Put On Your Best Suit

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Romans 13:14 But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof.

Word Study: The phrase put ye on is the Greek ἐνδύω endýō, {pronounced en-doo’-o}, which means “to sink into clothing, to clothe yourself with”. If you are a Christian, you are to put on your best suit. You are to clothe yourself with the Lord Jesus Christ.

What Are YOU Wearing Today?

Opening Illustration: As I walked through the local Walmart the other day, I was amused, amazed, and sometimes astounded at some of the clothing I saw people wearing. Young women – not all teens – have taken to wearing either very tight and very short shorts, or thin body stockings (I guess you call it that) that leaves little to the imagination. Some people (men or women) wear jeans with holes in them, some holes in places that would make a Playboy Bunny blush. When I got holes in my jeans, my mamma patched them with those iron on patches. There were some people wearing their pajamas. I get tired in Walmart, but have yet to find a section where there are beds you can lay down on. When they get that “bedding” section, I may wear my pajamas to the store as well.

What are you wearing today?

Clothing is a very big topic in the Bible. How you clothe yourself will reflect how you feel about yourself, about your ego. Clothing also will cause others to think of you in a certain way. The Bible tells us to “clothe ourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ”.

To clothe yourself with Jesus means to
not hide your sins from
God

When our first parents, Adam and Eve sinned, what did they do after their sin? The Bible says that the first thing they did was:

Genesis 2:7 (ESV) … they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.

Adam and Eve covered up their sin – then they hid from God. It is foolish to cover up our sins, attempting to hide them from God. The Bible says in Proverbs 28:13:

He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and
forsaketh them shall have mercy.”

God sees our sins. He knows what we have done. To cover up our sin with fig leaves, or to deflect our guilt by blaming others, it just doesn’t wash with God. When Adam and Eve’s attempt to cover their sins were quickly discovered, Adam blamed both Eve AND God:

Genesis 3:12 (ESV) “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.”

The woman likewise blamed the serpent. The truth is, Adam had free will, and chose to disobey God of his own will. Adam was at fault, not God nor Eve.

There is a way to cover sin, but it is not by fig leaves or blaming others. The Bible says “blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered” (Psalm 32:1). We do not cover sin with our own works of righteousness. We “clothe ourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ”. The Bible tells us that God sent His Son Jesus to make payment for every sin we would ever commit. The Bible says:

1 John 1:7 (ESV) … the blood of Jesus Christ {God’s} Son cleanses us from all sin ..

The Lord Jesus Christ is the only acceptable covering for our sin. The Bible often uses the word “propitiation” when it discusses Jesus. For instance:

1 John 2:2 And {Jesus} is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.

1 John 4:10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son {Jesus} to be the propitiation for our sins.

Romans 3:25 {this Jesus} Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;

Word Study: The word translated propitiation the Greek ἱλαστήριον hilastḗrion, {pronounced hil-as-tay’-ree-on} or ἱλασμός hilasmós, {pronounced hil-as-mos’}. The latter word means “the means of appeasing God, the covering for sin”. The former word means “to atone or cover”. What Jesus Christ did for us on Calvary is the only acceptable covering for sin.

When God saw Adam and Eve in fig leaves the Bible says that God took away their fig leaves and clothed them Himself:

Genesis 3:21 (ESV) … the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.

God had to kill innocent animals in order to clothe Adam and Eve. This is a foreshadowing of the death of Christ Jesus on the Cross. Jesus “put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself” (Hebrews 9:26). “Jesus also suffered outside the gate {of Jerusalem} in order to sanctify the people through His own blood” (Hebrews 13:11-12). It is only in Jesus that we have “redemption through His Blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His Grace” (Ephesians 1:7-8).

Jesus and Jesus alone is the covering for our sins. Do not hide your sins from God. Confess them to God, and plead the Blood of Christ over each sin. “Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ”.

To Clothe Yourself With The Lord Jesus Means
To Live Your Life
Primarily Loving God

If you “Clothe Yourself With The Lord Jesus Christ” you will literally consider how you practically live out your faith every day.

I earlier talked about how people clothe themselves as they go to the local Walmart. The Bible is explicit in that God’s people are to be careful in how they cover themselves. God told His Old Covenant saints:

Deuteronomy 22:5 A woman shall not wear a man’s garment, nor shall a man put on a woman’s cloak, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord your God.

This is NOT a command that women should not wear “slacks” or “pants”. In the days that this was written, most people wore robes. It is a command that women are not to dress so as to intentionally look like a man, nor are men to dress in such a way as to intentionally look like a woman. Why is this? Because God says that whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord. Why?

Because when God created humanity, the Bible says “He created them male and female” (Genesis 1:26-28; 2:20-25). When the Lord Jesus Christ came to this earth, He did not eradicate what the Old Testament said. When asked about marriage our Lord Jesus said:

Matthew 19:4-6 (ESV) … “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, 5 and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”

What God has established in the design of creation, we are told by Jesus to leave it alone. “What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate” (Mark 10:9). We are not to fool with, or in any way bring confusion to, God’s rule of order. The Apostle Paul said:

1 Corinthians 7:17 But as God hath distributed to every man, as the Lord hath called every one, so let him walk. And so ordain I in all churches.

Live your lives as our Lord Jesus Christ did. Live your lives so as to please the God Who made you. The Apostle Peter told the wives of believers:

1 Peter 3:3-4 (ESV) Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— 4 but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.

Women are beautifully made by God. Clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ. Do not let your outer adornment – makeup, hair, clothing – the the greatest thing in your life. Dress so as to honor the Lord Who saved you. Dress so that the characteristics of Jesus Christ can shine through your lives. The Apostle said:

1 Timothy 2:9-10 … women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, 10 but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works.

I do not believe the Apostles – nor our Lord – were being misogynistic (deeply prejudiced against women). Our Lord Jesus said:

What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.” (ESV Mark 7:20-23)

The human heart is “deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9). No one is naturally good at heart. “all have sinned” and are sinners (Romans 3:23). Everyone is broken. If we dress provocatively, that is like pouring fuel on a fire. Dress with others in mind. Dress so as to show Christlike love toward others. I am sure I’ll be flamed on social media for some of what I just said, but it is God’s Word, not mine. But you can be angry with me if it makes you feel better. As Christ’s servant, I seek to please Him – not to please my listeners (Galatians 1:10).

To Clothe Yourself With The Lord Jesus Christ Means To Live As He Lived, Reliant Upon God

Romans 13:14 But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof.

The Bible tells us that David was a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22). Does this mean that David did not err, was not a sinner as we are? Absolutely not! But David had a trait that we all need to follow. He clothed himself with the Lord Jesus Christ.

When David was going to battle Goliath, no one – not even King Saul – felt that they could do battle with that giant monster of a man. The Bible says “Saul and all Israel heard those words of the Philistine, they were DISMAYED and GREATLY AFRAID” (1 Samuel 17:11). They were being driven by their flesh, by their fear, by their human logic. But David’s reply when he heard Goliath’s threats was:

who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” (1 Samuel 17:26)

When David volunteered to fight Goliath, he was met with scorn from King Saul. “You are but a youth, and he a man of war from his youth” (vs 33). But David had his eyes not on Goliath, but on Jesus. David said, The Lord that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine” (vs 37).

Saul clothed David with his armor (vs 38), and gave David a helmet of brass and a coat of chain mail. Though David tried it on, he quickly took them off. David said, “I cannot go with these; for I have not proved them” (vs 39). David had clothed himself with the Lord. The Lord that saved him out of the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear, would certainly deliver him from Goliath.

And God did!

When trials and testing comes, the Bible tells us that the safest thing we can do is “clothe ourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ”. The Scripture says:

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

Let Jesus Christ, the Lord of Heaven and earth, cover you! Let Him be your clothing. Only in Jesus do we have power for living. Only in Jesus can we defeat the Goliaths of this world. Be like the Hebrew Children before the angry pagan king:

Daniel 3:17-18 (ESV) our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. 18 But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”

To Clothe Yourself With The Lord Jesus Means To Love As He Loved, Treating Others With Respect

The Apostle tells us:

Romans 13:8-10 Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. 9 For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. 10 Love worketh no ill to his neighbor: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

love is the fulfilling of the law. When Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, came to this earth, He fulfilled the ceremonial and sacrificial portions of the Law. But Jesus never erased the moral codes found in the Old Testament. We who are saved by Jesus are to clothe ourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and make NO PROVISION for the flesh. The Bible says that:

Galatians 5:19-21 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

The believer in Christ is NOT to clothe themselves in the works of the flesh. The believer in Christ is to flee all sexual sins – including homosexuality (1 Corinthians 6:9; 1 Timothy 1:10). We are not to pursue the ways of the world. Why? Because we belong to Jesus. We are to

Romans 13:12-13 … cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. 13 Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying.

Let us clothe ourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ. Let us hide ourselves in Jesus (Colossians 3:3). The Lord that saved us is the Lord we are to walk in. Let us honor the Lord Jesus Christ, and do as He says do. For the glory of our God forever. Amen and Amen!

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Benediction For The Saints

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There are parts of the Bible that we read quickly, not looking for any depth in them. I know myself when I read through books like Numbers, and read the census lists of Israel:

Numbers 1:5-7 And these are the names of the men that shall stand with you: of the tribe of Reuben; Elizur the son of Shedeur. 6 Of Simeon; Shelumiel the son of Zurishaddai. 7 Of Judah; Nahshon the son of Amminadab.

My eyes kind of gloss over, and my mind wanders. We all do this. We miss great Biblical truths because we undervalue every part of this Holy Scripture. The WHOLE Scripture – every word, every phrase, every nuance – is God breathed (theopneustos). The Apostle Paul told Timothy:

2 Timothy 3:16 (ESV) All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God (God’s Messenger) may be complete, equipped for every good work.

There are no accidental texts. This Word is God’s breath. He spoke it. Which brings us to:

Philippians 4:21-23 Salute every saint in Christ Jesus. The brethren which are with me greet you. 22 All the saints salute you, chiefly they that are of Caesar’s household. 23 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.

I have never preached out of this text, and after research I found out few preachers have ever focused on this text. But this is God’s Word, and there are great truths in this, if God the Holy Spirit will draw it out. In most Bibles this section is labeled (if it is labeled) “Concluding Benediction”, “Greetings and Benediction”, or just “Benediction”. The word “benediction” means, according to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, “ the invocation … of a blessing, something that promotes goodness or well-being”.

As the Apostle writes this letter, he is dictating it through a brother in Christ, Epaphroditus. The Apostle mentions his name twice:

Philippians 2:25 Yet I supposed it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother, and companion in labor, and fellow soldier, but your messenger, and he that ministered to my wants.

Philippians 4:18 But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odor of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well pleasing to God.

Why was Epaphroditus a messenger for Paul? Because the Apostle is imprisoned by Rome,
and is chained to Roman guards.

The commentaries note that Paul is imprisoned in either Ephesus or Rome, and is on a journey to stand before Caesar for trial. The charge? TREASON. The Apostle was imprisoned for preaching “Jesus is Lord”, and that faith in Jesus Christ is the only way unto God.

Rome grew powerful by conquering other nations, and bringing those nations into the Roman confederacy.Conquered people could keep their own gods and goddesses, but were required to acknowledge the Roman Caesar as “Lord”. This is something that the Christians would NOT do. When the Roman Centurion Cornelius was led to be saved in a vision from Heaven, he was told to call for the Apostle Peter. As Peter spoke to Cornelius, he said:

Acts 10:34-36 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. 36 The word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (he is Lord of all)

The Holy Spirit fell on Cornelius and his house, and they were saved. To utter or even hide in your heart that Jesus Christ: (he is Lord of all) was an act of treason in Roman territory. And yet, the Christian missionaries went out preaching the singular Lordship of Jesus Christ. When the Apostle Paul preached in Athens at Mars Hill, he plainly said:

Acts 17:22-27 Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. 23 For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, To The Unknown God. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you. 24 God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; 25 Neither is worshiped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; 26 And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; 27 That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us:

Paul preached the Lordship of Jesus Christ, the Lordship of the God of Scripture. What happened? Paul was imprisoned. But Paul was not discouraged.

If Jesus Is Lord, He Is Lord ALL The Time

Jesus Christ is not a part time Lord. He is not like Caesar, Who must compel the people to worship him at least once a year, or else be declared treasonous. No, Beloved, Jesus is LORD of all. The Bible says:

Psalm 103:19 (ESV) The LORD has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all.

When Paul was imprisoned, he was not just saying “Jesus is Lord”. He literally, deep down in his heart, believed Jesus is Lord. If Jesus is Lord, He is Lord over whatever valley you are in at this moment. Paul believed this. He wrote:

Philippians 1:12-14 But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel; 13 So that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places; 14 And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.

Many of us, when afflicted in the service of our King, attribute the affliction to the devil. The devil does afflict – but only at God’s permission. Satan is not greater than God. Jesus is Lord!

Paul told the Philippians that Jesus is Lord even in his imprisonment. The negative things that happen to Christians, happen because God allows them, because they further the cause of Christ. The Apostle called his imprisonment my bonds in Christ. Paul was not imprisoned, chained to a guard, because Satan is greater than God. God used and even endorsed the imprisonment as a means to get Paul into the inner courts of Caesar. Paul did not fall apart when put in a bad place, but looked to Jesus.

Philippians 4:21 Salute every saint in Christ Jesus.

