew 6:11-12 Give us this day our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.

We who are blessed of God are to forgive. Recently in our country people have pulled down statues and monuments, attempting to get rid of our checkered past. God does not want us to do that. God wants us to forgive.

God wants the red man to forgive the taking of his homeland by conquering Europeans.

God wants the black man to forgive those who took his ancestors from their homeland, to use them as slaves in America.

God wants you to forgive those who have mistreated you, and hurt you, and belittled you, no matter who they are.

What has happened, has happened. The good, the bad, and the ugly. We cannot undo history, nor the evils that was done yesterday. We can, however, change today and tomorrow. God tells us all to forgive. We offend God daily, but He forgives. We are to forgive. Jesus said:

Matthew 6:14-15 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: 15 But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Edom came about because of what happened between Esau and Jacob. Esau was the firstborn child of Isaac. As the firstborn, Esau should have received the double portion of his father’s blessing. But Jacob got the double portion. Esau sold his birthright to Jacob (Genesis 25:31-33), and the Bible says that:

Genesis 25:34 … Esau despised his birthright.

Jacob would get the birthright. But here’s the interesting truth of that whole story. It was God’s desire that Jacob get the birthright – that the lineage of Christ go through Jacob and not Esau.

God Is Always Right, Whether We Understand Or Not

Though it was traditional for the firstborn to be the chief inheritor of the family, God told Rebekah:

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

There were Two NATIONS,גּוֹי gôwy, {pronounced go’-ee}, “peoples” or nations in Rebekah. Her womb carried a crossroad in the history of the coming of the Messiah. It was God’s will that Messiah come through the line of Jacob, not Esau. This was determined long before either child did good or evil. The Apostle Paul, in speaking of the omnipotence and omniscience of God, said:

Romans 9:10-16 And not only this; but when Rebekah also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac; 11 (For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;) 12 It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. 13 As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated. 14 What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid. 15 For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. 16 So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.

God chose to use Jacob to bring forth Israel – not Esau. And yet, God was good to Esau. Though Esau lost the birthright, he was still richly blessed. Esau was not Jacob, and would never be Jacob, but God loved Esau anyway. The Bible tells us that:

Genesis 36:6-8 Esau took his wives, and his sons, and his daughters, and all the persons of his house, and his cattle, and all his beasts, and all his substance, which he had got in the land of Canaan; and went into the country from the face of his brother Jacob. 7 For their riches were more than that they might dwell together; and the land wherein they were strangers could not bear them because of their cattle. 8 Thus dwelt Esau in mount Seir: Esau is Edom.

Esau was given a great family. He was given great riches. Though he lost the birthright, God still gave him greater grace. God gave mount Seir to Esau and his descendants, the Edomites. When God brought Israel out of the land of Egypt many years later, He told Israel:

Deuteronomy 2:4-5 … Ye are to pass through the coast of your brethren the children of Esau, which dwell in Seir; and they shall be afraid of you: take ye good heed unto yourselves therefore: 5 Meddle not with them; for I will not give you of their land, no, not so much as a foot breadth; because I have given mount Seir unto Esau for a possession.

Those Who Receive Grace Should Always
Be Gracious,
Not Grudging & Avenging

God looked after Esau and his people. But Esau and his people harbored a grudge against Israel, the children of Jacob. Esau and his descendants began to believe that their success, their blessings, came to them because they were superior, a superior people to Israel. When Israel was led out of Egypt by God, they asked to pass through the land of Edom. They were told:

Numbers 20:18-21 {Edom said} … Thou shalt not pass by me, lest I come out against thee with the sword. 19 And the children of Israel said unto him, We will go by the high way: and if I and my cattle drink of thy water, then I will pay for it: I will only, without doing anything else, go through on my feet. 20 And he said, Thou shalt not go through. And Edom came out against him with much people, and with a strong hand. 21 Thus Edom refused to give Israel passage through his border: wherefore Israel turned away from him.

Edom had been richly blessed by God. Now they refuse to allow their brethren to pass through their land. God tells us in His Word:

Proverbs 25:21-22 If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat, and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink: 22 For thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head, and the Lord shall reward thee. …

Exodus 23:4-5 … If you meet your enemy’s ox or his donkey going astray, you shall bring it back to him. If you see the donkey of one who hates you lying down under its burden, you shall refrain from leaving him with it; you shall rescue it with him.

Proverbs 24:17-18 … Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth, and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth: 18 Lest the Lord see it, and it displease him…

Those who are God’s own – blessed by God – are to let love and compassion rule their lives. When the enemy does us harm, God tells us to “turn the other cheek”. Our Lord Jesus told us:

Matthew 5:44-45 … 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.

Leave vengeance and retribution in the hands of the Lord God. “Vengeance is Mine – I SHALL REPAY – saith the Lord (Romans 12:19)”.

Yet Edom held on to their animosity against Israel.

When Southern Israel is attacked by Nebuchadnezzar II, Edom helped in that attack. The Hebrew apocryphal book 1 Esdras notes:

the temple, which the Edomites burned when Judea was made desolate by the Chaldees {the Babylonians}. (1 Esdras 4:45; Bird 2012:182-187; Böhler 2015:97-107; McCarter 1976)”

Because of their pride and their grudge-carrying, God was going to destroy the Edomites.

What You Sow, You Will Reap

Obadiah the ex-Edomite now tells the Edomites what God has told him to say.

Obadiah 9-10 … thy mighty men, O Teman, shall be dismayed, to the end that every one of the mount of Esau may be cut off by slaughter. 10 For thy violence against thy brother Jacob shame shall cover thee, and thou shalt be cut off for ever.

Teman was a major city in Edom. Job’s friend Eliphaz (Job 2:11) was from Teman. My commentary notes that Job himself was probably from Teman in Edom. Because of Edom’s grudge carrying and attacks on Israel, they would be cut off for ever. God says that He will cut them off by slaughter. The nation – once so prosperous – would be completely destroyed, and would never recover. Obadiah himself was in no danger, for he repented and became the servant of the Lord. But to those who stood against Israel, they also stood against God. And, as the Bible says:

Hebrews 10:31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

God specifies the sins that causes the total destruction of Edom:

Obadiah 12-14 But thou shouldest not have looked on the day of thy brother in the day that he became a stranger; neither shouldest thou have rejoiced over the children of Judah in the day of their destruction; neither shouldest thou have spoken proudly in the day of distress. 13 Thou shouldest not have entered into the gate of my people in the day of their calamity; yea, thou shouldest not have looked on their affliction in the day of their calamity, nor have laid hands on their substance in the day of their calamity; 14 Neither shouldest thou have stood in the crossway, to cut off those of his that did escape; neither shouldest thou have delivered up those of his that did remain in the day of distress.

We are all made in God’s image. In that sense, all are brothers. Brothers should not hurt one another.

When Israel fell to Babylon, it was because Israel had ceased honoring the Lord their God. God used Babylon to punish His people. But Edom should never have been a part of what happened. As Israel fell,

Edom gloated at Israel’s fall.
Edom rejoiced at Israel’s fall.
Edom boasted at Israel’s fall.
Edom invaded Israel with Babylon.
Edom looted Israel.
Edom prevented any Israeli from escaping.
Edom imprisoned their brother.

What they did to Israel, God was going to do to Edom. God says:

Obadiah 15 For the day of the Lord is near upon all the heathen: as thou hast done, it shall be done unto thee: thy reward shall return upon thine own head.

They would have been better off letting their grudge go, and trust in the Grace of God.

It Is Much Better To Trust In God ALWAYS!

What can we take away from the Book of Obadiah? First, God is in control. Always. We often have things happen to us that we do not like. We must not dwell on those things. We must dwell upon the Lord our God. Let us love Him Who has given us so much Grace. Let us love our enemies, those who do evil to us. Let us put all our trust in God.

In the end, those who love and follow the Lord Jesus will be left standing. We read:

Obadiah 17-18 But upon mount Zion shall be deliverance, and there shall be holiness; and the house of Jacob shall possess their possessions. 18 And the house of Jacob shall be a fire, and the house of Joseph a flame, and the house of Esau for stubble, and they shall kindle in them, and devour them; and there shall not be any remaining of the house of Esau; for the Lord hath spoken it.

Mount Seir, the abode of the haters & avengers,
will fall, but Mount Zion shall stand.

When you stand with God, doing as He has commanded, you will be blessed. Praise Him for His faithfulness. Trust God, though you may be in a bad spot. And let love, and a loving response, be your guiding light. I will end with this poem by Gloria Mast called “I Have No Rights”:

I have no rights, no legal claim,
No boasts of wealth, or worldwide fame,
For I am not my own.
The blood of Jesus claims my soul,
He has redeemed and made me whole,
And I am His alone.

Why then is there a war within,
One side for right, the other sin?
I feel the front-line heat.
It is because the enemy,
Tries hard to claim a part of me,
But Christ will him defeat.

I dare not think I’m strong enough,
To win alone, nor Satan bluff,
For by my strength I’ll fall.
I must my Captain’s orders heed,
His victory Manual often read,
And hasten at His call.

Trust in the Lord. Do good. Love even your enemies. In the end, the Children of God will prevail. May God through His Spirit and His Word move us all to live for His glory, both now and forever more. Amen and Amen!

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Christ The Foundation Of All Salvation

Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

Please turn with me in your Bibles to 2 Peter chapter 1:

Introduction: I hate most of the commercials that come on television, but occasionally I see one that is creative, comical, and compelling. The AT&T and State Farm commercials are pathetic, but I really like the newest commercial for Zillow, a real estate internet site. In that commercial a woman named “Susan” walks into a conference room filled with “Susans” – and begins talking to her different “Susans”. She asks “Negative Me” her thoughts on buying a new home, and gets a frown and a reply “Nooooooo”. Susan said, “I shouldn’t have asked you first”. Then she calls on “Spontaneous Me”, who cheerfully says, “I’m already ordering new drapes”. When she calls on “Paranoid Me”, her reply is “Why are you asking me?” Calling on “Anti-Social Me”, she just turns away from the conversation. The funniest “Me” that Susan addresses is “Lazy Me”, who when asked about a new home says “We’re going to sell our place, sort out finances? Bluhhh.” She calls on several others, which gives several humorous, then calls on “Resourceful Me”, who suggests they go to Zillow.com. I love it because it’s creative.

It is also a reflection of life. Each of us has a different “Me” inside, several “Me’s”. There are days when I get up and, like Susan’s “Lazy Me” did, I go “Bluhhh!”. As humans we are emotional creatures, up one day, down the next. But one thing is constant for the Christian. Jesus never leaves us nor forsakes us. He is there whether we are on the mountaintop, or in the valley.

With all the different “Me’s” inside, how do I KNOW that I am saved? There are times, quite frankly, when I don’t feel good, nor even feel saved. So how do I know? I know because Jesus is present.
He is with me.
And I want to please Him. I want to obey Him.

The Apostle Peter tells us:

2 Peter 1:10-11 Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: 11 For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Word Study: We as professor of Christ are commanded to “give diligence to make your calling and election sure”. The word “diligence” is the Greek σπουδάζω spoudázō, {pronounced spoo-dad’-zo}, which means “to quickly move, to strive, to endeavor, to study or concentrate on, to do diligence”. The believer is commanded to examine their “calling and election”. Have you been saved? Are you genuinely saved? How do you know you are saved?

Salvation is by faith alone in Christ alone. Our Lord Jesus is the Mediator of the New Covenant. This New Covenant was prophesied in the Old Testament in passages like

Jeremiah 31:31-33 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a NEW COVENANT with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: 32 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day [that] I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD: 33 But this [shall be] the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I WILL PUT MY LAW IN THEIR INWARD PARTS, AND WRITE IT IN THEIR HEARTS; AND WILL BE THEIR GOD, and they shall be my people.

Though the New Covenant is a free gift from God, it effects a change on those who are under it’s call.

Under the Old Covenant God was far away, but the Law was near, ever condemning, ever judging. Under the New Covenant God is near, ever aiding, ever loving and writing His Law in our hearts. His Law is near!

If you are under the New Covenant, saved by faith in Christ, then God says to you “I WILL PUT MY LAW IN YOUR INWARD PARTS, AND WRITE IT IN YOUR HEART; AND WILL BE YOUR GOD, and YOU shall be ONE OF my people”. Under the Old Covenant the Law of God was written on stone, and on scrolls. Under the New Covenant God’s Law is written in our hearts by the One Who saved us.

Jesus is the Mediator of the New Covenant. At the first Lord’s Table Jesus said:

Luke 22:20 (KJV) ….. This cup [is] the new testament (New Covenant) in my blood, which is shed for you.

How does one know that they are under the New Covenant? We know by the Presence of God in our daily lives. I am saved – not because some doctrine or denomination tells me so, but because I have the Divine Witness. Jesus is there. God is there. He is in my daily walk. I am not perfect by any means, but God is faithful. Jesus is with us.

The Saved Follow Jesus For The Saved Belong To Jesus

A saved person follows Jesus because saved people belong – not to themselves – but to Jesus. Our Lord said:

John 10:27-28 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: 28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.

When Simon first met Jesus, he followed after fish. His brother Andrew, a follower of John the Baptist, was there the day Jesus was baptized by John. Andrew believed Jesus was the Messiah, and ran home to tell his brother Simon:

John 1:41-42 {Andrew} first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messiah, which is, being interpreted, the Christ. 42 And he brought him to Jesus. And when Jesus beheld {Simon}, he said, Thou art Simon the son of Jonah: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone {a petros, or Peter}.

When God made Adam and put him in charge of the world, the Bible says that “God brought {the animals} unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.” When Andrew brought Simon his brother to Jesus, Jesus named Simon “Peter” or “The Rock”. From that point onward Simon became Simon Peter, or just Peter. Peter belonged to Jesus! Peter writes:

2 Peter 1:1 Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Savior Jesus Christ ..

Word Study: Before he was saved, Simon would have written, “Simon, a fisherman”. Now that he is saved, he writes “Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ”. Simon is owned by Jesus. Simon is a “servant”, the Greek δοῦλος doûlos, {pronounced doo’-los}, “a slave, one who gives himself up to another person’s will, one devoted to another’s interests”. As Peter writes, he says he is writing “to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Savior Jesus Christ”. He is not addressing the lost, but those who have the same saving faith that he has. The precious faith that saves us comes to us “through the righteousness of God and our Savior Jesus Christ”.

When we received Jesus Christ as both Lord and Savior, God imputed His righteousness to us. Because we love and revere Jesus, we too are children of God, made right by the shed blood of our Savior. We are not “righteous” because of animal sacrifices, nor because we adhere to clean and unclean standards set up in the Book of Leviticus. The Bible says:

Romans 3:20-22 Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. 21 But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; 22 Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:

Receiving Christ, we receive His righteousness. But we are not ours. We belong to Jesus, to God and His Kingdom. The Holy Spirit indwells us because of Christ. “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?” (1 Corinthians 6:19). We belong to God our Savior. We are servants of the Lord Jesus!

We are not just servants of Jesus, though. We are works in progress. The Apostle says:

2 Peter 1:2 Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord,

As you study God’s Word, and your “knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord” grows, “Grace and peace” grow in your lives. A Christian is a child of God, and children GROW. Children that stay the same either physically or mentally are abnormal children. Salvation is by grace – but true grace is always multiplied. The Bible says:

Ephesians 2:8-10 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

Every believer in Christ, just like Peter, should be living a dynamic life. We should all be growing daily in both faith and works. Some might say, “But I don’t have all I need to grow as a Christian”. Peter says that you are wrong. Read on:

2 Peter 1:3 According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:

If you are a Christian by faith in Christ, you have “all things that pertain unto life and godliness”. You are saved by faith in Jesus. The same Jesus that looked over and guided Peter, is the same Jesus Who looks over and guides you. The same Holy Spirit indwells both you and Peter.

The Saved Do Not Follow The Lust Of The World

2 Peter 1:4 …Whereby are given unto us EXCEEDING GREAT AND PRECIOUS PROMISES: that by these YE MIGHT BE PARTAKERS OF THE DIVINE NATURE, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

The saved person does not follow the lusts of the world. The saved person follows Jesus. The saved person imitates Jesus. The saved person is a “PARTAKERS OF THE DIVINE NATURE”. We are partners or sharers of the DIVINE nature. Jesus Christ saves us from sin, from the evil ways of this world. Is it possible to feel same sex attraction, and yet be a Christian? Yes, it is possible. Is it possible to feel illicit heterosexual feelings and be a Christian? Yes, it is possible. Is it possible to fall into habitual and repeated homosexual or heterosexual activities and be saved? No, it is not possible. When we received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, God the Holy Spirit came to indwell us. Our old man died. We are partakers, sharers or partners of God’s nature, not of the world. The Apostle Paul wrote:

Romans 6:11-14 reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. 12 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.

Temptation is not sin. The drawings of the flesh are not sin. The Bible says of Jesus:

Hebrews 4:15 {Jesus was} in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

The Christian is destined to be like Jesus. Jesus Christ died to make you more like Himself. The writer of Hebrews wrote:

Hebrews 2:9-10 (KJV) But WE SEE JESUS, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man. [10] For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in BRINGING MANY SONS UNTO GLORY, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.

God wants to bring you to glory, to make you like His dear Son. The Apostle said:

Romans 8:29 (KJV) For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate [to be] CONFORMED TO THE IMAGE OF HIS SON, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.

God the Father wants you to be just like Jesus. God the Son wants you to be just like Jesus. The indwelling God the Holy Spirit wants you to be just like Jesus. This is the target that you should shoot for, the goal that the Almighty wants to see you reach. We turn away from the world, but toward God.

2 Peter 1:5 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;

When you ask some professing Christians how they know they’re saved, they talk about what they don’t do rather than what they do. Christians are to be builders, partners with God. We are not to be one with the world. The Bible says:

Ephesians 5:1-8 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. 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 whoremonger, 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:

We belong to God. We are “workers together with God” (2 Corinthians 6:1). The Apostle says:

vs 5 add to your faith virtue

Word Study: “Virtue” is the Greek ἀρέτη arétē, {pronounced ar-et’-ay}, which means “moral excellence”. Earlier we read that (2 Peter 1:3) “God hath called us to GLORY and VIRTUE {arétē}, moral excellence. The Holy Spirit Who indwells us empowers us to add moral excellence to our faith. The Bible says:

Galatians 5:22-23 the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

All of these characteristics are what the Spirit of God will produce in the genuine believer. If you have faith, ask God to develop these characteristics in your Christian walk. This is the Way of Christ.

A faith that does not work for Christ to make you more Christlike is a faith that will ultimately not work to get you to Heaven! Heaven is for the children of God.

The Christian is not to be swept up in the sinful fads of this world, no matter how “politically correct” they may be.
Jesus never “slept around”.
Jesus never broke God’s Law.
Jesus never excused those who broke God’s Law.
Jesus never lied or cursed.
Jesus was never mean spirited.
Jesus spoke the truth in love.
Jesus adhered to the Word of God.

The stepbrother of our Lord Jesus, James wrote:

James 4:4 Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.

James 4:8 Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.

Reject sin, and seek moral excellence. This is what Jesus gave His life for. The Apostle goes on to say:

2 Peter 1:5 (KJV) And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue KNOWLEDGE;

• Add to virtue KNOWLEDGE. Learn of Christ. Study Him. Study His teachings. Do what Jesus says. 

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

We usually read the comfort part of this text without reading that “and learn of Me”. Jesus said “come to Me and learn from Me. Do what I did. Follow My examples. Walk in My shoes.”

2 Peter 1:6 And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;

• Add to knowledge TEMPERANCE (ἐγκράτεια enkráteia, eng-krat'-i-ah), also known as SELF CONTROL.  The word “temperance” refers to how you control your body, your passions and your expression of passion. Christians are to be self controlled as temperance is within the Fruit of the Spirit. Jesus was self controlled. He controlled His anger, His tongue, and His appetites in a way that glorified God. 

• Add to temperance PATIENCE.  We are impatient people, but God is patient. He allows the world to make bad decisions day after day without dropping the hand of judgment on the earth. 

2 Peter 3:9 (KJV) The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is LONGSUFFERING to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

God waits because He wants as many saved as possible to enter into His family of faith. James saw patience as a worker in our lives when he wrote:

James 1:2-4 (KJV) 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.

God uses trials to form us, to mold us. So we must be patient, trusting the Lord as we go through this life. Never give up, never give in, but always give God the glory! Learn the art of silence & waiting.

Psalms 27:14 (KJV) Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.

• Add to patience GODLINESS.  To be godly is to seek to please God. 

We are saved Sons of God who should want to please our God. Godliness means to have a personal attitude toward God that asks before doing “will this make my Father happy?”

2 Peter 1:7 (KJV) And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.

• Add to godliness BROTHERLY KINDNESS.  Be kind to others. When they mess up, be kind. If you must correct someone, be kind. To be kind is to be gentle.

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

Jesus was always kind – though He could be harsh. If a kind word would do, this was His way. And finally, to our faith we are to add one more ingredient.

• Add to brotherly kindness CHARITY. Love all. Let love rule your lives.  

Hebrews 10:24 (KJV) And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:

Love one another. Lift one another up. Jesus said,

John 13:35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

The faith that is “added to” is a growing faith. The Apostle says:

2 Peter 1:8-9 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.

The Christian who seeks moral excellence, knowledge of Jesus, temperance, patience, godliness, kindness, and love is the growing Christian. The professing Christian who does NOT do these things in service to the King, is “blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins”. That person may not be saved! One of my commentaries notes:

“Believers’ ultimate hope is in the character of the Father, the work of the Son, and the wooing of the Spirit. However, these are confirmed in individual believers by their lives of faith, godliness, etc. (2 Peter 1:5-7; Philippians 2:12-13). God deals with humanity in a covenant relationship. He sets the agenda, He initiates the encounter, He draws us to Himself, but we must initially and continually respond in repentance, faith, service, obedience, and perseverance. The gospel is a person to be welcomed, a truth to be believed, and a life to be lived! If any one is left out, mature, biblical salvation is impossible.”

We as believers are desperately needed in America and around the world today to stand firm with Jesus Christ our Savior. If you are saved, ACT SAVED. Obey Jesus. Add to your faith moral excellence. Do not compromise with the world of darkness – for you are to be the Light of Christ. May God the Holy Spirit move you toward spiritual growth and maturity, for Christ’s sake and the glory of God our Father. Amen and amen!

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The Day Jesus Became Like A Brass Snake

Photo by David Clode on Unsplash

Turn with me in your Bibles to John chapter 3. Last Sunday night we spoke on “We Must Be Born Again”. Jesus had a member of the Sanhedrim (the Ruling Elders of Israel) come to visit by night, a man by the name of Nicodemus. Nicodemus was, according to Jesus,

John 3:10 … a master of Israel …

The word Jesus used to describe Nicodemus was master, the Greek διδάσκαλος didaskalos, or a “Master Teacher”. When Jesus told Nicodemus that he had to be “born again”, Nicodemus was confused. But Jesus clarified it. He said,

John 3:6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

Those who enter God’s Kingdom, whether on earth or in Heaven, must be spiritually born into it.

The Holy Spirit of God must work a work in your heart if you will be born into God’s Kingdom.

Only God Can Make A Child Of Adam A Son Of God

No one can make themselves “born again”. Those who are “born again” are born “not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:13). New Birth is spiritual – it comes through the Holy Spirit of God. Jesus said:

John 6:63 It is the Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are Spirit, and they are life.

Word Study: It is the Holy Spirit that quickeneth, the Greek ζωοποιέω zōopoiéō, {pronounced dzo-op-oy-eh’-o}, which means “to give life, to make your born again”. As Jesus spoke, He spoke through the power of God the Holy Spirit. As Jesus did the miraculous, He did this “by the finger of God” (Luke 11:20), “by the Spirit of God” (Matthew 12:28). Jesus is speaking Biblical truths through the power of God the Holy Spirit. Jesus tells us that It is the Spirit that gives spiritual life. The flesh cannot do this. There is nothing that fallen man can do to bring the “new birth” or “being born again” into his or her life. “It is God Who quickeneth (gives life to, causes you to be born again) the dead” (Romans 4:17). The Apostle said in another text:

Romans 8:11 But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.

It is faith in Christ that saves the lost. It is the power of the Holy Spirit – moving based on that faith – that the believer is “born again” or quickened. It is “the Holy Spirit that giveth life” (2 Corinthians 3:6). The Law cannot give life. Our works cannot give life. The Law of God – the sacrifices and the feasts of Israel, the shadows of clean and unclean – this Law is good, but cannot save. The Law only points out our need of salvation. The Bible says:

Galatians 3:21-26 if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law. 22 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.

It is faith in Christ and His Word that brings salvation from death and damnation. Upon faith in Christ, the Spirit moves, and causes the believer to be born again. Only the born again go to Heaven!

God’s Son Is Giving A Divine Eye Witness Account

John 3:11-13 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness. 12 If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things? 13 And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.

Please pay particular attention to the pronouns Jesus uses in this section. Jesus starts out speaking in first person singular, I say unto thee”. But then He switches to plural pronouns, saying We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen. Some believe that Jesus was speaking of Himself and John the Baptist, but I don’t think so. In verse 13 Jesus notes that He and He alone has both ascended up to heaven and has come down from heaven. Jesus is telling us that He alone is an eyewitness of that which He is saying. So who is the We Jesus is speaking of? He is speaking of the Godhead – Father, Son, and Spirit. Dr Thomas Constable notes:

Jesus here claimed to be the “Son of Man” (of Daniel 7:13-14) who had come “from heaven” to reveal God to humankind (see John 1:51).”

It is Jesus Who – as the Word of God – “was in the beginning with God, and was God {the Son}” (John 1:1). The source of Jesus knowledge is not what another Rabbi has said, but what is true, directly from the Throne of God. When Jesus uses the pronoun “We”, He is equating Himself to God. Jesus Christ is God, God in the flesh. Jesus is eternal, preexistent God, co-equal and co-eternal to both Father and Spirit.

Nicodemus thinks he is speaking to another Rabbi, another Didaskalos. Jesus is so much more.
Jesus is GOD, Manifest for us.

J. Oswald Sanders wrote, “If Jesus is not God, then there is no Christianity, and we who worship Him are nothing more than idolaters. Conversely, if He is God, those who say He was merely a good man, or even the best of men, are blasphemers. More serious still, if He is not God, then He is a blasphemer in the fullest sense of the word. If He is not God, He is not even good.”

Billy Graham said, “Jesus Christ is God in human flesh, and the story of His life, death, and resurrection is the only Good News the world will ever hear.”

Jesus is God become Man, Perfect Man, Sinless Man. God the Father says to God the Son:

Hebrews 1:8 … Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of thy kingdom.

Jesus Christ is God the Son. As He speaks to Nicodemus – and us – He is relaying the plan of Heaven to this fallen earth. But Nicodemus still doesn’t understand. So Jesus tells Nicodemus the true Bible Story of ..

The Day A Snake Saved Israel

Very few people like snakes. I like them dead. But Jesus now tells the story – a familiar story to a Bible Teacher like Nicodemus – of the day a snake saved Israel. Jesus told Nicodemus:

John 3:14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:

To understand this story you have to go to the Book of Numbers. God had led Israel out of Egypt by a mighty hand. Israel walked through the Red Sea as if on dry land (Exodus 14:29), and God, in love with His people, was going to given them the land of Canaan. As Israel got to the borders of Canaan, they decided to send spies into the land. The spies returned, and the majority brought back a faithless report to the people. “There we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, which come of the giants: and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers” (Numbers 13:33).

Though saved, unbelieving Israel would not enter the blessed Promised Land. Unbelief and failure to obey God brings a loss of blessing.

God told that generation of Israel in Numbers 14:23, “Because all those men which have seen my glory, and my miracles, which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have tempted me now these ten times, and have not hearkened to my voice; 23 Surely they shall not see the land which I sware unto their fathers, neither shall any of them that provoked me see it”.

Israel like a backslidden child wandered aimlessly. Their wanderings are recorded in Numbers chapters 13-36.Rather than learn from their wandering, Israel continued to rebel against God’s leadership. The Bible says that

1 Samuel 15:23 Rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.

The idea that a believer saved by grace can freely walk on God is ludicrous! Once saved, we become God’s possession (1 Corinthians 6:19-20), and God’s children (Galatians 3:26). God punishes His children. “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth” (Hebrews 12:6).

In Numbers 20 God led Israel to Kadesh, where Miriam (Moses’ sister) died. Moses mourned the death of his sister. But Israel continued in unbelief. They murmured against Moses because there was no water there. God told Moses to:

Numbers 20: 8 … Take the rod, and gather thou the assembly together, thou, and Aaron thy brother, and speak ye unto the rock before their eyes; and it shall give forth his water, and thou shalt bring forth to them water out of the rock: so thou shalt give the congregation and their beasts drink.

This is a picture of the resurrected Christ. The Apostle Paul wrote, “{our fathers, Israel} drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ” (1 Corinthians 10:4). The Rock that Moses was to speak to represented the risen Jesus, the One Who promised whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life”. (John 4:14). Moses was to SPEAK to the Rock that was Christ. Instead, Moses STRUCK the Rock. Though water came out (for God is gracious, and God is good), God told BOTH Moses and Aaron:

Numbers 20:12 … Because ye believed me not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them.

Disobedience and faithlessness, even in Moses and Aaron, causes a loss of blessing. At Mount Hor Aaron died, and Eleazar his son became High Priest. As we come to Numbers chapter 21, the Canaanites attacked Israel. The Bible says:

Numbers 21:2-3 Israel vowed a vow unto the Lord, and said, If thou wilt indeed deliver this people into my hand, then I will utterly destroy their cities. 3 And the Lord hearkened to the voice of Israel, and delivered up the Canaanites…

Israel should have been pleased, and should have been full of praise for the Lord. But once more, the way became hard. The Bible says:

Numbers 21:5 … the people spake against God, and against Moses, Wherefore have ye brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? for there is no bread, neither is there any water; and our soul loatheth this light bread.

The Wages Of Sin Is Death. Here Come The Serpents!

Our God is gracious and long suffering. But to turn away from honoring God, to mock Him and His leadership, is to play with fire. God heard the words of Israel. The Bible says:

Numbers 21:6 And the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died.

The Lord sent fiery serpents”. Why did God send “fiery serpents”? God does nothing by accident. God sent punishment and trials in many different ways.

  • When David numbered the army of Israel, God sent a pestilence that killed 70,000 people (2 Samuel 24).
  • When Miriam, Moses’ sister, mocked Moses’ wife, God caused leprosy to fall on her (Numbers 12:10).
  • God caused the earth to open up and swallow those who tried to overthrow Moses (Numbers 16:32)
  • God brought ten plagues on Egypt (Exodus 7-12), from turning the Nile to blood to the death of the firstborn.

God could have sent any punishment to Israel He wanted. Why send poisonous snakes?

The Bible tells us that:

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

The one man that brought sin into the world was Adam. And Adam’s fall was prompted by the temptation of Satan in the guise of a snake. Satan had fallen from Heaven, leading a revolt against God. Satan is defined in

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

It was Satan in the form of a serpent who tempted Adam and Eve to sin. Adam was supposed to obey God and lead his family. Instead, he disobeyed God and obeyed that Old Serpent Satan. The Israel that God saved from Egypt was supposed to be following their Savior, and honoring Him with their lives. Instead of this, they were murmuring, complaining, and blaspheming God. They said, our soul loatheth this light bread, speaking disparagingly of the manna that God in grace gave them. The Bible tells us that:

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

Unconfessed sin and rebellious living brings with it a just wage, and that wage is separation from God and death. Man in the Garden of Eden listened to the serpent, and brought sickness, sweat, suffering, and sadness into the world. What better way to focus Israel and the truth than to use serpents – poisonouns snakes – the wage for their disobedience. The Bible says,much people of Israel died. God told Israel, and us,

Deuteronomy 8:5-6 … as a man chasteneth his son, so the Lord thy God chasteneth thee. 6 Therefore thou shalt keep the commandments of the Lord thy God, to walk in his ways, and to fear him.

Suffering woke Israel up. The Bible says:

Numbers 21:7 Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord, and against thee; pray unto the Lord, that he take away the serpents from us. And Moses prayed for the people.

God sent the serpents to get Israel’s attention. He could have sent anything as a plague, but sent the serpents. Moses prayed, “Lord, we repent! Take away the serpents”. God could have taken away the serpent with just a wish.

The Brass Serpent Represents Jesus Christ

Numbers 21:8 And the Lord said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live.

Moses was not to take a dead serpent and put it on a pole. This would do nothing. Moses was to make a serpent of brass, and set it on a pole. Those who were bitten by the poisonous snakes (symbolic of sin) were to looketh upon the brass serpent and they would live. There was no power in the brass serpent. The power was in their faith in God. God told them to “look, and live”, and if they did that, they were healed.

As Jesus speaks to Nicodemus, He uses this brass serpent to describe what He will do on the Cross of Calvary. Jesus said:

John 3:14-15 … And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: 15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.

How are we saved from Satan, that Old Serpent, and the snake of sin that he brings to the world? We look upon Jesus and believe. We look at Jesus, Who died for our sins. Moses made a serpent of brass and put it on a pole. The serpent of brass looked like but really wasn’t a serpent. But to look on it was to live. When Jesus went to the Cross, He looked just like any man would look. Jesus didn’t look special. Yet Jesus was like that brass serpent. The Bible says that Jesus Christ was “in the beginning with God, and was God” (John 1:1-3). The Bible says that Jesus Christ came into this world through a virgin birth, a miraculous birth. The angel told the virgin Mary that:

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

The Apostle Matthew wrote,

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

Jesus Christ walked this earth as God with us. He was perfect in every way. Jesus is the “Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). Jesus Christ was,

Hebrews 4:15 in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

Jesus had to be sinless in order to make payment for our sins. Jesus, like the brass serpent, was nailed to a tree.

Hebrews 9:28 Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many …

The Lord Jesus, like the brass serpent of Moses, would be “lifted up” on the Cross of Calvary. As the brass was made to look like a serpent, Jesus Christ – eternal God in human form – was made to look like us who are sinners. He was made a curse so that we could be blessed.

