The Heart Of The Child Of God

Control your heart!
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Psalm 51:17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.

The message for today is “The Heart Of The Child of God”. How can you tell a Christian from a non-Christian? It is based on the heart. Listen Beloved:

The only way you can enter the
Family of God is by repentance

Repentance is the bowing down of the human will to the will of God. Without repentance, there can be absolutely NO salvation.

Repentance is the heart willingly bowing to Jesus Christ as Savior.
Repentance is the hand of faith reaching out, and grasping God’s hand.
Repentance is in the broken spirit and in the crushed and bleeding heart.
Repentance is when one cries out to God, “Uncle! I give up!”
Without repentance, the Holy Spirit will not come to you,
to cause your new birth.

Word Study Repent is the Greek μετανοέω metanoéō, {pronounced met-an-o-eh’-o}, which means “to change the mind, to reconsider”, and is a key word in soteriology, the Doctrine of Salvation. Repentance is the first part of every ancient sermon. If you have never repented, then you are never saved by grace. The Herald of Christ, John the Baptist preached,

Matthew 3:2 … Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

The Incarnate Son of God, Jesus Christ clearly preached,

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

The Apostles went out preaching,

Acts 3:19 … Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord

Repentance is the first requirement of salvation. Repentance recognizes that neither I nor you are God nor gods, but there is but One God, and Jesus Christ his Messiah. The men of Ninevah repented at the preaching of Jonah (Matthew 12:51), and God spared that city destruction. Jesus told us all:

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

To repent is to say that God is right, and I am wrong. To repent is to not just internally change your mind, but to externally change your direction. A person is saved when genuine repentance comes. Jesus said,

Luke 15:10 … there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.

God offers salvation to every person through Christ. There was a time in human history where God “winked at” the foolishness of man, “but now commandeth all men every where to repent” (Acts 17:30).

Repentance is in the very heart of the Christ follower.

Greg Morse from Desiring God ministries noted:

If someone’s conversion to God is true,
lifelong repentance will follow. …

… The mouth of one not born again can say true things for a time. Unchanged eyes can cry. A dead tongue can sincerely sing worship songs for a season. And turning away from Christ, repenting of him, can prove it all was false.”

When Augustinian Monk Martin Luther rejected the false teachings of the Catholic Church of his day, he nailed 95 Theses or statements of faith on the exterior of the Church door. The very first of these statements was:

When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, “Repent” (Matthew 4:17), He willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.

I was ordained to ministry August 22, 1999. Since preaching the Gospel these past 21 years and 11 months, God has blessed me to see the seed sown come forth into new eternal life. I have baptized very many people, and many continue this day in service to Jesus. Yet there are some who, as Jesus said:

Received the {gospel} seed in stony places. They heard the Word of God, and with joy received it, but had no root in themselves. Tribulation or persecution came because of God’s Word, and they fell away”. (my paraphrase of Matthew 13:20-21)

They just didn’t last. I remember one young lady that I baptized four times at her request. The problem was, she – and the others who fell away – had no genuine salvation. Genuine salvation – Holy Spirit created, and Christ purchased – endures or overcomes. The Apostle said:

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

Word Study “They went out”. This is the Greek ἐξέρχομαι exérchomai, {pronounced ex-er’-khom-ahee}, which means “to leave an assembly, forsake a people, to flow away from the body”. The same word is used in Matthew 10:14 when our Lord said:

whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out (exérchomai) of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet.”

At the first Lord’s Table, it was Judas Iscariot who went out before the Table was served. He went out to betray Jesus for thirty pieces of silver.

John 13:30 {Judas} then having received the sop went immediately out (exérchomai eutheōs): and it was night.

Now certainly exérchomai is not always used in a negative sense – it can refer to leaving on a more positive note. But in our context of 1 John 2:19 it is clearly used in a negative sense.

Christian, You May Sin Grievously,
But God Forgives Generously

Pastor Greg Morse wrote, “Christians sin, and at times sin grievously. But they do not make a LIFESTYLE of sinning. It is impossible to do so. “No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him; and he cannot keep on sinning, because he has been born of God. (1 John 3:9). Those with the {Holy Spirit} repent of sin and turn away from it, encouraged by the disciple of a loving Father.

David is the writer of Psalm 51. Let’s think about David for a moment. God made a covenant with King David in 2 Samuel 7. This was an unconditional covenant that was reiterated in 1 Chronicles 17:11-14.

2 Samuel 7:12-15 And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He shall build an house for my name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever. 14 I will be his father, and he shall be my son. If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men: 15 But my mercy shall not depart away from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away before thee.

God made this unconditional covenant with David (called the Davidic Covenant). It was not long after this that King David betrayed God, committed adultery with a woman named Bathsheba, and had Uriah the Hittite, one of his mighty men of valor, murdered (see 2 Samuel 11). The Bible says “the thing that David had done displeased the Lord” (2 Samuel 11:27).

David committed sexual sin.
David lied.
David conspired, drawing others into his sin.
David betrayed a friend, an honorable man.
David murdered this man to cover up his sin.

When the Pastor steps on your toes in the sermon, don’t get mad and quit the Church. Do like David did when Nathan challenged him. REPENT!

David not only repented, but he wrote Psalm 51, confessing his sin, and encouraging others to walk in the light with Christ. The Hebrew introduction to Psalm 51 reads:

[[To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David when Nathan the prophet came unto him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba]]

David vs Saul vs Judas: David did not lose the covenant God made with him, nor is there any evidence that David lost his salvation. But David repented. What was the difference between David and his predecessor Saul? Saul had no root in himself. What was the difference between the eleven Apostles and Judas Iscariot? Judas had no root in himself. Both Saul and Judas lived and worked in proximity to the Lord, but there hearts were not given to the Lord. They were not born again. The Apostle Paul preached:

Acts 13:22 … when {God} had removed {Saul}, he raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he gave their testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfill all my will.

God looks at the heart. God knows who loves him, and who doesn’t. The Christian loves Christ. Jesus said:

John 8:42 … If God were your Father, ye would love me …

Judas Iscariot The Christian loves God. The Christian loves the Kingdom of God more than his or herself. The Christian is the One Who repents to be saved, and lives daily in a state of pliable repentance. Once more, consider Judas Iscariot. Judas was in proximity to Jesus for 3 ½ years. Yet he betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver.

When Judas Iscariot was confronted with his sin, he did not go to Jesus nor to God the Father to repent. Judas repented HIMSELF (Matthew 27:3). He did not go to God. He went to the chief priests and Pharisees, saying “I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood” (Matthew 27:4). What did Judas do then? He thought he would make it all better by his own hand! The Bible says:

Matthew 27:5 … {Judas} cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself.

Judas did not repent to God. Judas repented to man,
but David repented to God.

What did DAVID do when confronted with his sin? David cried out to God. Hear his words of repentance:

Psalm 51:1 Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.

Godly repentance – the repentance that a Child of God makes – leans into the MERCY of God.

David cried out, Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness. David is fascinated with the mercy and lovingkindness of God. The word lovingkindness is the Hebrew חֶסֶד cheçed, {pronounced kheh’-sed}, which means a loving kindness or goodness faithfully given to those in need. David’s heart was tender toward God, and he believed that – though he was imperfect – that the perfect God Who we love will always faithfully love His children. David knew himself to be frail and faulty, but believed God to always be faithful.

Godly repentance does not seek to “make it better”, but calls solely on God.

Psalm 51:2-3 Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. 3 For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.

The Child of God in sin will seek God’s grace by acknowledging their sin. The Child of God asks God to Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. The Child of God does not rename sin, nor justify sin, but acknowledges transgressions. We must confess – not justify but confess – our sins before God.

Sin is a horrible affront to God. David wrote:

Psalm 51:4 Against Thee, Thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.

I find this statement very intriguing. Against Thee, Thee only, have I sinned. C.H. Spurgeon wrote in Treasury of David:

The virus of sin lies in its opposition to God: the psalmist’s sense of sin towards others rather tended to increase the force of this feeling of sin against God. All his wrong doing centered, culminated, and came to a climax, at the foot of the divine throne. To injure our fellow men is sin, mainly because in so doing we violate the law of God. The penitent’s heart was so filled with a sense of the wrong done to the Lord himself, that all other confession was swallowed up in a broken hearted acknowledgment of offense against him.”

David sinned against Uriah and his wife, Bathsheba, but his primary sin was against the Lord Who saved him. When we sin, our sins are always exposed to God. The Apostle said in Hebrews 4:13,

all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of
Him with whom we have to do”

The Lord Jesus Christ paid for our sins on Calvary. We are bought with a price” (1 Corinthians 6:20), the Blood of Calvary. Let us “glorify God in our body and our spirit, for we belong to God”. We are “bought with a price” (1 Corinthians 7:23). Let us not live to please ourselves, or our neighbor. Let us live to please Him Who purchased us from damnation.

Psalm 51:7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

Word Study hyssop was a plant that the priests used to ceremonially cleanse a person from sin. In Leviticus 14:4-7 a blood dipped hyssop was sprinkled on a person seven times to cleanse them. David did not go to a priest or another fallen person for cleansing from sin. He went to God. Only God can forgive sin. Only Jesus can cleanse us of sin. Jesus said of Himself:

Luke 5:24 … ye may know that the Son of man hath power upon earth to forgive sins …

Man cannot forgive sins, but God can. The Incarnate God, Jesus Christ, can forgive sins.

Beware, Christian, For Sin Always Has Consequences

Psalm 51:8-9 Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice. 9 Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities.

If God seems far away, it is probably
because He is not your Lord!

The devil wants the Christian to hang on to his or her sin. If we hide the sin, if we ignore or rename the sin, we court not only the loss of our joy and gladness, but we open ourselves up to the discipline of God. David speaks as if he has been deafened. He said, Make me to hear joy and gladness. The Christian has the joy of the presence of God. God comes to His people, and SPEAKS to His people. There is nothing more joyous and gladdening to hear the sweet comfort of Jesus. Jesus said:

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

Active and unconfessed sin removes from us the word of the Lord. We cannot hear our great Shepherd when we are bound to worldliness and sin. There is nothing more blessed than, when the trials of life come, I can hear my Jesus. He whispers to my heart by His Spirit and His Word. What a JOY it is to be in Him.

Sin cannot reign in the Christian life. Either Christ is on the throne of your life, or darkness is. There is no joy in darkness. David cried out to God:

Psalm 51:10-11 Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. 11 Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy Holy Spirit from me.

Word Study The word translated Create is the Hebrew בָּרָא bârâʼ, {baw-raw’}, which means “to shape, or create something out of nothing”. This word is used in the very first verse of our Bible:

Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God CREATED {bârâʼ} …

Sin damages our souls, and brings with it death. Sin is like poison, or cancer. Where it resides, it brings death. The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). David cried out that God would restore to him a heart eaten up by sin, that God would “reset” his life from the evil he had done. David wanted to feel the presence of God once more. He said, take not thy Holy Spirit from me. God will not walk with us when we walk in darkness. We cannot lead God into the darkness. Like Prodigal Sons, sin takes us far from God’s presence … but God cherishes us, and wants us home. He wants us to be led of Him. The Scripture says:

Romans 8:14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God,
they are the sons of God.

Psalm 51:12-13 Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit. 13 Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee.

Closeness to God comes only by a repentant lifestyle!

We cannot be used of God while in sin. Christian, confess your sins unto God. Trust in Him. Please, never forget that though God will forgive sin, there are consequences to our sins. God told King David:

2 Samuel 12:10-12 Now therefore the sword shall never depart from thine house; because thou hast despised me, and hast taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be thy wife. 11 Thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will raise up evil against thee out of thine own house, and I will take thy wives before thine eyes, and give them unto thy neighbor, and he shall lie with thy wives in the sight of this sun. 12 For thou didst it secretly: but I will do this thing before all Israel, and before the sun.

There are consequences with sin. Let us avoid sin. When we step into sin, let us immediately seek our God, and cry out for forgiveness. Let us repent daily of our missteps. David’s son Solomon, the child of Bathsheba, would one day write in Proverbs 6:32-33,

But whoso committeth adultery with a woman lacketh understanding: he that doeth it destroyeth his own soul. A wound and dishonor shall he get; and his reproach shall not be wiped away.”

May God draw us ever closer to Him. May we all learn the repentant lifestyle that God calls us to. In Christ’s name I pray. Amen and Amen.

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Slow Down And Look

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Turn with me in your Bibles to John chapter 1.

In America today we are impressed by our technology, by the internet, by the powerful things that we have. We have “smart” phones and apps and WiFi. But I come from a simpler time.

I remember as a child the simple toys we had. Our toys were not high tech – but we had better relationships with one another.

My brother and I used to play soldiers on Grandpa Joe’s farm. Our weapons were simply tobacco sticks, and our jungle was the tobacco field. I remember my first radio was a little simple AM job that would fit in your pocket, and I believe the brand was Realistic. I remember 8 Track players, and my first tape recorder – a reel to reel model. There was a Christian show that came on every Sunday called Damascus Road. I remember dial up internet, and super slow speeds.

Everything we have today is faster, faster, faster. Recording tapes were replaced with Compact Disks, which were replaced with DVDs, and now most people “stream” their movies and music. When Sherry had our first child, she and the baby, a beautiful boy named Michael, stayed in the Base Hospital for three days. People have children now, and are home the next day. Heart surgery used to be a big deal, and you expected to spend weeks in the hospital. Now heart surgery is done one day, and you are home the next. As a boy I knew where the pay phones were so, if I was running late, I could call my parents on their one corded phone. Today everyone seems to have phones, and most people (not me, just yet) have smart phones.

We have SMART phones but NOT SO SMART people. When I was growing up, you memorized 15-20 phone numbers of people you were closest to. Now I can barely remember my number!

We want everything fast, fast, fast.

fast news
fast cars
fast relationships
fast food
fast medicine
fast religion

Fast religion is false religion. To learn of the God Who is requires simple – waiting upon the Lord – faith. We think ourselves advanced – but we are NOTHING compared to God. God describes Himself asיְהֹוָה Yᵉhôvâh, “The One Who Is”. God told Moses, I AM the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob”. God is immense. He is everywhere, and knows all things. David said:

Psalm 139:7-12 Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? 8 If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. 9 If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; 10 even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me. 11 If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me. 12 Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee. 13 For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb.

God calls whosoever will to a simple faith in Him.

Faith Is To Simply Watch And Wait Upon God

John the Baptist was given a simple commission from God. He was to go into the wilderness, and to baptize those whom God sent. It was in the wilderness – unplugged – that John found the Messiah.

John 1:29-33 The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. 30 This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me: for he was before me. 31 And I knew him not: but that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water. 32 And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him. 33 And I knew him not:…

This passage fascinates me. In the passage we see the witness of John the Baptist concerning Jesus Christ. Twice John tells us,I knew him not. This is the Greek eidō autos ou, and it carries the sense that

John knew Jesus as COUSIN, but not as CHRIST.

John the Baptist and Jesus were cousins. When Mary became with Child of the Holy Spirit, the Angel Gabriel told her:

Luke 1:36 And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren.

Mary, the mother of Jesus, and Elisabeth, the mother of John the Baptist, were cousins. Their children were cousins. They grew up not far apart, and perhaps played together as children. And yet John says, I knew him not. He knew Jesus as a cousin, but had no idea that He was the Messiah. How did John come to know that Jesus was the Messiah? John says:

John 1:33-34 But He that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost. 34 And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God

God told John, “Go out into the wilderness, and baptize the seekers I send you with water. The One Who comes to you with the Spirit of God descending on Him, this will be the Messiah.” What drove John to baptize faithfully, day after day, in the bleak wilderness, far from the city? The promise of God that as you baptize, as you do that which I tell you to do, as you heed Me, I will show you the Messiah. So day after day John the Baptist got up, and went out into the wilderness. He knew his calling. He knew what God told him to do. And with singleness of vision John looked for the Messiah.

Beloved, if you want to be blessed of God, you need to look for God. You need to wait upon God. You need to faithfully wait on Him. This is what John the Baptist did. God told him, “Go to the Jordan – baptize the ones I send your way – and look for the descending Spirit. That will be the Messiah!”

Psalm 27:14 Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.

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

Did not Abraham see the Lord in the plains of Mamre, when he watched and waited for God, going where ever the Lord said (Genesis 18)? Oh, we must wait on the Lord and His timing.

Did not Elisha ask Elijah for a double portion of his power, when that old man was going to be caught up by chariots of fire (2 Kings 2)? Did not Elijah say if you see me when I am caught up, you shall have the double portion? Elisha watched, and waited on God, and received the double portion.

What of King David? If David had killed King Saul, rather than waiting on the Lord, then his reign would not have been as powerful as it was. David kept his eyes on God, and saw God’s blessing. When David took his eyes off of God and put them on the wife of Uriah, he brought cursing on his home. .

Oh, we must wait on God!

The first generation of Israel would not have perish 40 years in the wilderness had their gaze been on God, and not on the sons of Anak (Numbers 13:33). Their corpses would not have littered the wilderness, and they would have inherited the Promise of God had they waited upon Him.

Moses was blessed time and time again when he waited on God. Had he kept his eyes on God in Numbers 20, then he himself would not have lost the Promised Land.

How we need to put our eyes upon God. To unplug, and look, and wait on Him. When we, like John the Baptist, look for God’s blessing, then we will be blessed. John looked for Jesus moment by moment. When he earlier saw Jesus, he saw a COUSIN. But it was only when John saw the Spirit of God did he know that this was the CHRIST. Pastor John H. Jowett wrote:

That is faith, to do God’s will here and now, quietly leaving the results to Him. Faith is not concerned with the entire chain; its devoted attention is fixed upon the immediate link. Faith is not knowledge of a moral process; it is fidelity in a moral act. Faith leaves something to the Lord: it obeys His immediate commandment, and leaves to Him the direction and destiny.”

Saving Faith Tells Others About Jesus

John 1:35-36 Again the next day after John stood, and two of his disciples; ..

Word Study Look again at the interesting wording of our text. The next day after John stood. The word “” is the Greek ἵστημι hístēmi, {pronounced his’-tay-mee}, which means “to make a stand, to stand up for”. The day before John stood up and said, “I am not the Christ, but THIS is the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world. THIS is the Messiah, the Savior and Lord we have waited for”. John was the ONLY ONE making this declaration, the only one standing for Jesus. But he made the stand.

Even if you are the only one, you must make a stand. God never does a great thing with great crowds. God uses the remnant, the few and the faithful, the Isaiahs and the Ezekiels and the Hoseas and the Habakkuks. I was reading an article the other day an article from Alpha and Omega Ministries on the American Revolutionary War:

I heard some revealing and somewhat surprising statistics about the American Revolutionary War. This war between the American people and British Empire was for our independence and self-governance. The statistics given were from the First American Revolution fought for our national freedom. I heard it reported that only 3% of the population fought in the war, 10% furnished supplies, 37% fought against us, and 50% did absolutely nothing. I know, shocking and disturbing percentages. That 3% was only a remnant of the total population, but God delivered this new and young nation from their adversary through them.”

It is often not the majority that makes the difference, but the committed and faithful minority, the remnant, that makes the difference. John stood up for Jesus.

John 1:36 …. {John} saith, Behold the Lamb of God!

Two of John’s followers hear him, and they begin to follow Jesus. If you notice in the text, only Andrew’s name is mentioned. We do not know who the other disciple is – God does not give us his name. There is a reason for this. Read again with me:

John 1:37-39 And the two disciples heard {John} speak, and they followed Jesus. 38 Then Jesus turned, and saw them following, and saith unto them, What seek ye? They said unto him, Rabbi, (which is to say, being interpreted, Master,) where dwellest thou? 39 He saith unto them, Come and see. They came and saw where he dwelt, and abode with him that day: for it was about the tenth hour.

Both Andrew and the other unnamed disciple follow Jesus. Both call Jesus Rabbi, a title used by the Jews to describe their teachers. What they meant in their hearts was that Jesus was a Master, the Greek διδάσκαλος didáskalos, {pronounced did-as’-kal-os}, or a “Master or Top Level Teacher”. They began to follow Jesus because, first of all, John pointed Jesus out. Secondly because Jesus told them to follow Him, to “come and see”. The Matthew Henry Commentary states:

{John the Baptist} was willing to turn them over to Christ, for to this end he bore witness to Christ in their hearing that they might leave all to follow Him, even that they might leave {John}. He did not reckon that he lost those disciples who went over from him to Christ, any more than the schoolmaster reckons that the scholar lost whom he sends to the university. John gathered disciples, not for himself, but for Christ to prepare them for the Lord.”

Genuine saving faith points others to Jesus. The purpose of any Church and any Pastor is not to point people to us, but to Jesus!

John would later tell his diminishing group of followers:

John 3:28-30 Ye yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before him. 29 He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled. 30 He must increase, but I must decrease.

We do not win people to the Church for the Church’s sake. We win people to the Kingdom of God for Christ’s sake. Jesus is the bridegroom, but we are not. Our mindset must be – MY MINDSET MUST BE – that {Jesus} must increase, but I must decrease. This is the only healthy mindset for those in the kingdom of God.

We point to Christ, not to ourselves.
We point to Jesus, not to the WE.
It’s ALL about JESUS! Period!

If people are receptive to the Gospel, they will hear Jesus say Come and see. Jesus asks every person “what do you seek?”. At that point, Andrew and the unnamed disciple have a choice. They can follow Jesus, or they can stay with John, or they can turn their back on God forever. Their choice – YOUR CHOICE, I hope – was to hear and follow Jesus. This takes TIME and COMMITMENT. Dr. Thomas Constable notes:

Only by coming to Jesus could {these men} really comprehend what they were seeking spiritually. The same thing holds true today. The two men accepted Jesus’ invitation and stayed with Him for the rest of that day.”

There is a freedom that comes in following Jesus. When we follow Jesus, we detach ourselves from our old way of life. We, in following Jesus, find ourselves in a better place. The Bible says:

Romans 6:17-23 God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. 18 Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness. 19 I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness. 20 For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness. 21 What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death. 22 But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. 23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Prior to following Jesus we all were hopelessly bound to sin. But the Lamb of God came, and, like Andrew and this other disciple, we begin to walk in the light of God with Christ. We do not deliberately yield our members over to sin, but ALL OF US follows Jesus. People seek Jesus because they, like these two disciples, are tired of the rat race, of the sin go round world. We who are saved are ready for something better – something we were created for,

We were created to walk with God. We were created to be in the family of God. We were created to follow Jesus. Not as Judas Iscariot followed Jesus – his was a following of hypocrisy. His faith was not focused on the Lord, but on money. The Scripture says:

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

Judas was with Jesus, but not of Jesus. As the Apostle John said:

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

Those who are of the faith that saves are not just in proximity to Jesus, but they LOVE Jesus. We love Jesus because we know He is our Savior and Lord. Jesus Christ is our High Priest, the One and only One who brings us to God. As the Scripture says:

Hebrews 4:14-16 Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. 15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

Does God Know Your Name?

John 1:40-42 One of the two which heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. 41 He first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messiah, which is, being interpreted, the Christ. 42 And he brought him to Jesus. And when Jesus beheld him, he said, Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone.

I do not know why only one disciple, Andrew, is named of the two who followed Jesus. I suspect it has something to do with this:

Andrew told someone else about his faith in Jesus. Andrew led his brother to Christ.

Andrew responded to Jesus’ invitation. He “tasted that the Lord is gracious” (1 Peter 2:3). Andrew found his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messiah, which is, being interpreted, the Christ. And he brought him to Jesus. Andrew had been waiting for the Messiah, the Savior of God’s people. Now that he found Him, he wanted to tell those he loved about Jesus. He brought his brother Simon to Jesus. Jesus says to us:

Mark 8:38 Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.

Andrew merely led Simon to where Jesus was – and Jesus changed Simon to Peter. Only John among the Gospel writers gives the Greek transliteration Κηφᾶς Kēphâs, {pronounced kay-fas’} of Simon’s new name.” (NET Bible notes). Why did Jesus give Simon a new name? Because when a child is born, the parents give this child a name. Simon – a very common name in the Jewish world – was born again by faith in Christ.

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

Simon was no longer just plain old Simon. He belongs to Jesus now. God promises to every child of His that:

Revelation 3:12 Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.

Let us all turn our eyes upon Jesus. Let us simply focus on Him. Let us go home with Him, and lay down to rest at night with Him, and rise up in the morning with Him. Let us walk with Jesus, one moment at a time, one day at a time. Let us revel in His promises, and study His commands. Let us rest the pillars of our lives upon Him.

Where is your focus? If it is in Jesus daily, then your joy and confidence will not cease. Those who rest in Christ are blessed – not just in eternity, but right now. May God the Holy Spirit draw you close to His side. In Christ’s name and for his glory I pray this. Amen and Amen.

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The Mark Of The Lost

John 6:66 From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.

The original books of the Bible had no chapter or verse references. These were all letters or writings that God gave to us through the Apostles and the Prophets (Ephesians 2:20; 3:5; 4:11-12). The Apostle Peter declared that “the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (2 Peter 1:21). My commentary notes that:

The chapter divisions commonly used today were developed by Stephen Langton, an Archbishop of Canterbury. Langton put the modern chapter divisions into place in around A.D. 1227. The Wycliffe English Bible of 1382 was the first Bible to use this chapter pattern. Since the Wycliffe Bible, nearly all Bible translations have followed Langton’s chapter divisions.

The Hebrew Old Testament was divided into verses by a Jewish rabbi by the name of Nathan in A.D. 1448. Robert Estienne, who was also known as Stephanus, was the first to divide the New Testament into standard numbered verses, in 1555. Stephanus essentially used Nathan’s verse divisions for the Old Testament. Since that time, beginning with the Geneva Bible, the chapter and verse divisions employed by Stephanus have been accepted into nearly all the Bible versions.”

Though chapter and verse references are additions made by men fort our convenience in reading and studying the Bible, I believe that our God still controlled the process for His glory.

I find it more than coincidental that this sad verse we’re studying today, John 6:66, mirrors the Mark of the Beast, the Antichrist, in Revelation 13:18.

What a profound statement we find in John 6:66. Read it again with me:

John 6:66 From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.

Do You Love Jesus, Or What Jesus Gives?

Word Study Let’s break this verse down. Jesus had disciples who followed Him. The word translated disciples is the Greek μαθητής mathētēs, which means “a student, a learner, a pupil, a follower of another”. There were a great deal of people who followed Jesus. What were they following Him for? Were they following Jesus because they loved Jesus? No, they were following Jesus because they loved what Jesus gave them.

The disciples who left Jesus were not following Him out of love for Him. They followed Jesus out of love for what Jesus would DO for them.

We see this in our context. You always need to read the context. If you flip back just one page in my Bible to the beginning of chapter 6, you read of the miracle of the feeding of the five thousand. Jesus took “five barley loaves and two small fishes” (verse 9) and blessing it, fed five thousand men (verse 10). The Bible says:

John 6:14-15 Then those men {the 5000 that Jesus fed}, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world. 15 When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone.

These people saw Jesus as a miracle worker. They saw Jesus as Someone Who could easily overthrow the Roman Caesar. They did not love Jesus – they loved what Jesus could do. Jesus ran from such an arrangement. Jesus did not come to this world to be just another king, just another Caesar. Jesus came to this world to defeat Satan, to save humanity, and to establish the kingdom of God on the earth.

The Bible tells us that Jesus’ disciples headed out by ship to Capernaum, the next place Jesus wanted to go (verse 16). I believe they left a little early, just like we all get ahead of God at times. The Bible says:

John 6:17-20 {the twelve disciples} entered into a ship, and went over the sea toward Capernaum. And it was now dark, and Jesus was not come to them. 18 And the sea arose by reason of a great wind that blew. 19 So when they had rowed about five and twenty or thirty furlongs, they see Jesus walking on the sea, and drawing nigh unto the ship: and they were afraid. 20 But he saith unto them, It is I; be not afraid.

When Jesus got into the ship, “immediately the ship was at the land” (John 6:21). Oh Beloved, it is so wonderful to be with Jesus! When we err, if we love Jesus, Jesus saves us and blesses us! He loves us back. Jesus said:

John 8:42 … If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me.

The mark of the Christian is that the Christian loves Jesus. There are many who profess to be Christian, but they only love what Jesus will give them, not Who Jesus is. Those who love Jesus keep His commandments:

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

The day after Jesus and His disciples go to Capernaum, those 5000 “disciples” who wanted Jesus to be King, found Jesus and the twelve gone. The Bible says that “they also took a ship, and came to Capernaum, seeking for Jesus” (verse 24).

But Jesus could see what was in their hearts.
They did not love Jesus.
They loved what Jesus would give them.
They loved the all you can eat buffet.
They loved the 24 hour healing clinic.
Some love the idea of Heaven,
but could care less if Jesus is there or not.

Jesus was quite plain with these “seekers”. He said:

John 6:26-27 … Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled. 27 Labor not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed.

Word Study These disciples labored for meat which perishes. The word translated labored is the Greek ἐργάζομαι ergázomai, {pronounced er-gad’-zom-ahee} which means “to toil, to work for”. It required effort for these people to get to Jesus. The ships that they used to get to Capernaum on were not motorboats. They were the motors on the boats. They paddled and raised sails. They expended energy. Why? They got to Jesus so that He could feed them more free meat, more free fish and bread. Jesus told them, if effect, “You labored to get to Me for the wrong thing. You wanted Me for what TEMPORAL thing I could give you:

a TEMPORAL healing
a TEMPORAL feeding
a TEMPORAL blessing

Jesus came, not to give us temporal meat. Jesus said:

John 4:34 My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.

Jesus came to this earth to fulfill the Law and the Prophets (Matthew 5:17). Jesus Christ is the Promised Messiah. Jesus Christ is the “Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world”. Jesus Christ did not come to bring peace on the earth, but division (Luke 12:51). Jesus came into this world “that we might have life, abundant life” (John 10:10). Jesus said:

John 12:44-46 He that believeth on me, believeth not on me, but on him that sent me. 45 And he that seeth me seeth him that sent me. 46 I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness.

Jesus came, sent of the Father, to save sinners and bring the saved into the Kingdom of God. The people asked Jesus:

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

But these “disciples” were blind. You can see this. Listen Beloved: It is possible to come and apparently follow Jesus for a time, and yet never be saved. These “disciples” did not love Jesus. They questioned Jesus.

They responded to Jesus,

John 6:30 What sign shewest thou then, that we may see, and believe thee? what dost thou work?

These people sought Jesus for another free meal. But now that He has rebuked them, they challenge Jesus. “Jesus, show us a signthat we might see and believe You”. They want to debate Jesus. These false disciples do not want the Word of the Lord – they want to be placated. These false disciples even know scripture. They quote Psalm 78:24,

John 6:31 … He gave them bread from Heaven to eat ..

Jesus Is The Fulfillment Of The Shadow
Made By The Manna

Jesus told them, “My Father giveth you the True Bread from Heaven” (vs 32). The Manna that God gave Israel in the wilderness was a foreshadowing of the coming of Jesus. NOW DON’T MISS THIS. This is very important. When God gave the Manna to Israel, He said:

Exodus 16:4-5 … Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a certain rate every day, that I may prove them, whether they will walk in my law, or no. 5 And it shall come to pass, that on the sixth day they shall prepare that which they bring in; and it shall be twice as much as they gather daily.

Every day the Israelite was to go out and “Gather of {manna} every man according to his eating” (Exodus 16:16). You were to gather the manna in the morning, the amount that you could eat. You were not to hoard manna, for old manna would spoil the next morning. And if you waited till the sun was hot and did not gather in the morning, the manna melted.

This manna is, according to Jesus, a Type of Christ, a foreshadowing of the Messiah. You are not to be focused on getting what Jesus has for you. You are to be focused on getting Jesus, the Manna from Heaven. The Child of God desperately needs Jesus. Jesus told them:

John 6:35 … I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.

Jesus is the True Manna of God. Jesus is the only One Who has ever “come down from Heaven”, just as the Old Testament manna came down from Heaven. This is not a concept that a lost person can readily grasp. God the Father gives the Manna. Jesus told these false disciples:

John 6:36-40 But I said unto you, That ye also have seen me, and believe not. 37 All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. 38 For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. 39 And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. 40 And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.

In order for a person to be saved, God must open their eyes to Christ. The Christian faith is a supernatural faith. Those without Christ are “dead in trespasses and in sins” (Ephesians 2:1; Colossians 2:13). We do not raise ourselves to life. God opens our eyes, and draws us toward Jesus. Jesus said:

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

Word Study God DRAWS or opens the spiritual eyes of the believer. The Greek word translated drawis ἑλκύω helkýō, {pronounced hel-koo’-o}, which means “to draw, to drag, to lead or impel”. In John 21:6 the word is used when the disciples cast their net, “and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes.” The same word is used in Acts 16:19 when the lost “caught Paul and Silas, and drew them into the marketplace”. God must intervene, and open our eyes, that we might be saved. When the Father draws us to Jesus, and we receive Jesus as Lord and Savior, when we give ourselves away to Him, then we have His promise:

John 6:47-48 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life. 48 I am that bread of life.

Jesus follows this theme. As Israel ate the manna from Heaven (a shadow of Christ), in the Church Age we eat the Manna from Heaven, Jesus Christ. Now Jesus doesn’t mean that we are to literally chase Him down and cannibalize Him. What He means is, as Israel lived by eating the manna, the genuine Christian lives by eating THE Manna, Jesus Christ. Jesus said:

John 6:51, 53-58 I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. … 53 Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. 54 Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. 55 For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. 56 He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. 57 As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. 58 This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever.

As you eat physical food daily to sustain your physical life, the Christian feeds on Jesus daily, sustaining our spiritual life. Jesus, for the Christian, is more than a passing fancy. Jesus is everything. I need Jesus daily.

I need Jesus as my Prophet, teaching me the Word of God.
I need Jesus as my High Priest, giving me access to God My Father.
I need Jesus as the Lamb of God, for I hide myself in His blood.
I need Jesus as my Shepherd, for He defends me as I love Him.
I need Jesus as my Eternal Friend, for life is often lonely.
I need Jesus as my Lord, telling me what to do wherever I am.
I need Jesus as my Great Physician, for my life is broken.
I need Jesus as my Manna, for He feeds my soul.

Those “disciples” who followed Jesus to Capernaum for another buffet began to murmur. Jesus said:

John 6:61-64 … Doth this offend you? 62 What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before? 63 It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. 64 But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him.

Illustrate Jesus knew the hearts of these people. He knows your heart, whether you love Him, or just love what He might temporally give you. I had a young man come by our Church the other day, looking for temporal blessing. I handed him a new Bible, and took him to our pantry, and left him alone to get whatever he wanted. Afterwards, I followed his vehicle down to the gas station, where I gave him $20 worth of gas. It was later that I went back into our pantry. Do you know what I found? The new Bible I gave him, sitting on the shelf. The man wanted what Jesus could give, but not Jesus. Though he allowed me to pray for him and his family before I left him at the gas station, it was all an act. Which takes us back to the words of Jesus:

John 6:65 … Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.

Christianity is a supernatural faith. God must open the eyes of the lost, so that they might believe in Jesus. When you are saved, you fall in love with Jesus – and Jesus loves you. Like Simon Peter, we who are saved will not leave Jesus as the false disciples do. Like Simon Peter, we say:

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

Oh, how I pray that more and more would come to have their eyes opened by the Father, through the Spirit, unto the Son of God! Oh, how my heart aches for those who, like these false disciples, like Judas Iscariot, are chasing the temporal rather than the eternal in Christ. As we enter the prayer portion of our service, let us pray that God will use us, and will through His Spirit, lead others to fall in love with Jesus. In Christ name I pray. Amen and Amen.

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Be A Blessing, Not A Virus!

Don't Be A Virus
Photo by Fusion Medical Animation on Unsplash

Please turn with me in your Bibles to:

Genesis 47:1-10Then Joseph came and told Pharaoh, and said, My father and my brethren, and their flocks, and their herds, and all that they have, are come out of the land of Canaan; and, behold, they are in the land of Goshen. 2 And he took some of his brethren, even five men, and presented them unto Pharaoh. 3 And Pharaoh said unto his brethren, What is your occupation? And they said unto Pharaoh, Thy servants are shepherds, both we, and also our fathers. 4 They said moreover unto Pharaoh, For to sojourn in the land are we come; for thy servants have no pasture for their flocks; for the famine is sore in the land of Canaan: now therefore, we pray thee, let thy servants dwell in the land of Goshen. 5 And Pharaoh spake unto Joseph, saying, Thy father and thy brethren are come unto thee: 6 the land of Egypt is before thee; in the best of the land make thy father and brethren to dwell; in the land of Goshen let them dwell: and if thou knowest any men of activity among them, then make them rulers over my cattle. 7 And Joseph brought in Jacob his father, and set him before Pharaoh: and Jacob blessed Pharaoh. 8 And Pharaoh said unto Jacob, How old art thou? 9 And Jacob said unto Pharaoh, The days of the years of my pilgrimage are an hundred and thirty years: few and evil have the days of the years of my life been, and have not attained unto the days of the years of the life of my fathers in the days of their pilgrimage. 10 And JACOB blessed Pharaoh …

One interesting aspect of this Coronavirus Pandemic is that I have learned a great deal about bacteria and viruses. I used to think the two were the same. They aren’t. Bacteria are free living cells that can exist inside or outside of a body. Viruses, on the other hand, are a non-living collection of molecules that must have a host to exist in. Once they enter a living cell, they take over the cell, and force the cell to replicate that virus.

Preach! Each virus is focused on – not benefiting what it attaches itself to – but making MORE of itself even if it destroys the host. Viruses act a lot like proud and selfish people do.

Illustrate If viruses could talk they would say “I’m all about ME. I’m just doing ME. I don’t care what the rest of the body wants or needs. I just want to make MORE OF ME, and less of anything else.” Viruses are God’s parable – and God’s warning for us today.

God does not want viruses in His Israel, nor in His Church, the Body of Christ. He wants His people working together for the good of the Head, the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Apostle Paul wrote: 1 Corinthians 12:12 For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.

Those who are indeed Christians are all – TOGETHER – to be a part of one body. We are TOGETHER the Kingdom of God. We are TOGETHER the Church of God. We are not to be like viruses – replicating more of ourselves. No, we are to be good members, good citizens that work together for the glory of Christ and the spread of the Gospel Kingdom.

God has always had a Kingdom on this earth. He has always had a BODY of believers who were to work together to spread the Good News of the Kingdom of God. In the Old Testament, God used Israel as His Body to share the Coming Messiah with a lost and dying world. In the New Testament, at this present time God uses the Church, a body of believers, gathered together for the glory of God. Old or New Testament, Israel or Church, when the members of that Body begin to act like viruses, they can infect the whole Body, and hurt Christ’s mission to the world.

What does this have to do with our text today? Simply this:

You can choose to benefit the Body you are in by minimizing yourself and glorifying God, or you can decide to be a virus, and do things YOUR way regardless.

Joseph Made A Choice To Magnify Christ In His Life

Genesis 47:1 Then Joseph came and told Pharaoh

When you read these words, you read them like an American. Then Joseph came and told Pharaoh. Big deal! What does this matter? Truth is, in ancient Egypt, the Pharaoh’s and other kings were often considered to be gods by their people. This is how they wielded so much power! You did not just come in and directly talk to a Pharaoh. You found his cup bearer, his secretary, and made an appointment. You went in to see Pharaoh on your knees. But Joseph just walks in, and talks to Pharaoh. How in the world did Joseph become such a confidant to the Pharaoh?

Joseph Lived For God’s Glory, Not For Himself!

As a young boy, Joseph was the favorite child of his father Jacob. The Bible says Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age: and he made him a coat of many colors.(Genesis 37:3). Joseph was given special clothing that his brothers were not given. Further, Joseph dreamed a dream” (Genesis 37:5), and in that dream he dreamed that Joseph would reign over them. His brothers hated Joseph yet the more for his dreams” (Genesis 37:8). One day when Joseph was alone with his brothers, that the brothers threw him in a pit. Joseph’s brother Judah said:

Genesis 37:27 Come, and let us sell him to the Ishmeelites, and let not our hand be upon him; for he is our brother and our flesh. And his brethren were content.

The Ishmeelites are the children of Ishmael, the son that Abraham had with his slave Hagar. These Ishmeelites were merchants, people who bought and sold slaves. Joseph’s brothers sold him into Egyptian slavery.

Joseph could have become bitter, losing his freedom, and being betrayed by his family. Instead Joseph did as the Apostle directed:

Ephesians 4:31-32 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: 32 and be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.

Do not be a virus! Life is not about YOU, it’s about God. We may not be able to control our CIRCUMSTANCES, but we do control how we react. Live for God!

Illustration We are to live our lives so as to glorify God – even in the bad stuff. God has a purpose for everything that comes our way. Periodically I stand in front of a mirror and give myself a good talking to. “Jesus loves you, David. You are a Child of God! Life’s not about you. Live to glorify the Lord!” Oh, life is so hard at times – but God is still there.

Genesis 39:1-3 And Joseph was brought down to Egypt; and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him of the hands of the Ishmeelites, which had brought him down thither. 2 And the Lord was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian. 3 And his master saw that the Lord was with him, and that the Lord made all that {Joseph} did to prosper in his hand.

Joseph, attached to the body of Potiphar’s house, could have murmured and complained at his situation. But Joseph lived for the Lord. We studied this text last Sunday night:

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

When the valley comes, focus on the Lord Who loves you. When thrust into a bad situation, DO what the Scripture says:

Colossians 3:23 … whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men

If God allows you to be in the position of a slave, be the best slave you know how to be. Don’t be a virus! Add to, and benefit the host you’re attached to. When Potiphar’s wife tried to seduce Joseph, he told her:

Genesis 39:9 … how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?

How did Potiphar repay Joseph for his godliness? He had Joseph imprisoned! Jesus told us in John 16:33, “In the world you have tribulation. But take courage; I have overcome the world.” Keep looking up!

Joseph was 17 years old when sold into slavery (Genesis 37:2), and Joseph would stay a slave imprisoned until he was 30 years old (Genesis 41:46). For 13 years Joseph looked to Jesus out of the pit that was his life.

If God Sends You To a Valley, Praise Him! Magnify Him! Live for Him. Don’t Be A Virus!If you live for Jesus, Jesus will live with you.

Genesis 39:21, 23 … The LORD was with Joseph {even in prison}, and shewed him mercy, and gave him favor …. the LORD was with him, and that which {Joseph} did, the LORD made it to prosper.

Joseph was always careful to put the Lord first. When in prison, and the butler and the baker of Pharaoh came to him with a dream, Joseph said:

Genesis 40:8 … Do not interpretations belong to God? Tell me {your dreams}..

Joseph knew that the LORD loved him, and he, Joseph, loved the LORD. The LORD was not incidental to his life – but his very breath!

Two years later Pharaoh will have a dream, and will send for Joseph. When Pharaoh told Joseph that he wanted his dream interpreted, note how Joseph responded:

Genesis 41:16 … It is not in me: God shall give Pharaoh an answer of peace …

As I said before, Pharaoh thought he was a god. But Joseph in effect says, “The TRUE GOD will give you the interpretation of your dream”. As soon as God used Joseph to interpret Pharaoh’s dream, Pharaoh said:

Genesis 41:38-40 …. Can we find such a one as this is, a man in whom the Spirit of God is? 39 And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, Forasmuch as God hath shewed thee all this, there is none so discreet and wise as thou art: 40 thou shalt be over my house, and according unto thy word shall all my people be ruled: only in the throne will I be greater than thou.

My Beloved, God will bless and use you, but only when you humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God (1 Peter 5:6). If you are saved, you are saved to serve the Lord Jesus. If you are NOT saved, you were made in God’s image, made to find your completion in Jesus Christ.

Joseph benefited any Body that he became attached to, because he looked unto the Lord. Attached to Body of Potiphar’s home, he lived for the Lord. Attached to the Body of a prison, Joseph lived for the Lord. Now attached to the Body of Egypt, second only to the Pharaoh, Joseph lived for the Lord.

Reunited with his brothers, the highest authority save for Pharaoh, Joseph did not seek revenge. He told his family:

Genesis 45:4-5 … Come near to me, I pray you. And they came near. And he said, I am Joseph your brother, whom ye sold into Egypt. 5 Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life.

And NOW Enters Jacob & His Family

God speaks to Jacob (Israel), Joseph’s father in a dream, saying:

Genesis 46:3-4 … I am God, the God of thy father: fear not to go down into Egypt; for I will there make of thee a great nation: 4 I will go down with thee into Egypt; and I will also surely bring thee up again: and Joseph shall put his hand upon thine eyes.

God tells Israel, “Go to Egypt. Your son Joseph is alive. Go and see him, for I have blessed him”. So Jacob takes his family, and all his children and possessions, and heads toward Egypt.

Joseph has taken care to magnify God, to live to honor Him Who saved him. But now here comes his family! Joseph is going to introduce his family to Pharaoh. This is a great thing. Pharaoh has nothing but respect for Joseph, and has seen God magnified in Joseph’s life.

Pharaoh is very interested – and probably looking forward to meeting the REST of the family that this astounding young Jacob came from.

Pharaoh is in for a surprise.

Joseph tries to coach his family in how to approach Pharaoh. Joseph said:

Genesis 46:33-34 And it shall come to pass, when Pharaoh shall call you, and shall say, What is your occupation? 34 that ye shall say, Thy servants’ trade hath been about cattle from our youth even until now, both we, and also our fathers: that ye may dwell in the land of Goshen; for every shepherd is an abomination unto the Egyptians.

The Egyptians loathed shepherds. Egypt was an agricultural society, and sheep, if allowed to graze untended, will strip the ground of all vegetation. Joseph told his family, “If you’re asked, you are HERDSMEN, not shepherds”. This was not really a lie, for Joseph was going to tell Pharaoh “they have brought their flocks, AND their herds” (Genesis 46:32). Joseph just wanted his family to emphasize their cattle. So what do the brothers do when introduced to Pharaoh? They do the opposite. The Pharaoh asks, “What is your occupation?”. Their reply?

Genesis 47:3 … Thy servants are shepherds, both we, and also our fathers.

Viruses. They do not listen to Joseph. They will not heed godly wisdom.

Genesis 47:4 For to sojourn in the land are we come; for thy servants have no pasture for their flocks; for the famine is sore in the land of Canaan: now therefore, we pray thee, let thy servants dwell in the land of Goshen.

I am sure that, for Joseph’s sake, the Lord touched Pharaoh’s heart. If I were Pharaoh, I would be tempted to run these knuckleheads out of Egypt on a rail! But Pharaoh is gracious. He says:

Genesis 47:6 … the land of Egypt is before thee; in the best of the land make thy father and brethren to dwell; in the land of Goshen let them dwell: and if thou knowest any men of activity among them, then make them rulers over my cattle.

God is so good – even when we do not deserve it. God not only offers free land to Joseph’s family, but also offers jobs to anyone who needs it. Then Jacob comes forward to meet Pharaoh. The Pharaoh asks Jacob, How old art thou?. Notice Jacob’s reply:

Genesis 47:9 … The days of the years of my pilgrimage are an hundred and thirty years: few and evil have the days of the years of my life been, and have not attained unto the days of the years of the life of my fathers in the days of their pilgrimage.

few and evil”? Jacob had lived a blessed life – a better life than he deserved. Elder Mike Allison {Madison Baptist Church, Madison, Alabama} said it best:

Think about Jacob for a while. He was brought up in a rich man’s house – Isaac was a rich man. He was bought up with servants to take care of his needs. Not only that, he was spoiled by his mother, and tolerated by his father. And then, when he did finally leave home at the age of 77, he spent the next twenty years having thirteen children and working for his uncle; who, even though {his uncle} tricked him over and over again, still he continued to get richer and richer. He {will spend} the last seventeen years of his life {from this moment on} living off the fat of the land of Egypt while many of its citizens were starving. With his son the number two man in the country, and he is given without cost the very best of the land. And here he is. He’s asked how old he is, and he uses that opportunity to tell how old he is – to complain. … He has an opportunity before a heathen king to give testimony to how God had taken care of him throughout his long life of 130 years, and he uses that opportunity to complain.”

Those who live like viruses may be Christians, for I believe Jacob was a saved person, but they leave little of the Kingdom of God on the earth when they depart. Their lives do little to change others.

Illustrate Periodically I look at obituaries of those who have passed on from this life into eternity. Often what is written is “She loved cats and dogs” or “He never met a stranger”, with little to no mention of what they did for the Lord in this life. Did you know that there is a Heavenly Obituary that God put in the Bible, found in Hebrews Chapter Eleven. In Hebrews 11 we read of many of the great saints, and the things they did for the Kingdom of God.

Abel honored God, even in death.
Enoch walked with God, and skipped death.
Noah listened to God, and floated above death.
Abraham lived for God, and through him we are blessed with Jesus,
Jesus who promise we who believe in Him will never die.

What is Jacob memorialized for? We read:

Hebrews 11:21 By faith Jacob, when he was a dying, blessed both the sons of Joseph; and worshiped, leaning upon the top of his staff.

This is all Jacob did in his life that God felt was commendable. The Bible says that “Jacob lived in the land of Egypt seventeen years: so the whole age of Jacob was an hundred forty and seven years” (Genesis 47:28). Jacob lived 147 years, and all he ever did that God thought was worthy of praise was to bless both the sons of Joseph.