Word Study The Christian – saved by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ – is a saint. This is the Greek ἅγιος hágios, {pronounced hag’-ee-os}, which means “one who is consecrated, set apart, or marked as apart from the crowd”. The saint is not perfect. The Corinthian Church, marked with many sinful practices, was still addressed by the Apostle Paul:

1 Corinthians 1:2 Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, {hágios} with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours:

When you surrender to the Lordship of Jesus, you are saved. But not only are you saved, but you are set apart from this world as a child of the Most High God. The Apostle writes in another place:

1 Corinthians 14:33 For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints, {hágios}.

Word Study Dear Christian, we belong to Jesus. This means that our current circumstances, whether favorable or unfavorable, whether smooth or rough, are all engineered by our God. As Paul processed his imprisonment (which was no picnic), he said the THINGS which happened to me have FALLEN OUT RATHER unto the furtherance of the Gospel. The words FALLEN OUT is the Greek ἔρχομαι érchomai, {pronounced er’-khom-ahee} which means “to come to pass”. Imprisonment was a visitor in Paul’s life that was not a bad thing, but a good thing. As a Saint of God the Apostle said:

Philippians 1:21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

Too many believers, when confronted with an undesirable situation in life, begin crying out to God for relief. Too many times we allow thieves to come and rob us of our blessings. Jesus said:

John 10:10 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.

The thief comes to rob us of the presence of our Jesus.

the thief called worry
the thief called fear
the thief called unbelief
the thief called despair
the thief called discouragement

To these thieves (and the many other unnamed worldly thieves that try and rob us of our joy) the Apostle encourages the believer to:

Philippians 1:27-28 Only let your {Greek politeúomai [pronounced pol-it-yoo’-om-ahee] behavior as citizens of God’s Kingdom} be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; 28 And in nothing terrified by your adversaries: which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God.

The SAINT is a Citizen of God’s Kingdom FIRST

The Saint – the citizens of God’s Kingdom – is to act like a citizen of Heaven. We are commanded to not act like the lost, for we are not lost. We are to imitate Jesus Christ. The Apostle said:

Philippians 1:29 For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake;

Saints are Citizens of Heaven who Suffer

The Saint is set apart to live his or her life to the glory of God the Father and of Jesus Christ our Lord. As 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.

… gave Himself to suffering for us, we as Saints give ourselves in suffering for others. The King of Kings and Lord of Lords lowered Himself for you and I. We must walk following Him, our King and Savior. Though it got Paul imprisoned, he is unrepentant in declaring the Lordship of Christ. Jesus has “a name that is above every name”,

Philippians 2:10-11 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.

We do not bow the knee to Caesar, nor to any person. We bow the knee to Jesus, and preach salvation through faith alone in Him alone.

Every Trial Is For A Greater Good In The Saint
(God Is In Control)

The Saint is set apart by God as His child – and God continually works in His child and
in the environment that child is in.

Philippians 2:13-16 … 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

Word Study When God called Israel out of Egypt, and carried them through the Red Sea as if on dry land, two things marred the people of God: murmurings and disputings. The word murmurings is the Greek γογγυσμός gongysmós, {pronounced gong-goos-mos’} which means “murmuring, grudging secret displeasures, muttering”. God had a plan to take Israel into the Promised Land of Canaan, a land that “floweth with milk and honey” (Leviticus 20:24; Numbers 13:27). But Israel murmured and complained against Moses and Aaron. Eventually Israel committed the ultimate sin: they murmured against God. Moses told Israel:

Deuteronomy 1:26-27 … ye would not go up, but rebelled against the commandment of the LORD your God: 27 And ye murmured in your tents, and said, Because the LORD hated us, he hath brought us forth out of the land of Egypt, to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us.

God took His hand of blessing from the first generation of Israel because of murmuring and complaining. God said,

Psalm 95:10-11 Forty years long was I grieved with this generation, and said, It is a people that do err in their heart, and they have not known my ways: 11 Unto whom I sware in my wrath that they should not enter into my rest.

Word Study The hand that blesses is also the hand that can remove blessing. God removed blessing from Israel. The other word is disputings, which is the Greek διαλογισμός dialogismós, {pronounced dee-al-og-is-mos’}, which means a questioning of the truth. It is translated “evil thoughts” in Matthew 15:19, “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts. It is translated “imaginations” in Romans 1:21, “when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations.

The God that saved Israel from Egypt and led them through the Red Sea, is surely the same God Who can lead them through the Jordan and defeat the Canaanites. But as the Israelis focused on their trial rather than their God, this seed of unbelief grew until it destroyed the nation.

To avoid Satan’s traps, the Saint is encouraged to take control of the emotions and of their minds. Paul writes:

Philippians 4:4-7 Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice. 5 Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. 6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. 7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Word Study The Saint is first to Rejoice in the Lord always. No matter what you are going through, rejoice in the Lord. Acknowledge that God is in control of the situation, that He is Lord of your life. You are a Saint, not a lost soul. You belong to Jesus. Do all things in moderation. This is the Greek ἐπιεικής epieikḗs, {pronounced ep-ee-i-kace’}, which is translated patient (1 Timothy 3:3), gentle (Titus 3:2; James 3:17; 1 Peter 2:18). The Saint is to be like Jesus was – kind and patient with others.

Adding to the Saint’s need to rejoice in the Lordship of Christ, and being patient, we are also supposed to not worry, but give our needs to the God Who is our Lord. As He gave Israel manna and water in the desert, and kept their clothing and shoes from wearing out, our God can meet ALL our needs.

Direct your minds to examine the faithfulness of God. He is Lord, and He loves us. He will not abandon the children He bought at such a high price. He will not abandon those whom He has shed His blood for!

Philippians 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

The Apostle Paul refused to allow Satan to hijack his thought life. He focused on the goodness of God. Did the Apostle suffer lack at times? Absolutely! He was imprisoned. He said:

Philippians 4:11-13 Not that I speak in respect of want: for 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.

Whether Paul was full or hungry, abased or abounding, His mind was continually on doing Christ’s work in Christ’s way. Paul said, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. When you have Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, you have all you need. The Apostle said in another place:

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

The Saint is called on purpose by God. Everything that happens to the Saint is for our good, and for the glory of God, whether we know it or not.

The God Of Scripture Is “My God”

Philippians 4:19 But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

Notice that Paul refers to God as my God. The Saint is owned by God, and owns God. He is ours! We belong to Him, and He belongs to us. If you are a Saint, then He is to you my God. When King David was afflicted, he cried out to my God. He prayed,

Psalm 3:7 Arise, O Lord; save me, O my God: for thou hast smitten all mine enemies upon the cheek bone; thou hast broken the teeth of the ungodly.

He cried, “O Lord MY GOD, in Thee do I put my trust” (Psalm 7:1). David, like Paul, walked side by side each day with the Lord. He could say,

Psalm 18:2 The Lord 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.

If you are saved, God possesses you, and you possess God. He is to you “MY GOD”. There is no room for the world nor for the devil to live in the House of God between us. We who are saved belong to Him.

Philippians 4:21-22 Salute every saint in Christ Jesus. The brethren which are with me greet you. 22 All the saints salute you, chiefly they that are of Caesar’s household.

We discussed verse 21, and how the Christian is a Saint, set apart to live with God under His Kingdom authority. But note verse 22. You probably read it, and thought nothing of it. But read the words again:

All the saints salute you, chiefly they that
are of Caesar’s household

I told you that Paul was imprisoned, and chained to a Roman guard, a soldier of the empire. The soldiers are of Caesar’s household. As I mentioned before, Rome allowed all types of religions to flourish, as long as Caesar was worshiped as Lord. To fail to worship Caesar as Lord, to give singular Lordship status to anyone outside of Caesar, was considered an act of treason. This is why Paul is in prison, awaiting what will surely be a beheading.

Paul is chained to a Roman soldier. He’s chained to this soldier as he dictates this letter to Epaphroditus. The soldier cannot help but hear – being chained to the Apostle as he is – exactly what Paul has been saying.

A loyal Roman soldier would report what Paul wrote to his superiors. Had it been reported, no doubt Epaphroditus would have been hindered or killed, and the letter destroyed. But the letter got to Philippi. It wasn’t destroyed. Why?

I imagine Paul in bonds. He is fastened to a soldier, and left alone with him. Paul starts talking. “Have you heard about My God? Have you heard about Jesus?” The soldier replies, “Shut up! I don’t want to talk about that.” But Paul doesn’t shut up. “I notice you have armor on. I have armor, too. My armor is made by Jesus. I have a breastplate of faith and love (1 Thessalonians 5:8). My helmet is the hope of salvation (1 Thessalonians 5:8)”. The Roman soldier cannot beat Paul, for Paul is a Roman citizen awaiting trial. All he can do is listen. He tells Paul, “Shut up! Stop telling me about this Jesus!” But Paul continues. “My loins are girt about with truth” (Ephesians 6:14). The man has no choice but to hear Paul. Paul is unlike anyone he has ever been cuffed to. Most prisoners are bleak, sad, depressed, anxious concerning what was coming. But not Paul. His eyes were on Jesus.

When the changing of the guard comes, the guard going off duty has the Gospel of Christ planted in his heart. Here comes another guard, but Paul is not discouraged. God is giving him another opportunity to serve the kingdom of God, and the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Jesus is Lord! As Paul closes this letter, he says simply:

Philippians 4:23 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.

There is no salvation without these two things:

The Grace of God, and
The Lordship of Christ our Savior

Is Jesus Christ your Lord and Savior? You can be saved if Jesus is just your Savior, but your faith will be too weak to be of much value if Jesus is not your Lord. Is He your Lord? Dear Saint, you are set apart by God to do service for your King. You belong to Jesus, not to things. It is not things that satisfies the soul of the Christian, but the presence of the God Who controls all things. The Apostle Paul told Timothy:

1 Timothy 6:6-7 … godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.

That which gives us contentment and blessing, whether on the mountain top or in the valley, is the Lordship of our God. Do you know Him? You cannot add one single hour to your life (Matthew 6:27), but the God Who owns the believer can. Rest in the God Who has saved you. Give Him all that you are. He owns you anyway. And trust that God loves you with an infinite love. Resting in the presence of Christ, we can say with David, The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance” (Psalm 16:6). May God the Holy Spirit move on our hearts, and draw us all into the Presence of Jesus this very day. In Christ’s name we pray this. Amen and Amen.

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Why Sunday School?

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Acts 2:38-42 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. 39 For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. 40 And with many other words did he 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. 42 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.

The early Church, started on the Day of Pentecost by God and His people, grew and excelled. This is amazing, because the Church itself owned no real eastate, had no buildings, and usually met on “Solomon’s Porch” in the Temple. The Church grew even though it was attacked as a cult by the Pharisees, priests, and Ruling Elders of Israel (the Sanhedrin). It was also considered seditious by Roman authorities, for Christians would not acknowledge “Caesar is Lord” as all good Romans would do.

Yet the Church grew. It excelled. Why would it grow in such a toxic environment? The Church did three things:

The Church Obeyed Jesus

Acts 2:38-42 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. 39 For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. 40 And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation. 41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized

Peter preached the Gospel of salvation, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ. The first step to salvation is to “”, the Greek μετανοέω metanoeō, which means “to change the mind” or to “change your drive or motivation”. The Bible says that before we were saved, that the Christian:

Ephesians 2:1-3 (ESV) … you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.

Before salvation, the unsaved follows the passions of our flesh. We were no different than the rest of the lost world. Our sins might have been different – you may not have experienced same sex attraction or gender dysphoria, but you pursued other sins. Pride and selfishness drove you. But meeting Jesus Christ, you acknowledged that you were broken. Like the tax collector Matthew you met Jesus, and leaving your riches, followed Him Who is the riches of Heaven. The Christian loves and follows Jesus.

Are we broken? Yes, but we are daily growing more like Christ. As we associate with Jesus, His glory rubs off on our souls more and more. We are not ashamed to follow Jesus. Peter said:

Acts 2:38 Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ

Jesus said in John 15:4, “Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you”. Jesus commanded the believer be baptized in water. He said in Matthew 28:19, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost”. Baptism is part of Christ’s directive. Why did Jesus demand His followers be baptized? It is because baptism in water is a public profession of faith in Jesus. The Apostle Paul said:

Romans 6:3-5 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? 4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:

Baptism is a symbolic burial with Christ. Our old man dies and is buried with Christ as we are lowered into the water, and the new man is born as we are raised out of the water. Baptism shows our union with Jesus Christ, and publicly identifies us as children of God. The Apostle Peter likens water baptism to Noah’s Ark, saying:

1 Peter 3:20-22 Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. 21 The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ: 22 Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God …

Noah and his family were saved from certain destruction because he obeyed God, and built an ark, then GOT ON THAT ARK. When we are publicly baptized in water we are affirming to the world that we, like Noah, got on an Ark. We believed in Jesus, and have committed our lives to Him. As Jesus rose from the dead, we shall too rise above the grave, and live forever because of Him.

The early Church was publicly baptized after receiving Jesus as Savior, showing they believed Him also LORD of all. Though the Church was hated by Pharisees and Priests, as well as Roman authorities, the believers were baptized nonetheless PUBLICLY. They knew what Jesus said, that is,

Luke 9:26 For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father’s, and of the holy angels.

The Church Studied And Applied “Jesus” To Life

Acts 2:42 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine AND fellowship

The early Church studied the Bible. Our text says they continued steadfastly. This is the Greek προσκαρτερέω proskartereō, which means “to be devoted to, to persevere in, to steadfastly be attentive to”. What were they attentive to? The apostles‘ doctrine. What the Apostles taught. And what did the Apostles teach? They taught what Jesus taught. We are told in …

Matthew 10:1-2 … when {Jesus} had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease. 2 Now the names of the twelve apostles are these …

The original twelve disciples that followed Jesus were called by Jesus to be APOSTLES. They walked with Jesus, talked with Jesus, saw Jesus perform miracles, and allowed Jesus to empower themselves to do the miraculous. The apostles‘ doctrine is what the Apostles learned from Jesus. The early Church clung to what the Apostles taught about JESUS, and how the whole of Scripture testifies of Jesus. Our Lord Jesus said:

John 5:39-40 (ESV) You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.

The early Church immersed itself in the Scriptures, and focused on Who Jesus was, what Jesus taught, and the High Priesthood of Christ. Sadly, this is not true in our modern Church today!

