Heroes Of The Cross, Parts 1&2

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Photo by Jacob Boavista on Unsplash

Matthew 10:38-40 And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. 39 He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it. 40 He that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me.

Part 1, Heroes Of The Cross

During the Coronavirus Pandemic we as Americans are being told to voluntarily submit to house arrest in the name of good health. We are being selfish or greedy if we do not comply without question. We are to, without question, follow the direction of unelected bureaucrats and elected politicians, to hide ourselves one from another so as to save ourselves. We are racists, haters, and filthy capitalists if we do not comply.

During this Pandemic “I” am the most important thing. “I” must not get sick. “I” must go into hiding so that “I” will not infect other “I”s. If “I” infect other “I”s by my carelessness, then “I” am being selfish, or racist, or rude, or whatever. “I” must be a good citizen and, regardless of the economy, take care of “I”.

May I offer two other points of view: one view from a career Airman (now retired) of the United States Air Force, and another view from the Cross.

On Memorial Day we are supposed to remember those who died in active military service to our country. Those in the military give up their own freedoms in order to protect the nation. The military goes WHERE we are ordered WHEN we are ordered regardless as to how we FEEL. No questions are allowed. We worked in hazardous areas without regard for physical health. If we die for our country, this is called “doing our jobs”.

During this Pandemic I am seeing signs all about, celebrating “Heroes” who are working at risk so that our citizens can be fed and clothed. Once more, let’s focus on the “I”. This is the way of the world. For myself I am uncomfortable with the “Heroes” tag, as I never considered myself a “Hero” for doing my job. To fail to do my job as an Airman was cowardice. Every military person sees their lives as expendable for the greater good of the nation.

What does our message today have to do with the Pandemic, Memorial Day, and the “I”? Just as the military, along with other first responders, are to put themselves in harms way for the greater good, so does Jesus command every Christian to do the same. Jesus commands us to the Cross. It is the Cross that saves.

A Christian, just like a military man or woman, is expected by the Master to put themselves in harm’s way. We as Christians are not to hide in a basement lest we be harmed. Now, I am not advocating that we stubbornly refuse to wear masks or protective equipment. I have heard so much foolish talk about wearing or not wearing masks, or practicing safe distancing. Nearly every month that I was in the military we went through “Chemical Warfare Exercises” where I had to suit up and wear a full Chemical Warfare Ensemble like the one you see here. Imagine working in summertime in the 101 degree temperature of the aircraft tarmac tightly wrapped up, unable to feel even the slightest breeze of comfort. Imagine working on delicate aircraft electronics with your hands covered with thick, rubber, charcoal permeated, sweat soaked gloves. Imagine sweat running down your body into your boots, so much so that you squish when you walk. If there was a hell on earth we enjoyed it.

I, along with my comrades in blue, green, or gray would have rejoiced to wear a flimsy cotton mask as the President is requesting we wear today.

Beloved, we need to take precautions – but we do not need to hide. Christians in particular must NOT hide. We are told in 2 Timothy 1:7 that God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. If you are a Christian you were left on this earth to do what Jesus said. Listen to Him:

Matthew 10:38 And he that taketh not HIS CROSS, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.

The Christian is commanded not to hide from suffering, but to chase after suffering. We are commanded of Christ to “take up your Cross, and follow Jesus”. There are some who say “you can be saved and NOT follow Jesus”. I don’t think so. I think Jesus is quite plain – in fact, the New Testament is quite plain.

Salvation is a free gift from God, but once you receive it you are expected by Jesus to follow Jesus. “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men”. Take up YOUR Cross and follow YOUR Jesus. The Christian does not live for “I” but for the Master and the greater good.

John Stonestreet wrote in the article Pandemic or No, We Must Live Out Our Faith: We … are called to live out our faith in the middle of this culture, in our communities, where we work, seeing every area of life and every culture as the mission field to which we are called.”

Jesus Went To The Cross FIRST For You

Matthew 10:38 … he that taketh not his cross, and FOLLOWETH AFTER ME, is not worthy of me.

What does the Cross look like?

It surprised me as I studied the various commentaries that not all Christians agree with what the Cross looks like. The word translated “Cross” is the Greek σταυρός staurós, (pronounced stow-ros’). Though this word is translated “Cross” in our Bibles, in ancient Greek literature, such as the writings of Homer, Herodotus, Thucydides, or Xenophon, the word staurós is used for “an upright stake or pole, often pointed, such as used in fences or palisades” (see Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words for full treatment). Based on its usage some believe the Cross to look like the traditional “t” that you see behind the pulpits of many Church buildings. Some have suggested that the Romans buried heavy, upright beams in Golgotha. The convicted criminal then carried the horizontal member to his execution. Ropes were passed over the stake, and affixed to the horizontal member, and the criminal was raised up. Some believe the original “Cross” to be not “t” shaped but “T” shaped. We really don’t know. We do know this.

The Cross is a place of SELF denial.
The Cross is a place of SUFFERING.
The Cross is a place of SELF SACRIFICE.
The Cross is the place our SAVIOR went for us.
Without the Cross not one of us would be SAVED.

You have heard me say repeatedly over the last 7 or so years that we are all sinners in need of the Savior. Though I have said this, and continue to say this, it rolls over many of you like water over rock. The Cross is so very necessary because of the Nature of sin. Sin is a horrible offense against an Eternal God.

The serpent in Eden (representative of the devil – see Revelation 12:9; 20:2) misrepresented sin as but a small thing. “Has God really said you cannot eat the fruit of every tree in this Garden? Though God said you would die if you eat of it, you really won’t die. As a matter of fact, if you go ahead and eat what He has forbidden you will be like gods, knowing good and evil. Go ahead. Pleasure yourself! Eat! (Genesis 3:1-5, my paraphrase). The devil has been selling this from the beginning of time. The Cross is optional. Not even Jesus needs to go to the Cross. Avoid that place of suffering, and wait on Heaven. But what does the Scripture say? What did God say?

Romans 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:

Oh, the devil loves to minimize sin. Oh, the world loves to minimize sin. Yet God makes much of sin.

… SIN hath reigned unto DEATH (Romans 5:21)

Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of SIN unto DEATH, or of obedience unto righteousness? (Romans 6:16)

… the wages of SIN is DEATH (Romans 6:23)

For when we were in the flesh, the motions of SINS, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto DEATH. (Romans 7:5)

Sin is an affront to an Eternally
Holy and Righteous God.

Sin is a slap in God’s face. Pastor Steven J. Cole writes in his article The Meaning Of The Cross:

“That God sent Christ to bear our sins means that God does not just shrug off our sin. We live in a day of loose justice at best. People commit horrible crimes and get off with a slap on the wrist. A man admits to sexually molesting, killing and dismembering numerous boys, but pleads insanity and will likely end up spending some time in a mental ward. We all know that that is not justice.

Yet I talk to people all the time, many of them Christians, who think that God’s justice is like that. They shrug off sin as if it’s no big deal to God. They think He will just overlook it. But the Bible is very clear: All sin must be judged! Either your sin is on you and you will bear the penalty; or your sin is on Christ who bore the penalty. Either way, God does not take sin lightly! The just penalty must be paid.”

Sin is a debt that we could not pay. This is why Jesus had to go to the Cross. Sin is an affront to God.

I remember quite often the story of David, a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14; Acts 13:22). One day King David minimized sin, and took another man’s wife to be his own. When the Prophet Nathan was sent from God to David in 2 Samuel 12 God condemned him, saying:

2 Samuel 12:9 Wherefore hast thou despised the commandment of the Lord, to do evil in his sight? thou hast killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword, and hast taken his wife to be thy wife, and hast slain him with the sword of the children of Ammon.

David repented of his sin. What did David say?

2 Samuel 12:13 … I have sinned against the Lord…

David would recount this time later in the Book of Psalms when he writes:

Psalm 51:1-4 Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy loving kindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. 2 Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. 3 For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. 4 Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight

Sin is an affront to God FIRST. Yes, sin hurts others. But only God can forgive sin. Only God can cover our sins. We cannot do penance. We cannot correct our transgressions, our offenses. Even if we promise God we will stop and not do it again, every act of sin is a slap in the Immortal’s face.

Hence the Cross. Jesus introduces the Cross for the first time in Matthew 10, but this is not the only time He will do so. Just 6 chapters later Jesus is telling His disciples that He had to go to the Cross. Turn with me to the text.

Matthew 16:21 From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he MUST go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.

Jesus MUST go to Jerusalem at Passover.
Jesus IS the Lamb of God that takes away our sins (John 1:29).
Jesus MUST suffer under the hands of religion.
Jesus MUST be killed.
Jesus MUST rise on the third day.
Jesus MUST!

But when Peter hears this, he responds like most of the world does. Peter says:

Matthew 16:22 Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: THIS SHALL NOT BE UNTO THEE.

When Jesus heard these words, He was not pleased at Peter’s care for His well being. On the contrary, Jesus REBUKED Peter, saying:

Matthew 16:23 …. GET THEE BEHIND ME, SATAN: thou art an offense unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.

It is satan that tells humanity “you can pay for your sin”. It is satan that says “the Cross is optional”. It is satan that tells us “Take care of yourself. Make the world all about YOU. Live for YOU. And one day YOU will died, and go to Heaven, where there is more of YOU”. That is devilish. That is serpentine. That is the whisper of the Garden of Eden.

Pastor Patrick Schreiner wrote in his article 10 Things You Should Know About The Cross:

“A Bible without a cross is a Bible without a climax, a Bible without an ending, a Bible without a solution. The spiral of sin that began in Genesis 3 must be stopped; the death of Jesus terminates the downward spiral. In Jesus’s body, he took on the sin of the world and paid the price of all humanity. At the cross the new Adam, Abraham, Moses, David arises to create a new humanity, family, and kingdom. That is why Paul doesn’t say he decided to knowing nothing except the incarnation, resurrection, or the ascension of Jesus, but the nothing except Jesus Christ and him crucified (1 Cor. 2:2). Wisdom was found not beyond the cross, not above the cross, not below the cross, but in the cross.”

The Lord’s Table Is A Picture Of The Cross

Matthew 10:38-39 And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. 39 He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.

The Cross is a place where you lose your life for God’s sake. Those who will not go to the Cross cannot be saved.
The Cross is self sacrifice. The Cross is salvation.

On the night prior to Jesus’ sacrifice on Calvary, He enjoyed the Passover Meal with His disciples. As the meal came to a close, Jesus told His disciples:

Luke 22:15 …. With desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer:

Jesus will, in just a few hours, suffer on the Cross of Calvary. To illustrate the suffering of the Cross the Bible says:

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

Jesus was not forced to take this bread. The Feast of the Passover was over.

Jesus voluntarily took this bread.
Jesus thankfully took this bread.
Jesus Himself willingly broke – not cut, mind you, but broke the bread.

The Cross is a place where Jesus gave up His self, as the Father called Him to do. Jesus suffered on that Cross. His Body was broken on that Cross. When we go to the Cross, our self is broken. Though Jesus went willingly, He would have done something else, if possible, to save us. The Cross is not a happy place, but a saving place. The Scripture that Jesus prayed in Gethsemane:

Luke 22:42-44 Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done. 43 And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him. 44 And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.

Jesus knew what was coming. He Who is Eternal God in human flesh knew that He would be beaten, bruised, mocked, shamed. Jesus knew that He would – as the Passover Lamb of God – be nailed to that Cross. He went anyway. After giving His disciples the broken Bread – representing Jesus’ body – Jesus gave them the Cup:

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

A New Covenant – not a Covenant of Law but a Covenant of Love – is put in place by the sacrifice of Christ. His Body had to be broken, and His Blood then spilled, so that we who receive Him as Lord and Savior can be saved.

You cannot have salvation without self denial.
You cannot have salvation without the Cross.

A young man came to Jesus one day, and asked Jesus:

Mark 10:17 … Good Master, WHAT SHALL I DO that I may inherit eternal life?

How can you get “eternal life”? How can you become a son of God? You must do as the Son of God did. You must lay down your self, and pick up the Cross.

Laying down self means believing what God has said in His Word. Jesus told this young man:

Mark 10:19 Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honour thy father and mother.

Do what God says. Heed His commandments. When the young man said “I have done all these things from the time I was a child”, the Bible says:

Mark 10:21-22 Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me. 22 And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions.

Jesus beholds you, and loves you. Do you wish eternal life? Then you must deny yourself. If your self worth is in your possessions then, like this young man, lay these things down at the feet of Jesus. If your self worth is in your beauty, or your brilliance, or whatever, lay this down. Give it to God. Then “come, take up the Cross, and follow Jesus”. God does not compel this, but He does command it. If you are saved, you will take up His Cross, and follow Him.

Let us partake of His Table. This message will continue tonight.

Part Two, Heroes Of The Cross

Matthew 10:38-40 And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. 39 He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it. 40 He that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me.

Saved By The Cross,
We Are Commanded To The Cross

Matthew 10:5 … Jesus sent forth, and commanded them

Matthew 10:38 … he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.

To “take up the Cross” is not a suggestion, but a command. It is not optional. It is something every Christian is called to do.

We share the Cross with Christ. If we are saved, we follow Jesus to the Cross.

Matthew 10:38 … he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.

The Cross is not a place of pleasure, but it is a place of self denial. It is not a happy place. People are content to follow Jesus to Heaven, but are not so happy to follow Jesus to the Cross. Yet we must all go to the Cross.

The Cross Is A Denial Of Self

Jesus introduced the Cross on Chapter Ten. Pastor Patrick Schreiner wrote:

The Cross is not only where our sin is paid for, where the devil is conquered, but the shape of Christianity.

Because the Cross is God’s means of salvation and God’s method of life, it will be hated by the world. Jesus said:

Matthew 10:17-20 … beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues; 18 And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles. 19 But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. 20 For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.

Jesus wanted us to know that we who are saved by the Cross will be despised by the world. The religious world will despise the Christ follower. Religion focuses on ritual, on looking good, on looking outwardly “righteous”, but has no inner love. Religion is the Church elder who, dressed up in a suit, shuns the visitor in shabby apparel or with unkempt hair. Religion says “I love you” but shows no hospitality to others.

Religion focuses on the “I”.
The Christ follower focuses on the Cross.

If you belong to Jesus, you are to do as He did. We are told in:

1 John 3:13-16 Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you. 14 We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death. 15 Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him. 16 Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.

The Cross is not optional, but it is a place of self sacrifice. Jesus went willingly to the Cross, and we who are his are commanded to go willingly to the Cross. The Cross is a command. We lay our lives down for Christ daily. The Cross is self denial, just as our Lord did. Jesus told us:

Matthew 16:24-26 … Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, LET HIM DENY HIMSELF, and take up his cross, and follow me. 25 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. 26 For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?

To “come after Jesus” requires the Cross. You must “deny yourself”. Deny pleasures, and worldliness. Deny the excesses of this world. “Deny yourself”. The Cross is a place where self goes to die. Jesus went to the Cross to pay for our sins. Did Jesus want to go to the Cross? He was willing. Oh, He was willing. He loved us that much. Jesus willingly laid His life down for us, saying:

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

God loved us, and gave Himself for us.

1 John 4:10-11 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.

The Cross is what Jesus did for us before we ever knew Him. The Cross is what we do for all others whether they appreciate it or not. We love as Jesus loved. We do not live in darkness as the world does, but let the light of Christ, a self sacrificing light, shine through us. The Cross we are called to carry is a DAILY Cross:

Luke 9:23-24 And {Jesus} said to them ALL, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his Cross DAILY, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.

The Cross is a daily thing we are to pick up. The Cross – which is the death of self – must be picked up every single day. The world lives for self – the Christ child lives to die. The Cross is not where the world or the worldly is or wants to be. The world thinks the Cross is foolish, stupid.

The World Hates The Cross – Carry It Anyway

Matthew 10:21-22 And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death. 22 And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.

Jesus knew that His radical way of life – the Light of the world – would be misunderstood to those enslaved to self and self satisfaction. Jesus knew that what He advocated would cause divisions in families, that the Christ follower would be hated. Jesus did not sugar coat what He told us. Light is despised by darkness. When the Apostle Paul went out preaching the Cross of Christ, he knew that the message would not be well received. He wrote:

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

The Pharisees and Sadducees hated Jesus for what He stood for. The politicians, the Herodians, they hated Jesus for what He stood for. They slandered Jesus. Some called Jesus the son of a whore, a bastard born out of wedlock. Others accused our Lord of being empowered by satan. Jesus said:

Matthew 10:24-28 The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his Lord. 25 It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household? 26 Fear them not therefore: for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known. 27 What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops. 28 And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

Jesus did not allow fear to guide Him as He moved toward Calvary. Jesus tells us Who love Him to look unto Jesus, to follow Jesus toward the Cross daily. This message has been perverted in the American Church for the last 50 or so years. It is time that we cease heeding the world. Christians, for the most part, have just as high a divorce rate as do the unbelievers. Christians, for the most part, have just as high a suicide rate as the unbelievers.

My brothers and sisters, it must cease being so. The Cross we are called to is a place of willing self denial. It is the same place our Master went – and where we MUST go if we are children of the Most High God. Jesus said:

Luke 14:27 And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, CANNOT BE MY DISCIPLE.

