The Kingdom Of God Principles (Red Letters #32)

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Matthew 12:46-50 While he yet talked to the people, behold, his mother and his brethren stood without, desiring to speak with him. 47 Then one said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee. 48 But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren? 49 And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! 50 For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.

A young man came to Jesus one time and asked:

Matthew 19:16 …. Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?

Jesus told this young man simply:

Matthew 19:17 … if thou wilt enter into life, KEEP THE COMMANDMENTS.

Notice that Jesus took the word
“eternal” away from His answer.
If you live life without God, you are NOT living.

He said, “If you will enter into LIFE, keep the commandments”. Those who attempt to live without God and His commandments are not living … they are just existing. You have a choice. You can LIVE, or you can EXIST. There is a big difference between the two. There is no life outside of a living, growing, OBEDIENT relationship to God our Creator.

Many people envision HEAVEN as a place where all of our selfish gratifications are fulfilled. Many envision Heaven as a place where 72 virgins eternally satisfy the sexual selfishness of the victorious male. Muslim scholar Farhana Qazi notes:

Heaven in the Islamic faith does not include 72 wide-eyed sex goddesses. The number ‘72’ does not appear anywhere in the Quran. Nor does the word “suicide” (intihar in Arabic) appear, which is a word used interchangeably with martyrdom.”

Qazi notes that this myth entered Muslim faith from a writing (hadith) from an imam named al-Tirmidhi. Truth be told, the concept that Heaven is a place where our selfishnesses are all satisfied is the devil’s ploy, a whisper from the prince of darkness.

The concept that Heaven is a place where human selfishness and fleshiness is satisfied is not just in non-Christian faiths, but has gradually crept into even the Christian Faith.

On the Tonight Show Johnny Carson once asked a visiting preacher “Will there be golf in Heaven?”. The preacher said “If it is necessary for our joy in Heaven, I’m sure there will be golf”. Many people – even preachers – teach that Heaven and those who will go to Heaven is all about us. We are on the Throne in Heaven, and God is our Eternal Waiter, meeting our every need. Yet this is not what the Bible teaches. Jesus said,

If you would enter into Life, keep the COMMANDMENTS”.

Heaven is about us serving God. It is about us being returned to our rightful Master and Lord. This is not a popular concept in the “Me First” America of today, but it is indeed Biblical. When Jesus defined the Commandments that should be kept, He referred to the Ten Commandments. Jesus said:

Matthew 19:19 … Honor thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.

Honor to your parents. Obedience to those who gave you life, to mother and father and God. Loving others as created beings, created in the image of God for God. As goes the family, so goes the community. As goes the community, so goes the country. Civilized society, especially the Kingdom of Heaven, is NOT about us satisfying our every need and want. It is about US serving OTHERS. It is not about radical freedom and rioting, but about citizenship, good citizenship. Being citizens of the family, of the neighborhood, of the city, of the country, of Heaven.

So Jesus is teaching the Word of the Father. We read:

Matthew 12:46 While {Jesus} yet talked to the people, behold, his mother and his brethren stood without, desiring to speak with him.

Jesus taught that we are to honor our father and our mother (Mark 10:19; Luke 18:20; Ephesians 6:2). Now Jesus mother and brothers are standing outside the door. They want to speak to the Lord. Jesus’ commandments mirror the Father’s commandments. Did our Master not say “If you have seen Me, you have seen the Father” (John 14:9)? Has not our Savior said “You must honor your father and mother, and love your neighbor as yourself”?

Matthew 12:47 Then one said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee.

So how will our Lord respond to this notification? He replies:

Matthew 12:48-50 … Who is my mother? and who are my brethren? 49 And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! 50 For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.

Only Children Of The Kingdom Shall Enter Heaven

Our Lord Jesus is not a hypocrite by any means. He never said one thing, then did another. But Jesus is teaching a Biblical truth. Heaven is not a place where we go to satisfy our selfish needs. Heaven is the Father’s House. Jesus said:

John 14:2-3 In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.

The “Father’s house” is Heaven. Heaven has many rooms. Jesus came from Heaven. He “came from above” (John 3:31; 8:23; James 1:17). He came to this earth. Jesus Christ is THE Son of God. He is eternal God made flesh to dwell among us.

1 John 4:15 Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God.

Jesus Christ is THE Son of God, THE Eternal and Great I AM. Jesus Christ is THE Representative that God the Father sent from Heaven. The Father prophesied of the Son:

Psalm 2:6-7 …. I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion. 7 I will declare the decree: the Lord hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee.

Heaven is where the Father and the Son are. Heaven is God’s home. Heaven is God’s Family. The Father brought the Son into the world, and Jesus only is the eternal Son of the Father from eternity past. The Apostle Paul preached of this Jesus:

Acts 13:30-33 … God raised {Jesus, His Only Begotten Son} from the dead: 31 And {Jesus} was seen many days of them which came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are His witnesses unto the people. 32 And we declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made unto the fathers, 33 God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee.

And the Writer of Hebrews said:

Hebrews 1:5 For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son?

Hebrews 5:5 So also Christ glorified not himself to be made a high priest; but {the Father} that said unto {Jesus}, Thou art my Son, to day have I begotten thee.

Jesus Christ was born into this world, born of a virgin named Mary, according to prophecy. Through Isaiah the Father decreed, “a virgin shall conceive, and bear a Son, and shall call his name Immanuel. {meaning, ‘God with us’}(Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23). The Kingdom of Heaven would come to earth by sending it’s King, Jesus Christ, to this earth. Jesus is the “Only Begotten of the Father”. He is the only Means by which a person may reach rightness with God. Heaven is a place where the Family of God goes. Jesus Christ came from Heaven to this earth to bring others into His Family. Jesus Christ came to bring many sons unto glory”. To best explain this let us turn to the Holy Scripture:

Hebrews 2:3-18 How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; 4 God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will? 5 For unto the angels hath he not put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak. 6 But one in a certain place testified, saying, What is man, that thou art mindful of him? or the son of man that thou visitest him? 7 Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; thou crownedst him with glory and honor, and didst set him over the works of thy hands: 8 Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him. 9 But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man. 10 For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. 11 For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren, 12 Saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee. 13 And again, I will put my trust in him. And again, Behold I and the children which God hath given me. 14 Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; 15 And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. 16 For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham. 17 Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. 18 For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succor them that are tempted.

Heaven is a place for the Children of God. Jesus Christ, THE Son of God, was born into the human family of a virgin. He was born into this temporal place we call “earth” to bring “many sons unto glory”. Heaven is where God’s family is. Jesus said:

Matthew 12:48-49 … Who is my mother? and who are my brethren? 49 And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren!

Who is in the Family of God? Those who have received Jesus Christ as the ONLY Way unto the Father. Who is in the Family of God? Those who have BELIEVED ON Jesus Christ for salvation. What does the Scripture tell us:

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

Heaven is for the Family of God. When we are born into this life, we are born into the family of man, of mankind. But as Jesus told Nicodemus, “You must be born again”.

1 Corinthians 15:50 … flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.

You must be born again (John 3:3, 7). You must be born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.

Jesus’ “mother and brothers” did not stand outside looking in. Jesus “mother and brothers” are His disciples, those who have received Him as BOTH Lord and Savior. A “disciple” is both a student and a follower.

Heaven Is For Those Who Follow Jesus

Once more Jesus said:

Matthew 12:49-50 … {Jesus} stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! 50 For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.

Jesus said “those who DO THE WILL OF MY FATHER WHICH IS IN HEAVEN” are His family. There are many who PROFESS Christ, but never have DONE the will of the Father which is in Heaven. What is the Father’s will? Jesus tells us in another place:

John 6:38-40 For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. 39 And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. 40 And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.

The Father’s will is that Jesus Christ would draw a people to Himself, a people who believe in Him. It is the Father’s will that this people, a born again people, would have everlasting life so that they can dwell within the Kingdom of God forever. God’s Kingdom belongs not to the PROFESSOR of Christ, but the one POSSESSED by Christ. Jesus said:

Luke 12:32 Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.

The “little flock” are the ones who come to Jesus, who follow Jesus. As Jesus taught on this wonderful day his biological mother and brothers stood outside – OUTSIDE of where He taught. But Jesus’ spiritual family, His spiritual mother and brothers, these are the ones sitting at His feet, thirsting for His word.

Illustrate I have often seen small birds fed worms and crickets and grubs by their mothers. I have seen nature shows where predatory birds will bring pieces of bloody meat to the nest to feed their young. When the elder bird brings the food, the piece of worm or bloody meat, the tiny chicks clamor and fight for a morsel of food. They are thirsty, hungry, desirous of that food. When I see it I think, “Oh, I could never eat that stuff”. And never have I thought to feed such a thing to my baby chicks as they grew up. To do so would be considered child abuse. But for baby chicks … oh, this is the best thing ever!

So it is with Christ and His kingdom.

Those who are Heaven bound are not those looking for 72 eventual virgins, or a river of life fully stocked with waiting trout, nor a wonderful 18 hole holy gold course. Heaven is where family goes. The Family of God loves Jesus, and is found gathered together around Jesus, wanting to hear His every word. The family of God is not of those who seek selfish fulfillment. The Scripture says:

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

The Family of God does not revel in iniquity, nor chase the darkness with the world. The Family of God finds itself kneeling at the feet of Jesus, hanging on His Word, drinking from the Word of God. Heaven will not be populated with those who, like satan and the angels that follow him, reject the Word and the design of God. Jesus said:

John 10:27-30 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. I and my Father are one.

Who are Christ’s sheep? It is those who hear Him and follow Him? Who have eternal life? Those who are in the hand of Christ. Who will one day be in Heaven? Those who are related to Jesus by birth, by NEW BIRTH. Heaven is yours if you have received, believed, and now follow the Son. Heaven is not for a certain DENOMINATION, but for those BORN AGAIN by faith in Him and only Him. Jesus said:

Matthew 7:21-24 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. 24 Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and DOETH them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:

The Family of God is at the Feet of God, close to God, heeding what God the Son says. Those who are on the outside, though they may claim kinship, are not the Sons of God. The Sons of Gods find themselves at the feet of the Son of God. The Sons of God are obedient to King Jesus, our elder Brother. The Sons of God serve, gladly serve, the Heaven Father. We live for His smile, not for our satisfaction.

How Are You Daily At The Feet Of Christ?

In the next chapter Jesus speaks of a Sower. He says:

Matthew 13:3-9 Behold, a sower went forth to sow; 4 And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up: 5 Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth: 6 And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. 7 And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them: 8 But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some a hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold. 9 Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.

When Jesus came to this earth, born of a virgin, He sowed the Gospel seed. He presented Himself as the only Begotten Son of God. He presented Himself as the only way unto God the Father. Many came to be healed of Jesus, but many others rejected Him as Savior and Lord. Is Jesus your Savior and Lord? If He is, then:

You will enjoy hearing His Word. It will not be a chore, but a joy. You will do as Jesus says. You will follow Him. You will live with Him at the center of your life. You will bring forth fruit. Being “saved” will not be regarded as fire insurance, but as a way of life. Jesus will be at the center of your life.

We will more thoroughly study the parable of the Sower in another message. But let me ask you:

Are you a Child of the King, working daily for His glory? If not, may God open your hearts to follow Him as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Amen, and Amen!

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

Whose Home Are You?

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Matthew 12:43-45 When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none. 44 Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished. 45 Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first. Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation.

Our Lord Jesus often spoke parables, spiritual stories with heavenly meaning. In one Gospel we are told:

Mark 4:33-34 with many such parables spake {Jesus} the word unto them, as they were able to hear it. 34 But without a parable spake he not unto them: and when they were alone, he expounded all things to his disciples.

Jesus often spoke parables. A disciple asked Jesus one day “Why do You, dear Lord, speak in parables”? Jesus told them:

Mark 4:11-12 … Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables: 12 That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them.

Those who were “within” the Family of God would be able to understand the parables because the Children of God go to God, and God explains the parables. But those who are “without”, who have not received Christ as Lord and Savior, would not be able to understand the parable. The Apostle Matthew explains why Jesus spoke in parables by quoting a prophet called Asaph (1 Chronicles 25:2), a message he wrote in Psalm 78:2.

Matthew 13:34-35 All these things spake Jesus unto the multitude in parables; and without a parable spake he not unto them: 35 That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world.

The purpose of the parable was to hide Heavenly truths from the unconverted, while at the same time using the same parable to share Heavenly and Kingdom truths with those who are Children of God by faith in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:26).

The Lost Need Jesus, Not Good Works or Theology

The only thing the unbeliever needs to understand is that they are lost, and Jesus can save them. We must all to run to the arms of Jesus. In His arms there is life and hope. Jesus Christ is the Savior Who has conquered death. He has proved to us who believe in Him that He is, and that he is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him Hebrews 11:6. The Bible tells us that we who are saved by faith in Christ have the ability to understand spiritual truths, for the Spirit of God Who indwells us teaches us (1 Corinthians 2:13). This is the primary function of the Blessed Spirit – to guide us into all truth, spiritual truth (John 16:13). Those who are lost cannot full comprehend the spiritual things the Children of God can. The Apostle declared:

1 Corinthians 2:14-15 … the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15 But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.

The “natural” {Greek ψυχικός psychikos, meaning “soulish, fleshly, tied to this world”} person, still dead in trespasses and in sins, cannot understand the things of God – His truths – for these things are spiritually discerned. The Holy Spirit enables we who are saved to understand Biblical truth. The unbeliever (those who are without) are blind to Biblical truth because the god of this world, satan, has blinded their minds. The lost can only understand salvation by faith in Christ, and this only with the Spirit’s assistance.

As Jesus spoke this parable, His audience was scribes and Pharisees. Just prior to this parable Jesus condemned the Pharisees and Scribes in the harshest of terms.

  • Jesus called the religious but lost corrupt trees. We read:

Matthew 12:33 Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by his fruit.

Word Study The word “corrupt” is the Greek σαπρός saprós, {pronounced sap-ros’} which means “rotten, worthless, corrupted, unfit to use”. Jesus used this word earlier in His ministry for false prophets:

Matthew 7:15-20 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. 16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? 17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt (saprós) tree bringeth forth evil (ponērós) fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. 19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. 20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

The Pharisees and scribes, in rejecting Christ, were false prophets. They believed that person could be good enough by keeping the Laws of God, that this person could go to Heaven. Because of this the Pharisees often adopted stricter laws than those placed on the Levitical Priesthood. But Jesus told these people that their fruit was rotten, for their tree was rotten.

Beloved, we are all rotten from birth if we are without Christ. It is rightly said in the most ancient Book of our Bible:

Job 14:4 Who {among humanity}can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? NOT ONE.

And the Prophet Jeremiah wrote, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (17:9) Then there are the words of the Apostle:

Romans 3:10-12 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.

We are all born corrupt trees, and we all need Jesus. When someone says “I’ll get my life right, then I’ll come to Jesus”, then you might as well try and empty the ocean with a thimble. It is impossible. The Pharisees thought that their external righteousness made them good trees, but Jesus said “make the bad tree good”. How is that done? Only by coming and receiving Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. The Bible is clear: we are all sinners who need Jesus.

Romans 3:21-26 But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; 22 Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: 23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; 24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: 25 Whom God hath set forth to be a {ἱλαστήριον hilastḗrion, {pronounced hil-as-tay’-ree-on} atonement, satisfactory payment} through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; 26 To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that {God} might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.

The Pharisees and Scribes rejected Christ as Lord and Savior, and were therefore bad trees that produced bad and evil fruit.

  • Jesus called the religious but lost vipers or poisonous snakes. We read:

Matthew 12:34-37 O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. 35 A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. 36 But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. 37 For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.

Because the Pharisees and Scribes were self righteous and thought they had no need of a Savior, they did all they could do with their mouths to denigrate and teach against Jesus. They were vipers, poisonous snakes. What is the crucial difference between a harmless garter snaked and a poisonous rattle snake? It is the poison in the mouth of the rattle snake that makes it dangerous. The Pharisees and Scribes, outwardly righteous and inwardly self righteous, used their mouths like a viper would use it’s mouth.

Death is in their mouths, in their teaching!

Jesus reminded the Pharisees – and every self righteous person – that judgment day is coming. The self righteous will stand beside the murderers, the rapists, the child molesters, and the liars at a Great White Throne Judgment. Their words will be the basis of their judgment on that great and terrible day.