Illustrate: I love to read. Recently I saw a “Guidepost” magazine, one that I used to subscribe to and read years ago. I grabbed it, and started reading. As I read further and further into the magazine – the lead story was about the faith of Harry Connick, Jr a musician I admire – I began to be disturbed. As I read through that magazine, I read of people who:

loved Amazing Grace
adored their Church
had “faith”

But one thing was conspicuously and insidiously missing. Throughout the magazine I saw absolutely NO MENTION of Jesus, of Jesus Christ, of Christ Jesus, of our Lord and savior. Jesus told us that when the “Spirit of truth comes, he will bear witness about ME” (John 15:26). The Guideposts I was reading at no point even mentioned Jesus Christ, the King of Kings and Lord of lords. Now, it may have been accidental to that issue, but I see this more and more in the world of “Christian” publications today. They speak of “God” and “Faith”, but no mention is made of Jesus. That Guideposts could have been a publication of the followers of Allah, Buddha, or some Hindu god.

We must know about Jesus. We teach about Jesus in our Sunday School. We must teach Jesus, if we will save the world from this present darkness.

Teaching Jesus, the apostles‘ doctrine, the early Church also behaved like Jesus.

Acts 2:42 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine AND fellowship

Word Study: The early believer focused on Jesus’ teachings, and it showed in how they loved people. They enjoyed fellowship. The word fellowship is the Greek κοινωνία koinōnia, which means “to participate in community, to have intimate or close sharing together with others”. The Church did not just hear and respond to the preaching of it’s pastors, but it gathered together to share with one another, a pursue the deeper truths of God’s Word. This is a primary component of Sunday School – FELLOWSHIP.

A Church that does not study and share God’s Word together soon becomes filled with worldliness, and subject to failure. The Apostle Paul defined the Church when he wrote:

Ephesians 2:19-20 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; 20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone

The Church is built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets. The prophets wrote the Old Testament as moved by the Spirit of God, the apostles wrote the New Testament as moved by that same Spirit. The foundation or base of the local Church is the Holy Scriptures, with Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone. The ancient architects were always very careful in placing the corner stone of a building. All walls aligned to the corner stone. Every brick aligned to the corner stone. Every part of Scripture aligns to Jesus Christ, and the Church must align to Jesus Christ, else it will be built on a poor and shaky foundation. Sunday School strengthens the foundation of the Church as it focuses on the Scripture, and how the believer is to align their lives through that Scripture to Jesus Christ.

Acts 2:42 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.

The apostles’ doctrine, or teaching about Jesus and what He held dear, resulted in a Church that looked like Jesus. The early Church fellowshipped – they enjoyed one another’s company. Jesus was often found sharing with sinners and publicans, much to the chagrin of the Pharisees. As the Church grew in fellowship, it progressed to breaking of bread, or sharing food together, as well as to prayers. They shared their burdens one with another, and lifted each other up to Jesus Christ.

Sunday School Is Not Just A New Testament Concept

Dr. Elmer L. Towns is Dean Emeritus of the School of Religion and Theological Seminary at Liberty University, which he co founded with Dr. Jerry Fallwell Sr. in 1971. He teaches the Pastor’s Bible Class at Thomas Road Baptist Church each Sunday. Dr. Towns writes:

This Old Testament verse is often used to express the fourfold nature of Sunday school:

Gather the people together, men and women and little ones, and the stranger who is within your gates, that they may hear and that they may learn to fear the LORD your God and carefully observe all the words of this law” (Deuteronomy 31:12).

This verse reflects the four distinct “arms” of Sunday school ministry.”

  • Sunday School is a “Reaching Arm” of the Church. Visitors to our Church may or may not know the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior. If they are invited into the Sunday School, they can see the love that we have for Jesus, and the love we have for them. Many are often converted, and receive the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior, because they attended a caring and nurturing Sunday School. Sunday School is not just for children. God said to “Gather the people together, men and women and little ones, and the stranger who is within your gates.
  • Sunday School is a “Teaching Arm” of the Church. God said the whole reason for gathering is “that they may hear and that they may learn”. People need to hear what God’s Word says, and need to learn how to apply that Word practically to their lives. People need to learn about Jesus Christ! In 1996 around 27% of Americans supported same sex marriage. Today around 70% of Americans affirm same sex marriage as natural. This is because Gay Rights activists have come into the homes through television and internet, creating story lines where this activity is normalized. People need to hear and learn what God has said. In the absence of the light, the darkness will grow.
  • Sunday School is a “Winning Arm” of the Church. It teaches people to fear the LORD your God. In the intimate setting of the Sunday School, those who attend share their experiences and breakthroughs with God and His Word. People discuss how God gave them confidence and blessing as they went through some of life’s harshest valleys. God is personalized to the lost when we show Jesus as He is – a living and powerful Lord and Savior. People today have little “fear” of the Lord, but the Bible teaches that our Creator is holy, righteous, and pure. Jesus Christ is our High Priest and our Sacrifice before God. Hebrews 4:14 tells us “Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession”. Through Sunday School, people can be told of the great salvation we have in our Jesus.
  • Sunday School is a “Caring Arm” of the Church. Though the Worship Services of the Church are wonderful and much needed by the Church, it is in Sunday School that members can get to know one another better. The Bible says that we are to “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed” (James 5:16).

Sunday School is a wonderful place to show hospitality to all. 1 Peter 4:9 states, “Use hospitality one to another without grudging”. The Church is to be “given to hospitality”. What a wonderful opportunity we have, when we come together in Sunday School!

As our world becomes more and more broken, people are desperately looking for a fix. That fix is only found in Jesus. Let us promote Sunday School, invite others to Sunday School, and show we care for the stranger in our midst in Sunday School. May God use this Scripture and His Spirit to empower and grow our Church to His glory. Amen and Amen.

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Have You The Right Faith?

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John 4:43-45 Now after two days he departed thence, and went into Galilee. 44 For Jesus himself testified, that a prophet hath no honor in his own country. 45 Then when he was come into Galilee, the Galilæans received him, having seen all the things that he did at Jerusalem at the feast: for they also went unto the feast.

The Witness Of The Saved

Last week we spoke of Jesus going through Samaria, and meeting the woman at the well. This woman fell in love with Jesus, and put her faith in Him as Messiah. She went into Sychar, leaving her water pot at Jacob’s well, and began to witness for Jesus.

What does it mean to “witness” for Jesus? It is to tell others what Jesus did for you – how He impacted YOUR life. The devil is only defeated by:

Revelation 12:11 … by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of {your} testimony

I love to watch scary movies, and often yell at the screen when the characters of the drama fall victim to the vampires, the werewolves. The characters always get messed up when they go – by themselves – into a dark and spooky place! Then when they are attacked, they try to fend off the evil with some token, like “holy water”, a “cross”, a “silver bullet”, or “garlic”. These are fantasies. The way you ward off evil – truly ward it off – is by trusting in Jesus, and living by faith in Him. This is what defeats evil. The world needs the witness of the genuine believer in Christ. The world is desperate for Jesus! Once this woman witnessed about Jesus, the Samaritans asked Jesus to stay with them.

Jesus stayed two days with the Samaritans. Having done His work there for the Father, Jesus heads toward Galilee. Galilee is about 18 ½ miles north of Nazareth. John writes:

John 4:44 For Jesus himself testified, that a prophet hath no honor in his own country.

Why does it say Jesus testified? That is a very interesting word, the Greek μαρτυρέω martyréō, {pronounced mar-too-reh’-o}, from which we get our word “martyr”. The word means “to give a witness”, but it has a sacrificial quality to it. It is to give a witness that costs something.

Our Lord Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of Man, the Only Begotten of God. Our Lord Jesus is the Godhead revealed, the Lamb of God, the Incarnate Son of God.

Our Lord Jesus turned water into wine at Cana.

Our Lord Jesus moved a Samaritan woman, that caused a revival in Sychar.

Jesus – this miraculous and wonderful Savior and Lord – heads toward His hometown of Nazareth. Though not born in Nazareth, He was raised in Nazareth. Though John does not give us the details on Jesus’ failed mission to Nazareth, Mark does. Mark tells us:

Mark 6:2-6 And when the sabbath day was come, {Jesus} began to teach in the synagogue {at Nazareth}: and many hearing him were astonished, saying, From whence hath this man these things? and what wisdom is this which is given unto him, that even such mighty works are wrought by his hands? 3 Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him. 4 But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honor, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house.

The Faith Of Nazareth Sees Only The Man In Christ

The people of Nazareth grew up with Jesus and remembered Him as the Carpenter’s Son. Though Jesus did miracles in Nazareth – not many, but some – they believed Him more a man than they believed Him Messiah. They said “What’s this wisdom that has been given him, that he even does miracles! Isn’t this the carpenter?” The Bible says:

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.

Preach! Emphasize! To “believe on His name” is to receive and acknowledge Jesus as He is. Jesus Christ is Perfect Man, but He is no mere mortal. He is no mere human teacher. It is a weak and faltering faith that makes Christ out to be as common as you or I. Jesus is distinctly different from every human who has ever been.

As Adam in his creation was perfect before his choice to fall, Jesus is perfect, unique. He is like us in that He tired, He hurt, He ached, He hungered, He thirsted. He suffered all the failings this human body has. But Jesus Christ was and is without sin. He is God in human flesh!

Jesus is without sin- whereas we are sinners. When the Bible speaks of us humans, it says:

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

all have sinned”. Little babies, fresh from birth, are sinners. Toddlers are sinners. Every person who has ever been born human is a sinner – all but One. This One is Jesus. The Bible says:

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

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

Jesus is not a sinner as we are. He is without sin, a unique human/ divine Person. The faith of Nazareth sees Jesus as no more than a mortal man. Jesus is, to them, just a great teacher or a wonderful preacher. If your idea of Jesus is as Nazareth, then your faith is not sufficient to bring about the miraculous. To say that Christ is merely a great moral teacher is to make Him to be what He is not. Jesus Christ is eternal God, incarnate as a perfect man, among us. From the time of the fall of Adam unto Jesus, there had never been a perfect man. There was Enoch, who walked with God till he was not, but Enoch was not perfect. Just as all fallen creatures do, we must rely on the Grace of God. Throughout Scripture, the Bible tells us:

The JUST shall live by faith.

To be “Just”, or “Justified”, righteous in the eyes of God, we ourselves cannot produce this. We must live by faith in God’s provision. All humans are fallen. Eliphaz told Job,

What is man, that he can be pure? Or he who is born of a woman, that he can be righteous?” (Job 15:14 – ESV)

Noah, the Old Testament savior of humanity, was himself imperfect. God used Noah, because:

Genesis 6:8 But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.

Jesus is perfect Man. When God wanted to draw man closer to Himself, He gave us the Law to lead us to Christ. John 1:17 tells us,

The Law was given by Moses, but GRACE and TRUTH came by Jesus Christ”

Throughout the Scripture, when anyone found Grace in the eyes of God, they found it through Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the very Source of the Grace of God. You cannot find grace in a Walmart, nor a Target, nor a Walgreens, nor in a farmer’s market. You cannot find grace in a local Church, or a denomination. You cannot find grace in a preacher like myself. Grace and truth are found ONLY in Jesus Christ. Jesus is perfect Man, and perfect God.

Years ago as a young Christian I was introduced to the works of C.S. Lewis. Lewis was a very deep thinker, a theologian of the first order. In his book Mere Christianity (which I highly recommend), Lewis said:

… people often say about Him [Jesus Christ]: “I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God.” That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic … or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse …. You can shut him up for fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon; or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God.”

The Prophet Isaiah wrote of Jesus some 700 years before His incarnation as perfect Man. Though Isaiah prophesied that Jesus would be a light to the Gentiles(Isaiah 49:6), the Prophet also said that the Messiah would be …

Isaiah 53:3 … 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.

Though Nazareth – and the rest of the lost world – sees Jesus as just another man, the Bible declares He is more than mortal. He is perfect Man and Infinite God. As believers in Christ, we are daily:

Titus 2:13 … looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ …

Nazareth faith hinders the power of Christ to do good.

Mark 6:5-6 {Jesus} could there do no mighty work, save that he laid his hands upon a few sick folk, and healed them. 6 And he marveled because of their unbelief. And he went round about the villages, teaching.

Jesus could there do no mighty work. Though Jesus kept trying to reach out, and though He tried to bring healing and truth, His ministry was greatly hindered by the unbelief of the inhabitants of Nazareth. The Bible said that Jesusmarveled because of their unbelief. Of all the things we do, only unbelief in the face of the kindness and grace of God marvels our Lord. The faith of Nazareth sees only the MAN in Jesus. In contrast,

The Faith Of The Galilean Sees
Only The Miracle In Jesus

John 4:45 Then when he was come into Galilee, the Galilæans received him, having seen all the things that he did at Jerusalem at the feast: for they also went unto the feast.

This verse refers back to

John 2:23-25 … Now when {Jesus} 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.

Jesus did a number of miracles at the beginning of His earthly ministry, right after chasing the money changers out of the Temple (John 2:14-16). We do not know what these miracles were, but whatever they were, they were given because Jesus loves people. Jesus loves to alleviate suffering. One word that highlights the life of Jesus is COMPASSION. We see it used frequently:

Matthew 14:14 And Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and he healed their sick .

Matthew 9:36 But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them , because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd.

Matthew 15:32 Then Jesus called his disciples [unto him], and said, I have compassion on the multitude, because they continue with me now three days, and have nothing to eat: and I will not send them away fasting, lest they faint in the way.

Matthew 20:34 So Jesus had compassion [on them], and touched their eyes: and immediately their eyes received sight, and they followed him.

Unless hindered by unbelief, Jesus – because of His compassion – always reached out to heal the broken.