The Cross is about giving of yourself, not about taking. Christianity is not about getting, but giving. We give our lives to God so that God can give His life to us. We are called to self sacrifice. But the world does not understand this.

Three Crosses On Calvary

Consider the world at that Hill called Calvary. There are three crosses on Calvary. On that center Cross is an innocent Man. Pilate asked:

Mark 15:12 What will ye then that I shall do unto him {this Jesus} whom ye call the King of the Jews?

The world cries out, “Crucify Him!”. Pilate asks, “Why? What evil what evil hath He done?” (Mark 15). The world cries out, “Crucify Him!”. The angels in Heaven look to the Throne of God. What will the Father do? Surely He will stop this travesty. But the Father says nothing. There they lay Jesus down on the cold wood beam. The ring of a hammer on steel. Bones do not break, but the hardened steel pushes its way into flesh and into wood. The Son does not cry. Then He is lifted upward. Muscle, flesh, and sinew strain around the spikes. Blood oozes from the cuts in His flesh from the whip. The crown of thorns on His head make His head feel as heavy as an anvil. He can barely hold His head up.

This is what love looks like.

The thief on Christ’s left is like the world in suffering. This thief chased money his whole life. He had been spared death before this, but the other night he invaded a home to feed his habit. He found a little old lady, barely existing on her meager stipend. He murdered her for the few coins she had, blast her hide! This thief cries out to Jesus:

Luke 23:39 … If thou be Christ, save thyself and us.

Get Yourself down, Jesus, and then save us. This thief was not alone in telling Jesus to shun the Cross. The Bible says that those who passed by – the amused spectators, they told Jesus:

Mark 15:30 Save yourself, and come down from that Cross.

Surely there were no others? But yes, there was. We see the religious crowd, the non-denominational and denominational “holier than thou” bunch.

Mark 15:31-32 … He saved others; himself he cannot save. 32 Let Christ the King of Israel descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe. ….

I’ve heard this cry many times throughout this Pandemic. “If there is a God, a Jesus, let Him cure this Pandemic so we can go back to the “I”. “I” matter. Get me down from this Cross, or I will not believe in You, Jesus!

But Jesus could not come down from the Cross if we were going to be saved.

Acts 4:12 Neither is there salvation in any other {than Jesus Christ crucified}: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

Oh that God would touch more hearts! Oh that the worldling would wake up and ask, “What MUST I DO to BE SAVED?” (Acts 16:30). What indeed?

Acts 16:31 Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.

No, dear Thief on the Left. Jesus cannot come down.
No, dear Spectator. Jesus cannot leave that place of torment.
No, Religious and Politically Correct person. Jesus must stay.

If He comes down, we are all damned forever. But there is one other voice on Calvary. This one is the minority, not the crowd. You can barely hear his voice – but it was heard, and was recorded by God Almighty. This thief on the right of Christ whispers:

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

Christian, this is who we are to be. We are to be like this thief on the right, this thief who follows his Lord to Calvary. It is Calvary that gives life. It is the Cross that teaches us how to live. The world hates the Cross, but the Cross is not only our salvation dear believer – it is also our way of life. The Cross is where we boast with the Apostle:

Galatians 6:14 God forbid that I should glory, save in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.

A Cross-less Christianity Is A Christ-less Cult

Matthew 10:36-39 And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household. 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. 38 And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. 39 He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.

The Cross and Christ must mean more to us than even our own families. Without the Cross we have no hope of salvation. But if we love Jesus, if we take up His Cross daily and follow Him, come what may, the love we have for Him will attract our loved ones. One Pastor, Brian Tabb, put it this way:

“Christians suffer in hope. We pray not only, “How Long, O Lord?” but also, “Come, Lord Jesus!” He suffered to ransom us from our sins and reconcile us to God, and his resurrection is the first installment of the restoration of all things. We may still ask why when our bodies hurt and our hearts ache. We may wonder when God will make all things new. But we remember who suffered in our stead to secure our salvation. And until Christ returns, we follow our Servant King on the road to Calvary.”

I am not ashamed of His Cross. Beloved, we must follow our Master! May Jesus Christ touch your hearts through His Word and His Spirit. Amen and Amen.

Posted in Matthew, Sermon Series "Red Letters", Sermons Preached | Tagged , , , , ,

Jesus Christ Is Racist (Red Letters #25)

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Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

The Pharisees, leaders of the Jewish Ruling Council (called the Sanhedrin), called the newspaper, the Jerusalem Times, about a fellow called “Jesus Christ”. This uneducated son of the carpenter Joseph was going about Jerusalem and the outlying areas preaching “The kingdom of Heaven is at hand”. The Pharisees said this man was making shocking claims, blasphemous claims that He was somehow related to God. This Jesus, the Pharisees said, healed a man sick of the palsy (Matthew 9:2) after saying,

“Son, be of good cheer! Thy sins be forgiven thee!”

Who can forgive sins but God? When the disciples of the honorable John the Baptist, asked Jesus why His disciples didn’t fast like they did, the Pharisees said:

“The children of the wedding cannot mourn while the Bridegroom (Jesus Christ) is with them” (Matthew 9:15)

When the Pharisees asked Jesus why do you eat with sinners, this same Jesus, it was reported, said:

“I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance”
(Matthew 9:13)”

This last statement got the attention of the editor at The Jerusalem Times. He sent a crack reporter out to ask this Jesus fellow some questions. Jesus has gathered twelve men around Him that He called “Apostles” (ἀπόστολος apóstolos, pronounced ap-os’-tol-os). These men were “disciples” or students of Christ’s before He named them “Apostles”. The Apostles were:

Matthew 10:2-4 Now the names of the twelve apostles are these; The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; 3 Philip, and Bartholomew; Thomas, and Matthew the publican; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus; 4 Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him.

Peter, and Andrew his brother, James and his brother John were simple fishermen. Matthew was a tax collector. No one knows what

Simon the Zealot,
James the son of Alphaeus,
Thomas,
Philip,
Jude,
nor Bartholomew (also called Nathaniel)

did prior to following Jesus. One of Jesus’ “Apostles” was Judas Iscariot, a particularly greedy little man. Every one of these twelve “Apostles” had one thing in common – they WERE common. They occupied the least places among the leaders of Israel. If there were a “Who’s Who” these people would not even deserve a footnote or an honorable mention. They were just common people, rejected people, the least and the less among the elites of Israel. The reporter from the Jerusalem Times didn’t know what to say about this Jesus and His followers, but then he heard Jesus send these twelve, motley men out,

Matthew 10:5-7 COMMANDED them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: 6 But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 7 And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.

The Reporter had his news headline. He went back to the paper, and once the headline published every news channel throughout the world picked up on it. CNN, ABC, NBC, CSNBC, NPR, and even FOX broadcast the headline:

“Jesus Christ Is A Racist!”

Is Jesus Christ A “Racist”?

Though this little story is just something I made up, it is certainly something that would be written about Jesus today if He did what He did back then. Did you read the text. Jesus told His disciples, literally “COMMANDED them” {παραγγέλλω parangéllō, pronounced par-ang-gel’-lo: to order or charge, as if directing a subordinate}:

Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: But go rather to the lost
sheep of the house of Israel

One of the harshest charges that can be laid on anyone in our day is “that person is racist”. We hear reporters of color calling President Trump “racist” because he has called the Coronavirus “The Chinese Virus”. I heard an Asian American reporter call the President “racist” just the other day at a press conference.

To win an argument, I am told, if you cannot disprove what someone is saying, find a way to attack the character of that person.
This is called the “Ad Hominem” attack.

The Pharisees did this with Jesus earlier when they said:

Matthew 9:34 But the Pharisees said, He casteth out devils through the prince of the devils.

and when Jesus called out the Pharisees for plotting to kill Him, they replied:

John 7:20 … Thou hast a devil: who goeth about to kill thee?

Jesus tells us as His people to

John 7:24 … Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.

I have been concerned about the killing of a young man named Ahmaud Arbery. Two white men, Travis McMichael and his father Greg McMichael shot and killed Ahmaud while he was apparently out jogging one day. A video of the shooting incident was recorded and released online, and people on both sides are coming out accusing one another. Celebrities and politicians – including ex vice president Joe Biden, LeBron James, LL Cool J, and Kim Kardashian West have been demonstrating – along with great crowds of people – that justice be served. What made the case so very messy is that the men guilty of killing Ahmaud were never arrested or tried after doing what they did. They should have been immediately arrested. Investigators should have been assigned, and the two should have been judged by a jury of their peers, according to United States code.

What disturbs me is that people are making judgments as to what actually happened based on what was seen on a few minutes of video. What happened earlier in the day? I know some people will use an Ad Hominem attack on me for just suggesting that not all the facts are yet revealed.

I DO want these men to receive justice.
I DO believe these men exceeded their authority.
I Do want these men to be tried according to U.S. Law.
I DO NOT want to be part of the mob that riots, twisting law.
I DO NOT want to depart from the commands of my Lord Jesus Christ.
I DO want God’s Church and God’s people to be “the Light of the World”.
I DO NOT want God’s Church to be part of the darkness.

The Apostle Paul commands us – through the power of God’s Holy Spirit – to

Ephesians 4:17-24 … 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; 21 If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: 22 That ye 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.

Christ’s Church cannot afford to chase the darkness with the world. Again, I DO want justice to be served. But I do NOT want to be drawn into the darkness with the unbeliever.

There are three driving forces for the Christian. First and foremost, we are driven by Jesus Christ. That’s why we are called “CHRISTian”. Second, our driving force is “It Is Written”, what the Bible says. Third, our driving force is the Holy Spirit of God.

Jesus Christ Is NOT Racist

When Jesus said:

Matthew 10:5-6 COMMANDED them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: 6 But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

it sounds as if Jesus is racist. “Don’t go to the Gentiles or Samaria, but stick with bringing the Gospel to the Jews”. If you read ONLY these words without turning to the rest of the Scripture, it would be easy to brand Jesus a racist. But what does the Bible say? Jesus prayed for His Church before going to Calvary:

John 17:15-17 I pray not {dearest Father God} that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil {One, that is, Satan}. 16 They {my Church} are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 17 SANCTIFY {set them apart} THEM THROUGH THY TRUTH: THY WORD IS TRUTH.

The Word of God is where the Christian finds our truth. It is what God has said. Jesus, throughout His ministry, repeatedly used these THREE WORDS:

“it is written”

Written in what? The fictitious Jerusalem Times that I made up? In the T.V. Guide? In the magazines, newspapers, or televised news? No, the Word of God. The Bible. What God has said. When Jesus said:

Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: But GO RATHER TO THE LOST SHEEP OF THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL.

he was not being RACIST. Jesus was being OBEDIENT. When God promised Abraham that he would be blessed, and through him a nation would come forth to bless the whole world (Genesis 12:1-3), God never forgot this promise. God established Israel – one of Abraham’s children who was previously known as “Jacob” – as His Chosen people. God was going to bless Abraham by giving Him a people {Israel}, through which people the Messiah would come. Jesus Christ is that Messiah. Jesus Christ came according to prophecy:

Isaiah 42:6 … a Covenant of the people {Israel}, for a light of the Gentiles

God said that He would send Jesus the Messiah,

Isaiah 49:6 … to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth.

God prophesied of Israel:

Isaiah 60:1-3 Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the LORD shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee. And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising.

God made a promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, a promise that God was going to keep. Jesus Christ came to be the Savior and Lord of Israel FIRST. God would bring Messiah out of Israel and to Israel first. But God is no Respecter of persons, as Peter preached:

Acts 10:34-36 Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, 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:)

And the Apostle Paul preached:

Romans 2:11 For there is no respect of persons with God.

The Gospel of salvation is given to all people. Again, the Apostle Paul said:

Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

Jesus Christ is NOT racist. Jesus Christ came to give His life for the sins of the whole world. He sent His twelve Apostles to the twelve tribes of Israel FIRST. But Jesus ALWAYS intended to reach EVERYONE with the Gospel of salvation. Here’s a few more texts to jot down that proves this point.

Hebrews 10:9-10 Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first {covenant}, that he may establish the second {covenant}. 10 By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once FOR ALL.

John 6:40 {Jesus said} … 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.

John 1:29 {John the Baptist said} … Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away THE SIN OF THE WORLD.

John 3:16 {Jesus said} 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.

1 John 2:1-3 {Jesus Christ} My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: 2 And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the SINS OF THE WHOLE WORLD. 3 And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.

Romans 10:9-13 … if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. 10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. 12 For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich UNTO ALL that call upon him. 13 For WHOSOEVER shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

We Represent Jesus To The Whole World

Our Lord loves you and I so very much. Beloved, we MUST follow Jesus. We MUST heed His commands. We MUST NOT allow the world to draw us into the darkness of hatred, prejudice, and evil. We must not be drawn into worldliness. We are to go out into the world with Jesus’ words. Jesus 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.

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.

We must not allow ourselves to become part of the empty, nihilistic, vain, and useless
dialogue of the worldly.
We are to DO as Jesus said DO.

We are to DO what Jesus said, not what the world said. James (1:22) said:

“Be ye DOERS of the WORD, and not hearers only,
deceiving your own selves”

We who are Christians are saved by and carry the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus tells us:

Matthew 10:11-15 … And into whatsoever city or town ye shall enter, inquire who in it is worthy; and there abide till ye go thence. 12 And when ye come into an house, salute it. 13 And if the house be worthy, let your peace come upon it: but if it be not worthy, let your peace return to you. 14 And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet. 15 Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment, than for that city.

We carry immortal words and an amazing Gospel. We are to share this Gospel with every person. If they will not receive that Word, then we are to shake the dust from our feet – and move on. The world of darkness does not understand the ministry of Jesus Christ. The religious person believes they are going to Heaven because they are better than those they stand next to. The self righteous person believes that they have all the answers. The world believes humanism, Darwinism, science, anything but Christ. But Jesus tells us that we are to go into the world, but to not let that world enter into us. He said:

Matthew 10:16-17 … Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. 17 But beware of men

The world will never understand the light that is Jesus Christ. We must never compromise with the darkness. On my website I never allow comments to be posted. Why? Because I have seen other websites with a comments section with nothing but darkness in it. God calls us to shine, to be the light of the world. We are to love our neighbor as ourselves (Mark 12:30-31). When we love as Jesus loved then we have fulfilled the Law – for love toward others fulfills the Law (Romans 13:8-13).

I am praying for Ahmaud Arbery’s family. It is the darkness of sin that took his life. I am praying for those who took Ahmaud’s life. If they die in their sins without Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, they will spend an eternity in hell. But I am also praying for Christ’s Church that we not be caught up in the darkness, but that we love as Christ has loved us. After all, did He not say? …

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

John 15:12 This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.

Ahmaud‘s killers need Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. So do we all. We will all stand before God one day, and give an account for our lives. If Jesus Christ was to us no more than a “Facebook Friend” or a hobby that we occasionally dabbled in, then we have no hope for Heaven. Christ must be our “all in all” (1 Corinthians 12:6; 15:28; Ephesians 1:23). May God touch your hearts with His Word and His Spirit. Amen and Amen!

Posted in Matthew, Sermon Series "Red Letters", Sermons Preached | Tagged , , , , ,

In Those Days

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Photo by Steve Johnson on Unsplash

Judges 17:1 And there was a man of mount Ephraim, whose name was Micah.

Judges 17:6 In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes.

The theme of this message is “In Those Days”. “In those days there was no king in Israel, but every person did that which was right in his or her own eyes”. Though this was written about Israel “In THOSE days”, it is as if it were about America “In THESE days”. America acts as if there is no king, no God. But the “Coronavirus” – “Corona” meaning “Crown”, has shown us that we are not gods nor kings. There is but one God, one King of Kings. Blessed be the name of the Lord!

The Children Of God Have A King

I thank God that He is MY King.
I thank God that Jesus is MY Lord. Is He yours?

Few people study their Bibles any more, but there are great truths and great examples in this Book of Books. Tonight our text comes from the seventeenth chapter of “Judges”. This book is obscure, ignored by most people, yet it has a message for America today.

Judges is the seventh book of the Old Testament.
That is significant.

Genesis is the first book, which is appropriate, for it speaks of creation.
Exodus is the second book, which speaks of the creation of Israel.
Messiah – our Jesus Christ – came to us from Israel.
Leviticus the third book, establishes God’s Law.
God is the Ruler of what He made. He sets the boundaries.
God’s people heed God’s command.
Numbers the fourth book shows God’s care for each of His people.
God has numbered the very hairs of our head (Luke 12:7)
Deuteronomy the fifth book reminds us once more God is our King.
We are reminded twice, because we forget!
Joshua the sixth book shows what happens when we heed God.
There is NOTHING impossible with God (Luke 1:37).
Follow God and let HIM fight for you!

Then we come to Judges, the seventh book. On the seventh day God rested from all His works (Genesis 2:2-3). Israel was supposed to rest in God. We are supposed to rest in God.

The Book of Judges shows a time when there is no King in Israel but God. No one sat on the Throne of Israel yet. There would come a time when God would raise up a shepherd named David, and install him on the throne at Jerusalem. But during this time God alone was King. God is the Best King. The children of God have a King, and His Name is Jesus! David understood this. Just listen:

Psalm 5:2 Hearken unto the voice of my cry, my King, and my God: for unto thee will I pray.