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

Jesus was made a curse for us when He was lifted up on Calvary on that cruel cross. The Bible says:

2 Corinthians 5:21 {God the Father} hath made {Jesus} to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

Israel was saved by looking at the brass serpent, faithfully doing as God said so as to be blessed. We today are saved by looking at Jesus Christ on Calvary. We look to Jesus Christ for salvation, believing that He and He alone is God’s method to save. There is no possible salvation to anyone outside of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

John 3:14 …. even so must the Son of man be lifted up:

Jesus knew that He had to die for our sins. He would say later in His ministry:

John 12:32-33 And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. 33 This he said, signifying what death he should die.

Salvation comes when we recognize that we have been “bitten” by sin, and that we need the Savior. When we look up at our Brass Serpent, Jesus Christ the Lord, obediently looking at Him in faith, we are saved. We are saved by looking at Jesus on the Cross, by believing that He died for our sins.

It is Grace that saves, not our works. We look up to be saved. Just as Israel was poisoned by their sin, apart from Christ we are poisoned creatures. Sin poisons us. Self poisons us. We have no life within. We violate God’s Law without guilt, for we are bit by the snake of sin. Baptismal water will not save us. Water did not save Israel that day they were punished by God. What saved Israel is the same thing that saves us. We must have faith in our God. We must receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. We have God’s promise:

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

Jesus Christ did not come to this earth to give us more of earth’s riches, He came to this earth to give us eternal life. I pray that you know Him as both Lord and Savior! May God through His Spirit and His Word move your hearts to love Jesus this very day. Amen and amen!

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You Must Be Born Again!

Turn with me in your Bibles to John chapter 2.

Last Sunday we saw Jesus chasing the buyers and the sellers out of the Temple on the Day of Passover. Jesus literally whipped them out with a scourge. I won’t re-preach what I said last week, other than to note the Scripture of:

Hebrews 12:5-8 And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: 6 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. 7 If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? 8 But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.

God disciplines His children. He allows trials to come our way to make us more like Jesus. The trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire” (1 Peter 1:7). Trials teach us to lean more on Jesus. Trials drive us into the arms of the Master. Trials stop us from thinking WE are GOD, and turn to Him Who is indeed God.

God also disciplines His children for disobedience. Just as God the Son used the scourge in the Temple, God uses the scourge on His children when they disobey Him. If you are never disciplined of God, then are ye bastards {illegitimate}, and not sons. Praise God that He loves me enough to chastise me when I err!

Jesus Came To Fix What Was In Man

John 2:23-25 Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did. 24 But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men, 25 And needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man.

You need to carefully read ALL the Scripture, for then you find out great truths. Having read about Jesus chasing the buyers and the sellers out of the Temple – do you remember that song Anne Murray sang back in 1970?

Every Time I look into the Holy Book I wanna tremble
When I read about the part where the carpenter cleared the temple
For the buyers and the sellers were no different fellers,
than what I profess to be
It causes me shame to know I’m not the person that I should be!
Put your hand in the hand of the man who stilled the water;
Put your hand in the hand of the man who calmed the sea;
Take a look at yourself and you can look at others differently;
By putting your hand in the hand of the man from Galilee.

Word Study: While Jesus was at the Passover on the Feast day, He did miracles. This is the Greek σημεῖον sēmeîon, {pronounced say-mi’-on}, which means “miracle, sign, token, wonder. Something by which Jesus was marked as distinguished from all other Rabbis.” The Pharisees were always looking for a sēmeîon from Jesus (Matthew 12:38; 16:1). When Jesus identified Judas Iscariot at the one who would betray Him, He kissed Judas (Matthew 26:48), and this was called a sēmeîon. Jesus did things that no other person could do, things that the Bible calls sēmeîon. We don’t know specifically what He did – John does not tell us – but whatever Jesus was did was so significant and repeated that the Bible says:

vs 23 many believed in his name

Do you see that? They believed that Jesus was Who He said He was. They believed that He was the Messiah. But something was amiss. Even though they believed in his name the Bible says:

John 2:24-25 But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men, 25 And needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man

Word Study: The word translated commit is the Greek πιστεύω pisteúō, {pronounced pist-yoo’-o}, which is commonly translated as “to have faith in, to trust, to believe in” {to “believe” is found 239x in the KJV). They believed Jesus was Who He said He was, but Jesus did not believe their profession. Why? The text tells us that:

vs 24 because {Jesus} knew all men,
25 … for he knew what was in man

Jesus knows the hearts of every person. Our Lord Jesus came to this earth to fix what ails us, and that is, to change our hearts. Under the Old Covenant people followed God, and made sacrifices to God, even keeping His Law. But they had a HEART problem. Every son of Adam has the same problem – they are physically alive, but spiritually dead. The theological term for this is total depravity. The doctrine of total depravity teaches that – because of Adam’s fall (Genesis 3:6) – every person is born into this world with a sin corrupted nature.

The mind, the will, the emotions, and even the flesh of the person without Christ is spiritually dead.

Those who were under the Law of Moses – who faithfully and repeatedly made animal sacrifices like those of the Passover – had a heart problem from birth. The Prophet Isaiah, a disciple of God under the Old Covenant, wrote:

Isaiah 64:6-8 But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away. 7 And there is none that calleth upon thy name, that stirreth up himself to take hold of thee: for thou hast hid thy face from us, and hast consumed us, because of our iniquities. 8 But now, O Lord, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand.

Isaiah looked forward to the day when God the Potter would take us, and remake us, so that our heart would be devoted to God and not to religion. Religion cannot save. The sacrifices of Moses cannot save. The writer of Hebrews said:

Hebrews 10:4 … it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.

The animal sacrifices made did not take away sin. Salvation from sin has always come about by faith in God. “The just shall live by his faith {in God} has been the teaching of God’s Word, from the Old Testament Habakkuk 2:4 to the New Testament Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11 & Hebrews 10:38. Abraham our father in the faith:

Romans 4:3 Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.

Abraham’s heart was turned to God. He trusted – not in the animal sacrifice – but in God. God did a work in Abraham – and Abraham believed.

Salvation is not a work of man, but a work of God in man. The Bible teaches that everyone was once:

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

People are born – as David wrote in Psalm 51:5, “shapen in iniquity”. Only God can change the heart.

Psalm 58:3 The wicked are estranged {from God} from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies.

The people who saw Jesus didn’t entrust their lives to Jesus. They “believed in His name”. They believed that He was a special Person, greater than any Rabbi they had seen. These people are like so many today. They do not want Jesus, nor do they want to serve the living God through Him.

They want more of the goods of this world.
They want miracles, the healings.
They want more of the free wine that was made at Cana.
They want a god who will make them comfortable,
Not THE God Who would make them sons of God.

Jesus knew what was in their hearts. Though they said they believed in Jesus, Jesus didn’t believe in them. We have same problem today in America. People say they believe in Jesus, but Beloved, Jesus sees the heart.

Jesus sees that the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked … who can know it? Well, Jesus can. Jesus does. Jesus knows the heart. But that’s why He came. Jesus came to fix the heart. Jesus did not come to bring about a new religion, but a new relationship with God. The Prophets looked forward to God the Messiah’s bringing in of the New Covenant. Moses prophesied in:

Deuteronomy 30:6 … the Lord thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live.

Jeremiah who preached among a hardened Israel, prophesied in:

Jeremiah 31:31-33 Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: 32 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the Lord: 33 But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.

The Messiah – God the Son – would bring in a NEW COVENANT that would change the heart. It would fix the person from the inside outward. God promised:

Ezekiel 36:26-27 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.

God promised to change the heart. He promised to put my spirit within you, to radically change those who would hear Him. Let me say this with all the love I can muster:

You can be religious, and yet go to hell when you die.
You don’t need religion. You need a relationship.
You need to be reborn, to leave the way of Adam.
Only Jesus can do this.

You Must Be Born Again!

Right after these wonderful texts we have expounded, we come to chapter 3. There is a man called Nicodemus who comes to Jesus by night.

John 3:1-2 There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: 2 The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.

Word Study: Nicodemus is a ruler of the Jews. He is ἄρχων árchōn, {pronounced ar’-khone}, which means “a ruler, commander, chief, leader, someone preeminent”. Several commentaries note that Nicodemus was possibly a key member of the Sanhedrim, the 70 rulers over Israel. In verse 10 Jesus calls Nicodemus a MASTER of Israel, wherein the word MASTER is the Greek διδάσκαλος didáskalos, {pronounced did-as’-kal-os}, which means “a Master Teacher, one with a Doctorate or great skills in interpreting the Talmud”. Here is a great man, a man well known to all, even Jesus. He didn’t come in and stick out his hand and say, “Hi Jesus, I’m Nicodemus”. This man was well known. This well known man said two things about Jesus:

  • (vvs 2) We know that thou art a teacher {didáskalos} come from God. Nicodemus tells Jesus We know. The Sanhedrim affirmed that Jesus was a MASTER of Israel, a didáskalos. This is powerful endorsement at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. If Jesus responds favorably He can expect the support of the most powerful men in Israel – something any of us would love to have if we were in a similar situation. A Master Teacher affirms Jesus as a Master Teacher, someone that God sent.
  • Nicodemus also told Jesus no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him. Jesus did not just come FROM God, but God is with him. Again, this is a fantastic endorsement! How would Jesus respond?

Jesus ignored what Nicodemus said, flattering as it was. I love this quote:

Some teachers use flattery as a means to increase personal followings. Leaders desiring to attract a crowd sometimes water down their message until the gospel is reduced to little more than a God-tainted self-improvement program. They pepper their talks with cheerful verses and illustrations designed to make their hearers feel better about themselves (and about the teachers). There is much talk about discovering one’s potential and developing personal greatness. This is nothing more than flattery intended to create popularity for the speaker and his or her message. It sells books and media time, but it often bears little resemblance to the message Jesus proclaimed.”

Jesus didn’t take the bait! Jesus came to this earth not to be flattered, nor to develop a new religion, but to bring people into the Family of God. You must be supernaturally born into the Family of God. Jesus said:

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

We have shown earlier that, according to the Scripture, those without Christ are dead in trespasses and in sins. Those without Jesus are blind to the truths of God. Like Nicodemus, they might be religious, faithfully religious. They might be a big name in the religious circuit. But their hearts are far from God – they are but children of Adam. You must have another birth.

I suspect there are many professing Christians in the world today who may be seminary trained. They may study their Bibles religiously. They may be faithful members of a local Church. But they are missing something most integral. You must be born again. Jesus said:

John 6:44 No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.

God must draw the dead to God. When the Gospel of Jesus Christ is shared, I believe that God gives us a knowledge of our dead spiritual state. Jesus said:

John 14:26 … the Comforter, {Who} is the Holy {Spirit}, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

Nicodemus needs to be born again. He needs to be “regenerated” by the Spirit of God. Nicodemus cannot see the Kingdom of God unless he personally and individually is “born again”. What Jesus says to Nicodemus confuses him. He asks Jesus:

John 3:4 … How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?

Being “born again” is not to go through the birthing process you already have gone through. Being “born again” is being born a second and distinctly different time. Jesus said:

John 3:5-7 … Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.

Jesus started out by saying that you must be “born again to SEE the Kingdom of God”. Now Jesus says you must be “born again to ENTER the Kingdom of God”. This is a second, supernatural birth. Jesus said you must beborn of water AND of the Spirit. You are born of water when you enter this life through your mother. Unborn babies float in a sack of amniotic fluid – water – until they are born. When the sack busts, the baby is born, and enters the world a new creature. Jesus said, That which is born of the flesh is flesh. The newborn baby did nothing to assist in this “water birth” but rest in it’s mother.

The child of Adam is born of the flesh.
The child of God is born of the Spirit.

Regeneration or being Born Again is referred to as a “washing” in the New Testament, a “washing” by the Holy Spirit:

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

The Apostle said:

1 Corinthians 6:11 … ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.

The Christian is a person who is – because of the Spirit of God – a “new creature in Christ”. We are no longer sons of Adam – we are sons of God. The Apostle said:

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

A Christian is not a Christian because of their denomination. A Christian is a Christian because God the Holy Spirit has made them so. I believe that a Child of God,

Galatians 3:26 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.

Is a person that heard the call of Christ. Responding to that call, that person repents of following their own definition of good and evil, and begins to willingly follow Jesus as both Lord and Savior. Upon calling upon Christ, the Holy Spirit of God – the same Spirit that opens our eyes to our need for Jesus – performs spiritual surgery on us. He changes our hearts, and makes us children of God. We no longer blend with the world. We are His, and He is ours.

Jesus Christ is our Elder Brother, and our King.
We belong to God!
We are possessed of God.
We are indwelt of God.
We are to walk as sons of God.
We will one day be in glory with God!

Jesus tells Nicodemus,

John 3:8 The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.

Jesus gives a beautiful illustration of the Holy Spirit here. The Holy Spirit – just like a wind in the trees – you do not see His coming nor His movement, but you see the effect on the trees. I did not see the Holy Spirit walk into the Church the day I was saved. But I felt Him blow through my soul. I felt my heart change. What I loved before, the sins I cherished, I now hate. The light I once shunned so that I could dance in the darkness, now I despise it. The lonely life I once lived, now I live in Christ. The Apostle put it this way:

Galatians 2:20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

I live by the faith of the Son of God”. I have faith in Him, and He has faith in me. He knows who I am, and I cherish Jesus Christ as both Lord and Savior every day.

The Children Of God Have Eternal Security

The Apostle told the Hebrews:

Hebrews 10:31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

To leave this life a child of Adam – oh, how terrible that will be! To know Him only as the living God. Jesus will not commit Himself to you, if you will not receive Him as He is. Jesus is both Lamb of God and King of Kings. Jesus is the sacrifice for our sins, the Savior of our souls, but the Sovereign of our lives. If you know Jesus Christ as both Lord and Savior – if you have called on Him with a heart awakened to Him by the Spirit – then you are secure in His arms.

On the day that Jesus hung on that terrible Cross for you and I, two thieves hung next to Him, one on the left and the other on the right. We are all born thieves. We steal God’s glory, and apply it to ourselves. We refuse to thank Him for the gift of life, nor even to acknowledge Him as the Giver of all that we have. We refuse to worship Him, but worship ourselves, and worship idols on television or on streaming services. We rob God of His due.

But He loves us anyway.

The thief on the left mocked Jesus. “If you be the son of God, save US and Yourself” (Luke 23:39). He was a thief still. But the thief on the right, he repented. “We receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss” (Luke 23:41). Repentance acknowledges that we should never have eaten the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Repentance doesn’t make excuses, or blame someone else. Repentance opens the eyes, and looks in the mirror, and looking, sees a sinner. The thief on the right, dying, looked at Jesus, and said:

Luke 23:42 … Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.

Lord”! Dying, that man was born again into God’s Kingdom. “Today you shall be with Me in Paradise”. Beloved, you must be born again! Receive Jesus Christ as both Lord and Savior! Receive Him as Lamb of God, slain for your sins. Receive Him as Lord of glory, the ruler of your life. Of His fullness receive eternal security in His family. May God move on your hearts this very day. Amen and Amen!

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It Is Right To Fear The Lord

Photo by Edwin Andrade on Unsplash

Do you “Fear The Lord”?

Turn with me in your Bibles to Psalm 34

I think we live in a day where people fear lots of things. They fear:

Spiders & Snakes
Peer Pressure
Social Media banning
Coronavirus & The Delta VariantDiseases like Cancer
Getting OldPainBeing called a name, like “Bigot”,
“Homophobic”,
“Racist”

Loneliness
Death

But I don’t think people today have a “fear of the Lord”. Too many have heard verses over-preached like,

1 John 4:16 … we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.

God does love us. But we also need to fear the Lord. Did you know that

  • The phrase “God is love” is found 2 times in the Scripture,
  • But the phrase “fear the Lord” is found 30 times? And,
  • The phrase “fear God” is found 10 times.
  • The phrase “fear of God” is found 8 times in the Scripture.

That’s – if you’re counting – 48 to 2. Solomon, the wisest leader the world ever knew, wrote:

Proverbs 1:7 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools (those who do not fear God) despise wisdom and instruction.

The humanist and the atheist believes that all people are basically good at heart. God’s Word tells us of the lost that:

Romans 3:10-18 … There is none righteous, no, not one: 11 There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. 12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. 13 Their throat is an open sepulcher; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: 14 Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: 15 Their feet are swift to shed blood: 16 Destruction and misery are in their ways: 17 And the way of peace have they not known: 18 There is no fear of God before their eyes.

The mark of the lost person is that they have no fear of God before their eyes. So, so you fear God? Do you have fear of the Lord? If you are saved, you should. You really should.

What Does It Mean To Fear The Lord? The word translated fear is in the Greek φόβος phóbos, {pronounced fob’-os}, and in the Hebrew רְאָה yirʼâh, {pronounced yir-aw’}. The words are defined as having “fear, dread, terror”.

When applied to God, “fear” refers to “an awe of, a reverence for, a deep and abiding respect, and yes, an understanding that God CAN and WILL punish.

Illustrate: Some unknown individual crawled underneath our Church van, and cut the catalytic converter out of the engine. They had no fear of God. God, to them, was imaginary, or a little old wizened man up in the sky. People commit crimes every day. They have no fear of God. People fall into sexual sin daily, contrary to God’s Biblical standard. They have no fear of God. People hate, carry grudges, seek vengeance. They have no fear of God.

It is the act of a fool to have no fear of God. It is God Who made all things that you see and that you do not see. It is God Who, despising sin, engineered the destruction of the entire world by water in Noah’s day. It is God Who causes nations to form, and to fall. When Adam sinned, it is God Who allowed the fall of all creation in accordance with His Word. It is God Who hates sin so much that the only way we could be brought back into union with Him is through the horrible crucifixion and death of the Son of God!

Fear Of The Lord Is The Beginning Of Blessing

In Psalm 34, we read the words of a man that was very blessed of God. This man was called David. The Bible tells us that David was a man after God’s own heart. The first King of Israel was Saul, a man who had no fear of God. Saul treated his call from God as if he deserved it. God called Saul to be King, to follow the leading of the Lord. Saul didn’t, so he lost his kingdom. The Prophet Samuel told King Saul,

1 Samuel 13:14 … now thy kingdom shall not continue: the Lord hath sought him a man after his own heart, and the Lord hath commanded him to be captain over his people, because thou hast not kept that which the Lord commanded thee.

Saul did not love God. Saul did not fear God. Saul did not do that which the Lord commanded. So God sent Samuel to the House of Jesse to find a replacement for Saul. God said (Acts 13:22) I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfill all my will. David feared the Lord. David loved God, but feared displeasing Him. But fearing the Lord, David was blessed. David writes:

Psalm 34:1-2 I will bless the Lord at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth. 2 My soul shall make her boast in the Lord: the humble shall hear thereof, and be glad.

When we make ourselves bigger than we are, we do so because we do not fear God. We are and have what we have because GOD HAS GIVEN IT. The life you have, you have it by God’s grace. If you have a nice home, you have it because God allowed it. If you have beautiful children, you have it because God has allowed it.

Oh, that we would squash down that pride inside of ourselves, and fear the Lord. Oh, that we would HEAR the words we sing:

I am weak but Thou art strong;
Jesus, keep me from all wrong;
I’ll be satisfied as long
As I walk, let me walk close to Thee.

THAT is fearing God. Realizing that HE IS GOD and I AM NOT. David feared the Lord. He stood in awe of Who God is. David did not want just what God could do – David wanted GOD. David realized what ever circumstance that God brought to his life, that it came according to the will of God. David said:

vs 1 I will bless the Lord at all times: His praise shall continually be in my mouth.

You fear the Lord when you PRAISE Him, even in the bad times. God allows ALL TIMES to come to us. Yes, God loves us. But God controls all things. If something happens in our lives, it is because GOD ALLOWED IT or GOD CAUSED IT. To fear the Lord is to PRAISE HIM even when you’re in a valley. The Apostle Paul said it this way:

Philippians 4:11-13 I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. 12 I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

When you have fear of the Lord, you seek His glory at all times – even when you are in the valley. There are no accidents, no coincidences. God controls all.

Pastor Marshall Segal of Desiring God Ministries notes:

The fear of God is a heart level embrace of the intensity of His holy and solemn authority over all. It is an admission that God is worthy of our admiration, devotion, reverence, and awe. It is a face-to-the-ground, trembling-in-the-soul, all-of-life-submission unto God – a heart that senses how small, sinful, and undeserving we are next to Him, and yet still dares, in Christ, to draw near to Him.”

Those who know the fear of the Lord acknowledge that God is big – but we are small. Though David was King of Israel – a choice assignment to be in – David knew that he was not there because he was better than others – but was King because God made him King. David writes:

Psalm 34:2 My soul shall make her boast in the Lord: the humble shall hear thereof, and be glad.

David controlled his emotions – his “little man”. Do you all know what I’m talking about when I speak of the “little man”? I have one. He pops up whenever someone says, “That was a good sermon, preacher”. That “little man” pops up, that fellow we call PRIDE. You cannot have fear of the Lord and have PRIDE. I have to constantly remind myself, “David, what you have, whatever you do, if it is good, it comes of the Lord!” It is fear of the Lord that says:

James 4:10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.

Illustrate Do you remember Peter the Apostle, when he was shamed by a rooster? “Not me, Lord! Though everyone denies You, I will never deny You!” Jesus told Peter, “this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice”. Jesus knew. God always knows. That very night, Peter denied Jesus. When Peter heard the rooster crow, “he went out, and wept bitterly”. A changed Peter would later write:

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.

What we have – what we hope to be – is all in the hands of our God. God is in control! We will praise Him, though all fall apart.

Fear Of The Lord Causes Burdens To Lift

Psalm 34:3, 5 O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together. 5 They looked unto him, and were lightened: and their faces were not ashamed.

Do you have fear of the Lord – or fear of people? David had fear of the Lord. He cared more for what God thought than He did what others thought.

Who are YOU trying to impress? God or man?
Who do you FEAR more?

Word Study David magnified the Lord. This is the word גָּדַלgâdal, {pronounced gaw-dal’} which means “to boast on, to enlarge, to make great or powerful, to make primary”. God is GREAT, He is MAGNIFICENT. David magnified by making himself small in God’s presence. When the Ark of the Covenant was returned to Jerusalem, the city of David, the Bible says that King David was …

2 Samuel 6:16 … leaping and dancing before the Lord

so much so that his wife, Michal, despised David in her heart. She chewed David out when he got home, sarcastically saying:

2 Samuel 6:20 … How glorious was the king of Israel to day, who uncovered himself to day in the eyes of the handmaids of his servants, as one of the vain fellows shamelessly uncovereth himself!

David responded simply to his wife:

2 Samuel 6:21-22 … It was before the Lord, which chose me before thy father, and before all his house, to appoint me ruler over the people of the Lord, over Israel: therefore will I play before the Lord. 22 And I will yet be more vile than thus, and will be base in mine own sight: and of the maidservants which thou hast spoken of, of them shall I be had in honor.

David put God before his own pride. He magnified the Lord, and was blessed because of it. As a Leader who loved God more than he loved himself, Israel followed his example and looked unto Him {unto God}, and were lightened. When you fear God, when you make much of God and little of all else, then you are lightened. Your burdens fall away. Read with me:

Psalm 34:4 I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.

What do we often do when bad stuff happens?

We WORRY about it.
We WORRY about it though God tells us not to worry.

Instead of worry, fear the Lord. Do what He says. Seek His face. What did Jesus say? Take NO THOUGHT for your life”. Minimize yourself. Maximize God. Fear the Lord, not the need. Jesus said:

Matthew 6:25-27 … 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? 26 Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? 27 Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?

Worry changes nothing. Do as David did. Seek the Lord. Humble yourself, and fear God. Pursue Him, and praise Him even in the midst of the trial. God has a purpose for what you are going through. Worry will not fix one thing. When we worry, we make a god of the trial. Instead, let God be God. David said:

Psalm 34:6 This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles.

We are NOT gods. We are in God’s image, but we are NOT Him. We are but poor. We are limited creatures. But God is not. He is limitless. God owns all things. God is over everything. God – not us but God – controls this Coronavirus. God allowed that person to cut out our catalytic converter. God allows the wicked to prosper. The Scripture says:

Proverbs 16:4 The Lord hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil.

The God we worship is “one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” (Ephesians 4:6). When we make much of God and little of all else, then God hears, and like David, saved him out of all his troubles.

  • When Adam failed to fear the Lord, he brought misery on humanity.
  • When Lucifer failed to fear the Lord, he lost his job as General over all the angels of Heaven.
  • When Samson failed to fear the Lord, he ended up blind, weak, and strapped to a Philistine prison.
  • When Judas Iscariot failed to fear the Lord, he hung himself miserably, and his bowels gushed out.

Your troubles do not get less when you fail to fear the Lord. They get GREATER. They get worse. But when you fear the Lord, and make much of Him Who made us, and loves us, then David promises:

Psalm 34:7 The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them.

Word Study: Let’s break this verse down. The word translated “encampeth” is the Hebrew חָנָה chânâh, {pronounced khaw-naw’}, which means “to come down from a high place to where you are, to bend down so as to surround with an encampment or series of tents”.

When we humble ourselves and magnify God, God humbles Himself and comes to us.

Word Study: God puts a shield around those who fear him, and delivers that person from their enemies. We are to fear God more than we fear our earthly enemies. God is greater than anything or anyone who comes against us. He deliverethus from our enemies. The word translateddelivereth is the Hebrewחָלַץ châlats, {pronounced khaw-lats’}, which meansto rescue, or draw out of trouble.

Illustrate: Here is the picture God put in my mind. You are swimming in the ocean, and get a cramp. You start to go down. You struggle to the surface, grab a breath. You don’t worry about what others might think. You are no longer posturing for the crowd, or trying to impress some girl or boy. You yell out, “HELLLLP!” before you go under once more. Struggling to the top, the Lifeguard comes. He reaches down and grabs your arm. He draws you to the surface where you can breath. You don’t tell Him what to do, nor how to do it. You REST IN HIS ARMS. You rest in His arms.

The Church Needs To Return To Fearing The Lord

Psalm 34:8-9 O taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him. 9 O fear the Lord, ye his saints: for there is no want to them that fear him.

Many years ago Churches in America and around the world began to fear man more than they feared God. They began to compromise on the teachings of the Word of God in order to reach “bigger crowds”. The Way of Christ was never the way of the crowd. Jesus said in Matthew 7:13-14:

Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few” (English Standard Version used for clarity).

David encourages us to Taste and see. You need to personally experience the fear of the Lord. You need to humble yourselves to Him, and make much of Jesus. Blessed is the man that trusteth in him. David speaks from experience. By trust in God, and making much of Him, David was allowed to defeat Goliath. It is by fear of the Lord that we are saved. It is by fear of the Lord that we are blessed. He said:

9 O fear the Lord, ye his saints:
for there is no want to them that fear him.

Do not fear man. Do not fear your circumstances that you are in. Fear the Lord. Trust in Him. Humble yourselves, as we are entering a cultural nightmare in America. Trust in Him. The early Church, with no more than 120 members, gathered in an upper room and prayed, making much of God. Because they feared the Lord more than they feared Rome or Israel, the Church was formed. The Bible says:

Acts 2:42-43 And {the Church} continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. 43 And fear {phobos} came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles.

Those who were saved had fear of the Lord. They did not fear the Romans nor the Jews, but God. As the Gospel went out, and God caused Saul to become Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles, the Bible says:

Acts 9:29-31 And {Paul} spake boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus, and disputed against the Grecians: but they went about to slay him. 30 Which when the brethren knew, they brought him down to Caesarea, and sent him forth to Tarsus. 31 Then had the churches rest throughout all Judaea and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified; and walking in the fear {Phobos} of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied.

As believers in Christ we are not to FEAR that which is going on around us – but we are to FEAR the Lord. It is the FEAR of the Lord that drives our efforts to tell others of Christ. The Apostle Paul said:

2 Corinthians 5:11 Knowing therefore the terror {phobos, fear} of the Lord, we persuade men…

It is the FEAR OF THE LORD that drives believers to work together in harmony. The Apostle said:

Ephesians 5:18-21 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.

Let us rightly fear the Lord Who gave Himself for us, It is He Who says,

Isaiah 49:16 Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands…

God has marked us on the palms of my hands. Jesus Christ was crucified for my salvation. He died to make payment for my sins. He is reminded daily in Heaven that I am His, and He is mine. I need not fear His abandoning of me – He will not leave the children He purchased at such a great price. Yet nonetheless I fear God, just as I feared my daddy when I was a child. Because daddy had power to punish. Our Heavenly Father, our Eternal God, watches us. He has the power to punish. He has the power to afflict, to paddle, to dissemble, to break us down. He has power to bless. Seek His face this very day.

May God the Holy Spirit and the Master’s Scripture touch every heart and mind this day. For His glory we ask this. Amen and Amen!

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Eternal Security or Eternal Loss

Photo by Krissia Cruz on Unsplash

Hebrews 10:26-27 For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, 27 But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.

When I first came to the Lord, it was at a wonderful assembly of believers called The Church of God of Prophecy. These were sweet believers in Christ, and I loved them – and still love them – dearly. The Lord led me to salvation through the preaching of Pastor White. I was saved about 30 days before I went into military service.

The Church of God of Prophecy is but one of a group of Churches that believe in Arminian theology. Arminianism is a branch of the Protestant faith based on the theological teachings of Dutch Reformed pastor Jacobus Arminius (1560-1609). He led a group of followers known as Remonstrants to split from the Dutch Reformed Church. One of the signature beliefs of the followers of Jacobus Arminius (or the Arminians) was “The Conditional Preservation Of The Saints”.

The followers of Arminianism believe that salvation is conditional upon the believer remaining in Christ.

Churches that believe in the conditional salvation of the believer (Arminianism) are Methodists, Free Will Baptists, Christian Churches, Churches of Christ, General Baptists, Seventh Day Adventists, Church of the Nazarene, the Wesleyan Church, the Salvation Army, Conservative Mennonites, Old Order Mennonites, Amish Churches, the various Churches of God, and the Pentecostal Churches. These Churches believe that a person, once saved, can willingly walk away from Jesus, and willingly relinquish their salvation. Southern Baptists, along with Particular Baptists, Reformed Baptists, Presbyterians, and Congregationalists believe in the Eternal Security of the Believer. We believe that once a person enters a relationship with Jesus Christ by faith, that that believer is adopted into the Family of God by the Holy Spirit of God (Romans 8:15; Galatians 4:5-7). The Southern Baptist Faith & Message (2000) states:

IV. Salvation: Salvation involves the redemption of the whole man, and is offered freely to all who accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, who by His own blood obtained eternal redemption for the believer. In its broadest sense salvation includes regeneration, justification, sanctification, and glorification. There is no salvation apart from personal faith in Jesus Christ as Lord.

V. God’s Purpose of Grace: All true believers endure to the end. Those whom God has accepted in Christ, and sanctified by His Spirit, will never fall away from the state of grace, but shall persevere to the end. Believers may fall into sin through neglect and temptation, whereby they grieve the Spirit, impair their graces and comforts, and bring reproach on the cause of Christ and temporal judgments on themselves; yet they shall be kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.

Southern Baptist Churches believe that the Child of God – who is truly a Child of God – can never be lost. The Churches that follow Arminianism believe a Christian can, by his or her will, be lost once saved. To prove this, they refer to texts like the one we read tonight. Let’s read it again:

Hebrews 10:26-27 For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, 27 But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.

Saved in the Church of God of Prophecy, I was taught that every Christian had to guard their salvation, lest we be lost. What I was taught was:

Salvation = Jesus’ Work + My Work

You Must Read Scripture In The Spirit, And In Context

As I studied my Bible, reading things in context, I began to believe differently than the followers of Arminius. The greatest things you can do as a student of Scripture is:

  1. Learn to PRAY and SEEK GOD the Holy Spirit’s guidance when reading Scripture. If you are a Christian then you are indwelt by the Holy Spirit (John 14:17; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20; Colossians 1:27). Jesus said of the Spirit that “when He is come, He will guide you into all truth” (John 16:13).
  2. Learn to READ SCRIPTURE in CONTEXT. Context is so very important. Never take a Bible verse and try to build a doctrine around it based on itself. Read what is written before and after.

I was told that the Scripture …

Hebrews 10:26-27 For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, 27 But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.

is telling us that a saved person who willfully sins can become lost. But that’s not what the verse is saying. If this verse is to be applied this way, then the phrase there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins is telling us that once lost, that person CANNOT be saved. This is a hopeless teaching! Isn’t it true that every sin we commit is a willful sin? And if you commit a willful sin then there remaineth NO MORE sacrifice for sins, but a certain FEARFUL LOOKING FOR of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. So salvation is by faith in Christ – but if you ever misstep – you’re going to hell. And there is NO REMEDY because the text clearly says, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins. But that can’t be true because of the CONTEXT of Scripture. The Apostle John tells us in:

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.

The Christian is NOT to walk in sin. We are to walk in the light of God with Jesus. But we have this promise, the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. Christians are not perfect. John knew this as he wrote:

1 John 1:8-10 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

We are – as Christians and Children of God – still imperfect creatures that live in an imperfect world. We sin. We sin willfully. We sin grievously. Now this is not what God wants of us. God wants us to avoid sin, for sin hurts us, and separates us from God. The Prophet wrote:

Isaiah 59:2 … your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.

Sin in the Christian grieves the Spirit of God and quenches His power (Ephesians 4:20; 1 Thessalonians 5:19). As Christians, we are to forsake sin, because we are dead to sin but alive to Christ. The Apostle said:

Romans 6:1-2 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? 2 God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? … 12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. 13 Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. 14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. 15 What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.

There are times that we as Christians willfully sin. We all do – yet this does not make it right. The standard is to avoid sin and, when you do sin, confess that sin to God. Put the sin under the blood of Christ.

So What Does Hebrews 10:26-27 Refer To
If Not The Loss Of Salvation?