God loves to heal the broken. The Galileans had been at the Feast of the Passover, and saw Jesus’ miraculous healings. The Gospels shout the words “Jesus had compassion!” Our Lord was compassionate, He loved people, He empathized with people, He identified with people. Because of this great love He healed people, He miraculously fed people, He caused the blind to see, and even raised people from the dead several times. God has compassion, Jesus has compassion, and this is the reason that the people in Cana of Galilee had such good wine on a certain wedding day.

Jesus loves to heal our hurts and our pain, but He wants all of our lives. Some people want Jesus for what temporary blessing He will give. If Jesus would turn water into wine, then go away until I need Him again, that would be just fine. But that is not why Jesus came. God created this world, then put humanity in this world, so that we would learn to walk with Him. God loves us. The Galileans were looking at what temporal things Jesus did, and received Him for these things.

But Jesus is so much more. The Galilean faith focuses on the loaves of bread and the little fish multiplied, but misses the greater truth that God is not just our Provider and Healer, but God is our Companion and Lord. This life is filled with trials and tribulations. Jesus healed many who were blind, leprous, had an issue of blood, or even – who like Lazarus – died …. Every one of these people still died. Their mortal lives in time ended, and they stood before Jesus Christ to be judged. Those who knew Him as Savior and Lord left this life and moved into eternity, adopted of God, blessed forever.

The Faith Of The Nobleman Sees The Lord In Jesus

John 4:46 So Jesus came again into Cana of Galilee, where he made the water wine. And there was a certain nobleman, whose son was sick at Capernaum.

Someone once asked me why God allowed suffering in creation. The short answer is, so that we will be drawn closer to Him. The Bible tells us that God often allows pain and suffering in our lives to draw us into a relationship with Him. We read:

Romans 5:3-6 And not only [so], but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; (4) And patience, experience; and experience, hope: (5) And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. (6) For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.

It is in our brokenness that we find our completion in Christ. No one loves suffering, but what makes it worst is to believe the suffering is without purpose, just painful. But this is not true.

When we suffer, Jesus is there to heal us.
When we are empty, Jesus is there to fill us.
When we are discouraged and depressed,
Jesus is there to lift us up and restore our souls.

The suffering that brings you to Christ is not a curse. Suffering, if it chains you to Christ, is a wonderful thing! God allows pain and suffering in the life of the unbeliever to lead them to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. This is what happened in the life of the certain nobleman. We don’t really know who this man was. We just know that that his son was sick at Capernaum – a place not far from where Jesus was – and this man had heard about Jesus and the wine of the wedding feast. This son was very sick, we read he was at the point of death. If you, as a parent, have ever lost a child, you know this man’s heart. If you don’t, you can only imagine! I can see what this man was going through. He went to Jesus and asked Him to heal that child.

John 4:47 When he heard that Jesus was come out of Judæa into Galilee, he went unto {Jesus}, and besought him that he would come down, and heal his son: for he was at the point of death.

The “nobleman”, literally a “royal official” (Gr. Basilikos), was probably a man who served Herod Antipas, the puppet governor of Israel. The official’s son lay in Capernaum, about 13 miles from Cana. Warren Wiersbe notes:

The nobleman believed that Jesus could heal his son, but he made two mistakes in his thinking: that Jesus had to go to Capernaum to save the lad, and that if the boy died meanwhile, it was too late.”

Jesus told the official:

John 4:48 Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe.

The Jews were reluctant to believe in Jesus. The Bible says in …

John 12:37 Though {Jesus} had done so many signs before them, they still did not believe in him…

The Soniclight commentary notes,

Jesus’ mention of “signs” (Gr. semeia) pointed to the significance of His miracles. This is the only place in John’s Gospel where “wonders” occurs. This word (Gr. terata) stresses the wonder or awe that these miracles produced in those who witnessed them. Jesus’ use of the word suggests that the people wanted to see miracles just so they could marvel at them.

Jesus implied that the man did “not believe” in Him. He did, of course, believe that Jesus could heal His son, but he had not yet come to believe that He could heal from a distance. Jesus viewed that second level of belief as the significant one. The official may well have thought: “What do You mean I do not believe on You?” The man probably felt rebuked by Jesus’ comment, but Jesus’ aim was to bring him to deeper faith in Himself.”

Our Lord Jesus is not just a faith healer, not just a man. Jesus Christ is God. He need not be touching the boy to heal him. He can heal from a distance, if He so desires.

The rich man grows in faith – and believes in Jesus as He is. He says:

John 4:49 … The nobleman saith unto him, Sir, come down ere my child die.

The word Sir is the Greek κύριος kýrios, {pronounced koo’-ree-os}, which is translated as “Lord” in most places in the New Testament. For instance,

Matthew 1:20 “the angel of the Lord (kýrios) appeared unto {Joseph} in a dream”

Matthew 7:22 “Many will say to me in that day, Lord (kýrios)Lord (kýrios)

Matthew 8:25 “Lord (kýrios) save us: we perish.”

Philippians 2:11 “every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord (kýrios), to the glory of God the Father.”

The nobleman acknowledges Jesus as Lord. Not “Sir”, but “Lord”! When Doubting Thomas saw the resurrected Savior, he shouted out:

John 20:28 My Lord (kýrios) and my God.

When Peter, following the resurrection, heard the Master’s last teaching, he told Jesus …

John 21:17 … Lord (kýrios), Thou knowest all things; Thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.

And as Stephen, one of the first martyrs of the Church was being stoned to death, he cried out to Jesus:

Acts 7:59 … Lord (kýrios) Jesus, receive my spirit.

An understanding as to what has happened in the nobleman’s heart hangs on your understanding this Greek word Lord (kýrios). This is the heart of salvation. You may call on Jesus Christ as Savior only, and not be saved. Salvation is based on repentance, and repentance is based on your reception of Jesus as LORD. The Apostle said:

Romans 10:9-11 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord (kýrios) Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. (10) For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. (11) For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.

Many come to Jesus today as healer, helper, friend, confidant. But is He your Lord (kýrios)? When you receive Jesus as Lord (kýrios), you are translated into His Kingdom (Colossians 1:13). When you all on the name of the Lord (kýrios) (Romans 10:13; Acts 22:16) you will be saved. This nobleman saw Jesus as He is.

He is Lord, Hallelujah,
He is Lord, Amen.
He is Lord, Holy, Holy,
And He’s coming back again.
He is Lord, glory glory,
He is Lord over all
the seed of man.
He is Lord, great and mighty,
He is Lord, the great I AM.

Jesus tells the official:

John 4:50-51 … Go thy way; thy son liveth. And the man believed the word that Jesus had spoken unto him, and he went his way. (51) And as he was now going down, his servants met him, and told [him], saying, Thy son liveth.

Genuine faith moves when God says move.

Had the official heard Jesus, and yet not headed home, he would not be showing faith. Faith moves. Faith goes. This nobleman seized the promise of Christ, and headed home alone. It wasn’t long before his servants met him, and told him “thy son liveth”.

John 4:52-54 Then inquired he of them the hour when he began to amend. And they said unto him, Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him. 53 So the father knew that it was at the same hour, in the which Jesus said unto him, Thy son liveth: and himself believed, and his whole house. 54 This is again the second miracle that Jesus did, when he was come out of Judæa into Galilee.

What type of faith have you in Jesus? Do you have the faith of Nazareth, that Jesus is but a good man and a human leader of a religion? Do you have the faith of Galilee, believing Jesus can do miracles – but is not your Lord? Or do you have the nobleman’s faith? I pray that each and every one of you have the nobleman’s faith in Christ Jesus. Jesus is able. He is able to save. He is able to secure. He is able to bless. He is both Lord and Savior to His people. May God bring you to this knowledge through His Word and His Spirit. Amen and Amen!

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A Picture Of Grace

Photo by Artem Sapegin on Unsplash

We live in a troubled world, a world that needs Jesus!

Turn with me in your Bibles to John chapter 5:

John 5:1 After this there was a feast of the Jews; and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.

After this. Our text starts with these two words, “After this” (Greek meta tauta, “Following these events”). Following

  • the conversion of the Samaritan woman at the well,
  • the Samaritan’s witness in Sychar caused a revival of faith in Jesus.
  • the weak faith of Nazareth, which only saw Jesus as a good man
  • the misguided faith of Galilee, which only saw Jesus as a spare tire
  • the sound faith of the Nobleman, who believed Jesus as Lord and Savior – and the conversion of his whole house!

Chapter 4 is a study of faith.

Chapter 5 is a picture of Grace.
Everyone has faith – misplaced faith is no good.
Properly placed faith looks to Jesus.
To only Jesus! For in Jesus is Grace.
“We beheld [Jesus’] glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, FULL OF GRACE and Truth.”

God Offers Grace To the Broken

Grace is in Jesus. The gracious Jesus comes up to Jerusalem in order to celebrate a feast. The feasts were opportunities for the people of God to get together and celebrate the Grace of God. Leviticus 23 outlines the requirements for the Jewish weekly Sabbath, and the Feast Days.

The seven Feast Days were times when the Israelis rested and remembered the Grace that God had poured out. In America we commemorate with memorials & statues. Israel commemorated God with “feasts”.

Without going into detail, one of the “High Sabbaths” was Passover, where Israel celebrated God liberating the nation from Egyptian slavery. God did that through Grace. God did not choose Israel, to bring Messiah through them because they were GREAT as a people. No, God told Israel:

Deuteronomy 7:7-9 (ESV) The LORD did not set His affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. But it was because the LORD loved you and kept the oath He swore to your forefathers that He brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the land of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; He is the faithful God, keeping His covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love Him and keep His commands.

Israel was the least of all the nations. Israel was riddled with sinful traits and drives. God came to Israel because Israel needed God.

Israel in suffering cried out to God, and He redeemed them. The Feasts remind Israel – and us – that God, our God, is gracious and kind to the least and lesser. Praise His holy Name! The Feasts told of the Grace of God, and reminded Israel that the Messiah would one day come. A Feast is a time when family sits down to share food and love with one another. God told Israel that these were:

Feasts of the Lord” (Leviticus 23:2)
And God said “These are MY Feasts”

In the Feasts, God invited His people to the Divine Table to rejoice in God’s Grace and Goodness.

The More You Are Broken, The More
You
Need The Grace Of Jesus

John 5:2 Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches.

There is a pool. This is a pool of bubbling water that people have placed their faith in. Sheep are involved in most of the feasts. Animals without spot or blemish were sacrificed. The sacrifice is a picture and a promise of the Coming Messiah, the “Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). Sheep must be watered before they are sacrificed, so what better place to put the sheep market. The pool itself is named Bethesda, which means “The House of Kindness”. Around Bethesda are five porches, five flat areas where people can rest. This is again interesting, because

Five Is The Number of GRACE In The Scripture.

The Apostle John wrote five books focused on the Grace of God (Gospel of John, 1, 2, & 3 John, and Revelation). Jesus multiplied five loaves of barley to feed over 5000 people (Matthew 14:17). To these five porches sick people came, seeking healing. They needed a touch from God. The Bible says:

John 5:3 In these {porches} lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water.

Word Study: Jesus comes into Jerusalem, and enters Jerusalem by “the House of Kindness”. On this special Feast Day there were a number of people who were not celebrating. The Bible says these are “impotent folk”, the Greek ἀσθενέω asthenéō, {pronounced as-then-eh’-o}. These people were weak, feeble, diseased, sick.

When you are broken, you are in the
best place for God to reach you.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 {God} 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 is teaching us a lesson we all need to understand. When we are strong enough, self sufficient enough, then we do not need Jesus. Oh, we always need Jesus. Yes, we do. But when we are strong enough to do it our way, it is in our human nature to do it our way and ignore the Lord.

When we have strength to worry, why call on Jesus?
When we have strength to be depressed, why call for God?
When we can get in the water ourselves, we save the Lord the effort.
When I can say with William Ernest Henley,
“I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul”,
Why would I need the Lord?
Why would I need His Grace?

The people on these five porches are typical of so many today. Suffering, they come to the House of Kindness. But they are not praying. They are not calling out to God in Christ. What are they doing? They are watching the water. Their faith is in the water, not in God.

Are you watching bubbling water – or looking for Jesus?
Only Jesus can fix broken you.

John 5:3b-4 … waiting for the moving of the water. {4} For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had.

Now, I’m not blaming these people. So many times in my life I’ve wandered out to one of the porches of the House of Kindness. I’ve laid there, not looking for Jesus, but watching for the bubbling of the water. “If I can just get to the water, I’ll be all right!” We have all done this.

The bubbling waters of this world are often our substitutes for the Living Waters that Christ gives.

This next part is particularly interesting to me. There are 5 porches, filled with people. Yet Jesus goes not to them all, but to the worst one afflicted. The more you are broken, the more God wants to heal you.

John 5:5-6 And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, he saith unto him, Wilt thou be made whole?

God healed people in a variety of ways in the Old Testament, under the Old Covenant. The Gentile General Naaman was healed of leprosy when he washed in the Jordan River (2 Kings 5:10-14). For 38 years this man has watched the water bubble during the Feast Days.

As the man watches for bubbles in the water, Jesus comes to him, and only him.

Jesus asks, Wilt thou be made whole?. The man is crestfallen, probably filled with despair. He tells the Lord – probably with tears in his eyes:

John 5:7 The impotent man answered him, Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool: but while I am coming, another steppeth down before me.

This man doesn’t need help to get into the waters. He needs the Grace of God in Christ. He needs to put his faith in Him Who brings living waters, not in the bubbling waters and the kindness of strangers.

Word Study: The man addresses Jesus as Sir, the Greek κύριος kyrios or literally “Lord”.

The bubbling water and the focus of this man is a picture of God’s Law. The water (the Law) cannot save.

Moses was not saved by the Law, but by Grace. Though “the Law came by Moses” (John 1:17), God did not save Moses by Law. The Bible says:

Exodus 33:12 {God said} I know thee {Moses} by name, and thou hast ALSO FOUND GRACE in My sight ..