Psalm 44:4 Thou art my King, O God: command deliverances for Jacob.

Psalm 45:6 Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: the scepter of thy kingdom is a right scepter.

Psalm 47:6 Sing praises to God, sing praises: sing praises unto our King, sing praises.

Psalm 47:7 For God is the King of all the earth: sing ye praises with understanding.

In Judges, Israel should have been resting In God. Instead, Israel was resting FROM God – much like America is doing today.

Oh Beloved, the children of God only have power when they follow their Heavenly King.

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

Judges shows us that God is long suffering and merciful. Praise Him for this!

A pattern seen throughout the Book was that Israel would fall into idolatry, and lose territory because of their fall. But then God would raise up a “Judge” who would rule the people in God’s stead. The “Judge” would cause Israel to repent – and blessing would come.

God raised up twelve Judges, who were (in no particular order) Othniel, Ehud, Shamgar, Deborah, Gideon, Tola, Jair, Jephthah, Ibzan, Elon, Abdon and Samson. These men (and one woman) more or less obeyed God, and led Israel out of a darkness brought on by sin. That’s why this book is called “Judges”. There are twelve Judges showing the Twelve Tribes of Israel how to live for God.

When we come to Judges 17 the pattern abruptly changes. We read:

Judges 17:6 In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes.

The “Judges” cease rising up. The “Light” stops shining. Darkness and sin consume the nation.

Judges 18:1 In those days there was no king in Israel

Judges 19:1 And it came to pass in those days, when there was no king in Israel..

Judges 21:25 In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes.

The nation was falling to pieces. The Bible says:

Psalm 33:12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance.

If “blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord”, then the polar opposite would be “cursed is the nation whose God is NOT the Lord.

God blesses a people when they follow Him. But blessings cease when we drift away from God and His Word. God could have neglected to give us Judges 17-21, but He did so because He wants us to see what happens when darkness reigns. I believe this sermon tonight is particularly necessary in the light of the Coronavirus Pandemic. I believe as a nation and as God’s Church, we have done what was right in our own eyes. We have rejected the Lord our God as King. We need to get back to the Word and Rule of God!

The FAMILY Must Return To God

The rise or fall of a nation is dependent on the family unit. This is why the devil is working so hard to redefine marriage and love. This is why the devil is continually tinkering with Divine design. If the devil can triumph in the family, he can destroy the nation. We read:

Judges 17:1 And there was a man of mount Ephraim {a place of fruitfulness}, whose name was Micah.

Let’s break this text out.

AND there was a man”.

 Stop right there. Don’t miss that little word A-N-D. The word A-N-D connects this man that we’ll talk about with a man found in chapter sixteen named SAMSON. Do you remember SAMSON? He was the last Judge of Israel. The Hebrew name שִׁמְשׁוֹן (Shimshon) is derived from the Hebrrew שֶׁמֶשׁ (shemesh) which means “S-U-N”. Samson was supposed to shine for the Lord. Samson had great power. The Bible tells us:

Judges 16:2-5 … there was a certain man of Zorah, of the {tribe of Dan}, whose name was Manoah; and his wife was barren, and bare not. 3 And the angel of the Lord appeared unto the woman, and said unto her, Behold now, thou art barren, and bearest not: but thou shalt conceive, and bear a son. … 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.

Samson was suppose to shine for God, to be a priest for God. He is a Nazarite, just as the Prophet Samuel and John the Baptist were Nazarites.

This Samson – this Bright Sun from God – was to be God’s Judge against the enemies of Israel. But Samson had a flaw. He loved women more than he loved the Lord His God. I don’t have time to go fully into the story of Samson – read it later tonight if you will. It is in Judges 16. Samson allowed pride and sexual sin to enter his life – and it eventually killed him. The wages of sin is death – always death! (Romans 6:23).

Judges 17:1 And there was a man of mount Ephraim, whose name was Micah.

 Samson’s name means “The Sun Shine”. What about “Micah”? The name “Micah” literally translated means who is like Yahweh”. Micah grew up with Samson as a hero, someone to look up to. But Micah didn’t have the best role model to believe in. As Samson was in love with women and himself, Micah loved money. We read:

Judges 17:2 And {Micah} said unto his mother, The eleven hundred shekels of silver that were taken from thee, about which thou cursedst, and spakest of also in mine ears, behold, the silver is with me; I TOOK IT. And his mother said, Blessed be thou of the Lord, my son.

Micah stole 1100 shekels of silver from his mother, a violation of the Fifth Commandment. In a day when a years wages were but 10 shekels, 1100 shekels is a vast sum, about 110 years wages! What Micah did was bad, for theft is a violation of the eighth commandment (Exodus 20:15 Thou shalt not steal). It is a terrible sin. But even worst is that he stole from his mother. God commanded us:

Exodus 20:12 Honor thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.

Ephesians 6:1-3 Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honor thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise; That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.

When the mother realized her fortune was gone she cursed the thief. This was enough to prick Micah’s heart, and so he returned his ill gotten gain. His mother said:

Blessed be thou of the Lord, my son.

She blessed him I the name of the Lord. Was this a Godly woman? No. For we read:

Judges 17:3 … I had wholly dedicated the silver unto the Lord from my hand for my son, to make a graven image and a molten image: now therefore I will restore it unto thee.

The money that Micah stole was money that his mother set aside to make a “graven and molten image”. She was going to make a silver figure that the family could worship, an idol if you will. This is a violation of the first and second commandments of God:

Exodus 20:3-6 … Thou shalt have no other gods before me. 4 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. 5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; 6 And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.

The mother was going to use the blessings that God gave her in a way that was forbidden of the Lord. This mother, like many parents who profess Christ as Savior and Lord, did not worship the god of Scripture. Her faith was blended with the darkness. She thought that if she “wholly dedicate the silver to the Lord”, then she could build idols to worship. Many worship the god of works, the catholic god, the god of penance, of popes, of paper priests.

Judges 17:4 Yet he restored the money unto his mother; and his mother took TWO HUNDRED SHEKELS OF SILVER, and gave them to the founder, who made thereof a graven image and a molten image: and they were in the house of Micah.

His mother did not dedicate the 1100 pieces of silver as she promised, but 200 pieces to the
idol she had made
.

Micah was raised by a mother who said one thing and did another. Oh Beloved, how you raise your children and grandchildren will make tomorrow’s America! If you are a Christian parent or grandparent then what you plant in that child TODAY will effect the fabric of the nation TOMORROW. King Solomon wrote:

Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

Train the child “up”. Have the child “look up”. Not “down”, but “up”. Look unto Jesus. Look upon Him high and lifted up. Look at Him on Calvary. See His love bleeding, His love covering. Look up! Teach the children to love God. God told Israel when the first were to enter the Promised Land:

Deuteronomy 6:4-7 Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord: 5 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. 6 And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: 7 And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house …

The Bible tells us:

Galatians 6:7-8 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. 8 For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.

Sow righteousness and light into the lives of your children. Do not sow idolatry, pride, or selfishness. Micah was taught compromise and synergy at his mother’s knee.

Judges 17:4-5 … Yet he restored the money unto his mother; and his mother took two hundred shekels of silver, and gave them to the founder, who made thereof a graven image and a molten image: and they were in the house of Micah. 5 And the man Micah had an house of gods, and made an ephod, and teraphim, and consecrated one of his sons, who became his priest.

Micah made idols, just as his mother led him to do. He also established his own priesthood, for the ephod was part of the costume that the Levites Priests used while serving God in the Tabernacle (Exodus 39; 1 Samuel 2:18). Shockingly Micah – a man who was NOT like Yahweh – CONSECRATED on of his own sons to be a priest. Your character in holiness will be passed down to your children. Look up, child. Look up! Live for the Lord your God!

God’s Priests Need To Live For God

In the middle of this mess we are introduced to another wanderer. We read:

Judges 17:7 And there was a young man out of Bethlehemjudah of the family of Judah, who was a Levite, and he sojourned there.

There is a man, a Levite, who is traveling through Micah’s land. Who are the Levites? The Levites are blessed of God. When Moses came down from Mount Sinai after being with God 40 days receiving the Commandments he discovered, to his shock, Israel worshiping a golden calf. Moses cried out:

Exodus 32:26-27 … Who is on the Lord’s side? let him come unto me. And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together unto him. And he said unto them, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Put every man his sword by his side, and go in and out from gate to gate throughout the camp, and slay every man his brother, and every man his companion, and every man his neighbor.

Moses was of the Tribe of Levi, along with his brother Aaron and sister Miriam. His family, the Levites, gathered around Moses. God used the Tribe of Levi to purge idolatry out of Israel. After this the Levites were to be priests unto God. When the Promised Land was given to Israel God told His people:

Deuteronomy 18:1-2 The priests the Levites, and all the tribe of Levi, shall have no part nor inheritance with Israel: they shall eat the offerings of the Lord made by fire, and his inheritance. 2 Therefore shall they have no inheritance among their brethren: the Lord is their inheritance, as he hath said unto them.

The inheritance of the Levites, the Priests, was God Himself. God will take care of His people. God cares for you. Why was this unnamed Levite traveling? We are told:

Judges 17:8 .. the man departed out of the city from Bethlehemjudah to sojourn where he could find a place: and he came to mount Ephraim to the house of Micah, as he journeyed.

One commentary states “Unlike Abraham, who also set out for an unknown destination but who went with a keen sense of the calling of God, this person is shiftless. He has no passion for God, no sense of divine calling, no burden of responsibility. He is a ‘laid back’ professional minister following the path of least resistance and waiting for an opportunity to open up.” (Block, Judges, pg 487). This Levite should be shining for God, just as Samson and Micah should have been shining for God. Instead he is an opportunist. He is looking for a better place to be.

This Levite is a picture of the Christian and the Church today. Micah tells this Levite:

Judges 17:10-13 … Dwell with me, and be unto me a father and a priest, and I will give thee ten shekels of silver by the year, and a suit of apparel, and thy victuals. So the Levite went in. 11 And the Levite was content to dwell with the man; and the young man was unto him as one of his sons. 12 And Micah consecrated the Levite; and the young man became his priest, and was in the house of Micah.

This unnamed Levite is a picture of surface Christianity and Micah a picture of the world today. The Church in America has largely sold itself to the world. Though the Bible says:

1 Corinthians 6:20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.

1 Corinthians 7:23 Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men.

This Levite is like the modern, look the other way Church. God has told those in the New Testament, the Christian saved by the blood of Jesus Christ our Lord, that we are God’s chosen. Peter – claimed to be the first pope by catholicism – wrote:

1 Peter 1:1-5 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, 2 Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied. 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

You who are saved by faith in Christ’s Blood, have been begotten or born again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. You have a place. Unlike this Levite, you should not be looking to the world for a better place. You have an inheritance incorruptible, that fadeth not away, reserved in Heaven for you. You belong to God. You are kept by God through faith. Your heritage is secure. You need not sell yourself to the world. You need not compromise with evil. You must stand firm in Christ and on God’s Word. The world will hate you, and offer to compromise with you.

1 Peter 4:1-2, 16-17 … Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; 2 That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God. … 16 Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf. 17 For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?

Unlike this Levite we must not offer false hope to the world. We must stand strong in the Gospel of Christ, calling all sinners to repent, and come to Him Who saves. God forbid that the light compromise with the darkness. We must cease being seeker sensitive, and instead be God sensitive, live for the One Who gave Himself for us.

We are God’s Levites. We are God’s priests, priests of the New Covenant. God is our inheritance.

1 Peter 2:5, 9-12 Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, AN HOLY PRIESTHOOD, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. … 9-12 ye are a chosen generation, A ROYAL PRIESTHOOD, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light; 10 Which in time past were not a people, but ARE NOW THE PEOPLE OF GOD: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy. 11 Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; 12 Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.

There Is A Day Of Reckoning

I know I have gone long, but the Lord has put this on my heart, and I must say it. Church, you have been largely forced from your buildings out into the world to do what God has called you to do. The early Church stayed on Solomon’s Porch in the Temple until a man named Saul was raised up to persecute and kill Christians. Through Saul – later named Paul – the Christian faith has spread throughout the world. We are to live for God.

After Micah consecrated this Levite and made him his priest, Micah said:

Judges 17:13 … Now know I that the Lord will do me good, seeing I have a Levite to my priest.

There are many who are on Church rolls who are living in darkness. They feel that they will enter Heaven upon their death because they belong to this Church or that Church. Micah thought that God would bless him because he now had his own priest. Beloved, the priest is not for sale, and neither is the Gospel of Christ. To be blessed a person must come to Jesus Christ as both Lord and Savior. You must call upon Him to be saved. Once you are saved, God is your portion, you daily Father. Not some priest. Not some preacher. God. And you are a New Covenant Levite, a priest unto God.

Live as you are.

In the next chapter this “good luck Levite” that Micah thought would bless him will allow all of Micah idols to be stolen. That Levite would sell himself next to the Danite marauders. If you belong to God, live for God. Live for His glory. May God bless the preaching of His Word through His Spirit.

Posted in Judges, Sermons Preached | Tagged , , , ,

#6 The MUSTS Of Christianity: We Must Dress Appropriately

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Photo by Charles Deluvio on Unsplash

I read a heartbreaking thing the other day in a publication called “Headline Health”. It seems that this young 31 year old woman survived the Coronavirus Pandemic. A tour guide who lived in Antalya, Turkey, she and a friend went out for a walk in nearby Duden Park after the quarantine was lifted. The dear lady decided to take a photo of herself – a “selfie” – on the edge of a cliff with the beautiful waterfalls behind her. Stepping over the safety railing she posed for her friend … slipped on the wet grass, falling off the 115 foot cliff. Her body was recovered a few hours later.

It breaks my heart. I have no idea what her status was with the Lord Jesus, but I hate to see young people leave this life so tragically and so unnecessarily. In our present day we are so “selfie” oriented. Everything is driven to ME ME ME. We are told by the networks and the media that:

YOU MATTER
Be Yourself
DO YOU

What did Jesus say? “What are you profited, if you gain the whole world, but lose your own soul?” (Matthew 16:26). When we live for ourselves, as if we were all that mattered, it is not too long before we realize this is not much of a life. We must live for Someone greater. We need to live not “selfie” driven, but “Savior” driven.

Our text today is from:

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

Do You Have A Dress Code At Your Church?

One of the questions I’m often asked by those who consider visiting our Church is “Do you have a dress code?”. What they want to know is what is the acceptable dress to come and worship with us. There is no “dress code” in that sense. I do appreciate it when both WOMEN AND MEN dress modestly. Everyone, even preachers, are susceptible to temptation. Please remember the admonition of the Apostle Paul who said:

Romans 14:13 Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that {no one} put a stumbling block or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way.

If God has graced you with a beautiful body, please don’t flaunt it in front of others. We are here to look at Jesus, not at you. Let modesty and decency be in your hearts. The Scripture says “adorn yourself in modest apparel” (1 Timothy 2:9).

So do we have a “dress code”? No, not in that sense. I myself want you to be comfortable, and attentive to the Word of God. I want everyone to be focused on the Lord Jesus Christ. I want the Holy Spirit to be here, and every soul willing to heed His Word. That is what is in my heart. All eyes on Jesus. All eyes are on You, Lord!

Put On Or Clothe Yourselves In Righteousness

Romans 13:14 But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ

There is a “Heavenly Dress Code” that we all must seek – else we will not enter Heaven but hell following this life. In our world we define people as “good” or “bad” based on how they behave in civilized society. Of course, we define “civilized” based on what WE think is “civilized”. We hear statements like,

“He was a GOOD man”, or
“She was a GOOD woman”

As a Pastor having officiated many, many funerals I have heard statements like:

Romans 13:8-13 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. 11 And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. 12 The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. 13 Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying.”If anyone deserved to go to Heaven, he did.”, and
“Heaven just gained an angel today, for my mom was an angel!”

We base our comparison of “good enough for Heaven” based on how one human stacks up when compared to another human. We base our thoughts of who is good and who is bad on comparing people to people. Certainly there are people who are much more moral (according to man) than others. Two people come to my mind when I think of famous people going to Heaven:

Billy Graham, and
Mother Teresa

We think in ourselves, “Well, if anyone deserved Heaven, these two would. One preached and led others to Christ, whereas the other ministered to the poorest of the poor. Surely they are in Heaven. It may surprise you, though, to understand that Heaven belongs to God – and,

Only those who are “good” in comparison
to God will be in Heaven.

It is God Who sets the standards of “good” and “evil”. So Who is “good” in comparison with God? The Bible says:

1 Samuel 2:2 There is none holy as the LORD…

God alone is the Highest Holy. Goodness is relative among humanity, but when we as humans are compared to God the Bible declares:

Romans 3:10-19 10 As it is written, 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. 19 Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.

God specifically gave Israel the Law of Moses to show humanity that – in comparison with God – there are none good. The Prophet Isaiah went even farther when he spoke of the goodness of God. Looking into Heaven the Prophet saw:

Isaiah 6:1-5 … I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. 2 Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. 3 And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory. 4 And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke. 5 Then said I, 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.

