Prayer Necessary Because Of The Mystery

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Ephesians 6:18-20 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; 19 And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.

It is very easy when preaching, teaching, or reading scripture to take it out of context. I am constantly learning and growing as I study God’s Word, and finding ways that I myself took things out of context. This is a human condition we are all subject to do, probably inherited from our forefather Adam when he did not stop Eve from taking that which was forbidden. He knew what God said, but perhaps thought that the restriction against eating the forbidden only applied to himself. When Eve ate with no ill effects he followed suit – and humanity was plunged into sin.

We must stay in context. There is no error in the Scripture unless we introduce it via our sinful minds.
We must also be empowered by God The Spirit.

The text today on prayer is first of all a command from the Apostle to the believers at Ephesus – and by extension for all of us. Paul wanted to be able to share the Gospel even though he was bound and headed toward Rome to be judged. In his affliction he wanted the Christians at Ephesus to pray not that he be released, but that he be enabled to preach the Gospel.

Pray that his attitude does not change.
A bad attitude is like a flat tire.
You go nowhere until it’s changed.

Bound to guards, unjustly accused of treason,
It would be so easy for the devil to get in Paul’s heart.

The Apostle at this moment saw his binding
not as binding or restriction.
He was on the front lines doing battle with the devil.
But He did not battle alone.

The Apostle saw his limitations and his place as an opportunity from God for God to share the Gospel with as many lost Gentiles as possible. Toward that end Paul asked that the Church pray for him that his attitude and giftedness not be hindered by his suffering. The Apostle saw himself in a battle not for his life, but for the eternal lives of those around him. The Apostle asked the Church to pray for three things:

that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel

Paul asked that the Church pray that his heart remain receptive to the Word of God. No God called preacher or teacher brings a message of their own invention. God must speak to the heart of the ambassador in bonds: that therein [he] may speak boldly. There is a temptation to every speaker of the Word to soften the message lest the audience be offended. Yet the Scripture reminds us that the Gospel message and this Bible is offensive. It is a message the world considers foolish:

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

People believe themselves to be inherently good. This is a lie that the devil sold the world. As God created the world He saw that it was good. When God created Adam and Eve in His image to walk with Him we read:

Genesis 1:31 And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.

It was the devil who slithered into the Garden of Perfection and suggested that something was NOT very good. This is what the devil does. He hears what God says then chooses to speak the exact opposite of what God has said. It is God Who designed the family. It is God Who placed Adam as the Head of the Family, and Eve as his helped. It is God Who designed Adam to be genetically male and Eve to be genetically female. But the devil will always suggest another way. The culture around Paul is cruel and polytheistic – believing in many gods and goddesses. So he asked Ephesus to pray for him, so that utterance may be given unto me, that he might know what to say to share the Gospel to those around him who were blinded to it.

The Apostle also asked that …

utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel

There is a temptation to any speaker of God’s Word to make the message less offensive, to dumb it down. One passage that should be on all of our hearts is found in an earlier text in Ephesians:

Ephesians 4:11-15 And {God} gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: 14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; 15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:

God established the speaking gifts not to tickle the ears, but to build up the Body of Christ the Church. We are to speak the truth in love – but nonetheless the darkness does not understand the light.

The speaking gifts are to unify Christ’s Church, to make us one in our faith and devotion to God, and to make us more like Christ. Too many Churches are bounced around and minimized by the world, having little if any effect, because the doctrines of the Church have been merged with the teachings and philosophies of the world. The speaker gifted of God must be able to be speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ.

The Apostle knew how weak the flesh was, and knew that he himself could fall victim to the delusions of the devil. So he asked the Church to pray for him that he could be speaking the truth in love. Jesus spoke the truth in love.

When Jesus met the Samaritan woman at a well so long, long ago He spoke the truth in love. When He met the woman (the account is in John chapter 4) Jesus said – I’m sure with a smile on His face:

Give Me some water to drink.”

“Why are You, a Jew, talking to a Samaritan like me?”

If you knew Who I was you would have asked Me for LIVING water.”

“But you have no way of drawing water, much less LIVING water.”

Whoever drinks of THIS well water will be thirsty again. Whoever drinks of the LIVING water I give them will never thirst, but will become wells of everlasting life!”

and here is where many speakers slip. We forget to tell the ones we speak to that they must REPENT of their way and turn to Christ. The woman said:

“Give me this water that will quench my thirst forever!”

Go and call YOUR HUSBAND, and come back.”

“I have no husband.”

You’re right. You have had FIVE husbands and the one you’re with now is NOT YOUR HUSBAND.”

This may be politically incorrect but why did God mention her husband? Because she was in sin. She needed to repent, and THEN come to Jesus, trusting Him for the Living Water.

Beloved, God will save no one IN their sins. We must first REPENT – which is to recognize our way is NOT RIGHT – then RUN TO JESUS –
this is the Way of peace and salvation.

The devil led world tells us to keep our mouths shut, to go along to get along. God would have us to speak with boldness but with love. People must know that their way is destructive, but that God’s Way is where life is.

Proverbs 16:25 There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.

The devil and the world want to delude as many as possible into taking the way of death. The Apostle knew this, so asked that the Church pray for him that he would be bold to share that Gospel, that glorious Gospel of salvation.

that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the MYSTERY of the gospel

The Gospel is a “mystery”. When we think of a “mystery” we think of what we call a “who done it?”, a novel where someone is killed and throughout the book the main characters study and deduce until they can figure out who the killer is. That is what we call a “mystery”.

In the Gospel “mystery” we know who the killer(s) are. We are. We killed Jesus. Our sins killed Jesus. God the Father killed Jesus. Why was Jesus killed? Because all are sinners, and God is pure and righteous. Jesus Christ willingly came to this earth because of our sins. We are told in:

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

Sin in our lives kept us separate from God. We could not be in a state where we could commune with God daily in prayer because of our violation of God’s Law. We are all sinners. So here’s the first mystery:

1 God Came Into The World To Save Us From Sin

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

Here is a great mystery, that God the Son would willingly come into this world to make payment for our sins. God gave us the Law in the Old Covenant – the First Covenant. But we continued to break the Law. If we had not broken the Law then we would have made but one sacrifice on the brazen altar. But we had to sacrifice year after year because we kept on sinning. It is NOT POSSIBLE that the blood of bulls and goats take away sins. But Jesus can. Jesus can. He is God in the flesh, as John told us.

John 1:1-2, 14 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 The same was in the beginning with God. … 14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us

2 God Died For The World To Save Us From Sin

Hebrews 10:10 By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

This is the mystery of the Cross. Many have died in human history, but ONLY JESUS died specifically to satisfy the justice of God. When John the Baptist saw Jesus he said:

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

And the Apostle said in Romans 4:24-25 … we believe on {God} that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; 25 Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.

No one is able to fully understand this. One tiny little sin can keep a person from Heaven. It doesn’t matter how small we perceive it, just a tiny bit will send the soul to hell. But God sent His Son to die for us. Jesus was delivered for our offenses, offenses against God the Father and against Heaven. Jesus paid for our sins with His death. But here’s something we often forget: Jesus was raised again for our justification. Had He remained dead He would have paid for our sins, but we would not be justified or made fully righteous in the eyes of God. Why? The Scripture says:

Romans 8:27, 33-34 {God} maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God…. 33-34 Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. 34 Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.

When you receive the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior His Blood not only covers your sins, but He continually maketh intercession for us at the right hand of God the Father. Praise God, the Christian faith is God made and God secured. This is a mystery that the world does not understand and, I suppose, many of us do not fully understand. But it is nonetheless true no matter what we feel. When you receive the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior the Holy Spirit indwells you and Jesus represents you. That is just fantastic!

3 God Died For All And Rose Again To Rule His Kingdom

When Jesus walked this earth He spoke in parables because, He told His followers:

Mark 4:11 … 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:

When you receive the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior you become members of the Kingdom of God. We are His Children and His subjects. The Apostle said:

Philippians 3:17-21 Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample. 18 (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: 19 Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.) 20 For our CONVERSATION (literally CITIZENSHIP) is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ: 21 Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.

Those who walk contrary to the ways of righteousness and light are called enemies of the cross of Christ. They do not live as citizens of God’s Kingdom. Citizens of God’s Kingdom walk in the Spirit of God. We walk looking upward, for Jesus is watching us, and Jesus is coming again. We do not serve the lusts of the flesh – Jesus saved us from our sin so that we can serve our Living God.

Jesus did not save us so that we can freely SIN,
But so that we can freely SERVE our Lord.
Our CITIZENSHIP is in Heaven,
Though we dwell on the earth.
And one day soon we shall see Him face to face.
What a glorious day that will be!

We who belong to Jesus want as many as possible to come into this wonderful, mysterious Kingdom of God. This is why Paul asked the Church to pray for Him. Let us pray for one another. Let us pray that as a Church people will see Christ in us. Let us pray that we will walk as proper citizens of the Heavenly Kingdom. This is why the Apostle said:

Ephesians 6:18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;

We are to pray for one another that Christ’s Kingdom be advanced. We wrestle not against flesh and bone, but against the forces of evil. Let us pray for one another that we will be creatures of God’s Light.

May Christ be lifted up, and the Father be glorified by this message. Amen!

Posted in prayer, Sermons Preached | Tagged ,

The Other Side

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Photo by Jon Flobrant on Unsplash

Humans Make Things So Complicated

As humans we make things exceptionally difficult on ourselves. We really do. A man and woman get into a sexual relationship outside of the will of God. As is expected, such a relationship gets difficult. When you ask them about it, their reply is:

It’s Complicated”

No, it’s not complicated. We make it complicated. We don’t listen to God or His Word and try to do it ourselves in our own ways and find complications. This has never changed. As Daniel that wonderful and righteous Prophet of God rightly said:

O Lord, righteousness belongeth unto thee,
but unto us CONFUSION OF FACES” (Daniel 9:7)

When we depart from God and His Word – living as He tells us to live – we get confusion of face. Iniquity – disobedience to God – brings confusion of face (Ezra 9:7). Oh that we would remember:

God is not the Author of confusion,
But of peace (1 Corinthians 14:33)”

I was standing in a hospital hallway the other day, waiting to visit and pray with a sick person. As I stood there I decided to read my Bible. I still carry a leather bound Bible with me when I visit people. Some carry them on their electronic devices – I just prefer the old bound Bible. Not judging you, by the way: I love technology! But nothing beats the feel of the old leather Treasure. As I was reading in Joshua I came across a phrase I honest can’t say ever really struck me before. I suspect it’s because – as I said – we all make things too complicated. The phrase was this.

Turn with me in your Bibles to Joshua chapter 24. I want to show you what I saw.

Joshua 24:2 And Joshua said unto all the people, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Your fathers dwelt on the other side of the flood in old time, even Terah, the father of Abraham, and the father of Nachor: and they served other gods.

Joshua 24:3 And I took your father Abraham from the other side of the flood, and led him throughout all the land of Canaan, and multiplied his seed, and gave him Isaac.

Joshua 24:14 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.

Joshua 24:15 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.

Now unless you’re blind, deaf, or just pure dumb you saw the phrase, the other side of the flood. As soon as I read that I said to the Lord “I see a sermon in this”
and He told me “tell them”.

So I’m going to tell you. You can make this complicated or you can just let God speak to you. The phrase the other side of the flood is not Joshua’s invention. Joshua is at the end of his career of service as a Judge in Israel. He has honorably served the Lord, and is preparing to retire. He wants Israel to hear a final word from God.

Joshua 24:1-2 And Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel to Shechem, and called for the elders of Israel, and for their heads, and for their judges, and for their officers; and they presented themselves before God. 2 And Joshua said unto all the people, THUS SAITH THE LORD GOD OF ISRAEL

This is God’s Word. Not Joshua’s word. God’s word.

Obeying God’s Word Brings Blessing

The people came together in one accord at Shechem.
Why Shechem?
How did they get to Shechem?

It was at Shechem that God called out Abram who would become Abraham. God spoke to him and said “Follow Me, and I will bless.” Now that’s not complicated. Hear God, follow God. Because of that promise Abraham built the first altar to God in Shechem (Genesis 12:7). When Jacob, Abraham’s grandson repented and began to follow God he buried his idols at Shechem. Jacob built an altar to God our Father at Shechem (Genesis 33:18-20) and built another altar at Bethel (Genesis 35:1-4) when God had him go there. When Joshua first led Israel into the Promised Land it was at Shechem that this generation repented and pledged to follow God’s call (Joshua 8:30-35) following Achan’s sin (Joshua 7). Following their pledge they built another altar at Shechem. From that point on Joshua and Israel had NOTHING but triumph. Following God and simply obeying Him brought blessing beyond measure.

Now the Promised Land has been taken, and Israel is triumphant. Why? Because they followed God. So as they all stand at Shechem they presented themselves before God. Oh Beloved, do you not know the words of our Lord?

Matthew 12:25 … Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand .. (see also Luke 11:17)

God calls His people to unity with HIM and with ONE ANOTHER. We who are His are to follow HIM TOGETHER. As they stand before God, the Lord Himself speaks through Joshua’s mouth:

Joshua 24:2 And Joshua said unto all the people, THUS SAITH THE LORD GOD OF ISRAEL

This is not Joshua’s opinion. This is God’s word coming through his humble servant. Hear God’s word!

Joshua 24:2 … Your fathers dwelt on the other side of the flood in old time, even Terah, the father of Abraham, and the father of Nachor: and they served other gods.