If you will be a BLESSING and not a VIRUS, you need to bind yourself to Jesus Christ. Jesus said in Luke 6:49, “But he that heareth {my words}, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great. Bad things happen to everyone … but they happen more frequently to those who reject God’s Word. Live your lives for Jesus. If you are believers in Christ, do not live in yesterday, but pursue Jesus. The Apostle said:

Philippians 3:13-14 … this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, 14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

To be called into God’s family by faith in Christ is a HIGH calling. Live your life for Jesus. Live your life, not as a virus, but as a valued child of God. We all suffer. We all go through valleys. Look up! Look up, like the pastor John Bunyan. Though imprisoned, he wrote the wonderful book Pilgrim’s Progress. Though blind from childhood, Fanny Crosby wrote the words to over 8,000 hymns, many found in our hymnal.

Be a son or a daughter of God.
Be a blessing to others, light in darkness.

The Bible says in Genesis 47:10, and Jacob blessed Pharaoh. Jacob went through the motions of blessing Pharaoh, but only ISRAEL can truly bless Pharaoh. Jacob’s blessings to Pharaoh were but empty words to that man. Beloved, give glory unto the Lord Who saved you. Live, letting Him shine through your life! May God touch your hearts with His Word and His Spirit. Amen and Amen.

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Life Verse From The King

Photo by Raychan on Unsplash

Many Christians today choose our focal verse as their “Life Verse”. Please turn with me in your Bibles to the Book of Proverbs, to:

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

It is no wonder that this is the “Life Verse” of many Christians. But this was also the “Life Verse” that an ancient parent shared with his child. We know this because of our context:

Proverbs 3:1-4 My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments: 2 for length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee. 3 Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart: 4 so shalt thou find favor and good understanding in the sight of God and man.

This ancient father was telling his son of a Law that he was to follow. He told his son, “If you heed this law – this Life Verse I’m going to give you – you will have a long and peaceful life. This Life Verse is the secret to mercy and truth – if you break it, you will lose both. Memorize this. Bind it around your neck – let it effect your senses of smell, touch, sight, and hearing. Bind it to your heart and you will be blessed”.

Who was this ancient father? Proverbs 1:1 tells us that these are “the proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel” (see also Proverbs 25:1). Solomon was the wisest man who ever lived. As he wrote these proverbs, these were truths that he discovered through his walk with the Lord. King Solomon wrote these proverbs to his son who, had Rehoboam heeded them, Israel would never have seen civil war.

The Happy Life Is The Surrendered Life

Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.

I loved listening to Adrian Rogers when he was on this earth, and I still listen to his God blessed recorded sermons today. Adrian once said:

We live in the day of guided missiles and misguided men. We get places quicker than we used to, but we still don’t know where we’re going!”

Amen brother! People today are frantically searching for happiness. Years ago, many thought they would be happy when same sex couples could be legally married. Once the non-Biblical definition of marriage was made the law of the United States, people still weren’t happy. Others thought that happiness would come when heterosexual people could turn the wonderful intimacy of what should have been in the wedding bed into something as common as a handshake. We live is an age where sexual morals are extremely lax. Are people happy? No. Others thought the legalization of drugs like marijuana, happiness would come. Are we living in a happy place? No, people still aren’t happy. People, we should be happy. Sin is in – and yet we are not happy. Why?

The Bible tells us that while we are:

Romans 7:5 … in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death.

The things which the principalities, the powers, the rulers of the darkness of this world (Ephesians 6:12) push as happiness cannot bring happiness – not lasting happiness. These things bring death. The Bible says:

Romans 6:23 … the wages of sin is death

Sin is that which emphasizes the pleasure of the flesh. Sin emphasizes me over thee. Sin produces self love, but lovelessness toward anything that is not self. Sin says in the Garden of Eden:

Yea, hath God really said, you shall not eat of every tree of the Garden? It will not harm you! God knows that in the day you eat of it, your eyes will be opened, and you shall be as gods, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:1, 4-5, author’s paraphrase).

Mankind was fooled in the beginning, and is being fooled the same way today. As humans we were made to be MORE than what Satan wants us to be. We were made to be children of God. We were made to walk with God. This is the only thing that will bring genuine and perpetual happiness: to

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart…

Let’s unpack this. What does the word Trust mean? This is the Hebrew בָּטַח bâṭach, {pronounced baw-takh’}, which means “to run to, to take refuge in, to hide yourself in, to confidently lean on or put your confidence in”. The sense of this word is to let the Lord take your full weight – to give Him all that you are. It is the life that says “not my will, but Thine, O God, be done”.

The more you rely on yourselves for blessing in life the less your blessing will be.

If you want to have a life at one with God then you must rely on Him, seeking His guidance through His Word in your whole life. This is the essence of true saving faith. Many people today say, “I believe in God”. Yet if you genuinely “believe in God”, then you bâṭach, {pronounced baw-takh’} Him. Our trust is not to be in ourselves or in others, but

Trust in the LORD

Who is the LORD? This is the Hebrewיְהֹוָה Yhwh. The original Hebrew had no vowels, so when we say this word (which sounds like air blown through the lips) we often add vowels to the name, making it either YAHWEH or JEHOVAH. The technical name for God’s name is Tet·ra·gram·ma·ton. One source notes that “All modern denominations of Judaism teach that the four letter name of God, YHWH, is forbidden to be uttered except by the High Priest, in the Temple. Since the Temple in Jerusalem no longer exists, this name is never said in religious rituals by Jews.” The name YHWH means “He Who is” or “I Am that I Am”.

God is the Creator of all things. God, the Creator of all things, is also the only Savior of all things.

Psalm 3:8 Salvation belongeth unto the LORD ( יְהֹוָה Yhwh) …

Only the Eternal I AM can save the creation that He made. “Salvation belongeth unto the LORD”. No one else can save but YHWH.

Psalm 18:2 The LORD ( יְהֹוָה Yhwh) is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.

God is the only Savior of His Creation. Even more definitively we read:

Isaiah 43:11 I, even I, am the LORD ( יְהֹוָה Yhwh); and beside me there is no savior.

God made all things. When Adam sinned, he sinned against the eternal Creator. When we sin, we sin against the Creator Who is without beginning or end. The offenses of sin against God are not erased by time nor by penance. And all are equally sinners. The Bible says:

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

We all miss the mark. The YHWH has said beside me there is no savior.. There are no other gods we can seek out. There is no way that even I can save myself. There is but one way to salvation, and that is through YHWH. When our Lord Jesus Christ came to this world to minister, Jesus told us:

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

The Apostle Paul would later write:

Romans 5:8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

And again, 1 Timothy 1:15 … Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners

But has not YHWH told us that ONLY YHWH CAN SAVE? Yes, He has. So has Jesus lost His mind? No, for Jesus Christ is LORD. One day when talking with the Pharisees, Jesus told them:

John 8:56-58 Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad. 57 Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? 58 Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.

Jesus took the eternal and holy name of God – a name that the Jews were frightened to say out loud – and applied that name to Himself. Jesus Christ is YHWH in human flesh. God the Son, He was with God the Father and God the Spirit from eternity past. The Apostle declares of Jesus:

Colossians 1:15-17 {Jesus Christ} is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: 16 for by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: 17 and he is before all things, and by him all things consist.

God was MANIFEST or made visible IN THE FLESH, was justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, and received up into glory” (1 Timothy 3:16). Jesus Christ is YHWH revealed. It is to Him, He said, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth” (Matthew 28:18). YHWH has:

Hebrews 1:2-3 … in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; 3 who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high

Jesus Christ is YHWH revealed. Jesus is the “Son of Man Who hath power on earth to forgive sins” (Matthew 9:6). Jesus Christ is God’s only Savior, YHWH’s only representative. It is Jesus Who – dying for the sins of the world (John 1:29) – alone has the power to forgive sin. Bob Beasley wrote in his book Proverbs 3:5&6, The Distilled Essence Of The Christian Life:

Christ’s Godhood is total. He can’t be divided. He is the Lord God, the second person of the Trinity. He is both Savior and Lord, without division of mixture, and we need to receive Him as both Lord and Savior in order to be assured of our salvation.”

It is not how good we are that makes us saved, but how good Jesus is. The Bible says:

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

Salvation is a gift we receive from God when we rest full upon Jesus, the visible YHWH. We trust Jesus Christ alone to save us.

Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 not of works, lest any man should boast.

We are saved to serve our God. We are saved to serve Jesus. We do not give Jesus a PART of our heart – but ALL of our heart. The saved live to serve the Lord who saved them.

The Saved DO What God Says

Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.

When Abraham, the Father of Faith was saved, he gave us a pattern by which we live. When God called Abraham, He told that old man:

Genesis 12:1-3 … Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: 2 and I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: 3 and I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.

God did not tell Abraham where he was going – just to go. Abraham went. God promised Abraham a child. When Abraham was 100, God answered that prayer. Then one day God told Abraham:

Genesis 22:2 … Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.

Abraham did not question YHWH. YHWH said to do it, so he did it. Ultimately God would provide a substitute for Abraham’s son. But note this:

Saving faith follows YHWH.
Saving faith follows the Lord.

Believers in Christ, saved by faith, are to Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. God wants our all. What He says, we must do. Someone asked Jesus one day “who shall be the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?” Jesus:

Matthew 18:2-4 … called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, [3] And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. [4] Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Jesus was quite clear. Unless you, as a little child, obey the Lord and do as He says, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Do not believe that you can pay lip service to Jesus as Savior, and refuse to heed Him as Lord. He has not left this option open to anyone. A person is saved by trusting in the Lord with all his heart – and salvation is proven when we trust in Jesus for our daily direction.

The Saved Look To Jesus First!

Proverbs 3:6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

The word translated acknowledgeis the Hebrew יָדַע yâdaʻ, {pronounced yaw-dah’}, meaning to receive knowledge or instruction from”. The genuine Christian follows not the direction of the world, but the direction of the YHWH, the LORD. Jesus asks us:

Luke 6:46 And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?

The saved are to follow Jesus and His direction if they wish to be blessed. Jesus said:

Luke 6:47-49 Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like: 48 he is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock. 49 But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great.

Whether your life goes through tragedy, and survives, depends entirely upon your willingness to follow the Lordship commands of YHWH in the flesh. Solomon put it this way:

Proverbs 3:7-8 Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the Lord, and depart from evil. 8 It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones.

Read your Bible. Seek God’s face in prayer. Do what the Lord Jesus tells you to do. Don’t just HEAR Him, but OBEY Him. Believers, you are on great and holy ground when you heed and obey the Lord Jesus. We have YHWH’s promise:

Isaiah 58:11 And the LORD shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.

The Lord wants to bless His children by faith. He wants to give us wonderful lives now, and greater lives into eternity. God said:

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

God does not send an angel to guide us. He guides us with mine eye. Our Savior has “numbered the very hairs of our head” (Matthew 10:30). fear the Lord, and depart from evil. If what you want to do is not in accordance with the Word of God, the Bible, then run from it. Solomon also added:

Proverbs 3:9-10 Honor the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase: [10] So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine.

When God in Christ saves a person, He saves their pocketbook and their wallet as well. All that we have is a gift from God. Life is a gift from God. Eternal life is a gift from God. Shall we withhold anything from our Jesus? He withheld nothing from us. The Scripture says:

Philippians 2:7-8 {Jesus} made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8 and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

Jesus Christ withheld nothing from you and I. He was beaten, bruised, and bled out for our salvation. Shall we who are saved by faith in Him withhold 10% of our increase? Shall we withhold our testimony, our witness from the world for which He died?

A faith that withholds anything from Jesus
is a cheap faith indeed.

If you withhold full obedience from Christ, and are never disciplined for it, then your salvation is a “fig newton of your imagination” (that expression came from Dr. R.C. Sproul). If you are saved by faith in Jesus, you are saved to serve. Solomon told his son – and us:

Proverbs 3:11-12 My son, despise not the chastening of the LORD; neither be weary of his correction: [12] For whom the LORD loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.

The writer of Hebrews quotes this same text, and follows up with:

Hebrews 12:7-8 If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? 8 But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.

If you fall into the world, if you walk through this life professing Christ but never following Him as Lord, you can expect to be disciplined of God. It is NEVER all right to go against God’s Word. You are saved to serve.

Are you saved?

If Rahab had not obediently put the scarlet thread out of her family’s window (Joshua 2:18), she and her family would have died along with all of Jericho. Obedience is not optional. If Daniel and his friends had not worshiped YHWH rather than compromise with the world, then Daniel would have been a happy meal for lions, and his friends kindling in the King’s oven. Obedience is not optional. Bob Beasley notes:

Daniel and his three friends trusted in the LORD with all their hearts, even in the midst of life and death situations, and leaned not on their own understanding of their difficult circumstances. … we need not fear because our God is trustworthy even in death.”

Do you know Jesus Christ? Is He your Lord and Savior? If not, today is a great day to call upon Him – and be saved! May God the Holy Spirit take His Words deeply into your hearts. Amen and Amen.

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The Blessing Of Brokenness

Mark 14:22 And as they did eat, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and brake it, and gave to them, and said, Take, eat: this is my body.

Photo by James Coleman on Unsplash

We had a wonderful revival this past week with Brother Brian Arnold. I think his messages – God anointed – gave us a challenge. Here is a man who lost his a leg when he was a child. That loss changed the course of his life. Brian learned to play the piano, and became quite a sensation in Branson, Missouri. Then when life seemed to be on track, and was getting better and better, Brian was hit by a semi truck, fracturing his neck, and paralyzing his left arm. Once more, the course of Brian’s life changed. Praise God for it! Brian hurt his arm before coming to preach our revival – his good arm. The doctor gave him the results of the MRI. Brian has torn his rotator cuff in two places, and tore a tendon! I hear you saying in your mind,

How tragic this is! Why is the devil attacking Brian!
Why is God allowing this! Hasn’t he gone through enough?

Which brings me to the title of the message today. It’s called simply “The Blessing Of Brokenness”.

Before Brian was ever born, He knew him. Before God ever formed us in our mother’s womb, He knew us.

The LORD, Who made all things, Who ALONE stretched out the Heavens, Who spread out the earth by Himself (Isaiah 44:24) – this LORD knew you before He formed you in the womb. Before you were born, God had a purpose for you (Jeremiah 1:5). The Almighty God set you apart before you were born, and calls you to His Grace (Galatians 1:15).

This wonderful God Whom we serve, the LORD He is God. It is He that made us, and not we ourselves (Psalm 100:3). God knows what is best for us. And everything that happens in our lives happens because God ALLOWS it, or because God CAUSES it.

There is a blessing found only in brokenness!

Had Brian not lost a leg, he would have never learned the piano.
Had Brian not lost an arm, he would have never preached.
What is God doing with Brian now?
He is God’s Workmanship, created to do good. (Ephesians 2:10)

And so are you. God made you, and God is the Potter, we the clay. He is the Master Artist, and we the masterpiece He is making. There is a blessing in brokenness!

Brokenness Removes From Us Pride

PRIDE keeps us from doing what God wants us to do. PRIDE makes us refuse to heed God, and makes us as gods in our own minds. PRIDE was the one sin that led Adam to fall away from God – effecting us all. The Serpent – that old devil – told Adam and Eve:

Genesis 3:4-5 … Ye shall not surely die: 5 for God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.

It is PRIDE that hears God command, and says “I will listen not to God, but to others. God is a liar! He will not lead us to death. God is trying to keep me from being a god. That is my destiny … I must be a god!” Oh Beloved, PRIDE makes us into something that is not God’s best for us. God has told us:

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

Proverbs 16:5 Every one that is proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord: though hand join in hand, he shall not be unpunished.

Life Of Samson: As a little boy, my mamma used to read me the story of Samson. Samson was a judge in Israel. God raised up the judges to be like local magistrates. They established laws, and drove out the enemies who hurt His people Israel. Samson had great strength. Samson’s birth was prophesied by God to the barren wife of Manoah. God told her:

Judges 13:3-5 … thou shalt conceive, and bear a son. 4 Now therefore beware, I pray thee, and drink not wine nor strong drink, and eat not any unclean thing: 5 for, lo, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son; and no razor shall come on his head: for the child shall be a Nazarite unto God from the womb: and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines.

It was God’s will that Samson be a Nazarite unto God from the womb (Judges 13:5). The Nazarite was not allowed to cut their hair, but dedicated their lives unto God. To my knowledge there were only three Nazarites from birth in the Scripture: The Judge Samson, the Prophet Samuel, and the Herald of Christ, John the Baptist.

Samson’s job was to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines. That was his entire job description. But Samson had several problems. First and greatest of all, Samson was prideful. Though the Israelis were NOT supposed to intermarry with unbelievers:

Deuteronomy 7:3-4 … neither shalt thou make marriages with them; … 4 For they will turn away thy son from following me, that they may serve other gods

Though Samson was supposed to be dedicated to God, we are told in Judges 14 that Samson saw a woman in Timnath of the daughters of the Philistines. (Judges 14:1). Samson told his parents, “get her for me to wife” (Judges 14:2), though his parents encouraged him to marry an Israelite. Marrying a Philistine when you are suppose to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines is foolish. But PRIDE is like that. Samson had numerous troubles because of his Philistine wife. His greatest trouble came when he – prideful and arrogant – divorced his wife and began to take up with a prostitute called Delilah (Judges 16:1). Samson’s bad decisions and his utter arrogance would lead him to end up in a Philistine prison, his hair cut, and his freedom – as well as his eyesight – gone (Judges 16:21).

The Philistines “gathered them together for to offer a great sacrifice unto Dagon their god, and to rejoice: for they said, Our god hath delivered Samson our enemy into our hand.” (Judges 16:23). Samson, bound and blinded, was brought out to the coliseum, and bound to the pillars of that place to be mocked. This broken Samson – no longer filled with PRIDE – cried out:

Judges 16:28 … O Lord God, remember me, I pray thee, and strengthen me, I pray thee, only this once, O God, that I may be at once avenged of the Philistines for my two eyes.

Samson then pulled the pillars of the house down. The Bible says, in Judges 16:30, “the dead which he slew at his death were more than they which he slew in his life.

This was Samson’s calling. Not to intermarry with unbelievers. Not to dally with prostitutes. He was called to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines. He only did this when he was broken.

Tony Evans: Oh Beloved, there is a blessing in brokenness! Pastor Tony Evans said:

We shouldn’t run from being broken. Even though it’s not pleasant, it will produce a better life. Brokenness is a blessing because it puts us on the road to a breakthrough. Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit” (Matthew 5:3). Those who are spiritually broken will be blessed because they will see God, and God’s power will flow through their lives. Brokenness is a blessing because it puts us on the road to a breakthrough.”

God’s Israel: planted in Egypt by the faithfulness of Joseph – eventually was enslaved by Egypt. How horrible, I’m sure you are saying. But their affliction caused Israel to look to God for deliverance. The Bible says:

Exodus 1:12 … the more {the Egyptians} afflicted {Israel}, the more {Israel} multiplied and grew.

Not one of us enjoys affliction and brokenness, but faith, genuine saving faith, is found through affliction.

Life of Jacob: Faith also grows through affliction. Jacob stole, lied, cheated, and was generally a miserable wretch of a person. That is, until he met with Someone who wrestled …. with him until the breaking of the day (Genesis 32:24).”

It was not until Jacob’s thigh was was pulled out of the socket that Jacob became Israel (Genesis 32:28)

This pattern is found all throughout Scripture. It is only in brokenness that most come to know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Saul was arrogant, a persecutor of the Church until he met Jesus on the Damascus Road. Saul became Paul, God’s Apostle to the Gentiles. As Paul pursued Christ, the Bible says that Paul had wonderful revelations and wonderful power from God. The Bible says that because of Paul all they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks (Acts 19:10).” The Bible goes on to say:

Acts 19:11-12 … God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul: 12 So that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them.

Oh, He had power with God! But then affliction hit. The Apostle Paul said:

2 Corinthians 12:7-10 … lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. 8 For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. 9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

The Apostle said “I glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. The weaker we are, the greater God can use us. What an amazing statement: I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

It Is In Brokenness That We Come Together
With Christ And One Another

When Jesus walked on the face of this earth, where was He usually found? Was it among the self sufficient Scribes and Pharisees, or the highly political Sadducees and Herodians? No. The Bible often said:

Matthew 9:10 … as Jesus sat at meat in the house, behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with him and his disciples.

When the “In Crowd” asked Jesus “why do You eat with publicans and sinners?”, Jesus said:

Matthew 9:12-13 … They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. 13 But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

Jesus did not come for well people. He came for the broken. He came for the hurting. The sinner is just a person seeking relief in all the wrong places.

Throughout Jesus’ ministry, Who flocked to His side? The Bible says many publicans and sinners sat also together with Jesus and his disciples: for there were many, and they followed him” (Mark 2:15).

John the Baptist – wrongfully imprisoned by Herod, and broken himself – sent two of his disciples to Jesus with a question: “Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another? (Matthew 11:3).” How did Jesus answer John? Our Lord said:

John 11:4-6 Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see: 5 the blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. 6 And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me.

It is in brokenness that we stop trying to be self sufficient. It is in brokenness that we cease trying to rely on other broken people. It is in brokenness that we look up and see Jesus. Musician Lauren Daigle sings a beautiful song called Look Up, Child. In the song she says:

Where are You now, when darkness seems to win?
Where are You now, when the world is crumbling?
Where are You now, when all I feel is doubt?
Oh, where are You now, when I can’t figure it out?
Oh I, I hear You say, I hear You say,
Look up, child, ayy. Look up Child, ayy.
You’re not threatened by the war
You’re not shaken by the storm
I know You’re in control.
Even in our suffering
Even when it can’t be seen

I know You’re in control.

There is blessing in the brokenness. Brokenness blinds us to self, and causes us to look up. Look up, Child. Look up! Look unto Jesus. It is brokenness that leads us to Jesus. Didn’t Jesus say:

Come unto Me, all Who have it all together!
Come unto Me, if you have no problems – I’ll help you!”

Did Jesus say that? No. He said:

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

It is brokenness that leads us to salvation. There is a blessing in brokenness. It is brokenness that leads us to one another. The Lord upholdeth all that fall, and raiseth up all those that be bowed down (Psalm 145:14).” A Church is a body of broken people, totally reliant upon Jesus. We are not God’s critics, nor are we God’s advisor’s. We are God’s Children, Children by faith in Christ Jesus.

Jesus Loved Us So Much That
He Willingly Embraced Brokenness

Back to our focal text:

Mark 14:22 And as they did eat, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and brake it, and gave to them, and said, Take, eat: this is my body.

Who were those gathered around the Table on this night of nights? There were eleven broken men, and one perfect Man, the Man Christ Jesus.

The Bible says as they did eat. Those around the Table were celebrating the Jewish Passover, a time in which Israel commemorated their salvation from Egyptian bondage. A lamb without spot or blemish would be the center of this Passover Meal, a lamb sacrificed for the sins of the people. But at this Table sat THE LAMB OF GOD Who taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). Jesus Christ, in just a few hours, will go to the Cross of Calvary, dying for my sins and yours. Jesus willingly accepted this calling. Jesus –

1 Peter 2:22 who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth

Would willingly give His precious Body over to the Romans, to be broken like this bread, for you and I. The Bible says:

1 Peter 2:23-24 … when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: 24 who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.

Jesus suffered hell on earth, so we would not have to go to hell beyond this earth. An ancient prayer from the Valley of Vision notes:

Christ was all anguish that I might be all joy,
Cast off, that I might be brought in.
Trodden down as an enemy,
that I might be welcomed as a friend.
Surrendered to hell’s worst,
that I might attain Heaven’s best.
Stripped that I might be clothed,
Wounded that I might be healed,
Athirst that I might drink,
Tormented that I might be comforted,
Made a shame that I might inherit glory,
Entered darkness that I might have eternal light.

Jesus Christ embraced brokenness so that we might be saved. Will you receive Him as Lord and Savior?

I wish I could go on with this, but we must now approach the Lord’s Table. Are you broken? It is in brokenness that we find blessing. If you are without Christ, your brokenness has brought you to Him, to this wonderful place and time. Will you receive Him as Lord and Savior? Will you lay your brokenness before Him, and pledge to follow Him both now, and forever? Let us, with hearts and minds wide open, turn our eyes to Jesus Christ.

For in brokenness, there is great blessing!

Amen and amen. May God, through His Holy Spirit, draw us all to His bleeding side!

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Without Repentance

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

Please turn with me in your Bibles to Romans chapter 11.

Before I knew the Lord Jesus, I desperately sought to fit in with the crowd. As a young boy I discovered the “joy” of eye glasses when only 7 years old. My test scores were horrible in first grade. One day the teacher noticed I was squinting as I looked at the blackboard. The school nurse recommended I go to an eye doctor. Boom! I had to wear glasses.

Throughout most of my school years I was picked on, bullied, and made to feel less than. Overweight, I was “fat boy”. With eye glasses I was “four eyed”. So I drifted toward the others who were outcasts, the shunned. I don’t say this to make you feel sorry for me. I don’t feel sorry for myself. The truth is, the devil has done this to many people throughout the history of man. Frequently I read in the obituaries of those who “died suddenly at home”. I suspect this is the result of drug abuse (which I toyed with before Jesus found me) and suicide or suicidal behavior (again, thank you Jesus for saving me). This is what the devil does. He wants to devalue us. I see the devil in so many things today.

The devil is in the Church that refuses to speak the truth in love.
The devil is in the racist of whatever color who devalues others.
The devil is in the classroom that teaches all ___ people are racist.
The devil is in the young girl shunned, until she gives her body away.
The devil tells us to be proud of sin, that there is no sin.
The devil tells us to hate one another.
The devil confuses us, drawing us away from the Bible.
The devil calls us back to Egypt, tempts us, tells us to follow lies.

My salvation came when one young man, Ricky Allen, invited me to Church. My salvation came when I came into that house of worship, a hot mess, where the Preacher spoke the truth in love. On that day I heard the call of Jesus to salvation. That was the best day of my life. As I studied the Scripture, I came across this verse:

Romans 11:29 For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.

I love that verse. It is this verse that anchors my heart to Jesus. This verse explains why I no longer follow the crowd, but follow Jesus. I pray that you, too, will stop following the crowd, and that you will follow Jesus with me. Let’s break this verse down:

Without Repentance”

The words without repentance is but one word in the Greek, ἀμεταμέλητος ametamélētos, {pronounced am-et-am-el’-ay-tos}. The word can be translated as “irrevokable, without change of mind, without repentance”. To “repent” is to change your mind from what you thought to something else. Repentance always brings with it a change of behavior. This Greek word is only found twice in the Scripture: in THIS text, and in

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

In order to be saved a person must first REPENT. There are many who PROFESS to be Christians, but are not, because they have never REPENTED. Genuine repentance comes from godly sorrow – a realization that what I was doing is not compatible to what God my Creator has ordered. There is a sorrow of the world that is NOT genuine repentance. There is the sorrow of Judas Iscariot who, betraying Jesus Christ, was ashamed of what he did before the priests of Israel, but cared little for what God thought. Judas killed himself, a sad testament to anyone who followed Jesus for over three years.

Repentance. It is by repentance – genuine repentance – that we are saved. John the Baptist preached:

Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 3:2)

Our Lord Jesus preached:

Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 4:17)

The Apostles preached:

Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord” (Acts 3:19)

Repentance is not just something that we who are human must do – it is something that God Himself can do. When Israel kept rejecting the Word of God, the Lord God told Moses:

Exodus 32:9-10 I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiff necked people: 10 now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them: and I will make of thee {Moses} a great nation.

Moses prayed for Israel unto God, and prayed for the glory of God. The Bible says:

Exodus 32:14 And the Lord repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people.

God can repent. When God saw the spread of evil throughout the world, the Bible says:

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

Chad Napier of Christianity.com notes:

In his “Exposition of the Bible” John Gill explained that God never changes his mind or alters his purposes, “though he sometimes changes the course and dispensations of his providence.” God knew of the resistance and the downfall of man before He created man. His original purpose as stated in Genesis 2:15 was for Adam and Eve was to live in the garden, cultivate it, and be prosperous. However, as is the case in all the dispensational periods, God knew man would rebel against Him. God’s repentance was not that he was surprised or should not have made man, but that the providence of man had to change because of the introduction of sin.”

When God’s creation will not do what God commands it to do, God can repent Himself, and change the circumstances or the blessings that He has given. But

God’s Ultimate Purpose Cannot Be Averted

God calls humans to repentance. He calls us to cease being our own gods, and to follow Him. When we follow Him then:

Romans 11:29 For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.

If we who are His by faith follow God, albeit imperfectly, God nonetheless will continue with us. But even if we rebel and reject the Word of God, God’s ULTIMATE PURPOSE will be fulfilled.

That’s what the Apostle is talking about in this text. As he wrote of Christ to the Roman Church, there were many Gentiles who began to teach that God was done with Israel. This nonsense is even taught in the world today. I have heard professors and scholars say, “Israel rejected Jesus Christ, so Jesus turned away from Israel forever, and put the Church in place of Israel”. That’s not true, and the Apostle addresses this. Read with me:

Romans 11:1-5 I say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. 2 God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew. Wot ye not what the scripture saith of {Elijah}? how he maketh intercession to God against Israel, saying, 3 Lord, they have killed thy prophets, and digged down thine altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life. 4 But what saith the answer of God unto him? I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal. 5 Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.

When people see that word election, they get frightened. Do you know what election means? It means that GOD’S PURPOSE AND PLAN WILL BE FULFILLED. God’s call to a people has a purpose. When God called Israel out of Egypt, Moses told them:

Deuteronomy 6:23 {God} brought us out from {Egypt}, that he might bring us in, to give us the land which he sware unto our fathers.

God made promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. God made promises, and plans, and God’s plans will always be met.

Romans 11:29 For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.

When God led Israel out of Egypt, God knew that both believer and unbeliever were within His nation. This has always been true of Israel, and has always been true of the Church. Believer and unbeliever are on the “membership rolls”, but God’s purpose will be fulfilled. God told Israel through the Prophet:

Isaiah 48:12-13 Hearken unto me, O Jacob and Israel, my called; I am he; I am the first, I also am the last. 13 Mine hand also hath laid the foundation of the earth, and my right hand hath spanned the heavens: when I call unto them, they stand up together.

Notice how God addresses Israel. He calls that nation “Jacob and Israel”. When you read of “Jacob”, this was the unbeliever that God would one day make into “Israel”. It is God’s will that “Israel” possess the Promised Land. It is God’s will that the Messiah one day rule the world from Jerusalem in “Israel”. The God Who made the stars “stand up together” is the same God Who will one day redeem that nation. Why? Because God loves a challenge! God told Israel:


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

What God has determined to do with Israel, He will do with Israel. Israel has a purpose, and God will fulfill His purpose in Israel. Why? Because He is God. Because:

Romans 11:29 For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.

What God has ordained will come to pass! It is a dangerous game any nation plays who stands against God’s Israel. Some say, “But Israel is filled with Christ killers, and haters of the Messiah”. That may or may not be true. But the Bible tells us to look deeper. We read:

Romans 11:7-12 What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded 8 (according as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear;) unto this day. 9 And David saith, Let their table be made a snare, and a trap, and a stumbling block, and a recompense unto them: 10 let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see, and bow down their back alway. 11 I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy. 12 Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fullness?

God’s purpose in Israel was to one day bring Christ into the world. God’s purpose in Israel was the bring not just Jews, but Gentiles into the Kingdom of Christ. God’s purpose in Israel is to one day bring Messiah back into the world, to be the base where Jesus Christ governs the world from.

God is not done with Israel. We read:

Romans 11:17-20 And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert graffed in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree; 18 boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee. 19 Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be graffed in. 20 Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear:

The Church came about because some of the “branches” of Israel, the unbelieving branches, were “broken off”. Why were they broken off? Because of unbelief. The Apostle warns us:

Romans 11:21-22 … for if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee. 22 Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.

God’s purposes will be fulfilled.

If You Are The Called Of Christ,
You Had Best Follow Christ

Israel lost their blessing from God because they frequently ceased operating by faith in Him. It is a foolish thing to presume upon God! If you have been called of Christ, then you are to follow Christ in your daily walk. We studied this text Sunday night:

Ephesians 4:1 I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, 2 With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; 3 Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

Preach! The GIFT of salvation always comes with a CALL. You are CALLED into God’s Kingdom. You are CALLED to follow Jesus. You are CALLED to be obedient children. You are CALLED to worship God. You are CALLED from lost Egypt to go to the Promised Canaan.

It is the devil’s lie that you can be given the GIFT and not be expected by God to fulfill the CALLING. Look at Israel. Look at how many times Israel was under the heel of an enemy nation. If you are called of Christ, you are to follow Christ. My brother in Christ Tim Laws once told me: “It’s hard to hear God’s voice when you’ve already decided what you want Him to say”. That is so very true. Let us heed God’s Word.

Let’s put away our thoughts, and turn to God’s Word for His standard. The Christian, saved by the GIFT of God, is CALLED to do and believe what God says. What God says is in God’s Word, not in our imaginations. If you are saved by the free GIFT, then you are CALLED, you are PREDESTINED to do what God called you to do. The Apostle put it this way:

Romans 8:28-31 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. 29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. 31 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?

You as Christians are Christians by GOD’S GIFT. If you are GIFTED, you are CALLED ACCORDING TO HIS PURPOSE. Not your purpose, but His.

If you believe “all things work together for your good”, then this is inexplicably tied to your CALLING. If you believe that you are “predestined to be conformed to the image of God’s Son”, this is tied to your calling. If you believe that you are going to Heaven, then you cannot neglect that holy chain of truths (verse 30)”

“whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified”

You are called. “Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine” (Isaiah 43:1) says the Lord. “Ye are not your own … For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). You belong to God, not to yourself. Joshua told Israel, “choose you this day whom ye will serve(Joshua 24:15). God does not call you to serve yourself. He calls you to serve Him, to love Him, to walk with Him.

This is where blessing is found, walking with and loving God every day. Blindness will be on Israel until the “fullness of the Gentiles comes in”. There will come a day – I do not know when – when God the Son will return for His Church. On that day of Rapture we who love Him shall feel His fullest embrace. Our bodies shall be changed, “and so we shall ever be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:17). God’s will for Israel shall be fulfilled.

Romans 11:26-27 And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: 27 for this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins.

Israel shall be saved during the Millennium. God shall be triumphant! Praise the name of Jesus forever! Amen and Amen!

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Let The Right One In

Photo by Roman Kraft on Unsplash

Ephesians 4:27, 30 neither give place to the devil. …… 30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.

Sherry and I had a wonderful vacation with our grandchildren. We want to thank you all for allowing us to have that time – Jerry, Carlos, and all of you. As I’m getting older my arthritis won’t allow me to travel the whole way to Valdosta, Georgia without stopping. Sherry and I are accustomed to stopping -in Macon, Georgia, at what used to be a very nice Super 8 Motel. We’ve used this motel for 9 years now, and have always been happy with it. So when we reserved a room, we usually save money by making a non-refundable deposit on that room.

Bad idea.

When we got our assigned room this time, I noticed peeling paint, cracks in the ceiling, stains on the furniture … BAD stains. The bed was comfortable enough, so we decided to just put up with it. Before going to bed I decided to take a shower and, as I was showering, I smelt the distinct odor of sewage! On closer inspection I saw there was a crack in the floor of the shower, obviously near or in a sewage pipe.

I don’t believe that we’ll be going back to that place!

What does this have to do with today’s message? What used to be very nice was destroyed by poor maintenance and terrible visitors. Those in charge of the motel not only let the wrong people in, they refused to repair what the wrong people did. Just as that Super 8 Motel was trashed, many people trash their own “buildings” by letting the wrong visitors in. If you are a Christian, saved by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, you are encouraged to:

Ephesians 4:1 …. walk worthy of the vocation {κλῆσις klēsis, [pronounced klay’-sis], “calling”} wherewith ye are called …

If you are a Christian, you were “CALLED” to salvation by Jesus. You are “the called of Jesus Christ” (Romans 1:6), “called to be saints” (Romans 1:7). The Bible declares:

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

If you are a Christian, you are a walking miracle. God saved you by His Grace. He called you to life with Him.

The day you called upon the name of Jesus you were

1 Peter 1:23 … born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.

Born of His Spirit with life from above,
into God’s family divine,
Justified fully through Calvary’s love,
Oh what a standing is mine!

Adopted into the Family of God, the believer belongs to God. God owns everyone. God said, “Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine” (Ezekiel 18:4). Though all souls belong to God, the believer in Christ is particularly aware of this. God lives with you and is in you. He has promised to never leave nor forsake you (Hebrews 13:5). You are God’s Temple.

You are to be in relationship with your Lord.

Don’t Let The Devil In

The first command we look at is:

Ephesians 4:27 neither give place to the devil.

Word Study Please pay attention to how our God words this command. Give place is the Greek δίδωμι didōmi τόπος topos, which means “to grant access or allow space or a place”. You are not the property of the devil. You belong to Jesus Christ. You are inhabited by God. You do not need to allow the devil, that old dragon, one little toehold in your life.

Do you know how Adam fell into sin, and by falling, caused all humanity to fall into sin? How is it possible that:

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

Adam allowed the Serpent, the devil, a foothold into his life. Adam was in a perfect place. He had a perfect job, and a perfect wife. Adam had a perfect right to protect humanity from the effects of sin. But he allowed the devil to whisper into his ear. He heard the devil’s lies, and believing them, led us all from Eden.

The Apostle says in

Ephesians 4:17-20 This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, 18 having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: 19 who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. 20 But ye have not so learned Christ

We are not to listen to the devil and his lies. We are walk in the light of God’s truth and God’s love.

We are not to allow him who has fallen from God into the Temple of our bodies. We are to follow Christ, follow our calling, to learn of what the Scripture says. We are to heed God’s Word, not the Devil’s lies. For the Devil is a liar. Jesus said of him:

John 8:44 {the Devil} was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.

The devil pushes lies today. He tells us lies in television, on the radio, on the internet and in social media. The truth is in God and what God’s Word says. The devil knows nothing but lies. The Apostle tells us:

Ephesians 4:25 Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbor: for we are members one of another.

It matters what we say and do. It matters how we respond to lies. We are to love God with all our hearts. We are to remember the commandments that we MUST follow as believers, commandments that our Lord Jesus gave us.

Mark 12:29-31 ….. The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: 30 and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. 31 And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.

We are to put away the devil’s lies, and speak the truth in love. We are to affirm what God has affirmed, and deny what God has denied.

We who are His are born again by faith in His Word. We must not depart from His Word. The devil today is doing his best to deny the Word of Christ in all things. He has crept into Churches and homes, quietly twisting truth, and turning from God. The world follows the devil, but we who are His must not. We must follow the Lord. We must affirm what our Jesus affirmed. The devil strikes at the family unit, doing his best to corrupt that which God has ordained. Our Lord Jesus affirmed:

Matthew 19:4-6 …. Have ye not read, that He which made them at the beginning made them male and female, 5 and said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? 6 Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

We who love Jesus must love His Word. We must love the Bible that our Lord has given to us, and affirm His truth as our truth. Do not let the devil get his foot in the door. Put away lying, speak every person truth WITH HIS NEIGHBOR”. The world will not like this, but we must speak the truth nonetheless. The Scripture says:

Romans 3:4 … let God be true, but every man a liar

Speak the truth in love.

When you speak God’s truth, the darkness will fight against you. Do not allow the darkness to enter in by drawing you into anger and wrath. The Bible says:

Ephesians 4:26 … Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:

Anger and violent harsh emotions allow the devil to come into your Temple.

C.H. Spurgeon notes, “I believe that some Christians make half the opposition which they get from the world by their own ill tempers and stupidity. They challenge conflict. Their actions seem to say, “Who will fight me?” and then, of course, somebody takes up the challenge. Do not act foolishly! If your soul is among lions and they are inclined to be quiet, do not needlessly excite them.”

Do not let your anger or your emotions control you – YOU control IT. Very few times in Jesus’ ministry do we see Him angered at anyone. When Jesus went into the Temple of God:

John 2:14-17 … and found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting: 15 and when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers’ money, and overthrew the tables; 16 and said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise. 17 And his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up.

Word Study Some say that Jesus was “angry” when He chased the money changers out of the Temple. But the disciples said that He had ζῆλος zēlos, {pronounced dzay’-los} zeal, literally indignation or jealousy over”. Jesus saw the money changers stealing the offerings of the children of Israel, offerings made to God, and putting that money in their pockets. Jesus was not overflowing with anger, uncontrollable, but controlled His emotions as He put things back the way they should be.

Malachi 3:8 Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings.

What a horrid thing, that people would take that which belongs to God, and put it in their pockets! Jesus chased them out, but in no place do I see that He expressed “anger” or “wrath”.

The only time I can find Jesus angry in the
Gospels is in Mark 3:5.

Our Lord went into the Synagogue, and …

Mark 3:1-5 …. there was a man there which had a withered hand. 2 And {the Scribes and Pharisees} watched him, whether he would heal him on the sabbath day; that they might accuse him. 3 And he saith unto the man which had the withered hand, Stand forth. 4 And he saith unto them, Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath days, or to do evil? to save life, or to kill? But they held their peace. 5 And when he had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts…

Jesus was angry – and very sad – that these who should have been God’s people had become so hard hearted that they cared more for ritual than they did for a hurting child of God. Anger was an emotion that our Lord rarely used, and when He was angry it was tempered with grief. Jesus controlled His emotions – they did not control Him. Jesus did not allow His anger to mount into bitterness, nor did Jesus hold grudges. His anger was righteous anger.

Uncontrolled Anger And It’s Cousins Grieves God

We read:

Ephesians 4:30-32 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: 32 and be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.

It GRIEVES God when we allow anger to control us. It GRIEVES God when bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking are in His Temple, our bodies. These are all different expressions and degrees of anger. Evil speaking is βλασφημία blasphēmia, which is anger directed toward God. When anger in unrestrained it will grow until it not only offends those around you – it offends your Maker.

Illustrate An old married couple had their problems. The man lost his eyesight, but he could hear perfectly, and his wife was losing her hearing, but could see perfectly. When they traveled, she drove the car, and her husband helped her hear. They stopped at a rest area one day, and sat down near some friendly travelers. One man asked, “Where are you from?” The old lady turned to her husband and said, “What did he say?” The old man told her “He asked where we are from”, then told the stranger, “We’re from Columbia, Tennessee”. A woman asked, “Where are you headed?” The old lady asked her husband, “What did she say?” The old man told her “She asked where we are going”, then told the stranger, “We’re heading to Memphis, Tennessee”. Another man said, “I knew a woman in Memphis. She was the most bitter, cantankerous, evil woman I ever met.” The old lady asked her husband, “What did he say?” The old man replied, “He said he knew your sister!”

Do not let anger control you. The Psalmist said:

Psalm 37:8 Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any wise to do evil.

Do not give anger it’s head – or you will lose yours!

Another way you lease room to the Devil is through THEFT. We read:

Ephesians 4:28 Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labor, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.

Theft and laziness are terrible things. God tells us all to be busy, to work together for the glory of His Kingdom. If any would not work, neither should he eat” (2 Thessalonians 3:10) is God’s prescription for laziness. We are not to steal, a violation of God’s eighth commandment. We are to work at doing good, not just to fill our bank accounts, but to have to give to him that needeth. A thief is never a happy person, for selfishness never brings blessing.

The professing Christian who rarely does anything for God is a thief. You have been given the gift of life, and the gift of eternal life, as a stewardship from God. The Bible says:

Ephesians 5:14-21 … Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light. 15 See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, 16 redeeming the time, because the days are evil. 17 Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. 18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; 19 speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; 20 giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; 21 submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.

Be Filled With The Spirit. Let God Fill You, Not Evil.

Salvation is entirely a gift of grace. It is nothing that we can ever earn nor deserve. But once saved, as believers we are called to work for the Kingdom of God, to lovingly serve the God Who saved us. We are to go through this life walk(ing) circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, 16 redeeming the time, because the days are evil. We are called to be the:

Matthew 5:14-16 … the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. 15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

We as the people of God are to be busy, doing good, loving God and loving those around us. We are to be people of His Kingdom. We are to fill our lives with Him. The Apostle Paul wrote:

1 Corinthians 15:10 … by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.

And again,

2 Corinthians 6:1 We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain.

It is not by works that you are saved – but once saved, you will work for the Lord Who saved you. If you profess to be saved and never do anything for the Kingdom of Christ, then your salvation may only be a figment of your imagination. The stepbrother of Jesus wrote:

James 2:17-24 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. 18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. 19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. 20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? 22 Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? 23 And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. 24 Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.

Those Who Are Born Again Love God And Love Others

It grieves the Lord Who saved us when we allow the devil a foothold in our lives. If you have allowed the devil in, God calls you to REPENT. We read:

Ephesians 4:22-24 … put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; 23 and be renewed in the spirit of your mind; 24 and that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.

Word Study The word translated conversation is the Greek ἀναστροφή anastrophḗ, {pronounced an-as-trof-ay’}, which means “manner of life, behavior, conduct”. That old YOU is dead and buried, if you are a child of God by faith in Christ. PUT OFF that old man, that corrupt way of living. Those who are in Christ “walk in the light as Jesus is in the Light” (John 8:14).

Our Christian calling is to live in the light with Him, following His Word, the Holy Bible. The Scripture tells us:

Ephesians 5:6-11 Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. 7 Be not ye therefore partakers with them. 8 For ye were {in past time} darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: 9 (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) 10 proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. 11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.

God tells us that, as His sons, we are to walk with Him in the light, not in darkness. We are to reprove sin, to repent, and to daily be more like Jesus. If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior, turn to Him and receive Him as He is. He will change your life forever!

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

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According To The Pattern

Photo by Huper by Joshua Earle on Unsplash

Please turn with me to Hebrews Chapter 8. I want to read the first paragraph of this wonderful text, and then focus on a sentence. Let’s start.

Hebrews 8:1-6 Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens; 2 a minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man. 3 For every high priest is ordained to offer gifts and sacrifices: wherefore it is of necessity that this man have somewhat also to offer. 4 For if he were on earth, he should not be a priest, seeing that there are priests that offer gifts according to the law: 5 who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the mount. 6 But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises.

In this wonderful text, God is showing us the difference between the OLD Covenant and the NEW Covenant. When God gave the OLD Covenant to Israel at Mount Sinai, God told Moses – and this is the text I want to focus on:

Hebrews 8:5 See, saith {God}, that thou {O Moses} make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the mount

When God established the Old Covenant of the Law to Israel, He gave Moses and His people a pattern to follow. God said to Moses:

Poieō pas kata typos”

or “Design everything I show you EXACTLY as I show you”. God had a purpose in giving the Law to Moses and Israel. The Law was a shadow of good things that would one day come in Jesus Christ. The Law was a:

Hebrews 8:5 example and shadow of heavenly things

The shadows of the Law pointed to a reality of what Jesus Christ would one day bring. The shadows were not just a figment of the imagination. The shadows gave us a pattern.

The Shadows Could Not Save Anyone

Illustrate I often find great sermon illustrations in the news. For instance, the news magazine The Week (June 11, 2021) notes that “an unknown buyer paid $18,350 for (can you believe it) “Io Sono [I Am]”, an ‘invisible sculpture’ by Italian artist Salvatore Garau.” Yes, you heard that right. Someone paid over 18K for the figment of an artist’s imagination. He even had the audacity to call the non existent sculpture “I Am”, a title God gave to Himself.

God is no figment of the imagination. God is real. But God is immense, and hard for our mortal minds to comprehend. So God, in His infinite love, gave an example of the Heavenly in the Old Covenant Law. The purpose of the Law was to teach us that God is real, and that God has a standard, a standard that we fall short of. But God wanted to show Israel – and us – that He loves us so very much, and that God wants to have a living, daily, moment by moment relationship with Him.

A shadow cannot save anyone, and the Mosaic Law was a shadow. The Bible says:

Romans 3:20 Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin

Our God has a standard. The Law gave KNOWLEDGE of sin. No flesh has ever been justified by the Law, nor was that the intent of the Law. The Law was given to make us aware that we are sinners, to give us the knowledge of sin – but not to save. The Law was designed by God to:

  • Draw man to Christ by making him aware of his sinful state, and then
  • To teach man about the coming Messiah through the symbolic rituals and religious paraphernalia contained in the Law.

The Law had a High Priest after the line of Aaron, and that priest represented the Israelite before God. We were told:

Hebrews 8:3 For every high priest is ordained to offer gifts and sacrifices …

The High Priest of Israel carried gifts and sacrifices to God. Every Israelite family brought an animal, a lamb without spot or blemish to be sacrificed on the altar. These sacrifices were not done just once, but repeatedly, year after year. The Scripture says that the reason this was done is because:

Hebrews 10:3 … in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year.

The sacrifices and gifts brought to the altar were brutally slain, their blood shed, and the blood was sprinkled on the people. The point of this was to show all people that sin is nothing to be winked at. The Bible says:

Romans 6:23 … the wages of sin is death

Sin drives a wedge between the God Who is Life, and us, and that wedge is DEATH. DEATH is not something to be proud of. God told Adam in the Garden of Eden:

Genesis 2:16-17 … Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

God has a standard, and God’s standard is unchanging. Sin brings death. The Law emphasized this by allowing the Israelite to put THE WAGES OF SIN ON THE SACRIFICED ANIMAL. But this was but a shadow, for, year after year, the Israelite had to sacrifice again, and again, and again. In fact,

The High Priest of the First Covenant had to, as Hebrews 7:27 tells us, offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people’s. The wages of sin is death. In God is life, but as sinners we cannot meet His expectations. The Priests “{offered} blood … for himself, and for the errors of the people” (Hebrews 9:7). The intent of the Law was to open the eyes of us all, to make us realize that we can’t just be better on our own, and thus satisfy God’s standard.