Looking into Heaven and seeing God you would think that Isaiah would be overjoyed. You would be wrong. Looking into Heaven that Prophet suddenly realized with crystal clarity that in comparison to God there are none of us right nor righteous. This same Prophet would later say:

Isaiah 64:6-7 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.

What we think is a fine dress coat and beautiful slacks, or a glittering formal gown, is but in comparison to God’s goodness “filthy rags”. I have often found brand new slacks or shirts at a local Goodwill store, many times with the price tags still hanging on them. I often wondered why someone would donate brand new clothing to Goodwill. The answer is quite simple. To the owner those items of clothing, though apparently without blemish, were under par, low value, and not worthy to keep. To me the clothing is beautiful and new. To the owner who gave it away, it was “filthy rags”. When we look at ourselves and compare yourself to others around you then we think “I’m a pretty good person”. But if we were to look into Heaven as Isaiah did we would realize – we do not measure up to God. Our righteousness is as filthy rags compared to God.

A young man came to Jesus one day and called our Lord “Good teacher”. Jesus immediately replied:

Matthew 19:17 … Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.

Now Jesus did not mean that He was not good. The Bible tells us that Jesus Christ is God become man. Jesus is the prophesied Messiah of whom Isaiah said:

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.

Of Whom 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 is indeed God, and as God is “good”. Jesus rejected the title “Good Teacher” because the young man addressing Him did not see Jesus as John saw Jesus in:

Revelation 1:8 … I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.

Jesus is the Eternal Word of God, in the “beginning with God, Who is God” (John 1:1-3).

Jesus is the One Who told the Pharisees:

John 8:58 … Verily, verily I say unto you, before Abraham was, I am!

Only God is good. Jesus is God, but this young man did not think so – and thus Jesus rejected the title of “good”. Beloved, no one is good but God. No one is righteous but God. This is why we need Jesus. Jesus Christ came from Heaven to this earth, the Son of God, begotten as human for us. He is the “Only Begotten”. Jesus Christ “Died for all”. He took the penalty of sin on Himself, dying for our sins, paying our debt before God.

We are all sinners, lost and undone. We must be stripped of our sins, and covered in Jesus Christ. “Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ” means to put on His righteousness by faith. To receive Him as Savior and Lord. The Apostle said:

1 Thessalonians 5:9-10 For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him.

Jesus Christ died for us. He died for whosoever would believe in Him. If you think yourself to be righteous apart from Christ you are absolutely wrong. One of the most rigidly strict Pharisees of all time was a man named Saul. Saul at one time persecuted the Church, believing these “Christians” to be but a cult. Saul would later meet Jesus Christ on Damascus Road, and write:

Philippians 3:3-10 … we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh. 4 Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more: 5 Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; 6 Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. 7 But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. 8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, 9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: 10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;

The “righteousness which is by the Law” only externally makes us look good. To our eyes the Pharisee, just like all other religious people. look “good”. But when God looks at us He does not see the outside, but the heart, the inner man. We desperately need Jesus Christ. We need to believe on Him, and trust Him. We need “not mine own righteousness, but the righteousness which is of God by faith in Jesus Christ”. Nothing else will save.

Romans 5:8-11 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. 10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. 11 And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.

We are saved when we “put on the Lord Jesus Christ”. We receive Jesus as both “Lord” and “Christ” or Savior. Because He died, I will live. Because He paid for my sins on Calvary I stand in a right and a righteous relationship with God my Father. Because the Son gave Himself for me, I in turn am now a “Son of God”.

John 1:12 But as many as received {the Lord Jesus Christ}, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:

I “Once” Put On The Lord Jesus Christ To Be Saved.
I “Daily” Put On The Lord Jesus Christ To Be Sanctified.

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

We are saved by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, by faith in the work He did on Calvary and at the empty tomb. But we are “separated” or “sanctified” by daily taking off the old way of life, and by daily putting on the new way of life. We are to follow or imitate Jesus Christ. We as God’s children are called to be followers of God, as dear children” (Ephesians 5:1). Jesus said “Follow Me”:

Matthew 4:19 … Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.
Matthew 8:22 … Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead.
Matthew 16:24 … take up your Cross, and follow Me.
Matthew 19:21 … sell all you have, and come, follow Me.

Though we as Christians are not saved by keeping the Law, once we are saved we are to be obedient to the moral law of God. Jesus described this as “being light” and “being salt”. Jesus tells His Church:

Matthew 5:13 Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savor, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.

Matthew 5:14-16 … Ye are 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.

I read something the other day – I forget who said it – which made the statement “God is not as angry at America for its sin as He is angry at His Church”. Beloved, this is so very true. Saved by the Blood of Christ, the Christian is to daily “put on the Lord Jesus Christ”. We are to follow Him as Lord and Savior. We are to take off the old filthy clothing we had on when we were lost, and put on that which Christ leads us to. The Apostle says:

Ephesians 4:1-3, 17, 20-32 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. … 17 This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, … ye have not so learned Christ; 21 If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: 22 That ye put off concerning the former {way of life} 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. 25 Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbor: for we are members one of another. 26 Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: 27 Neither give place to the devil. 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. 29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. 30 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.

When Christ enters your life by faith, your external life is to change as well. You are “born again”, no longer that old man, but are now a “new man”, created in Christ Jesus to do good works (Ephesians 2:10). You are no longer part of the lost world, dominated by sin and Satan. You are of the Family of God, loved of God, indwelt of God.

The Christian daily “puts on” a new set of clothing. We are now to be clothed in righteousness, clothed as children of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. We “put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that created him (Colossians 3:10). Christian, you are to put on Love (Colossians 3:14). We are to put away darkness, and all evil deeds. Jesus Christ is our Lord, and we love others as He has loved us.

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

In the previous context the Apostle said:

Romans 13:8-13 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. 11 And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. 12 The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. 13 Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying.

The Christian is a changed creature. We want to imitate Christ. When we fail our Lord and drift into sin, we put that sin away, calling upon the Name of the Lord. The Christian way of life is one repentance unto salvation, and a daily repentance unto sanctification. We are followers of God as dear Children. We belong to Jesus, and act like we belong to Jesus. We do not wallow on sin and in selfishness.

We live to the glory of God!

If America is to be revived and claimed for Christ, we must “put on the Lord Jesus Christ”. Christians unite! Join together with Christ and for Christ to the glory of God. And Beloved, if Christ is not your Lord and Savior, today is the day to meet Him. Oh how He loves you! May God touch your hearts with His Word and His Spirit. Amen and Amen!

Posted in MUSTS Of Christianity, Romans, Sermons Preached | Tagged , , , ,

God Is Faithful

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Photo by Mateus Campos Felipe on Unsplash

God is faithful.

I like to listen to sermons. I was listening to a well known and well respected preacher the other day preach a sermon that focused on …

Pandora’s Box.

As he preached on this it occurred to me that life is so very finite, and so very precious. Time is fleeting. Pandora’s Box is a myth, a story of false gods and pagan teachings. Pandora’s Box teaches that the source of all evil in the world comes about because a woman opened a box she should not have opened. That is not the source of evil.

Evil comes about because we think that “Man is faithful”.

Man Is Not Faithful. God Is Faithful.

What caused the fall of mankind? Not the myth of Pandora’s Box, but humanity making itself to be God. God told Adam in

Genesis 2:17 … of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

Only God has the right to define good and evil. Didn’t Jesus say “there is none good but one, that is, God” (Matthew 19:17; Mark 10:18). God knows what is best. God is faithful. The serpent came to Adam and Eve with a simple falsehood. The serpent said “God is NOT good, but man is good”. The serpent told Adam what he tells us today:

Taking what God forbade is not going to kill you. God is NOT faithful, nor is He good. He is trying to hold you down, to keep you from becoming a god yourself.” (paraphrase of Genesis 3:4-5)

God is NOT good. God does NOT know best. When humanity bought into this apparent lie, all of creation fell fell under the weight of sin. Human history began with us telling God “We know what is best. YOU are NOT good. You are NOT faithful. We know better.” The Apostle summarized this fall by saying:

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

It was not a mythical box that a woman opened that caused death and destruction, sin and godlessness to reign over mankind. No. It is the concept that man knows best, that man is faithful, and that God is faithless. But God is not faithless. God is faithful. He cannot be otherwise. The Apostle said:

2 Timothy 2:13 If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself.

The Bible tells us that humanity is headed toward a horrible time where man, not God, is worshiped. The devil will raise up a servant called merely the “Beast” or the “anti-Christ”. Humanity will worship this human leader, saying:

Revelation 13:4 … worshiped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him?

All of those who worship the anti-Christ will be the ones who have rejected the faithfulness of God, and have instead believed in the faithfulness of man. “All that dwell on the earth shall worship the anti-Christ. Their names are NOT WRITTEN in the Lamb’s Book of Life” (Revelation 13:8). Those who are unsaved by faith in Christ will worship the anti-Christ. To help facilitate worship of this false god, faithless humanity will be governed …

Revelation 13:16-17 … to receive a mark IN their right hand, or IN their foreheads: 17 And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.

Some Bible scholars have often suggested that the “mark of the beast” would be a distinctive mark like a tattoo, or more recently a “Radio Frequency Identification” or “RFID chip”. The word translated “mark” is the Greek χάραγμα cháragma, (pronounced khar’-ag-mah), which literally means “a stamp, a thing carved”. Those who follow the “beast” are quite literally branded IN their right hands or IN their foreheads. If this is not literal but figurative language then it can refer to the works and the mentality of the lost world. God is faithful, but mankind is not. Since the beginning of humanity in Eden to our final fall at the end of days, the world that does not know Christ lives in darkness and in evil.

The Bible tells us that there is a battle going on. The Apostle said:

Ephesians 6:12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

From Adam till now, and through now and until anti-Christ come, there will be daily battles between good and evil, right and wrong, the Word of God and the word of man.

But Beloved of God, never forget that our God is faithful.

Deuteronomy 7:9 Know therefore that the LORD thy God, he is God, the FAITHFUL God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations …

Psalms 36:5 Thy mercy, O LORD, is in the heavens; and thy FAITHFULNESS reacheth unto the clouds.

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

1 Corinthians 10:13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is FAITHFUL…

Isaiah 25:1 O LORD, thou art my God; I will exalt thee, I will praise thy name; for thou hast done wonderful things; thy counsels of old are FAITHFULNESS and truth.

Even as we go through this Coronavirus Pandemic we can declare with the Psalmist:

Psalms 119:75 I know, O LORD, that thy judgments are right, and that THOU IN FAITHFULNESS HAST AFFLICTED ME.

An Excellent Spirit Was in Daniel

Daniel was in Babylonian Captivity, the righteous with the unrighteous, yet he never doubted the faithfulness of God. We read:

Daniel 6:1-3 It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom an hundred and twenty princes, which should be over the whole kingdom; 2 And over these three presidents; of whom Daniel was first: that the princes might give accounts unto them, and the king should have no damage. 3 Then this Daniel was preferred above the presidents and princes, because an excellent spirit was in him; and the king thought to set him over the whole realm.

What gave Daniel the blessing of God? We are told it is because “an excellent Spirit was IN him”. I CAPITALIZED the word “Spirit” because I believe it is a reference not to the nature or soul of Daniel, but it is a reference to God the Holy Spirit inhabiting His saved Saints. A few weeks ago we studied the dream that King Nebuchadnezzar, and how Daniel was given the interpretation of that dream. In chapter 4 King Nebuchadnezzar said:

Daniel 4:8-9 … at the last Daniel came in before me, whose name was Belteshazzar, according to the name of my God, and in whom is the spirit of the holy gods: and before him I told the dream, saying, 9 O Belteshazzar, master of the magicians, because I know that the spirit of the holy gods is in thee, and no secret troubleth thee, tell me the visions of my dream that I have seen, and the interpretation thereof.

King Nebuchadnezzar is speaking in Aramaic, and says that “in Daniel is רוּחַ rûwach, (pronounced roo’-akh) קַדִּישׁ qaddîysh, (pronounced kad-deesh’), אֱלָהּ ʼĕlâhh, (pronounced el-aw’). In Daniel is the Spirit of God. Though Nebuchadnezzar was not a saved man, he nonetheless noticed that Daniel was not working by himself. God is faithful. God does not leave His people. That great old warrior Joshua told Israel before he retired:

Joshua 1:9 … Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.

God is faithful. God saves His people when they receive Him as He is. God has promised,

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

God saved us by the wondrous sacrifice of His Son on Calvary. Jesus Christ gave His life for us. The Bible promises that if we confess with our mouths Jesus is Lord, and believe in our hearts that God has raised Him from the grave, we shall be saved (Romans 10:9-10). Our God is faithful. Our God keeps His Words. He stays with His people. Did not God tell Jacob, for Abraham’s sake:

Genesis 28:15 … I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of.

Daniel entered Babylonian captivity as a slave, but his heart was on God our Savior. In Daniel chapter 1 Daniel trusted God for his sustenance. God provided. In Daniel chapter 2 Daniel trusted God for an interpretation of a dream. God is faithful. In Daniel chapter 3 Daniel’s friends Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednigo trusted God for preservation. God did not leave them. In Daniel chapter 4 Daniel had to give King Nebuchadnezzar some bad news. God came through, preserving and prospering His child by faith. In Daniel chapter 5 another King named Belshazzar defiled the things of God, and saw the handwriting on the wall. Daniel explained to King Belshazzar that his reign was at an end.

Daniel and his three friends Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednigo outlasted every enemy that came his way. Why? Because they kept their eyes on God. Because they heeded the Holy Spirit Who indwelt them.

Daniel 6:3 … Daniel was preferred above the presidents and princes, because an excellent Spirit was in him; and the king {Darius} thought to set him over the whole realm.

An “excellent Spirit” was in Daniel. Not a “common” or “ordinary” Spirit, but an “EXCELLENT Spirit”. When pagan kings looked at Daniel they did not see Daniel, but this “excellent Spirit”. Nebuchadnezzar saw in Daniel (4:18) “the Spirit of the Holy God” (Daniel 4:18). Belshazzar’s wife testified of Daniel, the “man in whom is the Spirit of the Holy God” (Daniel 5:11-12). If you are a child of God by faith in Christ this same God the Holy Spirit lives inside of Y-O-U! The Apostle Paul said:

Romans 8:9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.

The Holy Spirit of God inhabits the people of God. “The law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus has made you free from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:2). What has God promised?

Galatians 4:6 … And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.

God is with you, Christian. God is in you, Daniel. The Spirit of the anti-Christ is not in you, nor is the spirit of this age.

1 Corinthians 6:9-11, 19-20 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, 10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you: but 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. … 19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? 20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.

Daniel is bought with a price. The blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth us from all sin (1 John 1:7). Daniel believed on the Coming Messiah, we believe in the Messiah Who has already come. Both we, and Daniel are saved by faith. We who are God’s are indwelt of God’s Excellent Spirit.

Though All The World Hate You, God Is Faithful

King Darius would put Daniel in charge of all the Kingdom of Medo-Persia. Would you be blessed? Would you have sustenance while others do not? Would you be at peace? Would you be cared for? Then you must remember what Jesus told us:

Matthew 6:33 … But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

Put God first, and He will meet your needs. Compromise with the godless and find God far away. Seek His Kingdom. Love God first. Love God! God is closer to you that any kin. Did not Jesus say:

Luke 14:26 If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.

To follow the Lord comes at a cost. You will be misunderstood – yes, even hated by those closest to you when you put the Lord first. But you MUST put God first, for God put YOU first. When you put God first then you will exhibit the Excellent Spirit of God in you. God will shined through you. But the lost, the dark world, the gods and goddesses of this false life will hate you.

Daniel 6:4-5 … Then the presidents and princes sought to find occasion against Daniel concerning the kingdom; but they could find none occasion nor fault; forasmuch as he was faithful, neither was there any error or fault found in him. 5 Then said these men, We shall not find any occasion against this Daniel, except we find it against him concerning the law of his God.

The darkness looks to the Christian to see if there is hypocrisy, self righteousness, or any shade of gray in us. Jesus said:

John 16:33 In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

God is faithful. Be faithful, Daniel. Daniel was faithful, even though it was not in vogue to do so. The world will hate you, Christian. Expect it. Expect it. Jesus said:

John 15:18 … If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.

Marvel not, my brothers and sisters, if the world hates you (1 John 3:13). If it hated Jesus it will hate you. The world hates Daniel. It looks for fault in Daniel. “Ah”, says the world, “we can find fault in Daniel through his faith”. But Daniel was faithful. So the world set a trap.

Daniel 6:6-9 Then these presidents and princes assembled together to the king, and said thus unto him, King Darius, live for ever. 7 All the presidents of the kingdom, the governors, and the princes, the counselors, and the captains, have consulted together to establish a royal statute, and to make a firm decree, that whosoever shall ask a petition of any God or man for thirty days, save of thee, O king, he shall be cast into the den of lions. 8 Now, O king, establish the decree, and sign the writing, that it be not changed, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which altereth not. 9 Wherefore king Darius signed the writing and the decree.

For thirty days King Darius was to be honored as a god in the land of Medo-Persia. No one is to be prayed to but Darius. What arrogance this is! Yet is this not so much like our world today? In America today we give the state the power of god. We slowly give ground, normalizing sin and things that God has said is an abomination, in order to placate the darkness. How could Daniel handle this? Look at our text:

Daniel 6:10-11 Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime. 11 Then these men assembled, and found Daniel praying and making supplication before his God.