Your forefathers on the other side of the flood served other gods. Let’s look at that phrase “other side of the flood” in the Hebrew. Many versions translate this text as “the other side of the RIVER” – perhaps the version you are reading does that. The Hebrew עֵבֶר ʻêber, (pronounced ay’-ber) נָהָר nâhâr, (pronounced naw-hawr’) can indeed be translated “the other side of the river” but can also be translated “flood or floods” (see the New American Standard translation of nâhâr in Psalm 93:3) or “rushing streams” (see the New American Standard translation in Isaiah 59:19) or “seas” (see the New American Standard translation in Jonah 2:3). In reality the word nâhâr can be used for any large body of water. In our Joshua text today the word is used as a reference to the Jordan River which was flooded when Israel passed over it. Yet they by faith they heeded God’s Word. In union with God and with one another the Bible tells us that:

Joshua 3:15-16 … as they that bare the ark were come unto Jordan, and the feet of the priests that bare the ark were dipped in the brim of the water, (for Jordan overfloweth all his banks all the time of harvest,) 16 That the waters which came down from above stood and rose up upon a heap very far from the city Adam, that is beside Zaretan: and those that came down toward the sea of the plain, even the salt sea, failed, and were cut off: and the people passed over right against Jericho.

As soon as God’s people did what God told them to do, the floods were held back, and God’s people went through the midst of the waters as if on dry land. This was not the first time God did this. The first generation of Israel left left Egypt because they obeyed the Lord. After they left Egypt it wasn’t long before Pharaoh and all the godless pagans chased the Lord’s people. As Israel followed the Lord the Lord led them to the edge of another Flood, the Red Sea. God’s people began to revolt as they saw the Egyptian Army marching toward them. They began to grumble, to backbite, to fragment. “Because there were no graves in Egypt, hast thou taken us away to die in the wilderness? wherefore hast thou dealt thus with us, to carry us forth out of Egypt? Is not this the word that we did tell thee in Egypt, saying, Let us alone, that we may serve the Egyptians? For it had been better for us to serve the Egyptians, than that we should die in the wilderness. (Exodus 14:11-12)”. Artist Keith Green wrote a song before he went to be with the Lord called “So You Wanna Go Back To Egypt”. The lyrics are amusing.

So you wanna go back to Egypt
Where it’s warm and secure.
Are sorry you bought the one way ticket
When you thought you were sure.
You wanted to live in the land of promise
But now it’s getting so hard
Are you sorry you’re out here in the desert
Instead of your own back yard?
Well there’s nothing do but travel,
And we sure travel a lot!
‘Cause it’s hard to keep your feet from moving,
When the sand gets so hot!
And in the morning it’s manna hotcakes,
We snack on manna all day.
And we sure had a winner last night for dinner,
Flaming manna souffle!

What happened at the flood that was the Red Sea? You know the story. Moses told Israel:

Exodus 14:13-14 … Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will shew to you to day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more for ever. 14 The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.

When Moses said STAND STILL he didn’t mean they shouldn’t move their feet. They would have to move their feet. But God wanted them to be still, look up, and trust Him. God was going to do a miracle. But God wouldn’t do the miracle if they wouldn’t hush up and quit blaming God. God also wouldn’t do the miracle if they wouldn’t do what God said.

Beloved, we must do what God says if we
expect to receive the blessing.
God will get us through the flood,
through the impossible rivers and seas.
But we must hear Him and do as He says!
It makes no human sense that Moses’ staff will part tons of water.
It makes no human sense that a Box which is the Ark
will hold back a raging river.
It makes no human sense that believing on and obeying
Jesus will bring blessing and eternal life.
It makes no human sense that this Book of Books is God breathed.
It makes no human sense – but it is true nonetheless!

I could talk about Noah and the Ark of Genesis 6 – and the REALLY big Flood that sin brought on the world – but I won’t. I will say this. When you follow God you will find blessing in your life. When you just plain obey the Lord’s Word you will be blessed. But when you follow idols – which includes yourself – then you bring a curse on your life. Want to be blessed? Follow Jesus! Follow this precious Word! Love one another. Love God. Now that’s not hard, is it?

To Believe Is To Put Away The Other gods

Joshua 24:3 I took your father Abraham from the other side of the flood, and led him throughout all the land of Canaan, and multiplied his seed, and gave him Isaac.

God took Abraham. How did God take Abraham? He told Abraham what to do, and Abraham did it. God doesn’t pick us up by the nape of our necks and drag us where He wants us to be. He speaks to us. He directs us. He tells us. How did Abraham get children. Did Abraham sit in the recliner day after day and bemoan the fact that he had no kids? Or did he do something about it? Beloved, the only miraculous conception in the Bible is the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ. It was to Mary that God said “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:35). Jesus was born supernaturally. Isaac was born the old fashioned way. If you don’t know what that is, go home and ask your mommy! God said that He multiplied Abraham’s seed, and gave him Isaac. An impotent man was made potent. God changed him – and Abraham obeyed God and had a child.

God moves us when we hear Him and do as He says. He blessed Abraham, and He will bless you.

When we were on the other side of the flood we served the gods. We served the Roman god Bacchus, the god of sex and alcohol. We served the Greek god Narcissus, the god of self worship. We served the Egyptian god Isis, the goddess of health and medicine. We served mother earth as a goddess. We served many other gods and goddesses. But like Abraham we put away the other gods and goddesses and love only the One True God.

Joshua 24:14 … 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.

You are not as you were before. When in Egypt you served other gods. When you were wandering you served other gods. When you were with your forefather Terah you served other gods. You have seen that believing in the Lord brings blessing.

I am not my own. I am bought with a price. God has shed His Blood for me on Calvary. God called me from the fishing nets. He said “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men”. Believing is not a one time thing, but a daily obedience. Let me say that again:

Believing is not a one time occurrence.
It is a daily faithfulness to God.

What does God call you to do? Fear the Lord. Show Him the respect due His status. Yes, the Bible says that there is no fear in love, but you take this out of context. I do not fear hell, for Jesus Christ gave Himself for me. Because of this I have boldness in the day of judgment (1 John 4:17). I do not fear judgment. Because Jesus gave Himself for me, I do not fear death, for God dwelleth in me, and I in Him (1 John 4:12). He has given us of His Spirit (1 John 4:13), and death but a pin prick for I am immortal because my God is immortal. No, I do not fear anything on this earth. But the Son of God should Fear the Lord. We should Fear hurting Him. We should Fear disappointing Him. We should Fear to walk in a way that He does not walk. My power is in Him. Has not Christ said:

John 15:5 … without me ye can do nothing.

You took the Promised Land walking with and in God. Will you now keep that which you have without Him? Absolutely not! Let us who are His Fear the Lord. As Moses said,

Exodus 33:15 … If thy presence go not with me …
carry us not up hence
.

If God is not in it, if Christ is not glorified by it, I DO NOT WANT IT! And neither should you, dear Christian.

What does God call you to do? Serve Him in sincerity and in truth. The Christianity brayed about today from mulish pulpits and musical nonsenses makes out that God serves us. God is a massive Waiter Who watches our every move, daring not to upset us lest we in rage without our affection. May I tell you that this is satanic nonsense. The Christianity that does not teach service to God and service to others is not Christianity at all, but an ancient evil that was first suggested by a serpent in the Garden of Eden. God does not exist to serve you, but you Him. We are to Serve Him not to be saved, but BECAUSE we are saved. What did Jesus teach us?

Luke 22:26-27 … But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve. 27 For whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth? is not he that sitteth at meat? but I am among you as he that serveth.

Our Master served. Our Savior served. Our Jesus commands that we serve. Not sit. Serve. Serve. Bend your knees, bend your back, and serve. That selfish thing which has become the Church in America and the American Christian is not even close to the Church that Christ died for. Jesus showed you how to serve. Look at the nails in His hands and feet. Listen to the crowd mock Him. Do you not know that at any time Jesus could have called out to the Father, and He would have at once sent to rescue Him twelve legions of Angels (Matthew 26:53)? But He did not. He gave everything in service to save us.

And yet most of us cannot sit still for 30 minutes to hear from His Word once a week.
Oh Beloved, let it not be so!

The selfish Christian is the unspiritual Christian. As Jesus served, let us serve. Serve not because you MUST. Serve Him in sincerity and in truth. This is the way to blessing. Works will not save you – you cannot work your way to Heaven. But if you are saved by faith in Christ then you will not be the way you were. You will gladly serve Him.

Psalm 100:2 Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing.

When you serve Him with gladness, when you serve Him in sincerity and in truth, then your heart will overflow with gladness. You will experience His presence. You see, the reason that God is speaking to Joshua and through Joshua is because Joshua served the Lord in sincerity and in truth.

Make Up Your Mind Who You Believe

Joshua 24:15 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.

Choose. Quit sitting on the fence and choose. If you are not going to serve the Lord Jesus then quit pretending. An unbeliever pretending to be a believer is just a fool. If you don’t believe in Him, then obey the god you believe in. But Beloved, I’ve made up my mind. You can call me homophobic, a hater, a misogynist, a b——, or anything else you want to call me. As God is my Witness I hate no one. I wish you all would come to this side of the flood. I really do. I wish you would trust Jesus, step out on faith, and let Him guide your life. I wish you would stop writing your own story and let the Lord Jesus Christ become the Author and Finisher of your faith (Hebrews 12:2). I pray that for you. But if you won’t, then be honest with yourselves. Be honest, and serve that false god. But I stand with Joshua. As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. Amen!

Posted in Joshua, Sermons Preached | Tagged , ,

When Thou Art Converted

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Photo by Zugr on Unsplash

The past two weeks in the Christian news world two men astounded myself and others with their testimonies. The first man was a pastor and an author of a best selling book called “I Kissed Dating Goodbye”. The man renounced his Christian faith, walked away from his wife, and joined a Gay Pride Parade in Vancouver. Another man – a highly successful worship music writer renounced his faith in Christ. Many Churches sang his worship songs, songs like All I Need Is You:

One more day and it’s not the same
Your Spirit calls my heart to sing
Drawn to the voice of my Saviour once again
Where would my soul be without Your Son
Gave His life to save the earth
Rest in the thought that You’re watching over me
All I need is You
All I need is You Lord

What beautiful words! This poor man upon renouncing his faith in Christ wrote:

How many preachers fall? Many. No one talks about it. How many miracles happen. Not many. No one talks about it. Why is the Bible full of contradictions? No one talks about it. How can God be love yet send four billion people to a place, all ‘coz they don’t believe? No one talks about it.”

Salvation Comes By Doing The Father’s Will

I didn’t bring this up today to judge these men. There have always been people who have come into contact with the Church who outwardly looked Christian. Jesus forewarned us:

Matthew 7:21-23 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. 21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 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.

From what Jesus said it is possible to do as I’m doing here today – to stand in this wonderful place and preach His Gospel – and yet still be lost. It is possible to be a great missionary who – confronting devil possessed people – can cast out devils – and yet still be lost. You could run an orphanage, or go on mission with our Director of Missions, and minister to those in need – and still be lost. You can pastor a mega-church or a mini-church, or lead the worship services, or serve in the choir, and still be lost.

Jesus said the only ones who go to Heaven is he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. What did Jesus mean by the will of my Father? That is very important. Jesus said:

Matthew 12:50 … whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.

What is this will of my Father Jesus spoke of ?

What is it that God the Father would have us all do? Jesus was quite plain on this point. Someone asked Jesus, “What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?”. Jesus replied:

John 6:29 This is the work of God, that ye BELIEVE ON HIM whom he hath sent.

The work of God is to believe on Jesus. It is so important to believe on Jesus. To believe Him as He is presented in the Scriptures. To believe Him as the Word of God. To believe that He is the Only Way to Heaven. As that poor deluded man said:

How can God be love yet send four billion people to a place,
all ‘coz they don’t believe?

God IS love. He loved you so much, and loved me so much, that He sent His Only Begotten Son to die for our sins, to pay a payment we cannot pay. If four billion people go to hell it will not be because God wished them there. It will be because they would not do the ONE WORK that God requires – to believe on the Son.

When We Believe SOMEONE Happens

When we believe on the Son of God something happens. Let me change the way I said that. When we believe on the Son of God SOMEONE happens. Jesus told us in another place:

John 7:38-39 He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. 39 (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)

When you believe on Christ SOMEONE happens.
The Holy Spirit COMES to you.
The Holy Spirit CONVERTS you.
The Holy Spirit CHANGES you.
You are NOT THE SAME when you believe on Christ.
The BLOOD OF CHRIST brings forgiveness.
The SPIRIT OF GOD brings change.
You are changed from DARKNESS to LIGHT.
You are changed from SON OF ADAM to a SON OF GOD.
You are changed from FAMILY OF MAN to FAMILY OF CHRIST.
You are changed from perpetual SINNER to eternal SAINT.
You are changed from HELL bound to HEAVEN bound.
You are changed from workmanship of SATAN to craftsmanship of GOD.

I believe that the reason so many people who were apparently and visibly Christian come back and later change their testimonies is because they have not truly believed on Jesus Christ.

We see an example of this in our message today in Luke chapter 22. Turn with me in your Bibles to Luke 22. Matthew, Mark, LUKE. The third Book in this Book of Books, this Master Text, this uncorrupted and incorruptible Word of God that abideth forever and ever. What is happening in Luke 22?

Luke 22:1 Now the feast of unleavened bread drew nigh, which is called the Passover.