What is the SIN that the Apostle is referring to in verse 26:

Hebrews 10:26 … For if we sin willfully

The “sin” the text is referring to is the sin of unbelief in Christ. The Book of Hebrews was written primarily to ….. (drum roll please) … the Hebrews. The Hebrews believed that their sins were covered by the animal sacrifices that they had done, year after year, prior to the coming of Christ. But the Scripture told them:

Hebrews 10:1-4 For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect. 2 For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshipers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins. 3 But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. 4 For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.

The animal sacrifices were but shadows of the Cross of Christ. They pointed toward the day when Jesus Christ would come and make payment for sins. The writer of Hebrews is telling his fellow Hebrew citizens that the animal sacrifices are no more. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, entered this world to take away the imperfect sacrifices of the Temple.

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

The First Covenant – the Covenant of the Works of the Law (the animal sacrifices) were taken away by the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. We who believe in Him are sanctified or set apart for God’s Kingdom once for all by Jesus’ death on Calvary. The Priests of Israel,

Hebrews 10:11-12 … standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: 12 But this man (Jesus Christ, the Messiah), after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;

The priests offered animals over and over again. But Jesus on the Cross offered one sacrifice for sins for ever. There are no more sacrifices. Jesus paid it all!

Hebrews 10:18-20 Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin. 19 Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, 20 By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh;

Because of what Jesus did for us on Calvary, we can enter into the holy place where God is. Our sins are covered! Our faith is in Christ alone! The text:

Hebrews 10:26-27 For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, 27 But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.

Is a warning to the adversaries who reject salvation by faith in Christ. He tells the Hebrews, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins. There is no need to go to the Temple anymore, to make sacrifice for sins. When Jesus died on Calvary He declared, “It is finished” (John 19:30). Salvation is vested entirely in Jesus. To drive this point home, the Apostle writes:

Hebrews 10:28-29 He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: 29 Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?

To reject the Law of Moses under the first Covenant was to court death. To reject faith in Jesus Christ – the blood of the covenant – an unholy thing, is to reject the Spirit of grace. God will punish all who do this. You must receive Jesus Christ by faith,

Receive Him as the Lamb of God,
Receive Him as the Great High Priest,
Receive Him as the Son of God,
Receive Him as Lord of Lords

Salvation is not What I do + what Jesus did. Jesus alone paid for my salvation. Jesus alone represents me to the Father. Jesus alone is my Lord and Leader. I put all my trust in Him, and do not draw back from faith in Jesus. The Apostle ends the text with:

Hebrews 10:38-39 Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. 39 But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.

Faith alone in Christ alone saves us. May God move your hearts to receive Him and Him alone as both Lord and Savior this very day. Amen and Amen.

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Jesus Will Whip You

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John 2:13 And the Jews’ Passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem …

Pastor Tony Evans told this story:

A man once robbed a bank in Ottawa, Canada, stealing $6,000. But the interesting part of the story is this: When they arrested him and took him to jail, they discovered he’d used a 1918 Colt revolver to commit that crime. Now, anyone who knows anything about guns already understands the point of this story. This gun was valued at more than $100,000, yet this man robbed a bank for only $6,000. He could have simply sold the gun and walked away with more than ten times what he got in the robbery. But he didn’t sell the gun because he didn’t know the worth of what he held in his hand.”

When Jesus came to this earth on Our Father’s mission, He came to open our eyes to what is most important.
We are to love God our Savior, and love one another.

We often forget this great truth and, when we do …. Jesus will get your attention. In fact, if you are his, Jesus will whip you!

Jesus Went Up … To The Passover

John 2:13 And the Jews’ Passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem …

When we read these words, they really don’t mean much to us. But these words are very significant, for they speak of the grace of God. Our Lord Jesus spent a few days in Capernaum, “Jesus, and his mother, and his brethren, and his disciples: and they continued there not many days. (John 2:12)”. Jesus spent time with His earthly family because He loved them. Though the Bible says in …

John 7:5 … {Jesus’} brethren {did not} believe in Him …

Though His own family did not believe He was the Messiah, the Promised Savior of Israel (“for He shall save His people from their sins”), Jesus nonetheless loved them. Jesus loved and honored His earthly parents, and spent time with them. But then, Jesus went up to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover.

We’ve read about the Passover in our Bibles, but we who are Gentiles have a hard time understanding what it was all about. I believe it’s because we never really experienced what the Jews went through. Though I hear of the trials that many go through, I have not walked in their shoes, so it’s hard for me to fully comprehend it.

The Jews came to Egypt through the grace of God in the life of Joseph. At first, Israel had it good in Egypt. But then it went sour. The fickle love of man turned on them. The Jews became enslaved in Egypt. Their lives were miserable. They suffered under the whip, because, though Egypt was initially a place where Israel could rest, over time,

Exodus 1:8 … there arose up a new king over Egypt, which knew not Joseph.

The Jews became like cattle to the Egyptians. They were beaten. Their sons were killed. Their daughters were made to prostitute themselves to the Egyptians. Israel was horribly treated. The Bible says:

Exodus 1:14 {the Egyptians} made their lives bitter with hard bondage …

Genesis 15:13 records God’s words to Abram, “ Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years”. Israel grew complacent in their love for God while in Egypt, but the whip of the taskmasters awakened their need for the Lord.

The whip of evil often wakes us up to the desperate need we have for the Lord. The whip is a blessing when it awakens us, and turns us to the God Who loves us so!

The Bible says that God told Moses:

Exodus 3:9-10 … the cry of the children of Israel is come unto me: and I have also seen the oppression wherewith the Egyptians oppress them. 10 Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt.

God, in His Grace, reaches out to love us every single day. But when we drift away from Him, when we get entangled in our own Egypt, when God becomes less to us than He should be, our life goes through storms. Our joy is robbed from us. There is no quality of life apart from the Lord Who loves you so!

God loved Israel. God told Israel:

Jeremiah 31:3 … I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with loving kindness have I drawn thee.

Deuteronomy 7:7-8 The Lord did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people: 8 But because the Lord loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers, hath the Lord brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.

God loved Israel, so He saved the nation by a “Pass Over”. The “Pass Over” is the event that caused Egypt to release Israel from slavery. In the original Passover, God told Israel in Exodus 12:5-11 to take a “lamb without blemish, a male of the first year, and kill it in the evening. Take it’s blood, and strike it on the two side posts and the upper door post of the house”. God said, “I will pass through the land of Egypt this night … when I see the blood of the lamb, I will pass over you and not destroy you”.

God did exactly as He said He would do. He “passed over” Egypt that first night, so long ago, and where the blood of the Lamb was not found, death came to that home. It didn’t matter whether you were Jew or Gentile, bond or free, male or female (Galatians 3:28), if the blood of the Lamb was not there on the home and in the life, then death came.

That night, God used a whip on Egypt and on Israel. He did not use that whip because He hated anyone. God used the whip out of love. The Blood of the Lamb saves!

Once Israel was freed from Egypt, God instituted the Feast of the Passover to be done annually on that same day.

The Passover Feast celebrates the salvation of God.
The Passover Feast celebrates the love of God.
The Passover Feast is a time to show God love!
The Passover Feast is a time to show love to others!
The Passover Feast is also a shadow, a teaching of the Coming Messiah!

Israel was to take – each family – a lamb or, if poor, two doves to the Temple to sacrifice, and celebrate the Grace and love of God. They did this year after year. But this ritual looked forward to the coming on the GENUINE Lamb of God, Jesus Christ our Lord. John the Baptist identified Jesus as:

John 1:29 the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. (see also John 1:36)

The Apostle Peter – writing long after this day we are now studying – said:

1 Peter 1:18-21 … ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain {way of life – the sacrifices, the works of the Law} received by tradition from your fathers; 19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: 20 {Jesus} verily was foreordained {to be the Lamb of God} before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, 21 Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God.

Jesus Used The Whip In Love, Not Anger

John 2:13 And the Jews’ Passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem, and found in the Temple …

Jesus went to Jerusalem, and went to the Temple to lovingly worship our God. But when Jesus went to the Temple, He did not see the people loving and worshiping God. Jesus did not see the people loving one another.

Jesus saw a business. He saw buying and selling, profiteering. He saw selfishness, and greed. Jesus did not see love for God, nor love for others.

It is good to read all four Gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John – and compare what each eyewitness (Matthew 21:12-13; Mark 11:15-17; Luke 19:45-46; John 2:14-22) to Jesus saw. Though John tells us that Jesus took action immediately, the Evangelist Mark tells us:

Mark 11:11 … And Jesus entered into Jerusalem, and into the temple: and when he had looked round about upon all things, and now the eventide was come, he went out unto Bethany with the twelve. … 15 And they come to Jerusalem: and Jesus went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold and bought in the temple…

Jesus went to Jerusalem, looked around, then went to Bethany for the night. Jesus perhaps was angered by what He saw. But the next day He came back to Jerusalem, and we read:

John 2:14 {Jesus} found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting:

Word Study: The changers of money, the Greek κερματιστής kermatistḗs, (pronounced ker-mat-is-tace’) “Money Brokers”, would take Roman coins, and exchange them for acceptable Jewish coins. The Romans believed that when a Caesar died that he became a god. Thus the Jews were told not to donate Roman money in the Temple offerings. The kermatistḗs would exchange Roman coins for acceptable Hebrew currency – and make a fat profit on the exchange. They did not do what they were doing out of love for God nor out of love for their fellow Israelis, but out of “the love of money, the root of all evil” (1 Timothy 6:10).

The kermatistḗs robbed God. The sellers of oxen, and sheep, and doves, they robbed God. The Passover was a wonderful act of undeserved Grace and Love from God. They should have been loving God. They should have been loving their fellow believers.

John 2:15 And when {Jesus} had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers’ money, and overthrew the tables;

Word Study: Jesus made a scourge of small cords, a φραγέλλιον phragéllion, {pronounced frag-el’-le-on}. This particular word is used only here in the Scripture. Jesus created this phragéllion or whip out of the bits of rope that had been used to bring the animals into the Temple. Mark tells us,

Mark 11:15… Jesus went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold and bought in the temple…

Matthew Henry says: “… Jesus made a scourge of small cords, which probably they had led their sheep and oxen with, and thrown them away upon the ground, whence Christ gathered them. ..”

Jesus used His quickly made whip to scourge not just the animals, but the people as well. Jesus ran both the BUYERS and the SELLERS out of the Temple. He didn’t run everyone out – just those who were there for the wrong reason. What Jesus did was not an act of anger. Jesus stayed overnight in Bethany, probably at the home of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, and the next day chased the buyers and sellers out. What our Lord did was carefully conceived, a response that God the Son gave to the people of God for failing to love God and love others. After Jesus did what He did, the Bible says:

John 2:17 … {Jesus’ disciples} remembered that it was written, The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up.

Word Study: Which is a quotation from Psalm 69:9. The word zeal is the Greek ζῆλος zēlos, {pronounced dzay’-los} which means “passion, indignation, jealousy for”. Jesus was INDIGNANT against these people. God had saved Israel, a wondrous act of Grace, and established Israel as His Beloved. Israel should be praising God, worshiping God, especially on this, the Day of Pentecost.

  • Jesus chased out the SELLERS with a whip. Instead of making a profit, they should have been assisting their fellow believers to worship God in spirit and in truth. Did not God tell the Priests of Israel in the Law:

Leviticus 19:18 … thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself: I am the Lord.

The Priests of God should not have allowed this to go on in the Temple. This is a place of worship. If a brother or sister in the Lord had no sacrifice to give God on the Passover, shouldn’t that brother have assisted instead of profiting?

  • Jesus chased out the BUYERS with a whip. They were not showing love to God in the offering of their sacrifice. God the Son said,

John 14:15, 21 If ye love me, keep my commandments. … [21] He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.

The Apostle also said,

1 John 5:2-3 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.

God did not tell His people to sacrifice the Lamb on the Passover just after purchasing it in the Temple.

In Exodus 12:1-11 God told His people that the Lamb was set aside on the tenth day of the Passover month. It was then brought into your home until the fourteenth day of the month (Exodus 12:3, 6). What was the point of this?

The Bible tells us that the Law was a tool that God used to teach us about Jesus Christ and our need for the Savior. The Apostle said:

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

The Law cannot save – but it teaches the need of salvation. The Law points to Christ. The Apostle said:

Galatians 2:16 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.

The Lamb that was sacrificed by each family on the Passover was symbolic of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God Who would come to take our sins away. When Jesus began ministering on the earth, God Incarnate, He walked among mankind for 3.5 years or so. When the Passover Lamb was to be chosen, it was to be taken into your very home, and cherished, for over 3.5 days. That Lamb was symbolic of Christ.

By coming to the Passover empty handed, then purchasing a lamb quickly, just before killing it, you violated the Law, the lesson that God was trying to teach. This shows a lack of love for God. If we love God, we do what He says.

God loves us so very much. Jesus addresses those who sell DOVES:

John 2:16 … unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise.

God made salvation – His Passover – available to all. Though the Passover Lamb was to be slain, there were some families in Israel that were poor, and could not afford a Lamb. To these God our Savior said in:

Leviticus 5:7 …. if he be not able to bring a lamb, then he shall bring for his trespass, which he hath committed, two turtledoves, or two young pigeons, unto the Lord; one for a sin offering, and the other for a burnt offering”.

Salvation is for all. Jesus Christ came for all. Jesus did not come just for a certain people, but for the very least and the very less. Oh, how God loves you and me!

Bless The Whip The Brings Us To Christ

The Scribes, Pharisees, and Priests were not pleased with Jesus. They came to Jesus, and said …

John 2:18 … the Jews and said unto him, What sign shewest thou unto us, seeing that thou doest these things?

Word Study: The word translated sign is the Greek σημεῖον sēmeîon, {pronounced say-mi’-on} which means “an indication, a miracle, a wonder, a token by which a person is distinguished above another”. The Pharisees and Sadducees often sought Jesus for a “sign from Heaven” (Matthew 16:1). They wanted to know “By what authority do You – a mere carpenter’s son – do this?” But Jesus is much more than a carpenter’s Son. Jesus is the Son of God. Jesus is the Son of God Who came to fulfill the Passover. He is what the Passover looked forward to.

Jesus didn’t ask them what I would have asked. I would have asked, “How can you do these things, and say you love God?” But Jesus knew that their hearts had no love for God. So Jesus said simply this:

John 2:19-21 Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. 20 Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days? 21 But he spake of the temple of his body.

They didn’t understand what Paul would later say:

1 Timothy 1:15 … Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.

Jesus came into this world on a mission. Jesus did not come to erase the Law, but to fulfill the Law.

Matthew 5:17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.

No one can be saved by the animal sacrifices. The sacrifices – like the Passover Lamb – were all foreshadows of what Jesus Christ would do on the Cross of Calvary. This Jesus, Who lovingly whipped those in the Temple back to righteousness, would soon be whipped Himself. Jesus knew this was coming. He prophesied of Himself:

Matthew 20:19 {the Pharisees and Chief Priests} shall deliver him {Jesus} to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge mastigóō, and to crucify him {Jesus}: and the third day he shall rise again.

Jesus Christ, the Real Passover Lamb, would die for the sins of the world. He would be scourged. He would be beaten. Not because of anything He did, but because of the sins that we do and did. The Prophet said of Jesus:

Isaiah 55:3-6 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. 4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. 5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

Jesus’ Temple – His Body – would be broken, destroyed, buried. He would die so that we who believe in Him could be inhabited by God, Children of God forever. If you receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, believing He died for your sins and rose again for your salvation, then God inhabits your life. The Apostle said:

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

The Temple today is every believer in Jesus Christ. The Church building is not a Temple. The Temple is the believer, united with Christ by faith. The Temple is where a relationship with God is.

Do you know Jesus? If so, you are to love God with ALL your heart. You are to love your neighbors as you love yourself. You are to keep His commandments. The Bible says:

Hebrews 12:6 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.

God bless the whip that brings us to Jesus. God bless the whip that causes us to cry out to the Lord, seeking salvation in Him. God bless the whip that reminds us that we desperately need Jesus – not just for Heaven, but for every day we draw breath on this earth. If you do not know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, today would be a wonderful day to give yourself to Him!

Oh how He loves you, oh how He loves me, oh how He loves you and me.

May God the Holy Spirit and His blessed Scripture draw you into the family of God this very day. Amen and amen.

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Our Business Is God’s Kingdom

God is light
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John 1:10-14 He {Jesus} was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. {11} He came unto his own, and his own received him not. {12} But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: {13} Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. {14} And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.”

Why Are We Here Today? Why Am I A Christian?

When Sherry and I were stationed in England for the United States Air Force we had the wonderful opportunity of riding these big red double decker buses in London. We’d taker our boys to the top floor of the bus – an upper “uncovered” floor – and enjoy a wonderful view as we rode around town. It was wonderful to ride those buses – that is, when you could get on them.

There were several times when our family was waiting at a bus stop, excited to ride the bus … and the bus driver passed us by without stopping! It wasn’t just us, but this happened frequently throughout London. Someone finally complained about this to the London Transit Authority, the organization that maintains the city buses. The London Transit Authority issued a public paper that stated the following:

It is impossible for us to maintain our schedule if we are always having to stop and pick up passengers”

The Transit Authority forgot what its purpose is. Without passengers, the bus is useless. Without passengers, the Transit Authority makes no money. The business of the London Transit Authority is to take people around town in buses.

What Is The Business Of The Church?

The Business of the Church is to introduce the Lord Jesus and His Kingdom to a world that neither knows Him, nor wants to know Him. We are Light bearers & Seed sowers.

In our text today we see a tension between Jesus and the world He made. Jesus made the world. Jesus made every person who has ever been made. The Bible says:

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

The Bible says All things were made by him. That’s Jesus. The Apostle Paul said of Jesus:

Colossians 1:15-18 Who {that’s Jesus} is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature {Jesus is the Source of all life}: 16 For by him {that’s 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 {that’s Jesus}, and for him {that’s Jesus}: 17 And he {that’s Jesus} is before all things, and by him {that’s Jesus} all things consist {are held together}. 18 And he {that’s Jesus} is the head of the body, the church…

The Business of the Church is to tell others about Jesus, and as they believe on Him this will bring the Kingdom of God more and more to this present world.

We share what Jesus did for us to the lost. Our intent is not to make the world more religious. Our intent is not to bring more Baptists into the Church. Our intent is to share Jesus with others through prayer, through sharing, through growing more aware of Biblical truth.

Jesus sent His disciples into the world to offer people a relationship with God through Jesus Christ our Lord. You cannot offer what you do not have. You must first have a daily relationship with Jesus, following Him and loving Him. It is the lovers of Jesus Christ that inhabit the Kingdom of God.

But it’s a battle. It’s always been a battle. Our text tells us that when Jesus Christ HIMSELF was in the world, that …

John 1:10 He {Jesus} was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew him not.

When Jesus Christ began His earthly ministry, He was spurned by the world He was in. When Philip of Bethsaida met Jesus, he ran to his friend Nathaniel, and told him:

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

Oh, how EXCITED Philip was! “We have found the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Come on! Let’s go see Him.” Nathaniel’s response is like most of those in the world. Nathaniel said:

John 1:46 … Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?

Oh Beloved, Jesus came to an Israel that He loved FIRST, because … and hear me – God always keeps His promises. God promised Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David that Messiah would come through Israel. Time passed, and Israel drew far away from God. But “God is faithful!” (1 Corinthians 1:9).

John 1:11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not.

His own (people) received him not. When Jesus came to the synagogue at Nazareth and began to teach, His own (people)refused to hear Him. They said:

John 1:54-57 Whence hath this man {Jesus} this wisdom, and these mighty works? 55 Is not this the carpenter’s son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas? 56 And his sisters, are they not all with us? Whence then hath this man all these things? 57 And they were offended in him.

Jesus created this world. When Jesus Christ came into the world, born of a Virgin (Luke 2:7), He did not suddenly “come into being”, nor was He “born” as a baby is born. Jesus came into the world a baby, wrapped in swaddling clothes, with a feed pen for His bed – but this was merely the outward package that God chose to wear. Jesus entered the world the way He did because of a promise God made, found in:

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

Immanuel (or Emmanuel) means “God with us” (Matthew 1:23). God, through His Scripture and His prophets, foretold that the Messiah would come into this world through a virgin. This was a supernatural birth. “That holy thing which shall be born of thee {Mary} shall be called the Son of God.” (Luke 1:35).

God came into the world through a virgin,
Just as God said He would.
The God Who came into the world made the world.
This God-Man, Jesus, is the Creator of all things.
He came to rescue sinners, and to establish His Kingdom.
But the world, the cosmos, does not know Him.

There Is A Kingdom Of Light (of Christ)
And A Kingdom of Darkness (of Adam)

There is a kingdom of darkness – the fallen world and satan – and a Kingdom of Light – the saved believer and Jesus Christ. These two kingdoms are always in opposition to one another. The Kingdom of Light is driven by love for Jesus. Our Lord said:

Matthew 10:37 He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.

There is a battle for men & women’s souls going on. The world and those who embrace it are comfortable in their darkness. We are told in our context that Jesus Christ came into the world to bring LIGHT. And yet,

John 1:5 … the light (that’s Jesus) shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

When Jesus Christ walked on this earth, He gave a perfect expression of the love of God. Everywhere Jesus walked the Glory of God shined round about Him. He touched, caressed, loved, healed, replaced, raised – Jesus Christ walked this earth as a perfect expression of God in the flesh. In love, God the Son reached out and lovingly healed people time and time again. And yet, Jesus was largely rejected. Why? Our Lord Jesus told us in:

John 3:19-21 … this is the condemnation, that light (that’s Jesus) is come into the world, and men loved darkness (that’s sin & self) rather than light (that’s Jesus), because their deeds were evil. 20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light (that’s Jesus), neither cometh to the light (that’s Jesus), lest his deeds should be reproved. 21 But he that doeth truth cometh to the light (that’s Jesus), that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.

What is happening in the world today is the same thing that has happened since the beginning of humanity in Eden. There are two Kingdoms – the kingdom of Adam, and the Kingdom of God (that’s Jesus). These two kingdoms are at war with one another. The first shot was fire in Eden when Adam followed the created rather than the Creator.

The Creator said “Don’t eat of that tree”, but the created said “Do”. Adam, the created, followed the created rather than the Creator.

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

All humanity fell into spiritual death. All humanity became blinded to the Light of God. All humanity turned away from the Kingdom of God and turned toward the kingdom of many gods. If you are a part of Jesus’ Kingdom, you follow the King of Light, not the darkness of the created. Jesus said:

John 8:12 … I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

Those who are Christ’s walk together, following Jesus, walking in the light. The lost do not do this. The lost, comfortable in the darkness, feel that they do not need Jesus. The devil, his demons, and the fallen themselves conspire to hide the glorious Gospel of salvation from the world. The Apostle saw this, and said:

2 Corinthians 4:3-4 But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: {4} In whom the god of this world (that’s the devil) hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God (that’s Jesus), should shine unto them.

Though salvation is free to all who will accept it, you must be led by God to repent or turn away from sin and – with arms wide open – receive Jesus Christ as Savior & Lord. We plant the seed. God shines the light.

Once saved, Jesus said that you enter His Kingdom of Light. Jesus said:

John 12:46 I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness.

As believers in Christ, we continually try and share Christ – the Light of God – with a blind world. We share – we do not coerce or force. There was a Christian barber, who, after prayer, thought that he should share his faith with his customers. The next morning when the barber got up out of bed, he prayed, “Lord, give me an opportunity to share my faith today”. Opening his shop up, an elderly gentleman came in and said, “I need a shave”. Of course, sir, hop up in the chair. I’ll be with you in a moment. The Christian barber went in the back room and prayed: “Lord, You’ve sent someone for me to witness to. Give me the wisdom to know just what to say. Amen!”. The barber approached the customer with a razor glinting in one hand, and a Bible, saying “Good morning! Are you ready to die?”.

What we are offering in Christ to people is not just death insurance – but life insurance. Eternal life insurance. Jesus died to make payment for our sins, but Jesus rose from the grave to show us that sin itself is to die.

If you profess to be a Christian, and think that you are saved so you can freely sin & walk in darkness, then the devil has deceived you You quite probably aren’t a Christian!

Children of the Kingdom are not bound to sin. The Scripture says:

Romans 6:18 Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.

Romans 6:22 But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.

Matthew 1:21 … Jesus will save His people FROM their sins

Jesus came to “take away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). Christ cannot be seen by those dead in their sins – but we who are Christians, alive unto God, born again by the Blood of the Lamb, are children of the Kingdom of Light. We are to be Light.

When A Nation Rejects Jesus, It Is Imperiled

John 1:11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not.

When Messiah came, Israel as a nation rejected Jesus. Why? 1. Israel blended with the world, and 2. Israel moved from a relationship with God to religion. And yet, God is faithful. God promised in:

Psalms 89:3-4 I have made a covenant with my chosen, I have sworn unto David my servant, Thy seed will I establish for ever, and build up thy throne to all generations. Selah.

God made this promise – the promise that the Messiah would come through the line of David – because David loved God. If Israel had continued to walk in a relationship with God as David did, then perhaps the nation would have celebrated and recognized the coming of Jesus. But Israel forgot their calling, and began to worship religion rather than a relationship with God. Jesus warned Israel when He said:

Luke 13:5-9 I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. {6} He spake also this parable; A certain man had a fig tree {the fig tree is a picture of Israel} planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none. {7} Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground? {8} And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it: {9} And if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down.

If God Cut Down The Fig Tree Israel,
He Can Cut Down The Stars & Stripes

The hope of our nation is Jesus Christ. We must remember Jesus’ command, a command given just before He ascended unto Heaven. He said:

Acts 1:8 … ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

Jesus suffered and died to save sinners like you and I. Jesus suffered on Calvary to “save a wretch like me”. Jesus was:

Isaiah 53:3 despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows (that’s Jesus), and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him (that’s Jesus); he was despised (that’s Jesus), and we esteemed him not.

Jesus did that for you and I. Jesus did that for every sinner who walks this earth. Jesus died for the straight, the gay, the transsexual, the queer. Jesus died for the murderer, the liar, the slanderer, the gossip. Jesus died for the self righteous, and the pure evil. Jesus died for all, that whosoever will can come to Him and be saved both from and out of their sin.

We who are Christ’s by faith are walking billboards for His Kingdom. We represent our Jesus!

1 Corinthians 10:31 Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.

As Christians in this evil world we must be careful to keep our Church centered on glorifying Jesus, our Blessed Savior. We must encourage one another to walk as the Scripture commands the children of God to walk, in Love to both God and Man. Many churches have become entertainment factories, as divorced from Christ as the Israel that rejected Him. Many who claim Christ as Savior no longer support God’s Church with either attendance or tithe. Yet the Church, as was Israel in the Old Testament, is God’s means for evangelizing the Lost while glorifying the Savior Jesus Christ.

During World War II every building, every Church house in Ireland was kept in “blackout” conditions after a certain time every night. Preachers spoke to congregations in darkened buildings. Lights were extinguished, lest the Germans see the light and drop bombs on the church buildings in town. One preacher, Donald Grey Barnhouse, was speaking when someone accidentally turned the lights ON in the church. The congregation gasped, and Barnhouse stopped speaking. One man cried out “What happened! Why did he stop preaching?” Someone had to explain to that man what happened, because, you see, that man was blind. The blind cannot see the light. The Church has to tell the blind about the Light that is Jesus!

The Saved Are Supernatural Sons Of God

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

  • A son of God is born not of blood. Your mother or father’s salvation does not apply to your account. Your grandmother or grandfather’s salvation does not pass down to you. It is “not of blood”. Friend, Jesus said “… YOU must be born again.” (John 3:7)
  • A son of God is born not of the will of the flesh. There is no good work that you can do in the flesh that will bring you into Christ’s Kingdom. Jesus said, “the work of God is this: believe in the One the Father has sent” (John 6:29).

John 3:6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

  • A son of God is born not of the will of man. I cannot make you be saved. I cannot do as that barber did with his razor. As much as I’d love to see every soul on this earth in Heaven, you must make the choice. I pray you choose to believe in Jesus.

Only in Jesus will you find the life God wants you to live. Oh Beloved, come. Hear the Spirit’s cry. Call out to Jesus. Repent, and be saved. May God the Holy Spirit and His Word move you this very day. Amen and amen!

Oswald Chambers wrote, “The greatest characteristic a Christian can exhibit is this completely unveiled openness before God, which allows that person’s life to become a mirror for others. When the Spirit fills us, we are transformed, and by beholding God we become mirrors. You can always tell when someone has been beholding the glory of the Lord, because your inner spirit senses that he mirrors the Lord’s own character. Beware of anything that would spot or tarnish that mirror in you.” (My Utmost for His Highest)

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Christians Are The Church

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Please turn with me in your Bibles to 1 Corinthians chapter 12:

1 Corinthians 12:1 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant.

I enjoyed Ronnie Burn’s teaching last Wednesday night. He covered a lot of good doctrinal teachings. One thing that Ronnie brought up was the often heard statement,
“I Don’t Have To Go To Church To Be A Christian”

Ronnie’s response to this was “you don’t have to go home to your wife to be married”. That’s a good response. A husband who never goes home to his wife is indeed a poor husband. A Christian who never assembles with other Christians is indeed a poor Christian. You enter the Christian way of life by faith alone in Christ alone. The early Protestant Reformed Church called this Sola Christus, “Through Christ Alone”. Salvation comes to a person who, repenting of their sins, receives the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior. As an old time Evangelist Vance Havner once said,

“Going to Church doesn’t make you a Christian, any more than
going to the garage makes you a car!”

Going TO a PLACE never makes a POSITIVE spiritual difference! You can faithfully go TO a place – like the Temple or the Church house – and be far away from God. Jesus illustrated this in Luke Chapter 18. A Pharisee went TO the Temple, but the Publican stood OUTSIDE the Temple. Listen to this:

Luke 18:11-14 The Pharisee stood {in the Temple} and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. 12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. 13 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

The Pharisee went TO the TEMPLE, but was FAR from God. The Publican stayed OUTSIDE the TEMPLE, and yet God “justified” him. Going TO a PLACE does not save you! Never has, and never will.

Biblically, The Church Is Not
A Building That You Go To

I want to re-examine that question, “Must I go TO Church to be saved?” I submit to you that this, in itself, is a bad question. In the Old Testament the TEMPLE was a shadow of what God would one day do in Christ. People went TO the TEMPLE to make sacrifice for sins. These were shadows of the Cross. No one was ever actually SAVED by animal sacrifices. It was but a temporary thing. Under Christ, we no longer go TO the TEMPLE. Listen, Beloved,

EVERY BELIEVER IS A TEMPLE!

This is clearly taught in the Scriptures. We read:

1 Corinthians 3:16 Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?

And again, 1 Corinthians 6:19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?

Preach This!: If the TEMPLE is the Christian, then WHAT IS “THE CHURCH”? The Church is a GATHERING of TEMPLES, of believers in Christ. Temples are commanded to gather together. Temples are forced to be together. Scripturally,

If you are SAVED, you are COMMANDED and MADE to connect together with other believers as a “Church”!

The word “Church” is first found in the New Testament from the lips of Jesus Christ. Jesus said in:

Matthew 16:18 … upon this rock I will build MY CHURCH

The Church belongs to Jesus. The Christian belongs to Jesus. You read that earlier in 1 Corinthians 6:19: your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?

Word Study: You do not belong to you anymore. You belong to Jesus. The word “Church” is the Greek is the Greek ἐκκλησία ekklēsia which means “those who are CALLED OUT of this world”. You no longer belong to this world. You belong to Jesus if you are saved. You are created to walk in union with others who are saved.

The second time the word “Church” occurs in Scripture is when Jesus discusses CONFLICT RESOLUTION in the gathering of believers. I don’t have time to go into this (it is another sermon), but it is found in Matthew 18:15-20.

The third time the word “Church” occurs in Scripture is in the Book of Acts. The Apostle Peter has been preaching faith in Christ to a crowd on the Day of Pentecost. The Bible says:

Acts 2:40-41 … with many other words did {Peter} testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation. 41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.

Those who “gladly received his word were baptized”. These who were baptized were “added unto them about three thousand souls”. The 120 Christians in the upper room grew by 3000 – now there are 3120 believers in Jesus. These believers did not scatter, but assembled together to worship the Lord. THEY HAD NO CHURCH BUILDING, BUT MET IN THE TEMPLE ON SOLOMON’S PORCH. We read:

Acts 2:42-47 And they {the disciples} continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. 43 And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. 44 And all that believed were together, and had all things common; 45 And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. 46 And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, 47 Praising God, and having favor with all the people.

The Church – a group of Temples – gathered for four reasons: “the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers”. Now here’s the clincher. The Bible says:

Acts 2:47 …. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.

The saved are part of the Church. The two go hand in hand. The saved belong to Jesus. The Church belongs to Jesus. The saved gather together.

It is popular today among Generation X (those born after the Baby Boomers) and Millennials to disregard and minimize the Church. I come across articles all the time like “12 Reasons Millenials (sic) Are Over The Church”, or “Why millennials are leaving the church (sic)” where well meaning young people bash the Church for not addressing their needs. One writer said,

“We want to ask questions that don’t have predetermined answers.”

In other words, the Bible is not cherished as the final source of truth. The writer went on to say, “We want our LGBT friends to feel truly welcome in our faith communities”. A Bible affirming Church will love the LGBT community, but they will be quite uncomfortable under the preaching of Bible truths. So will those engaged in heterosexual sex outside of marriage, which is sin. Here’s the bottom line:

The Church – the gathering of Temples that belong to Jesus – is Christ’s property. Jesus Christ is the Head of His Church.

Ephesians 1:22 And {God the Father} put all things in subjection under {Jesus Christ’s} feet, and gave {Jesus} as head over all things to the church …

Ephesians 5:23 … the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. (this verse has many of the lost hopping mad!)

Jesus also is Head of the Body, the Church (Colossians 1:18). Why should we gather as the Church? Why MUST we gather as the Church? Because:

Spiritual Power Is Found Only In The Gathered Church

1 Corinthians 12:1-2 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant. 2 Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led.