Daniel knew that the majority got this bill signed into Law.

Daniel knew that the Law would have to run its course 3o days.

Daniel knew that his relationship with God was mocked by others.

Daniel knew that he could lose his life if he kept following God.

Daniel kept his eyes on God. Some of you are so frightened of the Coronavirus that you are willing for the government to take on the power of a god. You are willing to let Uncle Sam become greater than Jesus Christ. If your faith is on anything or anyone outside of God, then you are playing a foolish game. I am not God. You are not God. The government is not God. Neither the Governor nor our President is God. Only God is God. And God is faithful!

Daniel kept serving the Lord just as he did before the decree was passed. He did not hide his faith, but opened the window and let others see him praying. The darkness saw this, and went to King Darius.

Daniel 6:13 … That Daniel, which is of the children of the captivity of Judah, regardeth not thee, O king, nor the decree that thou hast signed, but maketh his petition three times a day.

These men did not stumble upon Daniel praying. They were watching him – and now they had him! The Bible says:

Daniel 6:14 Then the king (Darius), when he heard these words, was SORE DISPLEASED WITH HIMSELF, and set his heart on Daniel to deliver him: and he labored till the going down of the sun to deliver him.

King Darius realized that he had allowed his pride to set a trap for one of his most faithful advisers. Darius tried his best to avoid punishing Daniel, but to no avail. As King, Darius was obligated to maintain the laws of his Kingdom. So Daniel was trapped.

But God Is Faithful!

Daniel 6:16 … the king commanded, and they brought Daniel, and cast him into the den of lions. Now the king spake and said unto Daniel, Thy God whom thou servest continually, he will deliver thee.

King Darius was not a believer in Daniel’s God (for he said “THY God will deliver thee”, not “OUR God will deliver thee”. Nonetheless Darius had seen Daniel’s devotion to our God. Throughout this entire ordeal up to this moment Daniel did not speak a word.

Daniel did not plead for leniency.
Daniel did not excuse his behavior.
Daniel did not rebuke the darkness.
Daniel just kept his eyes on the light of God.

Daniel 6:18-20 Then the king went to his palace, and passed the night fasting: neither were instruments of music brought before him: and his sleep went from him. Then the king arose very early in the morning, and went in haste unto the den of lions. 20 And when he came to the den, he cried with a lamentable voice unto Daniel: and the king spake and said to Daniel, O Daniel, servant of the living God, is thy God, whom thou servest continually, able to deliver thee from the lions?

For the first time Daniel speaks.

Daniel 6:22-23 My God hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lions’ mouths, that they have not hurt me: forasmuch as before him innocency was found in me; and also before thee, O king, have I done no hurt. 23 Then was the king exceeding glad for him, and commanded that they should take Daniel up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no manner of hurt was found upon him, because he believed in his God.

The world watches the Children of God. What testimony does it see in us? Does it see hypocrisy, or love for God? Do we appear to be as fearful as the lost, or are our eyes on God. Daniel’s eyes were on God. The chapter ends with these wonderful words:

Daniel 6:25-28 Then king Darius wrote unto all people, nations, and languages, that dwell in all the earth; Peace be multiplied unto you. 26 I make a decree, That in every dominion of my kingdom men tremble and fear before the God of Daniel: for he is the living God, and steadfast {faithful} for ever, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed, and his dominion shall be even unto the end. 27 He delivereth and rescueth, and he worketh signs and wonders in heaven and in earth, who hath delivered Daniel from the power of the lions. 28 So this Daniel prospered in the reign of Darius, and in the reign of Cyrus the Persian.

Our God is faithful. Our God is in control. Let us follow Him boldly, knowing that He is true to His people. May God touch your hearts and minds with His Word and His Spirit. Amen and Amen!

Posted in Daniel, Sermons Preached | Tagged , , , ,

The MUSTS Of Christianity: #7 The Saved MUST Work For The Master

Matthew 25:14 For the kingdom of heaven is as

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Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash

I was reading the Baptist and Reflector when I came upon an article written by Chris Turner, the Director of Communications for the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board. The article was pretty good. Called Do You Really Want To Go Back To Normal? He said some good stuff. For instance:

What if God’s intention in allowing the COVID-19 virus to sweep around the world, massively disrupting everyone’s “normal” lives, is so that we would turn our attention toward Him? What if the helplessness we feel is so that we will acknowledge our comprehensive dependence upon Him, seek Him for salvation, and worship Him as He deserves to be worshiped? … An idol is anything that is loved more than God; that ascribes more value to the object than to the Creator. I do not like disruption, and I’ve said numerous times: “I just want my life back!” Just claiming ownership of my life exposes my faulty thinking. … It strikes me as arrogantly presumptuous to assume God will again accommodate us with lives that really weren’t all that focused on Him to begin with. How would a return to that normal benefit us? … Let’s be honest, it’s easy to live “the Christian life” in America without God’s help. Jesus is stretched across our culture like a security blanket under which the evangelical church quietly slumbers.”

That’s pretty powerful stuff. What particularly caught my attention was the statement:

Let’s be honest, it’s easy to live “the Christian life” in America without God’s help. Jesus is stretched across our culture like a security blanket under which the evangelical church quietly slumbers.

Are We “Living The Christian Life”
If We Are Just Like The World?

What makes a “Christian” different from a “non-Christian”? Is there any difference?

After reading this I went outside to work on my lawn. Thursday is the day I “take off” from the Pastorate in order to take care of my wife and home. I “take off” so I can work around the house – but I never “take off” from being a Christ follower. As I am picking up blown down tree limbs the Lord begins to speak to my heart via His Scripture.

In America we have confused the FREE GIFT of salvation with the necessary FRUIT of salvation.

The statement “it’s easy to live the ‘Christian life’ in America” shows how far we have wandered from God. The offer of salvation is free, based upon faith in Christ. But once you are saved by faith in Christ God expects you to STOP working for darkness and BEGIN working for His Kingdom.

Salvation changes you. Salvation changes your fruit.
Jesus said:

You MUST be born again (John 3:7)
You MUST bring forth good fruit (Matthew 7:17; 12:33)
You SHALL BE hated of all because of Me (Matthew 10:22)

 In America we wrongly teach that every Christian born into the family of God is just like the thief who died on the Cross next to Jesus (Luke 23:42). This man could not go for Jesus because his feet were nailed to cross. This man could not serve Jesus because his hands were nailed to a cross. If this man were free he would have served Jesus, for even in agony, suffering, nails rending his flesh he uttered:

“Lord, remember me when you come into Your Kingdom!”

Those who have come to Christ are more than “Facebook Friends” of God. Jesus Christ is the Mediator of the New Covenant (Hebrews 12:24). The promise of the New Covenant is a new mind and a new heart. God said:

Jeremiah 31:33-34 … 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. 34 And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.

Forgiveness of sin comes with it a new heart and a new want to. The Christian is an essential component of both the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Heaven.

Christians SEEK the Kingdom of God (Matthew 6:33)

Christians LIVE FOR the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 5:3, 10)

The Kingdom of God is within the Christian (Luke 17:21)

The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand for the Christian (Matthew 3:2; 4:17)

The Kingdom of God grows as Christians are made (Mark 4:31)

The Christian’s works will be judged in Heaven (Matthew 5:19)

The Christian receives the Kingdom of God as a little child (Mark 10:15)

Christians live for the Kingdom of God NOW, looking toward the Kingdom of Heaven LATER.

Matthew 25:14 For the kingdom of heaven is as

Our text today is on “the Kingdom of HEAVEN”. Who will go into Heaven?

Jesus Said We Are Saved To Serve

Matthew 25:14 For the kingdom of heaven is as a man traveling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods.

Jesus wants us to understand the Kingdom of Heaven. The “Man traveling in a far country” is our God and Savior. This “Man” was foretold in the prophecies of Scripture. The Prophet said:

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

Immanuel” literally translates as “God with us”. How can God be with us? The Lord told Moses – a man He considered a friend –

Exodus 33:20 … Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live.

We are so sinful, and God so holy, that for us to see Him in His purity I believe the shock would kill us. It is only “the Lord Who is my Rock, my Fortress, my Deliverer. He is my Shield, my High Tower, my Refuge, my Savior” (2 Samuel 22:2-3). God comes to us in Jesus. Jesus told Philip:

John 14:9 … Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father

We could not see the Father’s face without dying – so Father sent His Only Begotten Son Jesus. The Apostle said:

2 Corinthians 4:5-6 … For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

We see the “glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ”. Blessed God Eternal became Man, Perfect Man without sin (Hebrews 4:15).

Jesus Christ came to this earth to establish the Kingdom of God on this earth, and to make a way to the Kingdom of Heaven for His people.

He did this by giving His life for us. Jesus Christ laid down His life for His sheep (John 10:15). Jesus laid down His life for our sins, and rose again for us (John 10:17). Oh Blessed Redeemer,

John 15:13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

Though we were the enemies of God, though we have all sinned and fallen far short of God’s glory, this Man from a far country came to us. He is God, God the Son, God incarnate, God become flesh. He did what He commands us to do.

1 John 3:16 Hereby perceive we the love of God, because {God} laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.

I am in love with this Man from a far country. He did not just die to take me to Heaven, but He died to relieve me from this present Hell. Oh how horrible life was before I met my Jesus! I lived in fear. Fear of death. Fear of life. Fear. I lived worrying about death, and yet in my confusion courted death. The Bible says:

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

I lived day by day bound in slavery to sin and death, doing those things that were harmful. But then this Man from a far country came to me. With His nail scarred hands He reached out to me, saying, “I died for you”.

Galatians 2:19-20 I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God. 20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

Jesus Christ died for me.

2 Corinthians 5:14-15 For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: 15 And that {Jesus Christ} died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.

Jesus did not die for me and you that we could go on serving the devil, the world, and the flesh. He died for us so that we might serve the Kingdom of God. Jesus died for us so that one day we can enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

Jesus Gave Us His Goods

Matthew 25:14 For the kingdom of heaven is as a man traveling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods.

Jesus calls His servants. We are to serve Him. If we are His sheep, and the people of His pasture (Psalm 95:7), the we are to serve Him. We are entrusted with “His goods”. What has Jesus Christ given us?

Jesus gave us His life.
Jesus gave us eternal life.

1 John 5:11-12 God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.

Jesus gave us the Holy Spirit.

1 Corinthians 6:19 … 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?


Jesus gave us status as Children of God.

Romans 8:15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.

Galatians 4:6 And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.


Jesus gave us commandments.

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.

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 gave us a duty. If you are saved you serve Him.

Matthew 25:15 … And unto one {Jesus} gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey.

The Man traveling into a far country gave to each servant talents. He did not give each person the same talent. The Man did not discriminate in giving the talents, but gave to every person according to his or her ability. He knew what the servant was capable of. One thing the Master did not do was give a servant nothing to do.

Every servant has something to do for the Master!

One of my favorite Scriptures is found in Ephesians chapter 2. The text 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.

Salvation is not of works. We cannot earn, nor can we ever deserve our salvation. We are justified – made right with God freely – through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus (Romans 3:24). He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life (John 3:36). What is the work of God we MUST do? Believe on the One Whom God hath sent (John 6:29). We preach with the Apostles of old, “Believe on the lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved (Acts 16:31). Salvation is not of works. BUT if you are saved, then you MUST read verse 10:

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

Saved by grace, each Christian is called to GOOD WORKS for the Kingdom. Some are given five talents. What you received, you received of grace and mercy. Invest it! Live for the Master.

Matthew 25:16 Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents.

The Apostle Paul was given five talents. Did Paul sit down and do nothing? No. He said:

1 Corinthians 15:9-10 … I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But 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.

Paul took no credit for his laboring for Jesus. When Grace is bestowed the heart is changed. The greater the sinner, the greater the worker. Paul labored for Jesus because his heart was changed. God indwelt him.

2 Corinthians 6:1 … We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye RECEIVE NOT THE GRACE OF GOD IN VAIN.

We have been given the Master’s goods. Let us invest them, and God will give the increase. The talents must be planted, and you must do so. But if you do so, God will give the increase (1 Corinthians 3:6-7).

Matthew 25:17-18 17 And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two. 18 But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord’s money.

The servant with two talents invested what God had given him – but the servant with one talent did absolutely nothing. He hid his Lord’s money.

The Gospel of salvation is a pearl of great price (Matthew 13:46). The Gospel of Jesus Christ is a net, when thrown, will gather in many into God’s Heaven (Matthew 13:47).

The Gospel that saved you will save others. It is to be invested in others, just as it was invested in you. It cannot be buried. If you love Jesus, you must tell others of Him. You must live your lives so others see Christ in you. You must not “hide your light under a basket” (Matthew 5:16).

A Day Of Reckoning Is Coming

Matthew 25:19 … After a LONG TIME the Lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them.

There is a day of reckoning coming for every person.

We must all stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ, that everyone may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:10).

We must stand before our Lord when we meet Him in Heaven – if we meet Him in Heaven. I say “if” because, dear ones, I do not believe that the Scripture says you can be saved and work NOT AT ALL for Jesus. I do not believe it. I do not believe the Scripture teaches this!

Matthew 25:20-23 And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more. 21 His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. 22 He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them. 23 His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.

Christ commended the one who doubled his five talents equally as he did the one who doubled his two talents. If you have been given little, but have invested it for God’s glory, then God will bless you beyond measure.

Matthew 19:27 … Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore?

Jesus tells us:

Matthew 19:29 …. every one that hath FORSAKEN houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.

If you have served Jesus with what He gave you, if you have honored the Father Who loves you, and lived by the Spirit of God Who indwells you, when payday comes – and it will come – you will be blessed beyond anything you have given up. But what of the one who hid their talent? What of that one?

Matthew 25:24-30 Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed: 25 And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine. 26 His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed: 27 Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury. 28 Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents. 29 For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath. 30 And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Where in the Bible do you see “the Kingdom of Heaven” having “outer darkness”? Where in the Bible is it taught that in Heaven there is “weeping and gnashing of teeth?”

I cannot find it. I have looked, but cannot find it. Heaven is pictured as a place of joy, of happiness, of peace. Who is cast into “outer darkness”? It is the one who came to the wedding feast in his street clothes (Matthew 22:12-14). No effort was made to glorify the Lord. We who are saved are overcomers:

Revelation 21:7-8 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.

Are you saved? Are you? I am not your judge. Jesus Christ is your judge. If you are saved, you will live for Jesus. Not just on Sunday morning, but every day. Not just while Church services are in session, but every day. Not just when the preacher visits, but every day. The Christian, saved by faith, born again of the Spirit of God, is marked by a heart that loves the Master, and therefore wants to glorify the Master. Be more than a Christian in name only. Let Christ have all of you! Let Jesus have all that you are!

May God touch your hearts through His Word and His Spirit. Amen and Amen.

Posted in MUSTS Of Christianity, Sermons Preached | Tagged , ,

The Old Paths

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Jeremiah 6:16 Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein.

There Is Rest For The Weary
Only In The God Of The Bible

Where do we find “rest for our souls”? It is in the Lord. Not the God of our imaginations, but
the God of Holy Scripture.

One of the statements I hear quite often is:

Preacher, that Bible you have is really old and outdated. The things it addresses are outdated. We live in a new day, a new time.
It’s just not relevant anymore”
.

I have a word that I like to use whenever someone says this, but it’s not a word I can use from a pulpit. I am a retired military man, Air Force. I heard a lot of rough language over my 20 years in service to our country. Sometimes a pagan word pops in my head. I won’t share it with you. So I’ll use another more sanitized word.

Hogwash!”

The Bible is written not by man, but by

holy men of God as they were moved by
God the Holy Spirit”
(2 Peter 1:21).

God saves a people, then uses that people. Early Church Pastor Augustine said:

“”God made us for Himself, and
our hearts are restless until they rest in Him”

We cannot find rest for our souls in ourselves. God calls us to Himself. He is the Immortal and Indefatigable God. The Heavens ring with this truth:

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

God is eternal, without beginning or end. The Apostle Paul wrote:

1 Timothy 1:17 … Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Notice the adjectives that describe our God. “Eternal, immortal, invisible, only wise”. God is without beginning or end. God is eternal. And in …

1 Timothy 6:14-16 … our Lord Jesus Christ: 15 Which in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; 16 Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honor and power everlasting. Amen.

Our God in Christ declares of Himself that He is

Revelation 1:8 … Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.

Several years ago the movie reviewer Roger Ebert began to doubt the existence of an eternal God. Raised a Catholic, he progressed in that faith to “altar boy”. Roger went to a school ministered by Nuns. I read his testimony at rogerebert.com. His testimony is – to me – rambling and restless. I am not mocking him. He is like many who have tried to understand the immensity of God, and have discounted the Creator because of it. Roger said:

I’m still struggling with with the question of how anything could have no beginning and no end.”

Jeremiah 6:16 Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths …

In God’s command to His creation He never demands that we understand Him – just that we heed and obey Him. As a retired Airman I was commanded to do many things in the service to our country. Many of the things I was commanded to do I did not understand. My Commander never came down to my duty section and had a “town hall” meeting where he explained himself. The Commander was an a superior position to see a lot more of the picture than I was able to see. My Commander did not necessarily see the whole picture, but followed the chain of command because others higher than he had a better view of the problem and the solution.