But the human heart is wicked. That Law, which God gave to man to teach us of our need of salvation, was used by humans in a sinful way.

The Scribes and Pharisees used the Law like Adam and Eve used a fig tree. Rather than seek out a relationship by faith in God, they took the Law and twisted it, believing they could secure their own salvation. Wrong!

In an article Ren Broekhuizen wrote for Focus On The Family, he illustrated sin as GARBAGE. He wrote:

“… everybody’s garbage smells the same.

The garbage of the “beautiful people” posing on the red carpets for the Oscars smells the same as the garbage of the fans across the country at a Yankee game.

The garbage of the “important people” in our nation’s capital smells the same as the dented garbage cans along the sidewalk in East St. Louis.

The garbage of women in glamorous gowns and the garbage of handsome men in tuxedos smells the same as the garbage of men behind bars in orange jumpsuits or the men in pressed business suits.

The garbage of helpful women in waitress’s aprons smells the same as the garbage of pretty young school teachers in high heels. … We all have litter, refuse, junk, rubbish, garbage—whatever scale we use to minimize the disobedience in our lives.”

Our sin stinks equally to God – this is why we all desperately need Jesus. Jesus told the self righteous Pharisees and Scribes:

Matthew 23:27-28 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchers, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. {28} Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.

The Promised Messiah came to save us from the Law and from our sins, to teach us that God wants a living relationship with us. Jesus Christ came to this earth, calling whosoever will to His side. Jesus Christ wants to be your High Priest, representing you to God. He calls you to follow Him.

Jesus Christ Is Not A Shadow

The High Priest of Israel stood inside a Tabernacle or a Temple, and there made offering for his sins and the sins of the people. But Jesus does not stand in the Tabernacle or the Temple. Jesus sits on the right hand of God.

Hebrews 8:1-2 Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an High Priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens; {2} A minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man.

We HAVE such an High Priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens. The shadow priesthood of Israel stood representing the Messiah Who would one day come. This Messiah, Jesus Christ, is:

Hebrews 12:2 … the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

The High Priest of Israel carried an animal sacrifice into the Temple, an animal given to him by the people. Jesus Christ Himself carried no animal to the altar. Jesus laid His life down, a perfect life, a sinless life, and took upon Himself our sins. Jesus Christ, eternal God made flesh, gave His life for us. He became the “Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29, 26). Jesus told those who would listen to Him:

John 10:15, 17 As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep. 17 Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again.

The Father loves Jesus, but He loves us so much that He gave His Only Begotten Son for us. Jesus went to not an altar in the Temple, but a Cross on a hill called Calvary. On that Cross Jesus suffered as no man has ever suffered again. He not only experienced the horrible pain of crucifixion:

Psalm 22:14-15 I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels. 15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death.

But as our sins were poured out on Jesus, the Father turned His back on the Son. The Bible says:

Matthew 27:46 about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?

Like the old song said,

Living, He loved me
Dying, He saved me
Buried, He carried my sins far away
Rising, He justified, freely forever
One day He’s coming
Oh glorious day, oh glorious day

Jesus Christ perfectly matched God’s standard. The writer of Hebrews tells us:

Hebrews 8:4 For if he were on earth, he should not be a priest, seeing that there are priests that offer gifts according to the law…

If our High Priest, Jesus Christ, was ministering on the earth, then he should not be a priest. Jesus Christ could not have been made a High Priest under the Old Covenant. Why, you might ask. Because Jesus was born into this earth of the Tribe of Judah, of the line of David. Under the Mosaic Law Jesus was qualified to be King of Israel, but He could not be made priest or High Priest. But Jesus Christ, ascending to the right hand of God the Father – a preeminent place – is a High Priest

Hebrews 5:6 “… for ever after the order of Melchizedek.”

Who was Melchizedek? We see this strange person first mentioned in the Bible when Father Abraham returned from rescuing Lot from Chedorlaomer we read:

Genesis 14:18-20 … Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God. 19 And he blessed {Abram}, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth: 20 and blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And {Abram} gave {Melchizedek} tithes of all.

Long before God gave Moses the Law and the High Priesthood of the Old Covenant, Abram met Melchizedek, the king of Salem or the “King of Peace”. Melchizedek blessed Abram, and encouraged him so much that Abram gave tithes of his income to Melchizedek. Jesus speaks of this foreshadowing when He tells the Pharisees and Scribes:

John 8:56-58 Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad. 57 Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? 58 Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.

Hundreds of years before there was an Old Covenant Law, Abraham met and gave his life to Jesus. As our Lord said, Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad. Salvation has always been by faith in Christ. It only comes by believing on Him, by coming to Him for a daily, minute by minute walk with Him. The Pharisees could not understand that. Jesus told them – and now I say unto you His Words:

John 8:42 If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me.

Jesus Christ is the One sent from the Father to save our souls. The Pharisees and Scribes followed not Jesus, but the rituals of the Old Covenant. The person who follows mere ritualism apart from a real relationship with Christ can only live their lives based on shadow. The person who takes lightly a living, growing faith in Christ is living very dangerously. At the least he or she can find themselves in trial or tribulation separated from the strengthening power that a relationship with God offers. At the most such a person can find themselves condemned to eternal hellfire if they leave this life in such an unbelieving state. God calls whosoever will to Jesus, to surrender to Him, to live in Him.

Hebrews 8:6 But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also {Jesus} is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises. 7 For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second. 8 For finding fault with THEM

Notice carefully the wording of this text. First, God is calling whosoever will to Jesus. The Old Covenant was not flawed – it was a perfect Law, a perfect Schoolmaster to bring us to Christ. But God found fault with THEM. Not with the Law, but with the followers of the Law. The THEM. That’s you and I, folks.

We are broken. The Law taught us we are broken. But the Law could not fix the brokenness. Only Jesus can!

The Old Covenant High Priest was a fallen person, a sinner like us, who represented man to God. But Jesus – oh how much better He is! Jesus is not only perfect and sinless High Priest:

Hebrews 4:15 … we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

Jesus is the sinless Mediator, a much better Mediator than the High Priest of the Old Covenant was. Furthermore, Jesus was …

1 Peter 1:19 … a LAMB without blemish and without spot …

So that He could take my failures before God – and yours too – upon Himself. He died in our place, and rising from the grave, ascended to Heaven to represent us before God the Father FOREVER.

Hebrews 8:6 {Jesus Christ} is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises.

What Are The Better Promises Of This New Covenant?

What are the better promises God has made us under Jesus? Under the New Covenant when you believe on Jesus, God the Holy Spirit comes to you and writes His Law – His Standard – on our hearts. We read:

Hebrews 8:10-11 I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: 11 and they shall not teach every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest.

When Jesus, at the Lord’s Supper, gave His disciples the Cup He told them:

Matthew 26:28 for this is my blood of the new {covenant}, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.

Jesus did not just say “My Blood is shed for ISRAEL ALONE”. No, He said, “this is my Blood of the New Covenant, which is “shed for many. When you call upon the name of Jesus, then Jesus will save you. He said of Himself,

Matthew 9:6 “… the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins … .”

That word power is the Greek exousia {pronounced ex-oo-see’-ah}, power of authority and of right, bestowed power such as king might bestow. Jesus declared:

Matthew 28:18 … All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.

When Joseph in Genesis 41 was given all authority over Egypt by Pharaoh, the Bible says “Pharaoh took the ring off of his hand, and put it upon Joseph’s hand” (Genesis 41:42). If God the Father had such a ring, He would have given it to Jesus. Jesus Christ has ALL power, ALL authority, and the ONLY ability to forgive sin. Jesus Christ is on the right hand of God the Father. When you believe on Him, and call out to Him, Jesus sends the Holy Spirit to you, to indwell you. The Bible says of the Christian:

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

If you believe on Jesus, you receive:

A Better Sacrifice
A Better High Priest
A Better Destination
A Better And Eternal Life

The New Covenant causes a change in the recipient’s heart. Moses prophesied of this New Covenant when he said:

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

Have You Received Jesus Christ As Lord And Savior?

There is only one true tabernacle and one true High Priest, and these are in Heaven. If you want to be forgiven so you can one day gain entrance into this place called Heaven, you must come to Jesus this very day. When you receive Jesus as He is, then to you …

John 1:12 … gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:

The power of God will come upon you. The Holy Spirit will change you. Trust in and receive Jesus this very day. What will the Judge say about you when you see Him in Heaven? Will He say that He knows you, that you’ve been a friend to Him, that you’ve obediently laid down your life for Him as He has laid down His life for you? Or will the Righteous Judge, our High Priest Who sits on the Right Hand of God the Father say “depart from Me, I never knew you”?

Before Billy Graham left this earth, he said:

Heaven is real because Jesus is real — He is the way, the truth, and the life — and Heaven is where Jesus is — and I am going to Him soon.”

You have a choice. Obey Him and grow in Him, or reject Him and suffer the consequences of that rejection. May God touch your hearts with this message and by His Spirit. Amen and Amen.

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Do You Have Christ’s Fullness?

Photo by Mohamed Nohassi on Unsplash

John 1:14-18 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. 15 John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me. 16 And of his fullness have all we received, and grace for grace. 17 For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. 18 No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.

When the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, God Himself entered His own creation. Jesus Christ is the Eternal Word of God, God the Son …

Colossians 1:14-17 … in whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: 15 who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: 16 for by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: 17 and he is before all things, and by him all things consist.

Word Study This Jesus, this Word was made flesh. The word translated made is the Greek γίνομαι gínomai, {pronounced ghin’-om-ahee}, which means to begin to be, to become. Though Jesus was born (Greek γεννάω {pronounced gennaō}) into this world as children have always been born, John previously made the point that Jesus preexisted with God the Father in eternity. Jesus did not just come to be when Mary bore Him (Matthew 1:16), but existed with both Father and Spirit from eternity past. Through the operation of the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:35) and without the assistance of man, Jesus was conceived. He, Eternal God, took on flesh. The Biblical Illustrator notes:

It was a custom of old among the shepherds, they {clothed} themselves with sheep-skins, to be more pleasing to the sheep; so Christ clothed Himself with our flesh, that the Divine nature may be more pleasing to us {Less frightening}. The human nature {of Christ}is {like}a glass, through which we may see the love and wisdom and glory of God clearly represented to us. Through the lantern of Christ’s humanity, we may behold the light of the Deity shining.”

Jesus Christ is God … manifest in the flesh (1 Timothy 3:16). Jesus lowered Himself from Heaven’s Throne to reach us with the glorious Gospel of God. The Gospel of Christ is not a Gospel of works. It is a Gospel:

John 1:14 … FULL of Grace and Truth

It is God’s intention one day – at the end of time – to bring Heaven down to earth. To populate this future Kingdom He is bringing more sons and daughters into His present Kingdom. Be certain, I do not know when, for none know the time, but God’s future Kingdom will come. He said through the Prophet …

Isaiah 65:17 … For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.

And that new Heaven and new earth was to be for His people. God said:

Isaiah 66:22 … For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me, saith the Lord, so shall your seed and your name remain.

That future earth, cleansed of sin and sadness, is the home of God’s present people. Our eyes should be heavenward, looking up! The early Church stressed looking up and being prepared. Jesus stressed looking up and being prepared.

2 Peter 3:13 Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.

God will not make a new Heaven and a new earth until He makes a new people, a people to inhabit that future glorious place. When God brings the New Jerusalem down to this new earth, old lost people will not inhabit it. Only those who are in Christ, saved by the grace of God. Only those who have received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior will be in that future world. We become new creatures by being IN CHRIST:

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

The NEW CREATURE is not founded on the rituals of the Mosaic Law, but by faith in Christ.

Galatians 6:15 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.

God Introduced The Messiah Far From
The Temple For A Reason

It was prophesied that when the Messiah came, that He would be proceeded by a herald. When the King came, He was always announced by a Herald.

When John the Baptist began to preach on the Jordan River, people flocked to His services. The Pharisees were curious. If John were actually the Herald of the Messiah, why wouldn’t the Herald announce the King from the Temple.

John 1:19-23 And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art thou? 20 And he confessed, and denied not; but confessed, I am not the Christ. 21 And they asked him, What then? Art thou {Elijah}? And he saith, I am not. Art thou that prophet {the one to replace Moses, the Messiah}? And he answered, No. 22 Then said they unto him, Who art thou? that we may give an answer to them that sent us. What sayest thou of thyself? 23 He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet {Isaiah}.

Who art thou, John?”. What they were asking was, “Why aren’t you at the Temple? Why out here in the wilderness?” The answer is simple.

Year after year the Israelite went through ritual sacrifices, ritual feasts, and ritual circumcisions. These things all emanated from the Temple.

John 1:17 For the law was given by Moses

John is not referring to a moral code, but a ceremonial code. The moral code of right and wrong has never changed. But the ceremonial code, the Law given by God through Moses. Now, let me ask you this question:

Was Moses saved by the Law? Was he saved by sacrificing animals? What about Israel? Was any Israelite ever saved by the ceremonial Law? Absolutely not!

Moses, like John the Baptist, was a Herald of God. When God raised Moses up to lead Israel from Egypt, Israel had NEITHER Tabernacle nor Temple. Both Moses and John the Baptist ministered outside of the Temple and its sacrifices.

Moses was not saved by the Law, but by the Grace of God.

Israel was not saved by the Law, but by the Grace of God.
No one – absolutely NO ONE – has ever been saved by animal sacrifices.

God’s Word in both Old and New Testaments is “the JUST {those right with God} shall LIVE BY FAITH” (Habakkuk 2:4). Would you like further proof? Before there was ever a Tabernacle (a temporary and portable Temple), God and Moses had this discussion:

Exodus 33:12-17 Moses said unto the Lord, See, thou sayest unto me, Bring up this people: and thou hast not let me know whom thou wilt send with me. Yet Thou hast said, I know thee by name, and thou hast also found grace in my sight. 13 Now therefore, I pray thee, if I have found grace in thy sight, shew me now thy way, that I may know thee, that I may find grace in thy sight: and consider that this nation is thy people. 14 And he said, My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest. 15 And {Moses} said unto {God}, If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence. 16 For wherein shall it be known here that I and thy people have found grace in thy sight? is it not in that thou goest with us? so shall we be separated, I and thy people, from all the people that are upon the face of the earth. 17 And the Lord said unto Moses, I will do this thing also that thou hast spoken: for thou hast found grace in my sight, and I know thee by name.

Salvation has always come to humans through faith in God, apart from the feasts, the animal sacrifices, and apart from either Tabernacle or Temple.

Salvation has ALWAYS been by Grace, according to the Grace of God. God gave Israel the Law not to save Israel, but to show Israel the COST AND VALUE OF GRACE. Grace is free to us, but cost God so very much. The Innocent must die to cover the sin of the guilty. The ritual sacrifices of animals without spot or blemish looked forward to the coming of Christ Jesus. God would become Man, and take the place of the Old Covenant sacrifice. Jesus Christ would come and bring salvation to all who believe in Him. Salvation has ALWAYS been by faith in God, a free GIFT of God. When we read:

John 1:17 For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.

We are not being told that there was EVER a way that the Law could bring about salvation. Moses was saved by grace. If the Israelite was saved, they were saved by Grace. But the FULL COST of GRACE was not seen until Jesus Christ came.

Back to John the Baptist. Like Moses, John ministers to the people far from the rituals associated with the Temple. The Temple itself was defiled. The Temple was built by Herod, a puppet king under the thumb of Pilate and Rome. Herod set on the Throne that was supposed to be occupied only by the line of Judah.

And Herod was not even a Jew! He was an Idumean, a relative of the Edomites, the line that descended from Esau and not Jacob.

Those who came to John in the wilderness were tired, broken people. They had been under Roman rule for so long, and the ritual sacrifices and the self righteousness of the Pharisees wearied them. The people needed the Messiah. They wanted God to fulfill the promise that He made through the Prophet,

Jeremiah 31:33 … this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.

a promise of a better covenant. A covenant that did not require repetitive ritual sacrifices. A covenant that actually changed their hearts and fitted them for the Kingdom of God. The New Covenant brought in by the Messiah, Jesus Christ, freed us from slavery to the rituals of the Law. It freed us from slavery to ourselves.

The Messiah is not Moses, not John the Baptist, but the One that both Moses and John saw. The Messiah is Jesus Christ. John said of Jesus:

John 1:15 … This was He of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for He was before me.


Word Study Let’s break this down. The word translated preferred is the Greek Perfect Active Indicative of γίνομαι gínomai, {pronounced ghin’-om-ahee}, meaning to exist”. He is saying “Jesus existed before me”. Then John says, He was before me. The word translated before is the Greek πρῶτος prōtos, {pronounced pro’-tos}, which means “first in power and authority”. Jesus Christ is no mere Man, but He is God in human form. The Bible says that Jesus is:

Revelation 1:11 … Alpha and Omega, the FIRST (prōtos) and the last…

Jesus is greater than John the Baptist. Jesus is greater than Moses himself. This is brought out in:

John 1:17 For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.

Praise God for Jesus! The Scottish Preacher Robert Murray McCheyne said:

When this passing world is done, when has sunk yon glaring sun;
When I stand with Christ in glory, Looking o’er life’s finished story;
Then, Lord, shall I fully know, Not till then how much I owe.
When I stand before the Throne, Dressed in beauty not my own;
When I see thee as Thou art, Love Thee with unsinning heart;
Then Lord, shall I fully know, Not till then how much I owe.”

Salvation is by faith in God, by receiving Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. The Law was only a partial solution for sin. Jesus Christ is a FULL solution for sin.

John 1:16 And of his fullness have all we received, and grace for grace.

The Christian has received the FULLNESS of Christ’s salvation. What do we pay for our salvation? grace for grace. How is salvation received? By clinging to Christ. By surrendering to Christ. By throwing yourself on Christ.

The Law Teaches Us Our Need,
But Jesus FULFILLS Our Need

John 1:16 And of his fullness have all we received…

You have nothing that God can use, but Jesus has everything you need. We are all broken. The Law was given to show us our brokenness. The Bible says:

Galatians 3:23-26 … before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. 24 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25 But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. 26 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.

Israel kept falling into enslavement of other nations because, instead of relying on the grace of God (Grace for Grace), they relied on their own righteousness. Year after year they made ritual sacrifices, followed ritual feasts, and went through ritual circumcisions that did nothing to save them. These rituals – repeated yearly – were proof that:

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

Every year, year after year, the Israelite made sacrifices and followed rituals that did not satisfy. They were continually incomplete. But when Messiah came, He came to save us ONCE AND FOR ALL. The Scripture says:

John 1:16 … And of his fullness have all we received, and grace for grace.

When you receive Jesus, you receive a FULL salvation. Note again the text, “of His fullness have we ALL RECEIVED”. When you give yourselves to Jesus, when you receive Him as Lord and Savior, you receive a FULL salvation. The word “RECEIVED” is past tense. It is a completed action. We are told in:

Galatians 3:11-14 But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith. 12 And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them. 13 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: 14 that the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

Chuck Swindoll said:

The law emphasized God’s divine standards and the inability of fallen mankind to meet them, while grace rescues fallen humanity from deserved punishment. The law pinpoints the problem, and grace fixes the problem.”

Jesus was made a curse in our place. The believer in Christ has received of His fullness. We have,

A full pardon from sin.
A fully new birth from God.
A full partnership with God the Holy Spirit.
A full citizenship in God’s Kingdom.
A full acceptance in the Beloved.

John 1:16 And of his fullness have all we received, and grace for grace.

If you have been saved by faith in Jesus Christ, you are not a PART TIME Christian, but a FULL TIME Christian. John Gillmartin wrote:

Part time butterflies don’t exist! Why? No butterfly ever returns to crawling on branches once it has flown in the heavens above. Butterflies might periodically rest among the branches, but they’ll never abide there again. Likewise there are no such creatures as part time believers. Once the spirit of man has tasted the freedom of our heavenly and eternal Christ, it will never return to the bondage of this earthly and temporal world. Anyone guilty of longing for his former life has never left it!”

Salvation – true salvation – focuses on Jesus Christ. No one is ever saved from sin by their own works. The Apostle said:

Romans 4:4-8 Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. 5 But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. 6 Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, 7 saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. 8 Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.

Salvation is not a wage that God gives us for being His servants. Salvation is a gift that God gives to those who cast themselves on Him, by faith. If you are a Christian, God is at work in your life. You are …

2 Corinthians 5:17 … a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new ..

The Christian is given a new focus in life. From the moment of salvation, the Christian lives for God and His glory, not for ourselves. We are givenm the daily gift of life to live for our Lord and Savior. We are a delivered people:

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

We who are Christians belong to God the Son. Our citizenship is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ: who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body(Philippians 3:20-21). As believers we don’t need to drive our tent stakes too deep in this present earth. This world is not our home – we’re just passing through! God is at work in our lives, and will hold on to us until the day we see our Savior face to face.

I close with these appropriate words from John Newton, the Author of “Amazing Grace”:

I am not what I ought to be – ah, how imperfect and deficient! I am not what I wish to be – I abhor what is evil, and I would cleave to that which is good! I am not what I hope to be – soon, soon shall I put off mortality, and with mortality all sin and imperfection. Yet, though I am not what I ought to be, nor what I wish to be, nor what I hope to be, I can truly say, I am not what I once was; a slave to sin and Satan; and I can heartily join with the Apostle, and acknowledge, “By the grace of God I am what I am”.

No Christian is perfect, but we are on the pathway to perfection and eternal life. I pray that you have received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Only through Christ can you be made fit for Heaven and God’s Kingdom. If you do not know Jesus as Lord and Savior, I pray that you will call on Him this very day. Jesus said:

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

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

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The Lamb’s Book Of Life

You Must Be Born Again

Revelation 21:22-27 And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it. 23 And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. 24 And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honor into it. 25 And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there. 26 And they shall bring the glory and honor of the nations into it. 27 And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

A Wonderful Life Is Coming For Those Who Believe

I am so looking forward to Heaven. Some 13 souls have gone into glory that we have known and loved since January. Their eyes have seen Him that we read of. Those who are His by faith are looking upon Jesus today.

Revelation 21:5 … He that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new.…

I look forward to that wonderful day to come – that endless day. The Bible tells us that all things will be made new. You can’t help but feel that this present earth is not right. It is not as God initially made it. It was God’s intention that humanity rule the earth on His behalf. We are God’s image bearer. We are made for eternity.

Genesis 1:27-28 God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. 28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion…

Man – which is comprised of the marital unit, male and female – was to do five things on this earth. Man was to be FRUITFUL, to honor God with their lives. Man was to MULTIPLY, to procreate, to make more fruitful humans. Man was to REPLENISH, or be a good steward over the earth that God gave him. Man was to SUBDUE and HAVE DOMINION over this earth. This FIVE PART COMMAND was what humanity was supposed to do on the earth. FIVE is the number of Grace in the Scripture. Man had life, and the earth itself as a part of God’s Grace.

And man blew it. Rather than do as God commanded, man allowed the created being called “The Serpent”, who is:

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

Adam allowed Satan to take that which was rightfully his, and control it. The Bible says:

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

Adam’s action had repercussions that have carried forward, and will carry forward, until the end of time. But God was not satisfied with this. It was God’s intention for man to rule the earth on His behalf. When we come to Revelation 21 we see God completing what He started in the Garden of Eden. In order for God to complete His plan, He has to eradicate the old earth, with its damaged sin sick system. When we come to Revelation 21 we read:

Revelation 21:1-2 And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. 2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

In this future new heaven and a new earth, there is no sin, nor corruption, nor death. This future earth and it’s very atmosphere will be erased of all that defiles. The sea itself will be gone. That which separates humans from one another, especially in John’s day, was the sea. There will be no separation between humans in that future world. God will even recreate Jerusalem in Heaven, and lower it down to the earth. God will rule the earth. The Bible tells us that:

2 Timothy 2:12 … if we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us:

Jesus Christ as the “Second Adam” will rule the earth, and those who are His children will rule and reign with Him from the New Jerusalem. This is a literal city, for we are given dimensions in Revelation 21:10-21. The New Jerusalem will differ from the Old Jerusalem in that:

Revelation 21:22-23 And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it. 23 And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.

The Presence of God will not be limited to the Temple Holy of Holies as was done in the Old Jerusalem. God’s Presence will shine – His Shekinah glory will shine throughout that New Jerusalem. I wish we all could grasp the concept of what the Scripture is saying. The Bride of Christ, His Church united, will rule with Him from the New Jerusalem. There will be joy in this future kingdom, and unity, and love unto God and to one another. The Bible speaks of …

Revelation 7:9-10 a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; 10 and cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.

Only the “SAVED” shall be in this future world. The Bible says:

Revelation 21:24-26 And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honor into it. 25 And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there. 26 And they shall bring the glory and honor of the nations into it.

I am so looking forward to that day when I see Jesus. Are you? Who shall be on this future earth? The Bible says:

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

You Do Not Want To Be Blotted Out
Of The Book Of Life!

The “Book of Life” is mentioned eight times as “Book of Life” in the Scriptures – seven of those times in the Book of Revelation. Only those who are written in the Book of Life shall gain access to Heaven, and that future New Earth.

The name of every human born into this world is written in the Book of Life. We are told in …

Revelation 17:8 … they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world

Our God is infinite in knowledge – there is nothing that He does not know. He has a Book and in that Book the names of all are written in that Book “from the foundation of the world”. My mind cannot grasp that, but it is true. Let us grasp this. IF you are living, IF you are under the sound of my voice, THEN God in His Grace has your name written in His Book.

God can BLOT your name out. He will BLOT your name out if you do not OVERCOME.

Jesus Christ told the Church at Sardis:

Revelation 3:5-6 He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels. 6 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

To reject faith in God the Son – then to die in your sins – is to be “blotted out”. Who is He that overcometh? It is the one who has given themselves to the Lord Jesus Christ, who has believed on Him and Him alone for salvation. God promises not to blot our names out of this Book when we believe on Jesus. The Bible says:

John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

The “Book of Life” is mentioned in the Old Testament as “God’s Book”. In Exodus 32 Moses is on Mount Sinai, receiving the Law and the Old Covenant from God. The children of Israel have had Aaron the High Priest construct a golden calf to worship. Israel has rejected faith in God, and chosen to put their faith in a golden calf of their own making. God sees what they are doing, {for God always sees what we are doing} and tells Moses:

Exodus 32:9-10 … I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiff necked people: 10 now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them: and I will make of thee a great nation.

Moses, loving both God and the people, intercedes in prayer for Israel. He asks God to remember the covenant promises He made to Abraham. Then Moses goes down to correct Israel. The next day after destroying the golden calf and its worshipers, Moses tells Israel:

Exodus 32:30-33 Ye have sinned a great sin: and now I will go up unto the Lord; peradventure I shall make an atonement for your sin. 31 And Moses returned unto the Lord, and said, Oh, this people have sinned a great sin, and have made them gods of gold. 32 Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin—; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written. 33 And the Lord said unto Moses, Whosoever hath sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book.

When you reject salvation by faith in God, He can blot you out of His Book. I believe that all are in the Book of Life at birth – but can be blotted out of that Book because of the sin of unbelief.

The Psalmist David wrote against evil doers, saying,

Psalm 69:27-28 Add iniquity unto their iniquity: and let them not come into thy righteousness. 28 Let them be blotted out of the book of the living, and not be written with the righteous.

When God through the Prophet Daniel wrote of the Great Tribulation, he said:

Daniel 12:1 … there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.

The Book of Life is, in effect, a CITIZENSHIP list for God’s Heaven and New Earth. It is so very important that your name be in the Book of Life. We read again:

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

Only those written in the Lamb’s Book of Life will enter Heaven and that future New Earth. No one else will be allowed. Period.

The Work Of Surrendered Faith At The Right Time
Keeps You In The Book

Some think that, if they work very very hard to please God, that their names will be kept in the Book of Life. Some people place faith in their works for Heaven. They say, “I am not as bad as this one, or that one, so I know I am going to Heaven”. My friend,

Self Righteousness is just another Golden Calf.

God tells us what He thinks of a relation-less faith in Revelation 20 at “The Great White Throne Judgment”.

Revelation 20:11-12 And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. 12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God;

The Great White Throne is a place where the dead, small and great, stand before God. These are not believers in God, but unbelievers. They are the dead. Jesus said:

John 11:25-26 I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: 26 and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?

Those who receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior shall never die. These who stand before that Great White Throne are the dead. They are dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1; Colossians 2:13). They are NATURAL and not SUPERNATURAL. The Bible says:

1 Corinthians 2:14 … the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

Are you NATURAL or SUPERNATURAL?
Are you BORN ONCE or BORN AGAIN?
Are you ADAM’S CHILD or GOD’S CHILD?

These people left this earth without Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. They did works. They did many works. God the Son is on that Great White Throne, but they do not know Him.

Revelation 20:12 … and the books were opened:

BOOKS are opened. These are the Books of Works. The Bible says:

Revelation 20:12 … and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.

What were their works? Without Christ, it does not matter. The Bible says:

Proverbs 21:4 An high look, and a proud heart, and the plowing of the wicked, is sin.

The plowing of the wicked is sinful. Anything a person does outside of faith in Jesus Christ is sinful. The dead are judged based on their works. Perhaps they did what looked like apparent good works. Perhaps they went to Church. Perhaps they tithed. Perhaps they even became deacons, elders, or preachers. Beloved, we need a relationship by faith with Jesus! Jesus warned those who followed after Him:

Matthew 7:21-23 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

The Books of Works contain all the things that a person did in their lives. But did they know Jesus? Jesus will say at this Great White Throne, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. Their works will not be sufficient. What is THE WORK OF GOD? Jesus said:

John 6:29 … This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him whom He hath sent.

The work of God is that you believe on Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Have you believed on Him?

Revelation 20:13-15 … they were judged every man according to their works. 14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. 15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

It Is God Who Makes All Things New

Those who have received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior are those who are “overcomers”. We are told in:

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

Those who are “born again” are those who overcome the world. So how am I “born again”? Only by calling upon the Lord Jesus Christ. Those who are “born again” are the people of God, whose name remains on “the Lamb’s Book of Life” (Revelation 21:27). Jesus said,

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

John 3:7 …. Ye MUST be born again …

New Birth is not a thing we can do to ourselves. As God said in

Revelation 21:5 … Behold, I make all things new …

Only God can take a broken life and make it whole. Only God can take a lost sinner, and bring that person home. Only God can take the sinner and turn them into a saint. Only God can do this. Do you wish to stay in the Book of Life? Then you must overcome. You can only overcome by letting go. I’m going to say that again:

You can only overcome by letting go!

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

When you let go and receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, then God the Holy Spirit will come to you. When God the Holy Spirit comes He will cause you to be “born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God (Jesus is the Living Word of God – John 1:1-3), which liveth and abideth for ever” (1 Peter 1:23). Oh, the joy of being born again. You are not perfect, but you are changed when you come to Jesus.

2 Corinthians 5:17 … if any man be in Christ, he is a NEW CREATURE: Old things are passed away; BEHOLD, all things are become NEW.

It is God Who makes new. It is God Who saves the soul, and inhabits the body. It is God Who promises eternity to those who believe in Jesus. It is God Who says:

Revelation 21:6-8 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. 7 He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. 8 But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

So you have a choice. You can receive the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, and begin to follow Him as He bids – or you can continue to follow the golden calves of life unto the second death. There is no place in Heaven for those who do not love Jesus. There is only a lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death. Oh, how I pray that you will give yourselves to Jesus! God has declared,

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

We all need Jesus. Do not delay. If you leave this life without Jesus, your name will be blotted out of the Book of Life.

And where will you be then?

May God drive this message deeply into your souls by His Holy Spirit. Amen and Amen.

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Receive Jesus, Receive Power

Photo by Alex Hockett on Unsplash

John 1:11-13 He came unto his own, and his own received him not. 12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: 13 which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

Let Us Strive To Finish Well

The most important part of the race is the finish. I don’t know about you, but I want to finish well. I don’t want to be like Judas Iscariot who, following Jesus for 3 ½ years, ended up hanging himself (Matthew 27:5-8). Peter said of Judas,

Acts 1:18 Now this man purchased a field with the reward of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out.

What a horrible ending that was! One author notes, “Perhaps Judas hanged himself and in the process also fell (lit. “flat on his face”) and tore open his abdomen. Perhaps the rope or branch with which he hanged himself broke. Or perhaps when others cut his corpse down it fell and broke open, as Luke described. … This description of Judas’ death stressed the awfulness of that apostle’s situation.”

I want to finish well. I have seen so many pastors and powerful Christian leaders fail because they allowed the devil to sidetrack their lives. Who can forget Tammy & Jim Bakker, and the mess they made of their lives. Or Jerry Falwell, Jr, who took over as President of Liberty University (a University his father started). He tragically fell and was fired, texting photos of his wife in provocative sexual poses. Or the Apologist Ravi Zacharias who was discovered abusing women, and seeking sexual favors from massage therapists. Or Carl Lentz, who was fired from Hillsong Church for sexual unfaithfulness in his marriage. Consider also mega Church pastors

  • Perry Noble, removed for alcohol abuse and family neglect from NewSpring Church.
  • Darrin Patrick, the teaching pastor at Seacoast Church who took his own life.
  • Tullian Tchividjian, the grandson of Billy Graham. He pastored Coral Ridge Presbyterian until he resigned due to marital infidelity.

I do not list these pastors with any sort of pride or gloating, but just to say this.

I want to finish well. I want to honor my Jesus until the day I see Him face to face. The most important part of the race is always the finish line. Let us strive to finish well.

Finishing Well Does Not Depend
On Your Physical Birth

People always seem to blame their failures on something in their physical placement, their physical birth. They say, “I was born poor, disadvantaged, disabled, and therefore I will do nothing but feel sorry for myself”. I can understand feeling sorry for yourself. I’ve been through many pity parties myself. We have no control over how we start out in life. But we do have control over how we will handle our “race”.

• You may be poor. It is no sin to be poor. Jesus said:

Matthew 26:11 … ye have the poor always with you …

If you are poor, it’s because God put you in that position to start. In America you can work hard, but even working hard, you may be poor. It’s not your fault, but a divine calling if you are NOT slothful but poor. Some are poor because they are slothful, lazy. That’s your fault if you are that way. But some are poor so that we all can learn kindness. The Bible says:

Proverbs 19:17 He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the Lord; and that which he hath given will he pay him again.

God uses people to shape people. Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend (Proverbs 27:17). God allows poverty so those WITH can love those WITHOUT in a practical way.

• You may be rich. It is no sin to be rich. It is a sin to WORSHIP your riches. The Bible says:

1 Timothy 6:9-10 … they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. 10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

Illustrate If God has given you riches, this is where God started you in the race. There is no sin in being rich, as long as you control the riches and the riches do not control you. Adrian Rogers once told the story about a man who loved gold. Then he inherited a fortune. With joy he redecorated his bedroom. He put gold parchment wallpaper up, hung yellow curtains, had a golden colored rug and a yellow bedspread. He even bought some yellow pajamas. But then he got sick and came down with, of all things, yellow jaundice. His wife called the doctor who made a house call and went up to that bedroom for an examination. The doctor stayed up there a long while. When he came down, the wife asked, “How is he?”

“Don’t know,” said the doctor. “I couldn’t find him.” Don’t get lost in your riches. The Scripture says:

1 Timothy 6:17-19 Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not high minded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; 18 that they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; 19 laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.

• You may be born beautiful, and may be born plain. It is no sin to be either beautiful, plain, or plain ugly – thank goodness! God made you the way you are. Always remember that you are made by God in the image of God, and do not sell yourselves as many have. I heard of a website called Fans Only where beautiful housewives sell naked pictures on themselves for $6.99. God’s Word says:

Proverbs 11:22 As a jewel of gold in a swine’s snout, so is a {beautiful} woman which is without discretion.

As God has made you, praise Him, for you are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14). God tells us all,

1 Peter 3:3-4 (NKJV) Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel— 4 rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.

When George Younce made his final public appearance with William Gaither, he sang an amusing rendition of “Side by Side”:

We got married last Friday, My girl was right there beside me
Our friends were all gone – We were alone – Side by side

We were so happily wed when, She got ready for bed then
Her teeth and her hair – She placed in a chair – Side by side

One glass eye so tiny, One hearing aid so small
Then she took one leg off, And placed it on the chair by the wall

I stood there broke hearted, Most of my girl had departed
I slept on the chair – There was more of her there – Side by side

• You may be born with a disability. It is no sin to be born disabled. God intended you to be born the way you are. I remember that one day Jesus and His disciples saw a man born blind. The disciples asked Jesus:

John 9:2-3 Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? 3 Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.

God made you the way you are. It is no sin to be born disabled or, “challenged” as so many like to call it. God has a purpose for your life, and He wants to show His glorious power through you. Let no one make you lesser than because of your birth. It is no sin to be broken.

• You may be born of a certain color. It is no sin to be born black, or white, or red, yellow, or brown. The Bible says:

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

It is a sin to be racist. Martin Luther King, Jr preached in his sermon “I Have A Dream”, “I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character”.

Acts 17:26 … (God) hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth …

Your color is not a sin. I have heard that Critical Race Theory teaches if you are white, you are automatically racist. I don’t believe this is true. Billy Graham refused to preach revivals in any stadiums that forced the people of color into a roped off area. I applaud that. I have no control over my race, but my race is not a sin. Racism is!

We Must Receive Jesus As He Is

Do you know what the chiefest of sins is? The unpardonable sin is to refuse to receive Jesus Christ.

John 1:11-12 {Jesus} came unto his own, and his own received him not. 12 But as many as received him…

Word Study God wants us all to receive Jesus Christ. The word translated “received” is the Greek λαμβάνω lambánō, (pronounced lam-ban’-o), which means “to receive (of course), to grab hold of, to take with your hand, to take in order to possess or carry away, to claim for oneself, to take possession of”. The word carries with it the sense of desire. To receive Jesus is to greatly desire Him, to want Him above all else.

Oh how we need Jesus! What does it mean to “receive or lay hold of Jesus”. It means, first of all, to take Jesus as He is. Jesus is not just another Teacher or another Rabbi. Jesus is Eternal God in the flesh. When Job in his suffering questioned God, the Lord told him:

Job 38:4-6 Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding. 5 Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it? 6 Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof;

None of us were on this earth when God made it. The evolutionists and scientists merely guess at what happened before. None of us were there in the beginning.

But Jesus was. The Bible says:

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

When God said “Let there be”, it was Jesus Who interacted with the earth. God made all things through Jesus. Jesus Christ is not just Perfect Man – He is Eternal God in human form. Jesus Christ was with the Father and the Spirit at the beginning of creation – and has preexisted with God from eternity. The Bible says:

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

The Father planned the heavens that we see – but spoke it into existence through Jesus. Like a prism bends light, Jesus focused the power of God in creation. All things – whether visible or invisible – were made through Jesus. When God said,

Genesis 1:26 … Let us make man in our image, after our likeness…

Jesus Christ was part of that “us” and “our”. Though He was not yet incarnate – that would much later occur through Mary – He was nonetheless there and active. Jesus Christ is called “The Word”, because Jesus is the expressed and visible image of the invisible God. The Scripture says:

Hebrews 1:2-3 {God} hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; 3 who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;

It is fitting that He Who made the earth and the heavens is the One chosen to be the Savior of the earth and the heavens. “By the Word of the Lord the heavens were made, and by the breath of His mouth all their host” (Psalm 33:6).

We must receive Jesus Christ as Creator and Savior. We must receive Jesus as the way to life.

John 1:4-5 In {Jesus} was life; and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

Jesus Christ is the only Source of eternal life.
Jesus Christ is the only Source of spiritual light.

When you receive Jesus Christ, you are receiving Him as Savior and Lord. There is no life nor light apart from Jesus. This morning we read the words of God in

Revelation 21:5 … Behold, I make all things new.

It is Jesus Who leads us from the darkness of sin and Satan, and into the light of God. The Book of John is all about God bringing light out of darkness – this is why the Book copies the beginning of the Book of Genesis. Only God can bring light – self existent light – to darkness. Man has learned, first by using flame, next by combining electricity and metal in a sphere we call the light bulb, how to bring light to darkness. But we who are human cannot form spiritual light. This is what God did. Through Jesus we are brought to spiritual light. Our blindness to God is removed. Through Jesus God causes us to have light and truth. The Bible says:

Isaiah 42:5-6 Thus saith God the Lord, he that created the heavens, and stretched them out; he that spread forth the earth, and that which cometh out of it; he that giveth breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein: 6 I the Lord have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles….

When Simeon was brought by the Holy Spirit into the Temple, and saw the Baby Jesus, he praised God and quoted this text:

Luke 2:29-32 Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: 30 for mine eyes have seen thy salvation, 31 which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; 32 a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.

Jesus Christ is the Light of the World. When we come to Him, receiving Him as THE Light of God, then we can see whereas the lost stagger about blindly. There are many who profess to be the Christ, but only Jesus is the …

John 1:9 … true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.

Some say that they have “received Jesus”, but they have received Him only as Savior. Jesus Christ is LORD. He is LORD OF ALL, and demands the allegiance of those who take hold of Him. The Bible says:

Philippians 2:5-11 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6 who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7 but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8 and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. 9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Jesus affirmed His Lordship over His people. He was affirmed by God while in the cradle:

Matthew 1:21 .. {Mary} shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.

And later told us:

John 15:14 Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.

When we receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, God works a miracle in our lives. We read:

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

Eternal Jesus Christ became incarnate, because God the Holy Spirit came to Mary. The angel told Mary:

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

Mary agreed to this operation of God, and became with child, carrying the incarnate Son of God. There has only been one incarnation of the Son of God in all of history.

But God makes other sons, other children when we receive Jesus Christ as He is. When we believe on Him, the Scripture says:

to them gave he power to become the sons of God

Word Study The word translated “power” is the Greek ἐξουσία exousía, {pronounced ex-oo-see’-ah}, which refers to “the power of rule or government, endued power”. What is this referring to? When you receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, God the Holy Spirit comes into your life. The Spirit causes you to be born again:

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

The Word of God Who was in the beginning with God and is God calls upon the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirt comes to the life of the believer, and makes us “born again”. We are

John 1:13 … born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God

Born again of the Spirit of God, He makes us into sons of God. Sons of God are led by the Spirit of God (Romans 8:14). We are not led by the things of the world, but by the Spirit of God and the Word of God. We are called to reflect the Light of Christ into the world. We are called to run, looking unto Jesus. We are to live our lives so as to please our Heavenly Father. The Scripture says:

Philippians 2:12-16 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. 13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. 14 Do all things without murmurings and disputings: 15 that ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; 16 holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.

A Christian is not just a Christian in name only. A Christian – rightly understood – is a son of God, a child of the Most High, a believer empowered and enlivened by God the Holy Spirit. We are not of this world, but on mission for Jesus until He calls us home.

Let us strive to finish well, if we are Spiritually born, and Spirit led. Let us remember our heritage, a heritage that John spoke of, saying:

1 John 3:1-2 Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. 2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.

May God the Holy Spirit and the Word of God move you to follow Him in the light, for His glory. Amen and Amen!

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For A Bowl Of Lentil Stew

<img src="https://bibleteacherorg.files.wordpress.com/2021/06/artur-kornakov-kwjhh14nucs-unsplash.jpg?w=1024" alt="Photo by <a href="https://unsplash.com/@arturkornakov?utm_source=unsplash&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=creditCopyText">Artur Kornakov</a> on <a href="https://unsplash.com/s/photos/stew?utm_source=unsplash&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=creditCopyText">Unsplash

Turn with me in your Bibles to:

Hebrews 12:14-17 Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: 15 looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled; 16 lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. 17 For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.

Life is all about the choices we make. If we make the right choice, the God honoring choice, then God will bless us. But if we make the wrong choices it can have a lasting and permanent impact on our lives.

In our text today we see a reference to Esau. Esau’s name in the Hebrew means “he that acts or finishes”. Esau made decisions, and acted on them, without thinking “down the road”. Esau would be like the chess or checker player that just moves pieces without any consideration as to what others might do.

Esau was “ME” focused.

Pastor John MacArthur said about Esau:

Perhaps the saddest and most godless person in Scripture outside of Judas is Esau. On the surface, their acts against God do not seem as wicked as those of many brutal and heartless pagans. But the Bible strongly condemns them. They had great light. They had every possible opportunity, as much as any person in their times, of knowing and following God. They knew His word, had heard His promises, had seen His miracles, and had had fellowship with His people; yet with determined willfulness they turned their backs on God and the things of God. Esau not only was immoral, but was godless. He had no ethics or faith, no scruples or reverence. He had no regard for the good, the truthful, the divine. He was totally worldly, totally secular, totally profane.”

Background To Our Text

Esau’s story begins in the womb of his mother, Rebekah. But for the Grace of God, Esau would never have been born. Esau’s father was Isaac, the only son of the patriarch Abraham. Isaac was born to Abraham when he was a hundred years old (Genesis 21:5). Isaac was a grace-gift from God to Abraham. When Isaac was forty years old, he took Rebekah to wife (Genesis 25:20). But there was a problem – Rebekah was barren. What did Isaac do? He did the best thing he could do.

Isaac prayed to the Lord for his wife, and God gave them not one, but TWO children.

This is what God does. God blesses us when we, in love, seek Him out. God wants us to love Him more than anyone on earth. When we love God, God loves us back TWICE as much. That’s how our Creator is. He loves us.

When Rebekah conceived, “the children struggled together within her” (Genesis 25:22). This frightened Rebekah, because she was an older woman carrying children. Was it possible that her pregnancy would miscarry? Rebekah did the best thing she should do. Rebekah prayed to the Lord.

Choices – life is about choices. Oh, how I wish you would let God carry you through life’s ups and downs! Oh, how I wish you would rest in the arms of Jesus!

Isaiah 46:4 .. even to your old age I am he; and even to {gray} hairs will I carry you: I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you.

Isaiah 40:11 {God} shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.

If we would trust in God, and seek Him FIRST, life would be so much sweeter. God told Rebekah:

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

There are so many interesting things I can point out about this verse. First, God knew – even while the children were in the womb – the nature of each child. God knew the choices they would make, long before they ever made them. And yet, God nonetheless holds Esau accountable for the choice he will later make in life.

I have heard it said so many times, “I was born this way, so God made me thus – therefore the choices I make, they carry no guilt”. Yet that is not true. We are each responsible for the choices we make. We cannot pin our bad choices on God, as if it were His fault. The Apostle Paul addresses this in:

Romans 9:10-15 when Rebekah also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac; 11 (For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;) 12 It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. 13 As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated. 14 What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid. 15 For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.

God knew the decisions that Jacob and Esau would make in life, long before the children ever did any good or evil. And yet, God still holds Esau accountable for the choices that he makes. God knew that Judas Iscariot would make bad choices. Jesus said:

John 6:70-71 Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil? 71 He spake of Judas Iscariot the son of Simon: for he it was that should betray him, being one of the twelve.

Our Lord knew that Judas would betray Him for thirsty pieces of silver. He knew that Judas Iscariot would choose money and power over eternal life. And yet Jesus said:

Matthew 26:24 The Son of man goeth as it is written of him: but woe unto that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! it had been good for that man if he had not been born.

God knows our choices, but our choices are our own. We will stand before God one day and,

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

We cannot shunt our bad choices off on God. They are our responsibility. Let’s get back to Esau. The Bible says that Rebekah had her twins:

Genesis 25:25-28 … first came out red, all over like an hairy garment; and they called his name Esau. 26 And after that came his brother out, and his hand took hold on Esau’s heel; and his name was called Jacob: and Isaac was threescore years old when she bare them. 27 And the boys grew: and Esau was a cunning hunter, a man of the field; and Jacob was a plain man, dwelling in tents. 28 And Isaac loved Esau, because he did eat of his venison: but Rebekah loved Jacob.

Word Study Sometimes the King James translation obscures our understanding of the text. Esau was flamboyant, with his red hair and amazing skills. He knew how to go out and get what he wanted – and he was used to winning, and not losing. Esau would be the “Jock” on the Varsity Team in High School. He would be voted “Most likely to succeed” by his peers. Esau would date the head cheerleader, make the winning goal in football, always come in in first place in any race. Esau was the firstborn child, and his daddy was awful proud of him!

But then you have Jacob. The King James says Jacob was a plain man, dwelling in tents. The word plain is the Hebrewתָּם tâm, {pronounced tawm}, which means “one who is complete, sound, wholesome – an ordinary, quiet sort of person”. If Jacob were in a room, he would be the invisible man. In a “Where’s Waldo” book, he would be part of the crowd. Jacob was no risk taker, but cool and calculating – a home body.

One day Esau came back from hunting, but had caught nothing at all. Jacob is cooking a lentile stew (Genesis 25:34), and Esau tells his brother:

Genesis 25:30 Feed me, I pray thee, with that same red pottage; for I am faint

There’s no doubt that Esau was hungry. He had been hunting all day, trailing wild game, but couldn’t get anything. But he was far from dying of hunger. Esau does not focus on God, but focuses on a pot of lentil stew. So Jacob says:

Genesis 25:31-33 … Sell me this day thy birthright. 32 And Esau said, Behold, I am at the point to die: and what profit shall this birthright do to me? 33 And Jacob said, Swear to me this day; and he sware unto him: and he sold his birthright unto Jacob.