It is the Passover, the Jewish Feast that commemorated Israel’s salvation from Egypt. It is a time when lambs without spot or blemish are killed, and their blood poured out to cover the sins of God’s people. The Passover is a time of SANCTIFICATION, a time of SEPARATION, a time DEDICATION to God. But what are the leading Preachers and Teachers doing in this most Holy of times? We are told:

Luke 22:2 And the chief priests and scribes sought how they might kill {Jesus}; for they feared the people.

While we gather around and sing “Oh, how I love Jesus, because He first loved me” the religious crowd gathers and sings “Oh, how we hate Jesus!”. So you have this crowd of outwardly religious preachers, teachers, and worship leaders who plot and plan. What else do you have?

For over three years twelve men have followed Christ. Outwardly they look good. They sat in His classes,
and ate at His table.

But something is wrong with all of these men. They followed Jesus OUTWARDLY, but God the Holy Spirit had not yet been given, for Christ was not yet glorified. The Spirit did not come to indwell these men. Jesus has not yet been crucified for our sins. He has not died on Calvary. The Spirit came temporarily on these men, but did not come to abide as Jesus said. Outwardly they looked good. Inwardly they were not changed.

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

Judas followed Jesus.

Judas was there when Jesus healed.
Judas was there when Jesus fed five thousand.

Judas carried baskets of food out and ministered with the other eleven on that wonderful day. Judas was an Apostle. It was Jesus’ intention to bless Judas Iscariot along with the other eleven. Jesus would later tell Judas and the others:

Luke 22:28-30 Ye are they which have continued with me in my temptations. 29 And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me; 30 That ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the TWELVE tribes of Israel.

Twelve Apostle – Twelve Thrones – Twelve Tribes in Israel. These men followed Jesus. Judas followed Jesus. But note the phrase Then entered Satan into Judas. Judas was not indwelt by the Spirit of God, but with the Angel of Evil. Satan took hold of him. He was FILLED with the devil.

Jesus Modeled Absolute Surrender To God

Jesus has these men set up a table where He can celebrate the final Passover meal with these twelve.

Luke 22:15 With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you BEFORE I SUFFER:

Jesus knew He was gong to suffer Calvary, but wanted to have one final meal with His men. As He ate the meal with the men He showed them how much He loved us all. He was going to suffer a terrible death, a horrible thing for the Son of God. The Bible says:

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

Jesus speaks of His absolute surrender.
His Body is going to be broken.
He shall suffer.
This do in remembrance of Me.
Remember what I did for you.
The agony, the pain – for YOU!

Is not God love? Is He not love? We are nothing, and Christ is everything. Yet Everything gave everything for this nothing.

Luke 22:20 Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament IN MY BLOOD, which is shed FOR YOU.

Jesus would shed His Blood for you, for each person at this Table, for each person in this room. But as the Scripture says:

2 Timothy 2:19 … The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.

The Lord knows. I do not know, but the Lord knows. Jesus knows that Judas Iscariot has betrayed Him. He said

Luke 22:20 … BEHOLD, the hand of him that betrayeth Me is with Me on the table.

Jesus knows them that are His. He knows them. Judas is going to betray Christ. Jesus said:

Luke 22:22 … truly the Son of man goeth, as IT WAS DETERMINED: but woe unto that man by whom he is betrayed!

God knew Judas would betray Jesus. But woe unto Judas! But Judas is not the only person who is going to betray Jesus. Jesus has just finished showing the disciples absolute surrender – His absolute surrender. Jesus wants us to live lives of absolute surrender to God just as He did. But here’s something shocking.

Luke 22:24 … there was also a strife among them, which of them should be accounted the greatest.

For over three years Jesus has taught these disciples humility. For over three years He has told them, over and over again,

Matthew 11:29 … learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart

Luke 14:11 … whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted

Jesus taught His disciples – these twelve men – humility and surrender to God. Jesus taught us to “be clothed with humility, because God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble” (1 Peter 5:5-7, my paraphrase). Jesus told us and them:

Matthew 16:24-25 … If any man will come after me, let him DENY HIMSELF, and take up his cross, and follow me. 25 For whosoever will SAVE HIS LIFE SHALL LOSE IT: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.

The way of Christ is absolute surrender. Jesus is going to absolutely surrender Himself to Calvary. He’s just explained His broken body and shed Blood. In the midst of all this:

here the twelve sit ARGUING “Who will be the GREATEST”!

Why? Why is this? Because though these men followed Jesus, and though these men heard His teaching, none of these men were yet indwelt with the Holy Spirit.

How do I know this? Because of something Jesus told Peter, something I have read numerous times but it has never pierced the fog of my mind until this sermon.

Jesus chastises the disciples once more for their pride. He says:

Luke 22:25-26 … The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors. 26 But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve.

Jesus called these men – and us – to be like Himself. If you’re going to be like Jesus you need to humble yourselves. Pride cannot take you very far. As Jesus says these words and watches them bounce off of these men, He focuses on Peter. Who was Peter? Peter was a disciple open to the Lord. The day that Jesus called Peter He said:

John 1:42 … Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas {or “Peter”}, which is by interpretation, A stone.

Jesus gave Simon the name Cephas or Peter, which means Stone. But now Jesus calls him not Peter, but Simon:

Luke 22:31-33 And the Lord said, SIMON, SIMON, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: 32 But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and WHEN THOU ART CONVERTED, strengthen thy brethren. 33 And he said unto him, Lord, I am ready …

I have read this passage so many times but have never absorbed those four words:

WHEN THOU ART CONVERTED

Satan is going to sift Simon. Not Peter the Rock, but Simon. Simon means “he who hears” but Cephas means “a solid rock”. Simon is not yet really Peter. Why? Because he has not been CONVERTED (ἐπιστρέφω epistréphō, pronounced ep-ee-stref’-o) or changed, turned around. The devil was going to get hold of Simon, but God would turn him around. While Simon was trying to do things in his own power he would deny the Lord. Oh, Simon was sincere. He said:

Lord, I am ready to go with thee,
both into prison, and to death. (vs 33)

I have no doubt of his sincerity. I do not doubt the sincerity of the pastor and author who once claimed to be a Christian but now renounces his faith. I do not doubt the sincerity of the musician who wrote such stirring worship music who once claimed to be a Christian but now renounces his faith. I believe these men, and others of whom I know, were very sincere and very genuine. They were outwardly such paragons of faith.

But did they know Jesus?
Had God the Holy Spirit come to them?
Were they surrendered to Christ?
If you are surrendered to Christ you are Peter.
If you are puffed up by self you are Simon.

Who Are You Following?

You can have the best of intentions, but unless you have believed on Him Whom the Father hath sent there is no genuine salvation. Salvation is not found in how you are dressed. Salvation is not found in the songs you produce or sing. Salvation is not found in being a good preacher or a good orator. Where is salvation found?

Only in Jesus. Only in receiving Him as Lord and Savior. Only in the heart and mind submitted to Him. When you submit to Him – something only you can do – He sends the Spirit of God to you. When you bend the knee to Calvary, knowing yourself worthy only of damnation but for Christ, then the Son rises in your life. The Son becomes your Lord, and your Lord enters your life. He changes you, and begins to make you into that creature that God wants you to be.

Simon, when thou art converted, when your direction is changed;
When the “I” no longer rules, but you bow in wonder and admiration
Not to yourself, but to Jesus. Then the Spirit comes. Then the life changes.

Art thou converted? Or are you following yourself?

All to Jesus I surrender
All to Him I freely give
I will ever love and trust Him
In His presence daily live

All to Jesus I surrender
Humbly at His feet I bow
Worldly pleasures all forsaken
Take me Jesus take me now.

I surrender all, I surrender all
All to Thee my blessed Saviour
I surrender all.

All to Jesus I surrender
Make me Saviour wholly Thine
Let me feel the Holy Spirit
Truly know that Thou art mine!

I surrender all, I surrender all
All to Thee my blessed Saviour
I surrender all.

Posted in Luke, Sermons Preached | Tagged , , ,

Absolute Surrender

Psalm 139:23-24 Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: 24 And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

Scooter The Guard Dog 2.pngI walked outside to go to the Church house and my wife was on our back porch in her morning prayers. She quietly said:

“Look at the squirrel on the bird feeder.”

I stopped and looked. I tried to get a picture of it – it was so comical. When I tried to take the picture our dog Scooter ran out into the yard to protect us from that ferocious squirrel. Of course the squirrel got away. Thanks Scooter! It may be hard for you to see it but the bird feeder is to the left of Scooter, top left hand corner of the picture. I circled it so you could see it better (I hope). The squirrel was hanging upside down by it’s back paws from the top of the feeder. He had already fallen off the feeder once that we know of as he tried to get to the bird food. You might think “Well the poor thing is hungry”. That wasn’t the problem. If you look to the right of Scooter the Guard Dog (thank the Lord for him) there is another ground feeder I made especially for squirrels and ground hogs. That feeder was filled to the overflowing with good dried corn – something that squirrels love. Why was the squirrel hanging precariously upside down trying to steal bird food? Greed. Just like humans have greed, animals have greed.

Just this week I heard about the apparent suicide of multimillionaire Jeffrey Epstein. The man had been blessed beyond measure with the wealth of this world, but that wasn’t enough. He used his power and money to molest and harm some 36 young girls, several as young as 14 years old. He was arrested and convicted to 18 months in a private minimum security prison. After 3 ½ months of incarceration he was allowed “work release” up to 12 hours a day, six days a week. Arrested a second time for sexual trafficking of minors he apparently took his own life. The Justice department is outraged. The Corrections Department is outraged. Everybody is outraged that this man got away without being punished. But Beloved, he has not escaped justice. He is in the hands of our Sovereign and Almighty God. The God Who made him will now judge him. Epstein got away with nothing, for God has said:

Ezekiel 18:4 Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die.

God Will Judge

We serve a God Who will judge every soul. Every soul will stand before Him one day and give an account. The Bible says:

Romans 14:12 … every one of us shall give an account of himself to God.

None are exempt. All will give an account. The Christ Follower will give an account of how he or she served the Lord in this life. We then will gain or lose future eternal reward according to the Scripture (1 Corinthians 3:14-15). The Christ follower’s works will be judged, but not their souls – for Christ Himself has saved our souls.

We are bought with a price so that we are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s (1 Corinthians 3:23). We are bought with a price (1 Corinthians 6:20; 1 Corinthians 7:23) dear Christian – the precious Blood of Christ. Our works will be judged, but our souls are under the Blood of Christ.

But of the unbeliever, they too shall be judged. They will be judged for their rejection of Christ. Their works will be judged, but their works will be inadequate to save them. They have not called upon the Name of Christ, so they are not written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. What saith the Scripture:

Revelation 21:27 … And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

Just as Sherry feeds the squirrels, God feeds us all. God blesses us all. What will we do with that blessing? We can follow the path of sin and at the end of that rainbow find not a pot of gold but a heap of misery. Or we can surrender to God – Absolutely Surrender to God. This is what David speaks of in Psalm 139.

Psalm 139:1-5 … 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.

God Is Watching

We hide nothing from God. God watches over us all. God provides great things for us. Yet we often like that little squirrel choose the things that end up cursing us. King David recognized that the LORD is always there.

  • I often wonder how much differently would business meetings be held if everyone understood that God is here?
  • I often wonder if we would watch horrid shows like “Game of Thrones” or some show that glorifies sexual perversion if we understood that God is there?
  • I often wonder if we would gossip on the phone, or malign someone else, or be hateful or racist if we understood that God is there?

King David recognized that there was nothing he could hide from God. That poor Epstein fellow killed himself to escape justice. Adolf Hitler killed himself to escape Nuremberg. Beloved, there is no escape from God. God is there. God is watching. And God will judge.

Psalm 139:6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it.

David said in essence – “I myself have trouble grasping this concept”. David knew it was true because God told him. But he could not fully grasp it. I don’t think any of us fully grasp this. God is there with you, dear Christ follower. Do you not know that …

1 Corinthians 3:16 … ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?

If you are saved by faith in Christ – an action that the Holy Spirit of God does to you (see Titus 3:5-6) – then upon your salvation the Holy Spirit moves into your body. He is there. He is there whether you feel Him or not. He is there whether you sense Him or not. He is watching you, protecting you, guiding you. You may go through valleys but God is there. You may forget Him at times, but God is there. The Valley of the Shadow of death may come, but as Scripture says:

Psalm 23:4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for THOU ART WITH ME; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Whether in bad times (thy rod) or in good times (thy staff) our comfort is that THOU, O LORD, ART WITH ME. There is no escape from God for the evil doer, and no escape from God for those who are His Children through Christ. God is with us. God watches both Heaven and Hell:

Psalm 139:8 If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.

God was there watching you when you were born. In fact, God made you. The Bible says:

Psalm 139:13-17 For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb. 14 I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. 15 My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. 16 Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them. 17 How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them!

God made you, and God made me. He made you the way you are. He did not make you to sin nor to ignore Him, but gave you your abilities and talents to glorify Him, to praise Him. When God thinks of you He wants only the best for you. This is why the Psalmist sang How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them. God wants to bless your lives. But there is no blessing in ignoring God, and no blessing in committing sin. Oh Beloved, reject sin! Turn from sin and turn to God. Sin brings destruction.

Psalm 139:19-20 Surely thou wilt slay the wicked, O God: depart from me therefore, ye bloody men. 20 For they speak against thee wickedly, and thine enemies take thy name in vain.