Revelation 20:15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

How does one get into the Book of Life? Repent, and believed on the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior. When we receive Christ as Savior He says “I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand” (John 10:28-29). Jesus said “Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 10:32-33). We who are saved are not ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Romans 1:16), for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth! The Apostle Paul told his trainee Timothy:

2 Timothy 1:11-13 Whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles. 12 For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day. 13 Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.

Only One Sign Is Given To The Lost

The Pharisees and Scribes listened to Jesus, but everything He said was to no avail. They proved that by …

Matthew 12:38 … saying, Master, we would see a sign from thee.

Our Lord Jesus Christ loves to say “yes”. A wonderful preacher Ray Pritchard wrote in his sermon Soul for Rent:

When Joseph Parker of London preached on this text over a century ago, he began his sermon by commenting that Jesus rarely said no. He almost always said yes.

He said yes to the hurting.
He said yes to the guilty.
He said yes to the confused.

He said yes to the hopeless.
He said yes to the downtrodden.
He said yes to the rejected.

Jesus nearly always said yes. He delighted to encourage and to console. He fulfilled the words of Isaiah 42:3, “A bruised reed he will not break.” He did not come to heap more pain on those who suffer. He came to lift the load and bear the burdens of those whose lives had been ruined by sin.”

Jesus was always careful to love the sinner, and to meet their needs. It was His desire that all men believe on Him. For this reason Jesus often sought out those in hopeless places. However, with the Pharisees and Scribes, in fact, with all the self righteous, self saved people, Jesus resoundingly said “no”! Jesus said:

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

Jesus called the Scribes and Pharisees “an evil and adulterous generation”. Were they guilty of sexual sin? No!

These self righteous Pharisees and Scribes are guilty of spiritual adultery. They know the Word of God, but their hearts are in love with anyone but God.

Both the Scribes and the Pharisees had access to the Scripture. They had access to the Temple. They had seen Jesus do miracle after miracle. Everything that Jesus did pointed to the reality that Jesus Christ is the Messiah. Yet they rejected Jesus Christ. Jesus told them “the only sign you will see – the only sign the lost will ever be given – is the empty but blood stained Cross of Calvary, and an empty tomb. As Jonah the Prophet was swallowed by a great fish for three days and three nights, Jesus Christ will be entombed for three days and three nights. But neither He, nor Jonah, stayed where they were past the third day.

Jonah went to Ninevah, an Assyrian stronghold, and simply preached:

Jonah 3:4 … Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.

The message was simple, and half heartedly delivered, for Jonah hated Assyria. Yet God was behind the message. Their hearts were tender, awaiting the Gospel. The Bible tells us:

Jonah 3:5 So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them.

The Bible says in Jonah 3:10 that God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not. They heard the Word of God and turned to God our Savior (Jude 25). Jesus told the self righteous Scribes and Pharisees:

Matthew 12:41 The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and, behold, a greater than Jonah is here.

Jesus is greater than Jonah, and He preached repentance and salvation by faith in Him, but was rejected by the self righteous crowd. It is sad that unbelieving pagans would surrender to Jonah’s simple message, but Pharisees and Scribes schooled in the Bible would reject the most perfect sermons ever preached. Oh, what sadness! Jesus went on to speak of the Queen of Sheba (1 Kings 10:1-15):

Matthew 12:42 The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for she came from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here.

A great ruler, the Queen of Sheba, traveled miles and miles to hear the words of Solomon. But the Pharisees and Scribes did not have to go far to hear the words of Christ, a Person much greater than Solomon.

Man Made Religion Will Not Last Long

Now we come to our focal text. You cannot understand the focal text unless you understand what precedes it.

Matthew 12:43-44 When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none. 44 Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished.

Man was created to walk with God. Man and woman were made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). It was God’s intention and His will that we be with our Creator every day – that we literally walk as He walks, and talk as He talks. It is God’s intent that God be with us, and we with God. But Adam sinned. By one man sin entered the world, and death by sin (Romans 5:12). On the day day, the very day that Adam ate of the forbidden fruit, he and all creation died spiritually. The vessel made for God, to walk with God, gave itself over to evil and darkness.

But God is not content with this. God loves us. So God promised a Messiah to reunite us with Him. He began His promise as He condemned the serpent in Eden:

Genesis 3:15 {God said} I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.

The woman would have a “seed”. The Messiah would come from the “seed of the woman”. Now, you and I know that no woman has “seed”. She has the egg, and man the seed. But God would come, being born of a virgin.

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

Immanuel (Emmanuel) is God with us (Matthew 1:23). Messiah would come, being born of a virgin. The Messiah is God with us. When we receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior Jesus and the Holy Spirit sweep out our homes.

Hebrews 10:22 … Let us draw near {to God} with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience…

Acts 15:8-9 God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; 9 And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.

It is the Blood of Jesus Christ that cleanses us from all sin (1 Peter 1:2; 1 John 1:7). It is the Holy Spirit Who comes to us at the point of saving faith. We draw near to God, and God draws near to us (James 4:8). When a Christian is saved,

God sweeps out the House, the inner man. God occupies the House. God indwells the believer. God possesses the believer. “We are not our own, we are bought with a price”, the Blood of Jesus Christ.

I could quote numerous verses that teach that, once a person is genuinely saved, the Holy Spirit indwells that person. For instance:

Romans 8:10-11 … if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.

1 Corinthians 3:16 Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?

2 Corinthians 13:5 Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?

The Christian does not “clean himself up” then come to Christ. The Christian comes to Christ to be cleansed. Once cleansed by Christ, covered by the Blood, the Christian is indwelt by the Holy Spirit. The blessed Spirit guides us into all truth (John 16:13). He is in us, representing Christ. We are permanently indwelt by the Holy Spirit.

Christianity is not a self help project, but a work of God. There are, I am afraid, many who profess Christ but have not actually met Christ. They cleaned themselves up. And that is what this parable is about. The Pharisees and Scribes were “self made men of God”. They swept their homes, their lives, and cleaned themselves up. But what happens? We read:

Matthew 12:43 When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none.

The Lord did not say that “the unclean spirit is cast out or exorcised by a priest”. Jesus said that the “unclean spirit is gone out”. The spirit just leaves, wanders off of its own accord. C.H. Spurgeon said “the devil has no objection to his house being swept and garnished”. Some people find morality, or have faith in the false gods of philosophy or Darwinism. They may come to a completely false god such as Allah or the Hindu or Buddhist gods. But their home has not been cleansed by Christ – Jesus has not cleansed out the life, nor sent the Spirit of God to take possession of the home.

Matthew 12:44 Then {the unclean spirit} saith, I will return into MY HOUSE from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished.

Did you notice the unclean spirit’s words? “I will return to MY HOUSE”. He comes back to the good looking but unsaved soul. This person he inhabited was never given to Christ, but his salvation among a forest of good works. It is not the Holy Spirit’s house, but the unclean spirit’s house. What happens when the unclean spirit finds HIS home cleansed?

Matthew 12:45 Then goeth {the unclean spirit}, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first. Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation.

The second occupation is worst than the first. The Apostle Peter put it in these harsh but true words:

2 Peter 2:20-22 … if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. 21 For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. 22 But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.

When you are saved by faith in Christ you are no longer a “dog” nor a “pig”, as the Bible uses these words. You are transformed. You are now “sheep”, Jesus Christ’s sheep. Jesus said “I am the good Shepherd, and know MY SHEEP, and am known of MINE” (John 10:14). The Pharisees could not believe in Christ because they were not His sheep (John 10:26). Those who belong to Jesus, listen Beloved, those who belong to Jesus follow Jesus. Our Lord said:

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

So I end with this: Whose Home are You? Do you, like so many today, say “My body, my life”? Or are you possessed of Christ. Have you received Him, not just as Savior, but as LORD. For He is LORD of ALL. To Whom do you belong? If you do not belong to Jesus, then you do belong to the darkness. There are no other choices. Please examine yourselves today. If you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s, then you are inhabited by the Holy Spirit, and are to walk as Jesus walked every day. If you are not Christ’s, I beg you, come to Him on bended knee, and receive Him as He is…

both Savior and Lord!

May God bless this Word, and through His Spirit enable all to understand it. In Christ’s name I prayerfully ask this. Amen and Amen.

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

What Can I Do When All Is Broken (Covid-19 Sermons)

Photo by Richard Felix on Unsplash

Nehemiah 1:1-4 The words of Nehemiah the son of Hachaliah. And it came to pass in the month Chisleu, in the twentieth year, as I was in Shushan the palace, 2 That Hanani, one of my brethren, came, he and certain men of Judah; and I asked them concerning the Jews that had escaped, which were left of the captivity, and concerning Jerusalem. 3 And they said unto me, The remnant that are left of the captivity there in the province are in great affliction and reproach: the wall of Jerusalem also is broken down, and the gates thereof are burned with fire. 4 And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven …

I believe our country has lost it’s vision, not to mention it’s mind. Everywhere I look I see more insanity parading about as if it is normal. The news channels are all taken over by madness. Rioting and pillaging along the lines that the Vikings used to do is now considered a First Amendment right. Godliness has taken a sabbatical, and it seems as if darkness reigns. Yet I am not discouraged. I believe when we are in the worst place we can be (and Beloved, we are there), this is the best place we can be.

Now we must rely upon God.

Darkness has assimilated all sanity and rational discourse. In our nation we have First Amendment rights so that all can have free speech. In recent years the colleges and universities have taught our children that the First Amendment only applies to one viewpoint, and if all do not agree with the darkness, they are to be cast out and vilified. If the mob doesn’t get its way, it shouts “Go home, Jacob, Go home!”, and considers itself vindicated. Children running wild in the community are now told that their childish imaginations are more important than what anyone else says. We do not live in a day of tolerance, but of “he (or she) who shouts the loudest must be right”. Insanity and confusion reign. The CHAZ becomes the CHOP which is a microcosm of what used to be the USA. Yet I am not discouraged. I believe when we are in the worst place we can be (and Beloved, we are there), this is the best place we can be.

Now we must rely on God.

Social media is clamping down on anything and everything that does not agree with the darkness. Viewpoints are blocked, fact checked, censored. Fahrenheit 451, a novel published in 1953 by Ray Bradbury, presented a future America where books were outlawed. Offending books were burned by “firemen”. That America is here now. Though books are not being burned by firemen, social media platforms are erasing and blocking any viewpoint that does not agree with the censor. America used to be a place where people could discuss viewpoints. Today the dark mob demands that it’s viewpoint is the only way. Yet I am not discouraged. I believe when we are in the worst place we can be (and Beloved, we are there), this is the best place we can be.

Now we must rely on God.

When Everything Is Confusion And Defeat,
We Must Rely On God

The Bible is the Book of God. Those things that are written in it are things that God our Creator and Father want us to know. The madness that America seems to be gripped in is not unique in the history of the world. God’s Old Covenant people called “Israel” has been in 70 or so years of captivity, first to Babylon and later to Medo-Persia. A nation once blessed by God wandered away from the God Who loved her. 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 the nation “whose God is the Lord” is blessed, then the nation that has abandoned God is cursed. Israel was cursed. She had turned her back on God, and had lost her freedom. When we refuse to follow God, and choose to follow self, it is not long before destruction comes. This was Nehemiah’s Israel. Nehemiah himself …

was in Shushan the palace

He is not in Israel, but held captive in the conquering King’s home. He was in a position of cupbearer. Many are those who think – if I stay silent when the darkness comes – I will be spared. Beloved, do not think this to be the case. In Nazi Germany many good Germans were silent as the innocent Jews were systematically murdered. Yet all suffered the error of their ways. As a person sows, that person reaps (Galatians 6:7-8). He that soweth iniquity shall reap vanity (Proverbs 22:8).

If you let the darkness come, it will soon cover you.
Being silent and complacent will not save you!

Though “cupbearer to the King” is a lowly position, Nehemiah has been largely insulated from suffering. Then he has a visitor.

Nehemiah 1:2 … Hanani, one of my brethren, came, he and certain men of Judah; and I asked them concerning the Jews that had escaped, which were left of the captivity, and concerning Jerusalem.

Nehemiah’s “brother” Hanani along with other men of Judah came to visit. Judah was supposed to be the ruling tribe of Israel, the tribe to whom the Throne belonged. Nehemiah asked this governing delegation about Jerusalem, the Capital city of God’s people. They told him:

Nehemiah 1:3 … And they said unto me, The remnant that are left of the captivity there in the province are in great affliction and reproach: the wall of Jerusalem also is broken down, and the gates thereof are burned with fire.

His homeland is totally destroyed. Those who have not been captured are afflicted and bullied. All of the defenses of the Nation’s Capital are down, destroyed by fire.

Nehemiah 1:4 … And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven …

What did Nehemiah do?

  • Nehemiah SAT DOWN. When trials come we often think, “I’ve got to DO SOMETHING”. Then we run around like the proverbial chicken with its head cut off “doing something”, often just making the water muddier and a bigger mess. We rush to Social Media and post a rant. We call a friend (often an unsaved friend) and complain, marring our testimony. We “do SOMETHING” – what we do does no good whatsoever.
  • Nehemiah WEPT and MOURNED. He cried over what had happened. It is fine to weep and mourn. Our Lord Jesus wept (John 11:35). There is nothing wrong with weeping and mourning, but do not stop there. There are many who, suffering loss, all they can do I weep, whine, and wring their hands. No Beloved, do not stop there. Nehemiah wept CERTAIN DAYS, a determined amount of time. He was not consumed by his anguish, but controlled it. Do not burn up or burn out in the flame of your emotion!
  • Nehemiah FASTED and PRAYED before the God of Heaven. Though alienated from the throne room of Jerusalem, Nehemiah was not alienated from the Throne Room of Heaven. He went to his God in prayer. Our God has promised:

Psalm 32:8 I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye.

Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. 6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

Illustrate We have all heard of the man who gets lost going somewhere. His wife tells him, “Pull over and ask directions”, but the man is so prideful that he refuses to do so. “I know where I’m going” is his creed, as he gets more and more lost. We are all like this on the highway of life. We think we know where we’re going. We don’t. But God does. We need to “pull over and ask directions”. That’s what Nehemiah did. He heeded the Spirit of Truth (John 16:13).

Prayer is when we “Pull over and ask directions”.

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

Not WITH Christ, nor APART FROM Christ, but THROUGH Christ. I must pray, and seek God’s direction if I will get out of this mess. Notice how Nehemiah prayed:

Nehemiah 1:5-11 I beseech thee, O Lord God of heaven, the great and terrible God, that keepeth covenant and mercy for them that love him and observe his commandments: 6 Let thine ear now be attentive, and thine eyes open, that thou mayest hear the prayer of thy servant, which I pray before thee now, day and night, for the children of Israel thy servants, and confess the sins of the children of Israel, which we have sinned against thee: both I and my father’s house have sinned. 7 We have dealt very corruptly against thee, and have not kept the commandments, nor the statutes, nor the judgments, which thou commandedst thy servant Moses. 8 Remember, I beseech thee, the word that thou commandedst thy servant Moses, saying, If ye transgress, I will scatter you abroad among the nations: 9 But if ye turn unto me, and keep my commandments, and do them; though there were of you cast out unto the uttermost part of the heaven, yet will I gather them from thence, and will bring them unto the place that I have chosen to set my name there. 10 Now these are thy servants and thy people, whom thou hast redeemed by thy great power, and by thy strong hand. 11 O Lord, I beseech thee, let now thine ear be attentive to the prayer of thy servant, and to the prayer of thy servants, who desire to fear thy name: and prosper, I pray thee, thy servant this day, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man. For I was the king’s cupbearer.

Nehemiah prayed:

  • Humbly. He did not demand of God, but prayed “I beseech Thee, O Lord God of heaven, the great and terrible God. The Bible says:

1 Peter 5:6 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:

  • Expectantly. Nehemiah said, “Let thine ear now be attentive, and thine eyes open, that thou mayest hear the prayer of thy servant, which I pray before thee now”. Nehemiah approached the throne room of God and honored the Father as the Father. He did not complain nor whine, but asked humbly, expecting much of God.
  • Responsibly. He prayed to “confess the sins of the children of Israel, which we have sinned against thee: both I and my father’s house have sinned. We have dealt very corruptly against thee, and have not kept the commandments, nor the statutes, nor the judgments, which thou commandedst thy servant Moses”. So often when we find ourselves in trouble we blame God.