Esau sold his birthright for a bowl of lentil stew, and a loaf of bread. As the elder son, Esau had a right to the double portion of the inheritance. To Esau would have passed his father’s authority, and most of his properties. Yet Esau despised his birthright, choosing a bowl of lentil stew over the greater blessing.

We Need Grace, Not Lentil Stew

Hebrews 12:15-16 looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled; 16 lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright.

Word Study God brings this story of Esau into the message of Grace. God tells us first to be looking diligently, which is the Present Active Participle of the Greek ἐπισκοπέω episkopéō, {pronounced ep-ee-skop-eh’-o}, which literally means take charge of your eyes, and make them carefully inspect. Back in the Old West days, those traveling through hostile Apache territories would have been told, “keep your eyes peeled, boys and girls, or you might lose your hair!” If you were on a Safari in deep Africa passing through lion country the guide would say “keep your eyes wide open, boys and girls, or you’re liable to become a’Happy Meal’ ”. The writer of Hebrews tells us all to “wake up, and be very careful to watch out for this”.

You don’t want to fail of the Grace of God. Be diligent, keep your spiritual eyes opened lest any person fail of the Grace of God.

Word Study The word “fail” in our text is the Greek HUSTEREO (υστερεω pronounced hoos-ter-eh’-o), which means “to keep on falling short of”. You do not want to keep falling short of the Grace of God. We are exhorted in this text to keep on being on the lookout lest we keep on falling short of the Grace of God. We all need the Grace of God. We need the Grace of God to save us from damnation. We need the Grace of God to bless us once we are saved.

How does one “fall short of the Grace of God”? People do it every day. First of all, salvation is entirely of the Grace of God. We are not saved by our works, but are saved by the finished work of Jesus Christ. The Scripture says:

Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 not of works, lest any man should boast.

When a person realizes – through the operation of the Spirit of God – that they are lost and undone, and that person calls upon the name of Jesus, God the Spirit changes that person. Before we meet Jesus we are “dead in our trespasses”, unable to please God. But when we call upon Jesus as Savior and Lord, the Bible says:

Ephesians 2:4-5 God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)

We are told in:

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

The Child of God is saved by the grace of God. When Jesus Christ came to this earth, the Bible says that Jesus did not come as an Angel, but:

Hebrews 2:9 … was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor; that {Jesus} by the grace of God should taste death for every {person}.

Esau sold his birthright for a bowl of lentil stew. People today sell their birthright, salvation in Christ, for a bowl of lentil stew. People sell themselves sexually. They have pride in chasing human sexuality outside of God’s design. The devil says, “have a bowl of lentil stew with just a morsel of meat”, and people buy into this.

God designed marriage and human sexuality to bless us, to satisfy us, and to perpetuate the human race. We need to LOOK OUT, to be constantly on the lookout.

Hebrews 12:16 lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright.

The fornicator is the person who chases human sexuality outside of God’s parameters. The fornicator has chosen a bowl of lentil stew over the greater good, a blessed marriage with your God ordained opposite. Human sexuality in America today is represented by a number of man-made genders and a rainbow of colors. Yet what God has said is sin, is still sin. What God rejects as acceptable is still unacceptable.

Word Study The word translated profane is βέβηλος bébēlos, {pronounced beb’-ay-los}, which means “a wicked, ungodly, or unhallowed person”. So many people today satisfy their God given appetites in godless and sinful ways.

There are so many that choose lentil stew over faith in Jesus Christ. They choose something temporary and passing that will one day grow old, over a relationship with God, which will never grow old.

We all need Jesus. We all need to surrender to Him, to receive Him as Lord and Savior. This is our birthright as humans, to become the children of God by faith in Him.

Galatians 4:4-7 But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, [5] To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. [6] And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. [7] Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.

It is Grace that makes a child of God. It is Grace that causes the believer to receive the Holy Spirit of God. It is Grace that takes a person from a position of servant to Son. It is God’s unmerited favor – His Grace – that enters a person into the family of God, and keeps that person in the family of God.

The Grace That Saves Is The Grace
That Keeps On Saving

It is your birthright as a human to come to Jesus Christ and be saved. Once you are saved, it is your birthright to keep on coming to Christ. If you will again notice:

Hebrews 12:15 LOOKING diligently …

That word LOOKING is, as I said before, the Greek ἐπισκοπέω episkopéō, {pronounced ep-ee-skop-eh’-o}, which means “to take charge of your eyes”.

Watch what you are watching. Don’t give away your birthright for a bowl of lentil stew.
This applies to Christians as well.

Don’t give away your blessings, your birthright in Christ, for a bowl of lentil stew. So many believers do this. So many pastors do this. Over my last 25 years in ministry, I have seen so many that I thought were good people choose lentil stew over the greater blessing. I have seen Christians grow cold in their faith, so much so that when a trial or death came knocking they had no more spiritual strength than the lost person. Don’t choose lentil stew over God’s blessings.

The Bible tells us of a time when Jesus was visiting with His friends, Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. When Jesus came, Martha immediately began to play the part of good hostess. The Bible says:

Luke 10:39-42 {Martha} had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word. 40 But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me. 41 And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: 42 but one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.

For Martha, it was a good thing that she was waiting on the Lord. But the better thing would be to do as Mary did. Martha would be better blessed if she sat down at Jesus’ feet, and listen to His teaching. Jesus will not be at their home forever – He must be on His way. Meals will come and go. Parties will come and go. “But the Word of the Lord endureth forever” (1 Peter 1:25). Martha was choosing lentil stew over her birthright.

Our eyes need to be not on lentil stew, but on Jesus. The Bible says:

Hebrews 12:1-2 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, 2 looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Word Study The word translated lookingis the Greek ἀφοράω aphoráō, {pronounced af-or-ah’-o}, which means “to turn the eyes away from other things, and fix them on Jesus”. The Christian is to stay in a dynamic relationship with Jesus. The Apostle tells us to do three things as we focus out gaze on Jesus:

  • let us lay aside every weight”. Get rid of the unnecessary. The most important thing for you to do is to live in union with Christ. The devil will throw other things at you, things that are good, but not the best. Endeavor to love Jesus with your ALL, and to let the things that are of lesser importance go.
  • let us lay aside … the sin which doth so easily beset us”. Reject sin. Hate sin. Do battle with sin. Confess sin, and put it under the blood of Jesus (1 John 1:8-9). But do not rename sin. Do not justify sin. Do not be “proud” of sin. Consider sin to be poison, a thing to be confessed unto God and rejected.

    You cannot walk with the devil and run with Jesus

  • let us run with patience the race that is set before us”. Whatever our God puts before us to do, let us RUN. Let us do it as fast as possible, exactly as He has said. Let us RUN WITH PATIENCE. The devil will do much to cause us to get off track. Refuse the devil. Follow Jesus. Imitate God.

I want to close focusing on these words.

Hebrews 12:17 … ye know how that afterward, when {Esau} would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.

The choices we make have a last effect. We can make sexual decisions that will bring AIDS, STDs, or worse to our lives. I have an adopted granddaughter that has type 1 Diabetes because her birth mother made bad choices. The innocent suffer because of bad choices. Do not give away your birthright for a bowl of lentil stew. God wants the best for you. Give your lives to Jesus, and follow Him all the days of your lives. May God bless the reading and preaching of His Word. Amen and Amen.

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What About That Mansion?

Photo by Nick Romanov on Unsplash

One Sunday my Sunday School class was talking about “mansions”. What brought up the subject was Jesus’ wonderful and familiar words in:

John 14:1-2 Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.

That stayed in my mind, and the Spirit of God led me to research these mansions. The word translated mansions or mansion is only found ONE TIME in the King James Bible. I used to assume that these mansions are literal buildings in Heaven where we will live. When I think of a mansion, I think of a place of ultimate contentment where my every need is met.

Word Study But what the King James translates as mansions is much more than a brick and mortar building. mansions is the Greek word μονή monḗ, {pronounced mon-ay’}, which means “a place to stay, a residence”. The Vines Expository Dictionary Usage Notes says of monḗ:

Primarily “a staying, abiding” (akin to menō, “to abide”), denotes an “abode” (English, “manor,” “manse,” etc.), translated “mansions” in John 14:2; “abode” in John 14:23. There is nothing in the word to indicate separate compartments in heaven; neither does it suggest temporary resting places on the road.

As the Vines notes, the same word is translated abode in verse 23.

John 14:23 Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.

When we do as Jesus says, then God the Father and God the Son will come and MAKE THEIR ABODE within you. Now I love that old song “Mansion Over The Hilltop”. You know it, don’t you?

I’m satisfied with just a cottage below
A little silver and a little gold
But in that city where the ransomed will shine
I want a gold one that’s silver lined
I’ve got a mansion just over the hilltop
In that bright land where we’ll never grow old
But walk on streets that are purest gold

A lovely old song. However, old songs are rarely written by Bible scholars. After studying this text, I really have come to believe that the mansionor abode that Jesus was speaking of was MUCH MORE THAN A BRICK AND MORTAR BUILDING. Let me ask you:

Why would we need a MANSION in Heaven?
Would having a MANSION make me happier than being with Jesus?
Would I be miserable in Heaven if your MANSION was bigger than mine?
What about location: would I be jealous if your MANSION was on the shore of the River of life, and mine wasn’t?
Would there be just a “Buffaloe” MANSION, or would
each one of us get a MANSION?

I honestly think the “MANSION” that Jesus is referring to is our glorified bodies.

When Jesus came to this earth, He had no property to speak of. Jesus told His disciples “The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head” (Matthew 8:20). And yet, Jesus was happy. I think we will be happy in Heaven, just living in our glorified bodies.

God Never Places An Emphasis On Owning Stuff

  • Did Adam and Eve have a MANSION? Not that I can find. Adam and Eve were made in the image of God.

Genesis 1:26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness, and let them have dominion {over creation}

God put Adam and Eve in charge of the planet He created. God told them:

Genesis 1:28 … Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it …

God did not give Adam and Eve a MANSION.
He gave them a GARDEN, and they were happy –
At least, until they fell away from God.

Genesis 2:8 the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there He put the man whom He had formed …

Man was placed in a Garden east of Eden. God told man to “dress and keep the Garden” (Genesis 2:15). God told Adam he could eat the fruit of any tree in the Garden BUT of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:17). What does the Bible says of their lives?

Genesis 2:25 … they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.

Adam and Eve lived in a Garden, not in a mansion. They walked and talked with God. When Adam sinned, and did what the Lord told them not to do, the Bible says:

Genesis 3:8 … they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden.

Adam & Eve didn’t hide themselves in their mansion,
but “
amongst the trees of the garden”.

Adam and Eve had happiness and peace, with plenty of food and no need of clothing, until they day that they stepped away from fellowship with God. The Bible says:

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

Not having a mansion did not cause Adam and Eve to be unhappy. What caused them – and us – unhappiness was their sin against God. Sin against God brings with it misery. Sin caused our first parents to be cast, not out of a mansion, but out of the Garden. I looked further for mansions in the Bible. When sin caused God to bring judgment on the whole earth,

Genesis 6:5-8 … God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6 And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. 7 And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them. 8 But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.

  • Noah had no mansion – he had an Ark and God. Noah loved God. So when God told Noah “Build Me an Ark”, Noah did just as God said. God flooded the earth, “and the waters prevailed upon the earth an hundred and fifty days” (Genesis 7:24). Noah stayed in the Ark until God told him to leave it. Though the Bible says:

Genesis 9:29 … all the days of Noah were nine hundred and fifty years: and he died

  • What of Abraham, the Father of faith? Did he have a mansion? No, not at all. Abraham followed God where ever the Lord led him. The Bible says:

Hebrews 11:8-10 By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. 9 By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: 10 For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.

Word Study Abraham left everything he ever owned, and was happy following where ever God led him. Abraham lived in tabernacleswith the other fathers of our faith, Isaac (Abraham’s son), and Jacob (Abraham’s grandson). The word translated tabernacles is the Greek σκηνή skēnḗ, {pronounced skay-nay’}, which means “a temporary and portable abode, a tent of cloth or animal skins”.

Say with me skay-nay’

You’ll hear this word again. A mansion is permanent, and huge. Abraham and the fathers of our faith were not interested in the things of this world. They sought a city whose builder and maker is God. The Fathers of our faith were happiest when they were pursuing God, when they were going where He wanted them to go. They sought fellowship with the Lord.

God Never Cared About Brick And Mortar Mansions

Word Study When God revealed Himself to Moses on Mount Sinai, God did not ask Moses to build Him a mansion, but a TABERNACLE (Hebrew מִשְׁכָּן mishkân, {pronounced mish-kawn}), a tent, a temporary place to be that was portable. God told Moses:

Hebrews 8:5 … make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the mount {Sinai}[a quotation of Exodus 25:9].

Israel was to remain nomadic, going wherever God told them to go. It was not until Israel settled in the Promised Land of Canaan that God had Solomon, King David’s son, build a more permanent Temple in Jerusalem. It is interesting that, for a big part of Israel’s history, God showed Himself to the people through the Tabernacle of the congregation (Exodus 33:7-10), also called “The Tent of Meeting”. This was a temporary tent set up outside the camp where you could go and meet with God. When Moses entered the Tent, a Pillar of Cloud would descend, and God would talk with Moses at the door of this Tent (Exodus 33:9). After the formal Tabernacle was built following God’s directions (see Exodus 25-27), the temporary Tent of Meeting was no longer needed. God began to meet with people in the Tabernacle.

When David became King of Israel by God’s decree, He was one day sitting in his palace. David told Nathan the Prophet:

2 Samuel 7:2-7 See now, I dwell in an house of cedar, but the ark of God dwelleth within curtains. 3 And Nathan said to the king, Go, do all that is in thine heart; for the Lord is with thee. 4 And it came to pass that night, that the word of the Lord came unto Nathan, saying, 5 Go and tell my servant David, Thus saith the Lord, Shalt thou build me an house for me to dwell in? 6 Whereas I have not dwelt in any house since the time that I brought up the children of Israel out of Egypt, even to this day, but have walked in a TENT {אֹהֶל ʼôhel, o’-hel, temporary tabernacle} and in a tabernacle {מִשְׁכָּן mishkân, mish-kawn’, portable permanent residence}. 7 In all the places wherein I have walked with all the children of Israel spake I a word with any of the tribes of Israel, whom I commanded to feed my people Israel, saying, Why build ye not me an house of cedar?

God never asked for, nor needed a house, much less a mansion. God walked with Israel in in a tent and in a tabernacle. That is, He met with Moses in the temporary Tent outside the camp, and met with Moses in the better designed Tabernacle, the Tent of Meeting.

God “Tabernacled” Among His People

God would later allow Solomon to build a Temple in Jerusalem, but even Solomon realized that God did not stay in the Temple. He prayed:

1 Kings 8:27 But will God indeed dwell on the earth? behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house that I have builded?

No Temple, nor Tabernacle, nor Mansion can contain all that is God. Our God is immense. God said:

Isaiah 66:1 … The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest?

No man could build God a mansion, nor a tent, nor a Tabernacle, nor a Temple that could contain God. God is immense. God is everywhere. No one can make God a place that He can stay in. God wanted to walk with man. God wanted to share Himself, personally and practically, with whosoever will. Man could not make a tent nor a temple that God could fully be present in. Meeting God in a tent as a descending cloud did not show us all that God is.

We are temporary – but God is eternal.
We are small – but God is immense.
How can the limited come to understand and relate to the unlimited?

The Bible refers to our earthly bodies as “tents”. The Apostle Paul said:

2 Corinthians 5:4 For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life.

Word Study The word tabernacleis once again the Greek σκῆνος skēnos, {pronounced skay’-nos}, which means A TENT. Our earthly bodies are TENTS that our souls dwell in. We groan daily, “being burdened. We want these mortal bodies to be swallowed up of life, to become more than they are.

There is not a day that goes by that I don’t pray for and look for the day when I am out of this broken, sinful flesh. And not just I, but every believer who has ever lived has looked forward to the time when this tabernacle, this fallen and failing body, will be replaced with a newer and better model. Medical cannot bring this to us. But God can. The Apostle reminds us as believers in Christ, saying:

2 Corinthians 5:1-3 For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven: 3 If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked.

I am so looking forward to the day that, as the Apostle Peter said, I put off this my tabernacle. When this old tent you are looking at goes, the Apostle Paul said:

we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens”

Our souls, dear Christians, will one day go to a mansion. Not a building like we think of, but a glorified, sinless, wonderful new container for our souls. The Apostle said “when your bodies – your TENTS dissolve – you HAVE A BUILDING OF GOD, a HOUSE NOT MADE WITH HANDS, waiting for you in Heaven”.

You have a better, more improved, better than this current “tent” you occupy waiting on the other side of eternity. I believe that this new body is your MANSION.

Humans Occupy Tents, So God Made Himself A Tent

God provides us immortality through Jesus.

There is no Tabernacle, tent, or Temple that can hold God. So God made Himself a Tent. The Apostle said:

John 1:14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

Word Study As I told you before, the word TABERNACLE or TENT is the Greek σκῆνος skēnos, {pronounced skay’-nos}. Where our text says that the Word “dwelt” among us, this is the VERB of the word skēnos, the Greek σκηνόω skēnóō, {pronounced skay-no’-o}, which means “to have your tent among, to abide or live in a tent or tabernacle”. Eternal God the Son became like us, clothing Himself in flesh as we are. The writer of Hebrews put it this way:

Hebrews 2:14-17 Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, {Jesus} also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; 15 And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. 16 For verily {Jesus} took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham. 17 Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.

Eternal God the Son, infinite Creator of all things, through the operation of the Holy Spirit took upon Himself a tent just as we have. God lowered Himself for us. It was of Jesus that the Apostle spoke, saying:

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

And the Archangel Gabriel told Mary:

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

God made Himself a tent, a Tabernacle, so that He could dwell among us. God the Son came to this earth and took upon Himself flesh and blood so that He could make payment for our sins.

If you are a Christian by faith in Jesus Christ, I believe that you will one day be in something better than what you are in now. You will trade in this old tent for a Mansion, a perfect body, a sinless body. Beloved, we should not fear death, for we have a House in the Heavens, a perfect and sinless body, that God will give us.

That is so much better than a building – praise the Lord!

Do you know Him?
Have you received Jesus as Lord and Savior?

If you have received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, this is what you will see one day. In Revelation chapter 21 John saw “a new Heaven and a new earth” (Revelation 21:1). The earth and it’s atmosphere will be made new. John saw “the New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of Heaven”. God will establish His rule on the earth forever. Then we read:

Revelation 21:3 … I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.

Revelation 21:3 is a fulfillment of the promise God gave in Ezekiel 37:27, “My Tabernacle Shall Be With Them”

What is the tabernacle of God? It is Jesus Christ, the One Who “Tabernacled among us” (John 1:14). Jesus Christ will dwell with us on a renewed, sinless planet. Jesus Christ will be our God, and we will walk with Him in perfect bodies and sinless souls forever. The Bible says of this new earth:

Revelation 21:22 … I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it.

There will be no temple in the new Earth, for we will meet with our God face to face. Sin will be no more barrier, for sin will be eradicated. The Bible says:

Revelation 21:4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.

Who will be in this wonderful place? A place where there is “no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof”. Who will be there? People of all colors will be in that future glorious new earth. “And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it” (Revelation 21:23). It will be a place where “there is no night there” (Revelation 21:25). It will be a place of eternal peace, and joy. The Apostle warns us all:

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

Only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life. Only those who have received Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord will be placed in that Book. Are you in the Book of life? If not, today is a great day to receive Jesus as He is. He is Savior. Jesus is the “Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). Jesus is the King Who will sit upon Heaven’s Throne. It is by His sacrifice that we are saved. Will you not call on Him? For “whosoever was not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the Lake of Fire” (Revelation 20:15). Do not delay – receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior today.

May God touch your hearts with His Word and His Holy Spirit this very day. Amen and amen.

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Living With Surety (A Wednesday Devotional)

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2 Peter 1:10-14 Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: 11 for so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 12 Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth. 13 Yea, I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance; 14 knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath shewed me.

Even Apostles die. As Peter, the Chief Apostle, writes to the Church, He said:

“‘As long as I am in this tabernacle {vs 13}I’m going to remind you what you as believers should be doing” {my paraphrase}. Peter said:

2 Peter 1:14 …. knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath shewed me.

Word Study What is my tabernacle that Peter is talking about? Tabernacle is σκήνωμα skḗnōma, {pronounced skay’-no-mah} which means “a tent, a portable temple”. Peter, as well as Paul (2 Corinthians 5:1, 4) ofen used the term “tabernacle” or “tent” to refer to their earthly bodies. Before Jesus ascended into Heaven He told Peter:

John 21:18-19 Verily, verily, I say unto thee {Peter}, When thou wast young, thou girdest thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not. 19 This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, Follow me.

Peter knew that he would die by crucifixion, just as our Jesus did, for Jesus told him so. But Jesus told Peter “Follow me”, which is the mark of the Christian. The Christian follows Jesus. The Christian does as God says do. Peter could have avoided dying for Jesus. He could have refused to follow the Lord, and he would have been no threat at all. But Jesus said Follow me.

If you are saved, you follow Jesus.

Do You Have A “Know So” or a “SURE” Salvation?

Death comes to all, and none of us truly know when we will have to put off this my tabernacle. Sooner or later it must come. To avoid being frightened of that time – for it should not be frightening to the Child of God – Peter says:

2 Peter 1:10 … brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall

Give diligence or make sure you DO this. Make sure, first of all, that you are CALLED of GOD. Every person Jesus has ever saved, He has called. Jesus said:

Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men. (Matthew 4:19)
Follow Me; and let the dead bury their dead. (Matthew 8:22)
Follow Me, not money (Matthew 9:9)
Take your Cross and
follow Me (Matthew 10:38)
Cast away your false gods, and
Follow Me (Matthew 19:21)
Follow Me and be blessed (Matthew 19:28)

The Christian follows Jesus. I follow Jesus because I need miracles in my life. I follow Jesus because this world is a scary and lonely place. I follow Jesus, because He gives me confidence to live. The Scripture says – and I agree –

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

My life must be lived while following Christ Jesus. There is no power in the world. Jesus is the Vine, and I but a branch. My blessing is to be attached to Him. Jesus said in John 15:6

If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.”

We no longer run with the world, for that is destructive. To run with the world is to be cast forth as a branch, and is withered – then the world will destroy your life. We follow Jesus.

We do not follow the world,
the crowd,
my desires,
but ONLY JESUS.

It is Jesus Who called me into salvation. It is Jesus Who chose me to be His. The Apostle said:

give diligence to make your
CALLING and election sure

Word Study God not only CALLED you, He CHOSE you. God CHOSE to call you. The word election is the Greek ἐκλογή eklogḗ, {pronounced ek-log-ay’}, which means to be called out, to be selected, to be set apart. The very word “CHURCH” in the Greek is ἐκκλησία ekklēsía, {pronounced ek-klay-see’-ah}, which means “those who are CALLED or CHOSEN OUT”.

As Christians, you no longer belong to this world. You are on assignment here, but you are children of the Almighty. Your home is in Heaven.

1 Peter 2:7-9 Unto you therefore which believe {Jesus} is precious … 9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: 10 which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.

The Christian is a person set apart from this world, the chosen and beloved children of God. You do not belong to yourselves anymore – you belong to Him Who paid so much for you. By His Blood the Lord purchased our freedom from sin and hell. The Apostle said:

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

God saved you, and God owns you.

When God saved Israel, He told them:

Leviticus 19:2 Speak unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say unto them, Ye shall be holy: for I the Lord your God am holy.

Peter applies the same standard to the Church. He said in:

1 Peter 1:13-16 Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 14 As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: 15 But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of {life}; 16 Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.

Holiness Is A Positive, Not A Negative

Israel was to be holy or separate from the world, because she was chosen out by God. In like manner you as Christians are chosen out of this world by God. We are to Be holy because God is holy. What does it mean to be holy? Some people view holiness as a series of NEGATIVES. They view holiness like the Pharisees viewed holiness. To the Pharisees, holiness is a list of things that you DON’T DO. But that’s not what holiness is.

Holiness begins with faith in God through our Lord Jesus Christ. It begins by giving your life to Jesus. When you give your life to Jesus, when you hear his CALL, He CHOOSES to bring you into the Family of God. Because of Jesus and the love that God has given you as His children, you are also given:

2 Peter 1:4 …. exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

The world has no hold on your soul. God has given you great and precious promises because of Jesus. Though you will one day have to put off this my tabernacle, when you do so this will just be Phase 1 of your life. Phase 2 is eternity. You belong to God. You are to be imitators of God, not of this world.

Holiness is not a negative, but a positive. It’s not about what you avoid, but what you do. If you are saved by faith in Christ, then Peter tells you to ADD some things to your life.

2 Peter 1:5-8 giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; 6 and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; 7 and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. 8 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

  • virtue”. Holiness means to do the right thing, the thing God said.
  • knowledge”. You only become holy by learning what Christ said, and doing what you learned.
  • temperance”. Control your desires. “Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled.” (Titus 1:15)
  • patience”. Be long suffering with others, and with yourself.
  • godliness”. Imitate God your Father.
  • brotherly kindness”. Be kind to those around you. Love your neighbor as yourself.
  • charity”. Love others by doing good to them, regardless as to what they do to you.

If you are saved by faith in Christ, then you are to work in partnership with God the Holy Spirit to be more like Jesus every day. We are called to GROW in our knowledge of Him. To DO the things He tells us to do.

The great Evangelist Dwight L. Moody said:

It is a great deal better to live a holy life than to talk about it. We are told to let our light shine, and if it does we won’t need to tell anybody it does. The light will be its own witness. Lighthouses don’t ring bells and fire cannon to call attention to their shining – they just shine.”

Let us all shine for Jesus! Let us live our lives following Him, knowing that our life on this earth is but temporary – but a better time is coming. Let us live for Him! May God bless your hearts and grow you through this devotional. In Christ’s name I pray. Amen and Amen.

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Old And New Memorials

Bible opened up with text
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Turn with me in your Bibles to Luke chapter 22.

This Monday, May 31st, is a holiday we call “Memorial Day”. On Memorial Day we honor the memory of those who died while serving in our nation’s military – people who died to protect our freedoms. It was originally called “Decoration Day”, and only became an official holiday in 1971. Memorial Day also marks the beginning of summer.

Long before there was a United States, a lone Man – not tied to any earthly kingdom, but the Representative that God the Father sent to this earth – that lone Man died to bring freedom to whosoever will. The freedoms that this lone Man brought by His willing death are:

Freedom from the slavery of sin
Freedom from the DESPAIR of death
Freedom from the WEARINESS OF THIS WORLD
Freedom from the LEADERSHIP OF LUCIFER (the Devil)

This lone Man is the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Passover Is An Old Covenant Memorial

Before Jesus was betrayed of Judas Iscariot, and unlawfully tried by the Chief Priests, the Pharisees, and by Pilate, Jesus enjoyed the Passover Meal with His disciples. The Passover was a time when Israel commemorated their salvation and exodus from Egypt. It was on the final night that Israel was enslaved to Egypt that God told them to take a lamb without blemish, a male of the first year, and bring it into your home for four days. On the fourth day kill it, and take it’s blood, and “strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door posts of the house. The lamb is to be roasted, and eaten with bitter herbs that very night (author’s paraphrase of Exodus 12:3-10).

Exodus 12:11-13 … thus shall ye eat {the lamb}; with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and ye shall eat it in haste: it is the Lord’s Passover. 12 For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the Lord. 13 And the blood shall be to you for a TOKEN upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt.

Where the Blood of the Lamb was not, God took life. Death reigned where the Blood was missing. Pharaoh had been reluctant to release Israel until this Passover night. But once the firstborn of even his household died, Pharaoh released Israel. God said, when I see the blood, I will pass over you. It was the Blood of the Lamb that averted death. It was the Blood of the Lamb that freed souls.

God gave the Passover to Israel AS A MEMORIAL. God told Israel:

Exodus 12:14 this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it a feast to the Lord throughout your generations; ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance for ever.

Word Studymemorialis the Hebrewזִכְרוֹן zikrôwn, {pronounced zik-rone}, which means a MEMENTO, something to bring to remembrance or memory over and over again, a MEMORIAL.

God wanted Israel to remember the Lamb of God, and how only by killing it salvation would come.

Every year every Jew had to go to Jerusalem, and enjoy the Passover Meal, the Memorial of the Blood of the Lamb that brought salvation. Jesus is having the Passover – the Memorial – with His disciples. Let’s listen in and imagine ourselves with Jesus on the Passover Table:

Luke 22:10-18 And {Jesus} said unto {His Disciples}, Behold, when ye are entered into the city, there shall a man meet you, bearing a pitcher of water; follow him into the house where he entereth in. 11 And ye shall say unto the goodman {the owner} of the house, The Master saith unto thee, Where is the guest chamber, where I shall eat the Passover. with my disciples? 12 And he shall shew you a large upper room furnished: there make ready. 13 And they went, and found as he had said unto them: and they made ready the Passover. 14 And when the hour was come, he sat down, and the twelve apostles with him. 15 And he said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this Passover. with you before I suffer: 16 For I say unto you, I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God. 17 And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves: 18 For I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come.

Jesus has His disciples set up the Passover Meal in a large upper room furnished. As the disciples do this, they think it is just like every Passover they had ever had. They did not know that this would be THE LAST PASSOVER they would ever celebrate. Jesus told them:

Luke 22:15 With desire I have desired {literally “I have EAGERLY DESIRED} to eat THIS Passover. with you before I suffer…

Jesus knew that He was about to go to the Cross. Jesus was EAGER to do this last Passover with His disciples. The Old Covenant of sacrificing animals and shedding the blood of lambs and bulls and goats was about to end. Jesus was eager to see the Old Covenant ended. The Old Covenant Lamb of God was an animal, without spot or blemish. Under the New Covenant the True Lamb of God would be sacrificed for sins. The True Lamb of God is Jesus Christ. Jesus is:

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

The Old Covenant Passover could not permanently pay for the sins we commit, because ANIMALS cannot pay for the sins of HUMANS. We are NOT ANIMALS. We are created in the image of God. The Bible says:

Hebrews 10:10 … we are sanctified {consecrated to God the Father} through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

As a good Jew our Lord Jesus kept this Old Covenant Passover with His disciples. Jesus said:

Luke 22:16 I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God

This would be the only time Jesus would celebrate the Old Covenant Passover. The next time Jesus celebrates Passover, it will be the New Covenant Passover.

We are seeing the transition from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant in this very passage.

Luke 22:17-18 {Jesus} took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves: 18 For I say unto you, I will NOT DRINK of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come.

Jesus said I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come. Before the kingdom of God shall come, Jesus must die on Calvary and rise from the grave. The “Kingdom of God” cannot come to this earth and stay while God’s people are under the incomplete animal sacrifices. The Messiah is come. The Messiah MUST go to the Cross. The true Lamb of God MUST

Matthew 16:21 … suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.

As Jesus hung on the Cross, the soldiers tried to give Him wine:

Mark 15:23 {the soldiers} gave {Jesus} wine to drink mingled with myrrh: but He received it not ..

Jesus would not drink the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God shall come. Several hours later Jesus would say, “I thirst”. The Bible says:

John 19:28-30 … Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst. 29 Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar: and they filled a sponge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to his mouth. 30 When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.

Jesus drank VINEGAR, not WINE BUT VINEGAR, for He could drink no wine until the Kingdom of God came. This was a fulfillment of the prophecy in …

Psalm 69:21 … in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.

Jesus cannot drink this last Old Covenant Passover Cup. The Kingdom of God must come, but it will only come by the King of that Kingdom laying His life down for us all. Jesus Christ, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords (Revelation 17:14), must lower Himself to the status of a Lamb.

Jesus must die. He must be buried. He must rise again, else the Kingdom of God will not come.

The Lord’s Table Is The New Covenant Passover

As Israel had an Old Covenant MEMORIAL, a Passover, the Church that Jesus died for will have a NEW MEMORIAL Passover.

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

When the Old Covenant Jew celebrated the Passover, complete with the animal sacrifice, they did so in remembrance of God freeing them from Egypt.

Hebrews 10:3-4 … in those {Old Covenant} sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. 4 For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.

Word Study The word translated remembrance in the Book of Hebrews is the Greek ἀνάμνησις anámnēsis, {pronounced an-am’-nay-sis}, which means “a recollection, a remembering, a memorial”. The Old Covenant Passover was a MEMORIAL. Now Jesus gives His Church a New MEMORIAL, saying:

Luke 22:19 … This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me

Our Lord uses the EXACT SAME WORD found in Hebrews for remembrance. Under the Old Covenant, every believer had to yearlysacrifice the Passover Lamb. But now Jesus is ONCE AND FOR ALL replacing that Old Covenant Passover with another remembrance.

In the OLD Covenant the LORD told His people to kill a Lamb.
In the NEW Covenant, the LAMB tells His people the LORD will be killed.

Jesus is replacing the Passover Meal with what we Christians call either:

The Lord’s Supper(1 Corinthians 11:20)
The Lord’s Table” (1 Corinthians 10:21)
or
“The Communion of the Body and Blood of Christ” (1 Corinthians 10:16)

Jesus said, This is my body which is given for you”. Jesus willingly BLESSES the bread then BREAKS the bread. Jesus Christ is the Bread of Heaven. He told us:

John 6:47-51 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life. {48} I am that bread of life. {49} Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. {50} This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. {51} I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.

Jesus willingly died for our sins.

1 Peter 3:18 For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but {being made alive} by the Spirit

Jesus Christ blessed and then BROKE the bread. He Himself BROKE His own body. Had Jesus not laid His life down, we would yet be dead in our trespasses and sins. But Jesus WILLINGLY went to the Cross for us. He said:

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

Thank You, dear Jesus, for Your wonderful gift! Christ’s Blood was shed.

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

Word Study The words translated new testament are the Greek καινός διαθήκη kainos diathēkē, which means “New Covenant”. Jesus Christ gave us a New Covenant, making the First Covenant old” (Hebrews 8:13). The FIRST COVENANT was dedicated without {the Messiah’s} Blood” (Hebrews 9:18).

Our Lord Jesus came, saying:

Hebrews 10:9 … Lo, I come to do Thy will, O GOD. {Jesus} taketh away the FIRST {COVENANT}, that He may establish the SECOND {COVENANT} …

The animal sacrifices are gone. Jesus Christ has replaced them with His precious Body – blessed be the name of the Lord!

I say to the unbeliever, you must receive the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior, by faith, believing that He died for your sins and rose from the grave for your salvation. The disciples did not seize the Bread. It was not earned, it was not deserved, but it was all of Grace. We are saved not by our works, but by His work. We are saved by receiving the Bread of God, the Lamb of God as our Lord and Savior. You have the right to receive or reject Jesus, but if you reject Him, you have no hope of Heaven.

I say to the believer, insure that you are in a right relationship with God before taking of this wonderful Table. This is a MEMORIAL, a reminder of what Jesus Christ did for us.

This Table is also a reminder that we are under not just a New Covenant, but we are under a New Commandment.

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

As Jesus loved us, so we love one another. Sacrificially, willingly, lovingly we lay our lives down to our Lord and Savior, and to the citizens of the Kingdom of God. To partake of this Table unworthily is to court death (1 Corinthians 11:29). Would you all prepare your hearts, as our servant-leaders prepare this Table. To God be the Glory! May God the Holy Spirit drive this His Word deeply into your souls. Amen and Amen. Let us partake!

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No Root, No Fruit

No Root, no Fruit
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Isaiah 1:1-7 The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah. 2 Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the Lord hath spoken, I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me. 3 The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master’s crib: but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider. 4 Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the Lord, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward. 5 Why should ye be stricken any more? ye will revolt more and more: the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. 6 From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrefying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment. 7 Your country is desolate, your cities are burned with fire: your land, strangers devour it in your presence, and it is desolate, as overthrown by strangers.

Why are we in the Old Testament, in the Book of Isaiah? Isaiah is often called the “Old Testament Gospel of Christ”. Isaiah had many visions and prophesies that related to the Lord Jesus Christ. But there’s another reason. The Apostle tells us in

Romans 15:4 For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.

The Old Testament was written aforetime, before the Apostles wrote. It was given to teach uspatience as we live out our lives, and comfort by showing us the faithfulness of God. Israel wandered away from God, just like America has wandered away from God. God calls us to His side when we wander. We are told in …

1 Corinthians 10:6, 11 Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted. 11 Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition

The these things the Apostle speaks of is – once more – Israel’s wanderings from God. God is faithful. I say again,

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

Preach! God is faithful to His people – ALWAYS. Whether under the Old Covenant of Sacrificial Law or the New Covenant of Christ’s sacrifice, God is faithful. But when God’s people wander from God – when Israel OR AMERICA wander away from the God of Scripture, nothing good comes of it.

When Israel and God’s people honored the Lord, and fulfilled His calling, they were blessed. Israel was not saved so that she could do what she wants. Israel was saved so, as God put it to Pharaoh,

Exodus 5:1 … Let my people go, that they may hold a feast unto me in the wilderness.

God’s people are freed from sin and death (and Egypt is the epitome of sin and death) to GLORIFY GOD in this fallen world (which the wilderness epitomized). Again, God told Pharaoh:

Exodus 7:16 … Let my people go, that they may serve me in the wilderness

God does not save a people so they can be selfish and self serving. We are saved to serve the Lord Who loves us.

Israel, like America today, departed from God, and put their hope in the political process. That is how this prophecy starts – did you miss it?

Isaiah 1:1 The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.

Isaiah preached and prophesied for 40 years through the reigns of four different kings of Judah. Some kings, like Uzziah and Hezekiah, started off following God but drifted away. King Ahaz was pure evil, whereas King Jotham was righteous and faithful. Regardless of leadership, the people of Israel continued to wander from God. How tragic!

Psalm 33:12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord; and the people whom He hath chosen as His inheritance …

Our blessing as a nation, and as individuals, is in walking with the God Who made us.

Men And Women Are Created To Walk With God

Isaiah 1:2 Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the Lord hath spoken, I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me.

God calls on the HEAVENS and the EARTH itself, the angels of God and His own creation, as witnesses of His goodness and faithfulness to us all. When we were made, we were given something that no animal has.

God breathed into us the breath of life (Genesis 2:7). We have the very breath of God – His spirit – as our core component.

The animals do not have this “breath of God”. Men and women are not animals. We are created by God in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them” (Genesis 1:27).

We were created to rule the earth on God’s behalf. God told humanity:

Genesis 1:28 … be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and SUBDUE it: and HAVE DOMINION over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth …

Humans were made by God to rule creation. The late Dr. Adrian Rogers wrote in his book The Secret of Supernatural Living (pg 21):

The uniqueness of man is seen in that he has a spirit. Animals, by contrast, can be spoken of as having bodies and souls, but they are void of spirit. God describes the creation of the animals this way: “And God said, let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind, and it was so” (Genesis 1:24). The Hebrew word translated “creature” in this verse is nephesh and is usually translated “soul”. It means self conscious life, as opposed to plant life, which is without soul or spirit. Plants and animals have bodies. Animal also have souls. So what makes a man unique? It is his spirit. When God made man He breathed into him the “breath of life” (Genesis 2:7). This breath of life became the human spirit. … Man was endowed with a spiritual nature and thus the glorious ability to know and worship God. God did not breath this special breath of life into any other of His creatures.”

Humans are not animals – we have a spiritual component. We should strive to know our Creator. What happened in the Garden of Eden was a travesty of epic proportion. Instead of leading, Adam allowed himself to be led by a serpent, an animal indwelt of Satan.

Sin and death are not God’s fault. It is ours.

God said Isaiah 1:3 … The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master’s crib: but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider.

How sad it is that we were made to walk with God – and yet The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master’s crib. I read something the other day that stated “43% of milennials ‘don’t know, don’t care, don’t believe’ God exists: study”. The study, found at Christian Post, said:

The study also found that overall, younger Americans are significantly more likely than the two previous generations to embrace horoscopes as a guide and Karma as a life principle, to see “getting even” with others as defensible, to accept evolution over creation, and to view owning property as fostering economic injustice. On spiritual matters, Americans younger than 55 are far more likely to distrust the Bible and to believe God is uninvolved in people’s lives.”

Though this text speaks directly to ancient Israel, it could be written to America today. God said:

Isaiah 1:4-5 Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the Lord, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward. 5 Why should ye be stricken any more? ye will revolt more and more: the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint.

When a people draw away from God – for whatever reason – then the body is corrupted. Inscribed on the wall of the Jefferson Memorial are these words:

Can the liberties of a nation be secure if we have removed from the hearts of the people the belief that these liberties are a gift from God?”

When we depart from God, we depart from the blessings of God. Pastor Jim Henry said,

We are running on fumes, because we have forgotten God.”

When Sin Is Unchecked By God’s Moral Law,
Sickness and Death Abound

Isaiah 1:6-7 From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrefying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment. 7 Your country is desolate, your cities are burned with fire: your land, strangers devour it in your presence, and it is desolate, as overthrown by strangers.

Etched in memory is the picture of a television reporter standing in front of burning properties, saying “These are mostly peaceful protests” – and no one laughed!

The only cure for what ails us as a nation – as it was with Israel – is that we return to the Lord Jesus Christ. We must move away from progressiveness and permissiveness, and remember the Law of God. The Ten Commandments are the basis of all lawful truth in any nation. Over the past few years people have wrongly preached lawlessness and called it “Grace” and “Christian Faith”. The Christian is not lawless. Christ never eradicated the moral code of the Law.

Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God Who takes away sin,
So we sacrifice no lambs today.
But Jesus NEVER abolished the Ten Commandments.
Righteousness is always fashionable with God!
We need to return to God’s moral codes!

A young man came to Jesus asking, What shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” (Mark 10:17). Jesus replied:

Mark 10:19-20 Thou knowest the commandments, {then Jesus quotes six commandments} Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honor thy father and mother.

Christ expects us to follow the Ten Commandments. He said, “You know the Commandments”. Our nation must return to the Commandments of God. Only through then do
we see order and peace.

Illustrate Jesus said Honor thy father and mother. Children must be taught the Law of God, so that they will teach it to their children. We live in an age where the Law is horribly ignored. I watched a young father shopping with his son. The father passed by a display filled with large, rubber balls. When the child saw these balls he first pointed, then reached, and THEN began to scream and throw a tantrum. The father resisted for a moment but, as the child’s wails became louder and louder, he relented and gave the boy a ball. That wasn’t the ball he wanted, so he screamed some more until father gave him what he wanted. Later, as I was checking out, I had the privilege of seeing this father and son duo in front of me. The father emptied his cart, putting all on the conveyor belt so it could be checked out but the ball his son had. Once everything else had been paid for he took the ball from his son, saying “I’m not going to buy these”. The reaction from the child was expected – and immediate. The child screamed like a wild monkey caught in a trap. Dad quietened the child by saying “I’ll get it for you in just a moment. Be quiet!” He paid for his groceries and, quickly, before the child could start up again, walked out of the store – without the ball.

What is that child being taught? Certainly, not “Honor your father and mother”. The child is being taught lying, and self love, but not the love of God.

Any civilized society – Christian or not – to survive must stay under God’s Moral Code. Lawlessness and anarchy destroys a family and a nation. The Law of God tells us it is wrong to murder and commit sexual sin. The Spirit of God writes these laws on our hearts. The Christian does not murder nor commit sexual sin because it is written on stone, but because God has written it on our hearts. The Moral Law of “Thou shalt not commit adultery” tells us it is as wrong to steal another person’s goods as it is to steal another person’s spouse. The Moral Law of “Thou shalt not covet your neighbor’s possessions” tells us to be satisfied with what God has given us. The Moral Law extends even into the New Testament, telling us …

1 Corinthians 7:2 … each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband.

Free sex and free love is no more than slavery to the flesh. We are dead to the ceremonial and sacrificial law, but we are NOT dead to God’s moral commandments. The law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.” (Romans 7:12). When Christ comes into your life by faith, He works in your heart and makes you love as you should love. The Law then is written – not on tablets of stone – but on the very heart of the Christian.

God Wants Your Heart – Not Your Ritual

Isaiah 1:9-14 Except the Lord of hosts had left unto us a very small remnant, we should have been as Sodom, and we should have been like unto Gomorrah. 10 Hear the word of the Lord, ye rulers of Sodom; give ear unto the law of our God, ye people of Gomorrah.

Sodom and Gomorrah are long gone, having been destroyed in the Book of Genesis. But God calls His Israel Sodom and Gomorrah because they are like it – reincarnated! What would God call America today?

11 To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? saith the Lord: I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he goats. 12 When ye come to appear before me, who hath required this at your hand, to tread my courts? 13 Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting. 14 Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them.

The feasts and offerings were teaching tools that showed the need of a Messiah/ Redeemer. The Apostle said,

Galatians 3:24-25 the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25 But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.

The Law brought mankind to first a tabernacle, and later a temple, with an animal to be sacrificed. The sacrifices were not just once, but over and over again, showing that the blood of animals does not appease the righteousness of God. The feasts and the law of circumcision were all teaching aids, telling Israel that the Messiah must come. The animal brought before the priest was killed, it’s blood sprinkled, it’s flesh burned, all symbolic of the payment of sins before God.

Then Jesus Christ came. Our Lord Jesus:

Philippians 2:7-8 … made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: {8} And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

Eternal God the Son became mortal but Perfect Man. Jesus Christ came to replace the laws of circumcision and animal sacrifice. Jesus Christ died on Calvary to – once and for all – make payment for sins. The Bible says:

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

Because Jesus stood in my place of judgment, my position before God has changed. The Apostle said:

Revelation 1:5-6 Unto {Jesus Christ} that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen

Dear Christian – if you are a Christian – you are not only loved, but you are washed of sin in Christ’s blood. When the Father looks at us now, He sees not sinners, but kings and priests unto God”.

God is not satisfied with our rituals. God wants our relationship. He wants us to walk with Him, and unto Him, and for Him.

And if you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior, God calls you into a relationship with Him through his Son. Jesus was supernaturally born – made a Man – by the Spirit of God. The Angel told us of Mary’s Child:

Matthew 1:20-21 … that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. {21} And she shall bring forth a Son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for He shall save his people from their sins.

The animal sacrifices and good works could not save. Our good works can never save us. We need not good works, but GOD works. We need Jesus. It was Jesus Who came to …

Mark 8:31 … suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.

Jesus Christ died for our sins. God calls whosoever will hear Him to come to Him and be saved. God cries out to America, just as He cried out to Israel so long ago,

Isaiah 1:18 … Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.

When you come to God through Christ, the Spirit of God changes you. Your sins are covered by the blood of the Lamb of God.

God says “Come”. Come to Him. Believe in Jesus.
God says “Come now”. Don’t delay. Run to Jesus today.
God says “Let us reason together”. He does not want to damn you.

What is the alternative? To reject God, to walk away from the embrace of God the Son, to commit the unpardonable sin of rejecting the Holy Spirit of God, is to bring cursing rather than blessing. God said:

Isaiah 1:19-20 If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land: {20} But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.

God puts before us blessing and cursing, and gives us a choice. What will you seek? Those who serve sin are so very temporary – for sin brings with it destruction. Jesus said:

John 8:34-36 Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. {35} And the servant abideth not in the house forever: but the Son abideth ever. {36} If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.

Will you be freed from Egypt? Then come to Jesus. Be not entangled again in sin, but live daily to please the Lord. You are released from Egypt to worship God in this present wilderness. You are released from Egypt to enjoy life in Christ, to be filled with the joy of God daily – not to wallow in the mire of the pigpen. The manifest proof of your salvation is the life that strives to please the Lord. The Apostle said:

1 John 3:10 In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother

If you were wise you would shake off your sin and turn to Jesus while there is time. There is a whole universe for God to govern, yet He makes time to talk to you. Come now. Today if you will hear His voice, harden not your hearts. Choose life. Choose Jesus. Receive Him as Lord and Savior. May God touch your hearts with His Word and His Spirit. Amen and Amen.

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The Preaching Of The Cross

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

1 Corinthians 1:18-25 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. 20 Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? 21 For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. 22 For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: 23 but we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness; 24 but unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. 25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

Illustration Opening For Mother’s Day a husband brought his wife a small but nicely made statue of Jesus. The statue had Jesus with a crown of thorns on His head. Though not on the Cross, this little statue had puncture marks in its feet and hands. Though the wife loved the gift, their little daughter loved it even more. Every morning she’s wake up, and run to where that little statue was. One morning the mother got up, and decided do a little waxing of the furniture, so she moved the statue to another place. That little girl got up and – running to where “Jesus” was supposed to be – she saw “He” was gone. She ran to her mamma crying, “Mamma, mamma, where’s Jesus?”.

I often hear sermons preached, and have preached some my own self, where at the end of the sermon I wondered “Where’s Jesus”? I have been to funerals where the preacher spoke on the deceased, and tried to comfort the family, but at the end of the message I asked “Where’s Jesus?”. There are families falling apart today, children confused about their divine design, people dying right and left. I ask again, “Where’s Jesus?”.