Moses relied on the continuous Grace of God (Exodus 33:13, 33:17). God only gave the Law to Israel because Israel would not love the Lord, nor heed His direction. Israel was always trying to figure out a way to do it themselves. They demanded a human king over God their King. So God gave them the Law. The Law was not intended to save. Even under the Old Covenant, the Bible says:

Habakkuk 2:4 … the just shall live by his faith.

Those who are right with God, trust in God for salvation, for direction, for love, for life. The righteousness of God {is} revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.” In Galatians Chapter 3 the Apostle Paul, a “Pharisee of the Pharisees” (Acts 23:6), explains how the Law does not save, but leads to Christ. Paul said:

Galatians 3:10 For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.

The Law for this impotent man was “get into the water while it bubbles”. Year after year he watched for the water to bubble. When it did, he struggled toward it – but always came up short. The Law is a curse. It makes Pharisees more self righteous, and non-Pharisees more disregarded. This poor man is watching for bubbling waters, and always coming up short.

We All Need Jesus, Not The Law

Then Jesus comes. Jesus always comes when we are at our most helpless, at our weakest.

Galatians 3:13-14 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.

Jesus came to fulfill the Law (Matthew 5:18). The animal sacrifices of the Law are no more. We no longer have to drag our limp and useless souls to the bubbling waters. Jesus Christ comes to those who look upward, seeking God. Jesus Christ, the “Living Water”, spoke to Israel (the impotent man) in the Old Testament:

Jeremiah 2:13 … My people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.

Jesus Christ is the transcendent “Living Water”. If you ask Him, “He will give you living water” (John 4:10). Those who believe on Jesus, Who hear His Word, shall be made new. “Out of the believer’s belly shall flow rivers of living water (the Holy Spirit of God)” (John 7:37-39). But listen, Beloved … YOU MUST LISTEN TO JESUS.

John 5:8-9 Jesus saith unto him, Rise, take up thy bed, and walk. 9 And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked: and on the same day was the sabbath.

So many people believe that Jesus just saves us so we can go to Heaven, one day, by and by. Jesus saves us so we can walk in His power NOW, and walk with God both NOW and into eternity. Billy Graham said,

You can’t change your past, but you can determine your destiny by deciding for Christ. And when you do that, Christ changes your past. He wipes out all the sins of the past. … Choose you this day Whom you’re going to serve. Many of you are going to have to decide tonight what is the number one priority in your life. All the way through the Bible, choices, choices, choices.”

The impotent man was made whole as Jesus commanded it. Jesus told the man, Rise, take up thy bed, and walk. The man rose, took up his bed, and walked. The Bible says, on the same day was the sabbath. This was a special Sabbath, a time to rest and worship the Lord our God. This was, I dare say, the happiest day of this man’s life. For thirty eight years he had been miserable. Now he is strong enough to walk – to pick up that ragged bed (like a sleeping bag) that held him for so long – and to carry what once carried him. This should be a time of celebration, a time of joy. God Himself showed up on that porch of the House of Kindness. God gave Grace to this once helpless and hopeless man.

Then the keepers of the Law, the Pharisees, show themselves.

John 5:10 The Jews therefore said unto him that was cured, It is the sabbath day: it is not lawful for thee to carry thy bed.

Jesus told this man to carry thy bed as a testimony to the Grace of God. The man had laid in a bed for 38 years.

For those 38 years, the Law – the Priests and Pharisees – walked around this man, ignored this man, never sought to help this man.

The Law exists to point to sin. It is a unit of measurement, a mirror, but not a fix. The man answers the Law:

John 5:11-13 He answered them, He that made me whole, the same said unto me, Take up thy bed, and walk. 12 Then asked they him, What man is that which said unto thee, Take up thy bed, and walk? 13 And he that was healed wist not who it was: for Jesus had conveyed himself away, a multitude being in that place.

The Christian faith is not a lawless faith. Once saved, the Christian follows “the Law of Christ”. The “Law of Christ” is to love others the way that Jesus loved you. The Apostle wrote:

Galatians 6:2 Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

Jesus healed this man, though this man never actually thanked Jesus for his healing. Jesus healed this man, even though the man did not knows Jesus’ name. Jesus relieved this man from a lifetime of misery – and then conveyed himself away. This is the Greek ἐκνεύω ekneúō, {pronounced ek-nyoo’-o} which means “to slip away secretly, to quietly withdraw, to slip off”. Jesus – though God in human flesh – was not puffed up with pride. Love lifts up others, and does not need a ticker tape parade or adulation.

The Law of Christ – the Royal Law tells us to do good to others, to lift them up. James said:

James 2:8 … the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself …

So we are not lawless. We follow Christ. Jesus comes to this same man later, and …

John 5:14 … Afterward Jesus findeth him in the temple, and said unto him, Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee

Love does not justify sin, but points out that sin is a terrible thing. Sin brings disease, discomfort, and death. The warning that Jesus gives this man shows us that God often uses sickness to get our attention. Listen Beloved,

When sickness brings us to the House of Kindness, and the House of Kindness brings us to Jesus, this is a great blessing from God. Jesus doesn’t help us into the bubbling waters to heal us. Jesus comes to us, and brings with Him Living Waters. Jesus said:

John 4:14 (ESV) … whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.

God will not bring the sinner to the bubbling waters. He will bring the waters to the sinner. He will place the power of God’s Spirit into those who receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Those who are Christ’s are creatures with the potential to bring Living Water to all around us. Those who are Christ’s take the message of Jesus to a lost and dying world, a thirsting world, a parched world. We carry the hope of Eternal Life by faith in Christ in us, with us, and are supposed to be stirred not by the Law nor by an angel but by Grace and love and service to the King.

John 5:15-16 … The man departed, and told the Jews that it was Jesus, which had made him whole. {16} And therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay him, because he had done these things on the sabbath day.

The life grounded in the Law, if it has not Christ, will be brutal, hateful, judgmental, self righteous.

The Pharisees and Priests hated Jesus because he had done these things on the sabbath day. What did Jesus do on the Sabbath day? He alleviated suffering. He ministered to the needy. He lifted up the downtrodden. How would Jesus answer these self righteous men? Jesus said:

John 5:17-18 But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work. 18 Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God.

Jesus Christ is God. He is God in the flesh. He is God loving, reaching. He is the God Who loves you. Will you not give yourselves to Him this very day? Oh, what a blessing you will find, when you find Jesus. Give your lives to Jesus, and prove your salvation by following Him in love. God, the Giver of the Law, called Jesus to work on the sabbath. Not to till the fields, nor to fish, nor to in any way earn money through the sweat of His brow. No Beloved, this was not the work that Jesus did on the sabbath. The work He did is the work He does even today. Jesus told His disciples:

John 6:27-29 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. {28} Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? {29} Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.

Here is THE work of God – that you believe on and worship Jesus, serving not the Law but Him. All who believe on Him shall never be ashamed. All who believe on Him shall be saved, both now and into eternity. May God bless the preaching of this Word, and cause you to make a commitment to Jesus Christ this very day! For Christ’s glory, may the Spirit and the Word of God impact your hearts! Amen and Amen!

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The Mind Of Christ – A Wednesday Devotional

Photo by Júnior Ferreira on Unsplash

Please turn with me in your Bibles to 1 Corinthians chapter 2.

It is the devil’s job to tempt us, to frustrate us, to drive us away from our Shepherd Jesus. He does very well at his job. The darkness of the world pulls at us. Pastor Bill Winston (Living Word Christian Center) made a statement that I really liked. He said to the Christian:

“You are not from this world … you were born from above. Act like you are from home. Talk like God (not like the world). The whole earth is waiting for you to manifest. The enemy’s job is to keep us in a place where we won’t grow up.”

We live in bad days, but they are no worse than that which the first century Church went through. In fact, they are better. Though the Church is frequently infiltrated with godless “wolves in sheep’s clothing”, this has always been the case. Of the first twelve Apostles, one, Judas Iscariot, though chose by Jesus “was a devil” (John 6:70). Though Judas walked with Jesus, his mind was always on money, on the things of this world. The Apostle said:

John 12:6 {Judas Iscariot} was a thief, and had the bag {the disciple’s treasury}, and bare what was put therein.

The Church at Corinth was infiltrated by worldly, ungodly people. The Church was divided, sectarian, fighting among themselves. The Church was tolerating incest and grievous sexual sins among it’s members. The Church members were suing one another in court. Lovelessness abounded in Corinth. The Apostle addressed the Church, saying:

1 Corinthians 2:12-16 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. 13 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy {Spirit} teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 14 But 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. 15 But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. 16 For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? but we have the mind of Christ.

Which Spirit Is In You?

The Apostle gives an indicator as to how the Church can know which of it’s members are of God, and which are not. Those who belong to the world are called “natural man”. This is the Greek psychikos anthrōpos, the “sensual person”, the person who approaches the world around them based on feelings and self satisfaction. The animal is sensualistic. Animals will mate within their own family to satisfy their sensual urges. The psychikos anthrōpos approaches life with “Just do you” and “defy logic – be yourself” attitudes. The natural or sensual person seeks immediate gratification, and cares nothing for others unless helping others helps themselves.

What is the difference between the “natural man” and the “supernatural man”? It is whether the Holy Spirit of God is in that person or not. The Apostle quotes a text:

1 Corinthians 2:9 But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.

The phrase “as it is written” tells us that the Apostle is quoting scripture – which for Paul, would be the Old Testament. He is quoting:

Isaiah 64:4 For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, beside thee, what he hath prepared for him that waiteth for him.

In 1 Corinthians 2:9 and Isaiah 64:4, when the Bible says “men have not heard nor seen”, it is referring to the lost world, those who are without the Holy Spirit.

The unspiritual or “natural” person cannot picture the glories of what God has prepared for His children. But the spiritual or Spirit Filled Christian can begin to grasp the glories that await us because of Christ Jesus. The Apostle said:

1 Corinthians 2:10 But God hath revealed THEM {the things which God hath prepared for them that love him, mention in vs 9} unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.

The Spirit of God knows the mind of God, because the Spirit of God is Himself God. The Holy Spirit is not an “it”, but a Person, a Divine Person. It is the Holy Spirit Who moved the Prophets and Apostles to write Scripture:

2 Peter 1:21 … holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy {Spirit}.

It is the Holy Spirit that causes a believer in Christ to be “born again”. 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.

As Jesus Himself was incarnate through the virgin Mary because of the Holy Spirit (see Luke 1:35) – a wondrous miracle – the Christian is made a son of God by the operation of the Spirit. The Spirit is NOT just a power – He is a PERSON. In Acts chapter 5 Ananias and Sapphira tried to deceive God. The Apostle Peter said:

Acts 5:3-4 Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy {Spirit}, … why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God.

You cannot “lie” to a power, but only to a Person. Ananias and Sapphira lied to God the Holy Spirit. There are other Scriptures that speak to the Person of the Holy Spirit. The Apostle wrote:

Ephesians 4:30 (ESV) … do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

The word “grieve” is the Greek lypéō, which means “to cause sadness, to offend, to make uneasy and sorrowful”. Like any Person, the Holy Spirit can be emotionally offended or hurt. The Apostle wrote in:

2 Corinthians 13:14 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

We have “fellowship” or a rapport with the Holy Spirit. As we read the Word of God, and come together as believers, the Holy Spirit guides us into being more like Christ. The Apostle said “we have the mind of Christ”. What does this mean? Jesus said that when the Holy Spirit came, that the function of the Spirit would be to tell us more about Jesus.

John 14:26 (ESV) … the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.

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

John 16:7-15 … Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. 8 And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: 9 Of sin, because they believe not on me; 10 Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; 11 Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged. 12 I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. 13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. 14 He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. 15 All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you.

The function of God the Holy Spirit is to make us more like Jesus in our walk. The Holy Spirit has the mind of God, and He leads us toward that mind. Christians,

We Have The Mind of Christ

The saved person “has the mind of Christ”, that is, the Holy Spirit indwelling us, and the Holy Word of God available to us. When we read His Word, God the Holy Spirit reveals the deeper things of God. We HAVE the mind of Christ. What does the Spirit want of us? He wants us to be more like Jesus.

Turn with me in your Bibles to Ephesians 4:17-20

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;

The world walks (lives it’s life) according to the spirit of this age, the spirit of anti-Christ. It chases after self and selfishness, greed and uncleanliness. The Apostle says, “ye have not so learned Christ”. We do not belong to this world. We belong to Jesus. The Apostle said:

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.

We “put on the new man”. We follow the Word of God and the leading of the Spirit of God. Finally, turn with me in your Bibles to Philippians 2.

Philippians 2:5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:

We have the mind of Christ, the Holy Spirit in us. “LET this mind be in you”. The word “LET” emphasizes a choice. You who are saved are Holy Spirit indwelt, but you must choose to follow His leading. “LET”. We are to be like Jesus. How was Jesus like?

Philippians 2:6-8 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.

Jesus is “in the form of God”, morphḗ, “by nature or apparently God”. The Strong’s New Testament Commentary notes:

“{Jesus} bore the form (in which he appeared to the inhabitants of heaven) of God … yet did not think that this equality with God was to be eagerly clung to or retained … but emptied himself of it … so as to assume the form of a servant, in that he became like unto men”

Jesus willingly left the glories of Heaven, and lowered Himself to be part of His own creation. He did this so that He could save humanity, by offering Himself on the cruel Cross of Calvary. Jesus “humbled himself” for the betterment of others. He sacrificed Himself. Jesus did not sacrifice Himself in order to enable sin, but did so that we could be freed from sin. The Apostle said:

Philippians 2:2-4 Fulfill ye my joy, that ye be like minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. 3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. 4 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.