We who love the Lord and have been saved by the Lord’s Blood do not lay down with the wicked. The enemies of God take His Name in vain. They march, taking pride in their sinfulness. God will judge them. He will judge the sinner. We who are His need to remember that there was a time when we walked in darkness – but Christ has changed us. The Holy Spirit has ..

Colossians 1:1 … delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:

Because of Jesus’ Blood we are freed from sin. Before we were saved we were:

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

We, like King David, despise evil. We know that we are to:

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

We belong to Jesus. Let us live to tell others of Jesus. Let us love the sinner, but despise the sin. Let us tell them to repent and turn to Him Who loved them, and gave Himself for them. And let us not be self righteous. The world is self righteously in an uproar over Epstein’s tragic death. Let us not be self righteous, but mourn. For he is judged. God has judged him. And God will judge all of us. Let us not be judging others – we are not qualified. But let us, like David, practice absolute surrender. Let us go to Him Who loves us and ask Him to speak to us as David did.

Psalm 139:23-24 Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: 24 And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

May God touch your hearts with His Word.

Posted in Psalms, Sermons Preached | Tagged , , ,

Being Good Soldiers

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Photo by Daniele Fantin on Unsplash

2 Timothy 2:1-3 Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2 And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also. 3 Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.

When a Christian is first “born again” into God’s Kingdom he or she is a “babe in Christ”. But we are not to stay as babes in Christ. God expects us to grow in faith, to “grow in Grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be glory both now and forever” (2 Peter 3:18). Just as a young baby grows into a toddler, then a child, a youth, then an adult, every believer is expected to grow spiritually strong and robust. It is abnormal to remain a baby Christian. It can happen, and does happen. The Apostle Paul chastised the Corinthian Church, saying:

1 Corinthians 3:1-3 And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. 2 I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. 3 For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?

The marks of the baby Christian are three-fold:

envying
strife
divisions

Many Churches follow the pattern of Corinth, struggling to be effective for the Lord because they are fragmented – children fighting in a sandbox over the toy truck. But as the Apostle said in Hebrews 6:9,

beloved, we are persuaded better things of you,
and things that accompany salvation”

God wants us to grow to be good soldiers of Jesus Christ. Not just “soldiers” but “good soldiers”. The Apostle Paul often used the image of the soldier to describe the Christian purpose in life. In Ephesians a very familiar passage tells us:

Ephesians 6:11-12 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.

It is the soldier who puts on armor, the soldier who fights an enemy. The Church of Christ is in a battle against a powerful and evil force. The force that we fight is not flesh and blood, though often this force inhabits humanity. This force is angelic, devilish, fallen, and will do everything it can to destroy our cause. We are called of God to be not just soldier, but good soldiers of Jesus Christ!

The Good Soldier Endures Hardness

2 Timothy 2:3 Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.

Hardness and discomfort is expected by the soldier. No soldier expects every day to be comfortable and easy. We are in a battle with a superior enemy, Satan and this present world. If we are at one with the world then we are no threat to Satan. But if we stand in Christ, if we are:

2 Timothy 2:1 … strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.

Then we are an enemy of the devil and of darkness. When our Lord Jesus came to this world He was constantly attacked, constantly hounded, constantly libeled. Who attacked Jesus first? Was it not the devil, the General of Evil? The devil came tempting our Lord to compromise with darkness:

Matthew 4:3 … if Thou be the Son of God, command these stones be made bread ..

The devil’s intention was to get Jesus to compromise with him. If Jesus operated according to the direction of the devil then that devil would own Him. But Jesus refused, saying:

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

What has GOD said? Jesus lived His life following the Word of God. He listened to God. He acted according to God’s Word and his order. When the devil tempted Jesus, encouraging Him to follow the devil’s command rather than the Father’s order, Jesus replied:

Matthew 4:7 … Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.

The soldier follows the order of his Leader. Jesus maintained His focus on what God had sent Him to do. If the devil can get you to compromise the Word of God, get you to water down what He has commanded, then it will not be long until you defect to the devil’s side. Christians, you will be tried in this world. You will be tested. You will suffer hardship.

Remember Jesus.

2 Timothy 2:8 … Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my gospel:

How did Jesus die? Did He die in a comfortable bed, just drifting away in His sleep? Did He die of a sudden heart attack? I have heard of preachers who died in the pulpit of sudden heart attacks. What a glorious death that would be! Did Jesus die in such a way? Did Jesus die with His friends and family around Him, laid to rest in a beautiful coffin, with dignitaries attending His funeral? No!

The day Jesus died He was unlawfully tried. The day Jesus died the Bible says:

Matthew 26:59-60 … Now the chief priests, and elders, and all the council, sought false witness against Jesus, to put him to death; 60 But found none: yea, though many false witnesses came, yet found they none. At the last came two false witnesses …

Jesus Christ did no wrong, yet was persecuted by the forces of darkness. The early Church was persecuted for the cause of Christ. The Apostle himself was persecuted, attacked by forces of darkness:

2 Timothy 2:9-10 Wherein I suffer trouble, as an evil doer, even unto bonds; but the word of God is not bound. 10 Therefore I endure all things for the elect’s sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.

Jesus endured persecution for our sakes, so that we might be saved. Paul endured trials and tribulation for the elect’s sake, for the sake of those who had not yet heard the Gospel. If you are doing the work of Christ you will suffer hardship, you will be persecuted. Jesus told us:

John 15:20 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.

Not too long ago I was talking with my son Michael’s pastor, Brother David Rogers of Crosspointe Church in Valdosta, Georgia. As we were discussing our experiences as Pastors Brother Rogers shared how he had been betrayed in the past by those he thought were supporters and good friends. As he shared this the Spirit spoke this word to my heart, and I shared it with Bro Rogers – so I want to share it with you. “For every Pastor and every person that Christ calls there is a Judas Iscariot. Jesus Himself was betrayed by Judas Iscariot, a friend that He loved. The Psalmist prophesied of this in Psalm 41:9 – ‘Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against Me.’ Jesus applied this prophecy to Judas in John 13:18. Jesus had His Judas – and we will have ours if we are His followers. Take care that you yourselves do not become Judas Iscariots!”

The soldier expects offenses, expects battle. Jesus told us:

Luke 17:1 … It is impossible but that offenses will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come!

The Gospel that does not offend is not the Gospel. The Gospel offends. The Gospel will be attacked, and us with it.

We will be misunderstood, mislabeled, and mistreated. The soldier of Christ must expect offenses … and follow the path of Christ. The Scripture tells us to be:

Hebrews 12:2-3 … Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.

The Good Soldier Lives For God Not For Self

2 Timothy 2:4-5 No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier. 5 And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully.

One of my favorite characters in the Scripture is a soldier who was murdered for his faith. His name was Uriah. You may not have heard of Uriah, but his name means “The Flame Of The Lord”. This unknown man was dedicated to God and to the King who ultimately murdered him. King David committed adultery and took Uriah’s wife Bathsheba to himself. When she became pregnant David concocted an elaborate scheme to make Uriah think that he was the father of that child. David summoned Uriah from war and told him to go to your wife and make yourself comfortable (2 Samuel 11:8). Rather than go home the Bible says:

2 Samuel 11:9 … Uriah slept at the door of the king’s house with all the servants of his lord, and went not down to his house.

When King David found out that his little trick didn’t work he asked Uriah “why didn’t you go home as I ordered?” (2 Samuel 11:10). Uriah replied:

2 Samuel 11:11 … The ark, and Israel, and Judah, abide in tents; and my lord Joab, and the servants of my lord, are encamped in the open fields; shall I then go into mine house, to eat and to drink, and to lie with my wife? as thou livest, and as thy soul liveth, I will not do this thing.

A lesser man would have used the King’s order as an excuse to do the dishonorable thing. Uriah wouldn’t do it. Uriah lived for the Lord, and so should we! To be a good soldier you cannot entangleth yourself with the affairs of this life. The good soldier lives his life to please the One who called him.

You have been called into salvation by Jesus Christ, and you are to live your life so as to please Jesus Christ.

The Apostle said in 1 Thessalonians 2:4 … as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts.

The day that Christ saved us by His Gospel He entrusted this same Gospel to us. We who are His are to live so as to share His Gospel. We are to not live to be pleasing men, but God. It pleases God when we share His Gospel of salvation. We are to serve the One Who saved us. We are to please the One Who saved us. The Apostle said:

2 Corinthians 5:9 Wherefore we labor, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him.

When Vice President Mike Pence’s wife Karen went back to work as an art teacher at Immanuel Christian School, both he and his wife were viciously attacked. Why? Because the secular media said that this was evidence that the Pences hated those who identify as LGBT. Did the Pences back down? No. When asked how he dealt with the forces of darkness that malign and attack he said,

Number one – spend more time on your knees {in prayer} than on the internet. As a Christian believer, we’re charged to pray for our loved ones, but also pray for our enemies. You have lots of opportunities in politics to do that,” he said, receiving chuckles from the crowd. “Forgiveness is a great gift.”

The darkness will threaten, but we are to keep our eyes and mind on our God. As we strive for the Lord, we are commanded to strive lawfully. The good soldier obeys the lawful command given him by His Commander. We are to know what God has said, and to live our lives DOING what God in Christ has told us to do. We are to study our orders:

2 Timothy 2:14-15 Of these things put them in remembrance, charging them before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers. 15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

The Christian soldier is to know what the Bible says, and to obey it – to do it. To merely hear the Word of God and not do it is useless. We are a doing people. We are not to consider the foolishness and the theories of this world, but are to heed our God’s Word. We are not to get into foolish debates with empty headed but blind worldlings. God knows what is best.

2 Timothy 2:16-19 But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. 17 And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus; 18 Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some. 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.

There may be spies or saboteurs of the faith. In Paul’s day he cited Hymenaeus and Philetus who, though they acted as if they were believers, by their very words they were unbelievers. They were messengers of Satan who were sent to destroy the Church by infiltration, overthrowing the faith of many. Hymenaeus and Philetus were probably teaching the same false doctrine that the Sadducees were teaching, that there was no resurrection, and that this life is all the life there is. Their false teachings spread throughout the early Church and had to be fought by the Apostle. In one case he wrote:

1 Corinthians 15:3-8 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: 5 And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: 6 After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. 7 After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. 8 And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.

We know that the Sadducees are wrong, and that there is a life beyond this life. We know this because Jesus Christ died, was buried, and rose again on the third day. Jesus WAS SEEN. Over and over again, Jesus WAS SEEN. The Sadducees and the other false teachers – agents of the devil – come in to destroy the faith of Christ and the population of His Church. Many times in my lifetime I have heard of some Christian artist, musician, or writer who suddenly recants the faith and rejects Christ. Let them. Their failure does not effect me, nor should it effect you. The Lord knows them that are His, and them that are His have an OVERCOMING faith.

1 John 5:4 For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.

We reject the words of the devil and the world, and believe in the Word of the Lord. What our Commander has said is true. We will focus on His Word and not on the darkness!

The Good Soldier Lives Honorably With Others

2 Timothy 2:19-22 let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity. 20 But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honor, and some to dishonor. 21 If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honor, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work. 22 Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.

When Christ came into this world it was with the intent to:

Matthew 1:21 … save His people from their sins ..

1 John 3:8 … for this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.

Jesus did not come and give His life on Calvary so that we can be greater SINNERS, but that we might be SAINTS, set apart for the glory of God. The good soldier knows that to revel in sin is to stand in opposition to the purpose of God. We are to purge ourselves of sin. We are to live so as to honor and glorify our Savior and Lord. We are commanded of Christ to Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace.

We are to LOVE as Christ loved, not LUST.
We are to pursue righteousness and holiness.
When we sin, we are to confess sins in Christ’s Name.
We are to live lives of holiness and repentance, believing in Christ.
We are to maintain PEACE with God and with others
.
We are at war with evil, but at peace with our Lord.

The good soldier does not war alone, but battles with other like minded soldiers. We are told to be …

2 Timothy 2:22 … with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.

Lifeway Research recently discovered that 65% of Church goers say they can walk with God without other believers. I knew that there are many Christians who believe that they can live the Christian life apart from the Church. I didn’t know the number was that high. May I say, they are mistaken. God calls the good soldier to be connected with other good soldiers. In the early Church we read:

Acts 2:44-47 … all that believed were together, and had all things common; 45 And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. 46 And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, 47 Praising God, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.

The Church must not be divided into cliques and small special interest groups. We who are saved by the grace of Christ are called to be in one accord, loving God and loving one another. We stand together against a common enemy of darkness. What does the Lord command?

1 Thessalonians 5:11 Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.

Hebrews 3:13 But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.

God calls His people to lift one another up and support one another. This is what makes a good soldier of the Lord Jesus Christ. Beloved, let us be good soldiers. Let us live for Him Who gave Himself for us – TOGETHER.

May God touch your hearts with His Word!

Posted in 2 Timothy, Sermons Preached | Tagged , ,

I Will Be Their God

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Photo by Davide Cantelli on Unsplash

I Will Be Their God”

One of my favorite movies is an old movie that had Bruce Willis in it when he had hair. It is the 1998 movie “Armageddon”. In that movie a giant asteroid the size of Texas was going to hit the earth. The U.S. government asks Bruce Willis and his drilling team to go into space to destroy the asteroid before it hit the earth. Of course, they do it – and save the world. 1998 must have been the year for asteroid hits the earth movies, because another move called “Deep Impact” came out that year. In that movie a big part of the asteroid was destroyed, though not all of it. The spaceship that destroyed the biggest part of the asteroid was called the Messiah. Once more, science and we as humans (guided by our government) saved ourselves!