When Jesus Is Not In The Church,
It Is A Family Of Fools

A Church is designed by God to be a family – the Family of God on earth. When Paul recognized the Family of God on earth, the Church, he said:

Ephesians 3:14-15 For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named

The Church is not just Riverview, or the Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, Holiness, Pentecostal, Lutheran, Catholic, non-denominational, Church of Christ …. I could go on and on. Humans are so flawed, so divisive, that we segregate and sectionalize everything of God. But in Paul’s day the Church had no denominations (or non-denominations, which is a denomination, thank you very much). The Church is a family, governed by God the Father, entered into through the Lord Jesus Christ, and empowered by the Spirit of God.

Every person who has received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior is my brother or sister. Every person who has NOT received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior is NOT my brother or sister – though I desire them to be. The Family of God is not single colored – it is multicolored. It is distinguished by a people who have believed on the preaching of the Cross.

The Church at Corinth had many problems because they had gotten away from the unifying Cross of Christ. Earlier in the text the Apostle said:

1 Corinthians 1:10-13 Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. 11 For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. 12 Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. 13 Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?

Anytime a Church is divided and looks foolish, it is because the population has gotten away from the Cross of Christ. The Cross has become boring, or mundane, or out of date. The Apostle reminds us all that:

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

The Cross of Christ is the centerpiece of our faith. The Cross for the Christian is

Romans 1:16 … the power of God unto salvation for everyone that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

It is faith alone in the Cross alone gives
the believer a completed salvation.

Notice the Apostle says, unto us which are saved. When you receive what Jesus did for you on Calvary by faith – relying wholly totally upon His finished work, the Bible says you are saved. That’s not future tense, but past tense. It is what Jesus did for you on the Cross that saves you, that makes you right in the eyes of God.

Some, Like The Pharisees & Scribes, Reject The Cross

1 Corinthians 1: 21-22 … it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. 22 For the Jews require a SIGN …

Some are never saved and brought into the Family of God by the Spirit of God because they require a SIGN”, {Greek σημεῖον sēmeîon, {pronounced say-mi’-on}, means “a miraculous display, a sign, a token from God, a wonder”. God gave Moses “signs” to perform in front of Pharaoh and the people of Israel to prove that he was from God (Exodus 4:8-9).

The Pharisees and Scribes often saw Jesus do miraculous things – but then demanded a sēmeîon, a sign”. For instance, in …

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

Jesus did a miraculous thing – He healed this man with the power of the Holy Spirit. When John preached on Jesus, the Pharisees asked Him “Are you the Messiah?”. John said that, no, he was not the Messiah, but the forerunner or Herald of the Messiah. Then John said:

John 3:34-36 For he whom God hath sent {the Messiah} speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him. The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand. He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.

Jesus received the Holy Spirit of God without measure. Jesus said,

Luke 11:20 if I with the finger of God cast out devils, no doubt the kingdom of God is come upon you.

Jesus is THE Messiah. He is THE One that God the Father sent. Yet when the Pharisees and Scribe – the religious crowd – saw Jesus cast out demons, they said “He casts out demons by the prince of demons”. They would not believe in Him. Ignoring and discounting the many SIGNS that Jesus gave, they wanted Jesus to give them another sign.

Matthew 12:28 Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from thee.

Jesus, we will believe in You if you show us a sign. Oh, to heal the sick, raise the dead, cause the deaf to hear, the blind to see, the cripple to walk – these things are not enough. Do you know why?

Because the Scribes, Pharisees, and Chief Priests thought themselves good enough to go to Heaven. After all, they kept the Law!

There are many today who believe they “keep the Law”, and are therefore certain to go to Heaven. They say, “We don’t need Jesus – we are just fine before God because we keep His Law. Now I want you to understand, the Law of God is perfect, and right, and true. The Law of God has never been rescinded. Our Lord Jesus said:

Matthew 5:17-20 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. … For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.

The Law of God is Holy – it is a reflection of God’s image. The Law of God was given by God to every person as a goal to meet. Every polite and civilized society has for it’s law an echo of the Law of God, or what we call “The Ten Commandments”. The Scribes and Pharisees thought that they kept the Law of God perfectly. Jesus disagreed. None of us keeps the Law of God perfectly.

The Law of God is the only thing that God every directly wrote without going through a human. The Law of God was written on tablets of stone with the “finger of God”.

Moses told Israel in Deuteronomy 9:10 the LORD delivered unto me two tables of stone written with the finger of God; and on them was written according to all the words, which the LORD spake with you in the mount out of the midst of the fire in the day of the assembly.

The Ten Commandments are the only thing DIRECTLY written by God’s own hand – His finger. The FINGER of God is the Holy Spirit of God (Jesus said in Luke 11:20, “I cast out demons with the Finger of God”). The Pharisees and Scribes thought, “We keep the Law perfectly, so we are righteous with God”, but Jesus said, “No, you are not. Your righteousness is NOT ENOUGH to get you into Heaven”. Why is this?

Because NO ONE can keep the Law perfectly –
No one BUT Jesus!

That was the whole point of Jesus’ “Sermon on the Mount”. You remember that? When Jesus was giving “The Sermon on the Mount”, He was telling the Scribes and Pharisees – all those who are SELF RIGHTEOUS – that they were not fully keeping the Law.

You are not fully keeping the Law if love is not in it!

Hear Jesus’ words. He said:

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

Jesus was saying “You have been taught that murder is just the taking of an innocent life – to actually kill is a violation of the sixth commandment. BUT I SAY UNTO YOU you can murder someone without spilling any blood. When you carry a grudge – or speak evil of a brother or a sister in Christ – or make yourself better than another – YOU ARE GUILTY OF MURDER.” Murder is to carry a loveless and hateful attitude toward anyone. It is a sin that will keep your service for God unacceptable. No one keeps the Law perfectly.

Or consider the seventh commandment against adultery. Jesus said:

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

Our God looks at the heart. When we look at the Ten Commandments, we are not to ignore them and just throw up our hands. The Law of God is righteous and pure. But we are to look at the Law of God written with the Finger of God, and say,

Lord, I am a sinner. I cannot keep your Law perfectly, that Law written with Your Finger. Lord, I ask for the righteousness of Jesus Christ to be applied to my account. I need more than the tablets of stone. I need Your Finger to write on my heart the love of God. I need You, dear Lord, to come into my life, and make me “born again of the Spirit”. I want the Blood of Jesus Christ to cleanse me from all sin.”

The Law brings us to Christ (Galatians 3:24-25). The Law brings us to the Cross of Calvary. When the Pharisees asked Jesus for a sign, Jesus told them:

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

The only sign God will give to the “Jewish questioner” is the sign of Christ’s death. Jesus was crucified for my sins, and for your sins. The Bible says:

John 3:16-22 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.

When a person comes to Christ by faith and is saved, that person does not become lawless. That person is “born again of the Spirit” (John 3:3, 5-8). The same “Finger of God” that wrote on the stone tablets the perfect Law of God, this finger writes on you stony heart. This was what God foretold through the Prophet:

Ezekiel 11:19-20 I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh: That they may walk in my statutes, and keep mine ordinances, and do them: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God.

Being saved does not make you lawless, but it changes you. Being saved, God comes into your life, and guides you by His Spirit. And as the believer goes through this life, we know that we are saved:

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

The Christian is a “new creature in Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:7). I now approach the Throne of God our Father not with my own works for justification, but believing and lifting up the Cross of Christ. It is not the ritual of circumcision that saved me – but faith in the finished work of Jesus (Galatians 6:15).

The Jews Seek A Sign, The Gentiles Seek Knowledge

1 Corinthians 1:22-24 For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: 23 but we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness; 24 but unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.

The Jews relied on an imperfect keeping of the Law for their salvation – which is foolishness to God. But the Gentiles, the Greeks, they rely on inherent human goodness and good works.

The ATHEISTS discount the Cross of Christ because they believe there is no God. An off shoot of ATHEISM, the HUMANIST says “just be good – do good”. When the Apostle Paul preached in Athens, the Bible says:

Acts 17:16 … his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry.

When God made humans in His Image and after His likeness (Genesis 1:27), He gave each person an innate, pervasive knowledge that there is something greater than we are. When we do not move toward the God Who created us, the God of Scripture, then we will create a god, whether it be humanism, evolution, atheism, or some other deity.

The Physicist, Mathematician, and Philosopher Blaise Pascal spoke of what many call a “God Shaped Hole” in every person’s soul. Pascal wrote in Pensees:

What else does this craving, and this helplessness, proclaim but that there was once in man a true happiness, of which all that now remains is the empty print and trace?

This he tries in vain to fill with everything around him, seeking in things that are not there the help he cannot find in those that are, though none can help, since this infinite abyss can be filled only with an infinite and immutable object; in other words by God himself”.

Gentile people are desperately seeking happiness in human works, human things, human loves. Yet all the things that we Gentiles, in our search for wisdom, do not find our completion or our happiness except in the Cross of Christ. When Paul preached at Athens the Bible says:

Acts 17:18 …. certain philosophers of the Epicureans, and of the Stoicks, encountered him. And some said, What will this babbler say? other some, He seemeth to be a setter forth of strange gods: because he preached unto them Jesus, and the resurrection.

To the world, the Cross of Christ is foolishness.
But to the saved, it is the Power of God unto salvation.

  • We preach Christ crucified. It is Christ crucified that shows me how much God loves me. When Jesus prayed, He told the Father:

John 17:24 Father … Thou lovest Me before the foundation of the world …

Jesus is not just some Man, some Rabbi Who came along. Jesus Christ is ETERNAL GOD THE SON. We are told in …

John 1:1-3 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 The same was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made…. 14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

Jesus Christ is Eternal God the Son. He pre-existed with both Father and Spirit before the world was made. This God became Man, Perfect Man, for us, to bring us to God. This Jesus was repeatedly announced by the Father as “My Beloved Son, in Whom I am WELL PLEASED” (Matthew 3:17). And yet, God was willing to have Jesus lay His life down for us. Jesus laid His life down for ALL of us. Born into this world a Jew, Jesus died for every man and woman. The Bible says:

Galatians 1:4 {Jesus} … gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father:

Jesus – a Jew – laid His life down for red, yellow, black, and white – we were all PRECIOUS in His sight.

  • We preach Christ crucified. It is Christ crucified that shows us how much we all really need God. The Bible says:

Matthew 26:59 Now the chief priests, and elders, and all the council, sought false witness against Jesus, to put him to death;

This is clearly a violation of God’s ninth commandment, “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor” (Exodus 20:16). The Jews had to break God’s Law in order to crucify Jesus. But what about the Gentiles? The Governor of Jerusalem,

Luke 23:4 … Pilate said to the chief priests and to the people, I find NO FAULT in this man.

The soldiers beat an innocent Man. The crowd cried out, “Crucify Him, and release Barabbas” (Mark 15:13). The innocent was crucified with the guilty.

It was not Christ’s beatings and scourgings that made payment for our sins. It was His beatings and scourgings that revealed how wicked we all truly are – and how we all need the Savior.

Jesus was so beaten that “He looked like a worm, and not a man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people” (Psalm 22:6). As Jesus hung on that Cross suffering, “they shake the head, saying, He trusted on the Lord that He would deliver Him: let Him deliver Him, seeing He delighted in Him” (Psalm 22:7-8). They mocked Jesus. He thirsted, and they gave Him vinegar and gall to drink. In His sufferings you see how badly we all need Jesus.

  • We preach Christ CRUCIFIED. This is past tense, not future tense. Jesus Christ paid the penalty for sin – He and only He did – once and for all. Jesus Christ came to do the will of God (Hebrews 10:9). The Bible says:

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

Jesus paid for my sins once and for all. Receiving Him as Lord and Savior, I am no longer enslaved to brokenness and sin. I belong to God. And that complete my very incomplete life.

Is your hope in Jesus Christ? If not, I pray that today God would draw you to Him through Jesus. Without Him, there is no life. May God’s Word and His Spirit bring glory to Him, and peace to us all. Amen and Amen.

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Seeking Father And The Sure Mercies Of David

Photo by Timothy Eberly on Unsplash

Isaiah 55:6-11 Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: 7 Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. 8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. 9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. 10 For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: 11 So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.

The greatest power that a person can have is to be in step with the God of the Universe.

There is no tragedy that can defeat the person in step with God. There is no evil that can befall the God following Christian. The Prophet Moses sang when the armies of Egypt were crushed under the waters of the Red Sea:

Exodus 15:2 The Lord is my strength and song, and he is become my salvation: he is my God, and I will prepare him an habitation; my father’s God, and I will exalt him.

Who is like unto our God? Why does He love us so? I have often found these flies in my home – you know the kind – that will lite on you when you are resting, annoying you, driving you crazy. I find a fly swatter and – whack! – it is gone! So much for the fly! How often are we like flies to God our Creator? He gives us clear instruction, and we do not heed it. We buzz around God’s head willy nilly, rather than seek Him and lovingly trust Him. Why does God love us so? And yet, He does. God loves us, and calls us to His side. The Bible tells us:

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

Humans are not animals. Animals are NOT created in the image of God, but men and women are. Humans are not angels. Angels are sometimes called “sons of God” in the Scripture, but only because God made them. Only men and women are in God’s image. Being in God’s image, we are designed to have an ongoing relationship with God. We were made for God. It is …

Psalm 100:3 … God Who made us, and not we ourselves …

We are incomplete without God. Our text tells us:

Isaiah 55:6 Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near:

Word Study We are to chase God, to “seek” Him. The word translated “SEEK” is the Hebrew דָּרַשׁ dârash, {pronounced daw-rash’}, which means “to follow, to pursue, to chase after, to greatly desire”. The word is sometimes used for intense prayer.

When Isaac married Rebekah, Rebekah was barren or childless. Isaac “entreated” (עָתַר ʻâthar, {pronounced aw-thar}) or “prayed for Rebekah”, and God doubly blessed her with twins. As the twins began to “struggle together within her” the Bible says Rebekah inquired {dârash, {pronounced daw-rash’} of the Lord. She ran to God in prayer, seeking His face. God answered Rebekah, telling her that the twins, Esau and Jacob would be the fathers of two nations. God said:

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

Those who belong to God by faith should seek Him when we are on the mountaintop, but also seek Him in the valleys. We need to build a habit of seeking God. We must build a habit of pursuing His direction.

Isaiah 55:7-11 Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.

God will not draw near to anyone while they are following the path of unrighteousness. It is God Who establishes right and wrong. Not us, but God. God will not come near while we have hidden sin in our lives. When we repent, humbling ourselves before God, and heed His Word, He will come near.

David Often Sought The Lord,
Whereas Saul Did Not

When King Saul defied God’s Word, and the Lord told him “because thou hast rejected the Word of the Lord, and the Lord hath rejected thee from being King over Israel”, rather than repent and seek God’s forgiveness, he ignored God’s Word. When Saul realized that God was going to put David in his place, Saul began trying to kill David. The Priests at Nob gave the fugitive David and his men shew-bread (1 Samuel 21), hallowed bread from the tabernacle. When Saul heard of this, he ordered:

1 Samuel 22:17 … turn, and slay the priests of the Lord; because their hand also is with David, and because they knew when he fled {from me}, and did not shew it to me

Saul had 85 priests killed. Saul ordered Nob, the city of the priests, smote with the edge of the sword, both men and women, children and sucklings, and oxen, and asses, and sheep, with the edge of the sword (1 Samuel 22:19). Saul so rejected the Word of the Lord that he murdered hundreds of innocent people. God was far from Saul.

But God was near David. David sought the Lord. He ran from Saul, but sought God daily. When the Philistines attacked the city of Keilah, the Bible says:

1 Samuel 23:2 … David inquired of the LORD, saying, Shall I go and smite these Philistines? And the LORD said unto David, Go, and smite the Philistines, and save Keilah.

David did not make assumptions. He sought out the Lord – and the Lord gave David victory over the Philistines. Saul heard that David had saved Keilah, and Saul said:

1 Samuel 23:7 … God hath delivered him into mine hand; for he is shut in, by entering into a town that hath gates and bars.

God was far from Saul, but Saul – in his sin – still thought God was with him. Oh, that Saul had repented! Saul gathered an army of men to take David captive, but David knew to Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near. David prayed:

1 Samuel 23:10-11 … O LORD God of Israel, thy servant hath certainly heard that Saul seeketh to come to Keilah, to destroy the city for my sake. 11 Will the men of Keilah deliver me up into his hand? will Saul come down, as thy servant hath heard? O LORD God of Israel, I beseech thee, tell thy servant. And the LORD said, He will come down.

David kept his eyes and ears on God, and Saul could not take him. The Bible says “Saul sought him every day, but God delivered David not into Saul’s hand” (1 Samuel 23:14).

David Heeded God, Not Man

Saul continued to chase David, seeking to kill him. David and his men went into the wilderness of Engedi. The Bible tells us that while pursuing David, Saul decided to take a rest in a cave in that wilderness. Saul didn’t know that David and his men were hiding in that same cave.

As soon as Saul slept, one of David’s men told him:

1 Samuel 24:4 … the men of David said unto him, Behold the day of which the Lord said unto thee, Behold, I will deliver thine enemy into thine hand, that thou mayest do to him as it shall seem good unto thee.

This sounded like a good idea. God is in control of all things. The Bible says:

Isaiah 55:8-9 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. 9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Saul was chasing you, David. Samuel has previously anointed you to be the next king over Israel. Now here – God has allowed Saul to go to sleep right here, in this cave. You can do what you want – just go on and kill Saul.

When the devil comes, he never advertises his coming. He never says, “Hi, I’m the devil, and I want to mess up your walk with God”. No, the devil comes as a wolf in sheep’s clothing (Matthew 7:15). The devil dresses up in suits and ties when he goes to Church, or dresses up in armor when he goes to war with us. Jesus said of the devil:

John 8:44 … He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.

When someone tells you something is a good idea, you had better check it against what God’s Word has said. David’s men are telling him “Go ahead and kill the King”. But God’s Word says:

1 Chronicles 16:22 … Touch not Mine anointed, and do My prophets no harm (see also Psalm 105:15).

Saul has already killed 85 anointed priests and their families. Will David follow the same path? No, for David knew the Word of God. David went so far as to cut off the skirt of Saul’s robe” (1 Samuel 24:5), but this was as far as he went. David told his men:

1 Samuel 24:6 The Lord forbid that I should do this thing unto my master, the Lord’s anointed, to stretch forth mine hand against him, seeing he is the anointed of the Lord.

God made Saul the King of Israel, and it would have to be God Who took Saul out. Saul would continue to pursue David. The Bible says that Saul pursued David with 3000 chosen men into the wilderness of Ziph. The Bible says that that very night:

1 Samuel 26:3 … David abode in the wilderness, and he saw that Saul came after him into the wilderness … 7 So David and {the mighty warrior} Abishai {went down to the camp} by night: and, BEHOLD, Saul lay sleeping within the {circle of the camp}, and his spear stuck in the ground at his {head}

Once more, David is in a perfect position to kill his enemy. Saul is asleep. The Bible says “a DEEP SLEEP FROM THE LORD was FALLEN UPON THEM” (1 Samuel 26:12). David’s companion, Abishai says:

1 Samuel 26:8 … God hath delivered thine enemy into thine hand this day: now therefore let me smite him, I pray thee, with the spear even to the earth at once, and I will not smite him the second time.

David, you say the word, and Saul will be dead meat! Oh, what a temptation! But what did David reply?

1 Samuel 26:9-11 … Destroy him not: for who can stretch forth his hand against the Lord’s anointed, and be guiltless? 10 David said furthermore, As the Lord liveth, the Lord shall smite him; or his day shall come to die; or he shall descend into battle, and perish. 11 The Lord forbid that I should stretch forth mine hand against the Lord’s anointed:

David was “a man after God’s own heart” (1 Samuel 13:4; Acts 13:22). David sought to please God more than himself or others. David was not perfect. There were many times he failed in his relationship with God. But David loved the Lord, and followed the Prophet in Seek{ing} the Lord while He may be found, call{ing} upon Him while he is near.

To get away from Saul, David moved into Philistine territory with his men, and ended up in the city of Ziklag:

1 Samuel 27:6 Then {the King of Gath} Achish gave {David} Ziklag that day: wherefore Ziklag pertaineth unto the Kings of Judah unto this day

But David’s troubles were not over. One day while David and his men were away, the Amalekites

1 Samuel 30:1-2 … {attacked} Ziklag, and burned it with fire 2 And had taken the women captives, that were therein: {the Amalekites} slew not any, either great or small, but carried them away, and went on their way

What happened when David found Ziklag burned – their wives, sons, and daughters all taken captive? The Bible says:

1 Samuel 30:4 Then David and the people that were with him lifted up their voice and wept, until they had no more power to weep.

It is all right to weep, to express pain and anguish. I have often heard people say “You shouldn’t question God”. I don’t believe that. I do believe that God is much higher, much greater than we are. The Almighty tells us:

Isaiah 55:8-9 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. 9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

When we are hurt, we weep. Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself wept. (John 11:35). David wept – with his mighty men – because it hurt him to see all that he loved destroyed. Yet David loved God. David said in another place:

Psalm 56:8-11 Thou tellest my wanderings: put thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in thy book? 9 When I cry unto thee, then shall mine enemies turn back: this I know; for God is for me. 10 In God will I praise his word: in the Lord will I praise his word. 11 In God have I put my trust: I will not be afraid what man can do unto me.

There is no shame in weeping. There is no shame in asking God “Why”. Asking “why” does not make us bad Christians. Asking “why” makes us good Children. Asking “why” makes me a good son of God. Compared to God, I will always be lesser, a child.
Parents expect questions.

Illustrate The Bible says in 1 Samuel 30:6, “David was GREATLY DISTRESSED”, the Hebrew מְאֹד mᵊ’ōḏ יָצַר yāṣar, which could be translated “was besieged”. When an ancient city was “besieged”, it was surrounded by the enemy, and deprived both food and water until it surrendered. David felt like a city besieged. On top of this, we are told:

1 Samuel 30:6 … the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters:

This is a common thing that happens when trials come our way – we seek someone to blame. David was handy, and these people followed David to Ziklag, so obviously it was David’s fault. This adds to David’s agony.

What will David do? Again, looking at God’s Word:

Isaiah 55:9-11 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. 10 For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: 11 So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.

We do not understand why things happen as they do – but God is in control. God said the rain and the snow have a purpose – to bring forth fruit in the land. If all we ever had was sunny days, we would never grow. Let me say that again:

If all we ever had was sunny days, we would never grow!

Just as the rain and the snow – though miserable when you are in the midst of it – has a purpose, all that comes to the believer has a purpose. God said “So it is with My Word. What I have said will stand. What I decree will be. Trust My Word. Follow My Word. Live to please Me. So David has a choice. David can respond in the flesh and nothing good will come of it, or David can do what he did:

1 Samuel 30:6 … David encouraged himself in the Lord his God.

When your city is in ruins, and your life is besieged, look unto God! David sought the Lord while He might be found.

1 Samuel 30:8 … David inquired at the Lord, saying, Shall I pursue after this troop? shall I overtake them? And {the Lord} answered him, Pursue: for thou shalt surely overtake them, and without fail recover all.

David sought out the Word of God. God told David:

Pursue
Overtake
Recover

As David and his men pursued the Amalekites, he came across an Egyptian slave that had been left behind because he was sick. That young Egyptian led David and his men to their camp. The Bible says:

1 Samuel 30:16-19 {the Amalekites} were spread abroad upon all the earth, eating and drinking, and dancing, because of all the great spoil that they had taken out of the land of the Philistines, and out of the land of Judah. 17 And David smote them from the twilight even unto the evening of the next day: and there escaped not a man of them, save four hundred young men, which rode upon camels, and fled. 18 And David recovered all that the Amalekites had carried away: and David rescued his two wives. 19 And there was nothing lacking to them, neither small nor great, neither sons nor daughters, neither spoil, nor any thing that they had taken to them: David recovered all.

In Conclusion

The greatest strength we have is not in ourselves, but in adhering to God and His Word. The solution to our problems is not found in a political party nor in grand technology. The solution to what ails us is to return to the Lord Who made us. God said:

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

As God did with David, He will do with you. God is no respecter of persons. Peter told us:

Acts 10:34-35 Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: 35 but in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.

How do we get into the “Sure Mercies of David”? We do as David did. We believe on God our Creator. We have faith in Him, and do what He says, no matter what others might think. Our text for tonight started out with these words:

Isaiah 55:1-2 Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. 2 Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labor for that which satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness.

God freely gives salvation and blessing to those who put their trust in Him. If you are thirsty, come. Receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Cherish His Word. Commit to following what He says. Not what the world says, nor what others may say, but what Jesus says. What is in the Word. God’s Word is sure. Trust Him, and you shall live victoriously now, and eternally forever. Amen and Amen. May God the Holy Spirit and His precious Word cause a profound change in all our hearts!

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The Parable Of Two Idolaters

idols abound
Photo by Gabriel Meinert on Unsplash

Turn with me in your Bibles first to Matthew 5:17-20. We’ve studied this text in detail just a few Sundays ago, but I want to refresh our memories. Jesus said:

Matthew 5:20 For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.

When Jesus came to this earth – God become perfect Man – Jesus lived the Law. He fulfilled the Law of sacrifice by dying on the Cross as “the Lamb of God”. There are no more animal sacrifices accepted from God to cover sins. If you are saved, your sin is covered by the blood of Christ.

It is His Blood that brings us near God (Ephesians 2:13)
It is His Blood that establishes the New Covenant (1 Corinthians 10:16)
It is His Blood that makes it possible for us to serve God (Hebrews 9:14)
It is His Blood that covers our sins once and for all (1 Peter 1:19)

Under the Old Covenant, God called His people to the Temple to worship. Under the New Covenant, the people of God ARE His Temple. God lives in us who are saved! We are to cherish God above all else.

Jesus fulfilled the ceremonial and shadow laws of the Old Covenant, but did not erase the need to love and obey God. His commandments are still in effect, even today. The Law is holy, and the commandment Holy and Just and Good” (Romans 7:12). When Jesus spoke of the GREATEST COMMANDMENT, He said:

Matthew 22:37-38 … Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment.

God is to have ALL of our love. He is to be loved much more than those that are around you. God is to be loved more than you love yourself. God told His Old Testament believers

Deuteronomy 10:12 … what doth the Lord thy God require of thee, but to fear the Lord thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul,

God demands that His people love Him first and foremost. If we love God most, then we will love those around us who are made in God’s image (Genesis 1:26). If we love God most, then we will love the spouse God has given us, and the children that are His gifts. We are to “love the Lord our God with all our hearts, with all our souls, with all our might” (Deuteronomy 6:5). And if we love God, “we will keep His commandments” (1 John 5:3-5).

One of the most grievous sins in all the Scripture is to not love God, but to place your love on other gods. This is the sin of idolatry. Idolatry is to make a god in our image and in our likeness, to create a false god to follow. This is what the Pharisees and the Scribes did – they were idolaters.

Jesus told us in Matthew 5:20, “Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven. What did Jesus mean by that? In order to understand this, we will look at what many called “The Parable of the Prodigal Son”. Turn with me to:

Luke 15:1-2 Then drew near unto {Jesus} all the publicans and sinners for to hear him. 2 And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them.

The phrase “Prodigal Son” is not found in the Scripture. Many Bibles have it posted just before the parable, but this is an addition by the translators. Jesus never called it “The Parable of the Prodigal Son”. If I ask people “What does ‘Prodigal’ mean?”, most would not have a clue. Some would guess it to be “wayward” or “wandering”, but you would be wrong. The word “prodigal” comes from Latin, and means “one who wastes resources by spending it recklessly”. By titling the parable “The Parable of the Prodigal Son” you miss the entire point. Let’s focus. Jesus said:

Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven

Now Jesus is near all the publicans and sinners, but far off the scribes and Pharisees murmur against the Son of God. “This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them, they bitterly say. Their righteousness will not get them into the Kingdom of Heaven. It will not save them. They are self righteous. They are IDOLATERS. Go down to Jesus’ parable.

Matthew 15:11 And he said, A certain man had two sons:

Though Jesus doesn’t give the sermon a title, it is not “The Parable of THE Prodigal Son”. It is a parable about “two sons. It is a sermon about “TWO sons who were IDOLATERS. Neither son initially loved the Father of this parable.

The two idolatrous sons could be called
“Publican Sinner” and “Pharisee Scribe”

PS and PS – both initially missed the mark!

Since Jesus looked at “Publican Sinner” first, let’s read about him first.

Publican Sinner Worshiped SELF & STUFF

Luke 15:11-13 And he said, A certain man had two sons: 12 and the younger {Publican Sinner} of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And {Father} divided unto them his living. 13 And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living.

The younger son, Publican Sinner, took what the Father gave him. As the younger son according to Jewish Law, he was allowed 1/3 of the estate, and his older brother the double portion. Publican Sinner is like every person born into this world. Every person who has ever lived has benefited from the Grace of God. It is by God’s Grace that we are given life. It is by God’s Grace that we are not immediately destroyed because of our sinful nature. The Bible says:

Psalm 145:9 The Lord is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works.

God is so good to us all. Jesus said,

Matthew 5:45 … your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

Luke 6:35 … {our God} the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.

God gives life and breath to us all, even though we are born idolatrous. God does “good, and {gives} us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness”. Old Publican Sinner went to the Father and said, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. Give me what YOU owe me. And the Father – filled with Grace – is “slow to anger and great in power” (Nahum 1:3). He didn’t give his son what he deserved. He gave his son grace – the grace that God gives to us all. Note that our text states:

Luke 15:13 … not many days after the younger son gathered all together

Young Publican Sinner didn’t immediately wander away from the Father. He stayed home for a few days. But then he gathered ALL together. He is suppose to be loving the Father with “ALL his heart, ALL his soul, ALL his mind”, but his heart is set on his stuff, his things. Gathering up his things, he moved into a far country. What is a far country? It is a place in your heart where you turn away from the God Who loves you, and begin to follow false gods and goddesses. The far country is a life that ignores the kindness and Grace, the Presence of God. The far country is when I stop loving God with my all, and instead make myself a god.

You can be in a “far country”, far from God, sitting in Church. Anytime your idol is yourself, you are far from God. Satan even tempted Jesus to leave God.

The devil told Jesus, “If you’re hungry, command these stones be made bread {That’s a “far country”}. If you’re the Son of God, cast yourself down, and God will save you {That’s a “far country”}. If you’ll worship me, the devil, I will give you all the best this world has to offer” {That’s a “far country”} (see Matthew 4:1-11). Jesus REFUSED to go into a far country – He refused to wander from God. Publican Sinner wandered from God.

Illustrate Beloved, God is everywhere, but in your mind you can go into a “far country”. I loved the illustration Pastor Kyle Idleman used, saying, “God is like electricity”. There is electricity all around you in this building, but few of you notice it unless it is mentioned. Electricity is there. If you were to probe into an electric socket, you would know it is there. God is there. He is there. In one sense Publican Sinner could not get away from God. In our minds, however, we can go into “a far country” by allowing idolatry & sin in our lives.

Proverbs 15:29 The Lord is far from the wicked: but he heareth the prayer of the righteous.

Publican Sinner took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living. He is his own idol, his own god. The Bible says “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). When you love yourself more than you love God, when you are your own idol, you invest everything into that god. But in time, the good times end. Jesus said:

Luke 15:14-16 And when {Publican Sinner} had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want. 15 And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. 16 And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him.

Idolatry always destroys those who worship it. Idols are nothing at all – they cannot do evil, nor is it in them to do good. Idolatry exchanges the truth of God with a lie (Romans 1:23-25). Idols were always placed in the “high places”, but worship of idols will always bring you low. The Bible says,

1 John 5:21 Little children, keep yourselves from idols.

The younger son Publican Sinner lost everything. Now he is off feeding pigs. Under the Old Covenant Law, pigs were considered unclean creatures (Leviticus 11:7; Deuteronomy 14:8; Isaiah 65:4; 66:1). The young idolater is hungry. No man gave unto him. He is eating the slop he is feeding the pigs. Then Publican Sinner REPENTS. That’s what we read:

Luke 15:17 … And when he came to himself

This is what the Bible calls REPENTANCE.

Preach This! REPENTANCE is when you stop making excuses and WAKE UP. REPENTANCE is when you get tired of eating the slop of the hogs. REPENTANCE is when you stop saying “I deserve this” and humble yourself, saying “I will go to my father”. You cannot be saved without REPENTANCE. You are not a child of God but for REPENTANCE.

The Apostle Paul preached, “they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance” (Acts 26:20). Repentance is when you wake up, and realize that YOU are not a god – that there is but ONE GOD – and there is access to this ONE GOD through ONE JESUS CHRIST ALONE.

God the Son said in John 7:37, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink”. The Holy Spirit says “Come”! The God of Heaven says “let the one who is thirsty COME. And whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely” (Revelation 22:17).

Young Publican Sinner repented, saying (Luke 15:17-18) “How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee”.

Notice there are no EXCUSES made here. God never forgives an EXCUSE. He will, however, forgive those who repent. The picture of REPENTANCE is in these words:

Luke 15:19 {I} am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.

Young Publican Sinner stopped doing things HIS way, and decided to let God be God. Like the Publicans and Sinners, he drew near to God.

Luke 15:20-24 {Publican Sinner} arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. 21 And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. 22 But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: 23 and bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: 24 for this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.

Publican Sinner is given a new name, a new start. In the arms of his Father he is blessed. In the arms of his Father he is made alive. Jesus earlier said:

Luke 15:7 I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.

Who need(s) no repentance? Everyone needs repentance. You cannot be saved without repentance. The Apostle Paul said:

2 Corinthians 7:10 … godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of …

Repentance is a gift of God that leads us to God. It is “God Who grants repentance that leads to life” (Acts 11:18). God gives the gift of life freely and daily. He kept young Publican Sinner alive until he “came to himself”, or woke up from the stupor of idolatry. Because God is longsuffering (2 Peter 3:9) and kind (Romans 2:4), this young man came to repentance. Repenting, he came to the Father. Repenting, he was received into the family of God.

Pharisee Scribe Stayed With The Father –
But He Too Was In A “Far Place”

The younger Publican Sinner has come home, and there is rejoicing throughout the house. Now we read:

Luke 15:25-27 Now his elder son {this is Pharisee Scribe} was in the field: and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard musick and dancing. 26 And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant. 27 And he said unto him, Thy brother is come; and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound.

I want you to notice what Pharisee Scribe did. He did NOT call the Father. He called one of the servants. He asked one of the servants what was going on. Jesus chastised the Pharisees and Scribes because:

Matthew 15:3 … {you} transgress the commandment of God by your tradition

and in Matthew 15:6 … {Pharisee Scribe} ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition.

Pharisee Scribe did not consult God, nor His Word, when determining right or wrong. Pharisee Scribe was faithful to be in Church, faithful to the Temple, faithful to the rituals, but had no personal relationship to the Father. Pharisee Scribe wanted the Father to wait on HIM – and was upset that Publican Sinner was being forgiven and blessed. Our Lord said:

Luke 15:28 {Publican Scribe} was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and entreated him.

Pharisee Scribe was just as much an idolater as his younger brother Publican Sinner used to be. The Father came out to him, and begged him to come in. The older idolatrous son says:

Luke 15:29-30 Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends: 30 but as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf.

Now, if you’ll notice, as Jesus speaks the parable, 2/3rds of the parable is devoted to the younger son, but only 1/3 to the older son. God first called the Pharisees and Scribes to Himself through Abraham. God chose out a nation to be His own, a nation called Israel. It was to Israel that God first made His covenants. And yet, when Jesus comes to save the lost, Jesus:

John 1:11 … came unto His own, and His own received Him not

Pharisee Scribe should be pleased that his brother repented, and returned to the fold. But instead he is jealous, and upset. “Why is Jesus sitting with Publicans and Sinners? If He were the Messiah, He would know what sort of people these are”.

Jesus never finishes the parable. There is never a “The End” placed on it. We read:

Luke 15:31-32 And {the Father} said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine. 32 It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.

Jesus does not say that the Pharisees and Scribes are not saved. He leaves that open. But He does tell us that – if they are saved – then they should be OVERJOYED that Publicans and Sinners are coming home to God. The saved should be ecstatic that the Kingdom of God is growing.

Jesus didn’t just tell this story to get REBELLIOUS people to repent. He told this story to convict RELIGIOUS people, to get us to repent.

The Kingdom of God is not about what I want. It’s about what Jesus wants. The Kingdom of God is calling whosoever will to repent – to come to themselves – and to return home. The “Prodigal” younger son took the grace of God, wandered off, and got far away from home. He wasted his life until he came to Himself. But the older brother was also “Prodigal”. He was upset because the Father did not give HIM a party. The Father said, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine. The Older Son had access to a party any time that he wanted. But the Older Son became complacent, then idolatrous. Though he was at home with Father, Father was miles away.

Christian – if you are a Christian – are you complacent in your faith? Have you wandered far away from God in your hearts? Are you just going through the motions? The Expositor’s Bible Dictionary says:

We call it the parable of the Prodigal Son; it might with equal propriety be called the Parable of the Bereaved Father, for the whole story crystallizes about that name, repeating it, in one form or another, no less than twelve times.”

Oh, how the Father loves us! Would that every one who reads this message or hears it’s preaching would open their hearts to Him. God is everywhere, but your heart makes God seem close or far away. As a Church, our righteousness must exceed the righteousness of the Pharisees and Scribes. Our Love must be Christ centered, and our focus joyfully on who we are in Christ. It is time for us to “break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the Lord, till he come and rain righteousness upon you” (Hosea 10:12). If we want God to bless our nation, revival must begin here. The Prophet Isaiah, tired of the mess that Israel had become, prayed:

Isaiah 64:1-2 Oh {God} that thou wouldest rend the heavens, that thou wouldest come down, that the mountains might flow down at thy presence, 2 as when the melting fire burneth, the fire causeth the waters to boil, to make thy name known to thine adversaries, that the nations may tremble at thy presence!

The Parable Jesus spoke – whether you call it to Parable of the Prodigal Son, the Parable of the Grieving Father, or the Parable of Two Idolaters – is left hanging, with no resolution. It is as if Jesus says, “Now, will you repent? The ball is in your court. I am here. The Father is here. The Spirit is here. What will you do?” Oh Father, make the Holy Spirit of God move in our midst. For your glory and honor. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen and Amen.

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Having An Attitude of Gratitude

Photo by Marcos Paulo Prado on Unsplash

Please turn with me in your Bibles to 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18.

The past few Sundays we talked about the Second Coming of Christ. The Scripture presents His Second Coming in two stages: His coming in the Air:

1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17 then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

Jesus’ Second Coming in the Air – the Rapture – will be to save the Church from a “great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be” (Matthew 24:21).

At the end of that seven year period Jesus will return with His Church to save Israel, and establish the Kingdom of God on the earth, a Kingdom of Peace, for 1000 years.

Though Jesus will return to save His Church from the Great Tribulation, there are times when His Church has gone through suffering and tribulation. The International Mission Board of the SBC notes that in 2020:

• 340 million Christians experience high levels of persecution
• 4,761 Christians were killed for their faith
• 4,488 Church buildings were attacked and destroyed

In Finland, former Interior Minister Päivi Räsänen was criminally charged with “hate speech” for posting a picture of the Bible opened to

Romans 1:24-27 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonor their own bodies between themselves: 25 who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshiped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.

26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: 27 and likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet.

Päivi said, “The early Christians did not renounce their faith in lions’ caves, why should I then renounce my faith in a court room?”.

In America we as Christians have freedom of speech. The big tech social networks are pushing hard to remove our freedom of speech. There may come a day when the American Christian loses our public freedom of speech. Facebook, I am told, is already blocking some Christian content, especially if it is Bible and Family based.

As I was mowing my grass this past Thursday, and talking with my Lord God, He caused a text of Scripture to pop into my head. In Exodus 1 the Scripture lists the twelve children of Jacob, and says:

Exodus 1:5-8 And all the souls that came out of the loins of Jacob were seventy souls: for Joseph was in Egypt already. 6 And Joseph died, and all his brethren, and all that generation. 7 And the children of Israel were fruitful, and increased abundantly, and multiplied, and waxed exceeding mighty; and the land was filled with them. 8 Now there arose up a new king over Egypt, which knew not Joseph.

God allowed Egypt to be a sanctuary for His Old Covenant people, Israel. Israel was blessed in that land. The Bible says “the land was filled with them”. Israel prospered in Egypt, just as the Christian has prospered in America. Yet over time Israel stopped being the light that God called them to be. Israel began to blend with the darkness. And in that blending, the light of God was not seen. A king rose up who “knew not Joseph”. Joseph changed his environment by living for and loving the Lord.

When you live for and love the Lord,
you change the world around you.

The King didn’t know Joseph because the believers in Israel compromised with the darkness. When you compromise with the darkness, it isn’t long before the darkness takes you. Because Egypt “knew not Joseph”, in time Egypt enslaved Israel and began to kill her children.

Let us love the Lord our God. Let us keep our eyes on Jesus, and have an attitude of gratitude to our Lord and Savior. We are told:

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 Rejoice evermore. 17 Pray without ceasing. 18 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

As children of the King, let us

Rejoice Evermore – At ALL times!

Word Study The little sentence “Rejoice evermore” is very powerful. It is two words in the Greek, χαίρω chaírō, {pronounced khah’-ee-ro} πάντοτε pántote, {pronounced pan’-tot-eh}, meaning “Overflow with joy at all times”. To “rejoice” is to let joy bubble up from your heart and overflow to your mouth and your face, your entire body. Why should we as Christians be filled with joy at all times? Quite simply, because …

1 Thessalonians 5:9 For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ

Word Study What wonderful words! “God hath not APPOINTED us to wrath”. The word “APPOINTED” is the Greek τίθημι títhēmi, {pronounced tith’-ay-mee}, which means “to assign, to lay down, appoint”. The same word is used in Acts 17:31, where we are told “God hath APPOINTED a day, in the which He will judge the world in righteousness by Jesus Christ…”. When Jesus returns, the rejecters of the Gospel will have an appointment with Him. He will judge them, and punish those who have rejected His offer of salvation. The Bible tells us:

Hebrews 9:27 … it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment …

The Christ follower is not “appointed … to wrath”. Our destiny is to be with the Lord Who loves us, and will love us into eternity. Those who reject Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior are under condemnation – and are the subjects of the future wrath of God. The Bible says:

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

The “wrath of God” is a real thing. It was the wrath of God that killed the firstborn of every home NOT under the Blood of the Lamb. God’s wrath comes on those who …

Psalm 78:22 … believe not in God, and trust not in his salvation

God’s wrath came on Israel when she continually rejected His love.

Psalm 78:31 the wrath of God came upon them, and slew the fattest of them, and smote down the chosen men of Israel.

When you reject the Grace of God, and deny Him His glory, you bring His wrath into your life. The wrath of God is not just an Old Testament phenomenon. Listen Beloved,

I looked up the phrase “wrath of God” in the King James, and found that phrase ten times, nine of which are in the New Testament.

One day that grand old preacher John the Baptist was asked, “Are YOU the Christ?” John replied:

John 3:28-30; 34-36 …. I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before him …. THIS MY JOY THEREFORE IS FULFILLED … 34-36 For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him. 35 The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand. 36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.

Jesus Christ came to take the wrath of God from us. If we receive Jesus as Lord and Savior, we “hath everlasting life”. But there is something else we do not have. We are NEVER under the wrath of God. The Apostle said in:

Romans 5:6-9 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. 8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.

The wrath of God is not my heritage. God does have wrath. Oh yes, He does. We are told in Revelation 20:15, whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire. This “lake of fire” is a horrible place, described as:

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

Regardless as to what is going on in your life, dear Christian, you are not appointed to wrath. What is your appointment? Again we read:

1 Thessalonians 5:9 For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ

Salvation is ours. Eternity is ours. Jesus is preparing a place for us, and it is a mansion, not a fire! As a believer in Christ I am never alone. We are told:

1 Thessalonians 5:10 {Jesus} died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him.

It is the Christian’s lot in life that we “live together with him”. We as Christians live in union with Christ. He is with us. He is our Lord. We live WITH Him and FOR Him. We are told in:

Romans 14:8-9 For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s. 9 For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living.

Rejoice, for Jesus has saved you. Rejoice evermore, because Jesus is with you in the valley and on the mountaintop. Rejoice, for God controls all things for your good. You are His Child by faith in Christ. As you love Him, know He loves you. One of my favorite texts is:

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

Rejoice at all times for whatever is happening in your life – regardless as to whether it seems beautiful or horrid – these things “work together for good” in your life. Rejoice evermore. Rejoice at all times!

The Attitude Of Gratitude Is For The Prayerful

1 Thessalonians 5:17 Pray without ceasing.

If God is in partnership with your life, and if the Scripture is true that says:

Hebrews 13:5 … I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. … then

We as Christians should find prayer as
easy and natural as breathing!

Prayer is not just asking God for things. Prayer is talking to God your Father. What a joy it is to know that I have the ear of God, especially when I am going through trials and tribulations. As we pray, we give God the glory by acknowledging that He is Father, and we His children. We honor His name in our prayers, seeking only the glory of God.

Matthew 6:9 Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.

Prayer honors God by seeking His will in our lives. When His Kingdom comes in our lives, we are filled with joy.

Matthew 6:10 Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.

Prayer changes our environment by changing our hearts. Moses prayed:

Exodus 33:13-16 … Now therefore, I pray thee, if I have found grace in thy sight, shew me now thy way, that I may know thee, that I may find grace in thy sight: and consider that this nation is thy people. 14 And he said, My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest. 15 And {Moses}{ said unto {God}, If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence. 16 For wherein shall it be known here that I and thy people have found grace in thy sight? is it not in that thou goest with us?

Prayer gives glory to God, and magnifies His will in our lives. Prayer invites God into our DAILY lives. “If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence”.

In prayer, we lay our needs at the Father’s feet. We pray:

Matthew 6:11-13 Give us this day our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil…

The closer we are to God, the greater will be our attitude of gratitude. Israel was more focused on where they came from, rather than where God was leading them. Invite God into your environment. Walk with Him: “walk in the light, as He is in the light” (1 John 1:7). Confess and repent of any active sin, knowing that sin in the heart muffles your union with God in Christ.

Proverbs 15:29 The Lord is far from the wicked: but he heareth the prayer of the righteous.

It is sin that quenches or grieves the Holy Spirit of God.

1 Thessalonians 5:19 Quench not the Spirit.

We suppress or grieve the Holy Spirit when we walk in the darkness, following the world instead of the Lord. We are not as we were before we were saved. As Christians, the Holy Spirit of God now lives in us.

We QUENCH the Spirit when we do NOT DO what He says do.
We GRIEVE the Spirit when we do what He says NOT to do.

The Spirit of God now lives inside you, dear Christian. “If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His” (Romans 8:9). You are now the Temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you, which you have of God (1 Corinthians 6:19). God knows your hearts. Confess any active sin in your lives, and repent of that way of life. Hear the Word of God, and apply it to your lives.

1 Thessalonians 5:20 Despise not prophesyings.

Hear what the Word of God says, and do it. The Bible that we have is written by God.

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

Heed the Word of God, and do what it says.

1 Thessalonians 5:21 Prove all things; hold fast to that which is good.

Do not live your life based on your feelings, but on what God has said in His Word. So many of us rob ourselves of blessing when we do not prayerfully weigh all things against the Word of God.

Illustrate A little girl came to her daddy and asked for a nickle. The father generously opened his wallet and handed her a five dollar bill. The child tossed the bill on the floor, and demanded the nickle. Her daddy said, “But honey, that’s a five dollar bill!” Her reply is like what many of us stubbornly give God. “I don’t want that. I want a nickle”.

Weigh everything by God’s Word and God’s Spirit. When someone tells you something to be true, verify it by the Word of God and the Holy Spirit. Make sure that what you are being told is not just a word from man. It is the Word of God that blesses. Your life should align with God’s Word if you expect to have power in prayer.

Be Thankful For All Things – Even The Hard

1 Thessalonians 5:18 In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

Did you get the Covid? Be thankful. That was God’s will for your life. Trials grow the Christian. Thank Him for it.

Are you in a hospital, or long term care facility? Be grateful. This is where God wants you to minister. Tell others of Jesus.

Do you have cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, or some other affliction common to mankind. Thank God for it. Do not be filled with sadness or depression or anxiety. Be FILLED with THE HOLY SPIRIT. The Bible says in …

Ephesians 5:18-21 be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; 19 speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; 20 giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; 21 submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.

Some people take a shot of whiskey, a mixed cocktail, a marijuana product, or a pill to “steady the nerves” or “calm you down”. God’s prescription is to FILL yourself with the Holy Spirit. Chase out the doom and gloom with song! Like a bird, let your hearts be filled with song!

When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

Count your blessings, name them one by one;
Count your blessings, see what God hath done;
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
Count your many blessings, every doubt will fly,
And you will be singing as the days go by.

When you look at others with their lands and gold,
Think that Christ has promised you His wealth untold.
Count your many blessings, money cannot buy
Your reward in heaven, nor your Lord on high.

So amid the conflict, whether great or small,
Do not be discouraged, God is over all;
Count your many blessings, angels will attend,
Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.

If it is true that “all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28), then the trial you are going through is GOOD. Trust God in it. Trials make us more like Christ. As we are told in

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

Had the first generation of Israel trusted the God Who saved them, they would have entered the Promised Land. God will not do great things with those who have little faith. Thank God for what you have, and for what you lack. Seek an attitude of gratitude.