Jesus considered His life less and us better, that we might be saved. As Jesus willingly sacrificed His rights for our righteousness, so is our love to be. When there are battles in the Church, it always comes about because because members are elevating themselves above other members. The Apostle said:

Philippians 2:14-16 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…

As Jesus was and is, we are to be. We are sons of God, made so by the Spirit of God and by the sacrifice of the Son of God. We do not live as the world lives, but live as God says. We are Kingdom people.

“We have the mind of Christ”. The mind of Christ is not like the world.

This is the standard we must lean toward, to love others as we have been loved. We are to be lights of Christ in this present evil world, shining to the glory of Christ. May Jesus help us do so, through His Spirit and His Word. Amen and Amen!

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Stand In The Gap

Photo by Connor Misset on Unsplash

Ezekiel 22:30 And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none.

It is so easy to follow the crowd. The crowd always takes the easy way. The crowd is so tolerant of anything God is intolerant of. The crowd loves that which God forbids, and cheers on that which God despises. Our Lord Jesus, loving and kind, came to this world to save sinners. Yet all that He met was opposition. Jesus said of this world:

Matthew 11:16-19 But whereunto shall I liken this generation? It is like unto children sitting in the markets, and calling unto their fellows, 17 And saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned unto you, and ye have not lamented. 18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, He hath a devil. 19 The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners. But wisdom is justified of her children.

What does it matter? you might ask. After all, God is love (1 John 4:8). Let’s all just dance and sing with the crowd: (The following is adapted from Greg Morse’s article, Following Christ In An Unappeasable World)

Boys can be girls, and girls can be boys;
WE are our Maker – our bodies, our toys.

It’s not a baby – don’t feel any shame,
It hasn’t a voice or a smile or a name.

It’s brave to be different; it’s okay to be you,
Boy and boy, girl and girl – it’s called marriage, too.

God is love. But God is also HOLY, righteous, and just. God is the Maker of all things, and the Determiner of right and wrong. The Bible tells us in Romans 6:23:

The wages of sin is death ..

Sin is against nature, against light, against life. If sin goes unchecked, society collapses. In the middle of our town is a terrible section called “West 7th Street”. In addition to tearing up the center of town, our leadership pathetically has decided to allow the roads there to be not just torn up, but unlined. The lines on the road are checks and balances telling us where it’s safe to drive. I have seen several near accidents on that stretch of road, because people drive any way they want to – there is no demarcation! Can you imagine driving on an interstate without lines, or through a major city without any traffic control whatsoever. It would be dangerous, chaotic.

Six hundred years before Christ became incarnate, Judea had erased the lines from the highways of life. When the lines are erased, it is not long before God must act. When God sent a worldwide flood, destroying all but 8 people, it was not on a whim. The Bible says:

Genesis 6:5-7 … And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6 And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. 7 And the Lord said, I will destroy…

And yet, God did not destroy the earth by flood immediately. God is holy, but God is love. God found Noah, a man willing to “stand in the gap”. God gave humanity ample time to repent, to return to His design (for God said in Genesis 6:3 “his days shall be an hundred and twenty years”). Though God eventually – and believe reluctantly – destroyed all life but what was on the Ark,

His love looked for a Noah, but
His holiness brought a flood.

God Is Looking For A Person To Stand For Judea

Ezekiel 22:30 And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none.

Word Study: God sought. This is the Hebrew בָּקַשׁbâqash, {pronounced baw-kash’}, which is in the Piel Imperfect. The Piel Imperfect tells us that God is intensively and continually looking for the gap filler.God’s search for just one was ongoing, and might I say desperate.

God sought for a person – any person – who would stand in the gap before me for the land. God was not looking for that person to stand alone. God was looking for a person who would stand … before Me, someone who would say, “Lord, I believe Your Word. Lord, I will stand with you and FOR THE LAND because I love you”. God looked all throughout Judea. The Bible says:

2 Chronicles 16:9 For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him. …

Everywhere God looked, He found none.

The POLITICIANS would not stand in the gap

Ezekiel 22:6-7 Behold, the princes of Israel, every one were in thee to their power to shed blood. 7 In thee have they set light by father and mother:

The foundation of good civilization is based on how that civilization regards “father and mother”. The fifth of the ten commandments is (Exodus 20:12) “Honor thy father and thy mother. This is the ONLY commandment that gives a reason for obeying it. God said, “that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you”. God did not tell the children to LOVE their parents, but to HONOR them. The citizens of a country are taught civility and order when they are taught as children to obey the authority of the parent. When children are taught that parents are not important – that you can have an abortion or be issued ‘the pill’ without parental approval, you move toward a totalitarian society. Dennis Prager notes:

One of the first things totalitarian movements seek to do is to break the child-parent bond. The child’s allegiance is shifted from parents to the state. Even in democratic societies the larger the state becomes, the more it usurps the parental role.”

Ezekiel 22:7 … in the midst of thee have they dealt by oppression with the stranger: in thee have they vexed the fatherless and the widow.

The leaders of the country should care about how the immigrant, the orphan, and the widow are treated. The weakest of society should be cared for, not used as pawns for their ability to vote.

Ezekiel 22:8-9 Thou hast despised mine holy things, and hast profaned my sabbaths. 9 In thee are men that carry tales to shed blood: and in thee they eat upon the mountains: in the midst of thee they commit lewdness.

The leadership of the nation should have respect for God our Creator – yet they did not. The leadership of the nation rules that nation at the will of God. Just as Saul lost his position as King for disobeying God, the Lord will overthrow those who put their hands on the Bible, taking an oath with a “so help me God”, but then fail to stand in the gap.

Ezekiel 22:10-11 In thee have they discovered their fathers’ nakedness: in thee have they humbled her that was set apart for pollution. 11 And one hath committed abomination with his neighbor’s wife; and another hath lewdly defiled his daughter in law; and another in thee hath humbled his sister, his father’s daughter.

The leaders of the nation should treat human sexuality the same way God treats it. When the leaders of the nation endorse sexual immorality, it damages the soul of the nation.

Ezekiel 22:12 In thee have they taken gifts to shed blood; thou hast taken usury and increase, and thou hast greedily gained of thy neighbors by extortion, and hast forgotten me, saith the Lord God.

The politicians of Judea were motivated not by justice, but bribery and collusion. The nation was falling apart because the leadership was not honoring the ways of God. There was no one to stand in the gap!

The PROPHETS or PREACHERS
would not stand in the gap

Ezekiel 22:25 There is a conspiracy of her prophets in the midst thereof, like a roaring lion ravening the prey; they have devoured souls; they have taken the treasure and precious things; they have made her many widows in the midst thereof.

The Prophets (Preachers) of Judea ceased communing with what God said, but instead made a conspiracy. This is the Hebrew קֶשֶׁר qesher, {pronounced keh’-sher}, which means “to join together in order to commit treason, to make an unlawful alliance”. The Preachers stopped saying “thus saith the Lord” and instead began to appease the people. This is nothing new. While Moses was on Mount Sinai receiving the Law, the people rebelled against God and demanded Aaron make them a god. The Bible tells us:

Exodus 32:4 … {Aaron} made it a molten calf; and they {the people} said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.

When God saw what Aaron did, He told Moses:

Exodus 32:10 (ESV) … let me alone, that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them, in order that I may make a great nation of you”.

Praise God, though, that Moses stood in the gap before the Lord. He sought the heart of God, saying:

Exodus 32:11-14 (ESV) “O Lord, why does your wrath burn hot against your people, whom you have brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? 12 Why should the Egyptians say, ‘With evil intent did he bring them out, to kill them in the mountains and to consume them from the face of the earth’? Turn from your burning anger and relent from this disaster against your people. 13 Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, your servants, to whom you swore by your own self, and said to them, ‘I will multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have promised I will give to your offspring, and they shall inherit it forever.’” 14 And the Lord relented…

Oh, praise God there was a Moses to stand in the gap. But there is none in Israel as God speaks through Ezekiel. The Prophets, the Preachers commit treason against God, and band together. God said:

Ezekiel 22:28 And her prophets have daubed them with untempered mortar, seeing vanity, and divining lies unto them, saying, Thus saith the Lord God, when the Lord hath not spoken.

Word Study: God uses an interesting term here for what the false preachers are doing. They are building walls with untempered mortar. The word mortar was supplied by the King James translators, as it is not in the original text. The word is simply תָּפֵל tâphêl, {pronounced taw-fale}, which means “untempered, foolish, that which is subject to failure”. The preachers were not staying with God’s Word, but were building the House of Israel with that which is fallible, easy to destroy. The Psalmist famously said:

Psalm 127:1 Except the LORD build the house, they labor in vain that build it: except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.

The Word of God is tried and true. It is from our Maker, and it is for our best. When the Preachers conspired together to commit treason against God, they were also committing treason against Judea. God’s preachers are to:

Ephesians 4:15 be speaking the truth in love

This alone is what will bless the nation, the state, the community, and the family. But it was not just the Prophets/ Preachers that were off base, but,

The PRIESTS would not stand in the gap

Ezekiel 22:26 Her priests have violated my law, and have profaned mine holy things: they have put no difference between the holy and profane, neither have they shewed difference between the unclean and the clean, and have hid their eyes from my sabbaths, and I am profaned among them.

The PROPHETS were to speak the Word of God, and the PRIESTS were to serve the Lord. It was God’s initial intent that ALL of Israel be priests. Yet after Israel’s failing at Mount Sinai, God made the children of Levi or the Levites to be priests. The priests ignored the commands of God. God the Son said:

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

John 14:21 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.

What God has said is right, is right even if all the world disagree. Yet the priests of God backed away from the truths that God established. God said, put no difference between the holy and profane. God’s people – saved by faith in Christ – are to honor what God honors, and dishonor what God dishonors. The priests hid their eyes from my sabbaths. God established the Sabbath for mankind, for a time to remember the goodness of God, a time to praise His name. The Bible says of the believer in Christ:

Revelation 1:5-6 {Jesus Christ} that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood, 6 And hath made us kings AND PRIESTS unto God and His Father

Every believer is a priest before God, with Jesus Christ as our High Priest (Hebrews 2:17; 4:14; 5:6). The priests must say the same thing that God says. If God declares it unclean, we are to declare it unclean. But God said there were no priests who would stand with Him in the gap. The forces of darkness cannot be defeated if priests and prophets do not work together.

In Exodus 17 the children of Israel went to battle with the Amalekites at Rephidim. The Prophet Moses was told of God to “stand on the top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand” (Exodus 17:9). As Moses held up the staff, Israel prevailed. But when Moses dropped his hand, the Amalekites prevailed. The Bible says:

Exodus 17:12-13 But Moses’ hands grew weary, so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it, while Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side. So his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. 13 And Joshua overwhelmed Amalek and his people with the sword.

Just as Aaron the priest {along with Hur) held up the Prophet Moses’ hands, the priests must stand in the gap, lifting up the arms of the prophets. But the priests would not stand in the gap, and judgment was coming.

The PEOPLE would not stand in the gap with God

When the politicians, the preachers and the priests refused to stand, lawlessness spread throughout the land. We have seen this in our own country as mobs took over city blocks, and destroyed public property like statues and monuments. Lawlessness and darkness always abounds in the absence of light.

Ezekiel 22:30 The people of the land have used oppression, and exercised robbery, and have vexed the poor and needy: yea, they have oppressed the stranger wrongfully.

As God looked over Judea, all He saw was lovelessness and hatred throughout the land. The people used oppression, and exercised robbery, stealing from one another. When God is ignored, or in last place, the people pursue a “me above all others” mentality. The nation suffers from this. The poor and needy are not cared for, and the stranger is oppressed.

God said, I believe with sadness:

Ezekiel 22:30-31 And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none. 31 Therefore have I poured out mine indignation upon them; I have consumed them with the fire of my wrath: their own way have I recompensed upon their heads, saith the Lord God.

God looked and looked for but ONE person to stand in the gap for the nation, but said I found none. Had God found but ONE, the indignation of God would have been held from Judea.

God Is Looking For The One To Spare The Nation

Much of what we read in our text today could be applied to present day America. I believe that America – because of extreme political views on both sides – is not far from a horrible collapse. But God will not allow our nation to collapse IF He can find the ONE. Read again God’s Words:

Ezekiel 22:30 And I sought for A MAN among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none.

Word Study: God does not seek for a large number. God seeks A MAN. This is the Hebrewאִישׁ ʼîysh, {pronounced eesh}. This is the word Adam used when he first saw Eve:

Genesis 2:23 Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman {אִשָּׁה ʼishshâh, [pronounced ish-shaw’]}, because she was taken out of Man {ʼîysh}.

God is looking for ONE who will stand in fellowship with Him. ONE is a very important word in the Scripture – perhaps the most important word there is. Consider:

Romans 10:13 (ESV) … everyONE who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

Revelation 3:20 (ESV) Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyONE hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.

Jesus told the young man who wanted eternal life, in Mark 10:21 “ONE thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor … and come, take up the Cross, and follow Me”.

Jesus told Martha, when she complained that Mary was sitting at His feet (Luke 10:42), ONE thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.

The Apostle Paul said, (Philippians 3:13) “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.

ONE man, by disobedience, brought sin and destruction into the world. ONE Jesus went to the Cross for the sins of the whole world to right Adam’s failure. God will save a nation, if but ONE will stand in the gap in fellowship with Him. Be the ONE whom God uses. Do not be like the crowd. Do not be driven by social media, by Hollyweird, by the fallen crowd. Choose to be the ONE in fellowship with Christ.

Lamentations 3:21-24 This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. 22 It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. 23 They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. 24 The Lord is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him.

Stand with God. Stand with Jesus. Stand in His Word, and in His power. If you are the ONE, you may stand alone. Jesus stood alone on Calvary, but changed the world. Dr J. Mike Minnix wrote in his sermon, Standing in the Gap:

One” man named Abraham began a nation by obeying God and became the father of faith. “One man named Joseph saved the nation by turning from temptation. “One” teenager named David fought for the nation when he faced Goliath. “One” woman named Esther rescued the nation by risking her life.