God is NOT to blame. WE ARE!

Nehemiah confessed his sins and the sins of Israel before God our Father. The Bible promises:

1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

  • Specifically. Nehemiah said, O Lord, I beseech thee, let now thine ear be attentive to the prayer of thy servant, and to the prayer of thy servants, who desire to fear thy name: and prosper, I pray thee, thy servant this day, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man. He asked God to go before him as he went to the earthly King’s chamber. He wanted to ask the Medo-Persian King for help, so he asked God to prepare that man’s heart. Nehemiah did not limit God, but asked for guidance and control in very specific ways.

Though Nehemiah Had A Secular Job,
He Believed His First Responsibility Was To Glorify God

Nehemiah ends this chapter with:

For I was the king’s cupbearer.

Though Nehemiah had a secular job, he believed the job that he did for God his Savior superseded all else. Every believer in Christ has an earthly calling, and a heavenly calling. We are representatives of God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord. The reason that God left us on this earth is to carry His message of reconciliation:

2 Corinthians 5:20 Now then 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.

Darkness can only be defeated by drawing it toward the Light that is Christ. The Apostle Paul, imprisoned for preaching the Gospel, said:

Ephesians 4:1-3 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.

The primary “vocation” of the Christian is to live our lives for our God. We live to honor Him, to spread the good news of His Gospel to a lost and dying world. We are to be sowers. Jesus said:

Matthew 13:18-23 … Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower. 19 When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side. 20 But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; 21 Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended. 22 He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful. 23 But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.

Jesus spoke of four conditions of the soil of the heart. Some will hear God’s Word, and will not understand it. Others will receive the Word, understand it, but will not dwell on it. A third type of person will hear God’s Word, understand it, but reject it because they prefer the darkness. But that fourth type of soil, the ready heart, will receive the good Word of God, and will bring forth much fruit. It is not the Christian’s place to plow the soil, but it is our place to sow the Gospel seed. We do so only after asking God to prepare the hearer.

We Must Never Lose The Vision

The one thing Nehemiah did NOT do was lose his vision and his hope.

I once read the story of Florence Chadwick, the first woman to swim the English Channel. In 1952 she decided to swim the 26 miles from Catalina Island to the California coast. Her mother accompanied her swim by following in a small boat. On the day that she tried this difficult swim, it was very foggy. She told her mama, “I can’t make it; I can’t go any further”. Her mother told her to keep on going, that she wasn’t far from her goal. But the fog kept Florence from seeing the coastline. Defeated, she gave up.

Florence was less than a half a mile from her goal.

Two months later, Florence tried again. She not only made it, but beat a world’s record, finishing two and a half hours faster than anyone had ever done. How did she do it? she got back in the water, and not only did she swim from Catalina Island to California, but she also beat the women’s world record for that distance. How did she do it? She said:

I kept a picture in my mind of the shoreline. Even though I couldn’t see it with my eyes, it was ever before me. I never lost sight of {my goal}”

Christian, what is YOUR goal in life? A great man, the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr, once said:

The whole concept of the “image of God ” is the idea that all men have something within them that God injected. .. . And this gives [man] a uniqueness, it gives him worth, it gives him dignity. And we must never forget this . . . there are no gradations in the image of God. Every man from a treble white to a bass black is significant on God’s keyboard, precisely because every man is made in the image of God. One day we will learn that. We will know one day that God made us to live together as brothers and to respect the dignity and worth of every man.”

Our nation will not come back to stability until the Gospel of Christ is heard, shared, and magnified. The solution to the problems that ail us as a nation is spiritual. Let us, like Nehemiah, mourn where we have fallen. But let’s not leave it there. You cannot change the world by staying in the salt shaker. Beloved, we are to get out into the world, and love others as Christ has commanded. We need to be salt and light while we can. These are exciting days. Let’s look to God, relying upon Him and His Word. For a better America. In Christ’s name I pray this. Amen and Amen.

Posted in Covid-19 Sermons, Sermons Preached | Tagged , ,

The Godly Must Not Cease

Psalm 12:1 Help, Lord; for the godly man ceaseth; for the faithful fail from among the children of men.

Audio of Message

In my lifetime I have seen many wonders. As a child I remember the tape recorder someone gave me (I think it was my Aunt Dot). It was a reel to reel recorder, large and bulky, with a huge hand held microphone. I felt like a movie star as I recorded my voice on it. It was unbelievable technology. I saw tape recorders go from reel to reel, to cassettes, to the miracle of CDs, then DVDs. Apple and Steve Jobs brought the I-Pod to life, where you could store thousands of songs on a tiny hand held device. Today people stream data from I-Phones and I-Pads, or on computers. I remember my Aunt Dot giving me an old manual Smith Corona typewriter. I was fascinated with it. I used it for my school lessons. Typewriters went to Daisy Wheel Printers, to Jet and Toner Printers. Coupled with computers you no longer can find typewriters. Any record players you find are novelty items, or are used by Disc Jockeys to “rap”. I remember my first computer was a TRS-80 Model 3 from Radio Shack. There is no more Radio Shack. I learned “Basic” programming on that TRS-80. The little computer had 48 kilobytes of RAM, two floppy drives, and an 8 megabyte hard disk drive. I had a dial up to the Internet. By today’s standards, that little computer is laughable. I won’t even discuss telephones … though I remember the old black Bell telephone with the hand-held receiver.

Though technology has moved forward at lightening speed – have any of you ever heard of a Beta video system? – it seems as if civilization has moved backwards. In Seattle citizens of that city have taken over 6 city blocks, and have named it first CHAZ and now CHOP. Police are not wanted in the area, and the Mayor of Seattle along with other leaders are endorsing the lawlessness. People are beginning to kill one another in this rebel community. Across our nation citizens are destroying landmarks and statues because they are considered “offensive” by the mob. American history is being re-written and erased. Aunt Jemima products are being renamed because the brand is supposed to be offensive. Uncle Ben’s rice products are also in the process of being renamed, as are Mrs Butterworth’s syrups. People are easily offended nowadays.

Civility is at an all time low. Gone are the days of Ronald Reagan, an elegant statesman with a great sense of humor. President Reagan was not perfect – no one is – but he was not coarse or vulgar. I no longer watch the news – and recommend that you not watch it either. Though news reporter Walter Cronkite was said to be leaning toward Liberal, he nonetheless just reported the news – he did not color it. You cannot watch news on any channel today without being told by the talking heads what you should believe. America seems to be disintegrating socially, moving away from capitalism and freedom and toward socialism and enslavement.

How do we fix this? How do we stop the downward spiral of a country I greatly love and respect – and I know you do, too? The answer is found in the Kingdom of God. I’m not talking about Heaven. Yes, the kingdom of Heaven is indeed the Kingdom of God. But I’m talking about the Kingdom of God on this earth.

If you are a Christian, you are a citizen of the Kingdom of God. The Gospel that Jesus Christ brought to this earth is a Kingdom Gospel. Listen to the Scripture:

Mark 1:14-15 Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.

Jesus came preaching a Kingdom Gospel message. He came preaching Himself as both the King of this Kingdom, as well as the Door of this Kingdom. Those who received Jesus Christ as Savior were given citizenship in this Kingdom. Once in the Kingdom, Christ’s people were to obey their King. Jesus said:

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

John 15:10 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.

Those who are saved by faith in Christ Jesus are translated from the kingdom of darkness and into the Kingdom of God, a Kingdom of Light. The Scripture says:

Colossians 1:12-23 Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: 13 Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: 14 In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: 15 Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: 16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: 17 And {Jesus} is before all things, and by him all things consist. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. 19 For it pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell; 20 And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. 21 And you, that were {at one time} alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled 22 In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight: 23 If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;

God’s children are a member of Christ’s Kingdom. We are to seek first the Kingdom of God and Christ’s righteousness (Matthew 6:33). Our King of Kings gave His life for us who are His Children, and we in turn give our lives to Him. We do not belong to ourselves anymore – but belong to God.

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.

We, dear Christians, are the purchased property of God. We belong to Him Who paid for us. We are to live for Him – not for ourselves. We are to live for the smile of Christ, not for the pleasure of man.

As God’s people stand UP and stand TOGETHER, walking in the Light of Christ and not in the darkness of this world, the darkness recedes.

But what if God’s people do NOT stand up and stand together in Christ?

When The Godly Cease Obeying God, Confusion Reigns

Psalm 12:1 Help, Lord; for the godly man ceaseth; for the faithful fail from among the children of men.

The first two words that King David uttered were:

יָשַׁע yâshaʻ, (pronounced yaw-shah)
יְהֹוָה YaHWeH

Which means “save or deliver us, Great and Everlasting God”. The Hebrew yâshaʻ is used in Scripture to declare how God saved His people out of hopeless and helpless situations. For instance:

Exodus 14:30 Thus the LORD (YaHWeH) saved (yâshaʻ) Israel that day out of the hand of the Egyptians; and Israel saw the Egyptians dead upon the sea shore.

Israel had her back up against the Red Sea, with the Army of Egypt bearing down on her. God parted the waters, allowing His people to go through an impossible situation. He destroyed the enemy because Israel heard and heeded His Word, and obeyed what He said. God further promised His people as they entered the land of Canaan – a land held by a vastly superior military force:

Deuteronomy 20:3-4 Hear, O Israel, ye approach this day unto battle against your enemies: let not your hearts faint, fear not, and do not tremble, neither be ye terrified because of them; 4 For the LORD (YaHWeH) your God is he that goeth with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to saved (yâshaʻ) you.

And again, one of my favorite Scriptures is where God says:

Isaiah 45:22 Look unto me, and be ye saved (yâshaʻ) all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.

King David cries out to God because

Psalm 12:1 Help, Lord; for the godly man ceaseth; for the faithful fail from among the children of men.

Those who are “godly” cease. Those who are “faithful” to the Kingdom of God have become less and less. Let me illustrate. All throughout your home you have lights – some bulbs, some tubes or LEDs – but lights. As you walk through the home or perhaps your business, turn off the lights one at a time. As you do so the darkness grows. Darkness comes forward almost as a default. Darkness does not have to do anything to be dark. For Darkness to increase, Light need only cease or decrease.

Why has the Godly person ceased? David said:

Psalm 12:2 They speak vanity every one with his neighbor: with flattering lips and with a double heart do they speak.

The Godly person is speaking “vanity” (שָׁוְא shâvᵉʼ, pronounced shawv), which means “empty words, falsehoods, worthless speech or nothing”. The Godly person is not speaking the Word of God to their neighbors, but is blending in with the darkness. The Godly person is not following the Way of Christ. Jesus prayed for His Church:

John 17:6-11, 14-17 I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word. 7 Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee. 8 For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me. 9 I pray for them… 11 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. 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. 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 – the Living Word of God – came to earth giving us the Written Word of God. Jesus explained the Word. He explained His Kingdom. His Church is supposed to operate based on the Word of God, what God has declared truth.

So what has caused the degradation of American civility and decency. Rather than cling to God’s Kingdom and God’s Word, too many who are supposed to be “light in the Lord” (Ephesians 5:8) are not walking as children of Light. Too many are walking as children of Darkness. The light of God – the Church – is not shining. Rather than speaking Biblical truth, many are speaking empty and flattering words to their neighbors.

with a double heart do they speak..

To have a “double heart” is to be divided in your loyalties. To whom are you loyal? Are you loyal to Christ? Do you pledge fealty to God’s Kingdom? A double minded person will not receive blessing from God (James 1:7-8), and a double hearted person brings themselves under the judgment of God. We read:

Psalm 12:3-4 The Lord shall cut off all flattering lips, and the tongue that speaketh proud things: 4 Who have said, With our tongue will we prevail; our lips are our own: who is lord over us?

God has said that He will “cut off” (כָּרַת kârath, pronounced kaw-rath’) the flattering lips and the proud tongue. The word kârath means to destroy, or make empty. When empty philosophies and foolish words are shared throughout the community as truth, that community stands in judgment from God. When God’s people live by and uphold God’s Word, then blessing comes to them.

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

But when a people move away from God’s Word and begin to follow the actions of the kingdom of darkness, God warns:

1 Corinthians 6:8-10 Nay, ye do wrong, and defraud, and that your brethren. 9 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.

1 Corinthians 15:33-34 Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners. 34 Awake to righteousness, and sin not …

Galatians 6:7-9 … Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. 8 For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. 9 And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.

The Christian must not become a part of the darkness. God is Lord over the believer. The Christian belongs to Jesus. Everyone belongs to either God, or the darkness.

Psalm 12:5 For the oppression of the poor, for the sighing of the needy, now will I arise, saith the Lord; I will set him in safety from him that puffeth at him.

As the darkness increases, the poor and needy suffer. To be like Jesus, we who are blessed of Him are to bless others within our bounty. Our God is compassionate, and promises to rise up against those who stand against the needy, who celebrate greed and the darkness. As darkness grows, those who suffer the most are the poor and needy. The godless politicians with their big bank accounts are never hurt, as are the poor and needy. The poor need to hear the Gospel (Matthew 11:5; Luke 4:18; 7:22). All people need to hear the Gospel of the Kingdom.

We Must Get Back To The Bible

Psalm 12:6 The words of the Lord are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.

Beloved, if the Church is going to make a difference, we as believers must get back to the Bible. We must trust and affirm the Word of God. God tells this of His Word:

Psalms 18:30 As for God, his way is perfect: the word of the LORD is tried: he is a buckler to all those that trust in him.

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

Proverbs 30:5 Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him.

The philosophies and foolishness of this world are not of God. The Way of God is the Word of God, the Bible. We as His Children are called to hear and heed His Word, and to share His way with others. Will we be hated or disparaged for standing on God’s Word? Of course. Jesus said:

John 15:18-20 If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. 19 If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. 20 Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.

Yes, we will be hated, dear Christian. The darkness never loves the light. People reject Christ and His Words because their deeds are evil.

John 3:20-21 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. 21 But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.

Expect to be misrepresented. Expect to be hated. Expect to be slandered. But also expect God to keep His promise. He said:

Psalm 12:7 Thou shalt keep them, O Lord, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever.

God always protects His own words. He fulfills every promise, and does exactly as He has said He will do. Though the word of man changes daily, God’s Word endures.

1 Peter 1:24-25 For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: 25 But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.

God’s Word, often misrepresented and shunned by a lost world and a sometimes wandering Church, His Word will stand. Theologian James Boice wrote:

The French atheist Voltaire … once said, ‘In twenty years Christianity will be no more. My single hand shall destroy the edifice it took twelve apostles to rear.’ He wrote that in fifty years no one would remember Christianity. But in the year he wrote that, the British Museum paid the Russian government five hundred thousand dollars for a Bible manuscript while one of Voltaire’s books was selling in the London book stalls for just eight cents.”

God’s Word will endure. God’s Kingdom will, in time, push back the darkness. And in the end of time, satan and his disciples shall be cast into a lake of fire. But God’s people, saved by faith in His written Gospel, will endure forever. David ends this Psalm with:

Psalm 12:8 The wicked walk on every side, when the vilest men are exalted.

The “wicked” do not pick a side. They walk on EVERY side. It is wicked to compromise with the darkness. Let us who are Christ’s children choose to follow our Master and Savior. Let us be like that great old Saint Joshua. On the day he retired, he addressed the nation Israel, saying:

Joshua 24:14-15 Now therefore fear the Lord, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the Lord. 15 And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

I along with Joshua – and I hope along with you, my blessed brothers and sisters in Christ – choose to serve the Lord. This Bible is true, and I stand firmly upon all that it affirms. May God touch your hearts with His Word and His Spirit this very day. Amen and Amen!

Posted in Psalms, Sermons Preached | Tagged , ,

God Is Not Racist (And You Shouldn’t Be, Either)

God Is Not Racist Audio File

Racism is a sin. As I say these words, I know there are many people of one color who wince when I say it, but many people of another color that will cheer. Please note I did NOT say “Racism is a WHITE sin”, nor did I say “Racism is a BLACK sin”, nor do I say “Racism is a RED sin” or “Racism is a YELLOW sin”. Racism is not tied to a single color. Like all sins, it comes from people of every color.