Though these movies are fantasy they should cause us to think. What is protecting us from the asteroids of space? Though it didn’t make any news channel that I watch, on July 25th of this year (2019) a 100-meter wide piece of rock passed within 73,000 kilometers of Earth. No one saw it until it was on top of us. You might think “so what”, but to put it in perspective our moon is over 5 times that distance from the earth. To be within 73,000 kilometers and not hit the earth is an act of God’s grace. There is no telling how much damage that could have done had it hit us … and most of us, NASA included, didn’t have a clue until it was on top of us!

What protects us from destruction every single day of our lives? Not NASA, not science, not the government. No, but GOD. The Prophet Isaiah asks a series of questions of every person in this room and on this planet. He asks:

Isaiah 40:21-23 Have ye not known? have ye not heard? hath it not been told you from the beginning? have ye not understood from the foundations of the earth? 22 It is {God} that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in: 23 That bringeth the princes to nothing; he maketh the judges of the earth as vanity.

It is God that created all things, and it is God Who sustains all things. He controls all things around this planet and all things around our lives. It is this God – the God Who has made and established the innumerable stars, and knows each one of them by name for He has named them (Psalm 147:4) – this immense Creator God Who wants to know you and for you to know Him. That brings us to our Scripture for today, which is:

I Will Be Their God”

If you’ll notice I didn’t give you a Scriptural reference. Why? Because this Scripture – this promise from God – is found eight times in the Scripture.

I Will Be Their God” Is His Promise

To whom was the promise “I will be their God” first given? It was first given to a broken man named Abram. God appeared to Abram when he was 99 years old, and in a helpless and hopeless situation. Abram had a wife he loved but he had no children to carry on his name. God had promised Abram children many years before but still he was childless. God appeared to Abram. The Bible says:

Genesis 17:3-8 … Abram fell on his face: and God talked with him, saying, 4 As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations. 5 Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee. 6 And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee. 7 And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee. 8 And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I WILL BE THEIR GOD.

God took the broken Abram and turned him into Abraham. What did Abram have to give God to get this wonderful promise? The Apostle tells us:

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

Abram did not go to Abraham because he was worthy, because he cleaned himself up, or because he made himself better. God told Abram “I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee”. Abram heard what God said and believed God. Because Abram believed God’s promise God changed him into Abraham, the father of many nations. Abram realized he was broken, and gave his heart to God, and God gave Himself to Abraham and his children. The Apostle said that Abraham …

Romans 4:19-25 … being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarah’s womb: 20 {Abraham} staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; 21 And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform. 22 And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness. 23 Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; 24 But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; 25 Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.

If God is your God you trust His promise. Abraham didn’t consider his broken body, but considered the God Who is able! Because Abraham believed God was true Abraham was blessed.

I Will Be Their God” Means A Rebirth

Abram believed God, and God changed him into Abraham. God changes those who trust in Him. we read:

Jeremiah 24:6-7 6 For I will set mine eyes upon them for good, and I will bring them again to this land: and I will build them, and not pull them down; and I will plant them, and not pluck them up. 7 And I will give them an heart to know me, that I am the Lord: and they shall be my people, and I WILL BE THEIR GOD: for they shall return unto me with their whole heart.

The Christian is a person who was dead in trespasses and in sin (Ephesians 2:1; Colossians 2:13) but who, because of God’s intervention, now are ALIVE unto God. GOD MADE YOU ALIVE WITH CHRIST (Colossians 2:13). You are not bound to sin nor to this sinful world, but your allegiance is with God the Son. You are of His family …

1 Peter 1:23 … being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God, which liveth and abideth forever.

You are changed into Christ’s image by the Spirit of the Lord (2 Corinthians 3:18). God changes you, making you a new creature in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 6:15). God changes you from the inside out. The Bible says:

Galatians 3:6-9, 13-14 Even as Abraham BELIEVED GOD, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. 7 Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. 8 And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed. 9 So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham. … 13 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: 14 That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

And again …

Titus 3:5-7 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; 6 Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; 7 That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

When you answer the call of Christ and believe on Him God works in you. Oh Beloved, when you receive Christ you receive the very hand of God. Has He not promised:

Jeremiah 32:38-40 … And they shall be my people, and I WILL BE THEIR GOD: 39 And I will give them one heart, and one way, that they may fear me for ever, for the good of them, and of their children after them: 40 And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me.

I hear so often of mega-Church pastors and mega-famous music artists who once professed Christ but now have rejected Him. Beloved, those who are genuinely saved do not come one day and depart the next. Has not God said in:

1 John 2:19 … They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.

The Child of Christ will no more recant their Savior than I would recant my skin! If you are genuinely saved God has said they shall not depart from me. I believe God is able. Praise Him! Praise

Jude 24 … Him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy …

I Will Be Their God” Means A God Directed Life

We are told in Ezekiel:

Ezekiel 11:19-20 … I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh: 20 That they may walk in my statutes, and keep mine ordinances, and do them: and they shall be my people, and I WILL BE THEIR GOD.

Ezekiel 37:23 Neither shall they defile themselves any more with their idols, nor with their detestable things, nor with any of their transgressions: but I will save them out of all their dwellingplaces, wherein they have sinned, and will cleanse them: so shall they be my people, and I WILL BE THEIR GOD.

To the world sin is IN, and a thing to make you GRIN.But to the believer sin is the offense that crucified our Savior. We do not make light of sin. Oh, see Him hanging on that tree. See His Blood running down. See His bones peeking through the lace curtain of His torn flesh. You say you are a Christian and sin is acceptable? You lie! You are not one of His, not one of our brethren. Jesus told us:

John 8:34 … Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.

If you serve sin, you are the servant of sin. This is what Jesus was telling us.

What or Who you serve tell you what
or Who your God is.

In America today we are told we are to be tolerant of all things. But is this true? The promise God gave to Abraham and their seed (which is we who have believed in Him) is “I will be their God”. If God will be our God then we are to like what He like, and dislike what He dislikes. You are not saved by works no more than Abram became Abraham by his works – buit once saved you become a person who belongs to God. You are to serve God and not sin.

So what of the hot button topics of today? Is is all right to be in homosexual relationships. Is it all right to copulate with the opposite sex without regard to marriage or commitment? What does God say?

1 Corinthians 6:9-10 … 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.

Those who unrighteous or not right with God shall not inherit the Kingdom of God. They shall not go into Heaven. Who are these that are “unrighteous” or “not right”? The Apostle lists them:

fornicators – those in heterosexual sin
idolators – those who reject God for other gods
adulterers – those who sin against a married partner
effeminate – those who abuse children
abusers of themselves with mankind – those who are homosexual
thieves
covetous – greedy people
drunkards
revilers – those who mock God’s way
extortioners – those who swindle others

None of these people have any part in God’s Kingdom. But the Apostle goes on to say:

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

Oh Praise God! Has not the Lord promised:

Romans 6:14 … Sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under Grace.

And again,

John 8:12 … I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

And again,

John 8:36 … If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.

You may have been born broken – we all are – but God has the power to set your life aright. Our Lord Jesus came into this world to destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3:8).

John 8:42-44 … 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.

If sin is in your life – believe in God!
If your life is out of control – receive Christ as Lord and Savior!
The God Who loves you want to be with you.
God will be your God.
God has promised this in Christ.

I Will Be Their God” Means Unending Life

God promises to walk WITH and IN those who are His. He said:

2 Corinthians 6:16 … ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I WILL BE THEIR GOD, and they shall be my people.

The Sadducees did not believe in eternal life. They believed that once you were dead, you were dead. After death – NOTHING. They approached Jesus one day and He told them:

Matthew 22:31-32 … as touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying, 32 I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.

Our God is the Great I AM. He lives with His people NOW, and will live with His people FOREVER.

What makes Heaven a Heaven
is NOT THE ABSENCE of something.

When people think of Heaven we all follow the same pattern of thought.

If we suffer an ailment we think

Praise God, I’ll have NO CANCER in Heaven”.

If we are hungry and poor we think

Praise God, I’ll NOT BE HUNGRY in Heaven”.

If we lose a loved one we think

Praise God, my HEART WILL NOT BE BROKEN in Heaven”.

We think of Heaven in terms of ABSENCE. And it is true that Heaven will be absent many things. There will be no,

Graves
Hospitals
Tears
Suffering
Pain
Darkness
Evil people

But what makes Heaven a Heaven?

Revelation 21:3 … Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.

“I will be their God”. That’s what makes Heaven a Heaven, and that’s what brings Heaven to earth. Is He your God? If not, He can be. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. Repent of being your own God, and turn your life over to Him. Ask God to come to you and save you. He will. He will. May God touch your hearts with His Word!

Posted in Sermons Preached | Tagged , ,

All Human Life Is Precious

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image from USplash.com Brian Mann

Life is precious to God. Let me be clearer … HUMAN life is precious to God. The Evolutionist or Atheist believes that humanity is but an accident of the animal kingdom, and that humanity is another type of “animal” which they call a “Primate”. Since humanity is but an accident of nature the phrase “Survival Of The Fittest” originated from Darwinian Evolutionary theories as a way of describing how natural selection works. The weaker animal is killed by the stronger animal as the stronger animal – in Darwin’s Theory Humanity – progressed up the evolutionary ladder. Humanity is called “Primate” because we are at the top of the evolutionary ladder. According to evolutionists we evolved from lower animal life to eventually be lemurs, monkeys, then apes, and then developed into what we now call “Humans”.

If humankind is just another “animal” and this is what you believe it will influence what you think about life. For instance, on Wednesday, January 30th of 2019 Virginia Governor Ralph Northam responded to a question about a bill being debated in the Virginia Legislature. Northam plainly stated that he was in favor of letting infants left to die after they were born if the mother decides she doesn’t want the baby. If all humans are no more than animals and this is the belief that is in your heart, then to kill an infant or abort a baby at any stage of development – even following birth – makes sense. What doesn’t make sense is the outrage that the same people have when a misguided animal (if humans are animals) kills and wounds other animals in El Paso, Texas or in Dayton, Ohio. When people murder people is it not “survival of the fittest”? Certainly I don’t believe this, and absolutely I grieve whenever some evil person does this terrible thing. From Columbine to today’s horrors the reason that anyone would kill anyone willingly is incomprehensible to me. But my mindset is different that the godless. I believe that …

God teaches that life is a gift from Him,
and that ALL LIFE MATTERS.

Let’s read responsively the following Scriptures:

Jeremiah 1:4-5 … the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.

Genesis 9:5-6 … surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man’s brother will I require the life of man. Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.

Proverbs 6:16-19 These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.

Matthew 6:26 Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?

1 Corinthians 3:16-17 Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.

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.

Life is so precious to God that to redeem it so that we could live forever He gave the life of His Son. What a testament to life! Human life is extremely precious to God.

But Then We Come To The Book Of Joshua

I’ve been preaching through the Book of Joshua the last few months – and we’ve still got a piece to go. Tonight we’re in Joshua chapter 20. If you would, turn there while I talk.

I am told that the Book of Joshua is the most
violent book of Scripture in all the Bible.

If you have been reading the Book you might have the impression that God places no value on life. I can understand why you would believe this. God told Israel to take no prisoners, to practice wholesale genocide as they enter Canaan. Throughout the Book we have read passages like:

Joshua 6:21 And {Israel} utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both man and woman, young and old, and ox, and sheep, and ass, with the edge of the sword.

I have to admit that passages like this make me wince. Some Christians scholars have suggested that Joshua and Israel misunderstood God when they went into the Promised Land. The suggestion has been made that the massive killings recorded in Joshua were a human error, much like the so called Crusades against the Muslim nations (circa 1095-1492 AD). But Apologist Christopher Wright wrote in his book The God I Don’t Understand (pages 82-83):

If the conquest of Canaan had actually been such a massive and mistaken misinterpretation of God’s will, we should surely read some corrective word later in the Scriptures – if not within the Old Testament itself . . . then at least in the New. But we find none. There is no hint anywhere in the Bible that the Israelites took the land of Canaan on the basis of a mistaken belief in God’s will. On the contrary, the refusal of the Exodus generation to go ahead and {enter the land – see Numbers 14} … are condemned as disobedience to God’s will (see Psalms 106:24-35)”

We know that our God loves human life. He loves life so much that when humanity draws so far away from Him that – eventually – God will purge that nation. You might say “I don’t believe that”, to which I would reply:

Have you ever heard of the Noahic Flood?
Have you ever heard of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah?
Have you ever heard of the destruction of Tyre?

What caused God to directly or indirectly destroy a world, or destroy nations? It was sin and a low view of human life. Here’s our first take away from the Book of Joshua:

It is a fact that Canaanite society – much like American society today – supported ritualized human sacrifice. The Canaanites worshiped a god they called Moloch (a.k.a. Milcom, Molech, or Malcam). The Encyclopedia Britannica states:

Moloch, also spelled Molech, a Canaanite deity associated in biblical sources with the practice of child sacrifice.”

The Canaanites were not believers in the God of Scripture, but believed in many gods and goddesses and worshiped their gods by practicing child sacrifice. God tried to reach these people when father Abraham traveled to Canaan (Genesis 11:27-12:9) over 400 years before Joshua – led by God – invaded Canaan. The Canaanites were given ample time to repent of their evil and cease the killing of children. Did Canaan repent? No! Children were not only sacrificed, but children who escaped being sacrificed were taught that life itself had little meaning.