The “APOSTLE’S DOCTRINE” we are talking about in this gathering of the Church is “SPIRITUAL GIFTS”. Spiritual gifts are so very important. Why? The Apostle tells us that “ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led”. When we were unsaved, without Christ, we were LED ABOUT by DUMB IDOLS. What is a DUMB IDOL? Well, an IDOL is a false god or goddess, something that is not the True God, but an imitator that is not God but pretends to be God. The IDOL is “DUMB”. The word translated “DUMB” is the Greek ἄφωνος aphōnos, which means “without a voice, without significance, unmeaning, destitute of the power of language”. An idol has no authority, no voice, no sense. When we were lost we followed the senseless foolishness that the world itself follows. We see these things in our world today:


Gender Disphoria (A male desiring to be female, etc)
Redefinition of Marriage (same sex)
Normalization of Abortion
Critical Race Theory as new racism

These things were just as prevalent in the ancient Roman and Grecian worlds as they are in our current America. Why? Because the farther a person draws away from God, the more empty and “dumb” their LOGOS becomes. When King Solomon drew away from a daily relationship with Christ, he wrote:

Ecclesiastes 1:2-3 Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity. 3 What profit hath a man of all his labor which he taketh under the sun?

Life becomes empty – just mere existence – when we draw away from Christ. The Apostles did not want the Christian to go down this path. If you do not stand together, Christians, then satan will tear you apart. Thus the Church. The Church is where the power of God is vested. When the Church comes together, loving God and loving one another, it has spiritual power. When the Church comes together and works together in love – both vertical and horizontal – then Jesus is in our midst. It does not matter how small the gathering is. Jesus said:

Matthew 18:20 where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

A mega-Church is not more effective than a mini-Church is. As long as the Temples are “gathered together in MY NAME”, under the authority of Jesus, seeking to please Him and Him alone.

The Church is Christ centered.

1 Corinthians 12:3 Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.

When someone says that Jesus is “accursed” (Greek ἀνάθεμα anáthema) – when Christ and His teachings are minimized or disregarded, when Christ is outside of the assembly or excommunicated – then it is certain that the Spirit of God is not in the assembly. There are many gatherings of professing Christians today that fall into this category. When the local Church gathers, the main subject will always be Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “the Holy Ghost, Whom the Father will send in My Name, He shall teach you ALL THINGS, and bring ALL THINGS TO YOUR REMEMBRANCE, (listen now), whatsoever I HAVE SAID UNTO YOU” (John 14:26). If someone denigrates or ignores what Jesus has taught, this is idolatrous or dumb teachings. However, if what has been said emphasizes “Jesus is the Lord”, then this is Holy Spirit driven guidance.

It is in the gathering of believers that the Holy Spirit operates. Bible teacher A.W. Tozer some 50 years ago said:

“If the Holy Spirit was withdrawn from the church today, 95 percent of what we do would go on and no one would know the difference. If the Holy Spirit had been withdrawn from the New Testament church (in Acts), 95 percent of what they did would stop, and everybody would know the difference.”

The Evangelist Vance Havner wrote:

“We are seeing much today of service without the Spirit. There is an appalling ignorance of the Person and work of the Holy Spirit in our great church bodies. It is not what is done for God that counts, but rather what is done by Him, the work of His Spirit through our yielded wills. Programs, propaganda, pep, personnel, these are not enough. There must be power. God’s work must be done by God’s people God’s way. The Quakers got their name from the fact that they trembled under the power of the Spirit. At least their faith shook them! Too many of us today are shaky about what we believe but not shaken by what we believe!”

When the Church comes together in love toward God and toward one another, the Holy Spirit moves through the meeting. The Apostle notes:

1 Corinthians 12:4-7 Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. 6 And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. 7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.

The Apostle Paul was trained by the Rabbi Gamaliel, and you can see his education in this text. What Paul is telling us quite simply is this:

The Holy Spirit is in each believer gathered together as Church. The Holy Spirit will manifest different gifts through each believer in the Church gathering. These gifts all benefit the whole of the gathering of believers, the Church. These gifts are not given so they can be used selfishly, but generously, to the glory of Jesus.

In verse 7 we read “the MANIFESTATION (outward evidence) of the (Holy) Spirit is given to every person to profit (bless) withal (with all).” The Apostle then begins to number some of the gifts that are given by the Spirit to the Church:

1 Corinthians 12:8-10 For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; 9 To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; 10 To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:

These “gifts” are not talents that a person has. These are Holy Spirit driven manifestations that were evident in the early Church. What gifts are given by the Holy Spirit are based upon the spiritual needs of that gathering, of that Church. Who determines the gifts given? We read:

1 Corinthians 12:11 But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.

It is the Holy Spirit Who determines the giftings given to each gathering of believers. The intent of the Holy Spirit is to UNIFY the body of believers – the Church – into a cohesive body, with Jesus Christ as the Head of that gathering.

1 Corinthians 12:12-14 For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. 13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. 14 For the body is not one member, but many.

It is the Holy Spirit Who unites the members together into One Body, One Gathering, One Church. A disharmonious Church is NOT Spirit driven. When there is division and confusion in the assembly, this is because the members are not honoring Jesus, and the Holy Spirit is not empowered.

It Is Pride & Selfishness That Destroys Churches

1 Corinthians 12:15-20 If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? 16 And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? 17 If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? 18 But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. 19 And if they were all one member, where were the body? 20 But now are they many members, yet but one body.

Every member in the gathering of believers is important – but not every believer has the same giftings. The Church only works when every believer:

1.  Loves God with their all, and loves their neighbor as Jesus has commanded (Matthew 22:37-39). 
2.  Loves their fellow believer just as Jesus sacrificially loved us (John 13:34; 15:12, 17).
3.  Loves God enough to be open to His leading, to discovering and utilizing your spiritual gift in the gathering.
4.  Suppresses their own pride, but is willing to lovingly serve rather than to be served.

The Apostle Paul said, “Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law” (Romans 13:8). You cannot love as Jesus loved over the Internet. You cannot love as Jesus loved through a phone text. The Kingdom of God grows as our love for one another and for God grows. We are to have – “through the Spirit of God a unfeigned or pure love toward our brothers and sisters in Christ” (1 Peter 1:22). God calls us as believers to gather with other believers in assemblies called “Churches” for the glory of Christ and the furtherance of God’s Kingdom. I want to end with these Apostolic words:

1 Corinthians 12:23-27 And those members of the body, which we think to be less honorable, upon these we bestow more abundant honor; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness. (think about your feet. I have ugly feet – but oh, how I love them!) 24 For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honor to that part which lacked. 25 That there should be no schism (no division) in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. 26 And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honored, all the members rejoice with it. 27 Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.

The Christian is God’s Temple.
The Temples gather together as the Church.
The Church operates by the Holy Spirit,
To love God, and love one another.

May God the Holy Spirit touch your hearts by this teaching, for Christ’s glory in this present age. Amen and amen!

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The Heart Of The Child Of God

Control your heart!
Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

Psalm 51:17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.

The message for today is “The Heart Of The Child of God”. How can you tell a Christian from a non-Christian? It is based on the heart. Listen Beloved:

The only way you can enter the
Family of God is by repentance

Repentance is the bowing down of the human will to the will of God. Without repentance, there can be absolutely NO salvation.

Repentance is the heart willingly bowing to Jesus Christ as Savior.
Repentance is the hand of faith reaching out, and grasping God’s hand.
Repentance is in the broken spirit and in the crushed and bleeding heart.
Repentance is when one cries out to God, “Uncle! I give up!”
Without repentance, the Holy Spirit will not come to you,
to cause your new birth.

Word Study Repent is the Greek μετανοέω metanoéō, {pronounced met-an-o-eh’-o}, which means “to change the mind, to reconsider”, and is a key word in soteriology, the Doctrine of Salvation. Repentance is the first part of every ancient sermon. If you have never repented, then you are never saved by grace. The Herald of Christ, John the Baptist preached,

Matthew 3:2 … Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

The Incarnate Son of God, Jesus Christ clearly preached,

Matthew 4:17 … Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

The Apostles went out preaching,

Acts 3:19 … Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord

Repentance is the first requirement of salvation. Repentance recognizes that neither I nor you are God nor gods, but there is but One God, and Jesus Christ his Messiah. The men of Ninevah repented at the preaching of Jonah (Matthew 12:51), and God spared that city destruction. Jesus told us all:

Luke 13:3 except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.

To repent is to say that God is right, and I am wrong. To repent is to not just internally change your mind, but to externally change your direction. A person is saved when genuine repentance comes. Jesus said,

Luke 15:10 … there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.

God offers salvation to every person through Christ. There was a time in human history where God “winked at” the foolishness of man, “but now commandeth all men every where to repent” (Acts 17:30).

Repentance is in the very heart of the Christ follower.

Greg Morse from Desiring God ministries noted:

If someone’s conversion to God is true,
lifelong repentance will follow. …

… The mouth of one not born again can say true things for a time. Unchanged eyes can cry. A dead tongue can sincerely sing worship songs for a season. And turning away from Christ, repenting of him, can prove it all was false.”

When Augustinian Monk Martin Luther rejected the false teachings of the Catholic Church of his day, he nailed 95 Theses or statements of faith on the exterior of the Church door. The very first of these statements was:

When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, “Repent” (Matthew 4:17), He willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.

I was ordained to ministry August 22, 1999. Since preaching the Gospel these past 21 years and 11 months, God has blessed me to see the seed sown come forth into new eternal life. I have baptized very many people, and many continue this day in service to Jesus. Yet there are some who, as Jesus said:

Received the {gospel} seed in stony places. They heard the Word of God, and with joy received it, but had no root in themselves. Tribulation or persecution came because of God’s Word, and they fell away”. (my paraphrase of Matthew 13:20-21)

They just didn’t last. I remember one young lady that I baptized four times at her request. The problem was, she – and the others who fell away – had no genuine salvation. Genuine salvation – Holy Spirit created, and Christ purchased – endures or overcomes. The Apostle said:

1 John 2:19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.

Word Study “They went out”. This is the Greek ἐξέρχομαι exérchomai, {pronounced ex-er’-khom-ahee}, which means “to leave an assembly, forsake a people, to flow away from the body”. The same word is used in Matthew 10:14 when our Lord said:

whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out (exérchomai) of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet.”

At the first Lord’s Table, it was Judas Iscariot who went out before the Table was served. He went out to betray Jesus for thirty pieces of silver.

John 13:30 {Judas} then having received the sop went immediately out (exérchomai eutheōs): and it was night.

Now certainly exérchomai is not always used in a negative sense – it can refer to leaving on a more positive note. But in our context of 1 John 2:19 it is clearly used in a negative sense.

Christian, You May Sin Grievously,
But God Forgives Generously

Pastor Greg Morse wrote, “Christians sin, and at times sin grievously. But they do not make a LIFESTYLE of sinning. It is impossible to do so. “No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him; and he cannot keep on sinning, because he has been born of God. (1 John 3:9). Those with the {Holy Spirit} repent of sin and turn away from it, encouraged by the disciple of a loving Father.

David is the writer of Psalm 51. Let’s think about David for a moment. God made a covenant with King David in 2 Samuel 7. This was an unconditional covenant that was reiterated in 1 Chronicles 17:11-14.

2 Samuel 7:12-15 And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He shall build an house for my name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever. 14 I will be his father, and he shall be my son. If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men: 15 But my mercy shall not depart away from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away before thee.

God made this unconditional covenant with David (called the Davidic Covenant). It was not long after this that King David betrayed God, committed adultery with a woman named Bathsheba, and had Uriah the Hittite, one of his mighty men of valor, murdered (see 2 Samuel 11). The Bible says “the thing that David had done displeased the Lord” (2 Samuel 11:27).

David committed sexual sin.
David lied.
David conspired, drawing others into his sin.
David betrayed a friend, an honorable man.
David murdered this man to cover up his sin.

When the Pastor steps on your toes in the sermon, don’t get mad and quit the Church. Do like David did when Nathan challenged him. REPENT!

David not only repented, but he wrote Psalm 51, confessing his sin, and encouraging others to walk in the light with Christ. The Hebrew introduction to Psalm 51 reads:

[[To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David when Nathan the prophet came unto him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba]]

David vs Saul vs Judas: David did not lose the covenant God made with him, nor is there any evidence that David lost his salvation. But David repented. What was the difference between David and his predecessor Saul? Saul had no root in himself. What was the difference between the eleven Apostles and Judas Iscariot? Judas had no root in himself. Both Saul and Judas lived and worked in proximity to the Lord, but there hearts were not given to the Lord. They were not born again. The Apostle Paul preached:

Acts 13:22 … when {God} had removed {Saul}, he raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he gave their testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfill all my will.

God looks at the heart. God knows who loves him, and who doesn’t. The Christian loves Christ. Jesus said:

John 8:42 … If God were your Father, ye would love me …

Judas Iscariot The Christian loves God. The Christian loves the Kingdom of God more than his or herself. The Christian is the One Who repents to be saved, and lives daily in a state of pliable repentance. Once more, consider Judas Iscariot. Judas was in proximity to Jesus for 3 ½ years. Yet he betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver.

When Judas Iscariot was confronted with his sin, he did not go to Jesus nor to God the Father to repent. Judas repented HIMSELF (Matthew 27:3). He did not go to God. He went to the chief priests and Pharisees, saying “I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood” (Matthew 27:4). What did Judas do then? He thought he would make it all better by his own hand! The Bible says:

Matthew 27:5 … {Judas} cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself.

Judas did not repent to God. Judas repented to man,
but David repented to God.

What did DAVID do when confronted with his sin? David cried out to God. Hear his words of repentance:

Psalm 51:1 Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.

Godly repentance – the repentance that a Child of God makes – leans into the MERCY of God.

David cried out, Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness. David is fascinated with the mercy and lovingkindness of God. The word lovingkindness is the Hebrew חֶסֶד cheçed, {pronounced kheh’-sed}, which means a loving kindness or goodness faithfully given to those in need. David’s heart was tender toward God, and he believed that – though he was imperfect – that the perfect God Who we love will always faithfully love His children. David knew himself to be frail and faulty, but believed God to always be faithful.

Godly repentance does not seek to “make it better”, but calls solely on God.

Psalm 51:2-3 Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. 3 For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.

The Child of God in sin will seek God’s grace by acknowledging their sin. The Child of God asks God to Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. The Child of God does not rename sin, nor justify sin, but acknowledges transgressions. We must confess – not justify but confess – our sins before God.

Sin is a horrible affront to God. David wrote:

Psalm 51:4 Against Thee, Thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.

I find this statement very intriguing. Against Thee, Thee only, have I sinned. C.H. Spurgeon wrote in Treasury of David:

The virus of sin lies in its opposition to God: the psalmist’s sense of sin towards others rather tended to increase the force of this feeling of sin against God. All his wrong doing centered, culminated, and came to a climax, at the foot of the divine throne. To injure our fellow men is sin, mainly because in so doing we violate the law of God. The penitent’s heart was so filled with a sense of the wrong done to the Lord himself, that all other confession was swallowed up in a broken hearted acknowledgment of offense against him.”

David sinned against Uriah and his wife, Bathsheba, but his primary sin was against the Lord Who saved him. When we sin, our sins are always exposed to God. The Apostle said in Hebrews 4:13,

all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of
Him with whom we have to do”

The Lord Jesus Christ paid for our sins on Calvary. We are bought with a price” (1 Corinthians 6:20), the Blood of Calvary. Let us “glorify God in our body and our spirit, for we belong to God”. We are “bought with a price” (1 Corinthians 7:23). Let us not live to please ourselves, or our neighbor. Let us live to please Him Who purchased us from damnation.

Psalm 51:7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

Word Study hyssop was a plant that the priests used to ceremonially cleanse a person from sin. In Leviticus 14:4-7 a blood dipped hyssop was sprinkled on a person seven times to cleanse them. David did not go to a priest or another fallen person for cleansing from sin. He went to God. Only God can forgive sin. Only Jesus can cleanse us of sin. Jesus said of Himself:

Luke 5:24 … ye may know that the Son of man hath power upon earth to forgive sins …

Man cannot forgive sins, but God can. The Incarnate God, Jesus Christ, can forgive sins.

Beware, Christian, For Sin Always Has Consequences

Psalm 51:8-9 Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice. 9 Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities.

If God seems far away, it is probably
because He is not your Lord!

The devil wants the Christian to hang on to his or her sin. If we hide the sin, if we ignore or rename the sin, we court not only the loss of our joy and gladness, but we open ourselves up to the discipline of God. David speaks as if he has been deafened. He said, Make me to hear joy and gladness. The Christian has the joy of the presence of God. God comes to His people, and SPEAKS to His people. There is nothing more joyous and gladdening to hear the sweet comfort of Jesus. Jesus said:

John 10:27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:

Active and unconfessed sin removes from us the word of the Lord. We cannot hear our great Shepherd when we are bound to worldliness and sin. There is nothing more blessed than, when the trials of life come, I can hear my Jesus. He whispers to my heart by His Spirit and His Word. What a JOY it is to be in Him.

Sin cannot reign in the Christian life. Either Christ is on the throne of your life, or darkness is. There is no joy in darkness. David cried out to God:

Psalm 51:10-11 Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. 11 Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy Holy Spirit from me.

Word Study The word translated Create is the Hebrew בָּרָא bârâʼ, {baw-raw’}, which means “to shape, or create something out of nothing”. This word is used in the very first verse of our Bible:

Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God CREATED {bârâʼ} …

Sin damages our souls, and brings with it death. Sin is like poison, or cancer. Where it resides, it brings death. The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). David cried out that God would restore to him a heart eaten up by sin, that God would “reset” his life from the evil he had done. David wanted to feel the presence of God once more. He said, take not thy Holy Spirit from me. God will not walk with us when we walk in darkness. We cannot lead God into the darkness. Like Prodigal Sons, sin takes us far from God’s presence … but God cherishes us, and wants us home. He wants us to be led of Him. The Scripture says:

Romans 8:14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God,
they are the sons of God.

Psalm 51:12-13 Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit. 13 Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee.

Closeness to God comes only by a repentant lifestyle!

We cannot be used of God while in sin. Christian, confess your sins unto God. Trust in Him. Please, never forget that though God will forgive sin, there are consequences to our sins. God told King David:

2 Samuel 12:10-12 Now therefore the sword shall never depart from thine house; because thou hast despised me, and hast taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be thy wife. 11 Thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will raise up evil against thee out of thine own house, and I will take thy wives before thine eyes, and give them unto thy neighbor, and he shall lie with thy wives in the sight of this sun. 12 For thou didst it secretly: but I will do this thing before all Israel, and before the sun.

There are consequences with sin. Let us avoid sin. When we step into sin, let us immediately seek our God, and cry out for forgiveness. Let us repent daily of our missteps. David’s son Solomon, the child of Bathsheba, would one day write in Proverbs 6:32-33,

But whoso committeth adultery with a woman lacketh understanding: he that doeth it destroyeth his own soul. A wound and dishonor shall he get; and his reproach shall not be wiped away.”

May God draw us ever closer to Him. May we all learn the repentant lifestyle that God calls us to. In Christ’s name I pray. Amen and Amen.

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Slow Down And Look

Photo by LOGAN WEAVER on Unsplash

Turn with me in your Bibles to John chapter 1.

In America today we are impressed by our technology, by the internet, by the powerful things that we have. We have “smart” phones and apps and WiFi. But I come from a simpler time.

I remember as a child the simple toys we had. Our toys were not high tech – but we had better relationships with one another.

My brother and I used to play soldiers on Grandpa Joe’s farm. Our weapons were simply tobacco sticks, and our jungle was the tobacco field. I remember my first radio was a little simple AM job that would fit in your pocket, and I believe the brand was Realistic. I remember 8 Track players, and my first tape recorder – a reel to reel model. There was a Christian show that came on every Sunday called Damascus Road. I remember dial up internet, and super slow speeds.

Everything we have today is faster, faster, faster. Recording tapes were replaced with Compact Disks, which were replaced with DVDs, and now most people “stream” their movies and music. When Sherry had our first child, she and the baby, a beautiful boy named Michael, stayed in the Base Hospital for three days. People have children now, and are home the next day. Heart surgery used to be a big deal, and you expected to spend weeks in the hospital. Now heart surgery is done one day, and you are home the next. As a boy I knew where the pay phones were so, if I was running late, I could call my parents on their one corded phone. Today everyone seems to have phones, and most people (not me, just yet) have smart phones.

We have SMART phones but NOT SO SMART people. When I was growing up, you memorized 15-20 phone numbers of people you were closest to. Now I can barely remember my number!

We want everything fast, fast, fast.

fast news
fast cars
fast relationships
fast food
fast medicine
fast religion

Fast religion is false religion. To learn of the God Who is requires simple – waiting upon the Lord – faith. We think ourselves advanced – but we are NOTHING compared to God. God describes Himself asיְהֹוָה Yᵉhôvâh, “The One Who Is”. God told Moses, I AM the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob”. God is immense. He is everywhere, and knows all things. David said:

Psalm 139:7-12 Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? 8 If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. 9 If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; 10 even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me. 11 If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me. 12 Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee. 13 For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb.

God calls whosoever will to a simple faith in Him.

Faith Is To Simply Watch And Wait Upon God

John the Baptist was given a simple commission from God. He was to go into the wilderness, and to baptize those whom God sent. It was in the wilderness – unplugged – that John found the Messiah.

John 1:29-33 The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. 30 This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me: for he was before me. 31 And I knew him not: but that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water. 32 And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him. 33 And I knew him not:…

This passage fascinates me. In the passage we see the witness of John the Baptist concerning Jesus Christ. Twice John tells us,I knew him not. This is the Greek eidō autos ou, and it carries the sense that

John knew Jesus as COUSIN, but not as CHRIST.

John the Baptist and Jesus were cousins. When Mary became with Child of the Holy Spirit, the Angel Gabriel told her:

Luke 1:36 And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren.

Mary, the mother of Jesus, and Elisabeth, the mother of John the Baptist, were cousins. Their children were cousins. They grew up not far apart, and perhaps played together as children. And yet John says, I knew him not. He knew Jesus as a cousin, but had no idea that He was the Messiah. How did John come to know that Jesus was the Messiah? John says:

John 1:33-34 But He that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost. 34 And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God

God told John, “Go out into the wilderness, and baptize the seekers I send you with water. The One Who comes to you with the Spirit of God descending on Him, this will be the Messiah.” What drove John to baptize faithfully, day after day, in the bleak wilderness, far from the city? The promise of God that as you baptize, as you do that which I tell you to do, as you heed Me, I will show you the Messiah. So day after day John the Baptist got up, and went out into the wilderness. He knew his calling. He knew what God told him to do. And with singleness of vision John looked for the Messiah.

Beloved, if you want to be blessed of God, you need to look for God. You need to wait upon God. You need to faithfully wait on Him. This is what John the Baptist did. God told him, “Go to the Jordan – baptize the ones I send your way – and look for the descending Spirit. That will be the Messiah!”

Psalm 27:14 Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.

Proverbs 20:22 Say not thou, I will recompense evil; but wait on the Lord, and he shall save thee.

Did not Abraham see the Lord in the plains of Mamre, when he watched and waited for God, going where ever the Lord said (Genesis 18)? Oh, we must wait on the Lord and His timing.

Did not Elisha ask Elijah for a double portion of his power, when that old man was going to be caught up by chariots of fire (2 Kings 2)? Did not Elijah say if you see me when I am caught up, you shall have the double portion? Elisha watched, and waited on God, and received the double portion.

What of King David? If David had killed King Saul, rather than waiting on the Lord, then his reign would not have been as powerful as it was. David kept his eyes on God, and saw God’s blessing. When David took his eyes off of God and put them on the wife of Uriah, he brought cursing on his home. .

Oh, we must wait on God!

The first generation of Israel would not have perish 40 years in the wilderness had their gaze been on God, and not on the sons of Anak (Numbers 13:33). Their corpses would not have littered the wilderness, and they would have inherited the Promise of God had they waited upon Him.

Moses was blessed time and time again when he waited on God. Had he kept his eyes on God in Numbers 20, then he himself would not have lost the Promised Land.

How we need to put our eyes upon God. To unplug, and look, and wait on Him. When we, like John the Baptist, look for God’s blessing, then we will be blessed. John looked for Jesus moment by moment. When he earlier saw Jesus, he saw a COUSIN. But it was only when John saw the Spirit of God did he know that this was the CHRIST. Pastor John H. Jowett wrote:

That is faith, to do God’s will here and now, quietly leaving the results to Him. Faith is not concerned with the entire chain; its devoted attention is fixed upon the immediate link. Faith is not knowledge of a moral process; it is fidelity in a moral act. Faith leaves something to the Lord: it obeys His immediate commandment, and leaves to Him the direction and destiny.”

Saving Faith Tells Others About Jesus

John 1:35-36 Again the next day after John stood, and two of his disciples; ..

Word Study Look again at the interesting wording of our text. The next day after John stood. The word “” is the Greek ἵστημι hístēmi, {pronounced his’-tay-mee}, which means “to make a stand, to stand up for”. The day before John stood up and said, “I am not the Christ, but THIS is the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world. THIS is the Messiah, the Savior and Lord we have waited for”. John was the ONLY ONE making this declaration, the only one standing for Jesus. But he made the stand.

Even if you are the only one, you must make a stand. God never does a great thing with great crowds. God uses the remnant, the few and the faithful, the Isaiahs and the Ezekiels and the Hoseas and the Habakkuks. I was reading an article the other day an article from Alpha and Omega Ministries on the American Revolutionary War:

I heard some revealing and somewhat surprising statistics about the American Revolutionary War. This war between the American people and British Empire was for our independence and self-governance. The statistics given were from the First American Revolution fought for our national freedom. I heard it reported that only 3% of the population fought in the war, 10% furnished supplies, 37% fought against us, and 50% did absolutely nothing. I know, shocking and disturbing percentages. That 3% was only a remnant of the total population, but God delivered this new and young nation from their adversary through them.”

It is often not the majority that makes the difference, but the committed and faithful minority, the remnant, that makes the difference. John stood up for Jesus.

John 1:36 …. {John} saith, Behold the Lamb of God!

Two of John’s followers hear him, and they begin to follow Jesus. If you notice in the text, only Andrew’s name is mentioned. We do not know who the other disciple is – God does not give us his name. There is a reason for this. Read again with me:

John 1:37-39 And the two disciples heard {John} speak, and they followed Jesus. 38 Then Jesus turned, and saw them following, and saith unto them, What seek ye? They said unto him, Rabbi, (which is to say, being interpreted, Master,) where dwellest thou? 39 He saith unto them, Come and see. They came and saw where he dwelt, and abode with him that day: for it was about the tenth hour.

Both Andrew and the other unnamed disciple follow Jesus. Both call Jesus Rabbi, a title used by the Jews to describe their teachers. What they meant in their hearts was that Jesus was a Master, the Greek διδάσκαλος didáskalos, {pronounced did-as’-kal-os}, or a “Master or Top Level Teacher”. They began to follow Jesus because, first of all, John pointed Jesus out. Secondly because Jesus told them to follow Him, to “come and see”. The Matthew Henry Commentary states:

{John the Baptist} was willing to turn them over to Christ, for to this end he bore witness to Christ in their hearing that they might leave all to follow Him, even that they might leave {John}. He did not reckon that he lost those disciples who went over from him to Christ, any more than the schoolmaster reckons that the scholar lost whom he sends to the university. John gathered disciples, not for himself, but for Christ to prepare them for the Lord.”

Genuine saving faith points others to Jesus. The purpose of any Church and any Pastor is not to point people to us, but to Jesus!

John would later tell his diminishing group of followers:

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.

We do not win people to the Church for the Church’s sake. We win people to the Kingdom of God for Christ’s sake. Jesus is the bridegroom, but we are not. Our mindset must be – MY MINDSET MUST BE – that {Jesus} must increase, but I must decrease. This is the only healthy mindset for those in the kingdom of God.

We point to Christ, not to ourselves.
We point to Jesus, not to the WE.
It’s ALL about JESUS! Period!

If people are receptive to the Gospel, they will hear Jesus say Come and see. Jesus asks every person “what do you seek?”. At that point, Andrew and the unnamed disciple have a choice. They can follow Jesus, or they can stay with John, or they can turn their back on God forever. Their choice – YOUR CHOICE, I hope – was to hear and follow Jesus. This takes TIME and COMMITMENT. Dr. Thomas Constable notes:

Only by coming to Jesus could {these men} really comprehend what they were seeking spiritually. The same thing holds true today. The two men accepted Jesus’ invitation and stayed with Him for the rest of that day.”

There is a freedom that comes in following Jesus. When we follow Jesus, we detach ourselves from our old way of life. We, in following Jesus, find ourselves in a better place. The Bible says:

Romans 6:17-23 God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. 18 Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness. 19 I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness. 20 For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness. 21 What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death. 22 But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. 23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Prior to following Jesus we all were hopelessly bound to sin. But the Lamb of God came, and, like Andrew and this other disciple, we begin to walk in the light of God with Christ. We do not deliberately yield our members over to sin, but ALL OF US follows Jesus. People seek Jesus because they, like these two disciples, are tired of the rat race, of the sin go round world. We who are saved are ready for something better – something we were created for,

We were created to walk with God. We were created to be in the family of God. We were created to follow Jesus. Not as Judas Iscariot followed Jesus – his was a following of hypocrisy. His faith was not focused on the Lord, but on money. The Scripture says:

John 12:6 {Judas Iscariot} was a thief, and had the {disciple’s treasury}, and {stole for himself} what was put therein.

Judas was with Jesus, but not of Jesus. As the Apostle John said:

1 John 2:19 … They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.

Those who are of the faith that saves are not just in proximity to Jesus, but they LOVE Jesus. We love Jesus because we know He is our Savior and Lord. Jesus Christ is our High Priest, the One and only One who brings us to God. As the Scripture says:

Hebrews 4:14-16 Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. 15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

Does God Know Your Name?

John 1:40-42 One of the two which heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. 41 He first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messiah, which is, being interpreted, the Christ. 42 And he brought him to Jesus. And when Jesus beheld him, he said, Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone.

I do not know why only one disciple, Andrew, is named of the two who followed Jesus. I suspect it has something to do with this:

Andrew told someone else about his faith in Jesus. Andrew led his brother to Christ.

Andrew responded to Jesus’ invitation. He “tasted that the Lord is gracious” (1 Peter 2:3). Andrew found his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messiah, which is, being interpreted, the Christ. And he brought him to Jesus. Andrew had been waiting for the Messiah, the Savior of God’s people. Now that he found Him, he wanted to tell those he loved about Jesus. He brought his brother Simon to Jesus. Jesus says to us:

Mark 8:38 Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.

Andrew merely led Simon to where Jesus was – and Jesus changed Simon to Peter. Only John among the Gospel writers gives the Greek transliteration Κηφᾶς Kēphâs, {pronounced kay-fas’} of Simon’s new name.” (NET Bible notes). Why did Jesus give Simon a new name? Because when a child is born, the parents give this child a name. Simon – a very common name in the Jewish world – was born again by faith in Christ.

Galatians 3:26 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.

Simon was no longer just plain old Simon. He belongs to Jesus now. God promises to every child of His that:

Revelation 3:12 Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.

Let us all turn our eyes upon Jesus. Let us simply focus on Him. Let us go home with Him, and lay down to rest at night with Him, and rise up in the morning with Him. Let us walk with Jesus, one moment at a time, one day at a time. Let us revel in His promises, and study His commands. Let us rest the pillars of our lives upon Him.

Where is your focus? If it is in Jesus daily, then your joy and confidence will not cease. Those who rest in Christ are blessed – not just in eternity, but right now. May God the Holy Spirit draw you close to His side. In Christ’s name and for his glory I pray this. Amen and Amen.

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The Mark Of The Lost

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

The original books of the Bible had no chapter or verse references. These were all letters or writings that God gave to us through the Apostles and the Prophets (Ephesians 2:20; 3:5; 4:11-12). The Apostle Peter declared that “the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (2 Peter 1:21). My commentary notes that:

The chapter divisions commonly used today were developed by Stephen Langton, an Archbishop of Canterbury. Langton put the modern chapter divisions into place in around A.D. 1227. The Wycliffe English Bible of 1382 was the first Bible to use this chapter pattern. Since the Wycliffe Bible, nearly all Bible translations have followed Langton’s chapter divisions.

The Hebrew Old Testament was divided into verses by a Jewish rabbi by the name of Nathan in A.D. 1448. Robert Estienne, who was also known as Stephanus, was the first to divide the New Testament into standard numbered verses, in 1555. Stephanus essentially used Nathan’s verse divisions for the Old Testament. Since that time, beginning with the Geneva Bible, the chapter and verse divisions employed by Stephanus have been accepted into nearly all the Bible versions.”

Though chapter and verse references are additions made by men fort our convenience in reading and studying the Bible, I believe that our God still controlled the process for His glory.

I find it more than coincidental that this sad verse we’re studying today, John 6:66, mirrors the Mark of the Beast, the Antichrist, in Revelation 13:18.

What a profound statement we find in John 6:66. Read it again with me:

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

Do You Love Jesus, Or What Jesus Gives?

Word Study Let’s break this verse down. Jesus had disciples who followed Him. The word translated disciples is the Greek μαθητής mathētēs, which means “a student, a learner, a pupil, a follower of another”. There were a great deal of people who followed Jesus. What were they following Him for? Were they following Jesus because they loved Jesus? No, they were following Jesus because they loved what Jesus gave them.

The disciples who left Jesus were not following Him out of love for Him. They followed Jesus out of love for what Jesus would DO for them.

We see this in our context. You always need to read the context. If you flip back just one page in my Bible to the beginning of chapter 6, you read of the miracle of the feeding of the five thousand. Jesus took “five barley loaves and two small fishes” (verse 9) and blessing it, fed five thousand men (verse 10). The Bible says:

John 6:14-15 Then those men {the 5000 that Jesus fed}, 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.

These people saw Jesus as a miracle worker. They saw Jesus as Someone Who could easily overthrow the Roman Caesar. They did not love Jesus – they loved what Jesus could do. Jesus ran from such an arrangement. Jesus did not come to this world to be just another king, just another Caesar. Jesus came to this world to defeat Satan, to save humanity, and to establish the kingdom of God on the earth.