Pastor Max Lucado wrote:

“A grateful heart sees each day as a gift. Thankful people focus less on what they lack and more on the privileges they have. I attended a banquet recently in which a wounded soldier was presented with the gift of a free house. He nearly fell over with gratitude. He bounded onto the stage with his one good leg and threw both arms around the presenter. “Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!” He hugged the guitar player in the band and the big woman on the front row. He thanked the waiter, the other soldiers, and then the presenter again. Before the night was over, he thanked me! And I didn’t do anything. Shouldn’t we be equally grateful? Jesus is building a house for us (John 14:2). Our deed of ownership is every bit as certain as that of the soldier.”

God did a wonderful thing for us, dear Christian, when He saved our souls. We have Heaven before us, hell behind us, and a Savior and Lord Who cannot be defeated. When we rejoice at all times, pray at all times, and give thanks at all times, we will change our environment. We will be the light that Jesus calls His Church to be. Let us be the light of the world, a city that is set on a hill that cannot be hid (Matthew 5:14). May God touch your hearts with His Word and His Spirit. Amen and Amen.

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This Is Not A Commercial

Photo by Kate Trysh on Unsplash

The grandchildren asked grandma what she wanted for Mother’s day. She said, “I just want my family to go to Church with me this Sunday”. So come Sunday, her children and grandchildren got up, got dressed, and went to Church. After the service they gathered around Grandma’s table to eat. She asked her grandchildren, “So what did you think about the Church service”? The youngest child spoke up. “I really enjoyed the singing – but the commercial was way too long!”

Let’s play a little “pretend” right now. What if today was the last day on earth I could talk to you, and this be the last day you could hear from me? What words would I want to leave with you if I were to go to glory tonight? Better than that, if you were to hear the last words God spoke to you on this earth, what would these last words be? Well, we don’t have to guess on this last part. The last recorded words Jesus Christ spoke are found in the last book of your Bibles, in the last chapter, and in the next to the last verse of Scripture. Turn there with me.

Revelation 22:20 …. Surely I come quickly.

If you have a “Red Letter” Bible, these words of Jesus Christ would be in red. Jesus tells us that He is coming quickly. There is a sense of urgency in this last chapter, for Jesus says this not just here, but two other times for a total of three times. Three is the number of God in Scripture. Working backward through the chapter, we read:

Revelation 22:12-13 And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. 13 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.

Jesus is coming quickly! We do not know when He will come. He may come, and receive His Church by Rapture before I finish this message. Or Jesus may come and require your soul return to Him this very day. We do not know. As Pastor of this Church I have seen over twenty souls called to eternity, and few of those were expected when called. Jesus said I come quickly. Death, like a sleep, comes on us when we least expect it. Are you prepared? Jesus said in the third quote:

Revelation 22:7 Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book.

This Word that we will hear today is not a commercial for some do-dad that somebody wants to sell you. Jesus is coming quickly. Blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book. Are you ready if Jesus comes today? Tonight? Are you prepared to meet your Maker? As God spoke to the wayward nation Israel, He speaks to America today:

Amos 4:12-13 …. prepare to meet thy God, O {America}. 13 For, lo, he that formeth the mountains, and createth the wind, and declareth unto man what is his thought, that maketh the morning darkness, and treadeth upon the high places of the earth, The Lord, The God of hosts, is his name.

Why Should I Care That Jesus Comes Quickly?

Some of you may be thinking, “Why would I care if Jesus comes quickly? Jesus is no more than the founder of one religion among many. He’s dead anyway – why would I care?” You should care. Jesus is not just one founder of one religion among many. Jesus Christ is God Who became Perfect Man. Again, return to

Revelation 22:12 And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.

When next you see Jesus –

Revelation 1:7 Behold, He cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall WAIL because of him. Even so, Amen.

When Jesus comes – when you see Him in the air or when He comes to you at this life’s end – He will come as Judge of all. all kindreds of the earth shall WAIL because of him. The first Adam brought sin into the world – “and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Romans 5:12). Man ate of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and, from that terrible first error, man has developed his own sense of what he or she thinks is right or wrong. Today in our world it is common – even in Church settings – to hear people affirm actions and beliefs that are NOT taught in the Scripture. We as humans have become arbiters of what we think is true. Beloved, Jesus is true. He that sent Jesus – God the Father – is true (John 7:28). Those who know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior can affirm Him and His Words, as John did:

1 John 5:20 … we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.

When Jesus comes again, He comes as Avenging God, judging God, righteous God. Jesus said:

John 5:22-23 For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son: 23 That all men should honor the Son, even as they honor the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him.

God the Father judges no one. All judgment has been given to Jesus. Those who have honored Jesus have honored the Father. Jesus Christ is the sole Judge of eternal life. The Apostle Peter told the Gentiles at the Centurion Cornelius’ home:

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

Jesus Christ is ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead. It is only through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins. Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God Who makes payment for our sins. Jesus Christ is the Judge, and the Savior. Oh Beloved, it is Jesus Who comes quickly – unexpectedly – and certainly!

Revelation 22:12 And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.

Jesus has the sole commission of the Godhead to give every man according as his work shall be. Jesus Christ is God made Man. He is the Eternal Word of God:

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

Jesus Christ is God manifest in the flesh (1 Timothy 3:16). He was, is, and will always be God the Son. He was transformed when the Holy Spirit came upon Mary, the Angel told Joseph in Matthew 1:20

that which is conceived in {Mary} is of the Holy Spirit”

and the Angel told Mary in Luke 1:35

that Holy Thing which shall be born of thee shall
be called The Son of God

Not A Son of God”, but THE Son of God”. Jesus Christ, God become Man, so that God could call sinful man to His side. Jesus’ reward (Greek μισθός misthós, {mis-thos’}), literally his WAGES or what is OWED HIM is that He be the Judge of all souls. It was Jesus Who – in eternity past – agreed with both Father and Spirit to enter fallen humanity, to take upon Himself flesh and blood. The Bible says:

Hebrews 2:14 … as the children {of Adam} are partakers of flesh and blood, {Jesus} also Himself took part of the same; that through death He might destroy Him that had the power of death, that is, the devil

Man sinned against God, creating an eternal barrier between us. Jesus Christ came to break down that barrier. He is not “just a man”, or “just a founder”. Read with me again:

Revelation 22:12-13 And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. 13 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.

Jesus says not “I WAS Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last, but I AM Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last. Let us look at His titles for just a moment.

Jesus Christ IS Alpha and Omega

It was the fruit of the “Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil” that Adam ate, plunging us into the abyss of sin. When John the Revelator walked the earth (he is the God inspired chronicler of this Revelation) the Greeks were thought to possess all knowledge. The Greek language had spanned the world. Even among the Jews of John’s day, many Jews no longer read Hebrew. The Hebrew Bible was translated into Greek, a text called the “Septuagint”. In the Greek Alphabet the first letter is ALPHA, and the last letter is OMEGA. When Jesus said I am Alpha and OmegaHe is saying “I have ALL THE KNOWLEDGE AND WISDOM”. Humans believe ourselves to possess great knowledge and wisdom – but often our wisdom is foolishness.

1 Corinthians 3:18 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness.

Mankind in our foolishness have turned the simplicity of human sexuality into a mad, confused mess. We smile and nod at one another, believing we know better than God. When we depart from God, we enter the sea of madness. The Prophet said:

Daniel 2:20-22 Blessed be the name of God for ever and ever: for wisdom and might are his: 21 And he changeth the times and the seasons: he removeth kings, and setteth up kings: he giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding: 22 He revealeth the deep and secret things: he knoweth what is in the darkness, and the light dwelleth with him.

All Light and all Knowledge is found in Jesus Christ, in the Word He has spoken. Is your life in disarray? Is your family in trouble? Turn to Him Who is Alpha and Omega. Come to God and, by faith, receive the Gift of God – salvation by relationship to Christ. Bring your burdens to Him. Bring your brokenness to Him. He is able. Jesus is the Alpha and Omega. The Bible promises:

John 1:12 … as many as received {Jesus}, to them gave He POWER to BECOME the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name

When you receive the Son of God as Lord and Savior, you yourselves become “Children of God by faith in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:26). Receive Him as Alpha and Omega. The world stumbles around in darkness, the “blind leading the blind, and both falling in the ditch” (Matthew 15:14). To Him Who receives Jesus, and does as He says, that person is …

Matthew 7:24-25 … a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: 25 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.

The Child of the King of Kings lives their life victoriously. We do not stumble, but walk in the Master’s footprints.

I could care less for what Oprah said,
But heed Jesus Who rose from the dead.
Who is impressed by the talk show host?
Let’s love Jesus, Who gives us the most.

Adrian Rogers said,

There is power in the Word of God, and Satan does not want you to understand the authority of the Word of God. He doesn’t want you to get the power that will divert his fiery attacks away from your heart — his prime target. When the Word of the Lord and the Lord of the Word become your authority, then Satan and all of his demonic forces will flee, and you are going to have authority for your life.”

Jesus Christ Is The Beginning And the End

Revelation 22:12-13 And, behold, I come quickly … 13 I am … the beginning and the end …

In Jesus is contained all the wisdom of the Godhead. He is the Alpha and Omega. But Jesus is also the beginning and the end. It was Jesus at the beginning of human history that both Father and Spirit addressed, saying:

Genesis 1:26 … Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

The Father could not make man without the cooperation of the Son. Jesus Christ was there.

When Adam and Eve ate us out of house and home
our Lord Jesus was there.

Jesus has been with man from the beginning of human history, loving us, caring for us. When Adam led humanity into sin the Lord promised to come through the “seed of the woman” (Genesis 3:15). We see the first coming of Jesus promised in the Covenant God made with Abraham. We see Jesus in the Passover Lamb as Israel is freed from the grip of Egypt. There is Jesus in the Ark of the Covenant, for within the Ark is the manna or Bread of God, the Rod of Aaron, and the Ten Commandments.

Jesus is the Manna from Heaven
Jesus is the High Priest of His people
Jesus is the fulfiller of the Ten Commandments

Jesus is the fulfiller of the Law! By receiving Him as Lord and Savior, the Beginning and the End, your life will begin anew. Because Jesus lives, you shall live forever. Jesus is no shadow, but the very Bread of God. He said:

John 6:33, 35 … the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world. … 35 And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.

Jesus is the beginning of everlasting life.
Jesus is the ending of death.
Jesus is the beginning of peace with God.
Jesus is the ending of false gods.
Jesus is the beginning of victory.
Jesus is the ending of fear and victimhood.

If Jesus Christ is your Savior and Lord, then we have His promise:

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

Jesus Christ Is The First And The Last

Revelation 22:12-13 And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. 13 I am …. the first and the last.

If Jesus Christ is first in your hearts, then He will be first and last in your life. In the Old Testament, God often referred to Himself as the first and the last. For instance:

Isaiah 44:6 Thus saith the Lord the King of Israel, and his redeemer the Lord of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God.

Isaiah 48:12 Hearken unto me, O Jacob and Israel, my called; I am he; I am the first, I also am the last.

The reason God took this name for Himself is because His First Commandment is:

Matthew 22:37 …. Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

To be saved, you must give God your ALL. He doesn’t want your leftovers, but your whole life. We are to love God with our ALL. Jesus Christ is God Incarnate. Jesus said in:

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

To be saved we come to Jesus, and lay our lives at His feet. The Apostle John commented right after noting Jesus’ three part declaration of Himself:

Revelation 22:14-15 Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. 15 For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.

Those who are allowed into Heaven are those who do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life. What is God’s great work? One day some people asked Jesus:

John 6:28 … What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?

Jesus replied in John 6:29, “This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent. What does God expect of us? “To believe on Him – Jesus – Whom the Father has sent”. Jesus is the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.” He is God’s Light to a sin filled and broken world.

If you do not know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, today is the day to call upon Him and be saved.

How Is One Saved? By Coming To Jesus. Period.

As we finish today, I now come to a place of invitation. Will you come to Jesus? Will you give your lives to Him? If you are a saved believer who, like a prodigal son, has wandered from home, will you not repent and return to Him? We are told in:

Revelation 22:17 … the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.

Jesus is coming soon. Don’t make Him chase you. Come to Him, now, and be saved. the Spirit and the bride say, Come. The bride is the Church of Jesus Christ, the people who have received Him as Lord and Savior. The “Bride is the Lamb’s wife” (Revelation 21:9-11). It is the city of Heaven, the place where Christ’s redeemed live. God’s people bid you come. God the Holy Spirit bids that you come.

Word Study The word translated “COME” in our text is the Greek word ercomai (pronounced er’-khom-ahee), which means “to move from where you are to go along with another”. The Holy Spirit and the Bride say “COME”. You cannot “COME” and continue following your own path. Dear friends, God does not follow us, but we follow God. If we want to be saved we must follow God.

So many linger, holding back when the invitation is given. “I cannot step out, and receive Christ publicly. What will the Church think? What will my neighbor think?” The answer is in our text. Let him that heareth say, Come. The believer in Christ will rejoice if you come! The angels of Heaven will rejoice if you come. Let him that is athirst come. If you are thirsty for life, come. Do not hesitate, but give your life to Him. Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely. Oh, what a wonderful day to be born into the Kingdom of God – on Mother’s day! May God move on your hearts through His Word and His Spirit. Amen and Amen!

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And You

Photo by Derek Story on Unsplash

Colossians 2:8-14 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. 9 For in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. 10 And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power: 11 in whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: 12 buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead. 13 And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; 14 blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;

The Devil Attacks The Christian With
Philosophy & Vain Deceit

Word Study The word translated spoil is the Greek συλαγωγέω sylagōgéō, {pronounced soo-lag-ogue-eh’-o} means literally “to carry off as a spoil of war or booty, to lead captive”. Satan is constantly attacking the Church with the emptiness of human traditions and laws. Through a series of secular laws America has normalized godlessness.

Prayer removed from schools in 1962
The Bible removed from schools in 1963

Abortion legalized in 1973
The Ten Commandments removed from public view in 1980
Same sex marriage codified in 2015
Expanding homosexual & transgender rights in 2020

The nation was never meant to be the source of righteousness. Government exists solely to equally protect it’s citizens. The Apostle Paul, though imprisoned for preaching the Gospel of Christ, wrote:

Romans 13:1-4 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. 2 Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: 4 for he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.

The government was never meant to be the Church. The government is a kingdom of man established or allowed by God. The Kingdom of God is divinely appointed, headed by Jesus Christ, and inhabited by those who have received Christ as BOTH Lord and Savior. It is only the believer in Christ who is ordered to:

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

The person who puts their faith in philosophy and vain deceit are following the same path that the Pharisees and Sadducees of Jesus’ day did. King Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, chased after philosophy or human wisdom apart from faith in Christ. Solomon said:

Ecclesiastes 1:16-18 I communed with mine own heart, saying, Lo, I am come to great estate, and have gotten more wisdom than all they that have been before me in Jerusalem: yea, my heart had great experience of wisdom and knowledge. 17 And I gave my heart to know wisdom, and to know madness and folly: I perceived that this also is vexation of spirit. 18 For in much wisdom is much grief: and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow.

In this Internet Ready, connected world we live in, it is easy for a Christian to be side tracked, as Solomon was, into worldly wisdom and philosophy. If the devil cannot prevent a person from entering the Kingdom of God by faith in Christ, he will attempt to hamstring that person by polluting their soul with human philosophy and human traditions.

I talked with someone who told me his brother came home from Church one day. This man asked his brother, “What did you learn at Church today?” His answer was, “That the preacher must wear a suit to Church”. I do wear a suit to Church. But this “doctrine” is not found in the Scripture, and is patently divisive. I asked another what he heard at a Church revival. He told me, “That women must not wear pants or open toed shoes”. This is not the Word of God, but human tradition. Jesus chastised the Pharisees and Sadducees for following tradition and not the Word of God:

Mark 7:5-9 the Pharisees and scribes asked him, Why walk not thy disciples according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashen hands? 6 He answered and said unto them, Well hath Isaiah {Isaiah 29:13} prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoreth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. 7 Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. 8 For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. 9 And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.

Colossians 2:8 … after the tradition of men, after the rudiments {stoicheîon, pronounced stoy-khi’-on} {base elements} of the world, and not after Christ

There were two systems of philosophy that attacked the Church at Corinth:

  1. Stoicism which taught that the person is greater than any circumstance. Stoicism often focuses on human traditions. Whether a person faced poverty or prosperity, the Stoic is detached about it. “I can do all things” is what the Stoic believed. The ancient Rabbis

    The poet William Ernest Henley wrote the poem Invictus celebrating the Stoic power of man:

(1) Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
(4) It matters not how strait the gate,

How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.

Though there are Stoics in America today, the greatest false teaching is Epicureanism. Epicureanism teaches that there is no ultimate truth, that truth is fluid, changeable, based upon the viewpoint of the person. Jesus spoke of the Epicurean attitude in:

Luke 12:16-21 And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: 17 and he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? 18 And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. 20 But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? 21 So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.

The Epicureans, like Atheists, push any thought of God out of their heart.

We Are All Incomplete Apart From Jesus

Jesus Christ is not just another Man, another Charismatic Leader, another figurehead of a religion. The Bible says:

Colossians 2:9 For in Him {in Jesus} dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.

In Jesus is all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. Jesus Christ is fully God and fully Man. The Scripture says:

Colossians 1:19 … it pleased the Father that in {Jesus} should all fullness dwell;

Jesus told His disciples “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father” and “I am in the Father and the Father is in me” (John 14:9-10). When He prayed, He said “you, Father, are in me, and I in you” (John 17:21). The Bible tells us that the Eternal God came from glory, and became like us, but without sin. He is “God with us” (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23).

Humans are broken because of sin. The Bible says:

1 John 1:8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us …

All humans are natural born sinners. When born into this world, we are born – not with a desire to do the good – but with a desire to pursue that which is against God. Our forefather Adam brought sin – like a plague – into this world and onto every son and daughter born from creation’s dawn. When you enter this world kicking and crying you enter it as a son or daughter of Adam.

You are not complete unless you have given yourselves to Christ. Ritual is not enough. Remember that Jesus said to the religious Pharisees:

John 8:44, 47 Ye are of [your] father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. … (47) He that is of God heareth God’s words: ye therefore hear [them]not, because ye are not of God.

Pharisees attempt to be “complete” or right with God apart from faith in Christ. That just won’t work. Jesus Christ contains “all the fullness of the Godhead bodily (in human form)”. We cannot be complete – qualified to enter Heaven – unless our lives are attached to Christ by faith.

Colossians 2:11-12 in {Jesus} also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: 12 buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.

When you receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, God the Holy Spirit acts on your life to make you “born again”. Your position before God changes.

A male child born into Israel was required by God to be circumcised on the eighth day of birth – or be cut off from Israel (Leviticus 12:3; Philippians 3:5). This circumcision was only performed on the boy, not on the girl. Circumcision did not save the child, but marked the boy child as a member of the Kingdom of God (Genesis 17). Because Jesus was “cut off” for our sins at Calvary, when we receive Him as Lord and Savior God “cuts us off” in our hearts. This is a God the Holy Spirit circumcision made without hands. The Apostle spoke of this in detail in:

Romans 2:25-28 For circumcision verily profiteth, if thou keep the law: but if thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision. 26 Therefore if the uncircumcision keep the righteousness of the law, shall not his uncircumcision be counted for circumcision? 27 And shall not uncircumcision which is by nature, if it fulfill the law, judge thee, who by the letter and circumcision dost transgress the law? 28 For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: 29 but he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.

The believer in Christ is circumcised in heart with the circumcision made without hands. That person is marked as a citizen of the Kingdom of God because their heart is tender toward God, seeking to please Him, and not man. Genuine believers – members of Christ’s Kingdom – can say “we labor, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of{be pleasing to}{Jesus}” (2 Corinthians 5:9).

You are complete in Christ because Christ
Your Savior is completely God!

Colossians 2:10 … ye are complete in him, {Who} is the head of all principality and power

We are told “in Him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily”. The word “dwelleth”in the Greek text means “to be permanently at home with”. All that God is permanently dwells in Christ. Jesus Christ has and will always have the full nature of God. Before Jesus ever came to this earth He was God, and is still God today:

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

Jesus Christ is Creator God. He is, was, and will always be God the Creator. Jesus is, as we are told in 1 Timothy 3:16 …

God … manifest in the flesh”

What a glorious love God has for us, that “the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). Jesus Christ is “the Brightness of God’s glory, and the express image of God’s Person, Who, upholding all things by the Word of His power, Who by Himself purged our sins, and is now seated on the right hand of Eternal God the Father” (paraphrase of Hebrews 1:3).

Jesus Christ is God.
Jesus Christ became perfect Man.
Jesus Christ purged our sins.
Jesus Christ is alive today.
And at the right hand of God the Father.
God the Son made us right with God the Father!

We Are QUICKENED TOGETHER With Jesus

Colossians 2:13-14 And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; 14 blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;

Word Study There is an interesting term the Bible uses for the Christian, and it is the term is quickened together. We were dead in sins an in the circumcision of our flesh – separated from God because of the sin in us. We were in a helpless and hopeless situation. Then Godquickened {us} together” with Jesus, (“quickened together” is the Greek syzōopoiéō, {pronounced sood-zo-op-oy-eh’-o} which means made us alive together with Jesus”). As Jesus is eternal, we who are His are eternal. Our destinies are locked together.

Illustrate I’m sure you have all seen a railroad train. The locomotive is attached to the cars, and pulls the cars down the track. Jesus Christ is our Locomotion. We are bound to Him eternally. As we go through this life, we avoid sin, repent of sin, and try our best not to jump the track that Jesus has us on. The locomotive {Jesus} alone has life – the cars which follow it have no inherent life in them – only when they are bound to the locomotive do they do anything productive. They must go where the locomotive leads them. We who belong to Christ are bound to Him in life, and bound to Him in afterlife.

Beloved, if you are saved by faith in Him, God has switched where your car was attached! God has changed the track of your life. Whereas before you were attached to the Locomotive of Satan, and riding on twin rails of sin and death, now your life is different. You are bound to Jesus Christ by faith, and ride on the twin rails of love and hope. The destination of Locomotive Satan is damnation and condemnation. The destination of Locomotive Jesus is salvation and eternal life in Heaven. The wonderful truth of the Gospel is:

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

We are quickened together with Christ. Praise Him, by Grace we are saved. God has blott{ed} out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which were contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to Christ’s Cross. We who are believers in Christ are bound to Him forever. As Adrian Rogers once said:

The train that runs with incredible speed on ribbons of steel is far freer to be what it was made to be than the so called free train that may choose an excursion through the meadow. It is only free to wreck.”

Trust in and follow Jesus. Believe that He is able to save you, and that He is able to keep that which He has saved. Blessed be the name of the Lord!

Pastor Wayne Stiles told the story one time of his two daughters. One child would ask him to throw her up into the air and catch her. Every time he caught her, she would say “Do it again, daddy!”. The other daughter asked her daddy to toss her into the air, but screamed in fear when he did so, and never asked to be tossed up again. What was the difference between the two children? One child focused on the ability of her daddy to catch her, whereas the other child focused on her inability to control the flight. Put your faith fully in Jesus, believer, and trust in Him.

May God drive His Word, by His Spirit, fully into your hearts and lives this very day. Amen and Amen.

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Happy People Will See God

God is immense!
Photo by John Fowler on Unsplash

Matthew 5:8 Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.

The Way To Happiness Is To Hear And Do

This morning we looked at Jesus’ “Sermon on the Mount”, and talked about how Jesus viewed the Law of God. Tonight I want to look at this small verse, a tiny portion of that Sermon on the Mount.

Word Study The first word is Blessed, which is the Greek μακάριος makarios which means “much happiness”. People look for happiness in many things. As Jesus went out the Bible says:

Matthew 4:25 … there followed him great multitudes of people from Galilee, and from Decapolis, and from Jerusalem, and from Judaea, and from beyond Jordan.

Many people followed Jesus for temporary relief. People with divers diseases and torments, and those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatics, and those that had the palsy” flocked to Jesus, and Jesus healed them all. Many people follow Jesus that same way today. They only seek out Jesus when some great negative comes into their lives. When life is good, they only want a part time Savior, a Jesus Who will stay in the background until needed, Who only – like a trained dog – comes when called. The Bible says:

Jeremiah 17:9-10 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? 10 I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.

No heart is born into this world “pure”. “Those that are in the flesh cannot please God” (Romans 8:8). It is because of the condition of the human heart that evil is perpetuated. Jesus told the Pharisees and Scribes:

Matthew 15:18-20 But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. 19 For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: 20 these are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man.

Illustrate I often people today say “just follow your heart”. Beloved, if you just “follow your heart” you will end up getting in terrible trouble. Case in point, consider the heart of the first human King of Israel, King Saul. When Saul was first chosen the Prophet Samuel told him:

1 Samuel 15:1-3 … The Lord sent me to anoint thee to be king over his people, over Israel: now therefore hearken thou unto the voice of the words of the Lord. 2 Thus saith the Lord of hosts, I remember that which Amalek did to Israel, how he laid wait for him in the way, when he came up from Egypt. 3 Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not…

God gave King Saul very clear (though brutal) instructions. In our modern world, that which God told Saul to do to Amalek seems harsh. But God owns everything and everyone on the big blue planet. If God wanted King Agag and the Amalekites destroyed, that is God’s business. God is God and we are not. What did Saul do?

1 Samuel 15:9 … Saul and the people spared Agag, and the best of the sheep, and of the oxen, and of the fatlings, and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them: but every thing that was vile and refuse, that they destroyed utterly.

Saul and Israel looked over the people and the possessions of the Amalakites, and what look vile or useless to them, they destroyed – but what they thought was the best, they saved. This is not what God told them to do.

So God decided to remove King Saul from office. Though the Prophet Samuel prayed to God all night long, interceding for King Saul, God would not relent. When Samuel got to Saul’s encampment the next day, Saul told him:

1 Samuel 15:13 … Blessed be thou of the Lord: I have performed the commandment of the Lord.

Samuel replied, What meaneth then this bleating of the sheep in mine ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear? (vvs 14). Saul justified his actions by saying the people spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen, to sacrifice unto the Lord thy God; and the rest we have utterly destroyed. (vvs 15)”. Saul heard the Voice of God, knew what God wanted. The instructions were very clear. But Saul “followed his heart” and allowed Israel to do the same. It cost Saul his Kingdom. God told Saul through Samuel:

1 Samuel 15:22-23 … Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. 23 For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, he hath also rejected thee from being king.

Doing only PART of what the Lord says is the same as
rejecting ALL of God’s Word. Let Us Be “Pure”

Matthew 5:8 Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.

Word Study “BLESSED” or “MUCH HAPPINESS” comes to those who are “ pure in heart”. The word translated “pure” is the Greek καθαρός katharós, {pronounced kath-ar-os’}. In other Scriptures, the word is translated as “CLEAN” (Matthew 27:59; John 13:10). How does one become “CLEAN”? It is only by listening to Jesus, and doing what He says. Jesus told His disciples:

John 15:3 Now ye are CLEAN {katharós} through the word which I have spoken unto you.

When the Word of God is heard AND DONE, it cleanses the heart. It is only the CLEAN heart that can see God. When the Apostle Paul speaks of the Church and Jesus, he said that Jesus …

Ephesians 5:26 … SANCTIFIES and CLEANSES {καθαρίζω katharizō} {the Church} with the washing of water BY THE WORD.

It is not just the Word of Christ that cleanses, but the Word of God that is both HEARD and DONE. We see this principle many times in Scripture. For instance:

Romans 2:13 … for not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified

and in James 1:21-25 Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and {all that remains of wickednessNASB}, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. 22 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. 23 For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: 24 for he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. 25 But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.

Throughout Jesus’ ministry on this earth, twelve men followed Him everywhere He went. Yet only eleven of these men were blessed. Jesus said to them:

John 13:10-11 … ye are CLEAN {katharós}, but not all. 11 For he knew who should betray him; therefore said he, Ye are not all CLEAN {katharós}.

Judas Iscariot heard the Word of Christ on a daily basis. Day after day, for some 3 ½ years, Judas heard Jesus preach. And yet, though a faithful Church member, Judas was not happy. He lost his blessing – and ended up taking his own life. Throughout the Scripture we see those who heed and do God’s Word being blessed. The Apostle in another place warns against blending God’s Word with the word or tradition of man. He tells Titus:

Titus 1:13 … rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith; 14 Not giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men, that turn from the truth. 15 Unto the PURE (better CLEAN) {katharós} all things are CLEAN {katharós}: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing CLEAN {katharós}; but even their mind and conscience is defiled. 16 They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.

You may not understand or know all of the Word of God. But as His Children, you are accountable to do that which you know. The stepbrother of Jesus declared, To him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.(James 4:17).

When You Both Hear And Do His Word,
You Have God’s Promise

Matthew 5:8 Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.

I have often been asked the question,

When we get to Heaven, will we see God?”

Every believer I meet has told me that they look forward to seeing God face to face. When John the Revelator looked into Heaven, he wrote:

Revelation 22:3-4 … there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him: 4 and they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads.

When Moses went up into Mount Sinai, he asked God:

Exodus 33:18 … I beseech Thee {dear God}, shew me thy glory.

God told Moses:

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

God allowed Moses to get into a “clift of the rock” to protect him, and covered Moses so that all Moses could see of God was “His back parts” (vvs 23) … “but My face shall not be seen”. Moses saw just a glimpse of God’s glory. But Moses did not see God face to face.

Can a person “see” God? It depends on what
you mean by “see”.

It is impossible to “see” God the Father or God the Holy Spirit due to the very nature of God. The Bible tells us that one of the characteristics of God is God is everywhere at all times. The theologians call this the Omnipresence of God. When I “see” something or someone, the seeing must be in my presence.

God is everywhere. God is Spirit.

The Psalmist said of God in Psalm 139:7-12 Whither shall I go from Thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from Thy presence? 8 If I ascend up into heaven, Thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, Thou art there. 9 If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; 10 even there shall Thy hand lead me, and Thy right hand shall hold me. 11 If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me. 12 Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to Thee.

God is everywhere – there is no where where God is not. God is spirit. When Jesus appeared to His disciples after His resurrection, He told them:

Luke 24:39 Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.

God is Spirit. Jesus taught us that. In John 4:24 He said, God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. ” As a Spirit, God is everywhere. We are told in

Jeremiah 23:23-24 Am I a God at hand, saith the Lord, and not a God afar off? 24 Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the Lord. Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the Lord.

God is everywhere at once, and every time at once – and yet He is fully present in the moment. God can manifest an image of Himself, and we can see that image. Yet we are not seeing God – but a representation of God. The Shekinah Glory was a visible demonstration that the invisible God was present (Deuteronomy 31:15) – yet this was not the all of God. The Lord tells us through Isaiah:

Isaiah 66:1-2 Thus saith the Lord, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest? 2 For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the Lord: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.

The Infinite God is present with those who both hear and do His Word. But can we “see” God like we “see” a tree, or “see” each other? No, because God is too infinite. It is the infinity of God that blesses us as believers. Because God is everywhere at once, He can promise to every one of His children by faith:

Isaiah 43:2-3 When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. 3 For I am the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Savior:

Only an omnipresent, omnipotent God can promise that – no matter where I go, no matter what I do, no matter what time of the day it is – “ I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. ” (Hebrews 13:5). Theologian Don Stewart notes:

The universe that God created finds the Creator everywhere. He is everywhere present. There is no place that a person can hide and no chance that a believer will out of His protective care. He is everywhere present in His works and in His personality. This does not mean that God is the same as the universe – merely that His presence is everywhere in the universe. The truth of God’s omnipresence if comforting for the believer for no one can escape God’s notice. ”

So in one sense, no, you will not be able to see God face to face as you see me face to face. We are told in …

1 John 4:12 … No man hath seen God at any time.

The nature of God makes seeing all that is God impossible.

This Is Why God Became Man

Is it possible to see God the Father or God the Spirit in a localized way with our eyes? No, it’s not. So God, in His great love, sent the eternal Jesus Christ into the world. God the Son became flesh, so that we who are flesh can see God face to face. When Jesus promised:

Matthew 5:8 Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.

He was making a promise that He Himself would keep. God Himself – Father, Son, and Spirit, from eternity past are “immortal, invisible” (1 Timothy 1:17). The Bible says of God that He dwells in unapproachable light, “whom no man hath seen, nor can see” (1 Timothy 6:16). Jesus was like this before the incarnation. Yes, God could manifest an image, a Theophany, or a Christophany, a Shekinah, or a person. But then …

Hebrews 2:14 … as the children (that’s us) are PARTAKERS OF FLESH AND BLOOD, He also Himself (Jesus) took part of the same

God the Son lowered Himself to become our Mediator. He represents God the Father and God the Spirit to us, and we to God. The Scripture says:

John 1:17-18 (KJV)For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. 18 No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.

There is only One Man Who has ever truly “seen” God, and that Man is God become Man, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Jesus said in John 6:45-47 It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me. 46 Not that any man hath seen the Father, save he which is of God, he hath seen the Father. 47 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.

Only Jesus has seen God as God is. But Jesus Christ is God, and when we get to Heaven we will see God face to face – for we will see Jesus! When you see Jesus, you will be seeing God. Jesus said “if you have seen Me, you have seen the Father” (John 14:9). All that is of God, we shall see in Jesus, God Who became Man. Why does God love us so much as to want to lower Himself to be like us? The Apostle called this a great mystery. He said:

1 Timothy 3:16 And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.

Will we see God face to face, it will be God the Son we see. When we hear and do His Word then God “shines in our hearts, giving the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6). We see God face to face through Jesus Christ. “There is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5).

Do you know Jesus as Lord and Savior? If not, you will never “see” God. But if you know Him, you will see God in Heaven. You will see Jesus Christ, our Lord and our God, and be with Him forever. May God touch your hearts with His Word and His Spirit. Amen and Amen!

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Aspire To Inspire

Lion of Judah
Photo by Matthew Kerslake on Unsplash

Please turn with me in your Bibles to:

Colossians 2:6 As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, walk ye in Him

I hate most commercials I see on television. There’s an Aldi’s© commercial that is nauseatingly stupid, and a Smuckers© commercial that should be called schmuck. I like a few of the Progressive© commercials, and the GEICO© commercials, because they are usually humorous. Several years ago a commercial for a SAMSUNG© phone came on that was just beautiful! Listen to these words:

Nobody ever set their sights on second place. Who aspires to be almost remembered? There’s a reason there are no giant foam fingers that say “We’re number 3″. No one wants to tell an average joke, make an underwhelming entrance, go out with a whimper. No one ever stood in front of a mirror with a hairbrush pretending to be the tambourine player. And there are definitely more kids dressed as Batman, than Robin. We all aspire.”

I’m not sure we all aspire. It’s a good thought, I just don’t see it. I’ve eaten at restaurants where the waitresses are excellent, and where the waitresses don’t care. I’ve eaten food that was prepared with pride, and at places where the food was mediocre at best. I’ve worked – both in the Air Force and in civilian life – with people who sought excellence … but I’ve also worked with lazy people who had no concern over what they were doing. I tell you, if everyone DID aspire, our world would be a greater place!

The Apostle today encourages us to aspire to be like Jesus Christ – that is, IF you are a Saved Son of God.

We Must Receive Jesus As The Only Regent

Colossians 2:6 … As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord

What does it mean to received Christ Jesus the Lord”? The word “receive” is the Greek word παραλαμβάνω paralambanō which literally means “to draw to oneself in an embrace. To take to oneself. To make a part of your life. God the Father sent God the Son into the world to save Israel first. Jesus Christ is the Creator God. John tells us:

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

This is not to say that every Jew rejected Christ. There were many who believed in Him, and received Him as He is, both Lord and Savior. There are many Jews today that know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, and are a part of His ever growing Kingdom. But Israel as a nation rejected the Messiah Who came for them. The Bible tells us that through the Apostle Paul:

Romans 11:25-28 For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in. 26 And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: 27 for this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins. 28 As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers’ sakes.

The nation Israel rejected Jesus Christ as Messiah, for their leaders (the Chief Priests, Jews, and Sadducees and Scribes) rejected Jesus. The Apostle calls this “a mystery”. God allowed Israel to reject Christ so that the Lord could save more than just Israel.

Through Christ God desired to save the WORLD. Though fully God Himself, and Co-Creator of all things, Jesus is God the Father’s Regent.

Jesus as a Child told His earthly parents:

Luke 2:49 {Do you not know} that I must be about my Father’s business?

And Jesus told His disciples:

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

In His First Coming Jesus Christ represented the Father and His Will on the earth. Though Jesus is co-equal to both Father and Spirit (He said “I and My Father are One”), He came REPRESENTING the will of God the Father. In His Second Coming Jesus as REGENT will destroy the enemy of God’s Kingdom, and set up a Millennial Kingdom on this earth. The Psalmist foresaw this:

Psalm 2:2-9 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against his anointed, saying, 3 Let us break their bands asunder,and cast away their cords from us. 4 He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh:the Lord shall have them in derision. 5 Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure. 6 Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion.7 I will declare the decree: the Lord hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee. 8 Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. 9 Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron;thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.

Israel as a nation rejected Jesus as Regent in His First Coming. God used this rejection to reach out and save the Gentiles. God wants to save “whosoever will”.

We are told in Colossians 1:15-17 {Jesus} is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: 16 for by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: 17 and he is before all things, and by him all things consist.

Though REGENT, Jesus is NOT a lesser God. Jesus is, according to Scripture, the Historic Creator of all that we see. Jesus is also the Operational Creator Who holds all things together. That is the sense of the text by him all things consist (συνιστάω synistáō, [pronounced soon-is-tah’-o] are held or put together). The Apostle said in another place:

1 Corinthians 8:6 but to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.

Darwinian Evolution claims that humanity came to be by chance. The Bible says “God … through {Jesus} also made the worlds” (Hebrews 1:1-2). Man was created by the Compound Unity we call the “Trinity”. “God said, Let US make man in OUR image, according to OUR likeness” (Genesis 1:26-27). Neither humanity nor the natural world are accidents. All that is, was created by the I AM that is Christ Jesus our Lord!

Knowing that Jesus is Creator, and receiving Him as such, drives fear from my heart. When Adam disobeyed the Creator in the Garden of Eden, he brought …

Death
Fear
Human Righteousness
& Slavery to sin

I believe it was God the Son Who told Adam,

Genesis 2:16-17 … Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

Spiritual Death came on all humanity when Adam disobeyed God. His seed from that moment on would produce bent twigs rather than righteous plants. Sin has a side effect of “self righteous, human good works”. We are told:

Genesis 3:7 … the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.

Covering their sin with their human works, Adam was fear filled. When Jesus came into the Garden, He cried out to Adam, “Where are you”? Adam replied:

Genesis 3:10 … I heard Thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid…

Fear causes us to run from rather than to the Lord. Fear causes us to play “let’s make a deal” with God. “God, IF You will do THIS, THEN I will do THAT”. We cannot work our way out of sin by our works – God proved this in the Garden when He killed animals to make coverings for Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:21), just before casting them out of Paradise. Sin enslaves us to false works that will never save us. Jesus as Regent came to save us from Death, Fear, Human Righteousness, and Slavery to sin. Praise God for His Regent!

We Must Receive Jesus As REDEEMER

Colossians 2:6 … As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord…

The first Adam brought ..

Death
Fear
Human Righteousness
& Slavery to sin

into the world. The second Adam, Jesus Christ, redeemed us from these four horrible things. The Apostle says in:

1 Corinthians 15:45-49 And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam {Jesus} was made a quickening spirit. 46 Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. 47 The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven. 48 As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. 49 And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.

It is our father Adam who gave us our brokenness, our sinfulness, our mortality. But it is the second Adam, Jesus Christ our Lord, Who gave us Himself, so that we might be redeemed to God. Jesus Christ died for your sin and mine. Jesus Christ rose again, and is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords to his people. The Scripture repeatedly tells us that Jesus Christ is ALONE the Redeemer.

Ephesians 1:6-7 {God Himself} hath made us accepted in the beloved {Son}. 7 in whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;

Romans 3:24 … being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:

As God made the world through Christ Jesus, He now makes His Kingdom through Christ Jesus.

It is not by our own works that we can be saved, else we would be able to boast about our inheritance of Heaven. The Apostle says:

Romans 3:27-30 Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. 28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law. 29 Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also: 30 seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith.

How is one saved?
It is by falling in love with Jesus.
It is by receiving Him into your life,
clinging to Him as your Preserver from hell.

The Apostle John, the lover of Christ, said simply:

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

You have either received Jesus Christ, or have not. If you have not, then you have not Heaven.

We Must Receive Jesus As RECONCILER

Look at Colossians 1:20-22 … and, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. 21 And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled 22 in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight:

The Biblical Doctrine of Reconciliation teaches that, though God created all humanity through Christ Jesus, God is ONLY the Father of those who have received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Jesus told the Pharisees who thought they were God’s children:

If God were your Father you would love Me … you are of your father the devil”
(John 8:42-44).

Every person who has ever been born and ever will be born belong to God. God said, “all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine” (Ezekiel 18:4). From the perspective of creation, everyone belongs to God. But not everyone belongs in God’s Kingdom.

You must be “born again of the Spirit” (John 3:3, 7)
You must be “born again … by the Word of God” (1 Peter 1:23)

The unsaved person who is not “born of the Spirit” (John3:6-7) hears the Word and Will of God, but is an enemy in their mind by wicked works”. They ignore what God said about the forbidden fruit. They unconcernedly do evil. They violate God’s Laws without concern. The lost violate God’s Commandments without thought.

We Must Receive Jesus as The RULER Of His Church

Colossians 1:18-19 And {Jesus} is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. 19 For it pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell;

Jesus Christ is the Head of His Church. When He gave what we call “The Great Commission” to the Apostles, Jesus ordered them (and us) …

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

The Church in America today has done exactly what the Apostle Paul warned against. The Church largely has drifted from the Word of God, the Bible, into human tradition and myths. In Colossians 2:8-9 the Apostle wrote:

BEWARE lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. {9} For in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily

Word Study In Jesus and His teachings is all the fullness. Through Jesus we have all we need to be in a right relationship with God the Father. The Bible uses the word fullness” (Greek πλήρωμα plḗrōma, [pronounced play’-ro-mah]) seventeen times. The word refers to “complete purpose”. To live a God pleasing life, you must receive Christ as Lord and Savior. To excel in the Kingdom of God, you must follow the directives of the King. Jesus Christ is King of Kings and Lord of Lords to His people.

The local Church becomes spoiled or taken captive by the world when it departs from the Word of God.

We can only achieve the high ground, being like Jesus Christ, when we obey the Scripture that Jesus so loved. The power of the Church is to stay firmly in step with Christ. The Bible says:

1 John 2:15-17 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. {16} For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. {17} And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever.

As God planted the Church through His Apostles the devil continually sought to pervert it. When Paul and Silas went into the Synagogue at Berea, the Bible says:

Acts 17:11-12 These {Bereans} were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. 12 Therefore many of them believed; also of honorable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few.

When God’s Word is adhered to, the Church grows, and souls are saved. When the Church departs from the commandments of Christ, the light of God dims and goes out. We must follow the King of Kings and the Scripture He so cherished.

Conclusion

Colossians 2:6 As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, walk ye in Him

The Christian way of life is described in the Bible as “a walk”. If you have received Jesus Christ as Regent, Redeemer, Reconciler, and Ruler of His Church, then your life should reflect these truths. Our beliefs should reflect our walk. As Regent, we believe that Jesus is the manifest member of the Godhead. As Redeemer, we know that only the Blood of Jesus Christ makes payment for our sins. As Reconciler we know that we have direct access to God every minute of every day. And as Ruler, we know that we are not called to be lawless. We are called to follow the God Who saved us. As Christians:

We walk in the LIGHT, not in DARKNESS
Ephesians 5:8; 1 John 1:6-7

We walk as NEW CREATURES, not LOST CREATURES
Romans 6:4; Colossians 2:6

We walk in GOOD WORKS
Ephesians 2:10

We walk in WISDOM and TRUTH
Colossians 4:5; 2 John 4; 3 John 3-4

We walk in LOVE toward God and others
Ephesians 5:2; 2 John 6

We walk REJECTING SIN and EMBRACING CHRIST
Romans 6:1-6

We walk in DIGNITY as sons of God
John 1:12

Don’t waste your lives. Receive Christ Jesus the Lord, and walk in Him. May God touch your hearts with His Spirit and His Word. Amen and Amen.

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Christian, Take Up Your Cross

Photo by eberhard grossgasteiger on Unsplash

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

Matthew 16:24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

His Cross” Proves Every Human Life Is Precious

This past week former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin was convicted for second degree murder, third degree murder, and second degree manslaughter. Chauvin knelt on the neck of a suspect named George Floyd. Floyd plead with Chauvin. He said “I can’t breathe” at least 16 times. Floyd asked for “water”. I watched the video, and heard Floyd saying “Don’t kill me … I’m about to die”, and crying out for his mother. If I had been there I probably would have been arrested. My heart broke as I watched Floyd die.

Whether Floyd was a criminal or not, he was none the less made in God’s image and in God’s likeness (Genesis 1:26). When God made the animals no details are given, other than God allowed Adam to name them (Genesis 2:19). When God made humanity, He “breathed into Adam’s nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul” (Genesis 2:7). Humans are distinctively different from animals. When Noah got off the Ark, God told him:

Genesis 9:2-6 …. the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every fowl of the air, upon all that moveth upon the earth, and upon all the fishes of the sea; into your hand are they delivered. 3 Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things. 4 But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat. 5 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.

Noah and his descendants were given the animal kingdom, and were allowed to take meat from those creatures. But God warned Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man. Man is allowed to kill man, but only to punish for and protect from capital offenses. I am told that Chauvin faces either 40 years imprisonment, or 75 years imprisonment (depending on whether sentencing is concurrent or consecutive). God’s law demands something else. To maliciously take any life is a capital offense in God’s Kingdom.

Life is precious. Every life is precious. If you don’t think so, consider the Cross. Jesus Christ came from eternity to this earth to demonstrate the love of God. The Apostle said:

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

Sin Causes Problems Humans Cannot Fix

With the Chauvin verdict in, I saw news reports of people applauding and cheering. I also heard people on the other side saying things like “Unfair! Floyd was on drugs – this is what killed him”. Neither side gets it. Neither conservative nor liberal understands. There should be no cheering, no taking of sides. A human life was needlessly taken. George Floyd should not have died that way.

This is why humans, as we are, cannot make us right with God. We are blind to sin. Sin blinds us. Sin comes to us, dressed up in filthy rags.

Isaiah 64:6 But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.

No human born of Adam can make things right with God, because we are all, at heart, corrupt. We cannot see sin, unless our seeing benefits us.

The only way that God could save sinners would be to become Man, and punish Himself. When Adam sinned, he caused an offense against an eternal and unchanging God. But Adam also brought disease into our minds.

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

Have you ever noticed it is the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil” that Adam ate from? Eating of this tree makes US – the created – believe that WE KNOW WHAT IS BEST, BETTER THAN THE CREATOR. When Adam sinned, he immediately died spiritually and mentally, which would lead to eventual physical death. His natural born children are both spiritually and mentally broken. As humans, we have the audacity to believe that we know what is best for ourselves, and for those around us. We do not know. We are broken.

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

Adam brought mental and spiritual death on us all. A breach was made between us and God, a breach that only God could bridge. Guilty people cannot – nor in most cases are they even willing to try – to make themselves guiltless before an immutable, unchanging God.

God temporarily accepted animal sacrifices as a means by which humans could approach Him. The lamb was to be slain as a Peace Offering between God and man. God told the priests to kill the lamb without blemish, and pour all of it’s blood out at the bottom of the altar. Then:

Leviticus 4:35 … the priest shall burn {the lamb and it’s fat} upon the altar, according to the offerings made by fire unto the Lord: and the priest shall make an atonement for his sin that he hath committed, and it shall be forgiven him.

That this was but a temporary offering for sin is seen in that the lamb without blemish was killed year after year. “Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sin” (Hebrews 9:22). The Bible says that the Old Testament law of sacrifices was but a shadow of something better to come. The Bible says:

Hebrews 10:1-4 … those sacrifices which they offered year by year {over and over again could not} make {those who offered animal sacrifices} perfect {in the eyes of God}. 2 For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshipers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins. 3 But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. 4 For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.

If the animal sacrifices permanently covered our sins, the Bible would not have required that the sacrifices be made over and over again, year after year. The very repetition of these sacrifices shows that they were but temporary.

Preach This! Man is NOT an ANIMAL, so animal sacrifices could only, by God’s allowance, make a temporary covering for sin. These sacrifices looked forward to the coming of God Himself, dying for our sins. In order for God to die for our sins, God would have to become man, Perfect Man. Perfect Man in turn would have to live in this world, never following Adam’s sin, but always doing as God would require. Perfect Man would have to be like us in humanity. Perfect Man would NOT be like us in sin.

This Perfect Man is Jesus Christ. The Bible declares:

Hebrews 10:5-10 Wherefore when {God the Son} cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering {You, Father God, would not accept}, but a body {the Holy Spirit of God has} prepared {for} me: 6 in burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure. 7 Then said {Jesus Christ}, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God. 8 Above when {God} 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 {God the Son}, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. {God} taketh away the first {Covenant of Animal Sacrifices}, that he may establish the second {Covenant of Grace}. 10 By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

In the above text the items in brackets {} are my additions, but they seem true to the point the text is making. In the Old Testament an Altar was used to sacrifice animals, making a temporary atonement or covering for sin.