Racism looks at the outside appearance of a person and makes a judgment about that person because of that outside appearance. Jesus said “judge not according to appearance, but judge righteous judgment” (John 7:24)

God made us in His image and after His likeness. Every person has value. Every one, every color. Racism has hindered the growth of Christ’s Church from the very beginning. Today we’re going to read a true story about the early Church and racism. The story is in Acts 10. As we read through this story I am going to talk about it.

Cornelius Is A Light Skinned Italian Gentile
Who Believes In God But Doesn’t Know Messiah

Acts 10:1-2 There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band, 2 A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God always.

The Bible tells us several things about Cornelius. First, Cornelius was a Centurion. He was a soldier in the Army of Rome. He was a high ranking non-commissioned officer, in charge of up to 600 men. Furthermore, Cornelius was a light skinned man. The Bible does not specifically tell us the color of his skin, but says he is of the Italian cohort. We know from ancient records that the “Italian” cohort was a group of Roman volunteers from Italy. Cornelius was a Gentile, not a Jew. Nonetheless, Cornelius knew of and loved God. The Bible describes Cornelius as:

A DEVOUT or DEVOTED believer
A GOD FEARING believer
A GENEROUS and GIVING believer
, and
A PRAYING believer

The Gospel of Jesus Christ had not yet been preached to Cornelius, and he had not been baptized. Yet Cornelius knew God, and needed to know the Messiah had come. Like many of the Jews he had heard of God through contact with the Temple, but …

Cornelius had not been told of Jesus Christ yet. Why? Because of racism.

Not because of Jesus’ racism, for Jesus was not racist. But because of Jesus’ followers racism. Jesus told His early predominantly Jewish Church:

Matthew 28:19-20 Go ye therefore, and teach ALL NATIONS, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you

Acts 1:8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the UTTERMOST PART OF THE EARTH.

The Gospel was to be preached to the Jews first, but ALSO to the Gentiles. Jesus made this plain. Yet the early Church, led by Peter, confined it’s teaching and preaching to the Temple on Solomon’s Court. Somebody needed to tell Cornelius that the Messiah had come. The Jews in the early Church did NOT go to the Gentiles with the Gospel, and especially NOT to the Roman soldiers. The Jews were prejudiced against the Roman Army, for it was this Army that conquered Jerusalem.

God Himself could have told Cornelius about His Son Jesus. After all, God told Abraham about Jesus.

Jesus said to the Jews, Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad” (John 8:56). God prophesied of the Messiah through Isaiah, Jeremiah, the Psalmist David, and Daniel. Others had learned of Jesus Christ apart from a witness from His disciples. But this is contrary to God’s command. God told the early Church to go and tell the world. The Church initially did not. But God was not silent. Somehow Cornelius came to meet God, and prayed to God.

Acts 10:3-6 {Cornelius} saw in a vision evidently about the ninth hour of the day an angel of God coming in to him, and saying unto him, Cornelius. 4 And when he looked on him, he was afraid, and said, What is it, Lord? And he said unto him, Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God. 5 And now send men to Joppa, and call for one Simon, whose surname is Peter: 6 He lodgeth with one Simon a tanner, whose house is by the sea side: he shall tell thee what thou oughtest to do.

Cornelius was praying about 3 pm, the time when the Jews traditionally prayed their evening prayers (Exodus 29:39, 41; Numbers 28:3-31; 1 Kings 18:29-36; Psalms 55:17; 141:2). As he prayed, God spoke to him through a Heavenly Messenger. He gave Cornelius specific instructions. He was to “send men to Joppa, and have Simon Peter return to speak to you”. Cornelius did not debate with God – he OBEYED God. He sent men to Joppa. God spoke to Cornelius, telling him what to do in a vision. “Peter shall tell you what to do” (Acts 10:6).

Peter Was A Dark Skinned Jewish Believer In Christ
In A Purely Jewish Church

The next day as Cornelius’ men drawn near to Joppa, Peter is in prayer about noon. God has a word – once more – for Peter. God brings the word to Peter because, as the leader of the Apostles, he is in the best place to correct the racist course of the Church.

Acts 10:9-15 Peter went up upon the housetop to pray about the sixth hour: 10 And he became very hungry, and would have eaten: but while they made ready, he fell into a trance, 11 And saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending upon him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth: 12 Wherein were all manner of four footed beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air. 13 And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat. 14 But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean. 15 And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.

Among the Jews there were certain animals that were considered clean, and they could be eaten or even sacrificed in the Temple unto God. Other animals were considered unclean, and were not to be eaten. God lowered an image of both clean and unclean animals before Peter’s eyes, telling him to “Rise, Peter, kill and eat”. Peter says “I’ll not do it, Lord. I have never eaten anything common or unclean”. God’s reply? “What I have cleansed, do not call it common or unclean!” As Peter saw this vision, wondering what it meant, Cornelius’ men showed up at the gate.

Acts 10:17-22 Now while Peter doubted in himself what this vision which he had seen should mean, behold, the men which were sent from Cornelius had made inquiry for Simon’s house, and stood before the gate, 18 And called, and asked whether Simon, which was surnamed Peter, were lodged there. 19 While Peter thought on the vision, the Spirit said unto him, Behold, three men seek thee. 20 Arise therefore, and get thee down, and go with them, doubting nothing: for I have sent them. 21 Then Peter went down to the men which were sent unto him from Cornelius; and said, Behold, I am he whom ye seek: what is the cause wherefore ye are come? 22 And they said, Cornelius the centurion, a just man, and one that feareth God, and of good report among all the nation of the Jews, was warned from God by an holy angel to send for thee into his house, and to hear words of thee.

What did the animals – both clean and unclean – symbolize in Peter’s vision? God made it clear by timing the arrival of the Gentiles to Peter’s home as the vision ended. These animals symbolized the variety found in humanity. In the Old Testament God had people sacrifice clean animals on an altar to atone for sin. These animals represented the One Who would come to save us, the Lord Jesus Christ.

God made all the creatures, and made them diverse. God made all the humans, and made us diverse. God loves all people, and wants all people to come to salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ.

Acts 10:23-27 Then {Peter} called them in, and lodged {these Gentiles for the night}. And on the morrow Peter went away with them, and certain brethren from Joppa accompanied him. 24 And the morrow after they entered into Caesarea {a Roman stronghold}. And Cornelius waited for them, and he had called together his kinsmen and near friends. 25 And as Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him, and fell down at his feet, and worshiped him. 26 But Peter took him up, saying, Stand up; I myself also am a man. 27 And as he talked with him, he went in, and found many that were come together.

Cornelius was not the only person at his house that day. When Peter and several of his friends arrived with Cornelius’ escorts, they found “many that were come together”. When Cornelius saw Peter he fell down at Peter’s feet, and worshiped Peter. Peter told him:

Stand up; I myself also am a man

Peter was right. No man should bow down or worship another man. This is satanic, idolatrous, evil. Only God is to be worshiped, only God is to be knelt to.

Peter was right in his statement … but now he goes on to make a wrong statement. Peter, like all of us humans, is often half right and half wrong. He says:

Acts 10:28 Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation..

Now wait a minute. Think on that statement: It is an UNLAWFUL THING for a man that is a JEW to keep company or come unto (visit) one of another nation. Where is this at in God’s Law? Listen to me:

Peter Was Taught Racism By Fallen Humans,
But Racism Is Not Taught By God

Nelson Mandela, a brother in Christ (now with our Lord) who stood against apartheid in South Africa, once truly said:

No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love.”

Think about Peter’s statement to Cornelius for a moment. Listen to it again:

it is an UNLAWFUL THING for a man that is a JEW to keep company, or come unto one OF ANOTHER NATION

We saw earlier that Jesus gave specific instructions to the early Jewish Church to go into the whole world and tell every nation about the Gospel. But Peter is saying for him to go into a Gentile is “unlawful”. Unlawful based on what. On Scripture? ABSOLUTELY NOT.

There is absolutely nothing in the Scripture that tells a Jew to shun or stay away from Gentiles. Nothing, nowhere. The “Law” that Peter quotes is not from God, but from man.

Deuteronomy 10:17-19 For the Lord your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty, and a terrible, which REGARDETH NOT PERSONS, nor taketh reward: 18 He doth execute the judgment of the fatherless and widow, and LOVETH THE STRANGER, in giving him food and raiment. 19 LOVE YE THEREFORE THE STRANGER: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.

The “stranger” is a direct reference to people not like Israel. When Israel as a nation was going to be blotted out by famine, God sent Joseph into Egypt to prepare the way for Israel. God used Egypt to save Israel, when Israel was “a stranger”. This command is repeated numerous times throughout the Old Testament. God said:

Exodus 22:21 Thou shalt neither vex a STRANGER, nor oppress him: for ye were STRANGERS in the land of Egypt.

Leviticus 19:33-34 And if a STRANGER sojourn with thee in your land, ye shall not vex him. But the STRANGER that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were STRANGERS in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.

Strangers” were the Gentiles who lived all around Israel (see Jesus remark about the Samaritan in Luke 17:18). In fact, God prophesied that when Messiah came, He would come for the Gentiles as well as the Jews (Isaiah 42:6-7; 49:6; 60:1-3). The Bible is very clear that God loves all people, all nationalities, and all people are made in God’s image. The Scripture is very clear:

John 3:16 For God so loved THE WORLD that He gave His only Begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

2 Corinthians 5:19 … God was in Christ, reconciling THE WORLD unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.

Romans 8:32 {God} spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us ALL,

The “unlawful” thing that Peter had been taught was a part of man’s warped religious racism.

Acts 10:28 Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean.

When we as humans degrade others, we are not doing a Godly thing. We are doing a satanic thing. It is satan’s desire to bring confusion and destruction into our blessed Country, Country I dearly love. Satan is using red, yellow, black, and white people to perpetuate racism. Some are using slanderous words, others are using words like “white privilege” or “white guilt”. These words are as much racist as is the other rhetoric. God does not look at the skin, but at the heart. Do you know Him? Are you a child of God by faith in Christ? Where is your heart? God says:

Romans 2:9-11 Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile; 10 But glory, honor, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile: 11 For there is no respect of persons with God.

To the person marching peacefully, you have that right as an American. Let your voice be heard. But to the person rioting, damaging property, hurting people because of their color or their uniform, you will stand before the Holy and Righteous God one day and give an account. This God is not red, yellow, black, or white. This God is Eternal. This God is the god Who made you, and could care less what your skin tone is. To those who are in charge God says:

Ephesians 6:9 … ye masters, do the same things unto them, forbearing threatening: knowing that your Master also is in heaven; NEITHER IS THERE RESPECT OF PERSONS WITH HIM.

To God, every person has value. Every person is made in God’s image. There were times in the Old Testament when God ordered Israel to destroy certain people groups, but this had nothing to do with skin color but with sin. James, the stepbrother of Christ, warned Christians saying:

James 2:8-9 If ye fulfill the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself, ye do well: 9 But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors.

To treat people as less than or inferior to yourself is NOT part of God’s Law, but a direct VIOLATION of God’s Law. We, like Peter, need to heed what God says in His Word – not what some man made law or custom says.

Godly Love Opens The Door To Sharing & Receiving The Gospel

Continuing our story, Peter asks Cornelius,

Acts 10:29 … I ask therefore for what intent ye have sent for me?

Cornelius tells Peter:

Acts 10:30-33 Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and, behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing, 31 And said, Cornelius, thy prayer is heard, and thine alms are had in remembrance in the sight of God. 32 Send therefore to Joppa, and call hither Simon, whose surname is Peter; he is lodged in the house of one Simon a tanner by the sea side: who, when he cometh, shall speak unto thee. 33 Immediately therefore I sent to thee; and thou hast well done that thou art come. Now therefore are we all here present before God, to hear all things that are commanded thee of God.

Peter did what God told him to do ….. finally! Peter was a leader in the early Church, but was not the first one to reach out to the Gentiles. A deacon named Philip was led by the Holy Spirit to an Ethiopian Eunuch (Acts 8:29-37) and led him to Christ. But Peter, along with the majority of the Jewish Church, stayed where they were comfortable … until now. Cornelius told Peter, in essence, “because you came, we are ALL of us Gentiles present before God. We are ready to hear what God told you to tell us.” Peter says:

Acts 10:34-43 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:) 37 That word, I say, ye know, which was published throughout all Judaea, and began from Galilee, after the baptism which John preached; 38 How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him. 39 And we are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree: 40 Him God raised up the third day, and shewed him openly; 41 Not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before God, even to us, who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead. 42 And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead. 43 To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.

As Peter shared the Gospel to the Gentiles, the need of every person for Jesus Christ, God gave the same sign to Peter that He first gave on the Day of Pentecost. The Gentiles believed on Jesus and were saved. In obedience to Christ these men were baptized as Jesus commanded. Praise God! Praise God!

Beloved, we as God’s people must not be drawn into racism. The world relabels racism. Do not fall for words like “white privilege”, “white guilt”, “black lives matter”. If it is popular with the world, you can know it is against God. What is God’s standard? It is to show respect for every person, regardless as to their color or custom. God tells us in Christ that every life matters. If you are treating people of a different color with little respect then, beloved, you are racist. If you are looting and burning things which are not your own, you are a thief and a rioter. God is not the Author of confusion, but of peace (1 Corinthians 14:33). And Jesus demands that every person you meet, you are to treat with respect and love. Jesus said in both Testaments of our Bible:

Leviticus 19:18 … thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself …

Romans 13:9-10 … Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbor: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

We are to love one another. Love for others is what turned the Jewish Church from racism to what Christ intended – a Church that reached out to all people. Jesus died for the world. Let us share Him with others while we have breath. I ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen and Amen.

May God the Holy Spirit touch our hearts with His Word this very day!

Posted in General

A Matter Of Integrity (Life Of Job #2)

Photo by Mika on Unsplash

Job 2:6 And the Lord said unto Satan, Behold, he is in thine hand; but save his life. 7 So went Satan forth from the presence of the Lord, and smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown. 8 And he took him a potsherd to scrape himself withal; and he sat down among the ashes. 9 Then said his wife unto him, Dost thou still retain thine integrity? curse God, and die.

In Trials, Do You FRET or REST?

Last Sunday we looked at the life of Job, a man horribly tested and tried in his faith. We learned a great deal in Job Chapter 1, and, as I promised, we are now in Job chapter 2. In Chapter 1 Job’s home life was attacked by Satan with God’s permission. Job lost all of his personal, prized possessions. Job was struck in FOUR different ways:

  1. The animals of the field (oxen, mules) were taken, and his field workers killed by the Sabeans, an ancient people of Southern Arabia (Job 1:14-15) He lost his cash crops..
  2. Lightening (fire of God) struck, killing both his sheep and shepherds (Job 1:16). Job lost his textile goods, for sheep were used for clothing.
  3. The Chaldeans (Babylonians) took his transportation animals (camels), killing those who watched over them (Job 1:17).
  4. Job’s children were killed by a wind storm (Job 1:19). Job lost his heritage.

When you are reading the Bible, pay attention to the details. There were FOUR horrible occurrences that Satan engineered against Job.

Why FOUR?

Because FOUR is an important number in the Scripture. The Fourth Commandment is to remember the Shabbâth – the Sabbath – a day to rest and reflect on the majesty and love of God (Exodus 20:8-11).

Every Christian – if you are indeed a Christian – are to rest in Christ. The Bible says “there remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God” (Hebrews 4:9). We rest in the power and faithfulness of our God.

Though Job was horribly afflicted he rested in his faith in God. The rested mind does not fret nor curse God when afflicted. The rested mind honors God. “The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord (1:21)”

What did Jesus say? “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28). Job rested in Christ. He trusted his God though everything He had was taken away.

Everything, that is, but his own personal health.

What Will You Do When You Lose Your Health?

Now we come to Act 2 of this story. Job did not curse God though all he possessed was taken away. Satan once more enters the Throne room of God. We read:

Job 2:2 … the Lord said unto Satan, From whence comest thou? And Satan answered the Lord, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.