The Bible tells us that Jesus’ disciples headed out by ship to Capernaum, the next place Jesus wanted to go (verse 16). I believe they left a little early, just like we all get ahead of God at times. The Bible says:

John 6:17-20 {the twelve disciples} entered into a ship, and went over the sea toward Capernaum. And it was now dark, and Jesus was not come to them. 18 And the sea arose by reason of a great wind that blew. 19 So when they had rowed about five and twenty or thirty furlongs, they see Jesus walking on the sea, and drawing nigh unto the ship: and they were afraid. 20 But he saith unto them, It is I; be not afraid.

When Jesus got into the ship, “immediately the ship was at the land” (John 6:21). Oh Beloved, it is so wonderful to be with Jesus! When we err, if we love Jesus, Jesus saves us and blesses us! He loves us back. Jesus said:

John 8:42 … If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me.

The mark of the Christian is that the Christian loves Jesus. There are many who profess to be Christian, but they only love what Jesus will give them, not Who Jesus is. Those who love Jesus keep His commandments:

John 14:15, 21 If ye love Me, keep My commandments … 21 He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.

The day after Jesus and His disciples go to Capernaum, those 5000 “disciples” who wanted Jesus to be King, found Jesus and the twelve gone. The Bible says that “they also took a ship, and came to Capernaum, seeking for Jesus” (verse 24).

But Jesus could see what was in their hearts.
They did not love Jesus.
They loved what Jesus would give them.
They loved the all you can eat buffet.
They loved the 24 hour healing clinic.
Some love the idea of Heaven,
but could care less if Jesus is there or not.

Jesus was quite plain with these “seekers”. He said:

John 6:26-27 … 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 Labor 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.

Word Study These disciples labored for meat which perishes. The word translated labored is the Greek ἐργάζομαι ergázomai, {pronounced er-gad’-zom-ahee} which means “to toil, to work for”. It required effort for these people to get to Jesus. The ships that they used to get to Capernaum on were not motorboats. They were the motors on the boats. They paddled and raised sails. They expended energy. Why? They got to Jesus so that He could feed them more free meat, more free fish and bread. Jesus told them, if effect, “You labored to get to Me for the wrong thing. You wanted Me for what TEMPORAL thing I could give you:

a TEMPORAL healing
a TEMPORAL feeding
a TEMPORAL blessing

Jesus came, not to give us temporal meat. Jesus said:

John 4:34 My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.

Jesus came to this earth to fulfill the Law and the Prophets (Matthew 5:17). Jesus Christ is the Promised Messiah. Jesus Christ is the “Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world”. Jesus Christ did not come to bring peace on the earth, but division (Luke 12:51). Jesus came into this world “that we might have life, abundant life” (John 10:10). Jesus said:

John 12:44-46 He that believeth on me, believeth not on me, but on him that sent me. 45 And he that seeth me seeth him that sent me. 46 I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness.

Jesus came, sent of the Father, to save sinners and bring the saved into the Kingdom of God. The people asked Jesus:

John 6:28-29 … 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 {on Jesus} whom {God} hath sent.

But these “disciples” were blind. You can see this. Listen Beloved: It is possible to come and apparently follow Jesus for a time, and yet never be saved. These “disciples” did not love Jesus. They questioned Jesus.

They responded to Jesus,

John 6:30 What sign shewest thou then, that we may see, and believe thee? what dost thou work?

These people sought Jesus for another free meal. But now that He has rebuked them, they challenge Jesus. “Jesus, show us a signthat we might see and believe You”. They want to debate Jesus. These false disciples do not want the Word of the Lord – they want to be placated. These false disciples even know scripture. They quote Psalm 78:24,

John 6:31 … He gave them bread from Heaven to eat ..

Jesus Is The Fulfillment Of The Shadow
Made By The Manna

Jesus told them, “My Father giveth you the True Bread from Heaven” (vs 32). The Manna that God gave Israel in the wilderness was a foreshadowing of the coming of Jesus. NOW DON’T MISS THIS. This is very important. When God gave the Manna to Israel, He said:

Exodus 16:4-5 … Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a certain rate every day, that I may prove them, whether they will walk in my law, or no. 5 And it shall come to pass, that on the sixth day they shall prepare that which they bring in; and it shall be twice as much as they gather daily.

Every day the Israelite was to go out and “Gather of {manna} every man according to his eating” (Exodus 16:16). You were to gather the manna in the morning, the amount that you could eat. You were not to hoard manna, for old manna would spoil the next morning. And if you waited till the sun was hot and did not gather in the morning, the manna melted.

This manna is, according to Jesus, a Type of Christ, a foreshadowing of the Messiah. You are not to be focused on getting what Jesus has for you. You are to be focused on getting Jesus, the Manna from Heaven. The Child of God desperately needs Jesus. Jesus told them:

John 6:35 … I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.

Jesus is the True Manna of God. Jesus is the only One Who has ever “come down from Heaven”, just as the Old Testament manna came down from Heaven. This is not a concept that a lost person can readily grasp. God the Father gives the Manna. Jesus told these false disciples:

John 6:36-40 But I said unto you, That ye also have seen me, and believe not. 37 All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. 38 For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. 39 And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. 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.

In order for a person to be saved, God must open their eyes to Christ. The Christian faith is a supernatural faith. Those without Christ are “dead in trespasses and in sins” (Ephesians 2:1; Colossians 2:13). We do not raise ourselves to life. God opens our eyes, and draws us toward Jesus. Jesus said:

John 6:44 No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.

Word Study God DRAWS or opens the spiritual eyes of the believer. The Greek word translated drawis ἑλκύω helkýō, {pronounced hel-koo’-o}, which means “to draw, to drag, to lead or impel”. In John 21:6 the word is used when the disciples cast their net, “and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes.” The same word is used in Acts 16:19 when the lost “caught Paul and Silas, and drew them into the marketplace”. God must intervene, and open our eyes, that we might be saved. When the Father draws us to Jesus, and we receive Jesus as Lord and Savior, when we give ourselves away to Him, then we have His promise:

John 6:47-48 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life. 48 I am that bread of life.

Jesus follows this theme. As Israel ate the manna from Heaven (a shadow of Christ), in the Church Age we eat the Manna from Heaven, Jesus Christ. Now Jesus doesn’t mean that we are to literally chase Him down and cannibalize Him. What He means is, as Israel lived by eating the manna, the genuine Christian lives by eating THE Manna, Jesus Christ. Jesus said:

John 6:51, 53-58 I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. … 53 Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. 54 Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. 55 For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. 56 He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. 57 As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. 58 This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever.

As you eat physical food daily to sustain your physical life, the Christian feeds on Jesus daily, sustaining our spiritual life. Jesus, for the Christian, is more than a passing fancy. Jesus is everything. I need Jesus daily.

I need Jesus as my Prophet, teaching me the Word of God.
I need Jesus as my High Priest, giving me access to God My Father.
I need Jesus as the Lamb of God, for I hide myself in His blood.
I need Jesus as my Shepherd, for He defends me as I love Him.
I need Jesus as my Eternal Friend, for life is often lonely.
I need Jesus as my Lord, telling me what to do wherever I am.
I need Jesus as my Great Physician, for my life is broken.
I need Jesus as my Manna, for He feeds my soul.

Those “disciples” who followed Jesus to Capernaum for another buffet began to murmur. Jesus said:

John 6:61-64 … Doth this offend you? 62 What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before? 63 It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. 64 But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him.

Illustrate Jesus knew the hearts of these people. He knows your heart, whether you love Him, or just love what He might temporally give you. I had a young man come by our Church the other day, looking for temporal blessing. I handed him a new Bible, and took him to our pantry, and left him alone to get whatever he wanted. Afterwards, I followed his vehicle down to the gas station, where I gave him $20 worth of gas. It was later that I went back into our pantry. Do you know what I found? The new Bible I gave him, sitting on the shelf. The man wanted what Jesus could give, but not Jesus. Though he allowed me to pray for him and his family before I left him at the gas station, it was all an act. Which takes us back to the words of Jesus:

John 6:65 … Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.

Christianity is a supernatural faith. God must open the eyes of the lost, so that they might believe in Jesus. When you are saved, you fall in love with Jesus – and Jesus loves you. Like Simon Peter, we who are saved will not leave Jesus as the false disciples do. Like Simon Peter, we say:

John 6:68-69 …. Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. 69 And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.

Oh, how I pray that more and more would come to have their eyes opened by the Father, through the Spirit, unto the Son of God! Oh, how my heart aches for those who, like these false disciples, like Judas Iscariot, are chasing the temporal rather than the eternal in Christ. As we enter the prayer portion of our service, let us pray that God will use us, and will through His Spirit, lead others to fall in love with Jesus. In Christ name I pray. Amen and Amen.

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Be A Blessing, Not A Virus!

Don't Be A Virus
Photo by Fusion Medical Animation on Unsplash

Please turn with me in your Bibles to:

Genesis 47:1-10Then Joseph came and told Pharaoh, and said, My father and my brethren, and their flocks, and their herds, and all that they have, are come out of the land of Canaan; and, behold, they are in the land of Goshen. 2 And he took some of his brethren, even five men, and presented them unto Pharaoh. 3 And Pharaoh said unto his brethren, What is your occupation? And they said unto Pharaoh, Thy servants are shepherds, both we, and also our fathers. 4 They said moreover unto Pharaoh, For to sojourn in the land are we come; for thy servants have no pasture for their flocks; for the famine is sore in the land of Canaan: now therefore, we pray thee, let thy servants dwell in the land of Goshen. 5 And Pharaoh spake unto Joseph, saying, Thy father and thy brethren are come unto thee: 6 the land of Egypt is before thee; in the best of the land make thy father and brethren to dwell; in the land of Goshen let them dwell: and if thou knowest any men of activity among them, then make them rulers over my cattle. 7 And Joseph brought in Jacob his father, and set him before Pharaoh: and Jacob blessed Pharaoh. 8 And Pharaoh said unto Jacob, How old art thou? 9 And Jacob said unto Pharaoh, The days of the years of my pilgrimage are an hundred and thirty years: few and evil have the days of the years of my life been, and have not attained unto the days of the years of the life of my fathers in the days of their pilgrimage. 10 And JACOB blessed Pharaoh …

One interesting aspect of this Coronavirus Pandemic is that I have learned a great deal about bacteria and viruses. I used to think the two were the same. They aren’t. Bacteria are free living cells that can exist inside or outside of a body. Viruses, on the other hand, are a non-living collection of molecules that must have a host to exist in. Once they enter a living cell, they take over the cell, and force the cell to replicate that virus.

Preach! Each virus is focused on – not benefiting what it attaches itself to – but making MORE of itself even if it destroys the host. Viruses act a lot like proud and selfish people do.

Illustrate If viruses could talk they would say “I’m all about ME. I’m just doing ME. I don’t care what the rest of the body wants or needs. I just want to make MORE OF ME, and less of anything else.” Viruses are God’s parable – and God’s warning for us today.

God does not want viruses in His Israel, nor in His Church, the Body of Christ. He wants His people working together for the good of the Head, the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Apostle Paul wrote: 1 Corinthians 12:12 For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.

Those who are indeed Christians are all – TOGETHER – to be a part of one body. We are TOGETHER the Kingdom of God. We are TOGETHER the Church of God. We are not to be like viruses – replicating more of ourselves. No, we are to be good members, good citizens that work together for the glory of Christ and the spread of the Gospel Kingdom.

God has always had a Kingdom on this earth. He has always had a BODY of believers who were to work together to spread the Good News of the Kingdom of God. In the Old Testament, God used Israel as His Body to share the Coming Messiah with a lost and dying world. In the New Testament, at this present time God uses the Church, a body of believers, gathered together for the glory of God. Old or New Testament, Israel or Church, when the members of that Body begin to act like viruses, they can infect the whole Body, and hurt Christ’s mission to the world.

What does this have to do with our text today? Simply this:

You can choose to benefit the Body you are in by minimizing yourself and glorifying God, or you can decide to be a virus, and do things YOUR way regardless.

Joseph Made A Choice To Magnify Christ In His Life

Genesis 47:1 Then Joseph came and told Pharaoh

When you read these words, you read them like an American. Then Joseph came and told Pharaoh. Big deal! What does this matter? Truth is, in ancient Egypt, the Pharaoh’s and other kings were often considered to be gods by their people. This is how they wielded so much power! You did not just come in and directly talk to a Pharaoh. You found his cup bearer, his secretary, and made an appointment. You went in to see Pharaoh on your knees. But Joseph just walks in, and talks to Pharaoh. How in the world did Joseph become such a confidant to the Pharaoh?

Joseph Lived For God’s Glory, Not For Himself!

As a young boy, Joseph was the favorite child of his father Jacob. The Bible says Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age: and he made him a coat of many colors.(Genesis 37:3). Joseph was given special clothing that his brothers were not given. Further, Joseph dreamed a dream” (Genesis 37:5), and in that dream he dreamed that Joseph would reign over them. His brothers hated Joseph yet the more for his dreams” (Genesis 37:8). One day when Joseph was alone with his brothers, that the brothers threw him in a pit. Joseph’s brother Judah said:

Genesis 37:27 Come, and let us sell him to the Ishmeelites, and let not our hand be upon him; for he is our brother and our flesh. And his brethren were content.

The Ishmeelites are the children of Ishmael, the son that Abraham had with his slave Hagar. These Ishmeelites were merchants, people who bought and sold slaves. Joseph’s brothers sold him into Egyptian slavery.

Joseph could have become bitter, losing his freedom, and being betrayed by his family. Instead Joseph did as the Apostle directed:

Ephesians 4:31-32 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: 32 and be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.

Do not be a virus! Life is not about YOU, it’s about God. We may not be able to control our CIRCUMSTANCES, but we do control how we react. Live for God!

Illustration We are to live our lives so as to glorify God – even in the bad stuff. God has a purpose for everything that comes our way. Periodically I stand in front of a mirror and give myself a good talking to. “Jesus loves you, David. You are a Child of God! Life’s not about you. Live to glorify the Lord!” Oh, life is so hard at times – but God is still there.

Genesis 39:1-3 And Joseph was brought down to Egypt; and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him of the hands of the Ishmeelites, which had brought him down thither. 2 And the Lord was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian. 3 And his master saw that the Lord was with him, and that the Lord made all that {Joseph} did to prosper in his hand.

Joseph, attached to the body of Potiphar’s house, could have murmured and complained at his situation. But Joseph lived for the Lord. We studied this text last Sunday night:

Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. 6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

When the valley comes, focus on the Lord Who loves you. When thrust into a bad situation, DO what the Scripture says:

Colossians 3:23 … whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men

If God allows you to be in the position of a slave, be the best slave you know how to be. Don’t be a virus! Add to, and benefit the host you’re attached to. When Potiphar’s wife tried to seduce Joseph, he told her:

Genesis 39:9 … how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?

How did Potiphar repay Joseph for his godliness? He had Joseph imprisoned! Jesus told us in John 16:33, “In the world you have tribulation. But take courage; I have overcome the world.” Keep looking up!

Joseph was 17 years old when sold into slavery (Genesis 37:2), and Joseph would stay a slave imprisoned until he was 30 years old (Genesis 41:46). For 13 years Joseph looked to Jesus out of the pit that was his life.

If God Sends You To a Valley, Praise Him! Magnify Him! Live for Him. Don’t Be A Virus!If you live for Jesus, Jesus will live with you.

Genesis 39:21, 23 … The LORD was with Joseph {even in prison}, and shewed him mercy, and gave him favor …. the LORD was with him, and that which {Joseph} did, the LORD made it to prosper.

Joseph was always careful to put the Lord first. When in prison, and the butler and the baker of Pharaoh came to him with a dream, Joseph said:

Genesis 40:8 … Do not interpretations belong to God? Tell me {your dreams}..

Joseph knew that the LORD loved him, and he, Joseph, loved the LORD. The LORD was not incidental to his life – but his very breath!

Two years later Pharaoh will have a dream, and will send for Joseph. When Pharaoh told Joseph that he wanted his dream interpreted, note how Joseph responded:

Genesis 41:16 … It is not in me: God shall give Pharaoh an answer of peace …

As I said before, Pharaoh thought he was a god. But Joseph in effect says, “The TRUE GOD will give you the interpretation of your dream”. As soon as God used Joseph to interpret Pharaoh’s dream, Pharaoh said:

Genesis 41:38-40 …. Can we find such a one as this is, a man in whom the Spirit of God is? 39 And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, Forasmuch as God hath shewed thee all this, there is none so discreet and wise as thou art: 40 thou shalt be over my house, and according unto thy word shall all my people be ruled: only in the throne will I be greater than thou.

My Beloved, God will bless and use you, but only when you humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God (1 Peter 5:6). If you are saved, you are saved to serve the Lord Jesus. If you are NOT saved, you were made in God’s image, made to find your completion in Jesus Christ.

Joseph benefited any Body that he became attached to, because he looked unto the Lord. Attached to Body of Potiphar’s home, he lived for the Lord. Attached to the Body of a prison, Joseph lived for the Lord. Now attached to the Body of Egypt, second only to the Pharaoh, Joseph lived for the Lord.

Reunited with his brothers, the highest authority save for Pharaoh, Joseph did not seek revenge. He told his family:

Genesis 45:4-5 … Come near to me, I pray you. And they came near. And he said, I am Joseph your brother, whom ye sold into Egypt. 5 Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life.

And NOW Enters Jacob & His Family

God speaks to Jacob (Israel), Joseph’s father in a dream, saying:

Genesis 46:3-4 … I am God, the God of thy father: fear not to go down into Egypt; for I will there make of thee a great nation: 4 I will go down with thee into Egypt; and I will also surely bring thee up again: and Joseph shall put his hand upon thine eyes.

God tells Israel, “Go to Egypt. Your son Joseph is alive. Go and see him, for I have blessed him”. So Jacob takes his family, and all his children and possessions, and heads toward Egypt.

Joseph has taken care to magnify God, to live to honor Him Who saved him. But now here comes his family! Joseph is going to introduce his family to Pharaoh. This is a great thing. Pharaoh has nothing but respect for Joseph, and has seen God magnified in Joseph’s life.

Pharaoh is very interested – and probably looking forward to meeting the REST of the family that this astounding young Jacob came from.

Pharaoh is in for a surprise.

Joseph tries to coach his family in how to approach Pharaoh. Joseph said:

Genesis 46:33-34 And it shall come to pass, when Pharaoh shall call you, and shall say, What is your occupation? 34 that ye shall say, Thy servants’ trade hath been about cattle from our youth even until now, both we, and also our fathers: that ye may dwell in the land of Goshen; for every shepherd is an abomination unto the Egyptians.

The Egyptians loathed shepherds. Egypt was an agricultural society, and sheep, if allowed to graze untended, will strip the ground of all vegetation. Joseph told his family, “If you’re asked, you are HERDSMEN, not shepherds”. This was not really a lie, for Joseph was going to tell Pharaoh “they have brought their flocks, AND their herds” (Genesis 46:32). Joseph just wanted his family to emphasize their cattle. So what do the brothers do when introduced to Pharaoh? They do the opposite. The Pharaoh asks, “What is your occupation?”. Their reply?

Genesis 47:3 … Thy servants are shepherds, both we, and also our fathers.

Viruses. They do not listen to Joseph. They will not heed godly wisdom.

Genesis 47:4 For to sojourn in the land are we come; for thy servants have no pasture for their flocks; for the famine is sore in the land of Canaan: now therefore, we pray thee, let thy servants dwell in the land of Goshen.

I am sure that, for Joseph’s sake, the Lord touched Pharaoh’s heart. If I were Pharaoh, I would be tempted to run these knuckleheads out of Egypt on a rail! But Pharaoh is gracious. He says:

Genesis 47:6 … the land of Egypt is before thee; in the best of the land make thy father and brethren to dwell; in the land of Goshen let them dwell: and if thou knowest any men of activity among them, then make them rulers over my cattle.

God is so good – even when we do not deserve it. God not only offers free land to Joseph’s family, but also offers jobs to anyone who needs it. Then Jacob comes forward to meet Pharaoh. The Pharaoh asks Jacob, How old art thou?. Notice Jacob’s reply:

Genesis 47:9 … The days of the years of my pilgrimage are an hundred and thirty years: few and evil have the days of the years of my life been, and have not attained unto the days of the years of the life of my fathers in the days of their pilgrimage.

few and evil”? Jacob had lived a blessed life – a better life than he deserved. Elder Mike Allison {Madison Baptist Church, Madison, Alabama} said it best:

Think about Jacob for a while. He was brought up in a rich man’s house – Isaac was a rich man. He was bought up with servants to take care of his needs. Not only that, he was spoiled by his mother, and tolerated by his father. And then, when he did finally leave home at the age of 77, he spent the next twenty years having thirteen children and working for his uncle; who, even though {his uncle} tricked him over and over again, still he continued to get richer and richer. He {will spend} the last seventeen years of his life {from this moment on} living off the fat of the land of Egypt while many of its citizens were starving. With his son the number two man in the country, and he is given without cost the very best of the land. And here he is. He’s asked how old he is, and he uses that opportunity to tell how old he is – to complain. … He has an opportunity before a heathen king to give testimony to how God had taken care of him throughout his long life of 130 years, and he uses that opportunity to complain.”

Those who live like viruses may be Christians, for I believe Jacob was a saved person, but they leave little of the Kingdom of God on the earth when they depart. Their lives do little to change others.

Illustrate Periodically I look at obituaries of those who have passed on from this life into eternity. Often what is written is “She loved cats and dogs” or “He never met a stranger”, with little to no mention of what they did for the Lord in this life. Did you know that there is a Heavenly Obituary that God put in the Bible, found in Hebrews Chapter Eleven. In Hebrews 11 we read of many of the great saints, and the things they did for the Kingdom of God.

Abel honored God, even in death.
Enoch walked with God, and skipped death.
Noah listened to God, and floated above death.
Abraham lived for God, and through him we are blessed with Jesus,
Jesus who promise we who believe in Him will never die.

What is Jacob memorialized for? We read:

Hebrews 11:21 By faith Jacob, when he was a dying, blessed both the sons of Joseph; and worshiped, leaning upon the top of his staff.

This is all Jacob did in his life that God felt was commendable. The Bible says that “Jacob lived in the land of Egypt seventeen years: so the whole age of Jacob was an hundred forty and seven years” (Genesis 47:28). Jacob lived 147 years, and all he ever did that God thought was worthy of praise was to bless both the sons of Joseph.

If you will be a BLESSING and not a VIRUS, you need to bind yourself to Jesus Christ. Jesus said in Luke 6:49, “But he that heareth {my words}, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great. Bad things happen to everyone … but they happen more frequently to those who reject God’s Word. Live your lives for Jesus. If you are believers in Christ, do not live in yesterday, but pursue Jesus. The Apostle said:

Philippians 3:13-14 … this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, 14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

To be called into God’s family by faith in Christ is a HIGH calling. Live your life for Jesus. Live your life, not as a virus, but as a valued child of God. We all suffer. We all go through valleys. Look up! Look up, like the pastor John Bunyan. Though imprisoned, he wrote the wonderful book Pilgrim’s Progress. Though blind from childhood, Fanny Crosby wrote the words to over 8,000 hymns, many found in our hymnal.

Be a son or a daughter of God.
Be a blessing to others, light in darkness.

The Bible says in Genesis 47:10, and Jacob blessed Pharaoh. Jacob went through the motions of blessing Pharaoh, but only ISRAEL can truly bless Pharaoh. Jacob’s blessings to Pharaoh were but empty words to that man. Beloved, give glory unto the Lord Who saved you. Live, letting Him shine through your life! May God touch your hearts with His Word and His Spirit. Amen and Amen.

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Life Verse From The King

Photo by Raychan on Unsplash

Many Christians today choose our focal verse as their “Life Verse”. Please turn with me in your Bibles to the Book of Proverbs, to:

Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. 6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

It is no wonder that this is the “Life Verse” of many Christians. But this was also the “Life Verse” that an ancient parent shared with his child. We know this because of our context:

Proverbs 3:1-4 My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments: 2 for length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee. 3 Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart: 4 so shalt thou find favor and good understanding in the sight of God and man.

This ancient father was telling his son of a Law that he was to follow. He told his son, “If you heed this law – this Life Verse I’m going to give you – you will have a long and peaceful life. This Life Verse is the secret to mercy and truth – if you break it, you will lose both. Memorize this. Bind it around your neck – let it effect your senses of smell, touch, sight, and hearing. Bind it to your heart and you will be blessed”.

Who was this ancient father? Proverbs 1:1 tells us that these are “the proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel” (see also Proverbs 25:1). Solomon was the wisest man who ever lived. As he wrote these proverbs, these were truths that he discovered through his walk with the Lord. King Solomon wrote these proverbs to his son who, had Rehoboam heeded them, Israel would never have seen civil war.

The Happy Life Is The Surrendered Life

Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.

I loved listening to Adrian Rogers when he was on this earth, and I still listen to his God blessed recorded sermons today. Adrian once said:

We live in the day of guided missiles and misguided men. We get places quicker than we used to, but we still don’t know where we’re going!”

Amen brother! People today are frantically searching for happiness. Years ago, many thought they would be happy when same sex couples could be legally married. Once the non-Biblical definition of marriage was made the law of the United States, people still weren’t happy. Others thought that happiness would come when heterosexual people could turn the wonderful intimacy of what should have been in the wedding bed into something as common as a handshake. We live is an age where sexual morals are extremely lax. Are people happy? No. Others thought the legalization of drugs like marijuana, happiness would come. Are we living in a happy place? No, people still aren’t happy. People, we should be happy. Sin is in – and yet we are not happy. Why?

The Bible tells us that while we are:

Romans 7:5 … in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death.

The things which the principalities, the powers, the rulers of the darkness of this world (Ephesians 6:12) push as happiness cannot bring happiness – not lasting happiness. These things bring death. The Bible says:

Romans 6:23 … the wages of sin is death

Sin is that which emphasizes the pleasure of the flesh. Sin emphasizes me over thee. Sin produces self love, but lovelessness toward anything that is not self. Sin says in the Garden of Eden:

Yea, hath God really said, you shall not eat of every tree of the Garden? It will not harm you! God knows that in the day you eat of it, your eyes will be opened, and you shall be as gods, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:1, 4-5, author’s paraphrase).

Mankind was fooled in the beginning, and is being fooled the same way today. As humans we were made to be MORE than what Satan wants us to be. We were made to be children of God. We were made to walk with God. This is the only thing that will bring genuine and perpetual happiness: to

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart…

Let’s unpack this. What does the word Trust mean? This is the Hebrew בָּטַח bâṭach, {pronounced baw-takh’}, which means “to run to, to take refuge in, to hide yourself in, to confidently lean on or put your confidence in”. The sense of this word is to let the Lord take your full weight – to give Him all that you are. It is the life that says “not my will, but Thine, O God, be done”.

The more you rely on yourselves for blessing in life the less your blessing will be.

If you want to have a life at one with God then you must rely on Him, seeking His guidance through His Word in your whole life. This is the essence of true saving faith. Many people today say, “I believe in God”. Yet if you genuinely “believe in God”, then you bâṭach, {pronounced baw-takh’} Him. Our trust is not to be in ourselves or in others, but

Trust in the LORD

Who is the LORD? This is the Hebrewיְהֹוָה Yhwh. The original Hebrew had no vowels, so when we say this word (which sounds like air blown through the lips) we often add vowels to the name, making it either YAHWEH or JEHOVAH. The technical name for God’s name is Tet·ra·gram·ma·ton. One source notes that “All modern denominations of Judaism teach that the four letter name of God, YHWH, is forbidden to be uttered except by the High Priest, in the Temple. Since the Temple in Jerusalem no longer exists, this name is never said in religious rituals by Jews.” The name YHWH means “He Who is” or “I Am that I Am”.

God is the Creator of all things. God, the Creator of all things, is also the only Savior of all things.

Psalm 3:8 Salvation belongeth unto the LORD ( יְהֹוָה Yhwh) …

Only the Eternal I AM can save the creation that He made. “Salvation belongeth unto the LORD”. No one else can save but YHWH.

Psalm 18:2 The LORD ( יְהֹוָה Yhwh) is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.

God is the only Savior of His Creation. Even more definitively we read:

Isaiah 43:11 I, even I, am the LORD ( יְהֹוָה Yhwh); and beside me there is no savior.

God made all things. When Adam sinned, he sinned against the eternal Creator. When we sin, we sin against the Creator Who is without beginning or end. The offenses of sin against God are not erased by time nor by penance. And all are equally sinners. The Bible says:

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

We all miss the mark. The YHWH has said beside me there is no savior.. There are no other gods we can seek out. There is no way that even I can save myself. There is but one way to salvation, and that is through YHWH. When our Lord Jesus Christ came to this world to minister, Jesus told us:

Matthew 9:13 … I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

The Apostle Paul would later write:

Romans 5:8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

And again, 1 Timothy 1:15 … Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners

But has not YHWH told us that ONLY YHWH CAN SAVE? Yes, He has. So has Jesus lost His mind? No, for Jesus Christ is LORD. One day when talking with the Pharisees, Jesus told them:

John 8:56-58 Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad. 57 Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? 58 Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.

Jesus took the eternal and holy name of God – a name that the Jews were frightened to say out loud – and applied that name to Himself. Jesus Christ is YHWH in human flesh. God the Son, He was with God the Father and God the Spirit from eternity past. The Apostle declares of Jesus:

Colossians 1:15-17 {Jesus Christ} is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: 16 for by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: 17 and he is before all things, and by him all things consist.

God was MANIFEST or made visible IN THE FLESH, was justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, and received up into glory” (1 Timothy 3:16). Jesus Christ is YHWH revealed. It is to Him, He said, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth” (Matthew 28:18). YHWH has:

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

Jesus Christ is YHWH revealed. Jesus is the “Son of Man Who hath power on earth to forgive sins” (Matthew 9:6). Jesus Christ is God’s only Savior, YHWH’s only representative. It is Jesus Who – dying for the sins of the world (John 1:29) – alone has the power to forgive sin. Bob Beasley wrote in his book Proverbs 3:5&6, The Distilled Essence Of The Christian Life:

Christ’s Godhood is total. He can’t be divided. He is the Lord God, the second person of the Trinity. He is both Savior and Lord, without division of mixture, and we need to receive Him as both Lord and Savior in order to be assured of our salvation.”

It is not how good we are that makes us saved, but how good Jesus is. The Bible says:

Titus 3:5-7 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; [6] Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior; [7] That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

Salvation is a gift we receive from God when we rest full upon Jesus, the visible YHWH. We trust Jesus Christ alone to save us.

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

We are saved to serve our God. We are saved to serve Jesus. We do not give Jesus a PART of our heart – but ALL of our heart. The saved live to serve the Lord who saved them.

The Saved DO What God Says

Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.

When Abraham, the Father of Faith was saved, he gave us a pattern by which we live. When God called Abraham, He told that old man:

Genesis 12:1-3 … 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 did not tell Abraham where he was going – just to go. Abraham went. God promised Abraham a child. When Abraham was 100, God answered that prayer. Then one day God told Abraham:

Genesis 22:2 … Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.

Abraham did not question YHWH. YHWH said to do it, so he did it. Ultimately God would provide a substitute for Abraham’s son. But note this:

Saving faith follows YHWH.
Saving faith follows the Lord.

Believers in Christ, saved by faith, are to Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. God wants our all. What He says, we must do. Someone asked Jesus one day “who shall be the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?” Jesus:

Matthew 18:2-4 … 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.

Jesus was quite clear. Unless you, as a little child, obey the Lord and do as He says, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Do not believe that you can pay lip service to Jesus as Savior, and refuse to heed Him as Lord. He has not left this option open to anyone. A person is saved by trusting in the Lord with all his heart – and salvation is proven when we trust in Jesus for our daily direction.

The Saved Look To Jesus First!

Proverbs 3:6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

The word translated acknowledgeis the Hebrew יָדַע yâdaʻ, {pronounced yaw-dah’}, meaning to receive knowledge or instruction from”. The genuine Christian follows not the direction of the world, but the direction of the YHWH, the LORD. Jesus asks us:

Luke 6:46 And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?

The saved are to follow Jesus and His direction if they wish to be blessed. Jesus said:

Luke 6:47-49 Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like: 48 he is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock. 49 But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great.

Whether your life goes through tragedy, and survives, depends entirely upon your willingness to follow the Lordship commands of YHWH in the flesh. Solomon put it this way:

Proverbs 3:7-8 Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the Lord, and depart from evil. 8 It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones.

Read your Bible. Seek God’s face in prayer. Do what the Lord Jesus tells you to do. Don’t just HEAR Him, but OBEY Him. Believers, you are on great and holy ground when you heed and obey the Lord Jesus. We have YHWH’s promise:

Isaiah 58:11 And the LORD shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.

The Lord wants to bless His children by faith. He wants to give us wonderful lives now, and greater lives into eternity. God said:

Psalms 32:8 I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye.

God does not send an angel to guide us. He guides us with mine eye. Our Savior has “numbered the very hairs of our head” (Matthew 10:30). fear the Lord, and depart from evil. If what you want to do is not in accordance with the Word of God, the Bible, then run from it. Solomon also added:

Proverbs 3:9-10 Honor the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase: [10] So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine.

When God in Christ saves a person, He saves their pocketbook and their wallet as well. All that we have is a gift from God. Life is a gift from God. Eternal life is a gift from God. Shall we withhold anything from our Jesus? He withheld nothing from us. The Scripture says:

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

Jesus Christ withheld nothing from you and I. He was beaten, bruised, and bled out for our salvation. Shall we who are saved by faith in Him withhold 10% of our increase? Shall we withhold our testimony, our witness from the world for which He died?

A faith that withholds anything from Jesus
is a cheap faith indeed.

If you withhold full obedience from Christ, and are never disciplined for it, then your salvation is a “fig newton of your imagination” (that expression came from Dr. R.C. Sproul). If you are saved by faith in Jesus, you are saved to serve. Solomon told his son – and us:

Proverbs 3:11-12 My son, despise not the chastening of the LORD; neither be weary of his correction: [12] For whom the LORD loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.