In the New Testament God did not use an altar of wood or of stone to atone for sin.
God used a Cross, a platform made from a tree.

The Cross was a killing tool by which criminals who wrongly took lives (like Derek Chauvin did with George Floyd). The ancient Jews normally stoned criminals to death outside the city square. But God prophetically spoke of the Cross in:

Deuteronomy 21:22-23 And if a man have committed a sin worthy of death, and he be to be put to death, and thou hang him on a tree: 23 his body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but thou shalt in any wise bury him that day; (for he that is hanged is accursed of God;) that thy land be not defiled, which the Lord thy God giveth thee for an inheritance.

This was a prophecy of the Cross of Christ.
It was by a tree that Adam brought sin into the world.
It is by a tree – a Cross – that God permanently covers the sins of those who believe in Him.

The Apostle Paul quoted Deuteronomy when he wrote: Galatians 3:13 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:

Sin is no trifle, no small thing. We see the power of sin by looking at the Cross of Christ. Sin is a debt owed to God, a debt we cannot pay, but Jesus did. God hates sin, for sin makes humans treat one another like animals. God HATES sin (Habakkuk 1:13), whereas we as humans make light of it. Sin forced the death of the Lord Jesus Christ.

If You Are Saved, You Will Embrace The Cross

I find it interesting that twice in the Gospel of Matthew that Jesus tells us to “take up His Cross”. In the first text:

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

The genuine Christian will take up His Cross and follow Jesus. The Cross was not forced on Jesus, but He willingly took it upon Himself. The Bible says:

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

Jesus was not forced to go to the Cross – He willingly did so because, as the Son of God, He loves humanity as much as do the Father and the Spirit. Jesus was filled with compassion for us (Matthew 9:36; 14:14; 20:34; Mark 1:41; 6:34; 8:2; John 11:33). Love compelled Jesus to lay His life down for us. He said:

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

Follow this line of reasoning, if you will.

God is love.
God died for us.

God willingly took the Cross.
We are saved by believing God died for us.
If we are saved, God indwells us.

If God indwells us, then we love like Him.
We willingly take the Cross.
We are love.

1 John 4:7-8 Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. 8 He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.

The Christian embraces the Cross at New Birth – at the point of salvation – and the Christian embraces the Cross daily. It is no Christian who does not embrace the Cross. Jesus said:

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

Word Study When Jesus said that the person who refuses the Cross is is not worthy of me, He is using the Greek ἄξιος áxios, {pronounced ax’-ee-os}, meaning “unworthy”, but it also means “does not have the weight of, does not measure up”. When God brought judgment on King Belshazzar, the ghostly hand wrote on the wall:

Daniel 5:27 TEKEL; Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting.

The Bible says “A false balance is abomination to the LORD: but a just weight is his delight” (Proverbs 11:1). Jesus told Belshazzar, and tells us, “If you will not take up your Cross and follow Me, your PROFESSION does not match your POSSESSION. The Christian takes up the Cross and follows Jesus. The non-Christian shuns the Cross and embraces the world of self”. The late Evangelist A.W. Tozer wrote:

Only in America can we develop instant potatoes, instant TV dinners, and instant coffee. Unfortunately, we have now given the world instant Christianity, whereby we believe that we can satisfy the demands of Christ in a once-in-a-lifetime walk down the aisle of a church or pray a little twenty-second prayer of surrender and think that we have fulfilled the calling of Jesus. … As a result, there is no essential difference between ordinary human life and the life of a person who claims to be a Christian.”

Christianity is a calling to the Cross. Today I hear over and over again:

You do you!”

What’s wrong with this? “You do you” is from Satan, not from Jesus. Jesus said:

Matthew 16:24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

let him deny himself” is certainly not “You do you”. It is the opposite. The Cross is self denial. The Apostle wrote:

Hebrews 12:1-2 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, 2 looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Jesus endured the cross. The Cross is not a party. It is not comfort. People are not lining up outside of some nightclub to gain entrance to the Cross. Jesus despised the shame. The Cross is shame. It is self denial.

  • The Cross is love “turning the other cheek”. Jesus said, “resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.” (Matthew 5:39). When someone hurts you, let the hurt come, and give them another chance. Doesn’t Jesus give us all another chance every day?
  • The Cross is “loving your enemy, doing good to those who did bad to you”. Jesus said, “I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you”.
  • The Cross is “waiting on God, rather than doing it yourself”. The Apostle said, “Recompense to no man evil for evil. … avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. 21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:17, 19-21). As Jesus hung on the Cross, suffering, being mocked, He cried out, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34).
  • The Cross is “rejecting the worldly minded while embracing God’s mind”. The Stepbrother of Christ wrote, “whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God” (James 4:4). The son of Adam does not want to carry the Cross of Christ. When Jesus fell under the burden of the Cross, no one stepped out of the crowd to help Him. Simon of Cyrene was COMPELLED to carry Christ’s Cross. If you must be compelled, dear one, you are not saved. I say again, if you must be COMPELLED to carry the Cross, you are not saved!
  • The Cross is “both a place of death, and a place of life”. Jesus Christ died on the Cross for our sins. Once dead, He was removed from that Cross, and laid in a tomb. Three days later Jesus resurrected from the grave. The Christian goes to the Cross, dying to self. The old you dies. Rising from the Cross, we then pick up the Cross and follow Jesus forever.
  • The Cross is “where the Christian is bound forever”. Our feet are nailed to the Cross – we only go where Jesus bids us go. Our hands are nailed to the Cross – we only do that which Jesus bids us do.

In the past few years, a number of what are called “High Profile Christians” have renounced their faith, and no longer follow Jesus. Popular Hillsong songwriter Marty Sampson wrote:

I’m genuinely losing my faith… Christians can be the most judgmental people on the planet – they can also be some of the most beautiful and loving people… but it’s not for me. I am not in anymore.”

Christian author Joshua Harris wrote:

I have undergone a massive shift in regard to my faith in Jesus. The popular phrase for this is ‘deconstruction,’ the biblical phrase is ‘falling away.’ By all the measurements I have for defining a Christian, I am not a Christian.”

Former Pastor of Grace Family Fellowship, Covenant Church, and Cedar Community Church Dave Gass wrote:

After 40 years of being a devout follower, 20 of those being an evangelical pastor, I am walking away from the faith. Even though this has been a massive bomb drop in my life, it has been decades in the making.”

How can such high profile, popular Christians suddenly be Christians? I believe it was because they never carried the Cross. When God spoke of the New Covenant that He would bring through Christ, He said through the Prophets:

Jeremiah 31:31-33 Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: … 33 but this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.

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

When Jesus gave us the Lord’s Table, He tied His death with the New Covenant when He offered the Cup, saying “This is My blood OF THE NEW TESTAMENT (Covenant), which is shed for the remission of sins” (Matthew 26:28). When we receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and are supernaturally born again of the Spirit, then God Himself, saving us by the Cross, daily draws us to the Cross. It is as God has said, “I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; and their sins and iniquities will I remember no more” (Hebrews 10:16-17). Christians are not “self made”. They are “God made”. They are drawn to the Cross when saved, and carry the Cross after they are saved. One final truth about the Cross:

  • There is only one person to a Cross. When Jesus said “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Matthew 16:24), He calls us to individual decisions. No one can carry your Cross. You will not enter Heaven because you had a mother, a father, a grandparent, or anyone else you loved carrying a Cross. You must carry the Cross. If you are saved, you are compelled by your changed heart to carry that Cross.

Do you belong to Jesus? Will you receive Him today to be your Lord and Savior, repenting of your old life, dying on the Cross? May God the Holy Spirit drive the Word of God deeply into your hearts this very day. Amen and Amen.

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Being Resurrection Minded

Photo by MohammadHosein Mohebbi on Unsplash

1 Corinthians 15:1-4 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; 2 by which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. 3 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:

Are you resurrection minded?

Most people – even professing Christians – are not. We live our lives daily thinking rarely of our own deaths. Some of us dread death. Others ignore death. Yet death is a part of life. Death seems unnatural to us, because God did not make us to die. When Adam did what God told him not to do, “the day that he ate thereof he surely died” (Genesis 2:17). God made everything perfect, but man made death. “By one man sin entered the world, and death by sin, for all have sinned” (Romans 5:12). God manufactures life and peace. Man manufactures death and sin.

We must all die, unless, like Elijah of old, God takes us up into Heaven “by a whirlwind” (2 Kings 2:11).

Death Should Not Frighten We Who Are Saved

Death should frighten the lost person, but it should not frighten the saved. In the Old Testament King Hezekiah (his name means “God has strengthened me”), the King of Judah was 25 years old when he began to reign. His father, Ahaz, was one of the worst kings Judah ever saw. When Hezekiah took over the kingdom he honored God, and removed idolatry from among the people. Hezekiah loved the Lord, and proved it by his works. One day God came to Hezekiah and said:

2 Kings 20:1 Set thine house in order; for thou shalt die, and not live.

Hezekiah “turned his face to the wall” and “wept sore” (2 Kings 20:2, 3). Because of his grieving the Lord said, “I will add unto thy days 15 years” (2 Kings 20:6). What happened during those added years? Hezekiah had the worst 15 years of his life. When Babylonian emissaries visited the kingdom, Hezekiah in pride showed off the national treasury. God told Hezekiah that his foolishness would cause all in his house, all his kingdom’s treasures, would be carried off to Babylon (2 Kings 20:14-18). Hezekiah also sired the most evil king, his son Manasseh. Manasseh would have Isaiah the Prophet killed. Hezekiah would be responsible for Judah as a nation falling into idolatry and sexual immorality.

It would have been better had Hezekiah left this earth when the Lord had him scheduled to go. We should not fear death, dear Christian, for

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

God called Hezekiah for a purpose. He called you for a purpose. While we have the gift of physical life, we should live in the purpose of God. But when God calls us home we should not fear. We know something that Hezekiah did not know. We know and have heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

I Should Not Fear Death Because
Jesus Has Conquered Both Sin & Death

1 Corinthians 15:3 … 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

The GOSPEL (Greek εὐαγγέλιον euangélion, {pronounced yoo-ang-ghel’-ee-on} or “good tidings” or “good news” that God has given us is in two parts. The first part is Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures.

The Old Testament prophecies repeated sets God forth as a “Physical Savior of His people”.

King David often praised God for saving him from death:

2 Samuel 22:2-7 The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; 3 the God of my rock; in him will I trust: he is my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my high tower, and my refuge, my savior; thou savest me from violence. 4 I will call on the Lord, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies. 5 When the waves of death compassed me, the floods of ungodly men made me afraid; 6 the sorrows of hell compassed me about; the snares of death prevented me; 7 in my distress I called upon the Lord, and cried to my God: and he did hear my voice out of his temple, and my cry did enter into his ears.

The Old Testament Saints saw God as Someone who savest me from violence. David praised God because the Lord saved {Me} from mine enemies. God is seen as a Savior from earthly enemies. God is seen as a Savior from harm, from loss of life. There are many passages that speak of great deliverance, where:

Psalm 106:21-22 … God their savior, which had done great things in Egypt; 22 wondrous works in the land of Ham, and terrible things by the Red sea.

The idea of “God as Savior” under the Old Covenant is that of God saving from the things that sting, that bite, that harm, that oppress the joy of life on this earth. God is more of a PHYSICAL Savior. The Prophet said:

Isaiah 19:20 … they shall cry unto the Lord because of the oppressors, and he shall send them a savior, and a great one, and he shall deliver them.

When God presented Himself as “Savior”, it was often as a PHYSICAL Savior. God told Israel,

Isaiah 43:3 … I am the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Savior: I gave Egypt for thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for thee.

God foretold of the time when He would send forth His Messiah, His Son Jesus. God foretold of salvation from sin in:

Isaiah 45:21-22 … there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Savior; there is none beside me. 22 Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.

And a clear presentation of Jesus Christ in Isaiah 53:3-6 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. 4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. 5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

Though there are numerous passages that foretell the coming of Jesus Christ, the fact that:

Matthew 1:21 … JESUS .. shall SAVE HIS PEOPLE FROM THEIR SINS

The Old Testament saints were more concerned with God SAVING THEM FROM PHYSICAL HARM than they were of God SAVING THEM FROM SIN. Even Isaiah the Prophet, when he looked into Heaven, cried out in dismay:

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

Sin under the Old Covenant was seen as something that you could take care of with an animal sacrifice.

The “Gospel” under the Old Covenant is that God could protect you PHYSICALLY, but SPIRITUAL safety was not first and foremost.

The Gospel under the New Covenant is that God has defeated BOTH sin and death. God saves us physically, AND God saves us spiritually. The GOOD NEWS that Paul delivers is:

1 Corinthians 15:3-4 … 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

Do you see the “and”? The Gospel teaches that Jesus …

Galatians 1:4 … gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil world …

1 Corinthians 15:4 … and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

Jesus did not just die for our sins. He saved us from sin. But Jesus also CONQUERED DEATH. The Bible says he was buried. He was done. There was no life left in him whatsoever. And yet he rose again the third day according to the scriptures. Jesus Christ died on Calvary being the covering for our sins, and not for ours only, but for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2). The Bible says:

Luke 24:46-47 Thus it is written, and thus it {was right for} Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: 47 and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.

Jesus Christ died, and rose again.
In His death He conquered sin.
In His resurrection He conquered death.

Many who profess to be New Covenant Christians are – sadly – Old Covenant Believers. Their fear of death proves this.

Prior to Jesus, there were SEVERAL who
were brought BACK FROM DEATH …
but NONE who were RESURRECTED.

The Prophet Elijah brought life back to a young boy (1 Kings 17:17-24).
The Prophet Elisha raises the son of a Gentile woman (2 Kings 4:32-37).
A dead man tossed into Elisha’s tomb comes to life (2 Kings 13:21).

Our Lord Jesus raised:

The widow of Nain’s son (Luke 7:11-17).
Jairus’ daughter (Luke 8:49-56).
His friend Lazarus (John 11).

These were all raised from the dead – but eventually died again. They were resuscitated, NOT resurrected. But the Apostle tells us:

1 Corinthians 15:20-23 But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first fruits of them that slept. 21 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But every man in his own order: Christ the first fruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.

The Old Testament saint understood resuscitation of the dead. There were examples where people died, and were brought back to life. There were examples where people SHOULD have died, but God extended their lives. BUT NEVER HAD THE OLD TESTAMENT SAINT SEEN RESURRECTION. God spoke of an awakening from sleep in passages like:

Daniel 12:2 … many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.

But the Old Covenant believer had no concept of resurrection. This is because Jesus Christ is the first fruits of them that slept. The first fruits was, to the Jew, the “first harvest of the field”. Jesus Christ is the prototype of the resurrection. We have the promise of God that in Christ shall all be made alive. You will NOT be RESUSCITATED. You will be made alive, just like Jesus is alive. There is coming a day when you will die. Yet beloved, this is but a bee sting. Why? Because every man in his own order: Christ the first fruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming. When Jesus returns, you shall be made fully Heaven worthy. You shall be made like Jesus.

1 Corinthians 15:5-8 {Jesus} 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.

Jesus Christ rose from the grave. He is the first fruit of resurrection. He was seen of many, touched and spoken to in His resurrection body. And as the first fruit, you who believe in Him will one day be as He is.

This Present Body Is Not Heaven Worthy

I received a gift from the United States Government the other day. They sent me a “intestinal lavage”. It’s for an upcoming procedure that the V.A. is going to do. Yippee!!!

We must all die, or be changed, if we are going to go to Heaven. You may, like an Old Testament Saint, pray that God extend your earthly life, and God may do so. God loves us enough to extend our lives. But Beloved, you cannot enter Heaven in your current bodies. Your souls can enter Heaven, because Jesus Christ paid for your sins. If you have believed in Him the Bible says:

John 3:16-18 … God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. 18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

If you have received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior you are not condemned. The Bible says because we are BORN AGAIN of God’s Spirit (John 3:3, 5, 7), that …

Romans 7:6 … NOW WE ARE delivered from the Law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit …

1 John 3:2 … now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.

Our SOULS are made Heaven worthy … but our BODIES are not. The Apostle describes this in detail:

1 Corinthians 15:35-44 But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come? 36 Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die: 37 and that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain: 38 but God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body. 39 All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds. 40 There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. 41 There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory. 42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: 43 it is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: 44 it is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body.

The Apostle likens our bodies to the seed of a tree or a fruit. That which is sown, is sown into the soil a dead thing, but is raised through the power of God into something else. Our bodies are corrupted by an old sin nature. Sin is in our flesh. The Apostle said:

Romans 7:18 … I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. 19 For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. 20 Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.

This present body must be exchanged for another. This present body is not Heaven worthy. This is why,

2 Corinthians 5:6-8 Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: 7 (for we walk by faith, not by sight:) 8 we are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.

The Apostle did not see physical death as a thing to be feared. He viewed his walk with God under the New Covenant, not under the Old Covenant. He knew that his current body – as is all our bodies – is not Heaven worthy. Our bodies must undergo change before they are allowed in Heaven.

1 Corinthians 15:44 … There is a NATURAL body, and there is a SPIRITUAL body …

The first body you were given (you neither earned nor deserved that body) by God’s Grace. It is an EARTHLY body. The next body you will be given, dear Christian, will be HEAVENLY. We read:

1 Corinthians 15:45-49 The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. 46 Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. 47 The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven. 48 As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. 49 And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.

In Adam we have physical life, but in Adam that life is corrupted by sin. But in Christ we have right now spiritual life, and the promise of a Heavenly body in God’s own timing. Physical death for the believer is not a curse, but a blessing. When we physically die, we spiritually go to be with Jesus.

The Promise Of God Should Remove
Our Fear Of Death

Let us end with more of this precious text. The Apostle says:

1 Corinthians 15:50-58 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. 51 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. 55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? 56 The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.

In a 1972 Radio Message Billy Graham said:

The death of a Christian is unlike the tragic passing of the unrighteous. Though the Christian has no immunity from death and no claim to perpetual life on this planet, death is to him a friend rather than a foe, the beginning rather than the end. … It is as if the Lord of the harvest says to every weary laborer, ‘You’ve been faithful in your task. Come and sit in the sheltered porch of my palace and rest from your labors. Enter now into the joy of your Lord.’ … Death to the Christian is the exchanging of a tent for a permanent palace. Here we are as pilgrims or gypsies living in a frail, flimsy home subject to disease, pain and peril. But at death we exchange this crumbling, disintegrating tent for a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.”

Thanks be to God for His unspeakable gift” (2 Corinthians 9:15). Let us not fear what is to come, dear Christian. Let us be New Covenant believers. If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, run to His embrace today. He loves you, and has promised to give you eternal life both now, and forever. Amen and Amen!

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The Great Meeting In The Air

Photo by William Sinclair on Unsplash

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. 16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17 then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. 18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words.

The Bible Is Filled With Wonderful Meetings That
We Can Read Of, But Could Not Be At

I wish I could have been at that camp meeting when Israel passed through the Red Sea as if on dry land. I wish I could have been there when Miriam, Moses’ sister, led Israel in song:

Exodus 15:21 Sing ye to the Lord, for he hath triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider hath {God} thrown into the sea.

That must have been magnificent! I would have loved to have been at the meeting when Moses received the Law, or when Jericho fell as God’s people marched around it. There are so many wonderful meetings in the Old Testament I would have loved to have been at.

Wouldn’t you have loved to be at that meeting at the empty tomb when the Angel told the women:

Matthew 28:6-8 He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. 7 And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you. 8 And they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word.

Wouldn’t you have loved to have been at that meeting when the disciples huddled together, fearful, in a locked room? I would have loved to be there. I can imagine the conversation, the sadness, as we spoke of Jesus’ crucifixion. Jesus had told His disciples that “after three days He will rise” (Mark 9:30-32; Matthew 17:22-23). Jesus told them (Matthew 26:32) “after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee”. They heard His words, but the words didn’t register. In that locked room 11 defeated men gathered – oh, how I wish I could have been there – when suddenly and miraculously Jesus appeared. Can you imagine it? It would have made me shout. Jesus has conquered death. He passed through a locked door to see us, saying:

Luke 24:39-43 Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have. 40 And when he had thus spoken, he shewed them his hands and his feet. 41 And while they yet believed not for joy, and wondered, he said unto them, Have ye here any meat? 42 And they gave him a piece of a broiled fish, and of an honeycomb. 43 And he took it, and did eat before them.

What a wonderful meeting that must have been! Then Jesus “shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God” (Acts 1:3). What a wonderful series of meetings this must have been. The Sermon on the Mount was well attended, and a great blessing – but just imagine the meetings with the resurrected Jesus! Praise God!

On the fortieth day following His resurrection from the tomb, Jesus commissioned His Apostles. He told them – and us – to carry the Gospel message into the world. How it must have moved their hearts when they saw Jesus – defeating gravity – ascend to glory:

Mark 16:19-20 So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God. 20 And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen.

What a powerful meeting that was! Neither you nor I could be at any of those wonderful meetings. I read of them, and believe that they happened just as they said. But I can only read of them, and imagine the joy of seeing Jesus – the resurrected Jesus – face to face. I was born in the wrong time to see those wonderful meetings. But there is a meeting that will be greater than that first meeting with Jesus was. This meeting is a meeting that every Christian will attend. The old time Evangelist Billy Sunday said of this coming meeting:

… “no meeting has ever been held anywhere or in any time that could begin to compare in importance with the greatest of all meetins that is to be held in the air, when our Lord comes to make up His jewels. That meeting is the one for which all others have been preparing the way. It will be the crowning meeting of all history. The purpose of all that has been done in this world up to the present times has been prepared for that great meeting in the air.”

Jesus is Coming! Jesus said He would be crucified. He said that He would lay His life down for us. He said that He would die, and rise again on the third day. But Jesus also said that He is coming again. Jesus said that His coming would be like lightening, quick and unpredictable. He said:

Matthew 24:27 as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.

Jesus told His disciples that the day of His Second Coming is known only to the Father. He said:

Matthew 24:36 But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.

Matthew 24:42-44 Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. 43 But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. 44 Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.

The Second Coming of Christ is referred to over 350 times in the New Testament.

Water Baptism is an important Biblical truth. The Apostle Paul refers to Water Baptism about 13 times. But the Apostle refers to the Second Coming of Jesus 50 times. Our Jesus is coming again. He is coming to save, and He is coming to judge and rule. If you are a child of God by faith in Christ (Galatians 3:26) then you WILL be at this great meeting, one way or the other.

All Christians Will Be At That “Meeting In The Air”

Word Study In 1 Thessalonians, we see the Apostle Paul use the word “sleep” in two different technical ways.


1. The Apostle uses the word “ASLEEP” {Greek κοιμάω koimáō, [pronounced koy-mah’-o], meaning “to be in a state of rest or sleep”} in chapter four to describe the saved Child of God who is physically dead.
2. The Apostle uses the word “SLEEP” {Greek καθεύδω katheúdō, [pronounced kath-yoo’-do], meaning “to fall asleep”} in chapter five to describe the lost child of Adam who is spiritually dead.

This morning we are going to talk of the “Meeting In The Air”, the first phase of our Lord’s Second Coming. Let’s begin.

1 Thessalonians 4:13 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.

When an unbeliever in Jesus physically dies, it is called “die” or “death”. But when a believer in Christ physically dies, the Bible refers to this as “sleep” or “asleep in Jesus”. Why is this? Because our Lord Jesus said:

John 11:25-26 …. I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: 26 and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.

Again, “whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die”. The Christian does not DIE. The Christian SLEEPS. The body of the believer RESTS in repose. The body of the Christian in that casket looks like it is sleeping. Death is but a sleep for the genuine believer in Christ. When the Evangelist Stephen was being stoned to death by the Pharisees the Bible says:

Acts 7:60 {Stephen} kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.

Stephen did not drift off into normal sleep while his body was being beaten with stones. His body died – but to him it was like drifting off into sleep. “He fell asleep”. When Jesus’ friend Lazarus died, our Lord told His disciples:

John 11:11 … Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep.

The disciples did not understand. They said:

John 11:12-15 … Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well. 13 Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep. 14 Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead. 15 And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe; nevertheless let us go unto him.

For the Christian, death is but a sleep.

When the Apostle Paul wrote of the some 500 brethren who saw the resurrected Jesus, he wrote:

1 Corinthians 15:6 … {Jesus} was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep.

The Apostle was speaking of the believers who had physically died. They were “fallen asleep”. Death for the Christian is indeed much like sleep. Both death and sleep are inevitable. Everyone must die, and everyone must sleep. When you as a Christian die, you do not cease to exist, no more than you cease to exist when you sleep. When you sleep, you awaken to a different time. When you as a Christian die, you awaken in glory, in a different time. Both death and sleep sneak up on us. When I lay in bed at night thinking about going to sleep, I cannot sleep. But when I think on other things, sleep sneaks up on me. It is a surprise, albeit a pleasant one. Death and sleep for the Christian are the same.

When the Bible refers to the Christian sleeping, this sleep refers to the body, not the soul. When the Christian experiences physical death, the believer’s soul goes to be with the Lord. The Bible says:

2 Corinthians 5:6-8 Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: 7 (for we walk by faith, not by sight:) 8 we are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.

When we are “absent from the body”, that is, my soul departs this vessel, then we are “present with the Lord”. Believers go to be with Jesus, where Jesus is. When John the Revelator looked into Heaven, he said:

Revelation 6:9 … I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held:

He did not see their bodies. He saw their SOULS. He said the same thing in Revelation 20:4, “I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the Word of God …”. When the believer in Christ dies, their BODY sleeps “in the dust of the earth” (Daniel 12:2). The Apostle, writing to the Church at Philippi, said:

Philippians 1:21-24 … For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not. 23 For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: 24 nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you.

Physical death for the Apostle was GAIN, not loss. Why? He said “I have a desire to depart, and to be with Christ”. Paul rightly saw that physical death for the believer was when our bodies sleep, but our souls go to be with Jesus, to see Him face to face.

Christians Sleep And Have Hope.
Unbelievers Die Without Hope.

1 Thessalonians 4:13 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.

The Apostle did not want the Thessalonians to “sorrow as others which have no hope”. When unbelievers die, their souls go to a place of TORMENT (Luke 16:22-23). “The rich man lifted up his EYES IN HELL, BEING IN TORMENTS”. Lazarus, on the other hand, was “being comforted”.

1 Thessalonians 4:14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.

Here then is the great news of salvation. The Christian who “sleeps” or physically dies prior to the return of Jesus Christ, then “them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him”. Those loved ones who have gone on ahead – who have “fallen asleep in Jesus” – when Jesus comes back God will bring them – their souls – WITH HIM. Our loved ones – my grandma and grandpa, my momma and daddy, the loved ones who were “in Christ”, and who “fell asleep in Christ”, or have physically died, these precious souls will come back with Jesus when He returns.

1 Thessalonians 4:15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.

Word Study Those Christians who are alive when Jesus returns in the air “shall not prevent them which are asleep”. The word translated “prevent” is the Greek φθάνω phthánō, [pronounced fthan’-o], which means “to come before or precede”. When Jesus returns, He brings the souls of those who have believed in Him with Him, like a mighty cloud of witnesses.

1 Thessalonians 4:16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:

At this wonderful meeting in the air that some call “The Rapture”, the souls of those who departed this life, “asleep in Jesus”, will be given resurrected bodies FIRST. Those who go the sleep first receive resurrected bodies first. What a blessing this is!

1 Thessalonians 4:17 … Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

Word Study The words “caught up together” is the Greek ἁρπάζω harpázō, [pronounced har-pad’-zo]. This is a very interesting word, as it means “to seize, to carry off or be claimed eagerly for one’s self”. After Jesus unites the believers who have previously “fallen asleep” with glorified bodies, He takes those Christians who are alive and remain off of this earth. What great news! “And so shall we ever be with the Lord”. Christ’s Church, the believers of every age, will forever be with Jesus. The Apostle of love said:

1 John 3:2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.

“when he shall appear, we shall be like him”. What a glorious truth this is, dear Christian. As you have received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, one day – and we do not know when that day will be – Jesus will come back to receive you to Himself. If you “fall asleep in Christ” prior to His second coming, then He will bring you back with Him when He returns “in the air”. Jesus is coming – we do not know when. The Moody Bible Institute notes:

“Before He establishes His kingdom on earth, Jesus will come for His Church, an event commonly referred to as the “Rapture.” At that time the dead in Christ will be raised and living Christians will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air and be with Him forever. In this resurrection, those who have died in Christ will have their redeemed souls and spirits united with a body similar to Christ’s glorified body. Christians living at the time of this event will not die, but will be changed to be like Christ. This expectation is a motivation for holy living, as well as a source of comfort.”

If You Plan On Meeting Jesus In The Air
You Will Live For Jesus On The Ground

Knowing that the Lord shall return at any moment – and we do not know when that moment will be – we as Christians are to live expectantly and in a holy manner every moment of every day. When we started this message we read:

1 Thessalonians 4:13 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep

We skipped over that little word “But”, but that word is important, too. Preceding this teaching on the Second Coming of Christ the Apostle said:

1 Thessalonians 4:1-4 Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more. 2 For ye know what commandments we gave you by the Lord Jesus. 3 For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: 4 that every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honor…

If you are a Christian, and are expecting to one day to “fall asleep in Jesus” and not to die, then you should “know how to possess {your} vessel in sanctification and honor”. The lives that God has given you are stewardships. “You are not your own, but are bought with a price, the Blood of Jesus Christ. Glorify God in your BODY, and in your SPIRIT, which are God’s!” (1 Corinthians 6:20). You are to be living your lives as if Christ might come at any moment. You are to live your lives to please Jesus.

Understanding the Second Coming of Christ should spur us into actively serving Jesus. We do not know when Jesus will return. If you are saved, and looking forward to SLEEP and not death, then:

1 Thessalonians 4:7 … God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness.

We are to be a holy people. God tells His Children:

1 Peter 1:15-16 as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of {your way of life}; 16 because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.

We are called as believers to holiness, to living our lives so as to please our Lord. Knowing that Christ is returning without warning, the Apostle exhorts us:

1 Thessalonians 4:9-12 But as touching brotherly love ye need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another. 10 And indeed ye do it toward all the brethren which are in all Macedonia: but we beseech you, brethren, that ye increase more and more; 11 and that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you; 12 that ye may walk honestly toward them that are without, and that ye may have lack of nothing.

The Second Coming of Christ is in two phases. In phase 1, Jesus saves His Church from the Great Tribulation. The Church goes with Jesus to glory for seven years, while the judgment of God and the rule of the Antichrist grips the earth. At the end of that seven year period Jesus returns to the earth with His Church to save Israel, and to judge sin. Jude wrote of this in:

Jude 14-15 And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, 15 to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.

There is a Second Coming “In the Air” and a Second Coming “On the Ground”. The first is to save the Church from Tribulation. The second is to save Israel, and establish the Kingdom of Christ on the earth. What wonderful truths!

Will you be at this meeting? Will you be at the Second Coming of Christ? You will be, but only if you know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. You will be, but only if you have been born again of the Spirit, and are Children of God by spiritual adoption. You will be, only if you love Jesus, and follow Him. Jesus will not return for a stranger. He is returning for those He loves. Will you be at that great Meeting in the Air? May God the Holy Spirit draw you to call upon Jesus Christ as both Lord and Savior. The Bible says:

John 3:15-18 … whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. 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. 17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. 18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

Amen and Amen!

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The Day Of The Lord

Photo by Michael & Diane Weidner on Unsplash

Please turn with me in your Bibles to 1 Thessalonians 5. As you are turning, I will give you an introduction to Chapter Five.

Rapture (Second Coming Phase 1) &
Great Tribulation (Time of Jacob’s Trouble)

This morning we studied the Second Coming of Christ when we “meet the Lord in the air” (1 Thessalonians 4:17). Jesus will return from Heaven to take His Church from this earth. We saw this morning that:

1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 … the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17 then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

The Church has historically referred to this text as “The Rapture”, or what I call “The Second Coming Phase 1”

Jesus is coming again. In His Second Coming in the Air the Bible says:

1 Thessalonians 4:14 … if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.

You cannot be saved unless you believe that Jesus died and rose again. Dr Charles Stanley notes:

Believing that the Lord Jesus Christ rose from the dead is essential for Christians. Merely recognizing that He died for our sins is not enough; we must accept His resurrection in order to receive eternal life. Christ paid our debt, but His sacrifice on the cross means nothing if He possesses no power over the grave. In vanquishing evil and death, the Lord made our salvation possible.”

The Bible says in Romans 10:8-11, “what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; 9 that if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. 10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.”

You must believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead if you would be saved. Period! If Jesus did not die on the Cross, then our sins were never paid for. If Jesus died and did not resurrect, then His promise and performance were all lies. The Bible says in

1 Corinthians 15:13-17 … if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: 14 and if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. 15 Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. 16 For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: 17 and if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.

The resurrection of Christ shows us that it is God’s intent not only to forgive our sins, but to give us resurrected bodies in the future. The souls that have gone on to be with Jesus before the Rapture, Jesus will bring them back with Him, and they shall be given glorified bodies first. Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them, to meet the Lord in the air. Why does Jesus do this? Because God never does things halfway. The salvation we have in Jesus is a complete salvation. What did the Apostle say?

Colossians 2:9-10 For in {Jesus} dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. 10 And ye are complete in {Jesus} …

Jesus returns to save His Church from the coming Great Tribulation in Phase 1 of His Second Coming (the Rapture).

I believe that the Scripture teaches while the Great Tribulation unfolds, during that 7 year period the Church will be with Jesus in Heaven. Jesus warned of this Great Tribulation in:

Matthew 24:15-22 When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) 16 then let them which be in Judæa flee into the mountains: 17 let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house: 18 neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes. 19 And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days! 20 But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day: 21 for then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. 22 And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.

As Jesus addressed this warning He was talking to Israel, not to His Church. The Great Tribulation is known as “The Time Of Jacob’s Trouble”. This is from the Prophet:

Jeremiah 30:7-9 Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble; but he shall be saved out of it. 8 For it shall come to pass in that day, saith the Lord of hosts, that I will break his yoke from off thy neck, and will burst thy bonds, and strangers shall no more serve themselves of him: 9 but they shall serve the Lord their God, and David their king, whom I will raise up unto them.

The Great Tribulation is the time of Jacob’s trouble. The name Jacob is the name of the lost man who would one day be named “Israel”. Out of “Israel” would come twelve sons that would be the twelve tribes of Israel, God’s Chosen nation. The Great Tribulation will be a seven year period where Israel (who is now acting like Jacob) will look for and receive the Lord Jesus Christ. Dr Adrian Rogers said of the Great Tribulation:

It is the last seven years of God’s dealing with the nation of Israel before they are brought to a final crisis—and prepared for receiving their Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ. We know this because of many Scriptures connecting the Great Tribulation to the nation of Israel.” (Deuteronomy 4:39; Jeremiah 30; Daniel 12:1; Matthew 24:22) … “Another purpose of the Tribulation is to punish the Gentiles for their arrogance, rebellion and godlessness. Isaiah 24 and Jeremiah 25 beginning with verse 30 describe the Great Tribulation coming upon the Gentiles. God will pour out His wrath upon a world that has spurned Him, that has laughed at and ridiculed His precepts and principles and said, “We don’t want any God to rule over us” (Psalm 2:3). ”

The Great Tribulation is a time for Israel to be tried, so that God’s people might return to Him and be saved. The Bible says in:

Romans 11:26 … so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:

The “Day Of The Lord” Is When Jesus Saves Israel, And Establishes His Kingdom On The Earth

1 Thessalonians 5:1-2 But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. 2 For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.

The day of the Lord is when God the Son returns to this earth – not “in the air” but ON THE GROUND. Jesus Christ returns to the earth with His Church. Jesus overthrows the world powers, and sets up His Throne in Jerusalem. Jesus will come as a thief in the night. No thief ever phones ahead, texts, or emails you to say “I’m going to come to your home at such and such a time”. That wouldn’t make sense. When Jesus comes again with His Church it will be a surprise to the lost world. It will not be a happy event. The Apostle writes:

2 Peter 3:9-11 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. 11 Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness,

The Second Coming of Jesus for Israel will be a cataclysmic event! God our Savior will be judging sin on the earth. Can you imagine it? I was watching a somewhat comical show the other day called Third Rock From The Son. In that show they had an office party for Christmas. In that party, the song “O Little Town of Bethlehem” was playing, while they drunkenly did a conga line in mockery to it. Jesus is coming again! He is coming with His Church.

The first time Jesus came, He rode a donkey into Jerusalem (Zechariah 9:9; Matthew 21:1-11). During His Second Coming (Phase 2) John writes:

Revelation 19:11-16 And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. 12 His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. 13 And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. 14 And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. 15 And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. 16 And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.

The KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS will come and take back His world. The entertainment industry which, through movies, internet, radio and television has gotten rich selling sin – Jesus will crush it. The colleges, filled with professors who teach Marxism and godlessness to our children, will be destroyed. The Bible says sudden destruction cometh upon them. God will directly intervene in human history. The world at present ignores the Lord, and His Word. But Jesus will come, and change all things.

1 Thessalonians 5:3 For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.

The “Day of the Lord” is when God will righteously judge those who have rejected Gods our Savior. The Prophet writes of the Second Coming:

Isaiah 2:11-12 The lofty looks of man shall be humbled, and the haughtiness of men shall be bowed down, and the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day. 12 For the day of the Lord of hosts shall be upon every one that is proud and lofty, and upon every one that is lifted up; and he shall be brought low:

God will send His Son Jesus to reclaim the earth, which belongs to Him, from those who have used it in godlessness. Those who have rejected the Lord are told:

Isaiah 13:6-9 Howl ye; for the day of the Lord is at hand;it shall come as a destruction from the Almighty.7 Therefore shall all hands be faint, and every man’s heart shall melt: 8 and they shall be afraid:pangs and sorrows shall take hold of them;they shall be in pain as a woman that travaileth: they shall be amazed one at another; their faces shall be as flames. 9 Behold, the day of the Lord cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate:and he shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it.

Jesus came to this earth the first time to save sinners. As He returns to earth with His Church He comes not to save, but destroy, to rid the earth of those who will not hear His Word, to rid the world of those who have hardened their hearts to the Gospel. The Prophet said:

Joel 2:10-11 The earth shall quake before them; the heavens shall tremble: the sun and the moon shall be dark, and the stars shall withdraw their shining: 11 and the Lord shall utter his voice before his army: for his camp is very great: for he is strong that executeth his word: for the day of the Lord is great and very terrible; and who can abide it?

Is there any hope for salvation during the Day of the Lord? Yes, according to Peter there is. He preached on the Day of Pentecost:

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

If people would repent, God would yet save them. Yet few will be saved because of the hardness of their hearts. During the Great Tribulation some will take the Mark of the Beast upon themselves (Revelation 13:1-2, 11-18). Those who are so marked will be under the wrath of God forever (Revelation 14:9-12). Salvation is possible, but in order to be saved those who are saved during the Great Tribulation must suffer for their faith.

Those Who Are Believers Prior To The Second Coming (Phase 2) Will Not Be Overtaken By God’s Judgment

1 Thessalonians 5:4-5 But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. 5 Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.

Those who will be overtake you as a thief by the Day of the Lord are those who are in darkness. The Second Coming of Christ (the Day of the Lord) will be a direct judgment of God on the lost people of earth. It is not for us to go through. We have

John 12:36 … believe(d) in the Light, that (we) may be the Children of Light

We “were at other times darkness, but NOW are Light in the Lord. We are to WALK as CHILDREN OF LIGHT” (Ephesians 5:8). As we are told, Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. We are not under the wrath of God, for we have received Jesus Christ as both Lord and Savior. Jesus said:

John 3:16-18 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. 17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. 18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

The lost person is in a state of CONDEMNATION right now. If Jesus returned for His Church, the lost would go through seven years of hell on earth, culminating with the Judgment of the Son of God. “Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.” (Revelation 1:7). Jesus will come and conquer the sinful, who hold His creation in slavery. Knowing this, the Apostle says:

1 Thessalonians 5:6-8 Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. 7 For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. 8 But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.

Word Study This morning we saw the word “sleep” used by Paul to describe the physical death of the Christ follower. In the Greek text Paul uses the word κοιμάω koimáō, [pronounced koy-mah’-o] in Chapter Four. But in our text above the Apostle uses the Greek καθεύδω katheúdō, [pronounced kath-yoo’-do], which means “to fall asleep”. Unbelievers have “fallen asleep” from the presence of God, being lulled by Satan’s song and being comforted by the night. The Apostle charges us who are believers to be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation. The words be sober is the Greek word νήφω nḗphō, [pronounced nay’-fo] which means “WATCH”. We as believers in Christ are to daily put on faith and love, faith in God and love for our Lord and those around us. We are to make sure we slip on – every day – the head covering, the hope of salvation. We know that any day now our Lord Jesus Christ could come back and take us in Rapture. He will take us from this earth, for …

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

The future hell of the Great Tribulation is not to be mine. The Lord saved me so that I can be with Him every day of my life. As Christians, whether we wake, that is, live our lives in Him, or whether we sleep” (καθεύδω katheudō), that is, physically meet death, we should live together with him. I am a living creature that can never die BECAUSE OF JESUS. So I want to live my life in the light, in Jesus, living for Him.

The Apostle closes with:

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

If you are saved by faith in Christ, you should be living your lives, looking for Jesus to come and Rapture you at any moment. You are under the promise Christ made to the Church of Philadelphia:

Revelation 3:10-13 Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. 11 Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown. 12 Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name. 13 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

If you do not know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, today would be a great day to receive Him. If you are merely religious, a “Church going” person, you fall under the promise Jesus gave to the Church at Sardis:

Revelation 3:2-3 Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God. 3 Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.

Do not wait for Jesus to “come on you as a thief”. Give yourselves to Jesus, and be saved by faith in Him. Now is the time. Now is the day of salvation. May God touch your hearts with His Word and His Spirit. Amen and Amen.

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The Church Is Not Like The World

Light of the world - the Church
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Colossians 2:1-3 For I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for you, and for them at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh; {2} That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgment of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ; {3} In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

I remember my Grandma Elma telling me that she was a little girl when the unsinkable ship called The Titanic sunk. She couldn’t remember a lot of the details as she was in her late 90s at that time. She did remember the adults being so upset because so many people died. What caused the deaths of more than 1500 people? No one is certain of any one cause, but all the causes related to human error. The ship was traveling at high speed – 22 knots – in waters known to harbor icebergs. The wireless radio operator received a warning an hour before the accident. Another ship close by named The Californian radioed to say it had been stopped by dense ice. The operator did not pass the information on to the Captain of the ship. There is also the possibility that the builders of the Titanic cut costs by using lower quality rivets than they should have when constructing the ship. When the accident occurred, the Titanic only had the bare minimum of lifeboats, and in the panic many of these lifeboats were launched at less than their capacity.

Human error. Though it was claimed that the Titanic’s Captain Edward John Smith said, “Even God Himself couldn’t sink this ship”, I don’t believe God did it. I believe human error did it. Human error brought sin into this world. Human error is responsible for much of the evil found in the world today.

As the Apostle addresses the Churches of Colossae and Laodicea, he says:

Colossians 2:1 For I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for you, and for them at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh;

Word Study The words great conflict are very interesting. The Apostle uses the word ἀγών agṓn, {pronounced ag-one’}, which was often used to describe the Greek Olympic games. You could say that Paul is saying “there are forces within me, emotions, competing with one another because of my love for you”. He knows that the Churches at Colossae and Laodicea are located in areas where they can be overcome with human error. As he writes this letter to the Colossians, he directs that this letter be read in the Church of Laodicea:

Colossians 4:15-16 Salute the brethren which are in Laodicea, and Nymphas, and the church which is in his house. {16} And when this epistle is read among you, cause that it be read also in the church of the Laodiceans; and that ye likewise read the epistle from Laodicea.

Both Colossae and Laodicea were in danger of shipwreck. Many local Churches today are shipwrecked because of these factors.

Biblical Love Binds The Church Together

Colossians 2:2-3 That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgment of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ; {3} In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

The Church can get off course in love. Jesus made love one of the great focuses of our faith. Jesus was asked, “What is the Great Commandment in the Law”? Jesus promptly answered:

Matthew 22:37-38 Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment.

God is to be loved ABOVE all others and ABOVE all else. God is to occupy FIRST PLACE in our hearts. Not our spouses, not our children, nor even ourselves. God.
God is to be first.

Our Lord was quoting the Law of God. The Second giving of the Law states:

Deuteronomy 6:5 thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.

What God has said takes precedent over what others have said. What God has recorded in Scripture is what we are to give preeminence to. Those who are saved by the Blood of the Lamb are to love the God Who demands the Lamb. We are to hear what our God says and obey it. The Scripture says:

1 John 5:2-5 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous. 4 For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. 5 Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?

I am told that there are preachers who have backed away from the truth of the Scripture because one of their children or one of their relatives has “come out”. What has God told us?

1 John 2:15-17 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. 17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.

God must be loved first. He must have our hearts above all others. Jesus said:

Luke 14:26-27 If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. 27 And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.

The believer in Christ must hate, the Greek μισέω miséō, {pronounced mis-eh’-o} their loved ones! That word miséō literally means “to hate, detest, by extension, to love much less”. Now did Jesus mean for us to literally HATE our offspring and those closest to us? No, absolutely not. We will see in a few moments that we are to love even our enemies, and do good to those who do bad to us. What was Jesus saying? He was saying that, when we compare the love we have for Him and His commandments with the love we have for others, that our love for Christ will be much, much greater in scope and drive than our love for other humans. God must occupy and rule our hearts.

Our love for God must be greater – much greater – than any love we have for those who are NOT God.

As much as I love my wife and children, I love my God more. This is natural. This is for what I was created. The Christian faith is a supernatural faith. When a person receives Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, God the Holy Spirit comes to that person and causes them to be “born again of the Spirit” (John 3:3, 7; 1 Peter 1:23). God then causes a change of that person’s heart. The Bible says:

Hebrews 10:12-17 but this man {Jesus}, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; 13 from henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. 14 For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. 15 Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before, 16 This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; 17 and their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.

Salvation from sin is always accompanied with a great l.ove for God and His Word. Jesus asked His disciples:

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

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

God must be premier in our hearts and minds. We must love Him IF we are saved. The Apostle said:

Romans 8:5-9 For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. 6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. 8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. 9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.

Right after Jesus said:

Matthew 22:37-38 Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment.

He continued with Matthew 22:39-40 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

Love for God must be premier. Following love for God, we are to love people made in the image of God. We are to treat others the way that we want to be treated. This even applies to our enemies. We are told in another place:

Romans 12:17-21 Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. 18 If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. 19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. 20 Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. 21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

Love is the driving force of God’s Church. Believers in Christ are follow Jesus’ command:

John 13:34-35 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. 35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

The sacrificial love that Jesus showed to us, by which we are saved, is the same sacrificial love that we are to show to one another as His Church. It is this love that causes their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love” (Colossians 2:2).

Passion For God’s Truth Empowers The Church

Colossians 2:2-6 … to the acknowledgment of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ 3 in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. 4 And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words. 5 For though I be absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit, joying and beholding your order, and the steadfastness of your faith in Christ.

The wisdom and knowledge that we find in Biblical truth is called a “treasure”. The Apostle said in another place:

Romans 11:33 O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!

What God has said is true, and has established is true, is true even today. God is infinite in wisdom and knowledge. The Church must always be careful to cherish and feed from the Word of God, and to never accept the lesser word of man in it’s place. The Apostle says:

Colossians 2:8-9 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. {9} For in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily

When philosophy and vain deceit from the world enter into the congregational thought, it is not long before the traditions of men rather than the Word of God reign. Jesus excoriated the Pharisees – the religious conservatives of His day – for departing from the Word of God in favor of the word of man, or the traditions of the elders. He said:

Mark 7:6-13 … Well hath {Isaiah} prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. 7 Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. 8 For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. 9 And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition. 10 For Moses said, Honor thy father and thy mother; and, Whoso curseth father or mother, let him die the death: 11 But ye say, If a man shall say to his father or mother, It is Corban, that is to say, a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; he shall be free. 12 And ye suffer him no more to do ought for his father or his mother; 13 making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye.

I have seen this first hand in churches I have pastored. In one Church, two deacons – who should have been filled with the Spirit – were filled with hatred for one another. Their constant battling caused the Church to divide, and eventually collapse. Though I spoke to these men frequently on the subject of love and forgiveness, they rejected God’s Word, to the damage of their own souls and the life of the church. The Bible warns us:

Galatians 6:6-10 Let him that is taught in the Word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things. 7 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. 8 For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. 9 And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. 10 As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.

God’s Word is Truth (John 17:17). The word of man may or may not be valid truth, but what God has said will stand forever. When we allow the Word of God and our love for it to be replaced with worldliness, it will not be long before Christ leaves the Church. In the Book of Revelation Jesus warned the Church at Laodicea (as well as the Church at Colossae):

Revelation 3:14-20 And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; {15} I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. {16} So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of my mouth. {17} Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: {18} I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eye salve, that thou mayest see. {19} As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. {20} Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

The Church at Laodicea had so rejected the Word of Christ for the word of the Lord that our Lord was literally locked outside of the church. Sadly, this is true in much of the Church in the world today. Jesus rebuked them, and called them to return to Him. I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eye salve, that thou mayest see. The Church must get back to the Word of God.