We just did what we were told.

The God I serve is the Ultimate Commander. He is above all. He has no superior – He is the superior. The God of Scripture has no beginning nor end. As a human I may not agree with all God says, but He doesn’t ask that I agree – just believe and do. God asks that you accept Him as He is – and trust Him as God. The Prophet said:

Job 36:26 … God is great, and we know him not, neither can the number of his years be searched out.

And the Psalmist spoke My days are like a shadow that declineth; and I am withered like grass. But thou, O Lord, shall endure for ever; and thy remembrance unto all generations.” (Psalm 102:11-12)

The Prophet Isaiah declared “Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding.” (Isaiah 40:28)

God is infinitely above us. He does not have to explain Himself nor justify Himself. What says Paul?

Hebrews 11:6 … without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

God commands that you “believe that I AM”. God commands that – whether we understand Him or not – we “diligently SEEK Him”. Not question, but seek.

Isaiah 55:6-9 … Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: 7 Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. 8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. 9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

We have never experience “light years”, but scientists tell us this exists.
Few have seen “atoms”, though we know they are there.
I do not understand how the sun burns without burning up, yet it does.

God is like a circle. Draw a circle on a piece of paper. Can you point out the “corner” on this circle? No, because a circle, by definition, has no corner. Can you point out the “beginning and end” of a circle? No, you cannot. If there were a beginning and an end, then it would not be a circle but an arc. If it had a corner, it could be a triangle or a square. But it would not be a circle if it did not have no beginning and no end. God has no beginning nor end. He just is.

If we impose our human limitations on God, limitations that are NOT found in the Scripture, then that which we have made is NOT God. The God of Scripture is immutable, immortal, infinite in power and knowledge.

Whom God Calls, God Empowers

Jeremiah 6:16 Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths…

God has a way that He wants us to “stand”. We are to “stand” in His ways. He is before us, and beyond us. Our God knows what is best. A men’s journal I read daily is called WiRE had these wonderful words:

God Almighty knows where we are. He sees us (Luke 12:6-7). He is with us (1 Corinthians 3:16). There is a plan. King David sang to God, “in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them” (Psalm 139:16). So, where we are—right now—is no accident. And until further notice (which may come), we’ve got to assume that where we are is where he wants us to be . . . for specific reasons, for his specific purposes.”

God told Jeremiah …

Jeremiah 1:5 … the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, 5 Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.

What is harder for me to understand than the infinity of God? It is that this Infinite God of Scripture would deign to know a retch like you or I!

Just like Jeremiah, God knew you before you were ever formed in the womb. God determined that He had a purpose for your life. God saved you with a purpose. Jesus told us, His Church:

Matthew 5:14-16 Ye are 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.

When you humbled yourself and were saved, God called you to service. We are ambassadors for our God.

2 Corinthians 5:20 … we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.

When Jeremiah heard the call of God he was frightened. He said,

Jeremiah 1:6 …. I cannot speak: for I am a child

To speak for God is an immense blessing – but also a great responsibility. When Moses was called of God from the burning bush to represent Him in Egypt, his first response was:

Exodus 3:11 Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt?

Who am I?” I am nothing. But God can work with nothing. If you think yourself unworthy to speak for God, don’t fret. You were saved because you humbled yourself and leaned into God. Throughout my life I constantly realize “I of myself an NOTHING – I am but a child”. The Bible does not teach us that:

I can do all things …

That is not a complete thought. No, it is …

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

If God has saved you, God will empower you. If you are His Child by faith in Christ, you are called to be the Light, the “salt of the earth” (Matthew 5:13). Not in our power, but in His power.

The Bible warns against pride. Pride is like scales on the eyes of Saul on Damascus Road. Until the scales drop off (Acts 9:18) all that you can do is add to the darkness. The scales must come off.

Pride is a five letter word with “I” in the middle.

Pride says “I will live for ME”. God says:

Proverbs 8:13 … The fear of the Lord is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the {boasting} mouth, do I hate.

Proverbs 16:18 … Pride goeth before destruction, and an {puffed up} spirit before a fall.

God made us not for destruction, but for a purpose. “Clothe yourselves with humility” (1 Peter 5:5), not with arroganhce and pride. “God opposes the PROUD, but gives GRACE to the HUMBLE” (James 4:6).

Someone once said – and I agree with this:

God doesn’t call the equipped. He equips His called.”

Our Minds Must Be Infused With God’s Word

Life is all about choices. Who will you listen to? How will you order your life? God offered ancient Israel a choice. He said:

Jeremiah 6:16 Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein.

Will you seek truth from God, Who alone defines truth? Or will you get your truth from other sources. Our Lord Jesus prayed for His Church before going to the Cross to die for our sins. He prayed:

John 17:11-17 … And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are. 12 While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled. 13 And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves. 14 I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 15 I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil {one}. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.

Jesus Christ gave us the Word of God. He did not give us the word of the world, or the opinion of mankind, but the message God would have us hear. The words “it is written” are repeated some sixty three times in the New Testament. Jesus quoted Scripture, sharing the Word of God with His Church. The Church and the world are to be distinctly different. The world is a fallen and confused place.

God’s Word is sure.

When Israel regarded the Word of God and applied it’s truths to their lives, they were blessed. America has a blessed history because a people called “Pilgrims” came to this land, seeking a place where they could freely worship God. The words found on the Statue of Liberty:

“Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Used to mean something. But as we have drifted from God’s Word we have coarsened. G. K. Chesterton wrote:

“… let us say, for the sake of simplicity, (there is) a fence or gate erected across a road. The more modern type of reformer goes gaily up to it and says, ‘I don’t see the use of this; let us clear it away.’ To which the more intelligent type of reformer will do well to answer: ‘If you don’t see the use of it, I certainly won’t let you clear it away. Go away and think. Then, when you can come back and tell me that you do see the use of it, I may allow you to destroy it.’”

While Israel followed the Word of God, the nation was a blessed place.

Jeremiah 6:3 … The shepherds with their flocks shall come unto her; they shall pitch their tents against her round about; they shall feed every one in his place.

God blesses the nation, the city, the community, the church, the family that follows Him. “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance.” (Psalm 33:12). As God’s people we need to heed and live by His Word. We need to tell others what God has said. We need to do what God says:

Jeremiah 6:16 … ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls

Ask of God what HE considers right and normal. Progressiveness and humanism is tearing our nation apart. We must listen to God’s Voice, His Word. We need to heed His warnings:

Jeremiah 6:7-8 … As a fountain casteth out her waters, so she casteth out her wickedness: violence and spoil is heard in her; before me continually is grief and wounds. 8 Be thou instructed, O Jerusalem, lest my soul depart from thee; lest I make thee desolate, a land not inhabited.

If we continue to chase God from our land, we shall reap what we have sown. Let us all repent, and turn to Him Who loves us so. The solution to what ails America is US, His people. Has not God promised?

2 Chronicles 7:14 If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; THEN will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

Oh, that God would heal His land. Let this healing begin with us, His people. May God touch your hearts with His Word and His Spirit. Amen and Amen!

Posted in Jeremiah, Sermons Preached | Tagged ,

The Amazing Love Of God (Red Letters #24)

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Photo by Emmanuel Phaeton on Unsplash

Matthew 9:27-35 And when Jesus departed thence, two blind men followed him, crying, and saying, Thou Son of David, have mercy on us. 28 And when he was come into the house, the blind men came to him: and Jesus saith unto them, Believe ye that I am able to do this? They said unto him, Yea, Lord. 29 Then touched he their eyes, saying, According to your faith be it unto you. 30 And their eyes were opened; and Jesus straightly charged them, saying, See that no man know it. 31 But they, when they were departed, spread abroad his fame in all that country. 32 As they went out, behold, they brought to him a dumb man possessed with a devil. 33 And when the devil was cast out, the dumb spake: and the multitudes marveled, saying, It was never so seen in Israel. 34 But the Pharisees said, He casteth out devils through the prince of the devils. 35 And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people.

Why Do We Have Disasters, Pandemics, Floods?

This is the question people ask every time something “bad” happens. Why? And if there is a God Who made all things, and loves all people, then why does He allow these bad things to happen? David Mathis of desiringGod.org wrote:

“Through suffering, God exposes our sin and calls us to soul-saving repentance (Romans 8:18–23; Luke 13:1–5). Through affliction, he drives us from the dangers of trust in self to the safety of trust in him (2 Corinthians 1:8–9). Through pain, he works in us hope and holiness and endurance (Hebrews 12:3–11; Romans 5:3–4; James 1:2–4; 1 Peter 1:6–8).

He makes us the hands of his comfort in the lives of others (2 Corinthians 1:3–4), emboldens fellow believers (Philippians 1:12–14), and embodies the gospel to unbelievers (Colossians 1:24; Acts 5:40–41). He uses distress and persecution to reposition his troops (Acts 8:1; 11:19–21), and he makes our sufferings into his instruments to wean us from the cheap thrills of the world, keep us from conceit, and woo us to the surpassing value and preciousness of Christ (2 Corinthians 12:9–10; Philippians 1:19–23).”

I believe it is to wake us up to our need, to make us realize we desperately need the
Love & Presence of the Lord.

The Apostle in writing to the Church at Corinth paints a picture of spiritual warfare, an on going battle between the light and the darkness. He speaks of what hides the Gospel from those who so desperately need it. As Paul went about preaching the glorious Gospel of salvation by faith in Christ he realized that another force warred against him – a force of darkness. He wrote about this force in ..

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 hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.

The world is like these blind men – it cannot see Jesus. Yet unlike these blind men, the world is comfortable in it’s blindness. It is comfortable in it’s sin. This world needs Jesus. We all need Jesus. We are not, as humanists believe, all naturally good people. No. The Bible paints another picture of humanity. The same Apostle writing to the Church at Ephesus said:

Ephesians 2:1, 4-5 And you hath {God} quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; 4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, 5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)

Before a person meets Christ that person is “dead in trespasses and sins”. A dead person cannot make themselves alive. Only Christ can raise the dead. The Christian is someone who has been “quickened together with Christ”. The Greek συζωοποιέω syzōopoiéō, {pronounced sood-zo-op-oy-eh’-o} means “to be made alive with or resurrected with”. Prior to Jesus Christ we all as humans are in a state of spiritual death. We are blind to the righteousness of God. But Christ touches us. This is what happens when we meet Jesus.

Only Jesus Can Give Us Eyes To See

The unsaved soul is blind to God. He or she is spiritually blind, whereas the men in our text today are physically blind. Everyone born is born into this life spiritually blind. They cannot see God. Why? Is it because God willed this? No, it is because our forefather Adam willed it.

Adam did not heed God.
Adam brought pain & death to us all.

God has an amazing love for us. But from Adam till now, we just don’t listen to God. 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.

Now God did not tell Adam “If you eat that which is forbidden I WILL KILL YOU!” No, not at all. God warned Adam like a loving mother warns a child. “Johnny, that stove is hot. Don’t touch it! When you touch it, you will get burned.” God didn’t kill Adam. Adam killed Adam. Not God.

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

Death is in the world because of Adam, not because of God. Sickness is in the world because of Adam, not because of God. God told Adam:

Genesis 3:17-19 … Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; 18 Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; 19 In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.

Adam took to himself something that only belonged to God. His action brought sweat, sorrow, thorns and thistles into an otherwise perfect world. Disease and suffering comes because of mankind’s sinful nature. Blindness is upon mankind because of sin in the world.

And yet God still loved us enough to send Jesus to us. What amazing love this is! We are told in:

1 John 4:7-10 Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. 8 He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. 9 In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. 10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation {satisfactory covering or atonement} for our sins.

Jesus is the love of God in action. So far the day of our passage Jesus has healed a woman with an issue of blood, and raised a young 12 year old girl from the dead. As Jesus travels we read:

Matthew 9:27 (KJV) … Jesus departed thence, two blind men followed him, crying, and saying

Two blind men follow after Jesus. The Bible says they were “crying”, the Greek κράζω krázō, (pronounced krad’-zo – sounds kind of like “crazy”, doesn’t it?) which means “to croak like a raven, to scream”.

These men were not filled with pride.
They were not caring about what others thought.
They wanted Jesus’ attention.
They weren’t worried about what others might think.

When we are more concerned about what others think than we are about what Jesus thinks, then God cannot do business with us. When we let our P-R-I-D-E rule our lives rather than crying out to Jesus,
we are not blessed.

God cannot bless the pride filled.

When Naaman the General refused to dip himself in the waters of the Jordan, he remained a leper. I’ll look foolish, crazy to others if I dip in that muddy Jordan.” But convinced of a lowly servant girl, Naaman went down to the Jordan and dipped himself seven times as God told him to do: then and only then was he healed (2 Kings 5:14).

We MUST STOP worrying about what OTHERS THINK about us, and begin to be concerned about what
OUR GOD thinks of us.

David – a man after God’s own heart – said:

Psalm 18:6 In my distress I called upon the Lord, and cried unto my God: he heard my voice out of his temple, and my cry came before him, even into his ears.

Psalm 61:1 Hear my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer.

These men cried out to Jesus. They were not concerned about what others thought. Life had gotten to the place where they needed Jesus – and didn’t care who heard about it! They screamed – CROAKED …

Matthew 9:27 … Thou son of David, have mercy on us.

The men called Jesus “the Son of David”. What is the significance of this title? In the Old Testament God promised King David that he would have a “Son” that would have a Divinely Established Kingdom. God told David:

2 Samuel 7:13-14, He shall build an house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom for ever. 14 I will be his father, and he shall be my son. … 16 ,,, thy throne shall be established for ever.

The Son of David was the Promised Messiah, Jesus Christ our Lord.

  • In Matthew 1:1 Jesus is proclaimed “the Son of David”.
  • As Jesus did miracle after miracle the people declared, “Is not this the Son of David?” (Matthew 12:23).
  • On Palm Sunday, the last time Jesus would enter Jerusalem prior to His crucifixion, the multitudes would cry out “Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessed is He Who comes in the name of the Lord!” (Matthew 21:9).

The blind men stumbled after Jesus by faith, calling upon the Son of David, the Messiah, to bestow mercy on us.

Have you ever noticed that Jesus continued walking? This is not Jesus being heartless, but Jesus will deal with these men away from the crowd.

These men have no eyes to see, but they can hear where the Master is going. These men were tuned in to the Voice of Jesus. Their suffering opened their ears to Jesus. Our Lord said:

John 10:27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:

Matthew 9:28 And when {Jesus} was come into the house, the blind men came to him: and Jesus saith unto them, Believe ye that I am able to do this? They said unto him, Yea, Lord.

Jesus has but one question to ask them:

“Do YOU believe I am able to do this?”

Saving faith is a very personal thing. It is not what others think, but what YOU think. Do YOU believe Jesus is able to do this? God opposes the proud, but gives Grace to the humble (James 4:6). Is Jesus “Lord” to you?

Matthew 9:29-31 Then touched {Jesus} their eyes, saying, According to your faith be it unto you. 30 And their eyes were opened; and Jesus straightly charged them, saying, See that no man know it. 31 But they, when they were departed, spread abroad his fame in all that country.

Jesus did not ask these men if they were “worthy”. He just asked them “Do YOU believe I can do this?” None of us are worthy of Jesus – and yet He loves us so much that He wants to bless us. Consider what the Scripture says:

Romans 3:10 There is none righteous, no, not one:

1 Samuel 2:2 There is none holy as the Lord: for there is none beside thee: neither is there any rock like our God.

I am amazed at the love of God. We are so dissimilar to God, so far away from Who He is … and yet He loves us still. If we but come to Him He would touch us. Jesus said “I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” (Luke 5:32).

Jesus heals these men with but a touch.

Matthew 9:30 (KJV) … And their eyes were opened; and Jesus straightly charged them, saying, See that no man know it.

Our Lord is able! He heals these men, but then tells them “tell no one about this”. Why? Adam Clark in his commentary states that if Christ had been fully manifested as Messiah at this time the people would have tried to proclaim Him king. In John 6:15 they tried to make Jesus King by force, which caused Him to retreat into the mountains. There will come a day when Jesus will rule and reign on this earth. The time is not now.

Jesus Can Heal The Demon Possessed,
But Not The Self Righteous

Matthew 9:32-34 As they went out, behold, they brought to him a dumb man possessed with a devil. 33 And when the devil was cast out, the dumb spake: and the multitudes marveled, saying, It was never so seen in Israel. 34 But the Pharisees said, He casteth out devils through the prince of the devils.

WHEN JESUS WORKS:
The DUMB SPEAK,
The MULTITUDES MARVEL, and
The SELF RIGHTEOUS MURMUR!

A “dumb” or “mute” man was brought to Jesus. His ability to speak was taken away not just by sin, but a servant of Satan. Jesus with ease cast the devil out of the man, and the man spoke, while the crowd stood amazed. “It was never so seen in Israel”. But the Pharisees indicted Jesus. They said:

{Jesus} casteth out devils through the prince of the devils.

Why would they say this? Because the Pharisees were self righteous. Jesus can cast devils out of people. In fact we are told right after Jesus cast the devil out of this poor man that:

Matthew 9:35 And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people.