The writer of Hebrews quotes this same text, and follows up with:

Hebrews 12:7-8 If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? 8 But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.

If you fall into the world, if you walk through this life professing Christ but never following Him as Lord, you can expect to be disciplined of God. It is NEVER all right to go against God’s Word. You are saved to serve.

Are you saved?

If Rahab had not obediently put the scarlet thread out of her family’s window (Joshua 2:18), she and her family would have died along with all of Jericho. Obedience is not optional. If Daniel and his friends had not worshiped YHWH rather than compromise with the world, then Daniel would have been a happy meal for lions, and his friends kindling in the King’s oven. Obedience is not optional. Bob Beasley notes:

Daniel and his three friends trusted in the LORD with all their hearts, even in the midst of life and death situations, and leaned not on their own understanding of their difficult circumstances. … we need not fear because our God is trustworthy even in death.”

Do you know Jesus Christ? Is He your Lord and Savior? If not, today is a great day to call upon Him – and be saved! May God the Holy Spirit take His Words deeply into your hearts. Amen and Amen.

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The Blessing Of Brokenness

Mark 14:22 And as they did eat, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and brake it, and gave to them, and said, Take, eat: this is my body.

Photo by James Coleman on Unsplash

We had a wonderful revival this past week with Brother Brian Arnold. I think his messages – God anointed – gave us a challenge. Here is a man who lost his a leg when he was a child. That loss changed the course of his life. Brian learned to play the piano, and became quite a sensation in Branson, Missouri. Then when life seemed to be on track, and was getting better and better, Brian was hit by a semi truck, fracturing his neck, and paralyzing his left arm. Once more, the course of Brian’s life changed. Praise God for it! Brian hurt his arm before coming to preach our revival – his good arm. The doctor gave him the results of the MRI. Brian has torn his rotator cuff in two places, and tore a tendon! I hear you saying in your mind,

How tragic this is! Why is the devil attacking Brian!
Why is God allowing this! Hasn’t he gone through enough?

Which brings me to the title of the message today. It’s called simply “The Blessing Of Brokenness”.

Before Brian was ever born, He knew him. Before God ever formed us in our mother’s womb, He knew us.

The LORD, Who made all things, Who ALONE stretched out the Heavens, Who spread out the earth by Himself (Isaiah 44:24) – this LORD knew you before He formed you in the womb. Before you were born, God had a purpose for you (Jeremiah 1:5). The Almighty God set you apart before you were born, and calls you to His Grace (Galatians 1:15).

This wonderful God Whom we serve, the LORD He is God. It is He that made us, and not we ourselves (Psalm 100:3). God knows what is best for us. And everything that happens in our lives happens because God ALLOWS it, or because God CAUSES it.

There is a blessing found only in brokenness!

Had Brian not lost a leg, he would have never learned the piano.
Had Brian not lost an arm, he would have never preached.
What is God doing with Brian now?
He is God’s Workmanship, created to do good. (Ephesians 2:10)

And so are you. God made you, and God is the Potter, we the clay. He is the Master Artist, and we the masterpiece He is making. There is a blessing in brokenness!

Brokenness Removes From Us Pride

PRIDE keeps us from doing what God wants us to do. PRIDE makes us refuse to heed God, and makes us as gods in our own minds. PRIDE was the one sin that led Adam to fall away from God – effecting us all. The Serpent – that old devil – told Adam and Eve:

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.

It is PRIDE that hears God command, and says “I will listen not to God, but to others. God is a liar! He will not lead us to death. God is trying to keep me from being a god. That is my destiny … I must be a god!” Oh Beloved, PRIDE makes us into something that is not God’s best for us. God has told us:

Proverbs 8:13 The fear of the Lord is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the {perverse or contrary speaking} mouth, do I hate.

Proverbs 16:5 Every one that is proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord: though hand join in hand, he shall not be unpunished.

Life Of Samson: As a little boy, my mamma used to read me the story of Samson. Samson was a judge in Israel. God raised up the judges to be like local magistrates. They established laws, and drove out the enemies who hurt His people Israel. Samson had great strength. Samson’s birth was prophesied by God to the barren wife of Manoah. God told her:

Judges 13:3-5 … thou shalt conceive, and bear a son. 4 Now therefore beware, I pray thee, and drink not wine nor strong drink, and eat not any unclean thing: 5 for, lo, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son; and no razor shall come on his head: for the child shall be a Nazarite unto God from the womb: and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines.

It was God’s will that Samson be a Nazarite unto God from the womb (Judges 13:5). The Nazarite was not allowed to cut their hair, but dedicated their lives unto God. To my knowledge there were only three Nazarites from birth in the Scripture: The Judge Samson, the Prophet Samuel, and the Herald of Christ, John the Baptist.

Samson’s job was to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines. That was his entire job description. But Samson had several problems. First and greatest of all, Samson was prideful. Though the Israelis were NOT supposed to intermarry with unbelievers:

Deuteronomy 7:3-4 … neither shalt thou make marriages with them; … 4 For they will turn away thy son from following me, that they may serve other gods

Though Samson was supposed to be dedicated to God, we are told in Judges 14 that Samson saw a woman in Timnath of the daughters of the Philistines. (Judges 14:1). Samson told his parents, “get her for me to wife” (Judges 14:2), though his parents encouraged him to marry an Israelite. Marrying a Philistine when you are suppose to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines is foolish. But PRIDE is like that. Samson had numerous troubles because of his Philistine wife. His greatest trouble came when he – prideful and arrogant – divorced his wife and began to take up with a prostitute called Delilah (Judges 16:1). Samson’s bad decisions and his utter arrogance would lead him to end up in a Philistine prison, his hair cut, and his freedom – as well as his eyesight – gone (Judges 16:21).

The Philistines “gathered them together for to offer a great sacrifice unto Dagon their god, and to rejoice: for they said, Our god hath delivered Samson our enemy into our hand.” (Judges 16:23). Samson, bound and blinded, was brought out to the coliseum, and bound to the pillars of that place to be mocked. This broken Samson – no longer filled with PRIDE – cried out:

Judges 16:28 … O Lord God, remember me, I pray thee, and strengthen me, I pray thee, only this once, O God, that I may be at once avenged of the Philistines for my two eyes.

Samson then pulled the pillars of the house down. The Bible says, in Judges 16:30, “the dead which he slew at his death were more than they which he slew in his life.

This was Samson’s calling. Not to intermarry with unbelievers. Not to dally with prostitutes. He was called to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines. He only did this when he was broken.

Tony Evans: Oh Beloved, there is a blessing in brokenness! Pastor Tony Evans said:

We shouldn’t run from being broken. Even though it’s not pleasant, it will produce a better life. Brokenness is a blessing because it puts us on the road to a breakthrough. Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit” (Matthew 5:3). Those who are spiritually broken will be blessed because they will see God, and God’s power will flow through their lives. Brokenness is a blessing because it puts us on the road to a breakthrough.”

God’s Israel: planted in Egypt by the faithfulness of Joseph – eventually was enslaved by Egypt. How horrible, I’m sure you are saying. But their affliction caused Israel to look to God for deliverance. The Bible says:

Exodus 1:12 … the more {the Egyptians} afflicted {Israel}, the more {Israel} multiplied and grew.

Not one of us enjoys affliction and brokenness, but faith, genuine saving faith, is found through affliction.

Life of Jacob: Faith also grows through affliction. Jacob stole, lied, cheated, and was generally a miserable wretch of a person. That is, until he met with Someone who wrestled …. with him until the breaking of the day (Genesis 32:24).”

It was not until Jacob’s thigh was was pulled out of the socket that Jacob became Israel (Genesis 32:28)

This pattern is found all throughout Scripture. It is only in brokenness that most come to know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Saul was arrogant, a persecutor of the Church until he met Jesus on the Damascus Road. Saul became Paul, God’s Apostle to the Gentiles. As Paul pursued Christ, the Bible says that Paul had wonderful revelations and wonderful power from God. The Bible says that because of Paul all they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks (Acts 19:10).” The Bible goes on to say:

Acts 19:11-12 … God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul: 12 So that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them.

Oh, He had power with God! But then affliction hit. The Apostle Paul said:

2 Corinthians 12:7-10 … lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. 8 For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. 9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

The Apostle said “I glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. The weaker we are, the greater God can use us. What an amazing statement: I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

It Is In Brokenness That We Come Together
With Christ And One Another

When Jesus walked on the face of this earth, where was He usually found? Was it among the self sufficient Scribes and Pharisees, or the highly political Sadducees and Herodians? No. The Bible often said:

Matthew 9:10 … as Jesus sat at meat in the house, behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with him and his disciples.

When the “In Crowd” asked Jesus “why do You eat with publicans and sinners?”, Jesus said:

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 did not come for well people. He came for the broken. He came for the hurting. The sinner is just a person seeking relief in all the wrong places.

Throughout Jesus’ ministry, Who flocked to His side? The Bible says many publicans and sinners sat also together with Jesus and his disciples: for there were many, and they followed him” (Mark 2:15).

John the Baptist – wrongfully imprisoned by Herod, and broken himself – sent two of his disciples to Jesus with a question: “Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another? (Matthew 11:3).” How did Jesus answer John? Our Lord said:

John 11:4-6 Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see: 5 the blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. 6 And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me.

It is in brokenness that we stop trying to be self sufficient. It is in brokenness that we cease trying to rely on other broken people. It is in brokenness that we look up and see Jesus. Musician Lauren Daigle sings a beautiful song called Look Up, Child. In the song she says:

Where are You now, when darkness seems to win?
Where are You now, when the world is crumbling?
Where are You now, when all I feel is doubt?
Oh, where are You now, when I can’t figure it out?
Oh I, I hear You say, I hear You say,
Look up, child, ayy. Look up Child, ayy.
You’re not threatened by the war
You’re not shaken by the storm
I know You’re in control.
Even in our suffering
Even when it can’t be seen

I know You’re in control.

There is blessing in the brokenness. Brokenness blinds us to self, and causes us to look up. Look up, Child. Look up! Look unto Jesus. It is brokenness that leads us to Jesus. Didn’t Jesus say:

Come unto Me, all Who have it all together!
Come unto Me, if you have no problems – I’ll help you!”

Did Jesus say that? No. He said:

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

It is brokenness that leads us to salvation. There is a blessing in brokenness. It is brokenness that leads us to one another. The Lord upholdeth all that fall, and raiseth up all those that be bowed down (Psalm 145:14).” A Church is a body of broken people, totally reliant upon Jesus. We are not God’s critics, nor are we God’s advisor’s. We are God’s Children, Children by faith in Christ Jesus.

Jesus Loved Us So Much That
He Willingly Embraced Brokenness

Back to our focal text:

Mark 14:22 And as they did eat, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and brake it, and gave to them, and said, Take, eat: this is my body.

Who were those gathered around the Table on this night of nights? There were eleven broken men, and one perfect Man, the Man Christ Jesus.

The Bible says as they did eat. Those around the Table were celebrating the Jewish Passover, a time in which Israel commemorated their salvation from Egyptian bondage. A lamb without spot or blemish would be the center of this Passover Meal, a lamb sacrificed for the sins of the people. But at this Table sat THE LAMB OF GOD Who taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). Jesus Christ, in just a few hours, will go to the Cross of Calvary, dying for my sins and yours. Jesus willingly accepted this calling. Jesus –

1 Peter 2:22 who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth

Would willingly give His precious Body over to the Romans, to be broken like this bread, for you and I. The Bible says:

1 Peter 2:23-24 … when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: 24 who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.

Jesus suffered hell on earth, so we would not have to go to hell beyond this earth. An ancient prayer from the Valley of Vision notes:

Christ was all anguish that I might be all joy,
Cast off, that I might be brought in.
Trodden down as an enemy,
that I might be welcomed as a friend.
Surrendered to hell’s worst,
that I might attain Heaven’s best.
Stripped that I might be clothed,
Wounded that I might be healed,
Athirst that I might drink,
Tormented that I might be comforted,
Made a shame that I might inherit glory,
Entered darkness that I might have eternal light.

Jesus Christ embraced brokenness so that we might be saved. Will you receive Him as Lord and Savior?

I wish I could go on with this, but we must now approach the Lord’s Table. Are you broken? It is in brokenness that we find blessing. If you are without Christ, your brokenness has brought you to Him, to this wonderful place and time. Will you receive Him as Lord and Savior? Will you lay your brokenness before Him, and pledge to follow Him both now, and forever? Let us, with hearts and minds wide open, turn our eyes to Jesus Christ.

For in brokenness, there is great blessing!

Amen and amen. May God, through His Holy Spirit, draw us all to His bleeding side!

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Without Repentance

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

Please turn with me in your Bibles to Romans chapter 11.

Before I knew the Lord Jesus, I desperately sought to fit in with the crowd. As a young boy I discovered the “joy” of eye glasses when only 7 years old. My test scores were horrible in first grade. One day the teacher noticed I was squinting as I looked at the blackboard. The school nurse recommended I go to an eye doctor. Boom! I had to wear glasses.

Throughout most of my school years I was picked on, bullied, and made to feel less than. Overweight, I was “fat boy”. With eye glasses I was “four eyed”. So I drifted toward the others who were outcasts, the shunned. I don’t say this to make you feel sorry for me. I don’t feel sorry for myself. The truth is, the devil has done this to many people throughout the history of man. Frequently I read in the obituaries of those who “died suddenly at home”. I suspect this is the result of drug abuse (which I toyed with before Jesus found me) and suicide or suicidal behavior (again, thank you Jesus for saving me). This is what the devil does. He wants to devalue us. I see the devil in so many things today.

The devil is in the Church that refuses to speak the truth in love.
The devil is in the racist of whatever color who devalues others.
The devil is in the classroom that teaches all ___ people are racist.
The devil is in the young girl shunned, until she gives her body away.
The devil tells us to be proud of sin, that there is no sin.
The devil tells us to hate one another.
The devil confuses us, drawing us away from the Bible.
The devil calls us back to Egypt, tempts us, tells us to follow lies.

My salvation came when one young man, Ricky Allen, invited me to Church. My salvation came when I came into that house of worship, a hot mess, where the Preacher spoke the truth in love. On that day I heard the call of Jesus to salvation. That was the best day of my life. As I studied the Scripture, I came across this verse:

Romans 11:29 For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.

I love that verse. It is this verse that anchors my heart to Jesus. This verse explains why I no longer follow the crowd, but follow Jesus. I pray that you, too, will stop following the crowd, and that you will follow Jesus with me. Let’s break this verse down:

Without Repentance”

The words without repentance is but one word in the Greek, ἀμεταμέλητος ametamélētos, {pronounced am-et-am-el’-ay-tos}. The word can be translated as “irrevokable, without change of mind, without repentance”. To “repent” is to change your mind from what you thought to something else. Repentance always brings with it a change of behavior. This Greek word is only found twice in the Scripture: in THIS text, and in

2 Corinthians 7:10 For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of (ametamélētos): but the sorrow of the world worketh death.

In order to be saved a person must first REPENT. There are many who PROFESS to be Christians, but are not, because they have never REPENTED. Genuine repentance comes from godly sorrow – a realization that what I was doing is not compatible to what God my Creator has ordered. There is a sorrow of the world that is NOT genuine repentance. There is the sorrow of Judas Iscariot who, betraying Jesus Christ, was ashamed of what he did before the priests of Israel, but cared little for what God thought. Judas killed himself, a sad testament to anyone who followed Jesus for over three years.

Repentance. It is by repentance – genuine repentance – that we are saved. John the Baptist preached:

Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 3:2)

Our Lord Jesus preached:

Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 4:17)

The Apostles preached:

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” (Acts 3:19)

Repentance is not just something that we who are human must do – it is something that God Himself can do. When Israel kept rejecting the Word of God, the Lord God told Moses:

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

Moses prayed for Israel unto God, and prayed for the glory of God. The Bible says:

Exodus 32:14 And the Lord repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people.

God can repent. When God saw the spread of evil throughout the world, the Bible says:

Genesis 6:5-7 … 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

Chad Napier of Christianity.com notes:

In his “Exposition of the Bible” John Gill explained that God never changes his mind or alters his purposes, “though he sometimes changes the course and dispensations of his providence.” God knew of the resistance and the downfall of man before He created man. His original purpose as stated in Genesis 2:15 was for Adam and Eve was to live in the garden, cultivate it, and be prosperous. However, as is the case in all the dispensational periods, God knew man would rebel against Him. God’s repentance was not that he was surprised or should not have made man, but that the providence of man had to change because of the introduction of sin.”

When God’s creation will not do what God commands it to do, God can repent Himself, and change the circumstances or the blessings that He has given. But

God’s Ultimate Purpose Cannot Be Averted

God calls humans to repentance. He calls us to cease being our own gods, and to follow Him. When we follow Him then:

Romans 11:29 For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.

If we who are His by faith follow God, albeit imperfectly, God nonetheless will continue with us. But even if we rebel and reject the Word of God, God’s ULTIMATE PURPOSE will be fulfilled.

That’s what the Apostle is talking about in this text. As he wrote of Christ to the Roman Church, there were many Gentiles who began to teach that God was done with Israel. This nonsense is even taught in the world today. I have heard professors and scholars say, “Israel rejected Jesus Christ, so Jesus turned away from Israel forever, and put the Church in place of Israel”. That’s not true, and the Apostle addresses this. Read with me:

Romans 11:1-5 I say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. 2 God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew. Wot ye not what the scripture saith of {Elijah}? how he maketh intercession to God against Israel, saying, 3 Lord, they have killed thy prophets, and digged down thine altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life. 4 But what saith the answer of God unto him? I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal. 5 Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.

When people see that word election, they get frightened. Do you know what election means? It means that GOD’S PURPOSE AND PLAN WILL BE FULFILLED. God’s call to a people has a purpose. When God called Israel out of Egypt, Moses told them:

Deuteronomy 6:23 {God} brought us out from {Egypt}, that he might bring us in, to give us the land which he sware unto our fathers.

God made promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. God made promises, and plans, and God’s plans will always be met.

Romans 11:29 For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.

When God led Israel out of Egypt, God knew that both believer and unbeliever were within His nation. This has always been true of Israel, and has always been true of the Church. Believer and unbeliever are on the “membership rolls”, but God’s purpose will be fulfilled. God told Israel through the Prophet:

Isaiah 48:12-13 Hearken unto me, O Jacob and Israel, my called; I am he; I am the first, I also am the last. 13 Mine hand also hath laid the foundation of the earth, and my right hand hath spanned the heavens: when I call unto them, they stand up together.

Notice how God addresses Israel. He calls that nation “Jacob and Israel”. When you read of “Jacob”, this was the unbeliever that God would one day make into “Israel”. It is God’s will that “Israel” possess the Promised Land. It is God’s will that the Messiah one day rule the world from Jerusalem in “Israel”. The God Who made the stars “stand up together” is the same God Who will one day redeem that nation. Why? Because God loves a challenge! God told Israel:


Deuteronomy 7:7-8 The Lord did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people: 8 but because the Lord loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers, hath the Lord brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.

What God has determined to do with Israel, He will do with Israel. Israel has a purpose, and God will fulfill His purpose in Israel. Why? Because He is God. Because:

Romans 11:29 For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.

What God has ordained will come to pass! It is a dangerous game any nation plays who stands against God’s Israel. Some say, “But Israel is filled with Christ killers, and haters of the Messiah”. That may or may not be true. But the Bible tells us to look deeper. We read:

Romans 11:7-12 What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded 8 (according as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear;) unto this day. 9 And David saith, Let their table be made a snare, and a trap, and a stumbling block, and a recompense unto them: 10 let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see, and bow down their back alway. 11 I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy. 12 Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fullness?

God’s purpose in Israel was to one day bring Christ into the world. God’s purpose in Israel was the bring not just Jews, but Gentiles into the Kingdom of Christ. God’s purpose in Israel is to one day bring Messiah back into the world, to be the base where Jesus Christ governs the world from.

God is not done with Israel. We read:

Romans 11:17-20 And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert graffed in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree; 18 boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee. 19 Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be graffed in. 20 Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear:

The Church came about because some of the “branches” of Israel, the unbelieving branches, were “broken off”. Why were they broken off? Because of unbelief. The Apostle warns us:

Romans 11:21-22 … for if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee. 22 Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.

God’s purposes will be fulfilled.

If You Are The Called Of Christ,
You Had Best Follow Christ

Israel lost their blessing from God because they frequently ceased operating by faith in Him. It is a foolish thing to presume upon God! If you have been called of Christ, then you are to follow Christ in your daily walk. We studied this text Sunday night:

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

Preach! The GIFT of salvation always comes with a CALL. You are CALLED into God’s Kingdom. You are CALLED to follow Jesus. You are CALLED to be obedient children. You are CALLED to worship God. You are CALLED from lost Egypt to go to the Promised Canaan.

It is the devil’s lie that you can be given the GIFT and not be expected by God to fulfill the CALLING. Look at Israel. Look at how many times Israel was under the heel of an enemy nation. If you are called of Christ, you are to follow Christ. My brother in Christ Tim Laws once told me: “It’s hard to hear God’s voice when you’ve already decided what you want Him to say”. That is so very true. Let us heed God’s Word.

Let’s put away our thoughts, and turn to God’s Word for His standard. The Christian, saved by the GIFT of God, is CALLED to do and believe what God says. What God says is in God’s Word, not in our imaginations. If you are saved by the free GIFT, then you are CALLED, you are PREDESTINED to do what God called you to do. The Apostle put it this way:

Romans 8:28-31 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. 29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. 31 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?

You as Christians are Christians by GOD’S GIFT. If you are GIFTED, you are CALLED ACCORDING TO HIS PURPOSE. Not your purpose, but His.

If you believe “all things work together for your good”, then this is inexplicably tied to your CALLING. If you believe that you are “predestined to be conformed to the image of God’s Son”, this is tied to your calling. If you believe that you are going to Heaven, then you cannot neglect that holy chain of truths (verse 30)”

“whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified”

You are called. “Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine” (Isaiah 43:1) says the Lord. “Ye are not your own … For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). You belong to God, not to yourself. Joshua told Israel, “choose you this day whom ye will serve(Joshua 24:15). God does not call you to serve yourself. He calls you to serve Him, to love Him, to walk with Him.

This is where blessing is found, walking with and loving God every day. Blindness will be on Israel until the “fullness of the Gentiles comes in”. There will come a day – I do not know when – when God the Son will return for His Church. On that day of Rapture we who love Him shall feel His fullest embrace. Our bodies shall be changed, “and so we shall ever be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:17). God’s will for Israel shall be fulfilled.

Romans 11:26-27 And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: 27 for this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins.

Israel shall be saved during the Millennium. God shall be triumphant! Praise the name of Jesus forever! Amen and Amen!

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Let The Right One In

Photo by Roman Kraft on Unsplash

Ephesians 4:27, 30 neither give place to the devil. …… 30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.

Sherry and I had a wonderful vacation with our grandchildren. We want to thank you all for allowing us to have that time – Jerry, Carlos, and all of you. As I’m getting older my arthritis won’t allow me to travel the whole way to Valdosta, Georgia without stopping. Sherry and I are accustomed to stopping -in Macon, Georgia, at what used to be a very nice Super 8 Motel. We’ve used this motel for 9 years now, and have always been happy with it. So when we reserved a room, we usually save money by making a non-refundable deposit on that room.

Bad idea.

When we got our assigned room this time, I noticed peeling paint, cracks in the ceiling, stains on the furniture … BAD stains. The bed was comfortable enough, so we decided to just put up with it. Before going to bed I decided to take a shower and, as I was showering, I smelt the distinct odor of sewage! On closer inspection I saw there was a crack in the floor of the shower, obviously near or in a sewage pipe.

I don’t believe that we’ll be going back to that place!

What does this have to do with today’s message? What used to be very nice was destroyed by poor maintenance and terrible visitors. Those in charge of the motel not only let the wrong people in, they refused to repair what the wrong people did. Just as that Super 8 Motel was trashed, many people trash their own “buildings” by letting the wrong visitors in. If you are a Christian, saved by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, you are encouraged to:

Ephesians 4:1 …. walk worthy of the vocation {κλῆσις klēsis, [pronounced klay’-sis], “calling”} wherewith ye are called …

If you are a Christian, you were “CALLED” to salvation by Jesus. You are “the called of Jesus Christ” (Romans 1:6), “called to be saints” (Romans 1:7). The Bible declares:

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

If you are a Christian, you are a walking miracle. God saved you by His Grace. He called you to life with Him.

The day you called upon the name of Jesus you were

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

Born of His Spirit with life from above,
into God’s family divine,
Justified fully through Calvary’s love,
Oh what a standing is mine!

Adopted into the Family of God, the believer belongs to God. God owns everyone. God said, “Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine” (Ezekiel 18:4). Though all souls belong to God, the believer in Christ is particularly aware of this. God lives with you and is in you. He has promised to never leave nor forsake you (Hebrews 13:5). You are God’s Temple.

You are to be in relationship with your Lord.

Don’t Let The Devil In

The first command we look at is:

Ephesians 4:27 neither give place to the devil.

Word Study Please pay attention to how our God words this command. Give place is the Greek δίδωμι didōmi τόπος topos, which means “to grant access or allow space or a place”. You are not the property of the devil. You belong to Jesus Christ. You are inhabited by God. You do not need to allow the devil, that old dragon, one little toehold in your life.

Do you know how Adam fell into sin, and by falling, caused all humanity to fall into sin? How is it possible that:

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

Adam allowed the Serpent, the devil, a foothold into his life. Adam was in a perfect place. He had a perfect job, and a perfect wife. Adam had a perfect right to protect humanity from the effects of sin. But he allowed the devil to whisper into his ear. He heard the devil’s lies, and believing them, led us all from Eden.

The Apostle says in

Ephesians 4:17-20 This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, 18 having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: 19 who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. 20 But ye have not so learned Christ

We are not to listen to the devil and his lies. We are walk in the light of God’s truth and God’s love.

We are not to allow him who has fallen from God into the Temple of our bodies. We are to follow Christ, follow our calling, to learn of what the Scripture says. We are to heed God’s Word, not the Devil’s lies. For the Devil is a liar. Jesus said of him:

John 8:44 {the Devil} 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.

The devil pushes lies today. He tells us lies in television, on the radio, on the internet and in social media. The truth is in God and what God’s Word says. The devil knows nothing but lies. The Apostle tells us:

Ephesians 4:25 Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbor: for we are members one of another.

It matters what we say and do. It matters how we respond to lies. We are to love God with all our hearts. We are to remember the commandments that we MUST follow as believers, commandments that our Lord Jesus gave us.

Mark 12:29-31 ….. The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: 30 and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. 31 And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.

We are to put away the devil’s lies, and speak the truth in love. We are to affirm what God has affirmed, and deny what God has denied.

We who are His are born again by faith in His Word. We must not depart from His Word. The devil today is doing his best to deny the Word of Christ in all things. He has crept into Churches and homes, quietly twisting truth, and turning from God. The world follows the devil, but we who are His must not. We must follow the Lord. We must affirm what our Jesus affirmed. The devil strikes at the family unit, doing his best to corrupt that which God has ordained. Our Lord Jesus affirmed:

Matthew 19:4-6 …. Have ye not read, that He which made them at the beginning made them male and female, 5 and said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? 6 Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

We who love Jesus must love His Word. We must love the Bible that our Lord has given to us, and affirm His truth as our truth. Do not let the devil get his foot in the door. Put away lying, speak every person truth WITH HIS NEIGHBOR”. The world will not like this, but we must speak the truth nonetheless. The Scripture says:

Romans 3:4 … let God be true, but every man a liar

Speak the truth in love.

When you speak God’s truth, the darkness will fight against you. Do not allow the darkness to enter in by drawing you into anger and wrath. The Bible says:

Ephesians 4:26 … Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:

Anger and violent harsh emotions allow the devil to come into your Temple.

C.H. Spurgeon notes, “I believe that some Christians make half the opposition which they get from the world by their own ill tempers and stupidity. They challenge conflict. Their actions seem to say, “Who will fight me?” and then, of course, somebody takes up the challenge. Do not act foolishly! If your soul is among lions and they are inclined to be quiet, do not needlessly excite them.”

Do not let your anger or your emotions control you – YOU control IT. Very few times in Jesus’ ministry do we see Him angered at anyone. When Jesus went into the Temple of God:

John 2:14-17 … and found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting: 15 and when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers’ money, and overthrew the tables; 16 and said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise. 17 And his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up.

Word Study Some say that Jesus was “angry” when He chased the money changers out of the Temple. But the disciples said that He had ζῆλος zēlos, {pronounced dzay’-los} zeal, literally indignation or jealousy over”. Jesus saw the money changers stealing the offerings of the children of Israel, offerings made to God, and putting that money in their pockets. Jesus was not overflowing with anger, uncontrollable, but controlled His emotions as He put things back the way they should be.

Malachi 3:8 Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings.

What a horrid thing, that people would take that which belongs to God, and put it in their pockets! Jesus chased them out, but in no place do I see that He expressed “anger” or “wrath”.

The only time I can find Jesus angry in the
Gospels is in Mark 3:5.

Our Lord went into the Synagogue, and …

Mark 3:1-5 …. there was a man there which had a withered hand. 2 And {the Scribes and Pharisees} watched him, whether he would heal him on the sabbath day; that they might accuse him. 3 And he saith unto the man which had the withered hand, Stand forth. 4 And he saith unto them, Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath days, or to do evil? to save life, or to kill? But they held their peace. 5 And when he had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts…

Jesus was angry – and very sad – that these who should have been God’s people had become so hard hearted that they cared more for ritual than they did for a hurting child of God. Anger was an emotion that our Lord rarely used, and when He was angry it was tempered with grief. Jesus controlled His emotions – they did not control Him. Jesus did not allow His anger to mount into bitterness, nor did Jesus hold grudges. His anger was righteous anger.

Uncontrolled Anger And It’s Cousins Grieves God

We read:

Ephesians 4:30-32 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: 32 and be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.

It GRIEVES God when we allow anger to control us. It GRIEVES God when bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking are in His Temple, our bodies. These are all different expressions and degrees of anger. Evil speaking is βλασφημία blasphēmia, which is anger directed toward God. When anger in unrestrained it will grow until it not only offends those around you – it offends your Maker.

Illustrate An old married couple had their problems. The man lost his eyesight, but he could hear perfectly, and his wife was losing her hearing, but could see perfectly. When they traveled, she drove the car, and her husband helped her hear. They stopped at a rest area one day, and sat down near some friendly travelers. One man asked, “Where are you from?” The old lady turned to her husband and said, “What did he say?” The old man told her “He asked where we are from”, then told the stranger, “We’re from Columbia, Tennessee”. A woman asked, “Where are you headed?” The old lady asked her husband, “What did she say?” The old man told her “She asked where we are going”, then told the stranger, “We’re heading to Memphis, Tennessee”. Another man said, “I knew a woman in Memphis. She was the most bitter, cantankerous, evil woman I ever met.” The old lady asked her husband, “What did he say?” The old man replied, “He said he knew your sister!”

Do not let anger control you. The Psalmist said:

Psalm 37:8 Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any wise to do evil.

Do not give anger it’s head – or you will lose yours!

Another way you lease room to the Devil is through THEFT. We read:

Ephesians 4:28 Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labor, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.

Theft and laziness are terrible things. God tells us all to be busy, to work together for the glory of His Kingdom. If any would not work, neither should he eat” (2 Thessalonians 3:10) is God’s prescription for laziness. We are not to steal, a violation of God’s eighth commandment. We are to work at doing good, not just to fill our bank accounts, but to have to give to him that needeth. A thief is never a happy person, for selfishness never brings blessing.

The professing Christian who rarely does anything for God is a thief. You have been given the gift of life, and the gift of eternal life, as a stewardship from God. The Bible says:

Ephesians 5:14-21 … Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light. 15 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.

Be Filled With The Spirit. Let God Fill You, Not Evil.

Salvation is entirely a gift of grace. It is nothing that we can ever earn nor deserve. But once saved, as believers we are called to work for the Kingdom of God, to lovingly serve the God Who saved us. We are to go through this life walk(ing) circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, 16 redeeming the time, because the days are evil. We are called to be the:

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

We as the people of God are to be busy, doing good, loving God and loving those around us. We are to be people of His Kingdom. We are to fill our lives with Him. The Apostle Paul wrote:

1 Corinthians 15:10 … by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.

And again,

2 Corinthians 6:1 We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain.

It is not by works that you are saved – but once saved, you will work for the Lord Who saved you. If you profess to be saved and never do anything for the Kingdom of Christ, then your salvation may only be a figment of your imagination. The stepbrother of Jesus wrote:

James 2:17-24 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. 18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. 19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. 20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? 22 Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? 23 And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. 24 Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.

Those Who Are Born Again Love God And Love Others

It grieves the Lord Who saved us when we allow the devil a foothold in our lives. If you have allowed the devil in, God calls you to REPENT. We read:

Ephesians 4:22-24 … put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; 23 and be renewed in the spirit of your mind; 24 and that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.

Word Study The word translated conversation is the Greek ἀναστροφή anastrophḗ, {pronounced an-as-trof-ay’}, which means “manner of life, behavior, conduct”. That old YOU is dead and buried, if you are a child of God by faith in Christ. PUT OFF that old man, that corrupt way of living. Those who are in Christ “walk in the light as Jesus is in the Light” (John 8:14).

Our Christian calling is to live in the light with Him, following His Word, the Holy Bible. The Scripture tells us:

Ephesians 5:6-11 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 {in past time} 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.

God tells us that, as His sons, we are to walk with Him in the light, not in darkness. We are to reprove sin, to repent, and to daily be more like Jesus. If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior, turn to Him and receive Him as He is. He will change your life forever!

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

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According To The Pattern

Photo by Huper by Joshua Earle on Unsplash

Please turn with me to Hebrews Chapter 8. I want to read the first paragraph of this wonderful text, and then focus on a sentence. Let’s start.