It is so easy to throw up your hands, and go with the crowd. But Beloved, just as God punished Judea, I believe God will punish America if some ONE doesn’t stand. I commit my life that I will be the ONE. Will you join me? I am reminded of the little boy who had a horse for sale. A prospective buyer asked him, “Son, can that horse run fast?” The boy replied, “No sir, he can’t run fast, but he can sure stand fast”. Let us all commit to be the one, to

STAND FAST in the faith (1 Corinthians 16:13)
STAND FAST in the liberty wherewith
Christ hath made us free (Galatians 5:1)

STAND FAST in one spirit, with one mind
striving together for the faith of the gospel (Philippians 1:27)

STAND FAST in the Lord (1 Thessalonians 3:8)

May God the Holy Spirit and His precious Word move us all to so commit. The life of our nation depends on our response. Amen and Amen.

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Jesus’ Meat

Photo by Paul Hermann on Unsplash

John 4:30-34 Then they went out of the city, and came unto him. 31 In the mean while his disciples prayed him, saying, Master, eat. 32 But he said unto them, I have meat to eat that ye know not of. 33 Therefore said the disciples one to another, Hath any man brought him ought to eat? 34 Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.

The Heart Of God Is To Save

If you were with me this morning, we talked about Jesus meeting the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well. While Jesus entered Samaria, His disciples went into the city to buy meat” (see verse 8). As Jesus talked to the unnamed woman at the well, He revealed to her that He is the Messiah. The woman, convicted that Jesus is the Messiah, goes to her home in Sychar (see verse 5). Her message to the men of Sychar is:

John 4:29 Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?

Word Study “Meat”: While this woman is gone telling others about Jesus, His disciples return with what the King James calls simple meat. This is the Greek βρῶσις brōsis, {pronounced bro’-sis}, which the King James translates as “rust”, as in ..

Matthew 6:19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and RUST {brōsis} doth corrupt …

or as meat – like in our present text. The word is translated eatingin 1 Corinthians 8:4, and foodin texts like 2 Corinthians 9:10. I believe the best translation of the word is food. The disciples didn’t just go and get “meat” for Jesus and themselves to eat, but “food”, which could be anything you eat.

The distance between Judea and Sychar (a city of Samaria) is 24.85 miles. As Jesus was walking, the journey would have taken around 22 hours. Jesus has satisfied His thirst at the well, but should be famished!

Word Study “Prayed”: His disciples returned with food, and prayed” {ἐρωτάω erōtáō, [pronounced er-o-tah’-o]}, literally BEGGED Jesus to eat. This is not the first time Jesus has been very hungry. In Matthew 4, our Lord was led into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit of God (Matthew 4:1) to be tempted by the devil. Jesus had been without food for 40 days and night, and Satan tempted Him to use His power to feed Himself. Jesus refused, saying:

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

This is how Jesus lived His life while on this earth. He was not driven by appetite, lust, or any sin whatsoever. Jesus – the Creator of all that we see-

Colossians 1:16 (ESV) For by {Jesus} all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.

The King of Kings and Lord of Lords “had no place to lay His head” (Matthew 8:19-20; Luke 9:57-58). Jesus had no cup to drink from when He asked the Samaritan woman for a drink from Jacob’s Well. Jesus had nothing, but one driving force in His life. Jesus told His disciples:

John 4:32 I have meat {brōsis, FOOD}
to eat that ye know not of

This puzzled the disciples. Did someone bring Jesus something to eat while He rested at the well? As the disciples talked among themselves, Jesus told them:

John 4:34 … My {brōsis FOOD} is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.

God made and is in charge of all things. The only thing God wants is to save the lost. Period!

God The Son Was “Sent”

John 4:34 … My {brōsis FOOD} is to do the will of Him that sent me, and to finish His work.

Preach STRONG: Jesus was not sent by rabbis. He was not sent by the Sanhedrin, the ruling elders of Israel. Jesus was not sent by Himself. There was no inner hunger or need for power that sent Him. Jesus – Himself God – is sent by God for the most important mission ever devised. He was sent by God to save the lost.

God is a “Him”. God, though three in Person, is One in desire. Part of the”Him” that sent Jesus is God the Holy Spirit. Jesus emphasized the sending and empowerment of the Spirit in one of the first recorded sermons He ever preached. It was in His hometown Nazareth that Jesus, at the Synagogue (Jewish Church) shared His mission as Messiah.

Luke 4:16-19 (ESV) … where {Jesus} had been brought up. And as was his custom, He went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and He stood up to read. 17 And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to Him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written, 18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.

The textual scroll Jesus read was Isaiah 61:1-2a. This text is significant, for it prophesies of the coming Messiah.

Jesus does not read the last part of Isaiah 61:2, which speaks of “the day of vengeance of our God”. Abruptly stopping in the middle of verse 2, Jesus rolled up the scroll, and returned it to the attendant of the Synagogue. Jesus turns, looks at the crowd there, and says:

Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

Jesus applied this Messianic Prophecy to His own self. He as much said, “I am the Messiah Israel has long waited for”. In that Messianic Prophesy, the Messiah said:

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me”

God the Holy Spirit sent and empowered Jesus to proclaim good news to the poor … to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed. God the Holy Spirit is very involved in the salvation of human souls. It is the Spirit of God that empowered Jesus to …

Matthew 12:28 … I cast out devils by the SPIRIT OF GOD…

The Holy Spirit is not a Power,
but a
Co-Equal Person of the Trinity.

The Holy Spirit “led Jesus into the wilderness” (Luke 4:1). Just as Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit, the Christian – a son of God – is to be led by the Spirit. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God” (Romans 8:14). This same Holy Spirit that sent Jesus and worked through Jesus is the same Holy Spirit Who revealed Bible truths to the Apostles and Prophets (Ephesians 3:5). The Holy Spirit sent – and walked with – our Lord Jesus.

God the Son was also sent to save us by God the Father. Jesus said:

John 5:30 I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.

Jesus followed the direction of God the Father. He told us:

John 14:9 … he that hath seen Me hath seen the Father

Some 30 times in the Gospel of John alone
Jesus speaks of being sent by God.

God the Father sent Jesus. God the Holy Spirit sent Jesus, and walked with Him as He ministered. John the Baptist taught that Jesus is the Great Intercessor between God and man. John said:

John 3:34-36 … For {Jesus} 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.

The Lord Jesus Christ was sent by God the Father and God the Holy Spirit. This doesn’t make Jesus lesser or a little ‘g’ god and the Father and Spirit. Jesus Christ – born into this life of the virgin called Mary – is Himself Eternal God the Son. God says in:

Hebrews 1:6, 8 (ESV) When {God} brings {Jesus} the firstborn into the world, He says, “Let all God’s angels worship Him”. … 8 ..of the Son {God} says, “Your Throne, O God, is forever and ever, the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your Kingdom.

God the Father and God the Spirit sent God the Son into the world to save it, if we would but believe in Him. Our Jesus is called by the Prophet Isaiah,

Isaiah 9:6 … wonderful Counselor, mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace ..

Jesus Christ is the Word of Whom John writes, saying …

John 1:1 … In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God …

Over and over again, our Lord Jesus in Scripture “made Himself equal with God” (John 5:18). Jesus said:

John 14:10-11 Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. 11 Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works’ sake.

The Apostle summarizes this wonderful Lord we serve by saying:

Colossians 2:9 For in Him {in Jesus} dwelleth ALL THE FULLNESS of the GODHEAD bodily …

Our Lord Jesus was sent by both Father and Spirit to be our Messiah. Jesus Himself, co-equal with both Father and Spirit, was sent by His own desire to see souls saved. Oh, how God loves you and I!

Jesus Christ represents the fullness of the Triune God. Though Jesus was 20 plus hours without food, that which satisfied His soul was not physical food, but to do the will of the Godhead.

It Is The Love Of God and The Holiness of God
That Compels Him To Reach Out To The Lost World

Once more we read the words of our Lord:

John 4:34, “My {food} is to do the will of Him {the Godhead} that sent Me, and to finish His work”.

What is the will of the Godhead? Holiness & Love. God made promises that will be kept
because of Holiness & Love

It is to fulfill what God said to Satan in the Garden of Eden. When Adam ate that which was forbidden, he lost access to the Garden of Eden. But God told the serpent (which was Satan – see Revelation 12:9; Revelation 20:2):

Genesis 3:15 … I will put enmity {make you enemies with} between thee {Satan} and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise His heel

Biologically, no woman has a “seed”. The woman carries the egg, the man the seed. But God promised that He would destroy the works of Satan through “the SEED of the woman”. God created a “seed of the woman” by the virgin birth of Jesus Christ. Christ would become incarnate – human – through Mary. The Messiah – eternal God in the Heavens – would take upon Himself humanity, and pay the penalty for our sins.

God began the work of redemption in the Garden, and made a promise of Satan’s eventual fall. God in His holiness cannot look the other way insofar as sin is concerned. God told Adam,

in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”
Genesis 2:17 (ESV)

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’s sin effected more than just himself – it effected all his progeny. Why didn’t God just wipe out creation and start afresh? Sin was brought into creation by man’s hand, and man was guilty of disobeying God. Before man could ever get back to a place where he could be at peace with God there had to be a payment. But Who could pay? Sin had to be paid for – but it also had to be resolved once and for all. God cannot look the other way on sin.

Our God is “of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity … (Habakkuk 1:13). God despises what He calls “evil”. The Psalmist said, “The boastful shall not stand before your eyes; You hate all evil doers” (Psalm 5:4-5).

God is compelled by His holiness to punish sin. But God is compelled by His goodness & love to offer redemption towhosoever will in mankind.

We see God’s holiness in that Adam and Eve are expelled from the Garden of Eden for their sin. But we see God’s love, His goodness, in that He covers the naked couple with “coats of skin, and clothed them” (Genesis 3:21). This is the start of the story of redemption. An innocent creature died so that Adam and Eve could live.

Look at the story of redemption in the Scripture. Man sinned in the Garden, but was clothed, then expelled. But God did not abandon man. When the whole world but Noah abandoned God, God never abandoned Noah. When the flood receded, and Noah and his family – along with the animals – left the Ark, God was still with us.

Oh, how God is so good and kind and merciful!

When God led Israel from Egypt, He loved His people. God carried them through the wilderness, and fed them manna, and gave them meat to eat. At the base of Mount Sinai as Moses was receiving the Law, Israel and Aaron was making a golden calf to worship in place of God! And yet, God did not abandon His love. Though Israel broke God’s heart, and Moses broke the first tablets of the Law, God was patient and good. God told Moses

Exodus 34:1 … Cut for yourself two tablets of stone like the first, and I will write on the tablets the words that were on the first tablets, which you broke.

Oh, how good, and patient, and kind our God is! Moses, that grand old Saint, stood on the mountain top and heard God. The Bible says:

God Reveals His Holiness In His Law. God Reveals His Love In His Description Of Himself.

Exodus 34:5-7 (ESV) The Lord descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the Lord. 6 The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, 7 keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.”

Our God is merciful and gracious. These are the first two words that He Himself uses to describe His character. God is merciful and gracious. God is slow to anger. Pastor Dane Ortlund notes in his book “Gentle and Lowly” (have you read it yet?):

Slow to anger. The Hebrew phrase is literally “long of nostrils”. Picture an angry bull, pawing the ground, breathing loudly, nostrils flared. That would be, so to speak, “short nosed”. But the Lord is long nosed. He doesn’t have His finger on the trigger. It takes much accumulated provoking to draw out his ire. Unlike us, who are often emotional dams ready to break, God can put up with a lot. This is why the Old Testament speaks of God being “provoked to anger” by His people dozens of times (especially in Deuteronomy; 1-2 Kings, and Jeremiah). But not once are we told that God is “provoked to love” or “provoked to mercy”. His anger requires provocation; His mercy is pent up, ready to gush forth. We tend to think divine anger is pent up, spring loaded; divine mercy is slow to build. It’s just the opposite. Divine mercy is ready to burst forth at the slightest prick.” (page 148).

God is not like us. When something doesn’t work out for us, we trash it, throw it away. We boil over. We blow up. God is not that way. John Calvin said,

There is nothing that troubles our consciences more than when we think that God is like ourselves”.

Though Adam and Eve were expelled from Eden, God never finished working toward His loving plan of redemption. God never ceased working toward the day when the Messiah could come, and free us all from the deadly influence of sin.

The Conversion Of Samaria Was Thousands Of Years In The Loving Mind Of God

Jesus said,

John 4:35-38 Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest. 36 And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together. 37 And herein is that saying true, One soweth, and another reapeth. 38 I sent you to reap that whereon ye bestowed no labor: other men labored, and ye are entered into their labors.

The Jews with Jesus saw Samaria as a problem area they had to pass through. What they saw as a problem area, a group of half bred people, Jesus saw as precious unto God. God had been working from the Garden of Eden until that very day, and works even now, to secure the salvation of whosoever will. The love of God in saving souls is immeasurable, timeless, never ending. This Samaritan woman was nothing to the disciples – but to Jesus she was part of the work of God that He wanted more than food. The Bible says:

Psalm 138:5-6 … great is the glory of the Lord. 6 For though the Lord is high, he regards the lowly, but the {proud} he knows from afar.

From Genesis till today One soweth, and another reapeth . Every Prophet, every Preacher, every Teacher from Eden until now have sown into the plan of God. Jesus told His disciples:

John 4:35-36 … I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest. (36) And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together.

People need the Lord. We need to reap where God allows, and sow even when we see no evidence of harvest. We have a great blessing as the children of God to invite others into His kingdom. What is the will of God, the “food” that kept Jesus satisfied? It was the satisfaction of revealing Himself as Messiah, and seeing the Spirit of God move in the heart of the unnamed Samaritan woman.