If God ordered the destruction of Canaan’s inhabitants because they were killing innocent children then what hope do we as America have in our future?

Sam Storms the Pastor at Bridgeway Church in Oklahoma City, OK said:

The problem isn’t that God is evil. The problem is that we are. It isn’t that God has mistreated us, but that we have mistreated him. This text {in Joshua} and others like it bother us for one fundamental reason: we have virtually no grasp on the holiness of God or the sinfulness of humanity. We have little sense of the transcendent beauty, moral purity, and infinite righteousness of the Creator. And we have little sense of the depth and extent and ugliness of our own depravity. We think God exists for our welfare, to help us feel good about ourselves.”

What did God specifically destroy first Egypt then Canaan for? We are told in:

Leviticus 18:2-3 … I am the Lord your God. 3 After the doings of the land of Egypt, wherein ye dwelt, shall ye not do: and after the doings of the land of Canaan, whither I bring you, shall ye not do: neither shall ye walk in their ordinances.

What were Egypt’s and Canaan’s doings?
Incest – Leviticus 18:6-18
Child Sacrifice – Leviticus 18:21
Homosexuality – Leviticus 18:22
Bestiality – Leviticus 18:23

God told Israel “The reason I cursed EGYPT and am casting out the CANAANITES is because they do these evil things (Leviticus 18:24-29).

Humans are distinctly different from animals. Both humans as well as animals may be carbon based, but humans are distinctively created by a loving God. The Bible declares:

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

Humanity is uniquely made. In the Scripture there is absolutely NO PENALTY for killing animals. Yet to kill a human was a special sort of evil. To intentionally murder someone is to murder the image of God.

When Noah got off the Ark God told him – and us – that:

Genesis 9:3 … Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you

Humanity could eat ANYTHING. Every moving thing that liveth was food for humanity. But what of HUMAN life? God said:

Genesis 9:5-6 And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man’s brother will I require the life of man. 6 Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.

Humans are NOT animals. We are made in the image of God. The Sixth Commandment is:

Exodus 20:13 Thou shalt NOT KILL

Our Lord Jesus clarifies this command as:

Matthew 19:18 … Jesus said, thou shalt do no MURDER

God said in Exodus 21:12-14 … He that smiteth a man, so that he die, shall be surely put to death. 13 And if a man lie not in wait, but God deliver him into his hand; then I will appoint thee a place whither he shall flee. 14 But if a man come presumptuously upon his neighbor, to slay him with guile; thou shalt take him from mine altar, that he may die.

How precious is human life?
God said “You take a life, you forfeit yours.”
But what of the accidental death?

This is why God gave us Joshua 20. Life is precious. Every human life matters. Whether the child is disabled or a genius, every child from it’s heartbeat is precious. Every person is a person created in God’s image. But there are times when accidental death occurs. In such instances God told His Israel:

Joshua 20:1-3 The Lord also spake unto Joshua, saying, 2 Speak to the children of Israel, saying, Appoint out for you cities of refuge, whereof I spake unto you by the hand of Moses: 3 That the slayer that killeth any person unawares and unwittingly may flee thither: and they shall be your refuge from the avenger of blood.

The person who willingly and deliberately murders another was to be quickly put to death (see Numbers 35:16-18). Was the deliberate murderer ransomed? No! “He must surely be put to death” (Numbers 35:31). If someone was guilty of killing another person God did not want indiscriminate killing. So He established the six cities of refuge.

If you accidentally killed someone you ran to one of these cities. The Blood Avenger – usually the closest relative to the one slain – would try and take your life. The accidental killer ran to the city of refuge to escape vengeance, but also was to be tried for his or her action.

Joshua 20:4 … when he that doth flee unto one of those cities shall stand at the entering of the gate of the city, and shall declare his cause in the ears of the elders of that city, they shall take him into the city unto them, and give him a place, that he may dwell among them.

The accidental killer pled his case before the elders of the city. If the elders or leaders of the city of refuge believed the killer to be innocent of murder then the accidental killer was given refuge in that city until he could be properly tried. He or she was to stay in the city of refuge until the current High Priest died, or until he was tried.

Joshua 20:5 … he shall dwell in that city, until he stand before the congregation for judgment, and until the death of the high priest that shall be in those days: then shall the slayer return, and come unto his own city, and unto his own house, unto the city from whence he fled.

No one got a free pass to murder. Every life taken was examined carefully. The slayer found guilty by a jury of his peers was killed – his life forfeited – for the heinous crime of murder.

Joshua 20:6 And {the slayer} shall dwell in that city, until he stand before the congregation for judgment, and until the death of the high priest that shall be in those days: then shall the slayer return, and come unto his own city, and unto his own house, unto the city from whence he fled.

God demanded that not only the Israelite, but ANYONE dwelling in the Promised Land be judged if they took a life.

Joshua 20:9 These were the cities appointed for all the children of Israel, and for the stranger that sojourneth among them, that whosoever killeth any person at unawares might flee thither, and not die by the hand of the avenger of blood, until he stood before the congregation.

Do we need greater “gun control”? Beloved, I believe our greatest need in America is to return to the God of the Scripture. I believe that we need to quit expecting government to take the place of God, and we need to heed what He says. If the murderer forfeited his life as the Lord commands I suspect there would be a whole lot less killing in America. But as long as we devalue life through abortion and television fantasy we can, I’m afraid to say, expect more of the same. Gun control will not stop it. We need to aim at the heart. We need heart control.

May God touch your hearts with His Word.

Posted in Joshua, Sermons Preached | Tagged , ,

Pray-Be-See: God Uses Bro9ken Things … Like Jacob

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

There are two great truths that are in the Scripture.

If you learn these two great truths – actually understand them – they will unlock many of the mysteries found in this Bible. What are these truths? They are:

1. God Uses Broken Things.
2. God Uses Broken Things Yielded To Him.

We see this from the very beginning of Scripture. Was the world complete and perfect when God came upon it? No! Absolutely not. How does the Bible open? Does it say ..

Genesis 1:1-2 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was beautiful, perfectly made, without spot or blemish.

Could God have done this? Could He have created everything in ONE day as opposed to SIX days. Absolutely! The Bible says:

Luke 1:37 For with God nothing shall be impossible.

God could have done that. But instead the Scripture says:

Genesis 1:1-2 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

The earth was created in parts – broken – because God uses the broken. As you read the biographies and accounts of the people of the Bible you see no one perfect or broken among mankind but the Lord Jesus Christ. All others are broken. The only reason that Christ – born of a woman – is unbroken is because He is God become Man, perfect Man. It is the Son of God, Jesus Christ, that God the Father has sent to this earth. It is of Jesus the Scripture says that “The Father has in …

Hebrews 1:2-3, 8 … “these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also He made the worlds; {Jesus} being the brightness of {God’s} glory, and the express image of {God’s} person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high … {the Father saying} unto the Son … Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of thy kingdomJoshua.”

Jesus Christ is the only Man in Scripture that was not born broken and unholy. Of all others the Scripture says:

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

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

We are all born broken. That is the bad news. But the GOOD NEWS is that our God uses broken things. God uses broken things that rely upon Him.

Our Problem Is That – Like Jacob – We Are Not Broken

If God uses broken things, and God uses broken things that are yielded to Him, then when we are not broken we cannot be used of God. We see in Jacob a man who is not yielded to God. Now God was gracious with Jacob.

God had a plan for Jacob’s life. God has a plan for your life. God has a plan for this Church. But God can only use you, me, this Church, or Jacob if we are yielded to Him.

Is Jacob yielded to God? We find in Genesis 32 these words:

Genesis 32:1 And Jacob went on his way

Is Jacob yielded to God? No, absolutely not. We read Jacob went on his way. That’s what most of us do. We go on our own way. God is not in our thoughts. We make plans, choose paths, and set out our own way certain that we know what we’re doing. But the Scripture reminds us:

James 4:14-15 Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. 15 For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.

We ought to say, If the Lord will, but we don’t. Too often we head out into the great unknown without God. We fail to understand that we are all broken, and we all need Him every moment of every day. We need God to hold our hand moment by moment as we go through this life, just as a mother holds a three year old’s hand as they cross the street. But we think we know best. We fight His hand. We pull our hand out of His hand and run across the road – many times being hurt because of our actions.

God has a plan for Jacob’s life.
God has a plan for YOUR life.

God wanted to bless Jacob. The Bible tells us that God had a plan to bless Jacob from the very beginning. His father Isaac and his mother Rebekeh came together in love.

Jacob was born to a broken family.

Rebekeh and Isaac had been unable to have a child together – something that broke their hearts. But a broken heart is a good thing if it brings us to God. The Bible says

Genesis 25:21 … Isaac INTREATED the Lord for his wife, because she was barren: and the Lord was intreated of him, and Rebekah his wife conceived.

When you are broken and go to the Lord in prayer
He will REALLY bless you.

God REALLY blessed Rebekeh. She became pregnant with twin children – a double blessing from God. They didn’t have ultrasounds or fancy equipment in the days of Isaac, so as Rebekeh progressed in her pregnancy she began to feel a struggle within. The Broken Rebekeh went to the Lord in prayer:

Genesis 25:22-23 … the children struggled together within her; and she said, If it be so, why am I thus? And she went to enquire of the Lord. 23 And the Lord said unto her, Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger.

The Broken Rebekeh went to God in prayer and IMMEDIATELY she is answered.
God loves to answer us in prayer.

He loves to guide us. He loves us! As God talked with a submissive Rebekeh that God would bring TWO NATIONS from her pregnancyJoshua. Can God bless, or what?

The Elder Is Not Broken So He Is Not Blessed

The Lord also told her the elder shall serve the younger. This is contrary to the way that things were done back in those days. Usually the elder child born would receive the double portion blessing, and become the head of the family. But this would not be the case with Esau and Jacob. It was God’s desire that the promise He made to Abraham be fulfilled through Jacob, not through Esau. Why did God do this? Once more with feeling …

God will only use the broken.

When the children were born Jacob came out because he held on to his brother’s heel (Genesis 25:26). From the very beginning the character of the two children was established. The Bible tells us that:

Genesis 25:27-28 And the boys grew: and Esau was a cunning hunter, a man of the field; and Jacob was a plain man, dwelling in tents. 28 And Isaac loved Esau

When you looked at Esau you saw a boy and man that was self sufficient. He was a MAN’S MAN! Esau didn’t need God. Esau had all he needed (or so he thought). He had the looks. He had the birthright. He had the love of his father. You see, Isaac loved Esau. Esau was his favorite child. It’s like that show that used to be on television Everybody Loves Raymond. Esau had it all.

What did you see in Jacob? Jacob was a PLAIN man. He wasn’t captain of the football team. He wasn’t a cheer leader. He was nothing to his father. He had no birthright. But what Jacob did have was JACOB WAS A WEASLE. He was continually plotting and planning. He didn’t have everything like his brother had, but Jacob plotted with his mother to get what was his brother’s.

He didn’t have to do that, by the way. Had Jacob looked to the Lord the Lord would have blessed him. The Lord had planned from the very beginning that the elder shall serve the younger. That was God’s will.

Abram was an unknown and impotent man from ancient
Babylon until God made him Abraham.
David was an unknown shepherd boy until God made him King of Israel.
Elisha was an unknown ox farmer until God called him out.
Simon was an unknown fisherman until Jesus called him Peter.
Saul was a terrifying Pharisee until Jesus renamed him Paul.

Jacob was a broken man who was a sneak, a thief, a liar, and dishonored his father. He along with his mother Rebekeh tricked his father Isaac into giving him Esau’s blessing (Genesis 27). Jacob dressed up like Esau and deceived his dying father into blessing him. When Esau came into the camp to be blessed Isaac told him that “thy brother came in with subtlety and hath taken away thy blessing (Genesis 27:35)”. The Bible says:

Genesis 27:41 …Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing wherewith his father blessed him: and Esau said in his heart, The dJoshuaays of mourning for my father are at hand; then will I slay my brother Jacob.

Jacob ran away from his brother. “Jacob went out from Beersheba, and went toward Haran” (Genesis 28:10). While in Haran God spoke to Jacob, saying:

Genesis 28:13-14 … I am the Lord God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed; 14 And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed.

Is God YOUR God?

Notice how God addressed Jacob. He said I am the Lord God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac. DO YOU SEE THE PROBLEM with this statement? God does not say Jacob, I am YOUR God”, but I am the Lord God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac. Jacob is a broken man living life through his own power and wits. He tricked the birthright out of Isaac, and defrauded his brother Esau.

God is the God of Abraham.
God is the God of Isaac.
But God is NOT YET the God of Jacob.

Jacob goes to live with his uncle Laban. I don’t have time to preach through that episode of Jacob’s life, but suffice it to say that both he and his Uncle Laban did things that were not righteous nor right.

Our Blessing Comes When God Breaks Us

God told Jacob “Return unto the land of thy fathers, and to thy kindred; and I will be with thee.” (Genesis 31:3).

God was blessing Jacob, but Jacob still was not surrendered to God. Laban chased after Jacob and would have killed him, but God intervened. God protected Jacob. Now God told Jacob to go home – to go back to where Esau was.

If God tells you to do something
God will protect you in the doing!

As Jacob headed back toward Esau’s land the Bible says that God sent two angels to meet him. God sent these angels to inspire faith in Jacob. Jacob was supposed to trust in the Lord, to believe in His provision. Jacob was supposed to pray and trust the promises of God. God has sent angels his way. How did Jacob respond?