God asks Satan what has he been doing. Again, God knows what he’s been doing. God knows everything. The Psalmist wrote:

Psalm 139:1-6 O Lord, thou hast searched me, and known me. 2 Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off. 3 Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. 4 For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O Lord, thou knowest it altogether. 5 Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me. 6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it.

God possesses two attributes or traits that we do not have. God is omniscient or all knowing, and God is omnipresent or everywhere simultaneously. There are no secrets from God. He knows. God knows everything, and is every where. He knows that “your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8). God asked the devil where he had been so that we could see his response. He has indeed been out doing evil, and provoking unbelievers to the darkness. Yet there is one person that the devil could not trip.

We come once again to Job.

Job 2:3 And the Lord said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is NONE LIKE HIM IN THE EARTH, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil? and still he holdeth fast his integrity, although thou movedst me against him, to destroy him without cause.

Word Study God tells Satan “there is no one on this earth like Job”. Job is “perfect”. Last time we say that this word תָּםtâm, {pronounced tawm} means “to be complete”. The believer in Jesus Christ is complete in Him (Colossians 2:10). Job “feared God”, which means he respected God as He is. God also noted that Job rejected or departed from (סוּר çûwr, pronounced soor) evil.

You cannot call yourself “God fearing”
if you play in Satan’s sand box!

God notes that, though He allowed Job to lose call things, Job retained his integrity. I looked up the word “integrity” in the Oxford Dictionary, and found:

1. The quality of being honest and having strong moral principles,
moral uprightness.

2. The state of being whole and undivided.

Trials Test Our Integrity And Our Faith. Integrity is what we do in the dark when no one is around but God.

Job 2:3 {Job} holdeth fast his integrity, although thou {Satan} movedst me against him, to destroy him without cause.

Job was true to his faith. He kept his eyes on the Lord, trusting Him, though he was horribly afflicted without cause. Believers suffer. James, the stepbrother of Christ, wrote:

James 5:10-11 Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience. 11 Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.

When you stand up for the Lord, you become a target of Satan. The devil does not care if you come to Church or not, nor does he care whether you tithe, sing in the choir, read your Bibles, or join a Church. He is totally unconcerned as to whatever religious ritual you may perform or may not perform. But to stand up for Jesus, and to reject evil while shining for Christ – the devil hates this. The darkness despises light. Job was the light of God no matter what happened to him. We count them happy which endure, who retain their integrity.

If a person walks away from Christ because of persecution, was that person ever saved in the first place? I don’t know, but I do know that Jesus said:

Matthew 5:10-11 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.

Matthew 10:22 And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.

Jesus never sugar coated our faith – that was the job of many snowflake preachers! Jesus was very clear that those who love Him and live as Jesus says will be targeted by the world and Satan. Satan is specifically targeting Job because the man is living for the glory of his Lord and Savior. In the Book of Hebrews the Scripture often uses the DIVINE IF when speaking of faith. Listen:

Hebrews 3:6 But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, IF we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.

Trials test us. Trials test whether we are genuine Children of God, or Satan’s counterfeits. It is a great thing and very blessed to be tested by trials. Better to discover that my faith is false NOW, rather than pass into eternity without Christ. We are PARTNERS WITH CHRIST IF …

Hebrews 3:14 … IF we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end;

We who have been saved have no confidence in ourselves, but in God. The genuine Christian is “not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul” (Hebrews 10:39). If you have been born again your integrity will endure the test, because God is IN you and WITH you. The Psalmist said:

Psalm 41:12-13 … And as for me, thou upholdest me in mine integrity, and settest me before thy face for ever. 13 Blessed be the Lord God …

Salvation Is More Than Skin Deep. It Is A Profound Inner Change, A Spiritual Genetic Change That Will Not Be Eradicated By Trials – For God Is With You

The Devil knows that there are many who PROFESS God but are not POSSESSED of God. He though Job was of this sort. He told God:

Job 2:4-5 … Skin for skin, yea, all that a man hath will he give for his life. 5 But put forth thine hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse thee to thy face.

The devil tells God that if the attacks were physical, then Job would renounce his faith. “Skin for skin” is a bartering term. It means to compromise with another in order to save your own skin. The devil believes Job’s faith will dissipate, but God isn’t worried. Why? Because …

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

The Lord knows them that are His, and Job belonged to Jesus. We have all had times when trials or threats have made our faith slip. Many of the greatest Heroes of the Scripture had times when their faith slipped.

  • Before Abram was Abraham he willingly followed God where ever God led. But as Abram passed through unfamiliar territory he became frightened that he might lose his life. He told his wife Sarai to say that she was his sister instead of his wife. “Abram would preserve his life” (see Genesis 12:13). We have all had slips, but those who belong to God stay the course, moving from Abram to Abraham. God knows who are His, and He keeps His child from falling (Psalm 56:13; 116:8; Jude 24).
  • Though David was a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14; Acts 13:22), he had a fall from faith. God had David anointed to be Israel’s next king. But until he came to the throne, the present King Saul chased after David to kill him. As David was running he was caught by the men of Achish the King of Gath. In fear for his life David – the same David who destroyed Goliath “changed his behavior before them, and feigned himself mad in their hands, and scrabbled on the doors of the gate, and let his spittle fall down upon his beard.” (1 Samuel 21:13). Though David temporarily lost his faith, God held on to him. God knows them that are His!
  • Simon Peter told Jesus that he would fight to the death for the Lord. He told Jesus “Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death.” Yet when the time came, Peter denied knowing Jesus (Luke 22:60-62). Jesus knew that Peter would do this (see Luke 22:34). Our Lord saved us knowing we are not perfect. But the Lord knows them that are His. If you have genuinely received Jesus as Lord and Savior, this same God knows you are imperfect, a work in progress. You are the workmanship of God (Ephesians 2:10), and God will not let you go!

The devil does not understand the New Birth of the Christian. He told God that – if he was allowed to personally afflict Job – Job would “curse Thee, O God, to Thy face”. The Child of God cannot curse God to His face. God is our hope, our peace, our possessor, our everything.

Job 2:6 … And the Lord said unto Satan, Behold, he is in thine hand; but save his life.

Why is God allowing this? God loves Job, and using Job to teach the Angels the glory of the Gospel of Christ. Those who surrender to the Gospel – though broken – are destined for greatness in eternity. We who are saved are “all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:26). We are no longer bound to the fallen world. We are bound to God.

Job 2:7 So went Satan forth from the presence of the Lord, and smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown.

Job, faithful Job, son of God Job is suddenly afflicted. He laid down one night to sleep, and woke up in agony. He has “sore boils – from the bottom of his feet to the very top of his head”! That is horrible! I have been told that the Coronavirus is a horrible sickness to get. I have been told that cancer is a horrible disease to suffer. There are terrible things I have seen as a pastor in my lifetime, things I would not wish on my worst enemy. Alzheimer’s, dementia, Polio, Leukemia – all very terrible, and all very painful and crippling. I believe Job suffered the worst. I saw a man once who had a single boil on his neck. He was in agony, and in a bad disposition as long as he had it. Can you imagine being covered with boils?

See The Patience And Love Of Job For Our God

Job 2:8 And {Job} took him a potsherd to scrape himself withal; and he sat down among the ashes.

This has always puzzled me. Why would a suffering man sit down in a pile of ashes, and scrape his skin with a piece of broken pottery. You might find it interesting, but wood ash has a number of helpful benefits.

It removes skunk smell.
It runs off snails, slugs, and ants from the garden.
It melts ice.
You can make soap with it.

Wood ash is also anti-bacterial, and can be used to treat wounds, as well as to clean and exfoliate your skin. Job did what he could to alleviate his suffering. There is nothing wrong with this. Job took positive steps to fix what ailed him – but he did not offend the Almighty.

Satan has the power to attack humanity – but no farther than God will allow him to go. Satan inspires others to be his agents of suffering (see Job 1:14; 1:17), and can bring natural calamity on mankind (Job 1:16, 18-19). In Luke 13 Jesus healed a woman on the Sabbath day, saying:

Luke 13:16 … ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan hath bound, lo, these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the sabbath day?

The devil can afflict – but God can correct. God is in control. Job did what he could to bring comfort to himself, but would not curse God. Sadly, Job had an unbelieving wife that told him:

Job 2:9 … Dost thou still retain thine integrity? curse God, and die.

Job’s reply is classic – and thoroughly Christian. He said:

Job 2:10 Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips.

Job called his wife a “foolish woman”. The term “fool” in the Scripture is a reference to an unbeliever.

The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God!
Psalm 14:1; 53:1

The child of God will not curse his Father in Heaven. Though we may lament and cry out, we who are saved by faith in Christ are like Peter, who said to Jesus:

John 6:68-69 … Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. 69 And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.

Our God has the words of life. Shall we receive blessing from Him, and hate Him for that which does not seem to bless? Our God knows what is best.

Lamentations 3:37-41 Who is he that saith, and it cometh to pass, when the Lord commandeth it not? 38 Out of the mouth of the most High proceedeth not evil and good? 39 Wherefore doth a living man complain, a man for the punishment of his sins? 40 Let us search and try our ways, and turn again to the Lord. 41 Let us lift up our heart with our hands unto God in the heavens.

Our God is always gracious, and good. Our God is faithful. Our God knows what is best for us. Let us be like Job. Regardless as to what may come our way, let us look upward and trust in the One Who saved us and will keep on saving us. Let us trust in our Jesus.

May God touch your hearts with His Word and His Spirit. Amen and Amen!

Posted in Job, Sermons Preached | Tagged

3. The MUSTS Of Christianity: The MUST Of Decreasing Self

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Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

John 3:30 {Jesus} must increase, but I must decrease.

Audio of Message

If you think you have everything, you will never seek the more. Many profess Christ, think they are saved, but when I ask them “Are you saved?” they tell me “I hope so”. Now “hope” is a fine thing. The Bible tells us “and now abideth faith, HOPE, and love” (1 Corinthians 13:13). Biblical hope is not human “hope so”.

Biblical hope is a certain knowledge that, though you have not received the promises, you will receive the promises because God is faithful (1 Corinthians 1:9).

When the Apostle wrote of “hope” he said:

Romans 5:5-6 … hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. 6 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.

To Paul hope was not a gamble. He knew that God would come through. There was no doubt in his mind. Why? Because

God promised to send the Messiah, and send the Messiah He did.
God promised to send the Spirit, and send the Spirit He did.

God wants you to have a “know so” salvation. He said:

John 20:31 But these {words} are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.

The words we are focused on today are words spoken by John the Baptist. Once more, he said:

John 3:30 {Jesus} must increase, but I must decrease.

I have shopped in Christian bookstores all over the world, but have never seen a trinket or a bauble with these words on it. I have seen all types of bumper stickers on cars, from fish (pointed to the right of to the left) to “Honk if you love Jesus”. But I’ve never seen these words on a bumper, engraved on a cup, or on a pithy sign that hangs in a person’s home. That’s not to say there isn’t something like that – but I’ve just not seen it. It’s very rare. I think I know why.

In our world today we are taught from the cradle “you are special”. We are told on television shows “just be you”. We celebrate birthdays and anniversaries where the spotlight is on us. Every commercial on the television selling something tells you “you deserve this”. The devil has engineered all advertising, media, radio, whatever to promote “you are the center of the YOUniverse”. We have, as a nation, gone through a national “time out”, practicing social distancing and self quarantining because “you matter”. Congress has passed out “free” money, 1200$ per person, because “we want you to be taken care of”. Now there’s nothing wrong with this. If we are under mandate to stay home from work then we shouldn’t starve. But Beloved, the day is coming when “you will have to pay this money back”. We don’t want to think about it, but it is so very true.

The concept that Jesus Christ must increase and I must decrease is so foreign to everything I have ever been taught as a person that it is almost like a foreign language. Yet it is the core of Christianity, the center of our faith.

The Words Were Spoken By John The Baptist

Even as I work on this sermon the devil whispers in my ear,

You know YOU’VE got other things YOU should be doing today. Let’s put this down and worry about it another day. After all, YOU matter!”

The devil will do all he can to keep you from hearing this message. Your phone will ring. A friend will drop by to visit. Someone will text you a smiley face. A child will stub its toe and cry. Your stomach will rumble. A bee will fly by your head.

To understand this wonderful statement,

John 3:30 {Jesus} must increase, but I must decrease.

You need to understand it in it’s context. First of all, it is in the same chapter of John where Jesus said “You MUST be born again” (John 3:7). The words we are now examining are not the words that our Lord Jesus spoke, but they are nonetheless words from the mouth of God. These words were spoken by John the Baptist.

Who was John the Baptist?

John the Baptist was – according to our Lord Jesus – the Greatest Prophet who ever lived. Jesus said of His cousin John:

Matthew 11:11 … Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist …

Jesus told us …

Matthew 11:13-15 … For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. 14 And if ye will receive it, this is {Elijah}, which was for to come. 15 He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

The Jews knew the Biblical story of Elijah. God told His people:

Malachi 4:5-6 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: 6 And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.

The Prophet Elijah was the greatest Prophet up to the time of John the Baptist. Elijah never died, but was taken up to Heaven by a chariot of fire (2 Kings 2:9-12). Because of that, and the text in Malachi, the Jewish Rabbis taught that Elijah would return just prior to the coming of the Lord (see Mishnah (Edduyot 8:7).

Jesus told us that John the Baptist was the Elijah prophesied to come (Matthew 11:14). Jesus Christ is the Son of God come to save us from our sins. When John the Baptist went out into the wilderness and began preaching and baptizing in the river Jordan the Bible says:

John 1:19-23 … the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art thou? 20 And he confessed, and denied not; but confessed, I am not the Christ. … 22 Then said they unto him, Who art thou? that we may give an answer to them that sent us. What sayest thou of thyself? 23 He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet {Isaiah}.

John the Baptist did not see himself as important as Elijah was, but knew that he was the herald, the one who would precede the King of Glory. Thus he quoted the prophecy of Isaiah 40:3-5, “I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, make straight the way of the Lord”.

John was the greatest Prophet who ever was. He was the last Prophet of the Old Testament, ushering in the ministry of salvation by faith in Jesus Christ. John baptized Jesus because Jesus commanded it, saying “you must do so, for we must fulfill all righteousness” (Matthew 3:15).

After baptizing Jesus something happened. The crowds that used to come to John the Baptist began to fall off. Why? Because John was the Herald of Christ. John could not save anyone. His Baptism was a baptism of works. When people came to John to be baptized he told them:

Matthew 3:8-12 … Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance: 9 And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. 10 And now also the ax is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. 11 I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance. but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: 12 Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.

John warned all – especially the Pharisees – that they needed to repent, and to show their repentance by their works. John was the last Prophet under the Law of Moses. He could not save anyone. But Jesus could. Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world (John 1:29). John pointed AWAY from himself. He said:

BEHOLD – LOOK AT JESUS – He is THE Lamb of God!”
(John 1:36, my paraphrase)

Jesus alone is the Christ. So John’s crowd begins to thin. As it does John’s disciples come to him, indignant and hurt. They tell John …

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

John, you were here first! You were baptizing long before this Jesus came by. What are you going to do about this? The power of John’s ministry is shown in his words. He replied:

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

These are wonderful words that we all have trouble absorbing. I have to admit when many flock to other preachers but few to myself I feel in my breast that old sin nature, saying, “Why not me, Lord? Why not me?” That is nothing but pride, self rising up.

John had the greatest gift that God can give a man. He had the gift of knowing who he was, and who God is.

As great as John was, and as great a number that came to him to be baptized, John knew that the very nature of His ministry was that he had to decrease. Once the King has come, what need is there of the Herald. John quickly added:

John 3:28-29 Ye yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before him. 29 He that hath the bride is the bridegroom

Heaven had given John the glorious duty of being Herald to the King of Kings. But now the King of Kings has come. John sent men to Jesus. Now his crowds are growing smaller. He had done as God gave him to do. John was not the Bridegroom, the Husband of the Church. This was Jesus’ place. Jesus Christ came to build His Church (Matthew 16:18). John was at best a doorman who pointed the way to Christ. John was not important. We are not important. The One Who is important is Jesus Christ. Once you understand this “no flesh will glory in His presence” (1 Corinthians 1:29). John said of Jesus:

John 3:31-36 …. He that cometh from above is above all: he that is of the earth is earthly, and speaketh of the earth: he that cometh from heaven is above all. 32 And what he hath seen and heard, that he testifieth; and no man receiveth his testimony. 33 He that hath received his testimony hath set to his seal that God is true. 34 For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him. 35 The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand. 36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.