Jesus healed EVERY sickness and EVERY disease among the people. There were no exceptions. Every person who humbled themselves and came to Jesus in faith were blessed. There is nothing that Jesus cannot heal …

except self righteousness. Self righteousness does not save a person, but distances them from the Savior. God prophesied through Isaiah that there would come a day when He would reach out to the Gentiles because His Israel kept rejecting Him. God said:

Isaiah 65:1-5 I am sought of them that asked not for me; I am found of them that sought me not: I said, Behold me, behold me, unto a nation that was not called by my name. 2 I have spread out my hands all the day unto a rebellious people, which walketh in a way that was not good, after their own thoughts; 3 A people that provoketh me to anger continually to my face; that sacrificeth in gardens, and burneth incense upon altars of brick; 4 Which remain among the graves, and lodge in the monuments, which eat swine’s flesh, and broth of abominable things is in their vessels; 5 Which say, Stand by thyself, come not near to me; for I am holier than thou. These are a smoke in my nose, a fire that burneth all the day.

God loved Israel. He sent His Only Begotten Son to Israel first. What does the scripture say?

John 1:10-12 He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. 11 {Jesus} 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:

When Jesus sat down to eat with tax collectors and sinners, the Pharisees asked Him “Why are You doing this?” Jesus told them:

Mark 2:17 … They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. (also Luke 5:32)

Those who think they are “righteous” will not come to Jesus. But those who are suffering and sin sick, whose eyes are opened by God, will seek Jesus. The Pharisee had perfected church going. They had perfected outward righteousness. They didn’t feel that they needed Jesus. But they could not disprove Jesus’ works. It was evident that Jesus healed people.

When you cannot disprove someone’s works, attack their character. This is what the Pharisees did.

Matthew 9:34 … the Pharisees said, He casteth out devils through the prince of the devils.

It is typical of the devil and his agents to attack the light. If they cannot disprove the works of Jesus and His people, the evil ones will discredit
the character of the Light.

This is the first time the Pharisees accuse Jesus of being in collusion with Satan, but it is not the only time. If you’ll turn over just a few chapters to:

Matthew 12:22-24 Then was brought unto him one possessed with a devil, blind, and dumb: and he healed him, insomuch that the blind and dumb both spake and saw. 23 And all the people were amazed, and said, Is not this the son of David? 24 But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils.

It was self righteousness and pride that caused the Pharisees to say this. But it was not true. Jesus told them:

Matthew 12:25-32 … Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand: 26 And if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how shall then his kingdom stand? 27 And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your children cast them out? therefore they shall be your judges. 28 But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you. 29 Or else how can one enter into a strong man’s house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? and then he will spoil his house. 30 He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad. 31 Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. 32 And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.

It is the Holy Spirit Who saves us. When we receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior the Spirit of God comes to us and changes us, making us born again. Self righteousness cuts a soul off from salvation. Self righteousness will not come to Jesus to be saved. And that is just a crying shame!

Thank God, though, there are many more “sinners” than there are “Pharisees”. Jesus told His disciples, and we who believe in Him are His disciples:

Matthew 9:37-38 … The harvest truly is plenteous, but the laborers are few; 38 Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth laborers into his harvest.

As a Church we do not need more members on the Church roll. We need more God sent Laborers. There are many sinners all around us. Let us bring them to Jesus. Bring Him the blind, the deaf, the spiritually dead. Take them to Jesus. Jesus is able to heal, to save, to bless. There is nothing my Jesus cannot do. In the aftermath of this Coronavirus Pandemic let us commit to take those we know to the amazing Love of God, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Amen and Amen. May God bless His people, and increase the harvest for His glory.

Posted in Sermon Series "Red Letters", Sermons Preached | Tagged , , , ,

5. The MUSTS Of Christianity: we MUST Worship In Spirit and in Truth (A.K.A. “This Is That”)

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Photo by Kyle Johnson on Unsplash

John 4:23-24 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. 24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

Acts 2:16 … But this is that …

God put two sermons on my heart for this morning. Now don’t be frightened or disturbed, for this won’t be overly long. The sermon is entitled “This is That”. You’ll understand the title in just a few moments. Let’s start in John Chapter 4.

In John 4 Jesus has been traveling. When Jesus came to this earth from Heaven, He came on a serious mission. Jesus represented the Father as He traveled. The Father had a message for all people. Not just for Israel, but for the Gentiles as well. Jesus left Judea and headed toward Galilee (John 4:4). In order to get to where the Father wanted Him to be, Jesus must needs go through Samaria. Now Samaria is a part of the Promised Land, the Land that God gave to Abraham and His children. Yet Samaria is racially hated by the Jews. The Samaritans have two strikes against them.

  1. The people of Samaria are descended from the Ten Northern Tribes of Israel. When King Solomon died the throne of Israel passed to his son Rehoboam (1 Kings 11:43). Rehoboam was a foolish king. When the ten northern tribes asked that he lessen their tax burden, Rehoboam ignored the advise of his elder counselors, leading to civil war in Israel. The Ten Northern tribes departed from Israel, and began to worship not in the Temple (which was in Jerusalem) but in the mountains around Samaria.
  2. The people of Samaria are of mixed heritage. When Assyria overthrew Northern Israel the invading army intermixed with the conquered Israelites. The resultant children were not considered Jews but Gentiles.

Jesus was traveling through an area considered by Israel to be a Gentile (or worse) dominated place.

When Jesus meets a woman of Samaria at Jacob’s Well, the Jews would have considered her to be a Gentile, and perhaps lower than a Gentile. Jesus and this unnamed Gentile woman are meeting at a place called Jacob’s Well. Now let me talk about Jacob’s Well for a minute. Jacob’s Well is only mentioned ONCE in the Bible, in the text we are reading today.

Jacob’s Well stands at a crossroads five miles or so outside of the town of Sychar, a suburb of Samaria.

Jacob, the patriarch of the nation Israel, is the Grandson of Abraham, his father being Isaac. Jewish tradition teaches that Jacob purchased this land and gave it to his son Joseph (Genesis 33:19; John 4:5), the son responsible for saving Israel from destruction by famine. I am sure you all remember the story of Joseph and the coat of many colors (Genesis 37-50). The Woman of Samaria tells Jesus that:

John 4:12 … our father Jacob gave us the well

This woman that was considered a Gentile by the Jews nonetheless considered herself and her people as part of the family of Jacob. She thinks she is right with God because of her association with Jacob.

This woman did not worship in the Temple, nor did her family worship in the Temple. She worshiped where her family traditionally worshiped. The woman told Jesus:

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

The Samaritans had, from the time of Rehoboam, worshiped not in Jerusalem at the Temple, but in the mountains of Samaria. They used as their justification their revolt against a bad king Rehoboam. As this woman of Samaria stood talking with Jesus at the crossroads where Jacob’s Well is,

this is a picture of the Gentile Church.

God has an Old Testament people, and a New Testament people.
God has an Old Covenant people, and a New Covenant people.

This woman says “Our fathers worshiped in this mountain, but YOU JEWS say (for that’s what she means) in JERUSALEM is the only place you are to worship.

It Is Not Worship If It Is Not Done God’s Way

Who sets the standard as to what “Worship” is?
Do I? Do you? OR DOES GOD?

It was not the Jews who established worship of God in the Temple in Jerusalem. It was God Himself Who set that standard. God specifically told Israel under the Old Covenant:

Deuteronomy 12:1-5 … These are the statutes and judgments, which ye shall observe to do in the land {O Israel}, which the Lord God of thy fathers giveth thee to possess it, all the days that ye live upon the earth. 2 Ye shall utterly destroy all the places, wherein the nations which ye shall possess served their gods, upon the high mountains, and upon the hills, and under every green tree: 3 And ye shall overthrow their altars, and break their pillars, and burn their groves with fire; and ye shall hew down the graven images of their gods, and destroy the names of them out of that place. 4 Ye shall not do so unto the Lord your God. 5 But UNTO THE PLACE WHICH THE LORD YOUR GOD SHALL CHOOSE OUT OF ALL YOUR TRIBES TO PUT HIS NAME THERE, EVEN UNTO HIS HABITATION SHALL YE SEEK, and thither thou shalt come:

God was very specific – in fact, God is always very specific with what He says to do. God told His Israel “you WILL NOT worship in the mountains. You WILL worship where I tell you top worship. You will go to the Temple, and the Temple is in Jerusalem. There you will worship. There you will worship.”

This woman is a perfect picture of many today who are in the Church of Christ. She is enjoying the blessings of God’s Israel. She is drinking at Jacob’s Well (you could call it “Israel’s Well). Yet she and her ancestors set about establishing what THEY thought was worship. Jesus corrected her, saying,

Salvation is of the Jews” (vs 22)

Salvation is of the Jews. God promised salvation through Abraham, the father of faith. From Abraham would come a nation one day to be called Israel. Out of Israel the Messiah, the Savior of the world, will come. Jesus Christ would come unto Israel first, because God promised Messiah would come of the lineage of Abraham, and of the lineage of Jacob, and of the lineage of David. God had a plan, and the Messiah would come according to that plan. But God came to THE JEW FIRST. Messiah went to Israel FIRST. Jesus Christ was born to the virgin Mary, a Jew, and to a stepfather Joseph, a Jew. As the Archangel told Joseph in a dream:

Matthew 1:20-21 … Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. 21 And {Mary} shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for {Jesus} shall save HIS PEOPLE from their sins.

Jesus Christ came unto HIS PEOPLE first. What did John tell us?

John 1:11 {Jesus} came unto his OWN, and HIS OWN received Him not.

Jesus told His disciples when His ministry began,

Matthew 10:5 … GO NOT into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not, but GO RATHER TO THE LOST SHEEP OF THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL.

Our Lord’s ministry began with Israel. Why? “Because salvation is of the Jews”. God promised Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. God keeps His promises. But God had not forgotten the Gentiles. The Gentiles were not worshiping God in the way He prescribed. God told Israel to worship Him not in the mountains, but in Jerusalem at the Temple. Ten tribes of Israel revolted against Rehoboam, and then used this revolt to turn against the god Who loved them. This poor woman is like so many throughout history. God has said,

Do it this way”,

and her ancestors and she herself said,

But we’ll do it our way!”

What does God think of this? What does our Lord Jesus say about this? He says:

John 4:22 Ye worship ye know not what: WE KNOW WHAT WE WORSHIP: for salvation is of the Jews.

Jesus knows what He worships. Jesus comes from the Father.

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 {the Father} sent me.

John 6:38-39 … 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…

Jesus Christ came from the Father. He and the righteous Jews who believed on Him know what they worship. They worship in the right place, the place mandated by God. They may not understand that the entirety of the Old Testament scripture, including the sacrifices, the things of the Temple, and even the location of the Temple taught of Jesus. Jesus said that. He tells the Pharisees in the next chapter:

John 5:45-47 Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father: there is one that accuseth you, even Moses, in whom ye trust. 46 For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me; for {Moses} wrote of me. 47 But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?

Moses wrote of Christ. The Old Testament Scriptures speak of the Messiah Who was coming from Israel, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Luke 24:27 And beginning at MOSES AND ALL THE PROPHETS, {Jesus} expounded unto them in ALL THE SCRIPTURES the things concerning himself.

The Scriptures – the Old Testament text at this time in history – established the truths about Jesus Christ. It was NOT optional that God’s Old Covenant people worship in Jerusalem at the Temple. It was NOT optional that they keep the feasts, the Passovers, the atonements in Jerusalem at the Temple. God had a pattern, a truth that He was illustrating by the Law and the Prophets. These truths were to be upheld until the day that Christ Jesus was revealed, the Messiah, the only Savior of the world (John 3:16). Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit of God, preached this great truth that many have departed from:

Acts 4:10-12 Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole. 11 This is the stone which was set at naught of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. 12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is NONE OTHER NAME UNDER HEAVEN GIVEN AMONG MEN, WHEREBY WE MUST BE SAVED.

Many, like the Samaritans and this dear Samaritan woman, have departed from the revealed truths of the Bible.

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

The Word of God was not optional the day that Jesus stood preaching to this Samaritan woman, and the Word of God is not optional now. You cannot rewrite the Holy Book to suit the feelings of people, nor to satisfy an unsanctioned revolt against an unwise and foolish king Rehoboam.

You cannot depart from the written Word of God and expect the Living Word of God to bless you. This Book is the Written Word of God. This Jesus Christ is the Living Word of God, the Word of God Who was
IN THE BEGINNING both WITH God and WAS God (John 1:1-3)

There can be no worship of God without what Jesus said. Look at His Words to us, dear Church.

John 4:23-24 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. 24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

The Father must be worshiped in Spirit and in truth. Some Churches worship in Spirit, but have departed from the Word of God. They are not worshiping Gods. Other Churches worship in truth, but have departed from the Spirit of God. They are not worshiping. Good intentions does not make it worship. God is a Spirit, high above us. If we are to worship Him, we must worship Him in Spirit and in truth. We must be Bible based, but we must be Spirit empowered. We must not operate in the realm of the flesh, or in the power of the flesh, but in the power of God’s Holy Spirit.

The woman at the well had a face to face chat with Jesus. We as Christians need to get on our knees and have a face to face chat with Jesus. We as Churches need to humble ourselves, and tell Jesus we are listening. What is Jesus telling us to do? Can we, like the little Prophet Samuel, become like that little Child and say:

1 Samuel 3:9 … Speak, Lord; for thy servant heareth.

The woman didn’t just hold a conversation with Jesus – she LISTENED to Jesus. She said:

John 4:25 … I know that Messiah cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things.

Jesus told this precious Gentile Woman – the forerunner of His Church in whom there …

Galatians 3:28 … 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.

As soon as Jesus told her “I that speak unto thee am {the Messiah}” the woman immediately left her water pot – and Jesus – to run out and tell others about Him. Her message was based on her personal meeting with Jesus:

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

The Church that serves Jesus must worship God in Spirit and in Truth – else it is not a Church, nor is it even worship.

Is “This”, “That”?
Is What We Are Doing “Worship”?

After Jesus Christ died for our sins on the Cross of Calvary, our Lord rose from the grave. Jesus then told His disciples:

Acts 1:4 {do not leave Jerusalem, but} “wait for the Promise of the Father, which you have heard of Me”

Jesus went on to say Acts 1:8 “You shall receive power, after that the Holy {Spirit} is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto Me …”

The purpose of the reception of the Holy Spirit was not just to chatter in tongues, nor to be emotionally exhilarated. The Spirit would empower the Church that Jesus died for to witness to power and light of God to a powerless and defeated world. Jesus told His people to “wait”. Not to do nothing, but to “wait”. The Bible says:

Psalm 25:20-22 O {Lord} keep my soul, and deliver me: let me not be ashamed; for I put my trust in Thee. 21 Let integrity and uprightness preserve me; for I wait on Thee. 22 Redeem Israel, O God, out of all his troubles.

Psalm 27:13-14 I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. 14 Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.

Psalm 37:34 Wait on the Lord, and keep his way, and he shall exalt thee to inherit the land: when the wicked are cut off, thou shalt see it.

Jesus told His disciples to W-A-I-T. To WAIT does not mean to do nothing. It means to seek God’s face, to heed His direction.

Proverbs 20:22 … Say not thou, I will recompense evil; but wait on the Lord, and he shall save thee.

The Church that Jesus died for began to wait on the Lord. They went off into an upper room, and there they waited on God.

The first Church did what God told them to do, and prayed, waiting for God to show them what to do next. They knew that God sought out a people who would worship Him in SPIRIT and in TRUTH. They waited and prayed. They heeded The Holy Spirit AND The Word. The Church DESPERATELY needs
the Holy Spirit And the Word!

The time from the Passover to the Day of Pentecost was fifty days. Jesus died for our sins on the Passover. Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us (1 Corinthians 5:7). Jesus rose from the grave on the third day after Passover (Matthew 16:21; 17:23; 20:19; Acts 10:40; 1 Corinthians 15:4). The Church was not to immediately go out after Jesus rose from the dead. The Church was to wait on God. To pray. To seek God’s direction. To get into one accord.

Then Pentecost came, and God showed up! “They were all FILLED with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:4). As the disciples went out the multitude was confounded, because every man HEARD THEN SPEAK IN THEIR OWN LANGUAGE (Acts 2:6). God allowed everyone to hear the Gospel. These Galileans were speaking at least twelve different human languages … if not more. Some in the crowd mocked them.

Acts 2:13 “These men are full of new wine!”

Then Peter began to preach.

Acts 2:14-16 “Hearken to my words. These are not drunken like you suppose, but THIS IS THAT…”.

This is not drunkenness. THIS is THAT.

THIS is the fulfillment of THAT Promise God made, a promise God made in Isaiah 44:3 and

Joel 2:28 And it shall come to pass afterward, that {God said} I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions:

This is that. Not drunkenness, not foolishness, but people hearing the Gospel.

Beloved, God shut down many Church buildings during the Coronavirus Pandemic. We as a Church were shut down – in compliance with the Law – for several weeks. During that time I asked our members to be in prayer, to wait on God, to seek His face. We were not supposed to be wasting this time, but were supposed to, as the first Church did, pray until the Power of God be endued on us from on high.