He continued to live by his emotions and his wits. Jacob sent messengers to Esau with this message:

Genesis 32:4-5 … Thy servant Jacob saith thus, I have sojourned with Laban, and stayed there until now: 5 And I have oxen, and asses, flocks, and menservants, and women servants: and I have sent to tell my lord, that I may find grace in thy sight.

Jacob is trying to help himself. You know, that’s in the Bible:

God helps those who help themselves (1 Ecclesiasticas 1:1)

No – it’s not in the Bible. Jacob doesn’t turn to the Lord in prayer, but tries to sugar coat his way out of Esau’s anger. The messengers return and tell Jacob:

Genesis 32:6 … We came to thy brother Esau, and also he cometh to meet thee, and four hundred men with him.

Do you want the BAD NEWS or the BAD NEWS? Esau is coming – and he’s got 400 men with him. The Bible says:

Genesis 32:7 … Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed

So Jacob divides his family into two parts. He thinks that if Esau kills half of the family then the other half will be able to escape. Having sent both halves of his family away Jacob prays … but his prayers tell us much about his faith. He prays:

Genesis 32:9-12 … O God of my father Abraham, and God of my father Isaac, the Lord which saidst unto me, Return unto thy country, and to thy kindred, and I will deal well with thee: 10 I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies, and of all the truth, which thou hast shewed unto thy servant; for with my staff I passed over this Jordan; and now I am become two bands. 11 Deliver me, I pray thee, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau: for I fear him, lest he will come and smite me, and the mother with the children. 12 And thou saidst, I will surely do thee good, and make thy seed as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude.

Though this is a beautiful and heartfelt prayer notice how Jacob addresses God. He doesn’t pray like

King David prayed in 1 Chronicles 21:17 … “Oh Lord MY God …”

King Solomon prayed in 1 Kings 3:7 … “Oh Lord MY God..”
or as Ezra the Priest prayed in Ezra 9:5 … “unto the Lord MY God”..

or as the Psalmist prayed in Psalm 7:1, 3 … “Oh Lord, MY God”..

or as Habakkuk prayed in Habakkuk 1:12 … “Oh Lord, MY God” ..

He does not own God as his own. Jacob prays O God of my father Abraham, and God of my father Isaac. Jacob does not have his own faith, but relies on the faith of others. He has relied so often on his own abilities that he has no practical, objective faith. Without faith it is impossible to please God. Jacob sent bribes to his brother Esau to try and quell his deadly anger. But finally, when everyone was gone and Jacob was left alone we read:

Genesis 32:24 And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day.

Who is this “man” who charges into Jacob’s camp and – without one word – wrestles with him all night long? Why did this “man” not say anything to him?

This “Man” is God Himself – I believe God the Son. God had tried talking to Jacob. He had called and called out to Jacob, but Jacob just wasn’t listening. God calls unto us to heed Him, but we get stubborn and keep on trying to do it ourselves. So God brings us to a place of struggle, of wrestling. We know that this is an Old Testament appearance of God the Son because of what the Prophet tells us in:

Hosea 12:2-4 … The Lord … will punish Jacob according to his ways; according to his doings will he recompense him. 3 He took his brother by the heel in the womb, and by his strength he had power with God:4 Yea, he had power over the angel, and prevailed: he wept, and made supplication unto him: he found him in Bethel, and there he spake with us;

When God brings us to a place of hopelessness it is them that we stop and begin to wrestle with Him in prayer. This wrestling that Jacob is going through is a turning point in his life. He has tried living his life as Jacob, a grifter, a thief, a liar. Now Jesus wrestles with him. God could have killed Jacob with one touch. He could have whispered death to him and he would have died. But the Lord does not want our deaths. What does the Lord want?

2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is … longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

God wants to bless Jacob. He wants to bless you. He could kill both you and I and Jacob for our disobedience, but rather than this He is willing to wrestle with us. He wants us to come to Him on HIS terms. When Jacob STILL would not hear our precious Lord Jesus did the kindest thing He could do:

Genesis 32:25 … he touched the hollow of {Jacob’s} thigh; and the hollow of Jacob’s thigh was out of joint, as he wrestled with him.

The Lord crippled Jacob. As He did this He told Jacob “let Me go, for the day breaketh”. Light was coming into Jacob’s crippled soul. Jacob says,

Genesis 32:26 … I will not let thee go, except thou bless me.

God’s plan is to take hold of broken and fallen humanity – to seek the willing broken and make them WHOLE. God’s work of redemption is to make WHOLE men out of BROKEN men. The Lord asks Jacob “What is your name?” Jacob told the Lord his name, to which the Lord replied:

Genesis 32:28 … Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed.

It was in brokenness that Jacob became Israel. It was in brokenness that Israel found the Grace of God. Jacob named that place Peniel (meaning “I saw the face of God”). Jacob rejoiced, saying “I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved” (Genesis 32:30). John MacArthur wrote:

Jacob refused to let {Jesus} go until he received a blessing. That wasn’t a selfish request, but one that came from a heart devoted to being all God wanted him to be. That’s when the Lord changed Jacob’s name to “Israel,” which means “he fights or persists with God.”

Let us put aside ourselves – our Jacob like selves – and cast ourselves fully on our Jesus. We will not receive the blessings of God by plotting or conniving. When we receive God in all His fullness then we receive all that we need! May God draw you closer to Him in prayerful obedience.

Posted in Genesis, prayer, Praying Like Jesus Series, Sermons Preached | Tagged , ,

Christ The Door To The Comforter: Pray-Be-See Week 6, Morning Message

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Photo by Bradley Swenson on Unsplash

The Wisest King Needed A Comforter

In the King James text the word “comforter” is found in seven verses. In the Old Testament it is found first in the writings of King Solomon. Solomon was – according to the Bible – the wisest man who ever lived in his day (see 1 Kings 4:30). When Solomon was an old man he wrote:

Ecclesiastes 4:1-3 So I returned, and considered all the oppressions that are done under the sun: and behold the tears of such as were oppressed, and they had no comforter; and on the side of their oppressors there was power; but they had no comforter. 2 Wherefore I praised the dead which are already dead more than the living which are yet alive. 3 Yea, better is he than both they, which hath not yet been, who hath not seen the evil work that is done under the sun.

Solomon saw the oppression that the mighty brought on the weaker and was discouraged because, he said, they had no comforter. The King said “BETTER is the day of death than the day of one’s birth” (Ecclesiastes 7:1). Without Comfort and a Comforter …

nâcham, {pronounced naw-kham}
NO Avenger, NO ONE to sorrow with us!

Solomon was unable – as wise as he was – to understand why many suffer – but even worse,
suffer without Comfort.

Because of this he said “I admire the dead more than the living” and then said “it is better that a person had never been than to have seen such evil” (my paraphrase of his statements). The Bible is without error, and records without error wrongful statements made by others. Was Solomon right in being so depressed that he admired the dead above the living – that he was almost suicidal in his thoughts? No, he was not wrong. But we all have often wondered about apparent injustices and evils unpunished in the world. We all have at times wondered and groaned at the inequities of life. We often have cried out – like David, Solomon’s father:

Psalm 73:3-7, 12-14 … I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. 4 For there are no bands in their death: but their strength is firm. 5 They are not in trouble as other men; neither are they plagued like other men. 6 Therefore pride compasseth them about as a chain; violence covereth them as a garment. 7 Their eyes stand out with fatness: they have more than heart could wish. … 12 Behold, these are the ungodly, who prosper in the world; they increase in riches. 13 Verily I have cleansed my heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocency. 14 For all the day long have I been plagued, and chastened every morning.

David says “I don’t understand. Why have I striven so hard to do the right, when the evil seem to prosper? Have I cleansed my heart in vain, washed my hands to no purpose?” Oh Beloved, I must tell you there are indeed times when we all are driven to despair. If Solomon – the wisest man who ever lived – could see no purpose or blessing in life. It often seems to us that life is filled with unfairness, where the rich get rich, the poor get poorer, and it seems as if there is no justice at all.

Where shall we find comfort?

The Strongest Prophet Needed A Comforter

The second and third times the word “comforter” is found in the King James is in the Book of Lamentations, a Book filled with sorrows. The Prophet Jeremiah cried out to the Lord as he saw the fallen state of his nation Israel. He cried out over Jerusalem as we who love America cry out over Washington DC.

Lamentations 1:8-9 Jerusalem hath grievously sinned; therefore she is removed: all that honored her despise her, because they have seen her nakedness: yea, she sigheth, and turneth backward. 9 Her filthiness is in her skirts; she remembereth not her last end; therefore she came down wonderfully: SHE HAD NO COMFORTER. O Lord, behold my affliction: for the enemy hath magnified himself.

Jeremiah cried – “Lamented” (which is where the title “Lamentations” comes from) he uses the word “comforter”. Jerusalem has NO COMFORTER {נָחַם nâcham, (pronounced naw-kham’)}. Where is the “Comforter” that will bless him? Jeremiah rightly says. Without the Comforter this strong and blessed Prophet cries out:

Lamentations 1:16-17 For these things I weep; mine eye, mine eye runneth down with water, because the Comforter that should relieve my soul is far from me: my children are desolate, because the enemy prevailed. 17 Zion spreadeth forth her hands, and there is NONE TO COMFORT HER: the Lord hath commanded concerning Jacob, that his adversaries should be round about him: Jerusalem is as a menstruous woman among them.

The great Jeremiah cried out, {נָחַם nâcham, (pronounced naw-kham’)} .. NO COMFORTER! Neither Wise King nor Prophet Preacher have comfort. Sin has brought a wretchedness all around them. It is is significant in the Scripture that the first three instances where the word “Comforter” is written, the suffering and hopelessness that is brought is because of unaddressed sin and injustice in this life. Oh Beloved, where shall we find Comfort? Oh Beloved, where can we find a Comforter?SING!

What a Friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit,
O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer!

Solomon looked for comfort in himself, and all about himself. There was none there. Jeremiah looked for comfort in himself, and all around himself. There was none to be found.

Where do we find comfort?
Not in ourselves.
Not in our abilities.
Not in our power.
Not in our strength.
Only in Jesus.
Only in the power of His Spirit.
The Comforter, the Holy Spirit!

Yes, this was a lengthy introduction to today’s message, but it is so necessary. Unless you understand the mind of Israel and the mind of the prophets and kings of Israel’s day you will not understand what Jesus said. The first three times “Comforter is used in the Bible is in the Old Testament, the Old Covenant of works. It is always in the negative. It is always with a sense of hopelessness that NACHAM is spoken. But the next time you see the word “Comforter”it is in Christ’s Promise.

Listen.

Prayerfully listen.

John 14:15-18 IF YE LOVE ME, KEEP MY COMMANDMENTS. 16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; 17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. 18 I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.

The Prophet and the King looked for a Comforter, but could find none at all. Israel looked for a Comforter. Sin had brought that nation low. Sin had destroyed the independence and the grandeur of Israel just as it destroys in America today. We believe – or have been led to believe – by television sitcoms that sin is acceptable, a humorous thing. Shows like “Will and Grace” and “M*A*S*H” introduced the wink of sin years ago. Today that which used to be done in the dark is now done in the light. That which we once were ashamed of we now laugh at and mock those who will not accept it. Recently our national leadership decided to raise our debt ceiling to 22 TRILLION dollars. We are spending money like water from a fire hose to support lifestyles that our Lord Jesus frowned on. Laziness is rewarded, welfare abounds, and medicine seeks to extend life so that we look to the doctors for eternal life rather than to God our Creator.

Where is the Comforter?
Where is MY Comforter?

Jesus said If ye love me, keep my commandments. What are Jesus’ commandments? What has our Lord Jesus ordered us ALL to do? Well let’s seek out His Words. What were the FIRST WORDS Jesus said in the Gospels? What are the first “Red Letter” words. One comedian said “them RED LETTERS are the most important words – that’s why they are RED”. Well, all the words of Scripture are important. All are “God breathed” and are “profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). But what are the first words of Christ recorded? The first Gospel written was the Gospel of Mark, and the first publicly spoken words of Christ that He spoke as He began His ministry was:

Mark 1:15 … The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.

Here is the Doorway to the Comforter – it is Jesus! We must REPENT, turn from the ways of darkness, and turn TOWARD the Son. We must love Jesus, and He will provide comfort and the Comforter.

In the context where Jesus promises a Comforter He says If ye love me, keep my commandments. This is His first commandment given. REPENT. Turn from where you are going. Turn from what you are following. Stop walking toward the cliff of destruction. Stop marching in step with the lost world toward the lake of fire that burneth forever and ever. Oh Beloved do you not know that:

Revelation 21:8 … the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whore mongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

Stop following DEATH.
Stop following DARKNESS.
Stop following DESPAIR.
Stop pursuing the DEVIL.
REPENT. Turn. Follow Jesus.
Follow Jesus.
Keep HIS Commandments.

1 John 5:3 … this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.

Oh, His commandments are not grievous”. They are not HARD. Stop walking in sexual sin. Stop chasing after that which God has not endorsed. God made you in His image and in His likeness (Genesis 1:27). God wants you to be like Him!

You were created for eternity.
You were created to follow Jesus.
You were created to live victoriously.
Not notoriously, but victoriously.
You were made to walk and talk with God.

Repent. Turn. Follow Jesus.
He came for sinners like you and I.
He came to bless us, to lift us up.
He came to free us from the DEVIL’S TRAP.