Jesus Christ is THE Son of God. The rest of us – David Buffaloe included – are nothing compared to Him. John could not save, and neither can Charles Stanley, Adrian Rogers, C.H. Spurgeon, or even this foolish country preacher. Only Jesus can give life. Only Jesus can make peace between us and God.

Jesus must increase, but I must decrease!

You Cannot Be SAVED Without This Truth

John 3:30-31, 36 {Jesus} must increase, but I must decrease. 31 He that cometh from above is above all: he that is of the earth is earthly, and speaketh of the earth: he that cometh from heaven is above all. 36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.

In order to be “saved” a person must humble themselves, and come to Jesus Christ alone. The very first word in salvation is “repent”. The word “repent” is the Greek μετανοέω metanoeō which means “to change the mind”. Greek scholar F.F. Bruce wrote in his Greek Text Commentary The Acts of the Apostles:

“Repentance (metanoia, ‘change of mind’) involves a turning with contrition from sin to God; the repentant sinner is in the proper condition to accept the divine forgiveness.”

This word is used as the KEY word in:

  • John the Baptist’s sermons: (Matthew 3:2) Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
  • Jesus Christ’s sermons: (Matthew 4:17) Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. And in (Luke 13:5) Luke 13:5 – I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. And in (Luke 15:10) I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth. It is in many other scriptures, but I will continue on.
  • Peter’s sermons: (Acts 2:38) Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. And in (Acts 3:19) Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.
  • Paul’s sermons: (Acts 17:30-31) And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: 31 Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man {Jesus Christ}whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.

To repent is to humble yourself before God, and receive Jesus Christ as both Lord and Savior. To repent is to reject the flesh with it’s sin, and cling to the Savior Who is able to deliver thee.

Take away the “H” from the word “F-L-E-S-H”, and invert the word. What does it spell? S-E-L-F. To be saved you must cease following the flesh, the SELF.
The mark of the lost is that they are in the F-L-E-S-H!

Romans 7:5-6 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. 6 But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.

Those “in the flesh” are those who have not yet met the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior. They may PROFESS Christ, but are not POSSESSED of Christ. The Christian is a person who WAS in the flesh but, repenting, turned to Christ Jesus for salvation. Because of Jesus we who are His receive his Holy Spirit. Now we walk not by our opinion, but by God’s. We live our lives directed by his Word and His Spirit. God saves a person so that we can walk a new way through life. How? The Apostle said:

Romans 8:4-8 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. 5 For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. 6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. 8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.

Beloved, unless you humble yourself, God cannot lift you up (1 Peter 5:6). Unless you humble yourself, you cannot receive the Grace of God. God gives greater grace. God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble (James 4:6).

Praise Him, Believer, if you know Him! Praise Him, for it is He Who:

Colossians 1:12 … hath made us {acceptable} to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light..

You Cannot Be SANCTIFIED Without This Truth

Jesus must increase, but I must decrease!

One of the sad facts of modern Christianity is that there is much preaching on salvation, much preaching on deliverance from hell, much preaching on God lifting us up when we are down, but little preaching on SANCTIFICATION. Yet SANCTIFICATION – becoming like Jesus – is at the heart of our faith.

If you are saved, Christ professor, then there is to be LESS of you and MORE of Jesus. We are to imitate Christ. We are not to imitate the Law. Why? Because when you imitate the Law you become like a Pharisee. You outwardly look religious, but inwardly are filled with self. Those who imitate the Law focus on the EXTERIOR and not the INTERIOR. Jesus emphasized this in His Sermon on the Mount. Jesus spoke of the Law, but then said “but I say unto you”, then gave the INTERIOR of what God wants us to be. For example:

Matthew 5:21-24 Ye have heard that it was said of them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: 22 But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. 23 Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; 24 Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.

Man looks at the Law against murder (the 6th commandment) and says “I haven’t taken anyone’s life”. But Jesus looks to the interior. We are to love others sacrificially, just as Jesus loves us. While we were yet sinners – offensive to God – Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). We cannot serve God – taking a gift to the altar – unless we first are at peace with those around us. Jesus said:

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

The Pharisee said “I have never violated the 7th commandment, physically or OUTWARDLY touching a woman not my wife”. But Jesus takes it inward. Have you LOOKED at a woman as a sex object? Have you looked at a man with lust in your heart. That person is made in the image of God. That person was made to be saved, brought into the Kingdom of God. That person was not made to gratify your appetites.

We who are saved are called to imitate Jesus Christ in the power of the Spirit of God. Let God Himself preach the ending of this sermon:

Ephesians 5:1-11 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 sweetsmelling savor. 3 But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints (those who are SANCTIFIED); 4 Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks. 5 For this ye know, that no whore monger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. 6 Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. 7 Be not ye therefore partakers with them. 8 For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: 9 (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) 10 Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. 11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. (see also Galatians 5:16-25).

We who are saved are not to walk imitating the Law.
We who are saved are not to walk imitating the world.
We who are saved are to walk imitating Jesus Christ.

Whoever says he abides in Jesus ought to walk in the same way in which He walked (1 John 2:6). Let us, together, walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. (Ephesians 5:2). And if you are not saved by faith in Jesus Christ, I beg you, REPENT, and turn to Him. Jesus is faithful to save all that believe in Him. Bow the knee to Him Who died for you. May God bless this sermon by His Spirit and by His Word. Amen and Amen.

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

Kiss The Son

Audio File

Psalms 2:12 Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.

There are man made laws, and God made laws. Man made laws are often foolish.

  • In Juneau, Alaska you are prohibited from bringing your pet flamingo into a barbershop, while in Fairbanks it is illegal to serve alcohol to a moose.
  • In Quitman, Georgia you cannot change the clothing on a storefront mannequin unless the shades are down.
  • In New Orleans, Louisiana it is illegal to gargle in public.
  • Women in Minnesota can face 30 days in jail for impersonating Santa Claus.
  • In Oklahoma, people who make ugly faces at dogs can be fined or jailed.
  • At restaurants in Memphis, Tennessee, any pie must be eaten on the premises.

I could go on and on. I have no idea why some laws were put in place, but I suspect they had a good reason (or so they thought) when the laws were placed on the books. I remember one episode of Andy Griffith (the greatest show, ever) where a hill billy family came to town, and stopped at a “memorial horse trough”. As they filled the radiator of their old truck up with water, Sheriff Andy came and told them “It’s illegal to fill your radiator from the memorial horse trough”. The head of the clan, without a smile, said “If I see a horse anywhere, I’ll get out of the way.”

Man made laws often make no sense. They’re not as funny when they effect human life. But God made laws are always certain.

Like the Law of Gravity, or the Law of Aerodynamics, God made laws are given to humanity for our protection and blessing. When we violate God’s laws we cause hurt.

Violating God’s Laws brings disease and death. God told Adam in Eden:

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.

Adam listened to the serpent’s lie (the serpent is satan. See Revelation 12:9). What happened? Just what God promised. By one man sin entered the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all, for all have sinned (Romans 5:12). God’s Word stands true. It is as true as is gravity. We are all sinners because of Adam’s transgression. But, praise God, our Heavenly Father is merciful. Our Father sent Jesus Christ to us, to bless whosoever will.

1 Corinthians 15:21-22 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.

The bad news is that humanity took a bad path away from God, and are racing toward destruction and death. But the good news is the Father, our Creator, offers us an alternative. Let us all strive to …

Kiss The Son

Kiss the Son” means more than just an empty act with your lips. Many a young man has kissed a young woman for a temporary pleasure, but without any idea of commitment. Many claim to “kiss the Son”, but their hearts are not given to it. Both Isaiah as well as Jesus spoke of those hypocrites, who …

Matthew 15:8-9 …. draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.

To claim love of God but to reject His Word and His Laws in favor of man made laws never pleases God. What God has said to us in His Word in truth. We are set apart as God’s people by our allegiance to His Word. Jesus Christ prayed for His Church, asking the Father to …

John 17:17 … Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.

If you love God, you will love His written Word. If you love God, you will love His Living Word. The Pharisees claimed to love God, but despised Jesus. They loved to twist the written Word of God, to manipulate it so that they could live their lives as they wished regardless as to God’s decreetive will. There are many people who claim to be Christians today who do they very same thing. I was told by a brother in Christ that another professing Christian is spreading hatred toward a Church I know. Why? Because the Pastor of that Church preached that it is wrong to live together in sexual contact without being married. This so called Christian is living with his girlfriend, believing what he is doing is absolutely right. Beloved, though man’s law may say that such behavior is acceptable, it is God’s Law and God’s Decree that matters. When we pray the Lord’s Prayer, what do we pray? Do we not pray:

Matthew 6:9-10 Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. 10 Thy kingdom come, THY WILL BE DONE in earth, as it is in heaven.

Do we not end the Lord’s prayer with,

Matthew 6:13 … FOR THINE {O FATHER} IS THE KINGDOM, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

God is our King, the King of Kings. His Word must be not only heard, but obeyed. Jesus told the Pharisees:

John 8:42-45 Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me. 43 Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word. 44 Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. 45 And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not.

Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came to manifest God to us. He came to show us the Father’s heart. If you love the Father, you will kiss the Son. You will cherish Jesus, and live your lives pleasing unto Him. You will obey the Words He speaks.

The lost do not want to kiss the Son. They want nothing of Jesus. Let us look to our focal text. The Psalmist – who is saved – asks a question:

Psalm 2:1 Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?

Why is the world in disarray? Why is America in such a mess right now? Some will blame it on a political party. The Democrats will blame the Republicans, the Republicans the Democrats, and the Libertarians will blame them both. Some blame the President, the others the House or the Senate. The sad truth is we as a nation are in such disarray because we refuse to kiss the Son. We refuse to acknowledge the rule of God. Throughout the Old Testament Israel suffered when her leadership – political, business, and religious – refused to honor God. The Psalmist says:

Psalms 2:2-3 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against his anointed, saying, 3 Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.

The liberal ruling governors mock God. Much of our Legislature has minimized the necessity of God. The Preamble to the Declaration of Independence states:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

The idea of liberty as flamboyant as American liberty is requires a moral and God fearing people. We have wandered from God. We do not kiss the Son – nor do we seem to care much for the Father, or even for our fellow man. Our Lord Jesus came from glory and told us:

Matthew 22:37-40 … Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

The basis for a civil society is a people who love the Lord. Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord (Psalm 33:12). Conversely, where the nation turns away from God and from treating those around you as created in God’s image, that nation begins to disintegrate from the inside out.

Beloved, we need to kiss the Son. To reject His Word and His will while trying to be our own god is futile. The Psalmist said:

Psalm 2:4-5 He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision. 5 Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure.

The God of Scripture is the Maker of Heaven and Earth. The God of the Scripture has designed the earth and the creatures on it, and has given us right and holy Words to live by.

To Kiss The Son We Must Repent

The beginning of a blessed life is to repent, to turn from being your own god, and turning to the One Who is God. Jesus came preaching:

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

To repent is to turn from being your own god, and to turn to Him that is God. To repent is to cease following your will, and follow God’s will. To repent is to turn from sin, and toward the Savior. When Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came to earth, He came to save the sinner. Jesus said:

Matthew 9:13 … I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

As Jesus went from town to town healing people, doing miraculous things, He continually called people to repentance. Jesus said “Fall in love with Me. Follow Me. Cast your sins upon Me. Let Me be your Guide. Imitate Me, not the world. Hear My Word, and you will be blessed.”

Though Jesus called people to repentance, many chose instead to continue to follow their own paths. Jesus cried over those who would not listen to Him.

Matthew 11:20-30 {Jesus began cry over} the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not: 21 Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. 22 But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you. 23 And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. 24 But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee. 25 At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. 26 Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight. 27 All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him. 28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

The way unto the blessed life, the blessed family, the blessed community, the blessed city, the blessed country is to kiss the Son. To come unto Jesus as a child, as a simple minded person. The way of peace and blessing is hidden from those who think they know it all. But the way of peace and blessing is revealed to those who come to Jesus.

Take His Yoke upon you.
Pick up His Cross, bear it with Him.
Learn of Jesus, and be like Him.
He Humbly follows the Father,
We humbly follow Him.
Bind your life and thoughts to Christ.
Obey His Word, and Kiss Him with obedience.
Humble yourselves, following Him daily.
This is where life begins – immersed in the Son.

One day Jesus was visiting a friend by the name of Simon the Leper. I suspect that this man was one the lepers that Jesus once healed. Simon the leper was also a Pharisee – and he had in himself a bit of self righteousness. The Bible tells us that …

Luke 7:37-38 … And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster box of ointment, 38 And stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment.

This woman was “a sinner”. When this phrase was applied to women, it usually meant that they were involved in some sort of sexual sin. This woman said not a word to Jesus, but stood behind Him and treated Him with love and respect. She washed the feet of Him Who died for us, the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world. As the smell of the perfume that she anointed Jesus with went through the house, it was the wondrous smell of Grace. Jesus looked at this precious woman and said:

Luke 7:48-50 … Thy sins are forgiven. 49 And they that sat at meat with him began to say within themselves, Who is this that forgiveth sins also? 50 And he said to the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace.

Who is this Who forgives sins also?” This is Jesus. This is the One of Whom God said:

Psalm 2:6-11 Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion. 7 I will declare the decree: the Lord hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee. 8 Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. 9 Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel. 10 Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth. 11 Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling.

Those who serve Jesus with love – who kiss the Son – they shall be blessed. Our Lord Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life … no man comes unto the Father but BY HIM (John 14:6).

There is blessing in following Christ. But there is cursing in rejecting God’s Son. C.H. Spurgeon said:

Some of you are this day fitted on the bow of sin. Some of you are whistling onward towards death, despair, and hell. Sin is the path to hell and you are traveling it with lightening speed. … Oh, kiss the Son, I beseech you, for if you kiss Him not, if you receive not His Grace and Mercy, perish you must. There is no hope for you, desperate, without remedy, your end must be, if you will not yield your pride and submit to Jesus!”

There is no salvation without Christ. There is no satisfactory life without Christ. There are but two sides to life. There is Team Jesus, and there is Team World. Team Jesus has the promise:

John 10:28 I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.

But Team World will one day hear:

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

The choice is yours, dear friends. You can follow the world toward destruction, or Christ toward grace and glory. What will you choose? What will YOU choose?

Psalm 2:12 … Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.

May God open your eyes to heed His Word, and live. Amen and Amen!

Posted in Psalms, Sermons Preached | Tagged , , , ,

Unpardonable Sin

Audio Message

Matthew 12:28-32 … 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.

In our modern Church I hear very little preaching or teaching on the Holy Spirit of God. I find that odd, because of all the sins a person can commit, there is only ONE sin that God will NEVER forgive – that is “blasphemy against the Holy Ghost”. Jesus even said “you can speak a word against the Son of Man, but if you speak against the Holy Spirit IT SHALL NOT BE FORGIVEN, either in THIS WORLD or IN THE WORLD TO COME”. Who is “the Son of Man”? The Prophet Daniel foresaw the coming of the Messiah (Daniel 7:13), and called the Messiah the Son of Man. Jesus adopted this title for Himself, as Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah. He is the “Son of Man”. Jesus in essence said:

You can speak again Me, the Messiah, and it shall be forgiven. But if you speak against the Holy Spirit it shall never, ever be forgiven, not on earth nor in eternity

This is a frightening statement to say the least. If there is a sin out there that gives me an express ride to hell, I want to know all about that sin so I can avoid it. Don’t you? Some people believe that the unpardonable sin cannot be committed today. I disagree. Jesus spoke on the unpardonable sin, and made sure that two men of God, the Apostle (Matthew) and early Church Evangelist (Mark) wrote about it. In Mark’s account we read:

Parallel Text Mark 3:27-30 No man can enter into a strong man’s house, and spoil his goods, except he will first bind the strong man; and then he will spoil his house. 28 Verily I say unto you, All sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men, and blasphemies wherewith soever they shall blaspheme: 29 But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation. 30 Because they said, He hath an unclean spirit.

If it is ONCE in the Bible, I heed it. If it is TWICE in the Bible, look out! God is serious. It is possible to blaspheme the Holy Spirit, an unpardonable sin. So let’s break this down. First of all,

What Is “Blasphemy”?