John 6:29 Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.

The work of God is to believe on Jesus. To share Jesus with others. To share the great love of God with this present world. What filled Jesus’ so that He was not hungry was doing the will of God. He 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.

Let’s finish our text. The Samaritan woman has been in Sychar, telling others about the Messiah. The Bible tells us:

John 4:39-42 And many of the Samaritans of that city believed on {Jesus} for the saying of the woman, which testified, He told me all that ever I did. 40 So when the Samaritans were come unto him, they besought him that he would tarry with them: and he abode there two days. 41 And many more believed because of his own word; 42 And said unto the woman, Now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world.

What a wonderful blessing it is to work in the fields of the Lord. Will you commit to work with me? Oh, that God would set our souls on fire, to share Christ and His love as we are given opportunity to do so. May God the Holy Spirit and this precious Scripture move on all our hearts. Amen and Amen.

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From River To Well To Holy Spirit

Photo by mrjn Photography on Unsplash

John 4:1-4 When therefore the Lord knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John, 2 (Though Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples,) 3 He left Judaea, and departed again into Galilee. 4 And he must needs go through Samaria.

Water Is So Very Important – Water Is Life

As we come to John chapter 4, the Bible focuses on WATER. Water is a very common thing, yet something we desperately need to live.

The average human is approximately 60% water.
Our brains and hearts are roughly 73% water,
and our lungs are around 83% water.
Water regulates our internal temperature,
and keeps blood flowing to our cells.

A typical human can go without food and live for 3-4 weeks, but if you have no water for 3-4 days you will die!

Water is life. I think this is why God uses water baptism as a profession of genuine faith in God.

When John the Baptist began to preach, he baptized believers in God in the Jordan River. Why were believer’s baptized? Their baptism was an outward testimony that they inwardly had repented, and were willing to follow Father God. When John baptized, he told the people:

Matthew 3:11-12 I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance. but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: 12 Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.

Those baptized by John were professing their faith in the God of the Scripture. John told them that he himself was NOT the Messiah, but the Messiah was coming. When the Messiah came, He would not baptize with water (though He would require it), but would baptize with the Holy Spirit of God.

What is very interesting about water baptism is that Jesus came to John to be baptized in water – and Jesus is the sinless Messiah from God.

The day that Jesus came to John to be baptized the Bible says:

Matthew 3:14 {John initially refused to baptize Jesus, saying} … I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?

Baptism Is A Fulfillment Of God’s Will

Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God, Who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29). Jesus is holy, pure, without sin. Hebrews 4:15 tells us {Jesus Christ} was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. In 2 Corinthians 5:21 we are told {Jesus} knew NO sin. The Apostle said in 1 John 3:5 that {Jesus Christ} was manifested to TAKE AWAY our sins; and in Him is NO sin. The Apostle Peter preached in 1 Peter 2:22, “{Jesus} did NO sin. John knew that the Messiah was, by nature, eternal God the Son in human body. His baptisms up to this moment were sinners who came to him repenting, committing by repentance to follow the will of God. But now Jesus comes to be baptized. “Oh, no, Lord! I should baptized by YOU, not YOU by me!”. But Jesus said:

Matthew 3:15 … “{Allow} it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness”.

Water baptism is a “fulfillment of all righteousness”. It is an outward testimony that the One being baptized will follow the will of God. Though Jesus was indeed sinless, and had no need to repent, He was baptized as a public declaration that the entirety of His ministry would be to follow the will of the Godhead. When Jesus was baptized, the Bible says “He saw the Spirit of God, descending like a dove, and lighting on Him: and lo, a voice from Heaven, saying, “This is my Beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:16-17).

From that moment Jesus went out. Though we are told in John 3 that after Jesus spoke with Nicodemus,

John 3:22 … Jesus and his disciples into the land of Judaea; and there he tarried with them, and baptized.

Jesus initially baptized (see John 3:26) His first disciples, but after the first ones were baptized:

John 4:2 (Though Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples,)

Jesus commanded His disciples be baptized, but He Himself stopped baptizing in water after the first were baptized. Why? He wanted His disciples to baptize. Baptism is a physical illustration of what our Lord Jesus spiritually does to a believer.

Jesus baptizes with the Holy Spirit, and with fire.

Jesus said in John 7:37-39 … If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. 38 He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. 39 (But this spake he of the Spirit

When a person receives Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, God through Christ and for Christ sends the Holy Spirit to that believer. The Holy Spirit “baptizes” or washes that person spiritually. Before we met Christ, we walked in darkness, following the sins of the flesh as all the fallen do. We were unrighteous, sinning willfully and gleefully. The Bible says:

1 Corinthians 6:9-11 (ESV) Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

The Messiah sends the Holy Spirit to us, and the Holy Spirit does His miraculous work of changing our hearts. Just as God became incarnate through the work of the Holy Spirit in Mary (Luke 1:35), the Holy Spirit brings our dead hearts into union with God.

The Holy Spirit is a Person, not a force.

John 14:26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, 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.

I read an article the other day on the Christian Post entitled, Most Adult US Christians Don’t Believe The Holy Spirit is Real: Study. The article notes:

Some 62% of self-identified born-again Christians contend that the Holy Spirit is not a real, living being but is merely a symbol of God’s power, presence or purity. Another 61% say that all religious faiths are of equal value, and 60% believe that if a person is good enough, or does enough good things, they can earn their way into Heaven.”

The Holy Spirit is a real Person, Who partnered with Jesus as He walked this earth incarnate. The Holy Spirit shows us God’s deep truths (1 Corinthians 2:10-11). The Holy Spirit has a mind of His own, and intercedes for us:

Romans 8:27 (ESV) … {the God} who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

God the Holy Spirit makes the Christian. God the Holy Spirit also prays for the Christian. Jesus called the Holy Spirit “the Finger of God” (Luke 11:20 compared with Matthew 12:28). When God gave the Law to Moses, it was “the Finger of God” that wrote that Law on the stone tablets (Exodus 31:18; Deuteronomy 9:10). Now God Himself, the Holy Spirit, writes the Law of God on the hearts of those who believe in Christ. God promised that with the coming of the Messiah,

Jeremiah 31:33 … 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 Christian is not a Christian because it is “written with ink” on some piece of paper. The Christian is a Christian because “God Himself put His laws on their hearts, and wrote them on their minds” (Hebrews 10:16; Hebrews 8:10). The Apostle said of the Church:

2 Corinthians 3:3 (ESV) … you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.

A Christian is someone who realizes they are lost, and repents, turning to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. A Christian receives Jesus as He is, and Jesus sends the Holy Spirit to wash us, to cause us to be born again, to indwell us, to intercede for us. The Bible says that the unbeliever is in the flesh – chasing the darkness of this world. But the believer in Christ is:

Romans 8:9 … not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.

Returning to our focal text for today, The Bible says:

John 4:3-4 {Jesus} left Judaea, and departed again into Galilee. [4] And {Jesus} must needs go through Samaria.

Jesus Must Needs Go Through Samaria

Word Study: The words must needs is the Greek word δεῖ deî, {pronounced die}. I find that very interesting. The word deî means “it is necessary, right and proper. Jesus used the same word when He described His upcoming death:

Matthew 16:21 … Jesus {began} to shew unto his disciples, how that he must {deî} go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.

It was “necessary, right and proper” that Jesus go THROUGH Samaria. Why? Was it because that was the only way to get to Galilee? Absolutely not. Galilee is several miles NORTH of Judea. Most Jews headed EAST along the path of the Jordan River to get to the Sea of Galilee, and hence Galilee. But it seems as if Jesus goes out of His way to go through Samaria. Why?

Because God is good. Jesus Christ is the Son of God. God cannot help but be good, compassionate, loving. The Psalmist said:

Psalm 52:1 … the goodness of God endureth continually.

There is someone in Samaria that Jesus must meet. Samaria is a land polluted with idolatry. It has not always been that way. Jacob who would one day become Israel gave a parcel of land in Sychar to his beloved son Joseph. Samaria was initially a part of the Promised Land. It was the same place where Jacob met with his brother Esau. Jacob expected Esau to destroy him for taking Esau’s birthright, but God moved on Esau to leave his brother unharmed. Jacob purchased land (Genesis 33:18-20), built a well on it, and built an altar to God which he called:

Elelohe-Israel “To the Mighty God of Israel”

Samaria is no longer a blessed place. Because of human greed and betrayal, as well as rejection of God, Samaria became a place of idolatry. The Ten Northern Tribes of Israel refused to worship God in Jerusalem, but instead built another temple – an unauthorized temple – in Samaria. They drifted far away from God, much like America has today.

Jesus loved idolatrous Samaria, just as He loves idolatrous America. He MUST NEEDS go and share His love with the lost places.

But God loves us still. God is rich in His love for all. The Apostle said:

Romans 2:3-4 (ESV) Do you suppose, O man … that you will escape the judgment of God? 4 Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?

Sadly, too many “presume on the riches of God’s kindness, and forbearance, and patience”. God loves us all so very much! God gives grace – daily grace – to all on this earth.The Lord is good to all; He has compassion on all that He has made” (Psalm 145:9). “God causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Matthew 5:45).

But God goes beyond our physical needs. God strives to reach us in our sin, to save us if we will heed Him, to bring us into the family of God if we would but come to Jesus. Jesus must needs go THROUGH Samaria.

Our Lord Jesus came to this earth for sinners like you and I. He came to this earth for sinners different than you and I. The Bible tells us that Jesus comes to Jacob’s well, and,

John 4:6-7 … being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well: and it was about the sixth hour. 7 There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink.

The Samaritan woman is puzzled. She asks Jesus – clearly a Jew:

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.

Sadly, some of the most racist of people are “religious” people. This woman had seen the scorn of the Jews, supposedly God’s people, and had smarted under their remarks and glares. God never wants anyone to be racist. When Miriam mocked Moses for marrying an Ethiopian woman called Zipporah, God caused Miriam to become leprous (Numbers 12:10). The Apostle preached in

Acts 17:26-27 {God} hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth … that they should seek the Lord

Our God does not divide humanity based upon color, but upon faith in Christ. God divides humanity as:

Wheat or Chaff
Righteous or Wicked
Son of God or Son of Adam
Sheep or Goats

You will never see a black or white division according to God in the Scripture. God loves all equally, and reaches out to all. The Samaritan woman is startled that Jesus would speak to her. But she is more startled by what Jesus now says:

John 4:10 … If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.

It is Jesus Who gives “Living Water”. This “Living Water” is the Holy Spirit of God (John 7:38-39), The same Spirit that comes to every believer in Jesus. Peter preached:

Acts 2:38 … Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy {Spirit}.

The Christian’s thirst is quenched by the Living Water of God. We drink of God’s blessings each and every day. Because of His Spirit, we walk through this life in union with Jesus. We are never alone.

But you cannot receive salvation, nor the wonderful accompanying gift of the Holy Spirit, unless you REPENT. To REPENT is to realize you are a sinner, and to RELEASE those sins, while REACHING for Jesus!

The woman, on hearing of this “Living Water”, says:

John 4:15 … Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw.

But she must REPENT. Jesus tells her:

John 4:16-18 … Go, call thy husband, and come hither. [17] The woman answered and said, I have no husband. Jesus said unto her, Thou hast well said, I have no husband: [18] For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly…

You have to know you are broken, before you’ll ever try and get fixed. You have to know you are lost, before you will ever be found. Our God “delivers us from the power of darkness, and translates us into the Kingdom of His dear Son” (Colossians 1:12-14).

But only when you repent! Release you sin! Reach for Jesus!

The Samaritan woman now does as so many do. When confronted with their sinfulness, they want to argue with the Lord. She says:

John 4:20 Our fathers worshiped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.

Jesus tells the woman:

John 4:21 Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father.

God Is Not A PLACE, But a PERSON

Worship – true worship of God – is not tied to a PLACE, but to a PERSON. If you believe that worship is tied to PLACE, then just as Jesus told the Samaritan woman, I tell you “Ye worship ye know not what”. Our Father Abraham worshiped God where ever he walked. Our Father Enoch walked with God – and was not (Genesis 5:24). Worship of God comes through one Person – Jesus Christ our Messiah – in the power of God the Holy Spirit. Jesus tells us:

John 4:23 … the true worshipers shall worship the Father in Spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.

We who are Christ’s worship the Father in Spirit – in the power of the Holy Spirit of God – and in truth. Jesus said that…

John 16:13 … when HE, the Spirit of truth, is come, HE will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. 14 He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. 15 All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you.

Jesus said:

John 4:24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in Spirit and in truth.

The woman’s heart opens to Christ. She says:

John 4:25 The woman saith unto him, I know that Messiah cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things.

To which Jesus tells her, “I am but one of the Messiah’s, but one of the ways to God”. Is that what He says? NO! Absolutely not! Jesus declares:

John 4:26 I that speak unto thee am he.

Jesus Christ is the ONLY Messiah, the ONLY means by which a person may come to God and be saved. This woman gives every evidence of being saved. The Bible says:

John 4:29-30 The woman then left her waterpot, and went her way into the city, and saith to the men, 29 Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ? 30 Then they went out of the city, and came unto him.

Is not THIS THE Christ? There is no other. If you know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, you must needs go through Samaria, and tell others of Him. All you need do is tell others what Jesus has done for you. The Bible says:

John 4:39 And many of the Samaritans of that city believed on him for the saying of the woman, which testified, He told me all that ever I did.

That’s not a difficult testimony, is it? All you need do is tell what Jesus means to YOU. And if you are not in Christ, then I pray that God the Holy Spirit will move on your hearts through this His Word, and through His Spirit. Jesus loves you, and wants you to be a part of the family of God. Come today, without delay! Amen, and Amen!

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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

Photo by Emmanuel Phaeton on Unsplash

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
Photo by Wonderlane on Unsplash

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