Hebrews 8:1-6 Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens; 2 a minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man. 3 For every high priest is ordained to offer gifts and sacrifices: wherefore it is of necessity that this man have somewhat also to offer. 4 For if he were on earth, he should not be a priest, seeing that there are priests that offer gifts according to the law: 5 who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the mount. 6 But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises.

In this wonderful text, God is showing us the difference between the OLD Covenant and the NEW Covenant. When God gave the OLD Covenant to Israel at Mount Sinai, God told Moses – and this is the text I want to focus on:

Hebrews 8:5 See, saith {God}, that thou {O Moses} make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the mount

When God established the Old Covenant of the Law to Israel, He gave Moses and His people a pattern to follow. God said to Moses:

Poieō pas kata typos”

or “Design everything I show you EXACTLY as I show you”. God had a purpose in giving the Law to Moses and Israel. The Law was a shadow of good things that would one day come in Jesus Christ. The Law was a:

Hebrews 8:5 example and shadow of heavenly things

The shadows of the Law pointed to a reality of what Jesus Christ would one day bring. The shadows were not just a figment of the imagination. The shadows gave us a pattern.

The Shadows Could Not Save Anyone

Illustrate I often find great sermon illustrations in the news. For instance, the news magazine The Week (June 11, 2021) notes that “an unknown buyer paid $18,350 for (can you believe it) “Io Sono [I Am]”, an ‘invisible sculpture’ by Italian artist Salvatore Garau.” Yes, you heard that right. Someone paid over 18K for the figment of an artist’s imagination. He even had the audacity to call the non existent sculpture “I Am”, a title God gave to Himself.

God is no figment of the imagination. God is real. But God is immense, and hard for our mortal minds to comprehend. So God, in His infinite love, gave an example of the Heavenly in the Old Covenant Law. The purpose of the Law was to teach us that God is real, and that God has a standard, a standard that we fall short of. But God wanted to show Israel – and us – that He loves us so very much, and that God wants to have a living, daily, moment by moment relationship with Him.

A shadow cannot save anyone, and the Mosaic Law was a shadow. The Bible says:

Romans 3:20 Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin

Our God has a standard. The Law gave KNOWLEDGE of sin. No flesh has ever been justified by the Law, nor was that the intent of the Law. The Law was given to make us aware that we are sinners, to give us the knowledge of sin – but not to save. The Law was designed by God to:

  • Draw man to Christ by making him aware of his sinful state, and then
  • To teach man about the coming Messiah through the symbolic rituals and religious paraphernalia contained in the Law.

The Law had a High Priest after the line of Aaron, and that priest represented the Israelite before God. We were told:

Hebrews 8:3 For every high priest is ordained to offer gifts and sacrifices …

The High Priest of Israel carried gifts and sacrifices to God. Every Israelite family brought an animal, a lamb without spot or blemish to be sacrificed on the altar. These sacrifices were not done just once, but repeatedly, year after year. The Scripture says that the reason this was done is because:

Hebrews 10:3 … in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year.

The sacrifices and gifts brought to the altar were brutally slain, their blood shed, and the blood was sprinkled on the people. The point of this was to show all people that sin is nothing to be winked at. The Bible says:

Romans 6:23 … the wages of sin is death

Sin drives a wedge between the God Who is Life, and us, and that wedge is DEATH. DEATH is not something to be proud of. God told Adam in the Garden of Eden:

Genesis 2:16-17 … Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

God has a standard, and God’s standard is unchanging. Sin brings death. The Law emphasized this by allowing the Israelite to put THE WAGES OF SIN ON THE SACRIFICED ANIMAL. But this was but a shadow, for, year after year, the Israelite had to sacrifice again, and again, and again. In fact,

The High Priest of the First Covenant had to, as Hebrews 7:27 tells us, offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people’s. The wages of sin is death. In God is life, but as sinners we cannot meet His expectations. The Priests “{offered} blood … for himself, and for the errors of the people” (Hebrews 9:7). The intent of the Law was to open the eyes of us all, to make us realize that we can’t just be better on our own, and thus satisfy God’s standard.

But the human heart is wicked. That Law, which God gave to man to teach us of our need of salvation, was used by humans in a sinful way.

The Scribes and Pharisees used the Law like Adam and Eve used a fig tree. Rather than seek out a relationship by faith in God, they took the Law and twisted it, believing they could secure their own salvation. Wrong!

In an article Ren Broekhuizen wrote for Focus On The Family, he illustrated sin as GARBAGE. He wrote:

“… everybody’s garbage smells the same.

The garbage of the “beautiful people” posing on the red carpets for the Oscars smells the same as the garbage of the fans across the country at a Yankee game.

The garbage of the “important people” in our nation’s capital smells the same as the dented garbage cans along the sidewalk in East St. Louis.

The garbage of women in glamorous gowns and the garbage of handsome men in tuxedos smells the same as the garbage of men behind bars in orange jumpsuits or the men in pressed business suits.

The garbage of helpful women in waitress’s aprons smells the same as the garbage of pretty young school teachers in high heels. … We all have litter, refuse, junk, rubbish, garbage—whatever scale we use to minimize the disobedience in our lives.”

Our sin stinks equally to God – this is why we all desperately need Jesus. Jesus told the self righteous Pharisees and Scribes:

Matthew 23:27-28 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchers, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. {28} Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.

The Promised Messiah came to save us from the Law and from our sins, to teach us that God wants a living relationship with us. Jesus Christ came to this earth, calling whosoever will to His side. Jesus Christ wants to be your High Priest, representing you to God. He calls you to follow Him.

Jesus Christ Is Not A Shadow

The High Priest of Israel stood inside a Tabernacle or a Temple, and there made offering for his sins and the sins of the people. But Jesus does not stand in the Tabernacle or the Temple. Jesus sits on the right hand of God.

Hebrews 8:1-2 Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an High Priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens; {2} A minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man.

We HAVE such an High Priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens. The shadow priesthood of Israel stood representing the Messiah Who would one day come. This Messiah, Jesus Christ, is:

Hebrews 12:2 … 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.

The High Priest of Israel carried an animal sacrifice into the Temple, an animal given to him by the people. Jesus Christ Himself carried no animal to the altar. Jesus laid His life down, a perfect life, a sinless life, and took upon Himself our sins. Jesus Christ, eternal God made flesh, gave His life for us. He became the “Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29, 26). Jesus told those who would listen to Him:

John 10:15, 17 As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep. 17 Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again.

The Father loves Jesus, but He loves us so much that He gave His Only Begotten Son for us. Jesus went to not an altar in the Temple, but a Cross on a hill called Calvary. On that Cross Jesus suffered as no man has ever suffered again. He not only experienced the horrible pain of crucifixion:

Psalm 22:14-15 I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels. 15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death.

But as our sins were poured out on Jesus, the Father turned His back on the Son. The Bible says:

Matthew 27:46 about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?

Like the old song said,

Living, He loved me
Dying, He saved me
Buried, He carried my sins far away
Rising, He justified, freely forever
One day He’s coming
Oh glorious day, oh glorious day

Jesus Christ perfectly matched God’s standard. The writer of Hebrews tells us:

Hebrews 8:4 For if he were on earth, he should not be a priest, seeing that there are priests that offer gifts according to the law…

If our High Priest, Jesus Christ, was ministering on the earth, then he should not be a priest. Jesus Christ could not have been made a High Priest under the Old Covenant. Why, you might ask. Because Jesus was born into this earth of the Tribe of Judah, of the line of David. Under the Mosaic Law Jesus was qualified to be King of Israel, but He could not be made priest or High Priest. But Jesus Christ, ascending to the right hand of God the Father – a preeminent place – is a High Priest

Hebrews 5:6 “… for ever after the order of Melchizedek.”

Who was Melchizedek? We see this strange person first mentioned in the Bible when Father Abraham returned from rescuing Lot from Chedorlaomer we read:

Genesis 14:18-20 … Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God. 19 And he blessed {Abram}, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth: 20 and blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And {Abram} gave {Melchizedek} tithes of all.

Long before God gave Moses the Law and the High Priesthood of the Old Covenant, Abram met Melchizedek, the king of Salem or the “King of Peace”. Melchizedek blessed Abram, and encouraged him so much that Abram gave tithes of his income to Melchizedek. Jesus speaks of this foreshadowing when He tells the Pharisees and Scribes:

John 8:56-58 Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad. 57 Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? 58 Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.

Hundreds of years before there was an Old Covenant Law, Abraham met and gave his life to Jesus. As our Lord said, Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad. Salvation has always been by faith in Christ. It only comes by believing on Him, by coming to Him for a daily, minute by minute walk with Him. The Pharisees could not understand that. Jesus told them – and now I say unto you His Words:

John 8:42 If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me.

Jesus Christ is the One sent from the Father to save our souls. The Pharisees and Scribes followed not Jesus, but the rituals of the Old Covenant. The person who follows mere ritualism apart from a real relationship with Christ can only live their lives based on shadow. The person who takes lightly a living, growing faith in Christ is living very dangerously. At the least he or she can find themselves in trial or tribulation separated from the strengthening power that a relationship with God offers. At the most such a person can find themselves condemned to eternal hellfire if they leave this life in such an unbelieving state. God calls whosoever will to Jesus, to surrender to Him, to live in Him.

Hebrews 8:6 But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also {Jesus} is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises. 7 For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second. 8 For finding fault with THEM

Notice carefully the wording of this text. First, God is calling whosoever will to Jesus. The Old Covenant was not flawed – it was a perfect Law, a perfect Schoolmaster to bring us to Christ. But God found fault with THEM. Not with the Law, but with the followers of the Law. The THEM. That’s you and I, folks.

We are broken. The Law taught us we are broken. But the Law could not fix the brokenness. Only Jesus can!

The Old Covenant High Priest was a fallen person, a sinner like us, who represented man to God. But Jesus – oh how much better He is! Jesus is not only perfect and sinless High Priest:

Hebrews 4:15 … we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

Jesus is the sinless Mediator, a much better Mediator than the High Priest of the Old Covenant was. Furthermore, Jesus was …

1 Peter 1:19 … a LAMB without blemish and without spot …

So that He could take my failures before God – and yours too – upon Himself. He died in our place, and rising from the grave, ascended to Heaven to represent us before God the Father FOREVER.

Hebrews 8:6 {Jesus Christ} is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises.

What Are The Better Promises Of This New Covenant?

What are the better promises God has made us under Jesus? Under the New Covenant when you believe on Jesus, God the Holy Spirit comes to you and writes His Law – His Standard – on our hearts. We read:

Hebrews 8:10-11 I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: 11 and they shall not teach every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest.

When Jesus, at the Lord’s Supper, gave His disciples the Cup He told them:

Matthew 26:28 for this is my blood of the new {covenant}, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.

Jesus did not just say “My Blood is shed for ISRAEL ALONE”. No, He said, “this is my Blood of the New Covenant, which is “shed for many. When you call upon the name of Jesus, then Jesus will save you. He said of Himself,

Matthew 9:6 “… the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins … .”

That word power is the Greek exousia {pronounced ex-oo-see’-ah}, power of authority and of right, bestowed power such as king might bestow. Jesus declared:

Matthew 28:18 … All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.

When Joseph in Genesis 41 was given all authority over Egypt by Pharaoh, the Bible says “Pharaoh took the ring off of his hand, and put it upon Joseph’s hand” (Genesis 41:42). If God the Father had such a ring, He would have given it to Jesus. Jesus Christ has ALL power, ALL authority, and the ONLY ability to forgive sin. Jesus Christ is on the right hand of God the Father. When you believe on Him, and call out to Him, Jesus sends the Holy Spirit to you, to indwell you. The Bible says of the Christian:

1 Corinthians 3:16 Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?

If you believe on Jesus, you receive:

A Better Sacrifice
A Better High Priest
A Better Destination
A Better And Eternal Life

The New Covenant causes a change in the recipient’s heart. Moses prophesied of this New Covenant when he said:

Deuteronomy 30:6 … the Lord thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live.

Have You Received Jesus Christ As Lord And Savior?

There is only one true tabernacle and one true High Priest, and these are in Heaven. If you want to be forgiven so you can one day gain entrance into this place called Heaven, you must come to Jesus this very day. When you receive Jesus as He is, then to you …

John 1:12 … gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:

The power of God will come upon you. The Holy Spirit will change you. Trust in and receive Jesus this very day. What will the Judge say about you when you see Him in Heaven? Will He say that He knows you, that you’ve been a friend to Him, that you’ve obediently laid down your life for Him as He has laid down His life for you? Or will the Righteous Judge, our High Priest Who sits on the Right Hand of God the Father say “depart from Me, I never knew you”?

Before Billy Graham left this earth, he said:

Heaven is real because Jesus is real — He is the way, the truth, and the life — and Heaven is where Jesus is — and I am going to Him soon.”

You have a choice. Obey Him and grow in Him, or reject Him and suffer the consequences of that rejection. May God touch your hearts with this message and by His Spirit. Amen and Amen.

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Do You Have Christ’s Fullness?

Photo by Mohamed Nohassi on Unsplash

John 1:14-18 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. 15 John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me. 16 And of his fullness have all we received, and grace for grace. 17 For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. 18 No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.

When the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, God Himself entered His own creation. Jesus Christ is the Eternal Word of God, God the Son …

Colossians 1:14-17 … in whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: 15 who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: 16 for by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: 17 and he is before all things, and by him all things consist.

Word Study This Jesus, this Word was made flesh. The word translated made is the Greek γίνομαι gínomai, {pronounced ghin’-om-ahee}, which means to begin to be, to become. Though Jesus was born (Greek γεννάω {pronounced gennaō}) into this world as children have always been born, John previously made the point that Jesus preexisted with God the Father in eternity. Jesus did not just come to be when Mary bore Him (Matthew 1:16), but existed with both Father and Spirit from eternity past. Through the operation of the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:35) and without the assistance of man, Jesus was conceived. He, Eternal God, took on flesh. The Biblical Illustrator notes:

It was a custom of old among the shepherds, they {clothed} themselves with sheep-skins, to be more pleasing to the sheep; so Christ clothed Himself with our flesh, that the Divine nature may be more pleasing to us {Less frightening}. The human nature {of Christ}is {like}a glass, through which we may see the love and wisdom and glory of God clearly represented to us. Through the lantern of Christ’s humanity, we may behold the light of the Deity shining.”

Jesus Christ is God … manifest in the flesh (1 Timothy 3:16). Jesus lowered Himself from Heaven’s Throne to reach us with the glorious Gospel of God. The Gospel of Christ is not a Gospel of works. It is a Gospel:

John 1:14 … FULL of Grace and Truth

It is God’s intention one day – at the end of time – to bring Heaven down to earth. To populate this future Kingdom He is bringing more sons and daughters into His present Kingdom. Be certain, I do not know when, for none know the time, but God’s future Kingdom will come. He said through the Prophet …

Isaiah 65:17 … For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.

And that new Heaven and new earth was to be for His people. God said:

Isaiah 66:22 … For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me, saith the Lord, so shall your seed and your name remain.

That future earth, cleansed of sin and sadness, is the home of God’s present people. Our eyes should be heavenward, looking up! The early Church stressed looking up and being prepared. Jesus stressed looking up and being prepared.

2 Peter 3:13 Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.

God will not make a new Heaven and a new earth until He makes a new people, a people to inhabit that future glorious place. When God brings the New Jerusalem down to this new earth, old lost people will not inhabit it. Only those who are in Christ, saved by the grace of God. Only those who have received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior will be in that future world. We become new creatures by being IN CHRIST:

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

The NEW CREATURE is not founded on the rituals of the Mosaic Law, but by faith in Christ.

Galatians 6:15 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.

God Introduced The Messiah Far From
The Temple For A Reason

It was prophesied that when the Messiah came, that He would be proceeded by a herald. When the King came, He was always announced by a Herald.

When John the Baptist began to preach on the Jordan River, people flocked to His services. The Pharisees were curious. If John were actually the Herald of the Messiah, why wouldn’t the Herald announce the King from the Temple.

John 1:19-23 And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art thou? 20 And he confessed, and denied not; but confessed, I am not the Christ. 21 And they asked him, What then? Art thou {Elijah}? And he saith, I am not. Art thou that prophet {the one to replace Moses, the Messiah}? And he answered, No. 22 Then said they unto him, Who art thou? that we may give an answer to them that sent us. What sayest thou of thyself? 23 He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet {Isaiah}.

Who art thou, John?”. What they were asking was, “Why aren’t you at the Temple? Why out here in the wilderness?” The answer is simple.

Year after year the Israelite went through ritual sacrifices, ritual feasts, and ritual circumcisions. These things all emanated from the Temple.

John 1:17 For the law was given by Moses

John is not referring to a moral code, but a ceremonial code. The moral code of right and wrong has never changed. But the ceremonial code, the Law given by God through Moses. Now, let me ask you this question:

Was Moses saved by the Law? Was he saved by sacrificing animals? What about Israel? Was any Israelite ever saved by the ceremonial Law? Absolutely not!

Moses, like John the Baptist, was a Herald of God. When God raised Moses up to lead Israel from Egypt, Israel had NEITHER Tabernacle nor Temple. Both Moses and John the Baptist ministered outside of the Temple and its sacrifices.

Moses was not saved by the Law, but by the Grace of God.

Israel was not saved by the Law, but by the Grace of God.
No one – absolutely NO ONE – has ever been saved by animal sacrifices.

God’s Word in both Old and New Testaments is “the JUST {those right with God} shall LIVE BY FAITH” (Habakkuk 2:4). Would you like further proof? Before there was ever a Tabernacle (a temporary and portable Temple), God and Moses had this discussion:

Exodus 33:12-17 Moses said unto the Lord, See, thou sayest unto me, Bring up this people: and thou hast not let me know whom thou wilt send with me. Yet Thou hast said, I know thee by name, and thou hast also found grace in my sight. 13 Now therefore, I pray thee, if I have found grace in thy sight, shew me now thy way, that I may know thee, that I may find grace in thy sight: and consider that this nation is thy people. 14 And he said, My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest. 15 And {Moses} said unto {God}, If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence. 16 For wherein shall it be known here that I and thy people have found grace in thy sight? is it not in that thou goest with us? so shall we be separated, I and thy people, from all the people that are upon the face of the earth. 17 And the Lord said unto Moses, I will do this thing also that thou hast spoken: for thou hast found grace in my sight, and I know thee by name.

Salvation has always come to humans through faith in God, apart from the feasts, the animal sacrifices, and apart from either Tabernacle or Temple.

Salvation has ALWAYS been by Grace, according to the Grace of God. God gave Israel the Law not to save Israel, but to show Israel the COST AND VALUE OF GRACE. Grace is free to us, but cost God so very much. The Innocent must die to cover the sin of the guilty. The ritual sacrifices of animals without spot or blemish looked forward to the coming of Christ Jesus. God would become Man, and take the place of the Old Covenant sacrifice. Jesus Christ would come and bring salvation to all who believe in Him. Salvation has ALWAYS been by faith in God, a free GIFT of God. When we read:

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

We are not being told that there was EVER a way that the Law could bring about salvation. Moses was saved by grace. If the Israelite was saved, they were saved by Grace. But the FULL COST of GRACE was not seen until Jesus Christ came.

Back to John the Baptist. Like Moses, John ministers to the people far from the rituals associated with the Temple. The Temple itself was defiled. The Temple was built by Herod, a puppet king under the thumb of Pilate and Rome. Herod set on the Throne that was supposed to be occupied only by the line of Judah.

And Herod was not even a Jew! He was an Idumean, a relative of the Edomites, the line that descended from Esau and not Jacob.

Those who came to John in the wilderness were tired, broken people. They had been under Roman rule for so long, and the ritual sacrifices and the self righteousness of the Pharisees wearied them. The people needed the Messiah. They wanted God to fulfill the promise that He made through the Prophet,

Jeremiah 31:33 … this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.

a promise of a better covenant. A covenant that did not require repetitive ritual sacrifices. A covenant that actually changed their hearts and fitted them for the Kingdom of God. The New Covenant brought in by the Messiah, Jesus Christ, freed us from slavery to the rituals of the Law. It freed us from slavery to ourselves.

The Messiah is not Moses, not John the Baptist, but the One that both Moses and John saw. The Messiah is Jesus Christ. John said of Jesus:

John 1:15 … This was He of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for He was before me.


Word Study Let’s break this down. The word translated preferred is the Greek Perfect Active Indicative of γίνομαι gínomai, {pronounced ghin’-om-ahee}, meaning to exist”. He is saying “Jesus existed before me”. Then John says, He was before me. The word translated before is the Greek πρῶτος prōtos, {pronounced pro’-tos}, which means “first in power and authority”. Jesus Christ is no mere Man, but He is God in human form. The Bible says that Jesus is:

Revelation 1:11 … Alpha and Omega, the FIRST (prōtos) and the last…

Jesus is greater than John the Baptist. Jesus is greater than Moses himself. This is brought out in:

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

Praise God for Jesus! The Scottish Preacher Robert Murray McCheyne said:

When this passing world is done, when has sunk yon glaring sun;
When I stand with Christ in glory, Looking o’er life’s finished story;
Then, Lord, shall I fully know, Not till then how much I owe.
When I stand before the Throne, Dressed in beauty not my own;
When I see thee as Thou art, Love Thee with unsinning heart;
Then Lord, shall I fully know, Not till then how much I owe.”

Salvation is by faith in God, by receiving Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. The Law was only a partial solution for sin. Jesus Christ is a FULL solution for sin.

John 1:16 And of his fullness have all we received, and grace for grace.

The Christian has received the FULLNESS of Christ’s salvation. What do we pay for our salvation? grace for grace. How is salvation received? By clinging to Christ. By surrendering to Christ. By throwing yourself on Christ.

The Law Teaches Us Our Need,
But Jesus FULFILLS Our Need

John 1:16 And of his fullness have all we received…

You have nothing that God can use, but Jesus has everything you need. We are all broken. The Law was given to show us our brokenness. The Bible says:

Galatians 3:23-26 … 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.

Israel kept falling into enslavement of other nations because, instead of relying on the grace of God (Grace for Grace), they relied on their own righteousness. Year after year they made ritual sacrifices, followed ritual feasts, and went through ritual circumcisions that did nothing to save them. These rituals – repeated yearly – were proof that:

Hebrews 10:1-4 the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect. 2 For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshipers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins. 3 But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. 4 For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.

Every year, year after year, the Israelite made sacrifices and followed rituals that did not satisfy. They were continually incomplete. But when Messiah came, He came to save us ONCE AND FOR ALL. The Scripture says:

John 1:16 … And of his fullness have all we received, and grace for grace.

When you receive Jesus, you receive a FULL salvation. Note again the text, “of His fullness have we ALL RECEIVED”. When you give yourselves to Jesus, when you receive Him as Lord and Savior, you receive a FULL salvation. The word “RECEIVED” is past tense. It is a completed action. We are told in:

Galatians 3:11-14 But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith. 12 And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them. 13 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: 14 that the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

Chuck Swindoll said:

The law emphasized God’s divine standards and the inability of fallen mankind to meet them, while grace rescues fallen humanity from deserved punishment. The law pinpoints the problem, and grace fixes the problem.”

Jesus was made a curse in our place. The believer in Christ has received of His fullness. We have,

A full pardon from sin.
A fully new birth from God.
A full partnership with God the Holy Spirit.
A full citizenship in God’s Kingdom.
A full acceptance in the Beloved.

John 1:16 And of his fullness have all we received, and grace for grace.

If you have been saved by faith in Jesus Christ, you are not a PART TIME Christian, but a FULL TIME Christian. John Gillmartin wrote:

Part time butterflies don’t exist! Why? No butterfly ever returns to crawling on branches once it has flown in the heavens above. Butterflies might periodically rest among the branches, but they’ll never abide there again. Likewise there are no such creatures as part time believers. Once the spirit of man has tasted the freedom of our heavenly and eternal Christ, it will never return to the bondage of this earthly and temporal world. Anyone guilty of longing for his former life has never left it!”

Salvation – true salvation – focuses on Jesus Christ. No one is ever saved from sin by their own works. The Apostle said:

Romans 4:4-8 Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. 5 But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. 6 Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, 7 saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. 8 Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.

Salvation is not a wage that God gives us for being His servants. Salvation is a gift that God gives to those who cast themselves on Him, by faith. If you are a Christian, God is at work in your life. You are …

2 Corinthians 5:17 … a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new ..

The Christian is given a new focus in life. From the moment of salvation, the Christian lives for God and His glory, not for ourselves. We are givenm the daily gift of life to live for our Lord and Savior. We are a delivered people:

Colossians 1:13-14 {God the Father} hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: 14 in whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:

We who are Christians belong to God the Son. Our citizenship is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ: who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body(Philippians 3:20-21). As believers we don’t need to drive our tent stakes too deep in this present earth. This world is not our home – we’re just passing through! God is at work in our lives, and will hold on to us until the day we see our Savior face to face.

I close with these appropriate words from John Newton, the Author of “Amazing Grace”:

I am not what I ought to be – ah, how imperfect and deficient! I am not what I wish to be – I abhor what is evil, and I would cleave to that which is good! I am not what I hope to be – soon, soon shall I put off mortality, and with mortality all sin and imperfection. Yet, though I am not what I ought to be, nor what I wish to be, nor what I hope to be, I can truly say, I am not what I once was; a slave to sin and Satan; and I can heartily join with the Apostle, and acknowledge, “By the grace of God I am what I am”.

No Christian is perfect, but we are on the pathway to perfection and eternal life. I pray that you have received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Only through Christ can you be made fit for Heaven and God’s Kingdom. If you do not know Jesus as Lord and Savior, I pray that you will call on Him this very day. Jesus said:

John 6:38-40 For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. 39 And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. 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.

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

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The Lamb’s Book Of Life

You Must Be Born Again

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

A Wonderful Life Is Coming For Those Who Believe

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jesus Christ told the Church at Sardis:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Psalmist David wrote against evil doers, saying,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Self Righteousness is just another Golden Calf.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Revelation 20:12 … and the books were opened:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It Is God Who Makes All Things New

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

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

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

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

John 3:7 …. Ye MUST be born again …

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

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

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

You can only overcome by letting go!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And where will you be then?

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

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Receive Jesus, Receive Power

Photo by Alex Hockett on Unsplash

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

Let Us Strive To Finish Well

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Finishing Well Does Not Depend
On Your Physical Birth

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We Must Receive Jesus As He Is

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

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

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

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

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

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

But Jesus was. The Bible says:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And later told us:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

to them gave he power to become the sons of God

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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For A Bowl Of Lentil Stew

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

Turn with me in your Bibles to:

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

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

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

Esau was “ME” focused.

Pastor John MacArthur said about Esau:

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

Background To Our Text

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We Need Grace, Not Lentil Stew

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We are told in:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Grace That Saves Is The Grace
That Keeps On Saving

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

Hebrews 12:15 LOOKING diligently …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    You cannot walk with the devil and run with Jesus

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

I want to close focusing on these words.

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

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

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What About That Mansion?

Photo by Nick Romanov on Unsplash

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God Never Places An Emphasis On Owning Stuff

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Say with me skay-nay’

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

God Never Cared About Brick And Mortar Mansions

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

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

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

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

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

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

God “Tabernacled” Among His People

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Humans Occupy Tents, So God Made Himself A Tent

God provides us immortality through Jesus.

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

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

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

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

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

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

And the Archangel Gabriel told Mary:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Living With Surety (A Wednesday Devotional)

Photo by Gift Habeshaw on Unsplash

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If you are saved, you follow Jesus.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

give diligence to make your
CALLING and election sure

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

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

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

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

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

God saved you, and God owns you.

When God saved Israel, He told them:

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

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

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

Holiness Is A Positive, Not A Negative

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The great Evangelist Dwight L. Moody said:

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

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

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Old And New Memorials

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

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

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

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

This lone Man is the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Passover Is An Old Covenant Memorial

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Lord’s Table Is The New Covenant Passover

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jesus willingly died for our sins.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our Lord Jesus came, saying:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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No Root, No Fruit

No Root, no Fruit
Photo by Andy Watkins on Unsplash

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Men And Women Are Created To Walk With God

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God Wants Your Heart – Not Your Ritual

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

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

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

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

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

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

Then Jesus Christ came. Our Lord Jesus:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Preaching Of The Cross

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some, Like The Pharisees & Scribes, Reject The Cross

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hear Jesus’ words. He said:

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

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

Or consider the seventh commandment against adultery. Jesus said:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Jews Seek A Sign, The Gentiles Seek Knowledge

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

John 1:1-3 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 The same was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made…. 14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Seeking Father And The Sure Mercies Of David

Photo by Timothy Eberly on Unsplash

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We are incomplete without God. Our text tells us:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

David Often Sought The Lord,
Whereas Saul Did Not

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

David Heeded God, Not Man

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pursue
Overtake
Recover

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

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

In Conclusion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Parable Of Two Idolaters

idols abound
Photo by Gabriel Meinert on Unsplash

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PS and PS – both initially missed the mark!

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

Publican Sinner Worshiped SELF & STUFF

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

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

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

God is so good to us all. Jesus said,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Luke 15:17 … And when he came to himself

This is what the Bible calls REPENTANCE.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Having An Attitude of Gratitude

Photo by Marcos Paulo Prado on Unsplash

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As children of the King, let us

Rejoice Evermore – At ALL times!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Attitude Of Gratitude Is For The Prayerful

1 Thessalonians 5:17 Pray without ceasing.

If God is in partnership with your life, and if the Scripture is true that says:

Hebrews 13:5 … I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. … then

We as Christians should find prayer as
easy and natural as breathing!

Prayer is not just asking God for things. Prayer is talking to God your Father. What a joy it is to know that I have the ear of God, especially when I am going through trials and tribulations. As we pray, we give God the glory by acknowledging that He is Father, and we His children. We honor His name in our prayers, seeking only the glory of God.

Matthew 6:9 Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.

Prayer honors God by seeking His will in our lives. When His Kingdom comes in our lives, we are filled with joy.

Matthew 6:10 Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.

Prayer changes our environment by changing our hearts. Moses prayed:

Exodus 33:13-16 … Now therefore, I pray thee, if I have found grace in thy sight, shew me now thy way, that I may know thee, that I may find grace in thy sight: and consider that this nation is thy people. 14 And he said, My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest. 15 And {Moses}{ said unto {God}, If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence. 16 For wherein shall it be known here that I and thy people have found grace in thy sight? is it not in that thou goest with us?

Prayer gives glory to God, and magnifies His will in our lives. Prayer invites God into our DAILY lives. “If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence”.

In prayer, we lay our needs at the Father’s feet. We pray:

Matthew 6:11-13 Give us this day our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil…

The closer we are to God, the greater will be our attitude of gratitude. Israel was more focused on where they came from, rather than where God was leading them. Invite God into your environment. Walk with Him: “walk in the light, as He is in the light” (1 John 1:7). Confess and repent of any active sin, knowing that sin in the heart muffles your union with God in Christ.

Proverbs 15:29 The Lord is far from the wicked: but he heareth the prayer of the righteous.

It is sin that quenches or grieves the Holy Spirit of God.

1 Thessalonians 5:19 Quench not the Spirit.

We suppress or grieve the Holy Spirit when we walk in the darkness, following the world instead of the Lord. We are not as we were before we were saved. As Christians, the Holy Spirit of God now lives in us.

We QUENCH the Spirit when we do NOT DO what He says do.
We GRIEVE the Spirit when we do what He says NOT to do.

The Spirit of God now lives inside you, dear Christian. “If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His” (Romans 8:9). You are now the Temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you, which you have of God (1 Corinthians 6:19). God knows your hearts. Confess any active sin in your lives, and repent of that way of life. Hear the Word of God, and apply it to your lives.

1 Thessalonians 5:20 Despise not prophesyings.

Hear what the Word of God says, and do it. The Bible that we have is written by God.

2 Peter 1:21 the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.

Heed the Word of God, and do what it says.

1 Thessalonians 5:21 Prove all things; hold fast to that which is good.

Do not live your life based on your feelings, but on what God has said in His Word. So many of us rob ourselves of blessing when we do not prayerfully weigh all things against the Word of God.

Illustrate A little girl came to her daddy and asked for a nickle. The father generously opened his wallet and handed her a five dollar bill. The child tossed the bill on the floor, and demanded the nickle. Her daddy said, “But honey, that’s a five dollar bill!” Her reply is like what many of us stubbornly give God. “I don’t want that. I want a nickle”.

Weigh everything by God’s Word and God’s Spirit. When someone tells you something to be true, verify it by the Word of God and the Holy Spirit. Make sure that what you are being told is not just a word from man. It is the Word of God that blesses. Your life should align with God’s Word if you expect to have power in prayer.

Be Thankful For All Things – Even The Hard

1 Thessalonians 5:18 In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

Did you get the Covid? Be thankful. That was God’s will for your life. Trials grow the Christian. Thank Him for it.

Are you in a hospital, or long term care facility? Be grateful. This is where God wants you to minister. Tell others of Jesus.

Do you have cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, or some other affliction common to mankind. Thank God for it. Do not be filled with sadness or depression or anxiety. Be FILLED with THE HOLY SPIRIT. The Bible says in …

Ephesians 5:18-21 be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; 19 speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; 20 giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; 21 submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.

Some people take a shot of whiskey, a mixed cocktail, a marijuana product, or a pill to “steady the nerves” or “calm you down”. God’s prescription is to FILL yourself with the Holy Spirit. Chase out the doom and gloom with song! Like a bird, let your hearts be filled with song!

When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

Count your blessings, name them one by one;
Count your blessings, see what God hath done;
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
Count your many blessings, every doubt will fly,
And you will be singing as the days go by.

When you look at others with their lands and gold,
Think that Christ has promised you His wealth untold.
Count your many blessings, money cannot buy
Your reward in heaven, nor your Lord on high.

So amid the conflict, whether great or small,
Do not be discouraged, God is over all;
Count your many blessings, angels will attend,
Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.