Years ago I assumed – as a young preacher – that everyone understood the words I was using, especially if I was using the King James Bible. I remember one sermon where I preached God’s word, and told the people that “heathen need to come to Jesus”. I preached that day believing everyone understood the message – I thought it was very clear – that is, until I stood at the door at the end of the service. A little old lady, a dedicated believer in the Lord, came to me and asked,

Brother David, what’s a heethern?” (sic)

That’s exactly the ways she said it and, no, I am not mocking her. I love her, and love you. But I preached an entire message that she and others did not understand because I failed to explain a main word. A heathen is an unbeliever, one who has rejected Jesus Christ as Savior. So, what is “blasphemy”?

  • Blasphemy is to speak against God, to belittle or chip away at God and His glory with your tongue. The first use of the word “blasphemy” is in the Book of the Law. In Leviticus 24 God is telling ancient Israel how to set up the Tabernacle, the tent where His people were to meet with Him, and where sacrifices were made. God tells the priests to use pure olive oil in the lamps, and make the lamps burn continually while the tent is set up (Leviticus 24:1-4). What do these “lamps” or “lights” symbolize? They symbolize the Light of God, Jesus Christ our Lord.

God is the Bringer of Light (Genesis 1:3).
Jesus Christ is the Light of the world (John 8:12)

Leviticus 24:10-11 the son of an Israelitish woman, whose father was an Egyptian, went out among the children of Israel: and this son of the Israelitish woman and a man of Israel strove together in the camp; 11 And the Israelitish woman’s son BLASPHEMED the name of the Lord, and cursed. And they brought him unto Moses: (and his mother’s name was Shelomith, the daughter of Dibri, of the tribe of Dan:)Whosoever curseth his God shall bear his sin. And he that blasphemeth the name of the Lord,
he shall surely be put to death”

Isaiah 36:19-20 Where are the gods of Hamath and Arphad? where are the gods of Sepharvaim? and have they delivered Samaria out of my hand? 20 Who are they among all the gods of these lands, … that the Lord should deliver Jerusalem out of my hand?

  • It is also blasphemy to teach against what God has said is true. Jesus warned us:

Matthew 7:15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.

Acts 20:28-30 Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. 29 For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. 30 Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking PERVERSE things, to draw away disciples after them.

Psalm 33:11 The counsel of the Lord standeth for ever, the thoughts of his heart to ALL generations.

Psalm 100:5 .. the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.

John 17:17 Sanctify (or set them apart) them through thy truth (O Father): thy word is truth.

1 Timothy 1:19-20 Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck: 20 Of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to BLASPHEME.

Blaspheme is therefore the use of the tongue to degrade or to deny God and what He has said is truth. When Jesus warned against Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, the Pharisees had said something terrible. What did they say?

Earlier that day Jesus cast a demon out of a man who was could neither see nor hear (Matthew 12:22). Jesus healed the man. The Bible tells us, though:

Matthew 12:24 But when the Pharisees heard {of what Jesus did}, they said, This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils.

Jesus was casting out devils by the Spirit of God (Matthew 12:28). The Holy Spirit – at Christ’s Word – was coming to people who were in an absolutely helpless estate – and healing them. The man who was unable to see or hear was absolutely powerless. Jesus touched him, and through the intercession of God’s Holy Spirit, the sick were healed, and the demonically oppressed were freed. When John the Baptist told his disciples of Jesus, he said:

John 3:34-35 For he whom God hath sent (Jesus) speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto (Jesus). 35 The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand.

The miracles that Jesus did, He did them not by the power of the devil, but the Spirit of God did them. Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit were partners from Heaven, sent to show the way of God unto man. The Pharisees saw Jesus heal people and said “He is doing this by the Prince of Demons”. Mark tells us that the Pharisees committed blasphemy against the Holy Spirit of God because:

Mark 3:30 Because {the Pharisees} said, He hath an unclean spirit.

The Pharisees attributed the work of God – a clear work of God – to that of Satan. Jesus did the works – the wonderful works of healing and blessing – not using His own divine power, but by the Spirit of God.

Matthew 12:28 … if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you

Why Is Blasphemy Of The Holy Spirit Unforgivable?

Jesus makes a statement that most people skip over when they read it. Read with me:

Matthew 12:28-29 … 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.

Who is this “strong man”?
The “strong man” is Satan and his network of evil.

Jesus casts out “devils” by the Spirit of God. The fallen angels – Lucifer included – are “devils”. Jesus Christ “entered the strong man’s house”, He entered this fallen world. Jesus could not spoil the strong man’s goods (the sin and wickedness that are produced because of unbelief) unless He first binds the strong man. Jesus’ ministry is under attack by the religious establishment known as the Pharisees. The Pharisees, along with the Scribes, continually challenge Jesus’ authority as Messiah, even though He does the work of the Messiah.

  • Jesus Christ came to this earth to crush the strong man, the devil we call Satan or Lucifer. In the Garden of Eden Mankind lost the beauty of Paradise because Adam listened to a talking serpent, a picture of Satan. In the first Book of Scripture, Satan is pictured as a “serpent”, and in the last Book of Scripture, Satan is still a “serpent”:

Revelation 12:9 And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.

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:

Matthew 4:9 … All these things (the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them) will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.

Matthew 4:10 … Get thee hence, Satan: for IT IS WRITTEN, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.

  • Jesus crushes the strong man (the devil) by destroying the power of sin. Jesus said:

Matthew 12:31 … All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men …

Matthew 9:2 … Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee.

Matthew 9:6-7 … that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then saith he to the sick of the palsy,) Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house. 7 And he arose, and departed to his house.

Acts 5:31 {Jesus} hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Savior, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.

Acts 13:38 … {Jesus Christ} is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins ..

Ephesians 1:7 {In Jesus Christ} we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;

Colossians 1:13-14 … delivered from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: 14 In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:

Jesus Sends The Holy Spirit To Crush The Strong Man, Satan. The Sent Holy Spirit Of God Who Gives Us New Birth And Eternal Life. Jesus’ Blood Makes Our Salvation Possible. The Spirit’s Activity Secures Our Salvation Once We Receive Christ as Lord And Savior.

So return to our first question: Why is blaspheme of the Holy Spirit unpardonable? It is because we are born into this world spiritually blind and deaf. It is the Holy Spirit who opens our eyes and ears to hear the Gospel. It is the Holy Spirit, that blessed Third Member of the Godhead, Who convicts of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment. Jesus in speaking of the Holy Spirit promised His disciples:

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

The Holy Spirit of God opens our eyes to the Word of the Gospel. The Holy Spirit of God convicts of sin. The Bible tells us that the strong man, the little “g” god of this world loves to hide the Gospel.

2 Corinthians 4:3-5 … 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. 5 For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake.

When the Pharisees spoke up against Jesus that day so long ago, they attributed the work of God’s Grace to Satan. There are many who do the same thing even today. While hearing the glorious Gospel, that Christ came to give us life, to cover our sins “to deliver us from this evil world” (Galatians 1:4), some resist the Spirit. They make excuses. They examine their lives in the light of others and say, “Well, I’m not that bad?” They like the Pharisees mock Christ, and reject the Messiah and the way unto salvation.

Salvation is a supernatural work, done by a supernatural God. When your eyes are opened to your sins you must repent, and run into the arms of Christ. Then and only then will you be “born again” of the Spirit of God. YOU MUST BE BORN AGAIN (John 3:7)!

It is not the denomination that you are in that saves you. It is Jesus. It is not the works of righteousness that you do that saves you. It is the finished work of Calvary. We are born into this world separated from God. No man or woman can come to Jesus, unless the Father which sent Jesus DRAWS YOU (John 6:44). Remember Christ’s words:

John 3:6-8 … That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. 8 The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.

It is blaspheme of the Holy Spirit to feel His leading, and to reject Him. If you reject the Spirit, you reject the One Who washes you. You reject Him Who causes your new birth. In short, it is blaspheme of the Spirit to reject the call unto salvation, to refuse Him Who pleads for you. To do so, like the Pharisees, is to die in your sins, hopeless, helpless for all eternity. Do not do so. Repent, run to the arms of Jesus today. Do not die in your sins. There is no forgiveness, none after death if you reject the Spirit’s call now. May God touch your hearts with His Word and His Spirit. Amen and Amen!

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

The Thing Greatly Feared (Life of Job #3)

Audio Message

Job 3:23-26 Why is light given to a man whose way is hid, and whom God hath hedged in? 24 For my sighing cometh before I eat, and my roarings are poured out like the waters. 25 For the thing which I greatly feared is come upon me, and that which I was afraid of is come unto me. 26 I was not in safety, neither had I rest, neither was I quiet; yet trouble came.

We have been studying in the Book of Job, the most ancient Book written in our Holy Bible. Job is an interesting – albeit difficult – study because it examines the life of a man tried. Job was a man tried.

If you live long enough, trials will come your way. Trials may come in the way of disease, or sickness, or by job loss or loss of income. You may bring trials on yourself, or others may bring trials to you. Trials come almost, at times, by accident. You may have a loved one pass away, or be involved in a bitter divorce when love dies. The Bible says:

Job 5:6-7 Although affliction cometh not forth of the dust, neither doth trouble spring out of the ground; 7 Yet man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward.

Someone once said that everyone is headed toward a trial, or is in a trial, or has just finished a trial. If you breath, you will have trials. That’s why God gave us Job.

Job was a man tried, not because he was at fault, but because he loved God. Listen to this, Beloved. If you love God you WILL be tried. Job did not do anything wrong.

Let me chase rabbits for a minute. I got back to my house yesterday after being at Church all day. I live in a neighborhood of mixed race. My next door neighbor is a black woman, and my neighbor to the left is a liberal. I have two members of the Church of Christ that live behind me, and several houses on my street are occupied by Jehovah’s Witnesses, Hispanics, and whites. I live in a good neighborhood. People cut their grass, and keep their lawns neat. A Jewish neighbor flies an American and an Israeli flag, and a Mexican neighbor flies the flag of … you guessed it, Mexico. As I got ready to turn into my drive a young black man – NOT one of my neighbors – roars through the neighborhood at twice the speed limit. He needs a ticket before he kills himself or someone else. If he gets a ticket, he brought that trial on himself. It was his choice to speed. If he kills a child going 50 mph in a 25 mph neighborhood, he brought trials to that child’s family. Color has nothing to do with it. Trials come, many times, at our invitation. I pray the young man learn this while he can.

Job did not bring trials on himself. He lived to honor the Lord. We are told:

Job 1:1 There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect {complete, mature} and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed {rejected} evil.

Job loved the Lord, and this is what led to Job’s trials.

Satan challenged God that if he be allowed to take away all that Job had, then Job would in turn curse God to His face. God allowed Satan to take away Job’s:

Fortune (Job 1:14-17)
Family (Job 1:18-19)
and finally Job’s Fitness (Job 2:1-8)

Job lost everything. Job did not sin with his lips (Job 2:10) even though he was in agony and suffering. The Rabbis in the Talmud note that Job did not sin with his LIPS, but began to sin in his HEART. That often happens when we go through trials. Outwardly we may appear calm, but inwardly our hearts hurt. There are times when we may even question our God. Where is God when the trial comes? He’s never far from His child – but often our hearts cloak His presence. That’s why we need friends, people of like faith to come around around us when we are tried.

We Need Friends – A Family –
A Church To Embrace Us When We Suffer

Job 2:11 Now when Job’s three friends heard of all this evil that was come upon him, they came every one from his own place; Eliphaz the Temanite, and Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite: for they had made an appointment together to come to mourn with him and to comfort him.

When we go through trials, we desperately need friends, people in whom we can trust and share our hearts. We need people of like faith to reach out to us and help us. We need “friends”, friends of Jesus. Jesus said:

John 15:15 Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.

A true “friend” is someone who will stand
by you while you suffer.

Job had friends. Though they were from three different places the Bible says:

Now when Job’s three friends heard of all this evil that was come upon him, they came every one from his own place

Friends step outside of their own comfort zone and come to be with you when you are suffering. There is nothing in the text that tells us that Job called for these friends. When they heard of all this evil they did not stay at home and GOSSIP about Job. No, as friends they came from where they were to where their suffering friend was. This is what God’s vision of the Church is. The Lord says:

1 Corinthians 12:25-27 …. the members {of the Church} should have the same care one for another. 26 And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honored, all the members rejoice with it. 27 Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.

When a member, a friend suffers, we should leave our place and go to where they are. These men loved Job. These men are from different areas – I suspect their skin color was not the same as Job’s. They are:

Eliphaz the Temanite – an Edomite (Arab)
Bildad the Shuhite –
(Genesis 25:2) relative of Abraham
Zophar the Naamathite –
(genealogy unknown)

The Bible says in Proverbs 17:17, “A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.”

These men:

vs 11 made an appointment together to come to
mourn with him and to comfort him.

These friends came to Job – though they lived in three different area – with the express purpose of “mourning with him, and comforting him”. The wisest man who ever lived was Solomon, and he wrote:

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. 10 For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up. 11 Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone? 12 And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

Friends do not pick, nor do they aid in your destruction. Friends grieve with you. When these friends saw Job …

Job 2:12 And when they lifted up their eyes afar off, and knew him not, they lifted up their voice, and wept; and they rent every one his mantle, and sprinkled dust upon their heads toward heaven.

Job was disfigured by the boils on his face and body, so much so that his friends could hardly recognize him. They cried out, greeting Job … and then they sat down with Job in the dirt.

Friends “sit down in the dirt” with us.
Be a “Friend” not a “Fixer”.

Often when people suffer we want to “fix it”. The desire to “fix it” is often born out of a heart of love. But neither I nor you can “fix” people. Only God can. The Bible says:

Proverbs 10:19 In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth his lips is wise.

Illustrate In other words, SHUT UP! When we try and “fix” a person with our opinions, we can drive the sufferer deeper into despair. In the cartoon Calvin and Hobbes – one of my favorites – the little boy Calvin runs home to tell his mamma that his stuffed tiger has been lost. A dog grabbed Hobbes, and ran off with the toy. As the boy tearfully tells his mother his cherished Hobbes is lost, her response is “Well, Calvin, if you wouldn’t drag that tiger everywhere, things like this wouldn’t happen.” In the last panel Hobbes, speaking to the reader, says “There’s no problem so awful that you can’t add some guilt to it and make it even worse.” Though but a cartoon, those words are oh so true. Author Eugene Peterson said, “Sufferers attract fixers the way road kills attract vultures”.

Friends need to be there. We don’t need to minimize what our suffering friend is going through by comparing what they are going through with what others have gone through. The Apostle said:

2 Corinthians 10:12 For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.

Each person’s suffering is unique, and very real to that person. We cannot nor should not minimize nor patronize their suffering. Job’s friends did right.

Job 2:13 So they SAT DOWN WITH HIM upon the ground seven days and seven nights, and NONE SPAKE A WORD unto him: for they saw that his grief was very great.

Job’s friends did absolutely nothing. They were just there, waiting with Job, silently praying for Job. They saw that his grief was very great so they just shared the moment with him. They waited for Job to speak before they spoke. This is what we are called to do as believers in Christ.

Romans 12:10, 12, 15 Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honor preferring one another; … 12 Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; … 15 Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.

All trials have a purpose. God is behind that purpose. The Scripture says:

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

Every trial that comes upon a Christian, comes upon us because we are “the workmanship of God, created in Christ Jesus {to do} good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them”. God uses trials to shape and grow our faith. Job and his friends sat quietly for

Job 2:13 … seven days and seven nights …

Seven days and nights was the usual time of mourning for the dead (see Genesis 50:10; 1 Samuel 31:13). These dear men waited for Job to speak before uttering anything to him.

Job Did Not Curse God With His Lips
But His Heart Is In A Bad Place

Job 3:1-5 After this opened Job his mouth, and cursed his day. 2 And Job spake, and said, 3 Let the day perish wherein I was born, and the night in which it was said, There is a man child conceived. 4 Let that day be darkness; let not God regard it from above, neither let the light shine upon it. 5 Let darkness and the shadow of death stain it; let a cloud dwell upon it; let the blackness of the day terrify it.