 I was watching something on television – I forget what it was, but that is of little matter – when a man stepped into a bear trap. The trap was set for bear – for an animal. Now I hate the thought of anyone setting such a thing. To me, such a trap is cruel and inhumane, and should be outlawed. Yes, OUTLAWED. But nevertheless this man was going through the woods and stepped in the bear trap, chained to a tree. As he bled – oh, how he bled – he struggled to free that trap. Someone came along – another person – who tried to free him to no avail. Without the key the trap could not be sprung. As this man bled the man who found him suggested a solution. “Cut off the limb. Cut it off, and I will help you limp back to civilization”. What a horrible choice to make. But isn’t this the way of our world today. We look to others for salvation. We are caught in the devil’s trap of sin. We are bound by it’s teeth, grinding into our flesh.

Alcohol. We drink to find solace – and none is found.
We destroy our livers and our bodies.
Sex. We chase the opposite or the same sex.
We contract disease. We destroy ourselves.
Technology. We focus on I-Phones, and ignore others around us.
Our I-Phones have become I-dols – sucking our money and lives away.
Prosperity. We will be happy if we have more STUFF.
We are bound by satanic creditors.
Life. We think doctors alone will give us life.
They give, as they take all of our wealth!

We rightly read in Job 14:1 (KJV) Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble.

Who will help me out of satan’s bear trap?
Who will have the key to release it’s jaws from my life?
Who? Jesus. JESUS, that’s Who!

If you repent and follow Jesus you will find rest.
What does Jesus promise to those who follow Him?

John 14:15-18 If ye love me, keep my commandments. 16 And I will pray the Father, and he SHALL give you another Comforter, that he may ABIDE WITH YOU FOR EVER; 17 Even the Spirit of TRUTH; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. 18 I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.

The Comforter that Solomon in all his wisdom could not find is the Comforter that Jesus will send to you.

The Comforter that Jeremiah – as great a prophet as he was – that Comforter Jesus shall send to you.

The Bible tells us that the NORMAL CHRISTIAN LIFE is to be COMFORTED. When the Apostle Paul …

Acts 9:29, 31 … spake BOLDLY in the NAME OF THE LORD JESUS … THEN had the churches REST throughout all Judaea and Galilee and Samaria, and WERE EDIFIED; and WALKING IN THE FEAR OF THE LORD, and IN THE COMFORT of the Holy Ghost, WERE MULTIPLIED.

Many Churches today have no more comfort than the lost outside the Church. Why? BECAUSE THERE HAS BEEN NO REPENTANCE. Jesus promised the Comforter, but ONLY on the condition of our obedience.

Jesus said “When you REPENT and heed the Gospel (that is, follow Jesus) then Jesus promised I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter. God the Holy Spirit will come to you. You cannot receive God the Spirit if you are still walking according to your own ways. But when you come to Jesus – and surrender to Him as King of Kings and only Savior – then He prays for you. Jesus will plead (ἐρωτάω erōtáō, pronounced er-o-tah’-o) with the Father on your behalf. Oh what a joy it is to come to Jesus, to bring your brokenness to Him.Sing!

Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged,
Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful
Who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness,
Take it to the Lord in prayer.

Plead the Son, and He will plead the Father. When Jesus pleads the Father he shall give you another Comforter. Not maybe. Will. Absolutely will. The Holy Spirit will come into your life. Christ will free you from the bear trap of sin, and the Spirit will free you from the hopelessness that the world wallows in. But Jesus tells us:

 John 14:15-18 the Father … shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; 17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.

The world – that which is trapped in satan’s bear trap – the world cannot receive the Spirit of God, the Third Person of the Trinity. The world cannot receive the abiding comfort that the indwelling Comforter gives to Christ’s Children. There is no Comforter given to the worldly. Not too long ago a certain politician said:

“… if you have a problem with who I am, your problem is not with me. Your quarrel … is with my creator.” The politician went on to explain the difficulty he had in his earlier life, saying: “It’s hard to face the truth that there were times in my life when, if you had shown me exactly what it was inside me that made me gay, I would have cut it out with a knife.”

I will not argue with the man trapped in the bear trap, but I will say this. Jesus told us that The Holy Spirit – the Comforter:

John 14:26 … the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost …. 16:7-11 … 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.

This politician is like many in the world today. They will not heed Christ’s commandments. They are caught in a bear trap. They call on human means for freedom, but none come forth. The trap holds them tight. Then along comes the Holy Spirit. The Spirit comes to CONVICT or REPROVE sin. That was why this politician felt so ill at ease with his lifestyle. The Spirit will REPROVE the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment. That word REPROVE is the Greek ἐλέγχω elénchō, {pronounced el-eng’-kho} which means “to chasten, to admonish, to tell a fault, to rebuke”. The Spirit of God comes with the key to release the jaws of the bear trap. He affirms the words of Christ.

Recognize that sin is a bear trap.
Cry out to Christ to release it.
The Spirit comes with the key.
That key is the Cross of Christ.
Repent, turn to Jesus.
He IS the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6)!

Sadly, some choose to normalize the bear trap. “I cannot get it off of me. My friends cannot get it off of me. So I will stay entrapped. I will get used to it’s pressure. I will normalize the limp. I will find others who normalize the limp. And we will – together – mark in step to the jangle of chains, limping through life, ignoring God our Creator.

Oh Beloved, let it not be so!
Take the Gift of God.
What is that “Gift”?
It is Jesus.
It is the Spirit filled life.
That is the heritage of the Christ follower.
That is where God wants you to be.

John 4:14 … whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.

John 7:38-39 He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. 39 (But this spake he of the Spirit

To come to Jesus is to find your sins forgiven.
To come to Jesus is to find the bear trap broken.
To come to Jesus is to find new life.
Will you not come to Jesus?
Sing!

Are we weak and heavy-laden,
Cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge—
Take it to the Lord in prayer;
Do thy friends despise, forsake thee?
Take it to the Lord in prayer;
In His arms He’ll take and shield thee,
Thou wilt find a solace there.

May God touch your hearts with his Word.

Posted in John, prayer, Praying Like Jesus Series, Sermons Preached | Tagged , , , ,

Pray-Be-See We Should Pray

WidowPraying

Photo by Guilherme Romano on Unsplash

Luke 18:1-8 And {Jesus} spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint; 2 Saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man: 3 And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary. 4 And he widowwould not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man; 5 Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me. 6 And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith. 7 And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? 8 I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?

When we read our Bibles we often miss the little words, the garnish on the plate of the text. The little words matter. In our text today the first little word is the word And. The And ties this parable to what Jesus was saying before the parable. What Jesus was saying is so very important. In the previous chapter Jesus was telling His disciples that He is coming again. Jesus told us that the condition of the world would get very bad. He said:

Luke 17:22-24 The days will come, when ye shall desire to see one of the days of the Son of man, and ye shall not see it. 23 And they shall say to you, See here; or, see there: go not after them, nor follow them. 24 For as the lightning, that lighteneth out of the one part under heaven, shineth unto the other part under heaven; so shall also the Son of man be in his day.

Jesus said that the day that He comes will be “like the days of Noah”, where no one had time for God. They were so busy.

Luke 17:27 They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all.

People were busy seeking their own happiness and not the face of God. They were busy satisfying themselves physically, but ignoring God spiritually.

Luke 17:28-30 28 Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; 29 But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. 30 Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed.

Jesus uses the illustrations of Noah and of Sodom and Gomorrah to show how far people will draw away from God before He comes again. It is going to be rough for those who are followers of Christ.

It was rough for Noah.
It was rough for
Lot.
It will be rough for
us.

It is in the midst of this “end time preaching” that Jesus gives us an And followed by a parable on prayer.

The things that we are seeing in America and in the world today are but precursors to the coming of our Lord Jesus. The end of time is not far from us. What should we do as we wait on our Lord? PRAY!

The Key To The Parable Is Given Before The Parable

The commentator Matthew Henry said: “This parable has its key hanging at the door.” Jesus usually spoke parables – earthly stories with heavenly meaning in a certain way. He would give the parable then, when the disciples looked puzzled, Jesus would explain the parable. This particular parable is the opposite of Christ’s other parables. In this parable He gives the key – then He gives the parable. When Jesus does something unique we need to stop and pay particular attention to it. So let’s start with the key.

Luke 18:1 And {Jesus} spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint;

As times get darker and trials seem greater Jesus tells us men ought always to pray, and not to faint. The word translated faint is the Greek ἐκκακέω ekkakéō, (pronounced ek-kak-eh’-o) which means “to be utterly spiritless, to be wearied out, exhausted, to lose courage”. Jesus knew as the times got darker and the world more evil and far from the love of God that His disciples would be tempted to give up, to quit. In the Middle Ages many committed Christians became “monks”, withdrawing from the world and building fortified towns where they could keep the world out. Even today many who profess Christ separate themselves into cloisters. The most extreme view we have of this in our area are the Amish believers. They withdraw into closed communities and block out the world, preferring to follow the old paths rather than reach out in the name of Jesus.

If the Christian hides his light under a bushel because of the evil days, or hides from the world rather than be the salt of the earth, then how can the Kingdom of God grow?

This is why Jesus asked at the end of the parable:

Luke 18:8 … Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?

If God’s people “faint” or give up, just quit trying, then the darkness will grow greater because there is no resistance to the darkness. The only way to combat darkness is to BE LIGHT. The Apostle Paul knew this. Commissioned to go among the Gentiles with the Gospel, Paul was attacked by both Jew and Gentile for the ministry he had been given. Yet the Apostle said:

2 Corinthians 4:1-4 Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not; 2 But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. 3 But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: 4 In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.

Though being the Light of God in the midst of a dark world is tough we keep on going through prayer. We do not serve God in our power, but in HIS power. The Apostle said:

2 Corinthians 4:14-18 … Knowing that he which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you. 15 For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God. 16 For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. 17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; 18 While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.

Pastor Adrian Rogers once said, “Prayerlessness is a spirit of independence from God.” If we are going to survive as Christians and as Christ’s Church in this devilish world we must keep on praying. We do not have the power necessary to overcome the darkness … but God does.

2 Thessalonians 3:13 … But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing.

Be Persistent In Prayer Regardless

Hebrews 4:16 encourages us to “come boldly to the throne of grace…”. Old time preacher and Puritan Thomas Watson wrote:

Prayer delights God’s ear, it melts His heart, it opens His hand:
God cannot deny a praying soul.”

In this parable Jesus speaks of an unjust judge. He said:

Luke 18:2-3 Saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man: 3 And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary.

Now our God is not unjust. Our God is perfectly righteous in all His actions. Our God does not show favoritism, nor can He be bribed:

Acts 10:34-35 … God is no respecter of persons: 35 But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.

Our God never mistreats us, nor does He condone mistreating anyone

Zechariah 7:9-10 Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts, saying, Execute true judgment, and shew mercy and compassions every man to his brother: 10 And oppress not the widow, nor the fatherless, the stranger, nor the poor; and let none of you imagine evil against his brother in your heart.

Our God will one day reward us for our works for Him, just as He will punish the evil doer:

Hebrews 6:10 For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labor of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister.

Colossians 3:24-25 Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ. 25 But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons.

There is coming a payday someday. The good you did that was never recognized by any will be rewarded by your Lord. The evil that was done under the table, or the good you refused to do, will also be rewarded. There is a payday coming someday, and we will receive from our Just God our due. So God is not unjust.

So WHY did Jesus use the picture
of an UNJUST JUDGE in this parable?

It’s very simple. Look at who is going to the unjust judge.

there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying,
Avenge me of mine adversary

In Jesus’ day the person who would have the least influence in society was either a widow or an illegitimate child. Women had little power in the ancient Jewish world. Women could not inherit, as a rule, lands. Women did not serve as Senators, nor on the Sanhedrin, the ruling council of the Jews. Many men misused women, divorcing them for any cause. The only true power a woman had was through her husband. The widow was absolutely helpless. She had nothing. This particular widow had no adult children, else the sons would have stood up for her rights. The widow had only one resource. She could talk. She could petition. She could pray.

When we are weak and unable and bring our petitions to God, we are to persist until God gives us an answer!

This widow persisted in her request until the unjust judge answered her prayers. Now God is not unjust – but He expects us to pray. Jesus wants us to keep on praying, to keep on seeking His face, to keep on relying on Him and Him only for the answer. The Bible is filled with illustrations of people who were helpless but who prayed – and God blessed them through their prayers.

The delays and the darkness that we see should not be our focus. We need to focus on the Problem Solver, not the problems. We need to be persistent in prayer. When we are tried and we are weary, when we are like this widow in this parable, we need to keep asking, keep seeking, and keep trusting. E.M. Bounds wrote of a woman named Hannah who was childless, and prayed to the Lord to give her a child. Bounds wrote:

If Hannah’s prayer for a son had been answered at the time she set for herself, the nation might never have known the mighty man of God it found in Samuel. Hannah wanted only a son, but God wanted more. He wanted a prophet, and a savior, and a ruler for His people. Someone said that ‘God had to get a woman before He could get a man.’ This woman He got in Hannah precisely by those weeks and months and years there came a woman with a vision like God’s, with tempered soul and gentle spirit and a seasoned will, prepared to be the kind of a mother for the kind of a man God knew the nation needed.” (W. E. Binderwolf)

Our God hears. Keep on praying! May God touch your hearts with His Word!

Posted in Luke, prayer, Sermons Preached | Tagged , , ,