If it is true that “all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28), then the trial you are going through is GOOD. Trust God in it. Trials make us more like Christ. As we are told in

James 1:2-4 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers {trials}; 3 knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. 4 But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

Had the first generation of Israel trusted the God Who saved them, they would have entered the Promised Land. God will not do great things with those who have little faith. Thank God for what you have, and for what you lack. Seek an attitude of gratitude.

Pastor Max Lucado wrote:

“A grateful heart sees each day as a gift. Thankful people focus less on what they lack and more on the privileges they have. I attended a banquet recently in which a wounded soldier was presented with the gift of a free house. He nearly fell over with gratitude. He bounded onto the stage with his one good leg and threw both arms around the presenter. “Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!” He hugged the guitar player in the band and the big woman on the front row. He thanked the waiter, the other soldiers, and then the presenter again. Before the night was over, he thanked me! And I didn’t do anything. Shouldn’t we be equally grateful? Jesus is building a house for us (John 14:2). Our deed of ownership is every bit as certain as that of the soldier.”

God did a wonderful thing for us, dear Christian, when He saved our souls. We have Heaven before us, hell behind us, and a Savior and Lord Who cannot be defeated. When we rejoice at all times, pray at all times, and give thanks at all times, we will change our environment. We will be the light that Jesus calls His Church to be. Let us be the light of the world, a city that is set on a hill that cannot be hid (Matthew 5:14). May God touch your hearts with His Word and His Spirit. Amen and Amen.

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This Is Not A Commercial

Photo by Kate Trysh on Unsplash

The grandchildren asked grandma what she wanted for Mother’s day. She said, “I just want my family to go to Church with me this Sunday”. So come Sunday, her children and grandchildren got up, got dressed, and went to Church. After the service they gathered around Grandma’s table to eat. She asked her grandchildren, “So what did you think about the Church service”? The youngest child spoke up. “I really enjoyed the singing – but the commercial was way too long!”

Let’s play a little “pretend” right now. What if today was the last day on earth I could talk to you, and this be the last day you could hear from me? What words would I want to leave with you if I were to go to glory tonight? Better than that, if you were to hear the last words God spoke to you on this earth, what would these last words be? Well, we don’t have to guess on this last part. The last recorded words Jesus Christ spoke are found in the last book of your Bibles, in the last chapter, and in the next to the last verse of Scripture. Turn there with me.

Revelation 22:20 …. Surely I come quickly.

If you have a “Red Letter” Bible, these words of Jesus Christ would be in red. Jesus tells us that He is coming quickly. There is a sense of urgency in this last chapter, for Jesus says this not just here, but two other times for a total of three times. Three is the number of God in Scripture. Working backward through the chapter, we read:

Revelation 22:12-13 And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. 13 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.

Jesus is coming quickly! We do not know when He will come. He may come, and receive His Church by Rapture before I finish this message. Or Jesus may come and require your soul return to Him this very day. We do not know. As Pastor of this Church I have seen over twenty souls called to eternity, and few of those were expected when called. Jesus said I come quickly. Death, like a sleep, comes on us when we least expect it. Are you prepared? Jesus said in the third quote:

Revelation 22:7 Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book.

This Word that we will hear today is not a commercial for some do-dad that somebody wants to sell you. Jesus is coming quickly. Blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book. Are you ready if Jesus comes today? Tonight? Are you prepared to meet your Maker? As God spoke to the wayward nation Israel, He speaks to America today:

Amos 4:12-13 …. prepare to meet thy God, O {America}. 13 For, lo, he that formeth the mountains, and createth the wind, and declareth unto man what is his thought, that maketh the morning darkness, and treadeth upon the high places of the earth, The Lord, The God of hosts, is his name.

Why Should I Care That Jesus Comes Quickly?

Some of you may be thinking, “Why would I care if Jesus comes quickly? Jesus is no more than the founder of one religion among many. He’s dead anyway – why would I care?” You should care. Jesus is not just one founder of one religion among many. Jesus Christ is God Who became Perfect Man. Again, return to

Revelation 22:12 And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.

When next you see Jesus –

Revelation 1:7 Behold, He cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall WAIL because of him. Even so, Amen.

When Jesus comes – when you see Him in the air or when He comes to you at this life’s end – He will come as Judge of all. all kindreds of the earth shall WAIL because of him. The first Adam brought sin into the world – “and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Romans 5:12). Man ate of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and, from that terrible first error, man has developed his own sense of what he or she thinks is right or wrong. Today in our world it is common – even in Church settings – to hear people affirm actions and beliefs that are NOT taught in the Scripture. We as humans have become arbiters of what we think is true. Beloved, Jesus is true. He that sent Jesus – God the Father – is true (John 7:28). Those who know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior can affirm Him and His Words, as John did:

1 John 5:20 … we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.

When Jesus comes again, He comes as Avenging God, judging God, righteous God. Jesus said:

John 5:22-23 For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son: 23 That all men should honor the Son, even as they honor the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him.

God the Father judges no one. All judgment has been given to Jesus. Those who have honored Jesus have honored the Father. Jesus Christ is the sole Judge of eternal life. The Apostle Peter told the Gentiles at the Centurion Cornelius’ home:

Acts 10:38-43 God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him. 39 And we are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree: 40 Him God raised up the third day, and shewed him openly; 41 Not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before God, even to us, who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead. 42 And {Jesus} commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead. 43 To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.

Jesus Christ is ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead. It is only through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins. Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God Who makes payment for our sins. Jesus Christ is the Judge, and the Savior. Oh Beloved, it is Jesus Who comes quickly – unexpectedly – and certainly!

Revelation 22:12 And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.

Jesus has the sole commission of the Godhead to give every man according as his work shall be. Jesus Christ is God made Man. He is the Eternal Word of God:

John 1:1-3 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 The same was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.

Jesus Christ is God manifest in the flesh (1 Timothy 3:16). He was, is, and will always be God the Son. He was transformed when the Holy Spirit came upon Mary, the Angel told Joseph in Matthew 1:20

that which is conceived in {Mary} is of the Holy Spirit”

and the Angel told Mary in Luke 1:35

that Holy Thing which shall be born of thee shall
be called The Son of God

Not A Son of God”, but THE Son of God”. Jesus Christ, God become Man, so that God could call sinful man to His side. Jesus’ reward (Greek μισθός misthós, {mis-thos’}), literally his WAGES or what is OWED HIM is that He be the Judge of all souls. It was Jesus Who – in eternity past – agreed with both Father and Spirit to enter fallen humanity, to take upon Himself flesh and blood. The Bible says:

Hebrews 2:14 … as the children {of Adam} are partakers of flesh and blood, {Jesus} also Himself took part of the same; that through death He might destroy Him that had the power of death, that is, the devil

Man sinned against God, creating an eternal barrier between us. Jesus Christ came to break down that barrier. He is not “just a man”, or “just a founder”. Read with me again:

Revelation 22:12-13 And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. 13 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.

Jesus says not “I WAS Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last, but I AM Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last. Let us look at His titles for just a moment.

Jesus Christ IS Alpha and Omega

It was the fruit of the “Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil” that Adam ate, plunging us into the abyss of sin. When John the Revelator walked the earth (he is the God inspired chronicler of this Revelation) the Greeks were thought to possess all knowledge. The Greek language had spanned the world. Even among the Jews of John’s day, many Jews no longer read Hebrew. The Hebrew Bible was translated into Greek, a text called the “Septuagint”. In the Greek Alphabet the first letter is ALPHA, and the last letter is OMEGA. When Jesus said I am Alpha and OmegaHe is saying “I have ALL THE KNOWLEDGE AND WISDOM”. Humans believe ourselves to possess great knowledge and wisdom – but often our wisdom is foolishness.

1 Corinthians 3:18 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness.

Mankind in our foolishness have turned the simplicity of human sexuality into a mad, confused mess. We smile and nod at one another, believing we know better than God. When we depart from God, we enter the sea of madness. The Prophet said:

Daniel 2:20-22 Blessed be the name of God for ever and ever: for wisdom and might are his: 21 And he changeth the times and the seasons: he removeth kings, and setteth up kings: he giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding: 22 He revealeth the deep and secret things: he knoweth what is in the darkness, and the light dwelleth with him.

All Light and all Knowledge is found in Jesus Christ, in the Word He has spoken. Is your life in disarray? Is your family in trouble? Turn to Him Who is Alpha and Omega. Come to God and, by faith, receive the Gift of God – salvation by relationship to Christ. Bring your burdens to Him. Bring your brokenness to Him. He is able. Jesus is the Alpha and Omega. The Bible promises:

John 1:12 … as many as received {Jesus}, to them gave He POWER to BECOME the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name

When you receive the Son of God as Lord and Savior, you yourselves become “Children of God by faith in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:26). Receive Him as Alpha and Omega. The world stumbles around in darkness, the “blind leading the blind, and both falling in the ditch” (Matthew 15:14). To Him Who receives Jesus, and does as He says, that person is …

Matthew 7:24-25 … a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: 25 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.

The Child of the King of Kings lives their life victoriously. We do not stumble, but walk in the Master’s footprints.

I could care less for what Oprah said,
But heed Jesus Who rose from the dead.
Who is impressed by the talk show host?
Let’s love Jesus, Who gives us the most.

Adrian Rogers said,

There is power in the Word of God, and Satan does not want you to understand the authority of the Word of God. He doesn’t want you to get the power that will divert his fiery attacks away from your heart — his prime target. When the Word of the Lord and the Lord of the Word become your authority, then Satan and all of his demonic forces will flee, and you are going to have authority for your life.”

Jesus Christ Is The Beginning And the End

Revelation 22:12-13 And, behold, I come quickly … 13 I am … the beginning and the end …

In Jesus is contained all the wisdom of the Godhead. He is the Alpha and Omega. But Jesus is also the beginning and the end. It was Jesus at the beginning of human history that both Father and Spirit addressed, saying:

Genesis 1:26 … Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

The Father could not make man without the cooperation of the Son. Jesus Christ was there.

When Adam and Eve ate us out of house and home
our Lord Jesus was there.

Jesus has been with man from the beginning of human history, loving us, caring for us. When Adam led humanity into sin the Lord promised to come through the “seed of the woman” (Genesis 3:15). We see the first coming of Jesus promised in the Covenant God made with Abraham. We see Jesus in the Passover Lamb as Israel is freed from the grip of Egypt. There is Jesus in the Ark of the Covenant, for within the Ark is the manna or Bread of God, the Rod of Aaron, and the Ten Commandments.

Jesus is the Manna from Heaven
Jesus is the High Priest of His people
Jesus is the fulfiller of the Ten Commandments

Jesus is the fulfiller of the Law! By receiving Him as Lord and Savior, the Beginning and the End, your life will begin anew. Because Jesus lives, you shall live forever. Jesus is no shadow, but the very Bread of God. He said:

John 6:33, 35 … the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world. … 35 And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.

Jesus is the beginning of everlasting life.
Jesus is the ending of death.
Jesus is the beginning of peace with God.
Jesus is the ending of false gods.
Jesus is the beginning of victory.
Jesus is the ending of fear and victimhood.

If Jesus Christ is your Savior and Lord, then we have His promise:

John 5:24 … Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.

Jesus Christ Is The First And The Last

Revelation 22:12-13 And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. 13 I am …. the first and the last.

If Jesus Christ is first in your hearts, then He will be first and last in your life. In the Old Testament, God often referred to Himself as the first and the last. For instance:

Isaiah 44:6 Thus saith the Lord the King of Israel, and his redeemer the Lord of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God.

Isaiah 48:12 Hearken unto me, O Jacob and Israel, my called; I am he; I am the first, I also am the last.

The reason God took this name for Himself is because His First Commandment is:

Matthew 22:37 …. Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

To be saved, you must give God your ALL. He doesn’t want your leftovers, but your whole life. We are to love God with our ALL. Jesus Christ is God Incarnate. Jesus said in:

Luke 14:26 If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he CANNOT BE my disciple.

To be saved we come to Jesus, and lay our lives at His feet. The Apostle John commented right after noting Jesus’ three part declaration of Himself:

Revelation 22:14-15 Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. 15 For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.

Those who are allowed into Heaven are those who do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life. What is God’s great work? One day some people asked Jesus:

John 6:28 … What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?

Jesus replied in John 6:29, “This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent. What does God expect of us? “To believe on Him – Jesus – Whom the Father has sent”. Jesus is the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.” He is God’s Light to a sin filled and broken world.

If you do not know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, today is the day to call upon Him and be saved.

How Is One Saved? By Coming To Jesus. Period.

As we finish today, I now come to a place of invitation. Will you come to Jesus? Will you give your lives to Him? If you are a saved believer who, like a prodigal son, has wandered from home, will you not repent and return to Him? We are told in:

Revelation 22:17 … the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.

Jesus is coming soon. Don’t make Him chase you. Come to Him, now, and be saved. the Spirit and the bride say, Come. The bride is the Church of Jesus Christ, the people who have received Him as Lord and Savior. The “Bride is the Lamb’s wife” (Revelation 21:9-11). It is the city of Heaven, the place where Christ’s redeemed live. God’s people bid you come. God the Holy Spirit bids that you come.

Word Study The word translated “COME” in our text is the Greek word ercomai (pronounced er’-khom-ahee), which means “to move from where you are to go along with another”. The Holy Spirit and the Bride say “COME”. You cannot “COME” and continue following your own path. Dear friends, God does not follow us, but we follow God. If we want to be saved we must follow God.

So many linger, holding back when the invitation is given. “I cannot step out, and receive Christ publicly. What will the Church think? What will my neighbor think?” The answer is in our text. Let him that heareth say, Come. The believer in Christ will rejoice if you come! The angels of Heaven will rejoice if you come. Let him that is athirst come. If you are thirsty for life, come. Do not hesitate, but give your life to Him. Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely. Oh, what a wonderful day to be born into the Kingdom of God – on Mother’s day! May God move on your hearts through His Word and His Spirit. Amen and Amen!

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And You

Photo by Derek Story on Unsplash

Colossians 2:8-14 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. 9 For in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. 10 And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power: 11 in whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: 12 buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead. 13 And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; 14 blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;

The Devil Attacks The Christian With
Philosophy & Vain Deceit

Word Study The word translated spoil is the Greek συλαγωγέω sylagōgéō, {pronounced soo-lag-ogue-eh’-o} means literally “to carry off as a spoil of war or booty, to lead captive”. Satan is constantly attacking the Church with the emptiness of human traditions and laws. Through a series of secular laws America has normalized godlessness.

Prayer removed from schools in 1962
The Bible removed from schools in 1963

Abortion legalized in 1973
The Ten Commandments removed from public view in 1980
Same sex marriage codified in 2015
Expanding homosexual & transgender rights in 2020

The nation was never meant to be the source of righteousness. Government exists solely to equally protect it’s citizens. The Apostle Paul, though imprisoned for preaching the Gospel of Christ, wrote:

Romans 13:1-4 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. 2 Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: 4 for he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.

The government was never meant to be the Church. The government is a kingdom of man established or allowed by God. The Kingdom of God is divinely appointed, headed by Jesus Christ, and inhabited by those who have received Christ as BOTH Lord and Savior. It is only the believer in Christ who is ordered to:

Matthew 6:33 seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

The person who puts their faith in philosophy and vain deceit are following the same path that the Pharisees and Sadducees of Jesus’ day did. King Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, chased after philosophy or human wisdom apart from faith in Christ. Solomon said:

Ecclesiastes 1:16-18 I communed with mine own heart, saying, Lo, I am come to great estate, and have gotten more wisdom than all they that have been before me in Jerusalem: yea, my heart had great experience of wisdom and knowledge. 17 And I gave my heart to know wisdom, and to know madness and folly: I perceived that this also is vexation of spirit. 18 For in much wisdom is much grief: and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow.

In this Internet Ready, connected world we live in, it is easy for a Christian to be side tracked, as Solomon was, into worldly wisdom and philosophy. If the devil cannot prevent a person from entering the Kingdom of God by faith in Christ, he will attempt to hamstring that person by polluting their soul with human philosophy and human traditions.

I talked with someone who told me his brother came home from Church one day. This man asked his brother, “What did you learn at Church today?” His answer was, “That the preacher must wear a suit to Church”. I do wear a suit to Church. But this “doctrine” is not found in the Scripture, and is patently divisive. I asked another what he heard at a Church revival. He told me, “That women must not wear pants or open toed shoes”. This is not the Word of God, but human tradition. Jesus chastised the Pharisees and Sadducees for following tradition and not the Word of God:

Mark 7:5-9 the Pharisees and scribes asked him, Why walk not thy disciples according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashen hands? 6 He answered and said unto them, Well hath Isaiah {Isaiah 29:13} prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoreth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. 7 Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. 8 For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. 9 And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.

Colossians 2:8 … after the tradition of men, after the rudiments {stoicheîon, pronounced stoy-khi’-on} {base elements} of the world, and not after Christ

There were two systems of philosophy that attacked the Church at Corinth:

  1. Stoicism which taught that the person is greater than any circumstance. Stoicism often focuses on human traditions. Whether a person faced poverty or prosperity, the Stoic is detached about it. “I can do all things” is what the Stoic believed. The ancient Rabbis

    The poet William Ernest Henley wrote the poem Invictus celebrating the Stoic power of man:

(1) Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
(4) It matters not how strait the gate,

How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.

Though there are Stoics in America today, the greatest false teaching is Epicureanism. Epicureanism teaches that there is no ultimate truth, that truth is fluid, changeable, based upon the viewpoint of the person. Jesus spoke of the Epicurean attitude in:

Luke 12:16-21 And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: 17 and he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? 18 And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. 20 But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? 21 So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.

The Epicureans, like Atheists, push any thought of God out of their heart.

We Are All Incomplete Apart From Jesus

Jesus Christ is not just another Man, another Charismatic Leader, another figurehead of a religion. The Bible says:

Colossians 2:9 For in Him {in Jesus} dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.

In Jesus is all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. Jesus Christ is fully God and fully Man. The Scripture says:

Colossians 1:19 … it pleased the Father that in {Jesus} should all fullness dwell;

Jesus told His disciples “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father” and “I am in the Father and the Father is in me” (John 14:9-10). When He prayed, He said “you, Father, are in me, and I in you” (John 17:21). The Bible tells us that the Eternal God came from glory, and became like us, but without sin. He is “God with us” (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23).

Humans are broken because of sin. The Bible says:

1 John 1:8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us …

All humans are natural born sinners. When born into this world, we are born – not with a desire to do the good – but with a desire to pursue that which is against God. Our forefather Adam brought sin – like a plague – into this world and onto every son and daughter born from creation’s dawn. When you enter this world kicking and crying you enter it as a son or daughter of Adam.

You are not complete unless you have given yourselves to Christ. Ritual is not enough. Remember that Jesus said to the religious Pharisees:

John 8:44, 47 Ye are of [your] father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. … (47) He that is of God heareth God’s words: ye therefore hear [them]not, because ye are not of God.

Pharisees attempt to be “complete” or right with God apart from faith in Christ. That just won’t work. Jesus Christ contains “all the fullness of the Godhead bodily (in human form)”. We cannot be complete – qualified to enter Heaven – unless our lives are attached to Christ by faith.

Colossians 2:11-12 in {Jesus} also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: 12 buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.

When you receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, God the Holy Spirit acts on your life to make you “born again”. Your position before God changes.

A male child born into Israel was required by God to be circumcised on the eighth day of birth – or be cut off from Israel (Leviticus 12:3; Philippians 3:5). This circumcision was only performed on the boy, not on the girl. Circumcision did not save the child, but marked the boy child as a member of the Kingdom of God (Genesis 17). Because Jesus was “cut off” for our sins at Calvary, when we receive Him as Lord and Savior God “cuts us off” in our hearts. This is a God the Holy Spirit circumcision made without hands. The Apostle spoke of this in detail in:

Romans 2:25-28 For circumcision verily profiteth, if thou keep the law: but if thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision. 26 Therefore if the uncircumcision keep the righteousness of the law, shall not his uncircumcision be counted for circumcision? 27 And shall not uncircumcision which is by nature, if it fulfill the law, judge thee, who by the letter and circumcision dost transgress the law? 28 For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: 29 but he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.

The believer in Christ is circumcised in heart with the circumcision made without hands. That person is marked as a citizen of the Kingdom of God because their heart is tender toward God, seeking to please Him, and not man. Genuine believers – members of Christ’s Kingdom – can say “we labor, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of{be pleasing to}{Jesus}” (2 Corinthians 5:9).

You are complete in Christ because Christ
Your Savior is completely God!

Colossians 2:10 … ye are complete in him, {Who} is the head of all principality and power

We are told “in Him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily”. The word “dwelleth”in the Greek text means “to be permanently at home with”. All that God is permanently dwells in Christ. Jesus Christ has and will always have the full nature of God. Before Jesus ever came to this earth He was God, and is still God today:

John 1:1-3 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 The same was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.

Jesus Christ is Creator God. He is, was, and will always be God the Creator. Jesus is, as we are told in 1 Timothy 3:16 …

God … manifest in the flesh”

What a glorious love God has for us, that “the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). Jesus Christ is “the Brightness of God’s glory, and the express image of God’s Person, Who, upholding all things by the Word of His power, Who by Himself purged our sins, and is now seated on the right hand of Eternal God the Father” (paraphrase of Hebrews 1:3).

Jesus Christ is God.
Jesus Christ became perfect Man.
Jesus Christ purged our sins.
Jesus Christ is alive today.
And at the right hand of God the Father.
God the Son made us right with God the Father!

We Are QUICKENED TOGETHER With Jesus

Colossians 2:13-14 And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; 14 blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;

Word Study There is an interesting term the Bible uses for the Christian, and it is the term is quickened together. We were dead in sins an in the circumcision of our flesh – separated from God because of the sin in us. We were in a helpless and hopeless situation. Then Godquickened {us} together” with Jesus, (“quickened together” is the Greek syzōopoiéō, {pronounced sood-zo-op-oy-eh’-o} which means made us alive together with Jesus”). As Jesus is eternal, we who are His are eternal. Our destinies are locked together.

Illustrate I’m sure you have all seen a railroad train. The locomotive is attached to the cars, and pulls the cars down the track. Jesus Christ is our Locomotion. We are bound to Him eternally. As we go through this life, we avoid sin, repent of sin, and try our best not to jump the track that Jesus has us on. The locomotive {Jesus} alone has life – the cars which follow it have no inherent life in them – only when they are bound to the locomotive do they do anything productive. They must go where the locomotive leads them. We who belong to Christ are bound to Him in life, and bound to Him in afterlife.

Beloved, if you are saved by faith in Him, God has switched where your car was attached! God has changed the track of your life. Whereas before you were attached to the Locomotive of Satan, and riding on twin rails of sin and death, now your life is different. You are bound to Jesus Christ by faith, and ride on the twin rails of love and hope. The destination of Locomotive Satan is damnation and condemnation. The destination of Locomotive Jesus is salvation and eternal life in Heaven. The wonderful truth of the Gospel is:

Ephesians 2:4-5 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)

We are quickened together with Christ. Praise Him, by Grace we are saved. God has blott{ed} out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which were contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to Christ’s Cross. We who are believers in Christ are bound to Him forever. As Adrian Rogers once said:

The train that runs with incredible speed on ribbons of steel is far freer to be what it was made to be than the so called free train that may choose an excursion through the meadow. It is only free to wreck.”

Trust in and follow Jesus. Believe that He is able to save you, and that He is able to keep that which He has saved. Blessed be the name of the Lord!

Pastor Wayne Stiles told the story one time of his two daughters. One child would ask him to throw her up into the air and catch her. Every time he caught her, she would say “Do it again, daddy!”. The other daughter asked her daddy to toss her into the air, but screamed in fear when he did so, and never asked to be tossed up again. What was the difference between the two children? One child focused on the ability of her daddy to catch her, whereas the other child focused on her inability to control the flight. Put your faith fully in Jesus, believer, and trust in Him.

May God drive His Word, by His Spirit, fully into your hearts and lives this very day. Amen and Amen.

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Happy People Will See God

God is immense!
Photo by John Fowler on Unsplash

Matthew 5:8 Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.

The Way To Happiness Is To Hear And Do

This morning we looked at Jesus’ “Sermon on the Mount”, and talked about how Jesus viewed the Law of God. Tonight I want to look at this small verse, a tiny portion of that Sermon on the Mount.

Word Study The first word is Blessed, which is the Greek μακάριος makarios which means “much happiness”. People look for happiness in many things. As Jesus went out the Bible says:

Matthew 4:25 … there followed him great multitudes of people from Galilee, and from Decapolis, and from Jerusalem, and from Judaea, and from beyond Jordan.

Many people followed Jesus for temporary relief. People with divers diseases and torments, and those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatics, and those that had the palsy” flocked to Jesus, and Jesus healed them all. Many people follow Jesus that same way today. They only seek out Jesus when some great negative comes into their lives. When life is good, they only want a part time Savior, a Jesus Who will stay in the background until needed, Who only – like a trained dog – comes when called. The Bible says:

Jeremiah 17:9-10 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? 10 I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.

No heart is born into this world “pure”. “Those that are in the flesh cannot please God” (Romans 8:8). It is because of the condition of the human heart that evil is perpetuated. Jesus told the Pharisees and Scribes:

Matthew 15:18-20 But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. 19 For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: 20 these are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man.

Illustrate I often people today say “just follow your heart”. Beloved, if you just “follow your heart” you will end up getting in terrible trouble. Case in point, consider the heart of the first human King of Israel, King Saul. When Saul was first chosen the Prophet Samuel told him:

1 Samuel 15:1-3 … The Lord sent me to anoint thee to be king over his people, over Israel: now therefore hearken thou unto the voice of the words of the Lord. 2 Thus saith the Lord of hosts, I remember that which Amalek did to Israel, how he laid wait for him in the way, when he came up from Egypt. 3 Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not…

God gave King Saul very clear (though brutal) instructions. In our modern world, that which God told Saul to do to Amalek seems harsh. But God owns everything and everyone on the big blue planet. If God wanted King Agag and the Amalekites destroyed, that is God’s business. God is God and we are not. What did Saul do?

1 Samuel 15:9 … Saul and the people spared Agag, and the best of the sheep, and of the oxen, and of the fatlings, and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them: but every thing that was vile and refuse, that they destroyed utterly.

Saul and Israel looked over the people and the possessions of the Amalakites, and what look vile or useless to them, they destroyed – but what they thought was the best, they saved. This is not what God told them to do.

So God decided to remove King Saul from office. Though the Prophet Samuel prayed to God all night long, interceding for King Saul, God would not relent. When Samuel got to Saul’s encampment the next day, Saul told him:

1 Samuel 15:13 … Blessed be thou of the Lord: I have performed the commandment of the Lord.

Samuel replied, What meaneth then this bleating of the sheep in mine ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear? (vvs 14). Saul justified his actions by saying the people spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen, to sacrifice unto the Lord thy God; and the rest we have utterly destroyed. (vvs 15)”. Saul heard the Voice of God, knew what God wanted. The instructions were very clear. But Saul “followed his heart” and allowed Israel to do the same. It cost Saul his Kingdom. God told Saul through Samuel:

1 Samuel 15:22-23 … Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. 23 For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, he hath also rejected thee from being king.

Doing only PART of what the Lord says is the same as
rejecting ALL of God’s Word. Let Us Be “Pure”

Matthew 5:8 Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.

Word Study “BLESSED” or “MUCH HAPPINESS” comes to those who are “ pure in heart”. The word translated “pure” is the Greek καθαρός katharós, {pronounced kath-ar-os’}. In other Scriptures, the word is translated as “CLEAN” (Matthew 27:59; John 13:10). How does one become “CLEAN”? It is only by listening to Jesus, and doing what He says. Jesus told His disciples:

John 15:3 Now ye are CLEAN {katharós} through the word which I have spoken unto you.

When the Word of God is heard AND DONE, it cleanses the heart. It is only the CLEAN heart that can see God. When the Apostle Paul speaks of the Church and Jesus, he said that Jesus …

Ephesians 5:26 … SANCTIFIES and CLEANSES {καθαρίζω katharizō} {the Church} with the washing of water BY THE WORD.

It is not just the Word of Christ that cleanses, but the Word of God that is both HEARD and DONE. We see this principle many times in Scripture. For instance:

Romans 2:13 … for not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified

and in James 1:21-25 Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and {all that remains of wickednessNASB}, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. 22 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. 23 For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: 24 for he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. 25 But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.

Throughout Jesus’ ministry on this earth, twelve men followed Him everywhere He went. Yet only eleven of these men were blessed. Jesus said to them:

John 13:10-11 … ye are CLEAN {katharós}, but not all. 11 For he knew who should betray him; therefore said he, Ye are not all CLEAN {katharós}.

Judas Iscariot heard the Word of Christ on a daily basis. Day after day, for some 3 ½ years, Judas heard Jesus preach. And yet, though a faithful Church member, Judas was not happy. He lost his blessing – and ended up taking his own life. Throughout the Scripture we see those who heed and do God’s Word being blessed. The Apostle in another place warns against blending God’s Word with the word or tradition of man. He tells Titus:

Titus 1:13 … rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith; 14 Not giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men, that turn from the truth. 15 Unto the PURE (better CLEAN) {katharós} all things are CLEAN {katharós}: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing CLEAN {katharós}; but even their mind and conscience is defiled. 16 They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.

You may not understand or know all of the Word of God. But as His Children, you are accountable to do that which you know. The stepbrother of Jesus declared, To him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.(James 4:17).

When You Both Hear And Do His Word,
You Have God’s Promise

Matthew 5:8 Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.

I have often been asked the question,

When we get to Heaven, will we see God?”

Every believer I meet has told me that they look forward to seeing God face to face. When John the Revelator looked into Heaven, he wrote:

Revelation 22:3-4 … there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him: 4 and they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads.

When Moses went up into Mount Sinai, he asked God:

Exodus 33:18 … I beseech Thee {dear God}, shew me thy glory.

God told Moses:

Exodus 33:20 Thou canst not see My face: for there shall no man see me, and live.

God allowed Moses to get into a “clift of the rock” to protect him, and covered Moses so that all Moses could see of God was “His back parts” (vvs 23) … “but My face shall not be seen”. Moses saw just a glimpse of God’s glory. But Moses did not see God face to face.

Can a person “see” God? It depends on what
you mean by “see”.

It is impossible to “see” God the Father or God the Holy Spirit due to the very nature of God. The Bible tells us that one of the characteristics of God is God is everywhere at all times. The theologians call this the Omnipresence of God. When I “see” something or someone, the seeing must be in my presence.

God is everywhere. God is Spirit.

The Psalmist said of God in Psalm 139:7-12 Whither shall I go from Thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from Thy presence? 8 If I ascend up into heaven, Thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, Thou art there. 9 If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; 10 even there shall Thy hand lead me, and Thy right hand shall hold me. 11 If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me. 12 Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to Thee.

God is everywhere – there is no where where God is not. God is spirit. When Jesus appeared to His disciples after His resurrection, He told them:

Luke 24:39 Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.

God is Spirit. Jesus taught us that. In John 4:24 He said, God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. ” As a Spirit, God is everywhere. We are told in

Jeremiah 23:23-24 Am I a God at hand, saith the Lord, and not a God afar off? 24 Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the Lord. Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the Lord.

God is everywhere at once, and every time at once – and yet He is fully present in the moment. God can manifest an image of Himself, and we can see that image. Yet we are not seeing God – but a representation of God. The Shekinah Glory was a visible demonstration that the invisible God was present (Deuteronomy 31:15) – yet this was not the all of God. The Lord tells us through Isaiah:

Isaiah 66:1-2 Thus saith the Lord, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest? 2 For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the Lord: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.

The Infinite God is present with those who both hear and do His Word. But can we “see” God like we “see” a tree, or “see” each other? No, because God is too infinite. It is the infinity of God that blesses us as believers. Because God is everywhere at once, He can promise to every one of His children by faith:

Isaiah 43:2-3 When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. 3 For I am the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Savior:

Only an omnipresent, omnipotent God can promise that – no matter where I go, no matter what I do, no matter what time of the day it is – “ I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. ” (Hebrews 13:5). Theologian Don Stewart notes:

The universe that God created finds the Creator everywhere. He is everywhere present. There is no place that a person can hide and no chance that a believer will out of His protective care. He is everywhere present in His works and in His personality. This does not mean that God is the same as the universe – merely that His presence is everywhere in the universe. The truth of God’s omnipresence if comforting for the believer for no one can escape God’s notice. ”

So in one sense, no, you will not be able to see God face to face as you see me face to face. We are told in …

1 John 4:12 … No man hath seen God at any time.

The nature of God makes seeing all that is God impossible.

This Is Why God Became Man

Is it possible to see God the Father or God the Spirit in a localized way with our eyes? No, it’s not. So God, in His great love, sent the eternal Jesus Christ into the world. God the Son became flesh, so that we who are flesh can see God face to face. When Jesus promised:

Matthew 5:8 Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.

He was making a promise that He Himself would keep. God Himself – Father, Son, and Spirit, from eternity past are “immortal, invisible” (1 Timothy 1:17). The Bible says of God that He dwells in unapproachable light, “whom no man hath seen, nor can see” (1 Timothy 6:16). Jesus was like this before the incarnation. Yes, God could manifest an image, a Theophany, or a Christophany, a Shekinah, or a person. But then …

Hebrews 2:14 … as the children (that’s us) are PARTAKERS OF FLESH AND BLOOD, He also Himself (Jesus) took part of the same

God the Son lowered Himself to become our Mediator. He represents God the Father and God the Spirit to us, and we to God. The Scripture says:

John 1:17-18 (KJV)For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. 18 No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.

There is only One Man Who has ever truly “seen” God, and that Man is God become Man, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Jesus said in John 6:45-47 It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me. 46 Not that any man hath seen the Father, save he which is of God, he hath seen the Father. 47 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.

Only Jesus has seen God as God is. But Jesus Christ is God, and when we get to Heaven we will see God face to face – for we will see Jesus! When you see Jesus, you will be seeing God. Jesus said “if you have seen Me, you have seen the Father” (John 14:9). All that is of God, we shall see in Jesus, God Who became Man. Why does God love us so much as to want t