Though Job did not “curse God to His face” as Satan expected, Job did curse his day. He began to question the reason for his existence. He said Let the day perish wherein I was born, and the night in which it was said, There is a man child conceived. The trials that came upon him made him doubt his worth and purpose. Job was saying “the day of my birth was a day swallowed up in darkness”. He said:

Job 3:6-10 As for that night, let darkness seize upon it; let it not be joined unto the days of the year, let it not come into the number of the months. 7 Lo, let that night be solitary, let no joyful voice come therein. 8 Let them curse it that curse the day, who are ready to raise up their mourning. 9 Let the stars of the twilight thereof be dark; let it look for light, but have none; neither let it see the dawning of the day: 10 Because it shut not up the doors of my mother’s womb, nor hid sorrow from mine eyes.

Though Job will not lose more nor suffer more from Satan’s hands, the greatest battle now is the battle for Job’s mind. He believes his life to be a mistake.

He wishes that the day of his birth be utterly stricken from the calendar. Job is not the only Biblical character to have thought this way of themselves. Even the best and strongest believers can suffer despair. Consider Elijah, a mighty Prophet. When threatened by Jezebel he ran, then gave up on himself, saying …

1 Kings 19:4 … It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers.

The Prophet Jeremiah had such a hard ministry in Israel that he cried out to God:

Jeremiah 20:14-18 Cursed be the day wherein I was born: let not the day wherein my mother bare me be blessed. 15 Cursed be the man who brought tidings to my father, saying, A man child is born unto thee; making him very glad. 16 And let that man be as the cities which the Lord overthrew, and repented not: and let him hear the cry in the morning, and the shouting at noontide; 17 Because he slew me not from the womb; or that my mother might have been my grave, and her womb to be always great with me. 18 Wherefore came I forth out of the womb to see labour and sorrow, that my days should be consumed with shame?

You may have despaired of life before. You are in good company. Job despaired. Hear his words:

Job 3:11-19 Why died I not from the womb? why did I not give up the ghost when I came out of the belly? 12 Why did the knees prevent me? or why the breasts that I should suck? 13 For now should I have lain still and been quiet, I should have slept: then had I been at rest, 14 With kings and counselors of the earth, which build desolate places for themselves; 15 Or with princes that had gold, who filled their houses with silver: 16 Or as an hidden untimely birth I had not been; as infants which never saw light. 17 There the wicked cease from troubling; and there the weary be at rest. 18 There the prisoners rest together; they hear not the voice of the oppressor. 19 The small and great are there; and the servant is free from his master.

Job saw death as a place where you “rest” or “sleep”, where there were no more trials. Job was not contemplating suicide by any means, but was suffering so much that he wanted to die and “rest” rather than continue as he was. If his friends had not come Job MAY have took his life. He lost his purpose.

One of the saddest things in life is when we, through suffering, lose our purpose. God made us for a purpose. He loves us, and will not abandon us. The Apostle Paul – a man who suffered terribly for the Christian faith – wrote:

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

And again,

2 Timothy 1:8-10 Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God; 9 Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,

The Child of God by faith in Christ has a purpose as long as God allows us to live on this earth. We may not understand His purpose, nor why we go through suffering, but we should trust the heart of God when we cannot understand what He is doing. I say again,

We should trust the HEART of God when we do not understand what His HAND is doing.

What Was “The THING” Job Greatly Feared?

Job started by cursing his birth, then by doubting his purpose. Now he wondered why he was given light. He says:

Job 3:20-25 Wherefore is light given to him that is in misery, and life unto the bitter in soul; 21 Which long for death, but it cometh not; and dig for it more than for hid treasures; 22 Which rejoice exceedingly, and are glad, when they can find the grave? 23 Why is light given to a man whose way is hid, and whom God hath hedged in? 24 For my sighing cometh before I eat, and my roarings are poured out like the waters. 25 For the thing which I greatly feared is come upon me, and that which I was afraid of is come unto me.

Word Study What is the thing that overwhelms Job? The THING which he greatly feared. You see that word THING? Not THINGS plural but THING. The one thing that Job greatly feared was that God had somehow abandoned him. In the pain and the suffering he began to doubt the presence of God.

Job thought God had left him – this was
the “thing” he greatly feared.

God promises never to leave His children. God promises His people that He will fulfill His purposes in Him. God told Jacob:

Genesis 28:15 And, behold, 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.

God told Jacob that He would not abandon him until He fulfilled His promise in him. Shall God promise His Child Heaven, and abandon him while on this earth? Absolutely not! God does not leave His child by faith. Moses told Israel:

Deuteronomy 31:6 Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of {the enemy}: for the LORD thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.

God never fails His child. The Psalmist declared:

Psalms 37:25 I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.

Psalms 37:28 For the LORD loveth judgment, and forsaketh not his saints; they are preserved for ever: but the seed of the wicked shall be cut off.

The wicked are cut off, but God takes care of His own. God is not fickle as humans are. God does not “fall into” love then “fall out of” love, like a mud puddle or a ditch. Those Whom God loves, He never leaves. He promises:

Isaiah 41:10 Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.

A friend reminds a suffering friend that God is still there, and God is faithful. Job’s friend Eliphaz tells him:

Job 4:3-4 Behold, thou hast instructed many, and thou hast strengthened the weak hands. 4 Thy words have upholden him that was falling, and thou hast strengthened the feeble knees. 5 But now it is come upon thee, and thou faintest; it toucheth thee, and thou art troubled.

“Job, you have helped others through bad times. You have helped others who have struggled in trials. Now you are in trial.

Job 4:6-8 Is not this thy fear, thy confidence, thy hope, and the uprightness of thy ways? 7 Remember, I pray thee, who ever perished, being innocent? or where were the righteous cut off? 8 Even as I have seen, they that plow iniquity, and sow wickedness, reap the same.

“Remember how you encouraged others, Job. Do you remember? God does not cut off the righteous. He cuts off the wicked, the sinner that has no time for Him. But God does not abandon His children.”

When you, dear Christian, are afflicted, do not judge what God is doing. Just trust God, love Him, and magnify His name throughout the trial. This trial has a purpose. As Peter wrote:

1 Peter 1:7 That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ …

God will not leave you, dear one. Look up! Our God reigns! Amen and Amen.

Posted in Job, Sermons Preached | Tagged , , ,

My Heart Is Fixed

Psalm 108

The Book of Psalms is divided into five sections, with each section ending with a doxology or benediction. There are five books, so I am told, to reflect the five books of the Torah (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy).

  • Book 1 (Psalms 1-41) emphasizes that God is beside the believer, watching us all the way. “The Lord knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish” (Psalm 1:6). The doxology is, “ thou upholdest me in mine integrity, and settest me before thy face for ever. Blessed be the Lord God of Israel from everlasting, and to everlasting. Amen, and Amen.” (Psalm 41:12-13).
  • Book 2 (Psalms 42-72) emphasizes that God goes before the believer. The Book starts with the Christian being compared to the deer that seeks water when it is thirsty. “As the {deer} panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?” (Psalm 42:1-2). The doxology is “Blessed be the Lord God, the God of Israel, who only doeth wondrous things. And blessed be his glorious name for ever: and let the whole earth be filled with his glory; Amen, and Amen.” (Psalm 72:18-19)
  • Book 3 (Psalms 73-89) emphasizes that God is all around the believer. When we are weakest is when God is strongest in us. “I am continually with thee: thou hast holden me by my right hand. Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee. My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.” (Psalm 73:23-26). The doxology is “Blessed be the Lord for evermore. Amen, and Amen.” (Psalm 89:52).
  • Book 4 (Psalms 90-106) focuses on how God is above the believer. Psalm 90 is the one psalm written by Moses. “Lord, Thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations” (Psalm 90:1). The doxology in Psalm 106:48 says “ Blessed be the Lord God of Israel from everlasting to everlasting: and let all the people say, Amen. Praise ye the Lord.”
  • Book 5 (Psalms 107-150) emphasizes how God is among His believers. The doxology for Book 5 is the entirety of Psalm 150: “Praise ye the Lord. Praise God in his sanctuary: praise him in the firmament of his power. Praise him for his mighty acts: praise him according to his excellent greatness. Praise him with the sound of the trumpet: praise him with the psaltery and harp. Praise him with the timbrel and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and organs. Praise him upon the loud cymbals: praise him upon the high sounding cymbals. Let every thing that hath breath praise the Lord. Praise ye the Lord.”

God placed the 5 Books of the Psalms in the center of our Bible to remind us who are Christians the importance of praising God. What your focus is on will effect your spirit. Jesus said:

Matthew 6:22-23 The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be SINGLE {ἁπλοῦς haploûs, pronounced hap-looce’ meaning WHOLE or HEALTHY}, thy whole body shall be full of light. 23 But if thine eye be EVIL {πονηρός ponērós, pronounced pon-ay-ros’ meaning WICKED or DISEASED}, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!

Many of us today have our eyes focused on WICKED things rather than HEALTHY things. We watch bodies autopsied, plague statistics, rioting on the news, horrible, horrible things. Our focus is on darkness, and thus our focus stays dark. The Psalms reminds us

God is beside me
God is before me
God is all around me
God is above me
God is among us, when we gather in His name

Let’s look at Psalm 108. This Psalm is actually taken from two other michtams of David. No one really knows what the word michtam means, though some commentaries suggest it is a psalm as precious as stamped gold.

Psalm 108:1-5 is taken from michtam Psalm 57:7-11

There is a reason God repeated these words.
In Psalm 57 David fled from Saul in the cave:

1 Samuel 22:1-2 David therefore departed thence, and escaped to the cave Adullam: and when his brethren and all his father’s house heard it, they went down thither to him. 2 And every one that was in distress, and every one that was in debt, and every one that was discontented, gathered themselves unto him; and he became a captain over them: and there were with him about four hundred men.

God provided David and others in need a way of escape. Later on King Saul and three thousand chosen men out of Israel would come into the mountains looking for David and his men. Saul entered the cave, and went to sleep – a cave that David and his men hid in. His men encouraged David to kill Saul, for they said:

1 Samuel 24:4-7 … Behold the day of which the Lord said unto thee, Behold, I will deliver thine enemy into thine hand, that thou mayest do to him as it shall seem good unto thee. Then David arose, and cut off the skirt of Saul’s robe privily. 5 And it came to pass afterward, that David’s heart smote him, because he had cut off Saul’s skirt. 6 And he said unto his men, The Lord forbid that I should do this thing unto my master, the Lord’s anointed, to stretch forth mine hand against him, seeing he is the anointed of the Lord. 7 So David stayed his servants with these words, and suffered them not to rise against Saul. But Saul rose up out of the cave, and went on his way.

Psalm 108:1-2 O God, my heart is fixed; I will sing and give praise, even with my glory.
2 Awake, psaltery and harp: I myself will awake early.
The enemies of David are raised up against him. The Moabites, Edomites, and Philistines seek to do harm to David and to Israel. David will not do the convenient thing. David will not allow fear to drive him. David fixed his heart on God. God is beside, before, around, above, and with me. God is there.

The Christian is to fix his or heart on God, to live for His smile, not the smile of the world. Following the death of George Floyd – a horrible tragedy – I have seen people do foolish things in the name of Christ. Let me ask, Did Jesus ever do this?

Did Jesus ever treat others shabbily?
Did Jesus bow the knee to anyone but God?
Did He? No, not one bit.

Word Study Our hearts are to be fixed on God. That word “fixed” is the Hebrew כּוּן kûwn, (pronounced koon), which means “to be on the solid foundation of a thing, firmly established”. It is a Niphal participle, which denotes a life of faithfulness to God’s path, not man’s path. We who are the saved of God are to always put God’s pleasure and God’s desire first. There are but two forces in the world:

The forces of God, and
The forces of Satan

The Church and the Christian is in a daily battle for the souls of mankind. The Apostle saw this as an ever constant war. At no point are God’s people to compromise on fixing our hearts on our Savior. Take heed of the words of Scripture:

Ephesians 6:10-14 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 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. 13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;

David’s heart was fixed – steadfast on pleasing God. We as God’s children are to be fixed on pleasing our God, on imitating the Lord Jesus Christ.

Psalm 108:1b-3 O God, my heart is fixed; I will sing and give praise, even with my glory.
2 Awake, psaltery and harp: I myself will awake early.
3 I will praise thee, O Lord, among the people: and I will sing praises unto thee among the nations.
The characteristics of the fixed or faithful heart is:
1. I will sing to my God
2. I will sing praises to my God
3. I will awaken praising God
4. I will praise God in the Church
5. I will praise God among the lost
6. Whatever glory belonged to David, he gave it to God!

“The Psaltery [lute] was a stringed instrument, usually with twelve strings, and played with the fingers. The harp or lyre was a stringed instrument, usually consisting of ten strings. Josephus says that it was struck or played with a key. It appears, however, that it was sometimes played with the fingers.” (Barnes, cited in Spurgeon).

If God has given you talents, then as faithful children you are to devote those talents to the Lord. We are to start our day praising God, then live throughout the day so that others can see our love for God.

Psalm 108:4 For thy mercy is great above the heavens: and thy truth reacheth unto the clouds.If God’s mercy were to be measured, it would extend above the heavens, and His truth above the clouds.

Man’s truth is subject to change, but God’s truth is limitless. As God is infinite, His mercy is infinite. The Scripture says:

1 Chronicles 16:34 O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever.

Psalm 100:5 For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.

Jeremiah 33:11 The voice of joy, and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom, and the voice of the bride, the voice of them that shall say, Praise the Lord of hosts: for the Lord is good; for his mercy endureth for ever

Psalm 108:5 Be thou exalted, O God, above the heavens: and thy glory above all the earth;It is God Who is to be honored, God Who shall receive all glory.

Psalm 108:6-13 is taken from michtam Psalm 60:5-12

Psalm 108:6 That thy BELOVED may be delivered: save with thy right hand, and answer me.God went with David in battle in 2 Samuel 8:1-14 , allowing him to defeat several enemies. In verse 14 we are told “the Lord preserved David whithersoever he went”.

God protects His Covenant people, God’s Beloved. There are numerous times in the New Testament where God refers to His people as “Beloved”:

Romans 1:7 To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Romans 12:19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.

1 Corinthians 10:14 Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry.

1 Corinthians 15:58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.

Philippians 2:12 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.

God’s covenant people – saved by faith in Jesus Christ our Lord – are the beloved of God. We are not to be

.. menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart” (Ephesians 6:6)

We are to remember the admonition and example of Paul, who said:

Galatians 1:10 For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.

Psalm 108:7-11 God hath spoken in his holiness; I will rejoice, I will divide Shechem, and mete out the valley of Succoth.
8 Gilead is mine; Manasseh is mine; Ephraim also is the strength of mine head; Judah is my lawgiver;
9 Moab is my washpot; over Edom will I cast out my shoe; over Philistia will I triumph.
10 Who will bring me into the strong city? who will lead me into Edom?
11 Wilt not thou, O God, who hast cast us off? and wilt not thou, O God, go forth with our hosts?
God owns everything.
1 Corinthians 10:26 For the earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof.
Hebrews 3:4 For every house is builded by some man; but he that built all things is God.
Haggai 2:7-8 I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the Lord of hosts. 8 The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, saith the Lord of hosts.

It is God Who gives the land to Israel, and God Who gives us the victory. We are not to live to please man, but to please God. He is in control. Trust Him, and cling to His Word. As the Soniclight Commentary states, “victory was possible if God would grant it, but impossible if He would not. David was relying on Israel’s Warrior, not his army, to defeat the enemy. He realized and confessed that if victory depended on the sinful people, they would fall in defeat”

Psalm 108:12-13 Give us help from trouble: for vain is the help of man.
13 Through God we shall do valiantly: for he it is that shall tread down our enemies.
Military alliances often backfire. We are not to trust in alliances with the world and the worldly. We are to trust in God.

C.H. Spurgeon said, “We ought to pray with all the more confidence in God when our confidence in man is altogether gone. When the help of man is vain, we shall not find it vain to seek the help of God.” We dare not, Church, make alliances with the lost. This is the way to disaster. God calls us to stand firm in Him. Our eyes on Jesus. Our ears attuned to His Word. Our trust in Him Who saved us. Not in a fickle and fallen world, but in the Lord alone.

May God touch your hearts with His Word! Amen and Amen.

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