Is “This”, “That”? Are we the Church that Jesus Christ wants us to be? Are we relying on Him, and on the Spirit of God to do Christ’s Business, or are we doing so in our own power? Peter told the crowd that day “This is That”. This is the Church that Christ inhabits. This is the people that followed the Lord. And now we, as His people, share this message with the world.

Acts 2:16-21 this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; 17 And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: 18 And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy: 19 And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke: 20 The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and notable day of the Lord come: 21 And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.

And saved they were. About 3000 joined the Church that day, people of various languages and cultures. God reached them. God reached them. God will not reach the world through us if we do not worship Him in Spirit AND in truth.

God’s Word is TRUE (John 17:17).
God’s Spirit was given to guide us into God’s Truth (John 16:13).

Let us come together under God’s Word and following His Spirit so that “This” will be “That”. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen and Amen. May God touch your hearts through His Word and His Spirit.

Posted in Five MUSTS Of Faith, Sermons Preached | Tagged , , , , , ,

Is It True?

Daniel 3:13-14 Then Nebuchadnezzar in his rage and fury commanded to bring Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednigo. Then they brought these men before the king. 14 Nebuchadnezzar spake and said unto them, Is it true

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Photo by Christopher Burns on Unsplash

God created man and woman to worship Him. We were not created so that God could serve us. We were created so that we can serve God. This is why we were made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27; 9:6). Were were made in His image – but we were NOT made gods. There is but one God (Malachi 2:10; Mark 12:32; Romans 3:30). This God made us. He is not the God of our imaginations, but the God of the Holy Bible, the Scripture written by his hand. Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit of God” (2 Peter 1:21). We were made to worship God. God has set ETERNITY (“world” in the KJV of Ecclesiastes 3:11) in our hearts. We know there is more than we are. We know there is One greater than us. God the Father created the Angels to worship God the Son, Jesus Christ our Lord:

Hebrews 1:6 … {the Father said} And let all the angels of God worship Him.

God is God, and we are not. We are created to worship God, to love and adore Him, to serve Him, to please Him. Satan – from the Garden of Eden until now – constantly seeks ways to keep God’s creation from worshiping the Creator.

If Satan can get us to worship a thing, an idol, money, a function like sex or eating, if he can get us to worship the adoration of man or the acquisition of power, if Satan can get us to worship ANYONE outside of God our Creator then it is the same as worshiping Satan himself.

Satan uses many tactics to draw us into worship outside of God. Though he knows that at the end of time God will triumph in Christ, for our Lord has said:

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

Though Satan knows this he wishes to bring as many people to hell with him as he can. He and his demons – the rebellious angels – never stop offering another way of worship, another god to love, another thing to put in the Almighty God’s place. The unbeliever, just like the Samaritan woman Jesus spoke to at Jacob’s well, think that any worship or any god is acceptable to the Creator. People proudly point to their local church and say, like the Samaritan woman:

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

My denomination believes this, BUT YOUR denomination believes that.” Even the so called “non denominational” churches do the saDaniel 3:26-27 Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the mouth of the burning fiery furnace, and spake, and said, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednigo., ye servants of the most high God, come forth, and come hither. Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednigo., came forth of the midst of the fire. 27 And the princes, governors, and captains, and the king’s counselors, being gathered together, saw these men, upon whose bodies the fire had no power, nor was an hair of their head singed, neither were their coats changed, nor the smell of fire had passed on them.me. But Jesus tells us:

John 4:22-24 … Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. 23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. 24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

Jesus Christ defines the truth. The God of our Holy Bible defines the truth. His Word is truth (John 17:17). What has our God said? What does the Bible clearly say? What does Jesus Christ our Lord say? This is what matters. Jesus Christ. The One Who saves us is the One Who leads us. Jesus! The Jesus of the Bible. Not the Jesus of our imagination, but the Jesus of Scripture!

What Are You Going To DDaniel 3:26-27 Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the mouth of the burning fiery furnace, and spake, and said, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednigo., ye servants of the most high God, come forth, and come hither. Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednigo., came forth of the midst of the fire. 27 And the princes, governors, and captains, and the king’s counselors, being gathered together, saw these men, upon whose bodies the fire had no power, nor was an hair of their head singed, neither were their coats changed, nor the smell of fire had passed on them.o When
You Are Given A Choice?

If you are indeed a Christian, you are going to be tried.
If are indeed a human, you are going to be tested.
The devil will put choices before you.
Will you worship the Lord, or Satan?

If you choose to worship the Lord, the God of Scripture, you will be persecuted. This is a promise from God. It will happen. Light and darkness do not mix. Good and evil cannot blend. The Apostle said:

2 Timothy 3:12-14 Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. 13 But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived. 14 But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them;

Religion has always been the tool of Satan. God calls us to a RELATIONSHIP in Him through Jesus Christ our Lord. Jesus was ALWAYS persecuted by whom? The Gentiles? No! The PHARISEES. Who else? The SCRIBES. The copiers of the Scripture, who never had a relationship with God.

King Nebuchadnezzar created a religion.
Why? Because he was lifted up with pride.

In the previous chapter the Almighty God gave Nebuchadnezzar a dream that Daniel interpreted. After the interpretation Nebuchadnezzar said:

Daniel 2:47 {Nebuchadnezzar told Daniel} … OF A TRUTH IT IS, that your God is a God of gods, and a Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets, seeing thou couldest reveal this secret.Daniel 3:26-27 Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the mouth of the burning fiery furnace, and spake, and said, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednigo., ye servants of the most high God, come forth, and come hither. Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednigo., came forth of the midst of the fire. 27 And the princes, governors, and captains, and the king’s counselors, being gathered together, saw these men, upon whose bodies the fire had no power, nor was an hair of their head singed, neither were their coats changed, nor the smell of fire had passed on them.

The same Nebuchadnezzar who asked the Hebrew Children “Is It True” just one chapter before says “OF A TRUTH IT IS”. The worldly have no true faith in God. The worldly base their lives on “feelings”.

Nebuchadnezzar previously said that our God – the God of Scripture – is a God of God, and a Lord of kings, but what he SAID was based on feelings not on faith. Nebuchadnezzar was much like the Pharisees, whom Jesus indicted saying:

Matthew 15:7-9 Ye hypocrites, well did Isaiah {in Isaiah 29:13} prophesy of you, saying, 8 This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. 9 But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.

There are many who pay lip service to God, but do not truly worship Him. Nebuchadnezzar was of this sort. That is why he …

Daniel 3:1 Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold, whose height was threescore cubits (90 feet tall), and the breadth thereof six cubits (9 feet wide): he set it up in the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon.

This was not just a statue to put in a park for the birds to sit on and the children to ooh and aah. The King James calls it “an IMAGE of gold”. The word translated IMAGE is the Hebrew צֶלֶם tselem, (pronounced tseh’-lem) which means “an IDOL”. The value of the idol is shown in it’s makeup. First of all, the idol as of GOLD. It is 90 feet tall and 9 feet wide. To put this in comparison the Statue of Liberty – from heel to top of her head – is 111 ½ feet tall, just 21 feet higher than Nebuchadnezzar’s statue. I tried to find out the value of such a statue to no avail – it appears that there has never been such a thing made before or after this creation. Considering that one pound of gold today costs $17,987.00, this statue would have been unparalleled in cost. Nebuchadnezzar had the statue set up in the capital city of Babylon.

Daniel 3:2-3 Then Nebuchadnezzar the king sent to gather together the princes, the governors, and the captains, the judges, the treasurers, the counselors, the sheriffs, and all the rulers of the provinces, to come to the dedication of the image which Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up. 3 Then the princes, the governors, and captains, the judges, the treasurers, the counselors, the sheriffs, and all the rulers of the provinces, were gathered together unto the dedication of the image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up; and they stood before the image that Nebuchadnezzar had set up.

At the dedication of the gold statue Nebuchadnezzar gathered all of the politicians, all of the leaders were gathered in place. This started out as a “dedication”. When the devil wants to draw us away from God he always couches his requests in a sly way.

It is “dedication” not “desecration”.
It is “freedom of choice” not “abortion”.
It is “love” not “lasciviousness”.
It is “alternate lifestyle” not “defiance of God’s standard”.

As they stood at the proposed “dedication”, suddenly the truth was revealed.

Daniel 3:4-6 Then an herald cried aloud, To you it is commanded, O people, nations, and languages, 5 That at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sack but, psaltery, dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, ye fall down and worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king hath set up: 6 And whoso falleth not down and worshippeth shall the same hour be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace.

Now we have a choice before us. The leaders all have heard the choice. Fall down and worship the idol. Only God shall be worshiped! Only the Creator is to be so treated.

Psalm 95:2-10 Sing unto the Lord, bless his name; shew forth his salvation from day to day. 3 Declare his glory among the heathen, his wonders among all people. 4 For the Lord is great, and greatly to be praised: he is to be feared above all gods. 5 For all the gods of the nations are idols: but the Lord made the heavens. 6 Honor and majesty are before him: strength and beauty are in his sanctuary. 7 Give unto the Lord, O ye kindreds of the people, give unto the Lord glory and strength. 8 Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name: bring an offering, and come into his courts. 9 O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness: fear before him, all the earth. 10 Say among the heathen that the Lord reigneth: the world also shall be established that it shall not be moved: he shall judge the people righteously.

You shall worship no other god, for the LORD, Whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God” (Exodus 34:14). Jesus told Satan “Get away from Me, Satan! You shall worship the lord your God, and Him only shall you serve” (Matthew 4:10). The devil says “Worship other than God”. Nebuchadnezzar said “worship my statue”. The world worships the wrong thing. It bows down to that which is not God.

Daniel 3:7 Therefore at that time, when ALL the people heard the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and all kinds of musick, ALL the people, the nations, and the languages, fell down and worshiped the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up.

ALL the people complied. The darkness was great, for ALL worshiped that image. When you compromise with the darkness, you ARE in league with the devil. When you sin without repentance, you ARE advancing the devil’s darkness. When you are quiet when evil is, then you are aiding evil!

Light MUST be light.
Be the Light!
Worship God only!
Serve the Lord.

Children Of God Must Set
The Standard And The Tone

Have you ever wondered why DANIEL
isn’t mentioned in Chapter Three?

Daniel is tested in Chapters 1 and 2, and Daniel passes the tests. Daniel is the leader and the mentor of three other young men named Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. You may better know then as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednigo. These three young men are hardly mentioned in Chapters 1 and 2, but are now focused on in chapter 3. Why?

I believe it is because Daniel mentored these young men. As the elder in faith he taught them the ways of the Father, and now these young men are being tested. One area that the Church is America is woefully deficient in is DISCIPLESHIP. We who are believers in Christ are to, as we grow in faith, mentor other believers in Christ. Beloved, all will be tested. All will be tried. Peter tells us:

1 Peter 5:5-9 … ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. 6 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: 7 Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you. 8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: 9 Whom resist steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.

Believers are to disciple believers, to teach one another to submit oDaniel 3:26-27 Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the mouth of the burning fiery furnace, and spake, and said, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednigo., ye servants of the most high God, come forth, and come hither. Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednigo., came forth of the midst of the fire. 27 And the princes, governors, and captains, and the king’s counselors, being gathered together, saw these men, upon whose bodies the fire had no power, nor was an hair of their head singed, neither were their coats changed, nor the smell of fire had passed on them.urselves to God and resist the devil. You will be tried. Daniel chapter 3 is the trying of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednigo.

Daniel 3:8-12 Wherefore at that time certain CHALDEANS came near, and accused the Jews {Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednigo.}. 9 They spake and said to the king Nebuchadnezzar, O king, live for ever. 10 Thou, O king, hast made a decree, that every man that shall hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, shall fall down and worship the golden image: 11 And whoso falleth not down and worshippeth, that he should be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. 12 There are certain Jews whom thou hast set over the affairs of the province of Babylon, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednigo.; these men, O king, have not regarded thee: they serve not thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.

The Chaldeans were the priests of the state religion, the followers of the idol that Nebuchadnezzar set up. They came to the King and reminded him that he promised whosoever does not fall down and worship this god will be cast in a fiery furnace. They told the King “there are some Jews YOU – O King – set over the affairs of your Kingdom. They are rulers by YOUR decree – and these three – Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednigo. – have refused YOUR command.”

The King was beyond angry. The Bible says that:

Daniel 3:13-15 Then Nebuchadnezzar in his rage and fury commanded to bring Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednigo. Then they brought these men before the king. 14 Nebuchadnezzar spake and said unto them, Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednigo., do not ye serve my gods, nor worship the golden image which I have set up? 15 Now if ye be ready that at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, ye fall down and worship the image which I have made; well: but if ye worship not, ye shall be cast the same hour into the midst of a burning fiery furnace; and who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands?

Nebuchadnezzar gave these three believers a choice. “You have a choice. You can fall down and worship the image I made, or you can go into the furnace alive. And WHO is THAT God that shall deliver you out of MY hands.”

Shadrach said,

Give us a minute to confer, O king, while we decide what to do.”

No, no he didn’t say that. All three young men were ready with an answer to the King. The reason that many young people leave the Church and never return is because they were not mentored in the faith. They were not taught the truths of Scripture by other believers. Too many people have placed the entire burden of mentoring on a select few we call “Pastors”. Pastors should mentor – but so should every elder Christian. That is why we have meetings every week. WDaniel 3:26-27 Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the mouth of the burning fiery furnace, and spake, and said, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednigo., ye servants of the most high God, come forth, and come hither. Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednigo., came forth of the midst of the fire. 27 And the princes, governors, and captains, and the king’s counselors, being gathered together, saw these men, upon whose bodies the fire had no power, nor was an hair of their head singed, neither were their coats changed, nor the smell of fire had passed on them.e meet to encourage one another, to teach one another, to help one another grow in our faith.

Hebrews 10:23-25 … Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) 24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: 25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

We as Christians are to “provoke one another to love and good works”, to teach other believers by word and example to follow the One True God. These three young men were prepared. Notice there was no hesitation in their response:

Daniel 3:16 … O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter.

ALL THREE – Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednigo. – were UNITED in their answer. A divided Church is not a Church. We are together to serve our Lord and Savior – especially in the midst of the darkness. When we unite together Jesus promises us:

Matthew 18:20 For where two or three are gathered TOGETHER in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

God calls us to “stand firm in one spirit, with one mind, working side by side for the faith we received by the Gospel. Do not be frightened – God will deliver you” (Philippians 1:27-28).

The Hebrew Children spoke the same thing – glorifying God – in love! They said “We’re not careful to answer you in this manner!” They were not worried about pleasing an errant king. They were more concerned with pleasing King Jesus.

Daniel 3:17-18 If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. 18 But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.

These Children of God didn’t say “God will save us”, but said “Our God is able to save us”. But they also went on to say “Even if our God does not save us, we STILL will not worship this god”. They absolutely REFUSED to compromise. Their eyes were firmly fixed on Jesus.

This is the test of genuine faith. Like Job we who believe in Christ declare:

Job 13:15 …. Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him.

If the believer in Christ, the Child of God passes from this life we have hope even in death (Proverbs 14:32). God is with His Children. We must never compromise with the darkness.

Daniel 3:19-23 Then was Nebuchadnezzar full of fury, and the form of his visage was changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednigo.: therefore he spake, and commanded that they should heat the furnace one seven times more than it was wont to be heated. 20 And he commanded the most mighty men that were in his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednigo., and to cast them into the burning fiery furnace. 21 Then these men were bound in their coats, their hosen, and their hats, and their other garments, and were cast into the midst of the burning fiery furnace. 22 Therefore because the king’s commandment was urgent, and the furnace exceeding hot, the flame of the fire slew those men that took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednigo. 23 And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednigo., FELL DOWN BOUND into the midst of the burning fiery furnace.

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednigo. FELL DOWN BOUND in the midst of the fiery furnace. They would not fall down and worship the golden idol. They would not fall down and compromise before the King and all his brainwashed leadership. You had to tie them up to get them to fall down. THEY FELL DOWN BOUND in the middle of the fiery furnace. And there they met Jesus their Lord.

Jesus Never Leaves Us Nor Forsakes Us

Daniel 3:24-25 Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonished, and rose up in haste, and spake, and said unto his counselors, Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? They answered and said unto the king, True, O king. 25 He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.

Jesus Christ stays with His people. He loves us, and gave Himself for us. He stays with us in the valleys of life, and stays with us throughout our days. What Nebuchadnezzar saw so impressed him that we read:

Daniel 3:26-27 Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the mouth of the burning fiery furnace, and spake, and said, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednigo., ye servants of the most high God, come forth, and come hither. Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednigo., came forth of the midst of the fire. 27 And the princes, governors, and captains, and the king’s counselors, being gathered together, saw these men, upon whose bodies the fire had no power, nor was an hair of their head singed, neither were their coats changed, nor the smell of fire had passed on them.

The Children of God came out of the flame unsinged, with not even the smell of smoke on them. Jesus Christ will take you through the fire of trials. Jesus Christ will lift you out of the fire of sin and hell. He will take you into the palm of His eternal hand and hold you there – forever – if you will be give yourselves to Him. May God touch your hearts with His Word and his Spirit. Amen and Amen!

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