The Church of Christ is to be IN the world, but not OF the world. We are to cling to the Scripture, the Holy Bible. God saved us through the sacrifice of His Only Begotten Son so that He might bring us into HIS Kingdom. We are His, and He is ours.

Galatians 4:3-7 Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world: {4}But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, {5} To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. {6} And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. {7}Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.

Dear Church, we do not belong to the world, but to God our Savior. We are adopted Children of the Most High. Let us not act like children of Adam, nor children of the devil, but like Children of God. Let us “follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness … laying hold on eternal life (1 Timothy 6:11-12)”.

Colossians 2:6 As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him ..

Have you received Christ Jesus the Lord? If you have, walk in him. Jesus said:

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

We were at one time darkness. But having received the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior, we are LIGHT IN THE LORD (Ephesians 5:8). We do not belong to this world. We belong to Christ. We belong to God. If we say we have fellowship with God and yet walk in the darkness of this world, then we are liars, and the truth is not in us (1 John 1:6). We are children of God, children of the light.

May God draw you close to His side as you walk before Him in love. Amen and Amen!

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Elijah and Prayer

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Turn with me in your Bibles to James chapter 5.

I came across the works of a Puritan Preacher named John Bunyan. One of his most famous works was a book called Pilgrim’s Progress. What impressed me most about Bunyan is that, when God called him to preach, he was warned not to preach because his preaching was not authorized by the state. Wikipedia notes:

Bunyan was arrested under the Conventicle Act of 1593, which made it an offense to attend a religious gathering other than at the parish church with more than five people outside their family. The offense was punishable by 3 months imprisonment followed by banishment or execution if the person then failed to promise not to re-offend.”

Imprisoned for 3 months, Bunyan refused to stop preaching the Gospel, and eventually ended up imprisoned for 12 years. Though his imprisonment caused a great hardship to his family, Bunyan continued to share the Gospel, and wrote 60 titles until his death 31 August 1688 at the age of 59. Bunyan said of prayer:

Prayer is a sincere, sensible, affectionate pouring out of the heart or soul to God, through Christ, in the strength and assistance of the Holy Spirit, for such things as God has promised, or according to the Word of God, for the good of the Church, with submission in faith to the will of God.”

If the Church will stand as America goes through the shaking of satanic darkness, then God’s people must be a praying people. Solomon once noted “there is no new thing under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9). The darkness that grips America today is the same darkness that gripped England during John Bunyan’s day, the same darkness that gripped Israel during Elijah’s time. The forces that are pushing so called sexual freedom and gender fluidity are the same dark forces that have always been, from the time that Adam listened to a serpent and unto today. When John Bunyan was afflicted, he immersed himself in God’s Word and prayer.

James 5:13-18 Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms. 14 Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: 15 and the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. 16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. 17 Elias {Elijah} was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. 18 And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit.

Word Study James encourages us to effectual fervent prayer. The words effectual fervent is the Greek verb ἐνεργέω energéō, {pronounced en-erg-eh’-o}, a word that means just like it sounds. Doesn’t this sound like energetic? That’s what it means. “Energetic, active, not complacent, to be mighty in, to work hard at”. For prayer to be effective, you need to lose yourself in it. Prayer must be a daily, moment by moment, focus on the God Who loves you. The word translated prayer is the Greek δέησις déēsis, {pronounced deh’-ay-sis}, which means a “seeking type of prayer. Before the Holy Spirit came to the early Church, that small congregation of 120 were in an upper room:

Acts 1:14 … with one accord in PRAYER {déēsis} and supplication

Prayer is to be energetic. Prayer is to seek God. What does the Scripture say? We read:

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.

Prayer that is infrequent, half hearted, or double minded will not be blessed of God. The Bible says:

James 1:5-7 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. 6 But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. 7 For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.

The energetic prayer pursues God, seeking His blessing, and will not cease until an answer is found. God will not bless the half hearted prayer!

Effective prayer is energetic, seeking God. But further, the prayer God answers must come from a righteous person.

James 5:16 … The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

When Jesus healed the man born blind, the Pharisees claimed that our Lord was a sinner. The healed man told them:

John 9:31 Now we know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshiper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth.

This is a clear principle in the Scripture. Listen:

Proverbs 15:29 The Lord is far from the wicked: but he heareth the prayer of the righteous.

The only prayer that God will hear of the son of Adam is the prayer seeking salvation. Sin corrupts our ability to communicate with God. The Psalmist said “The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous and his ears toward their cry. The face of the Lord is against those who do evil, to cut off the memory of them from the earth” (Psalm 34:15-16). Sin must be confessed to God. God has promised “ If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Only the prayers of the RIGHTEOUS, that is, those in a right standing with God, shall be heard. This is “the prayer of faith”. The Scripture says:

James 5:15-16 … the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. 16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed.

An Example Of A Righteous, Praying Man Is Elijah

James 5:17-18 Elias {Elijah} was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. 18 And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit.

Though James was not acquainted with John Bunyan, he knew of Elijah. Every Jew knew about Elijah. During the Passover meals the Orthodox Jew would pour a cup and set a place for Elijah at the table. Elijah was a powerful Prophet. Why? Elijah was a praying Prophet.

Word Study The King James says Elias {Elijah} was a man. The more modern versions replace the word Elias with Elijah, and that is perfectly appropriate. The King James translator did not translate, but rather transliterated the Greek word for Elijah (which is Ἡλίας Hēlías, {pronounced hay-lee’-as}). Hēlías is the Greek equivalent for the Hebrew nameאֵלִיָּה ʼÊlîyâh, {pronounced ay-lee-yaw’}, or the English Elijah. Elijah’s name means “My God is Yahweh”.

Elijah was no superman. The Bible says that Elijah wassubject to like passions as we are. This is the Greek ὁμοιοπαθής homoiopathḗs, {pronounced hom-oy-op-ath-ace’}, which means “to suffer like others, to have like feelings and affections as others have”. Elijah was not a special person, like the Nazarite Samson, whose power was in his hair; or like the Nazarite John the Baptist, filled with the Spirit from birth.

Elijah was just like us.

Turn with me in your Bibles to 1 Kings 17

1 Kings 17:1 Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead

Elijah was not famous. He was not born in a mansion. He was an unknown country boy!

Elijah was from Tishbe, a place that no one really knows where it is today. It would be like Sawdust or Glendale, Tennessee, or Climax, Georgia. Elijah was just one of the inhabitants of Gilead – a plain man. But Elijah was a believer in God. He lived his life trusting in God’s provision.

Background: Elijah lived in the time when Israel was divided by civil war. King Solomon’s son Rehoboam raised taxes on the ten northern tribes of Israel, and these tribes broke away from Judah, setting up their own king and their own religion. Jeroboam was the first king of these ten tribes. To keep the people of the ten tribes from going to Jerusalem to worship, Jeroboam set up two golden calves and a priesthood to serve them. By the time Elijah began to prophesy, Ahab was the seventh king to rule Northern Israel.

1 Kings 16:30-33 Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the Lord above all that were before him. 31 And it came to pass, as if it had been a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, that he took to wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Zidonians, and went and served Baal, and worshiped him. 32 And he reared up an altar for Baal in the house of Baal, which he had built in Samaria. 33 And Ahab made a grove; and Ahab did more to provoke the Lord God of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel that were before him.

It was during this terrible time when Israel was divided, and the nation was far from God, that the Lord called Elijah. Beloved, America is in a similar state today.
Oh, how we need prayer warriors!

1 Kings 17:1 And Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead, said unto Ahab, As the Lord God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word.

Notice Elijah’s statement. As the Lord God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand. He didn’t say, “I came FROM God”, now did he say “I was talking to God YESTERDAY”. Elijah said “I am standing before God right now”. Beloved, if you are standing BEFORE God right now, then GOD IS BEHIND YOU AS YOU SPEAK. Elijah stood BEFORE God. He represented God. He didn’t even say “I’m standing BEFORE you, Ahab”. Ahab was inconsequential. Ahab was a nobody, a nothing. God was everything!

James 5:17 Elias {Elijah} … prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months.

Word Study{Elijah} prayed earnestly. These are two Greek words, προσεύχομαι προσευχή proseuchomai proseuchē, which literally means He offered prayers with prayer.

Elijah prayed as John Bunyan said, “Prayer is a sincere, sensible, affectionate pouring out of the heart or soul to God. Elijah’s prayer was not a selfish prayer, but a prayer that God be glorified and man be afflicted. This is Elijah’s recorded prayer:

As the Lord God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word

Elijah represented God, and prayed in accordance with God’s will. Elijah put his entire trust in God his Savior. If Elijah’s prayer was to be answered as he prayed it, then not only would King Ahab and Northern Israel experience a terrible drought, but Elijah himself would suffer along with the people. Elijah did not pray that God stop all rain and dew everywhere but where he was. His prayer glorified God, and showed his trust in the Lord.

When you do God’s business, God takes care of you!

1 Kings 17:2-4 And the word of the Lord came unto him, saying, 3 Get thee hence, and turn thee eastward, and hide thyself by the brook Cherith, that is before Jordan. 4 And it shall be, that thou shalt drink of the brook; and I have commanded the ravens to feed thee there.

Word Study Elijah did as God told him. He went to the brook Cherith. Cherith is an interesting word, because in the Hebrew it means “cutting, piercing, or slaying”. That is certainly a scary name for a place of rest. And yet, Elijah did as God directed. Prayer is not one sided, but COMMUNICATION with God our Savior.

1 Kings 17:5-7 So he went and did according unto the word of the Lord: for he went and dwelt by the brook Cherith, that is before Jordan. 6 And the ravens brought him bread and flesh in the morning, and bread and flesh in the evening; and he drank of the brook. 7 And it came to pass after a while, that the brook dried up, because there had been no rain in the land.

Elijah had a perfect place to hide from Ahab. Who would expect him to go to such a terrible named place? As it got dryer in Northern Israel, the brook Cherith dried up. And yet, God looks after His children.

1 Kings 17:8 And the word of the Lord came unto him, saying, 9 Arise, get thee to Zarephath, which belongeth to Zidon, and dwell there: behold, I have commanded a widow woman there to sustain thee.

To Pray is not just to talk with God,
but to LISTEN to God.

Beloved, the word of the Lord came unto Elijah because he was seeking God’s direction through prayer. God said in His Word:

Proverbs 8:17 I love those who love me; And those who diligently seek me will find me.

How does one diligently seek God? This is done by prayer. Prayer is communication with the Lord Who loves us, and has given Himself for us. We seek God by being available to Him, by heeding His Word. Elijah lived his life available to the Lord. He was receptive to the Word of God. He loved God above all else, and God loved him. As the Brook Slaying dried up, God told Elijah “Go to the widow of Zarephath … I have commanded her to sustain you”. Elijah does as God says. He came to Zarephath and, seeing the widow gathering sticks for a fire, asked her to do two things:

1 Kings 17:10-11 Fetch me, I pray thee, a little water in a vessel, that I may drink. 11 … Bring me, I pray thee, a morsel of bread in thine hand.

God told Elijah that this widow was supposed to “sustain” him. He took God at His Word. He asked her for water, then food. The widow tells Elijah:

1 Kings 17:12 As the Lord thy God liveth, I have not a cake, but an handful of meal in a barrel, and a little oil in a cruse: and, behold, I am gathering two sticks, that I may go in and dress it for me and my son, that we may eat it, and die.

But Elijah was not deterred. He told the widow:

1 Kings 17:13-14 Fear not; go and do as thou hast said: but make me thereof a little cake first, and bring it unto me, and after make for thee and for thy son. 14 For thus saith the Lord God of Israel, The barrel of meal shall not waste, neither shall the cruse of oil fail, until the day that the Lord sendeth rain upon the earth.

The widow went on to do as Elijah said, giving water and bread to him as God so commanded. The Bible tells us:

1 Kings 17:16 … the barrel of meal wasted not, neither did the cruse of oil fail, according to the word of the Lord, which he spake by Elijah.

The story doesn’t stop here. Elijah’s prayer stopped the rain and dew for 3 years and 6 months. Elijah’s prayer led him to Cherith and the ravens, and then to the widow of Zarephath. But God will test both Elijah and the widow of Zarephath.

Prayer warriors do not WORRY, but
WORK AT PRAYER when afflicted.

1 Kings 17:17-19 And it came to pass after these things, that the son of the woman, the mistress of the house, fell sick; and his sickness was so sore, that there was no breath left in him. 18 And she said unto Elijah, What have I to do with thee, O thou man of God? art thou come unto me to call my sin to remembrance, and to slay my son? 19 And he said unto her, Give me thy son. And he took him out of her bosom, and carried him up into a loft, where he abode, and laid him upon his own bed.

Why did God allow this sickness to come into Elijah and the widow’s life? To test and strengthen Elijah’s faith. It won’t be long before Elijah will stand on Mount Carmel, facing a multitude of false prophets in the name of God. Faith must be exercised, and trials come our way to exercise and grow our faith. God is able to defeat anything – even death. The Bible says:

Psalm 68:20 He that is our God is the God of salvation; and unto God the Lord belong the issues from death.

Elijah had been staying in an upper loft at the widow’s house. Note that Elijah did not take the boy to his own room, but to Elijah’s room. God had been faithfully looking after Elijah throughout this drought. Elijah put the dead child in Elijah’s place of rest – then Elijah himself rested in prayer.

1 Kings 17:20-21 {Elijah} cried unto the Lord, and said, O Lord my God, hast thou ALSO brought evil upon the widow with whom I sojourn, by slaying her son?

Elijah’s prayer is simple, and in two parts. He first asks God a question. O Lord my God, hast thou ALSO brought evil upon the widow with whom I sojourn, by slaying her son. Note the use of the word ALSO. What Elijah is asking is, “Lord, you have brought a bad drought on Israel – did you ALSO bring death to this child?” Elijah is seeking clarification. If it is the will of God that the child be dead, Elijah was not going to pray outside of the will of God. Elijah is not accusing God, but seeking clarification. “Lord, is it your will that this child remain dead?” Receiving an answer from God, Elijah

1 Kings 17:21 … stretched himself upon the child three times, and cried unto the Lord, and said, O Lord my God, I pray thee, let this child’s soul come into him again.

Elijah laid hands on the childthree times, and prayed simply O Lord my God, I pray thee, let this child’s soul come into him again. In the Bible only nine named individuals are ever raised back to life after death1. This is the very first time anyone was ever raised from the dead, so there was no precedent for this. Elijah just trusted God. We “walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7).

Elijah’s prayer was very simple. When we pray, we do not need to make long, rambling prayers. We are to pray simply, sincerely, and within the will of God to glorify God.

1 Kings 17:22-23 And the Lord heard the voice of Elijah; and the soul of the child came into him again, and he revived. 23 And Elijah took the child, and brought him down out of the chamber into the house, and delivered him unto his mother: and Elijah said, See, thy son liveth.

Before rain would come on the earth, God would use Elijah to destroy the 400 prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel, demonstrating once more the wondrous power of God. Once the false prophets were destroyed the Bible says:

1 Kings 18:41-45 Elijah said unto Ahab, Get thee up, eat and drink; for there is a sound of abundance of rain. 42 So Ahab went up to eat and to drink. And Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; and he cast himself down upon the earth, and put his face between his knees, 43 and said to his servant, Go up now, look toward the sea. And he went up, and looked, and said, There is nothing. And he said, Go again seven times. 44 And it came to pass at the seventh time, that he said, Behold, there ariseth a little cloud out of the sea, like a man’s hand. And he said, Go up, say unto Ahab, Prepare thy chariot, and get thee down, that the rain stop thee not. 45 And it came to pass in the mean while, that the heaven was black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain. And Ahab rode, and went to Jezreel.

Though Elijah’s prayer is not recorded, we know that he prayed because of what James tells us:

James 5:18 And {Elijah} prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit.

It is God Who brings the rain, and God Who blesses us with fruit. God used a man named Elijah to get it done. The Lord blesses us by allowing us, through prayer, to do great things for Him on this earth. God expects us to pray. Let us follow Elijah’s pattern, and diligently seek God in prayer. And dear one, if you do not know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, please seek Him in prayer today. Those who are in Him will survive the coming days. May God touch your hearts with His Word and His Spirit. Amen and Amen.

______________ Footnotes ________________

1 Elijah raised the son of the widow of Zarephath from the dead (1 Kings 17:17-22). Elisha raised the son of the Shunammite woman from the dead (2 Kings 4:32-35). A man was raised from the dead when his body touched Elisha’s bones (2 Kings 13:20, 21). Jesus raised the son of the widow of Nain from the dead (Luke 7:11-15), the daughter of Jairus from the dead (Luke 8:41, 42, 49-55), and Lazarus from the dead (John 11:1-44). Jesus Himself rose from the grave (Matthew 28:5-8; Mark 16:6; Luke 24:5, 6). Peter raised Dorcas from the dead (Acts 9:36-41). Paul raised Eutychus from the dead (Acts 20:9, 10).

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The Cure For Very Dry Bones

Dry bones
Photo by Trollinho on Unsplash

Ezekiel 37:1-3 The hand of the Lord was upon me, and carried me out in the spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones, 2 and caused me to pass by them round about: and, behold, there were very many in the open valley; and, lo, they were very dry. 3 And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord God, thou knowest.

Before I was called of God to pastor, as a young Christian I sat under several preachers who loved to preach from this text. I have heard this text preached from different perspectives.
1. Some speak of these dry bones, and tell us that it speaks of the Resurrection of the Christian. The bodies that we have are but “earthen vessels” that will one day pass away (2 Corinthians 4:7). When the Christian dies, the body goes into the ground, but the soul goes to be with the Lord. Our Lord Jesus said:

John 12:24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.

For the believer in God, death is but a momentary veil. When we are absent from the body, we who have Christ are present with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:6-8). Jesus said,

John 11:26 … whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?

Though one day we will all pass through physical death if the Lord tarries (for I believe that some, like Elijah and Enoch, will pass into glory apart from death), that those dead bones shall live, for God shall make them live. What a wonderful truth our faith has in the resurrection of Christ. However, this text does not actually deal with the glorification and resurrection of God’s children.


2. I have heard this text preached to revive dead and Laodicean churches. One pastor, the late Frank O’Brien, often used this approach when challenging Loch Laurel Baptist to stir itself, and reach out to a lost and dying world. Though there are many local churches that are filled with “dry bones” today, this text is not addressing the Church of Christ when it asks “Can these bones live?”. It is certain that the Church in America is lethargic, entertainment driven, and in many cases indistinguishable from the darkness. But there are better passages that would rebuke the spirit of Laodicea. In particular, I think of the words of our Lord Jesus:

Revelation 3:15-18 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. 16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. 17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: 18 I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eye salve, that thou mayest see.

No, our text today doesn’t speak of the wayward Church in America. There are other texts that address this sad truth in a direct way.


3. I have heard this text used to encourage those who are discouraged, who have lost the zeal for life because of dark days and trials. I must admit that there are days in my life when it is hard for me to get up and go – that I feel like a bunch of dried up bones! It seems as if God is miles away, though I know that He is not, for He has promised

Hebrews 13:5 … I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.

No, rather than preach this text on depression, there are better and more appropriate texts that address this. Texts like:

Psalm 80:19 Turn us again, O Lord God of hosts, cause thy face to shine; and we shall be saved.

Or Isaiah 57:15 For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.

What is this text specifically about? When you are reading your Bible, always read the context. The context will often answer the questions you have much better than the best commentary will. God tells us what these bones are. He says:

Ezekiel 37:11 Then he said unto me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel:

This valley of dry bones is a picture of Israel, which has departed from following the Living God. God gives this vision to Ezekiel, whose name means “The Strength of God”. Ezekiel was a pastor in Israel, a Levite Priest, the son of Buzi (Ezekiel 1:3). We know little about “Buzi” except that his name means “My Contempt” or “Condemned of Jehovah”. Ezekiel is a picture of the Grace of God. Born in sin, of a father called “Condemned of Jehovah”, grace made him “Ezekiel, the Strength of God”. Chuck Swindoll tells us:

“Ezekiel lived among the Jewish exiles in Babylon at a settlement along the river Chebar called Tel-abib (Ezekiel 3:15), less than one hundred miles south of Babylon. The invading Babylonians brought about ten thousand Jews to the village in 597 BC, including Ezekiel and the last king of Judah, Jehoiachin (2 Kings 24:8–14).”.

This text is addressed specifically to Israel, an Israel that had wandered away from God. Though addressed to Israel, there are many truths in the text that apply to us.

Israel Was Started From Dry Bones

Ezekiel is given a vision from God. Notice the first few verses:

Ezekiel 37:1-2 The hand of the Lord was upon me, and carried me out in the spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones, 2 and caused me to pass by them round about: and, behold, there were very many in the open valley; and, lo, they were very dry.

Ezekiel is not given the vision because he is better or worse than anyone else. Ezekiel is given the vision entirely by Grace. Notice how Ezekiel opens the vision: “the hand of the Lord was upon me”. God grabbed hold of Ezekiel. He lifted Ezekiel’s spirit up. God “carried me out in the spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones”. God did not ask Ezekiel “Where would you like to go today?” No, there was no free will involved in this. God grabbed his soul. God moved him to a valley. God “caused me to pass by them round about”.

Our God is the Sovereign God. He has a right to do with what He created as He wishes. God is not apologetic or politically correct when He says:

Isaiah 45:7-9 I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things. 8 Drop down, ye heavens, from above, and let the skies pour down righteousness: let the earth open, and let them bring forth salvation, and let righteousness spring up together; I the Lord have created it. 9 Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker! Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth. Shall the clay say to him that fashioneth it, What makest thou? or thy work, He hath no hands?

Our God is sovereign! I am glad our God is sovereign, because Ezekiel saw:

Ezekiel 37:2 … there were VERY MANY {bones} in the open valley; and, lo, they were VERY DRY.

These are not fresh bones, nor bones with a little flesh on them. These bones were VERY MANY: more than Ezekiel could number. These bones were VERY DRY: absolutely dead – there was nothing of life in them. As Ezekiel views these bones, God asks Ezekiel a very simple question:

Ezekiel 37:3 … Son of man, can these bones live?

These bones are VERY MANY and VERY DRY. It is an overwhelming darkness, a place where there was absolutely no light. What can we do? Can we form a committee and look into this thing? Can we hire some specialists who know about reconstitution? What can we do? Ezekiel gives the only sane reply that anyone can give. He tells the Lord:

Ezekiel 37:3 … O Lord GOD, Thou knowest

Ezekiel addresses God as אֲדֹנָי יְהֹוָה or Adonai Yahweh. Only the Creator God can take the “dust of the ground” and make a person (Genesis 2:7). Only God can take dry bones, very dry bones, and bring life to them.

Israel the nation came from dry bones, very dry bones. An old man named Abram was childless (Genesis 11:30), and at the age of 75 years old (Genesis 12:4) was well past child bearing years. Abram was a “very dry bone” when God reached out to him, saying:

Genesis 12:1-2 … Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: 2 and I will make of thee a great nation…

God was going to do something fantastic with Abram – one day to be Abraham. God would take a man who could not bear children, and bring life out of him. God offered this by Grace. God in essence told Abraham:

“Follow Me, and I will make you live, and bring forth life
where there is no possibility of life”

When Abraham was 100 years old Isaac was born to him (Genesis 21:5). This is Grace. God brings life out of death. Thank God for His unspeakable gift! (2 Corinthians 9:15).

But Abraham and Isaac are only the beginning of God’s Grace. God would allow a child of Abraham named Joseph to be sold into slavery by his jealous brothers. Joseph was 17 years old (Genesis 37:2) when his brothers betrayed him.

Genesis 41:46 Joseph was thirty years old when he stood before Pharaoh king of Egypt. And Joseph went out from the presence of Pharaoh, and went throughout all the land of Egypt.

Joseph – the apple of his father Jacob’s eye – was made a very dry bone. Imprisoned for 13 years, first as a slave, then as a prisoner, God gave life where there was death. Joseph rose up to be the right hand man to Pharaoh. God used Joseph to make

Israel the family become Israel the nation. It was God Who grew the very dry bones into Israel.

Over time, Israel the nation, like Joseph before her, became slaves, a nation of very dry bones. The Bible says:

Exodus 12:40-41 Now the sojourning of the children of Israel, who dwelt in Egypt, was four hundred and thirty years. 41 And it came to pass at the end of the four hundred and thirty years, even the selfsame day it came to pass, that all the hosts of the Lord went out from the land of Egypt.

Over 430 years Israel the family became Israel the nation. God took that very dry bony nation called Israel out of Egypt. Again, we see the Grace of God. Israel was in an impossible place, but as our Jesus said:

Matthew 19:26 … With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.

It is by Grace that very dry bones are brought to life. It is by Grace that life comes out of death. Only God can bring forth this Grace. “Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord God, thou knowest”.

God offered free Grace to Abraham, offered to bring life out of death to Israel. God did not choose Israel because she was a great nation. She was nothing before God called her in an old, wore out Chaldean. God reminded His people:

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

Israel was Israel because of God’s Grace. She did not earn it, nor deserve it, but was brought from a state of very dry bones because she responded to the offer of God’s Grace.

The Word Of God Brings Life Out Of Death

Ezekiel 37:4-6 Again he said unto me, Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. 5 Thus saith the Lord God unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live: 6 and I will lay sinews upon you, and will bring up flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and ye shall live; and ye shall know that I am the Lord.

How does life come into very dry bones? It comes only by the Word of God. The Lord GOD – Adonai Yahweh – told Ezekiel:

Ezekiel 37:4 Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the Lord

In order for life to come into these very dry bones Ezekiel had to so something that looked foolish! He was to PROPHESY (Hebrew נָבָא nâbâʼ, {pronounced naw-baw’}) – to speak the Word that God says. Ezekiel was to say to the very dry bones, “HEAR” (שָׁמַע shâmaʻ, {pronounced shaw-mah’}), which means “listen to and OBEY”. This is an impossible thing that Ezekiel is to do. He speaks to dry bones, to very dry bones. But not his word, but HIS WORD, God’s Word. It is the Word of God that gives life. Ezekiel cannot give life, but he can do what God says, and God will cause life.

We see this amazing thing frequently in the ministry of Jesus. Jesus told the man who had been crippled for 38 years – THIRTY EIGHT YEARS –

How can one who was crippled 38 years do this? Is this not cruelty? No, it is the Word of the Lord. “Immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked” (John 5:9). The God Who commanded creation into existence can certainly cause dry bones to live. The God Who told Moses, “Stretch out thy hand over the sea, and divide it” (Exodus 14:16) is the same God Who told the man with the withered hand:

Mark 3:5 … Stretch forth thy hand. And he stretched it out: and his hand was restored whole as the other ..

John 5:8 … Rise, take up thy bed, and walk!

Israel is now a alley of very dry bones, but if she will hear the Word of God, the Lord will restore her to power. Salvation comes by Grace.

Life comes by the Word of God.
Death comes as the wage of sin.

To be reconstituted, to be made more than a valley of very dry bones, Israel must remember and return to the Word of God. God told His people:

Deuteronomy 7:9-11 Know therefore that the Lord thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations; 10 and repayeth them that hate him to their face, to destroy them: he will not be slack to him that hateth him, he will repay him to his face. 11 Thou shalt therefore keep the commandments, and the statutes, and the judgments, which I command thee this day, to do them.

Salvation is by Grace, but blessing by obedience to God.

Israel must return to the Word of God if they will be blessed. The Psalmist said

Psalm 119:25 My soul cleaveth unto the dust: quicken thou me {give me life} according to Thy Word.

It is God’s Word that can make these very dry bones live. Only God’s Word can do this. Ezekiel can do nothing but

Hebrews 10:23 … HOLD FAST the profession of our faith without waivering (for He is faithful that promised)

It is the Word of God that gives life. Though the world itself considers the Word of God to be foolish – it is the Word of God that will bring life to death. God said:

Ezekiel 37:5-6 Thus saith the Lord God unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live: 6 and I will lay sinews upon you, and will bring up flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and ye shall live; and ye shall know that I am the Lord.

So what did Ezekiel do? He did as God said. And as he did what God said, miraculous things occurred:

Ezekiel 37:7-8 So I prophesied as I was commanded: and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold a shaking, and the bones came together, bone to his bone. 8 And when I beheld, lo, the sinews and the flesh came up upon them, and the skin covered them above: but there was no breath in them.

Ezekiel spoke the Word of God, and the dry bones came together. The skeleton assembled, and the sinews, the flesh and muscle, along with the skin came on the bones. But there was a problem. “there was no breath in them”. The Word of God alone did not bring life. There must be a connection with God. God tells Ezekiel:

It Is The Word of God AND The Holy Spirit
That Brings Life

Ezekiel 37:9-10 Then said {the Lord GOD} unto me, Prophesy unto the wind, prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind, Thus saith the Lord God; Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live. 10 So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army.

Ezekiel was to prophesy or speak the Word of God to the dry bones. But he was also to prophesy or speak “to the wind”. The word translated “WIND” is the Hebrew רוּחַ rûwach, {pronounced roo’-akh}, which indeed means “WIND” but can also be translated “SPIRIT”. The Blue Letter Bible notes that rûwach can refer to “{the} Spirit of God, the third person of the Triune God, the Holy Spirit, coequal, co-eternal with the Father and the Son”. It is not just the Word of God that brings life, but THE SPIRIT OF GOD MUST BE INVITED INTO THE PROCESS.

Many followed after Jesus when He walked this earth. But one day as He preached a hard truth the Bible says:

John 6:60-65 Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it? 61 When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you? 62 What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before? 63 It is the Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. 64 But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him. 65 And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.

God the Holy Spirit must be involved in the salvation of very dry bones. The Apostle Paul told the Church at Corinth:

2 Corinthians 3:3-6 … ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart. 4 And such trust have we through Christ to God-ward: 5 not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God; 6 who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the Spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.

It is “the spirit {that} giveth life”. Life comes when the Word of God is spoken in the power of God. Paul warned in another place:

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

Israel sowed to the flesh, and reaped corruption as a nation. But God promised to bring life back to the very dry bones of that nation. How would He do this? Only by Ezekiel doing as he was told. Ezekiel must speak the Word of God, partnered with the Spirit of God – and those very dry bones can live. The power of salvation is totally in God! God told Ezekiel:

Ezekiel 37:11-14 Then he said unto me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel: behold, they say, Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost: we are cut off for our parts. 12 Therefore prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. 13 And ye shall know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves, 14 and shall put my spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the Lord have spoken it, and performed it, saith the Lord.

Is There An Application For Us In Today’s Text?

Absolutely! I hear so many Christians bemoan the fact that America has fallen far from God, and it seems as if only darkness reigns. America is in no worst a state than Israel was in under Babylonian captivity. We are captured today by cancel culture, political correctness, extreme leftism, and our culture as well as our children are being taught that God’s design in gender is totally optional, based upon the desire of a person. What is the solution to our country’s woes? It is to share the Word of God in partnership with the Spirit of God.

When Christ ascended into Heaven He told His little Church of 120 souls:

Acts 1:4, 8 … that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but WAIT FOR THE PROMISE OF THE FATHER, which, saith He, ye have heard of Me .. 8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy {Spirit} is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judæa, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

Our God is able to bring America – and the Church in America – back from the brink of destruction. But we must adhere to and share His Word in the power of His Holy Spirit. The true Christian, like the true Jew:

Romans 2:29 … is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.

Do you know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior? If so, you have the Spirit of Christ (Romans 8:9, 11). The Holy Spirit is in you. The only way we will reverse the fall of America is to, as Ezekiels, speak to the very dry bones the Word of God in the power of God the Holy Spirit. We need to be a Bible believing, Bible living, Spirit empowered Church to be the light of the world. This begins by each one of us committing to love God with all that we are, and to love our neighbor – even our enemies – the way that we want to be loved. We can no more rely upon someone else – we must be someone else. Our God is able! Let us not despair, but rise up, and share Christ in the power of God’s Spirit with those around us. May God give us the strength and faith as His Church to do this – for Christ’s glory! Amen and Amen!

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The Marks Of The Christian

Child walking in lion's prints
Photo by Hugues de BUYER-MIMEURE on Unsplash

Turn with me in your Bibles to

Colossians 1:21-23 And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in [your] mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled (22) In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight: (23) If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled,and [be] not moved away from the hope of the gospel,which ye have heard, [and] which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;

What marks a Christian, a Christian? What are the signs or evidences in the life that stand as proofs that you are sons of God by faith in Christ Jesus? It is not the man made denomination that makes a Christian, but God does this when we receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. The Apostle of Love wrote:

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

The Position Of The Christian Is Different To
The Position Of The Lost

A Christian is distinctly different to a non-Christian. A Christian is a “Son of God”. Someone once asked, “But doesn’t God have any daughters?”. Well yes, He does. But “Son of God” is a technical term for the genuine Christian.

When Jesus Christ was incarnate, He became the Son of Man. But Jesus is eternally THE Son of God. Satan acknowledged this.

Matthew 4:3 And when the Tempter came to {Jesus}, he said, if Thou be THE Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.

Satan addressed Jesus two times in the wilderness as THE Son of God (Matthew 4:6). When Jesus walked on water to His disciples, the Bible says:

Matthew 14:33 … they that were in the ship came and worshiped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God.

When on trial before the Sanhedrin, the High Priest Caiaphas asked Jesus,

Matthew 26:63 … I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be THE Christ, THE Son of God.

The Messiah, the High Priest knew, was prophesied to be THE Son of God. When Jesus affirmed that He is indeed the Son of God, the High Priest pronounced Jesus guilty of blasphemy, “He is guilty of death” (Matthew 26:66).

Jesus Christ is THE Son of God. We who believe on Him are born again of the Spirit of God, and are ourselves sons of God, different from the lost world.

Colossians 1:21 And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in [your] mind by wicked works..

Let’s see how the Apostle develops this. And you, that were sometime. The word rendered “SOMETIME” is the Greek particle ποτέ poté, {pronounced pot-eh’}, which means “in past time” or “at one time”. There WAS a time that the Christian was alienated. This is the Greek παλλοτριοω, apallotrioo, {pronounced ap-al-lot-ree-o’-o}, which means “to be permanently separated from [God]”. You were far from God because you did not view sin as God did.

To the world, the son of Adam, sin is anything that we do not like. But to the son of God sin is anything that God does not like.

Sin takes us positionally far from God. The Prophet said:

Isaiah 59:1-3 Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: 2 BUT your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear. 3 For your hands are defiled with blood, and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies, your tongue hath muttered perverseness.

The lost person does not have the same frame of reference that God has. What God considers “sin”, the lost consider “free choice” and “human rights”. The sons of Adam are apart from God in [their] minds by wicked works. When God corrects them, they will not heed God, because they put themselves and their desires above God. A good example of this is found in the life of Cain and Abel. Both Cain and Abel brought an offering to God.

Genesis 4:3-5 … in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the Lord. 4 And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering: 5 but unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect.

What was the difference between Cain’s offering, and Abel’s offering? Cain was a farmer, so he brought the fruit of the ground to God as an offering. Abel was a stockman, so he brought the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof, or an animal sacrifice. They both brought a tithe of their increase to God. But God only received Abel’s offering. Why? At this point I can go into detail and tell you that God taught Adam and Eve that only an offering of blood would cover or atone for sin (see Genesis 3:21). This shedding of blood taught Adam and Eve the severity of sin, and how only an innocent outside of the sinner could make payment for sin. God would later tell Israel:

Leviticus 17:11 … the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.

The offering of blood in the Old Testament was symbolic, and looked forward to the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. In the New Testament we are told:

Hebrews 9:11-12 But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; 12 neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.

Under the old Covenant until Christ was crucified, God demanded that there be shedding of blood. The Bible says:

Hebrews 9:22 … almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission {of sins}.

That is why God received Abel’s offering, and not Cain’s offering. Abel was a son of God by faith, and brought the blood offering that God showed his parents in Eden. Cain, however, brought what he thought was best. When God rejected his offer, Cain’s response was just like every son of Adam’s response:

Genesis 4:5 Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.

Rather than repent, and do what God said, Cain got angry.

If he had a social media account, Cain would have unfriended God, and blocked Abel.

God encouraged Cain to do the right. God said:

Genesis 4:6-7 … Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? 7 If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.

Cain was alienated and enemies in [his] mind by wicked works. The word translated enemies is the Greek εχθρος, echthros, {pronounced ekh-thros’}, which comes from a word εχθωechtho which means “to hate, to be hateful or actively hostile to”. When God corrected Cain, Cain did not repent, but his hatred of God spilled over onto Abel, so much so that he murdered his own brother. The son of Adam is mentally and positionally far apart from where the mind of God is. The Bible says that:

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

The lost person or the son of Adam not only sins, but comes short of the glory of God. The lost person has no desire to bring glory to God, but wants to bring glory to themselves. When corrected by God, the lost respond with negative emotion, being hateful toward God and toward the sons of God. They do not love God, especially when God rejects their standard of living. They reject the Law of God, preferring instead to be a law unto themselves. The Christian is in a different position:

Colossians 1:21-22 And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in [your] mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled (22) In the body of his flesh through death,

The Christian is no longer a son of Adam, but is reconciled to God. The word translated reconciled is the Greek ἀποκαταλλάσσω apokatallássō, {pronounced ap-ok-at-al-las’-so}, which means “to bring into harmony with God”. Jesus Christ died on the Cross of Calvary to provide a permanent covering for our sin, thereby making us at peace with God. When we receive Christ as Lord and Savior the Bible says:

Ephesians 2:14-16 For {Jesus} is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between {us and God}; 15 having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; 16 and that he might reconcile both {us and God} unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby:

The Christian is reconciled or at harmony with God. We are no longer in the position of enemies, but are NOW sons of God. We were permanently separated from God and enemies in our wicked works. This was a permanent and total separation, and we could do absolutely nothing about this. Then God made a way.

God the Father sent Christ to give His life for us, and once we receive Christ as Savior, God the Father sends God the Holy Spirit to bring us new birth and a new position in God. We are positionally reconciled!

Because Of Our Positional Change,
We Now Pursue What Pleases God

Colossians 1:21b-22 …yet now hath He reconciled, {22} In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight:

Because the Christian is no longer a son of Adam, but a son of God because of THE Son of God, our outward expression changes. The Apostle said in another place:

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

The Christian is no longer HATEFUL to God in works, but is HOLY unto God. When God called the ancient Israelite out of Egypt, He told them:

Leviticus 20:7-8 Sanctify yourselves therefore, and be ye holy: for I [am] the LORD your God. (8) And ye shall keep my statutes, and do them: I [am] the LORD which sanctify you.

The Israelite position was changed from that of a slave to Egypt, to that of a servant of God. They were called into a new position and a new relationship with God. God fed them in the wilderness, loved them, cared for them. They were a people reserved unto Himself – therefore God required that they remember this and follow Him.

In like manner you are holy, dear believer. You are holy because the Blood of God was shed for you. You are holy, set apart for God’s own use. You are His purchased possession –and you are therefore to serve Him with all your hearts. The devil will – just as he did with Jesus – tempt the believer to wander away from God our Father. The devil will do with us as he did with Jesus, saying:

Matthew 4:9 … all these things {the kingdoms of the world} will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me …

Our answer must be like the Master’s answer:

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

As sons of God, we are to live our lives to please and glorify our Father. We do not belong to the sons of Adam. We are God’s cherished possession. The Scripture says we are not to follow in the pathway of sexual sin as the sons of Adam do:

1 Corinthians 6:17-20 But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit. 18 Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body. 19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? 20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.

Dear Christian, we belong to God. Let us Flee fornication”, πορνεία porneia, that is “sexual sin”. Many Churches today encourage sexual sin by minimizing it or normalizing it. It is certain that the lost will visit our local Churches. However, we are to stand firm in what God has said is true, and not accept into the membership of the Church those engaged in open sexual sin. The Apostle said in another place:

1 Corinthians 5:9-13 I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators: 10 yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world. 11 But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat. 12 For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within? 13 But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.

Sexual sin is incompatible with holiness. Son of Adam freely engage in sexual sin, but sons of God do not. We live as those who belong to God. The Apostle said:

1 Corinthians 7:22-23 … he that is called in the Lord, being a servant, is the Lord’s freeman: likewise also he that is called, being free, is Christ’s servant. 23 Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men.

Because of the Blood of Jesus and because of the indwelling Holy Spirit, every believer lives so as to please God, and not man. We are, in God’s sight:

Colossians 1:22 … holy and unblameable and unreproveable

Jesus took the blame for my sin on the Cross. I am unblameable, the Greek ἄμωμος ámōmos, {pronounced am’-o-mos}, which means “without spot or blemish”. Because Jesus was:

1 Peter 1:19 … a Lamb without blemish and without spot

and I have received Him as Lord and Savior, I am without blemish and without spot. The blood of animals only provided a temporary covering for sin. But Jesus Christ came, being a permanent solution for our wayward position.

Hebrews 9:14 … How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

The Christian is not a Pharisee, outwardly righteous but inwardly dead (Matthew 23:27-28). The Christian is a good tree that brings forth good fruit (Matthew 7:17-18).

Time Will Tell Your Position

Now we come to one of the Ifs of Scripture:

Colossians 1:23 If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and [be] not moved away from the hope of the gospel …

The proof of the Christian is that the Christian abides in Christ. The Bible makes it very clear that you become a Christian by the operation of the Spirit of God, by “new birth” or “being born again” (John 3:3; John 3:7; 1 Peter 1:23). The Christian has encountered “the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself” (Ephesians 1:5). The Christian has received the Spirit of adoption (Romans 8:15), the adoption of sons (Galatians 4:5). We are internally and positionally changed from sons of Adam to sons of God.

The faith that saves cannot help but endure, for God is in it. False faith falls away. Genuine faith “overcomes”.

The Apostle warns:

1 John 2:18-20 Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time. (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. (20) BUT ye have an UNCTION from the Holy One, and ye know all things.

The child of God has an UNCTION, a χρῖσμα chrîsma, {pronounced khris’-mah} or ANOINTING from God. The Holy Spirit has touched the genuine son of God, and in that touch has permanently changed us. Genuine faith endures. The Christian is HOLY and UNBLAMABLE and UNREPROVABLE in God’s sight. We live our lives pleasing our Lord and Savior. When we err and sin, we confess our sins to God, knowing that He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).

Dear Christian, we live our lives as sons of God. We live our lives to please God. If you do not know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, I plead with you, call upon Him today. He can change you, and make you into one of God’s sons. Blessed be the Name of the Lord. Amen and Amen.

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Jesus Unclothed So We Can Be Clothed

Photo by Pisit Heng on Unsplash

Turn with me in your Bibles to John 19.

Last week we looked at the crucifixion of Jesus. Darkness was over all the earth from the sixth to the ninth hour.

Luke 23:45 And the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was rent in the midst.

In the midst of the darkness the veil of the Temple was torn into from the top to the bottom. The Evangelist Mark tells us:

Mark 15:37-39 And Jesus cried with a loud voice, and gave up the ghost. 38 And the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom. 39 And when the centurion, which stood over against him, saw that he so cried out, and gave up the ghost, he said, Truly this man was the Son of God.

The Centurion in charge of executing our Lord had seen many men and women executed by crucifixion in his lifetime. Most died begging for mercy. Some begged that their lives be ended quicker, for the agony of crucifixion is horrid. This Centurion heard Jesus as He quietly hung on that Cross. He heard Jesus tell the thief to His right, “Today shalt thou be with Me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43). He heard Jesus, caring for His mother Mary, put her in John’s care (John 19:25-27). This hardened soldier heard Jesus say “It is finished” (John 19:30). But what moved that soldier’s battle hardened heart was our Lord’s final words:

Luke 23:46 … Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost.

Jesus’ last words were not the words of a defeated Man. They were those of a soldier Who had fought and died on a battlefield for His nation. The Centurion said:

Truly this Man WAS the Son of God” (Mark 15:39)

Jesus Christ, Clothed In Humanity
Became An Unclothed WAS For Us

The Bible tells us that God made man:

Hebrews 2:7 … a little lower than the angels; thou crownedst him with glory and honor, and didst set him over the works of thy hands:

Humanity was made in God’s image, and in God’s likeness (Genesis 1:26). Humanity was placed in a perfect Garden, in a perfect world, to follow a perfect and loving God. But Adam sinned, and caused humanity to fall. But God was not satisfied to leave us alone and undone. Jesus Christ, Himself infinite God (John 1:1-3), was made like us. Jesus “was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death … that He, by the Grace of God, should taste death for every man” (Hebrews 2:9).

Jesus WAS born of a Virgin. Jesus WAS a man, a Perfect Man, Who died for our sins. The crowd looks on the body of Jesus. To them, Jesus WAS.

John 19:37 … And again another Scripture saith, They shall look on Him Whom they have pierced ..

The crowd which earlier called for Jesus’ crucifixion now are awakened by God. God prophesied:

Zechariah 12:10 … I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.

Jesus has become a “WAS”. The Centurion speaks again, glorifying God,

Luke 23:47 … saying, Certainly, this WAS a righteous Man

Satan’s fever had passed from the people. God opened their eyes. Here was Jesus, a Man Who only did good to others. Because of Jesus …

Luke 7:22 … the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached.

The ones who drove the nails into Jesus now are awakened. He was innocent, righteous. Jesus is now a “WAS” because of them. And the people? The Bible says:

Luke 23:48-49 …. all the people that came together to that sight, beholding the things which were done, smote their breasts, and returned. 49 And all his acquaintance, and the women that followed him from Galilee, stood afar off, beholding these things.

Preach It! It amazes me that today some so called scholars believe that Jesus did not die on that Cross. He was pierced, and blood and water ran from His side (John 19:34), a clear sign of death. The Centurion had killed many – was he now stupid, uneducated on the nature of death? He did not achieve his rank by being sloppy. Jesus “WAS”. He is no longer. He is dead. All that is left is the cleanup.

What do you do with a naked Someone Who WAS?
You bury Him.

John 19:38-40 And after this Joseph of Arimathæa, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus: and Pilate gave him leave. He came therefore, and took the body of Jesus. 39 And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight.

As God moved in the hearts of the people, He changed the heart of Joseph of Arimathæa, a wealthy man who was secretly a disciple of Jesus. A naked, bloodied Jesus who WAS hangs on the Cross. Joseph’s fear is gone. He goes to Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus. Jesus WAS. There’s only a broken, empty shell of the Messiah. Another man, Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, comes out of hiding. Jesus’ body is unclothed. Look to John 19:23-24!

John 19:23 … when they crucified Jesus, took His garments … and also His coat … that the Scripture might be fulfilled, which saith, They parted My raiment among them, and for My vesture they did cast lots …

Jesus’ body is naked. He was unclothed for our sins. He, the Son of God, became a WAS so that we could become Sons and Daughters of God.

1 Peter 3:18 … For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh…

Jesus WAS. His body is naked. He must be clothed for burial. Nicodemus comes, bringing with him a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight. What is this myrrh and aloes for? The Jews used this paste on a person who WAS to wrap the body for burial. As Mary His Mother helped wash and wrap her Son’s body, I imagine her tears mingled with the wash water. Mary would remember her little baby boy, Jesus, on the day that the Wise Men came bearing gifts (Matthew 2:11), ONE OF THOSE GIFTS BEING MYRRH. As Mary His mother helped wrap the Jesus Who WAS, she would be reminded how, the night when He entered this earth, she …

Luke 2:7 … wrapped Him in swaddling clothes, and laid Him in a manger

The body washed, John 19:40 … Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury.

Word Study The phrase in linen clothes is the Greek ὀθόνιον othónion, {pronounced oth-on’-ee-on}, which means “strips of linen cloth used for swathing the dead”. As the body was wrapped with strips of linen, the paste of myrrh and aloe was used on those strips to bind them to the body. The Free Bible Commentary states, “This was according to Jewish customs described in the Talmud (i.e., Betsah 6a).”

Jesus’ body, now clothed for burial, is laid to rest …

John 19:41 … in the garden a new sepulcher, wherein was never man yet laid.

Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a borrowed donkey, “Whereon never a man set” (Mark 11:2). Jesus’ body was carried to a tomb, “Wherein was never man yet laid” (John 20:41)!

The stone of the tomb was put in place, sealing the Jesus who WAS into that place. That should have ended things. But the Pharisees and Chief Priests were not done with Jesus. Matthew, a Levite, tells us:

Matthew 27:62-66 Now the next day, that followed the day of the preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate, 63 saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again. 64 Command therefore that the sepulcher be made sure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead: so the last error shall be worse than the first. 65 Pilate said unto them, Ye have a watch: go your way, make it as sure as ye can..

The Jewish Leaders who sought Jesus’ execution wanted to make sure that the Jesus Who WAS would be kept in the Tomb. Jesus had told them that He would stay in that Grave “for three days and three nights, just as Jonah was in the belly of the great fish three days and three nights” (Matthew 12:40; Jonah 1:17). They wanted to make sure that this Jesus Who WAS stayed in the WAS state. They wanted to ensure that His disciples would not come along and steal the body and say that He had risen. Jesus must remain a WAS. Armed guards were placed on the Tomb.

Matthew 27:66 So they went, and made the sepulcher SURE, sealing the stone, and setting a watch.

Jesus WAS. He was going to stay WAS. But He didn’t.

Three days and three nights have passed, and the women go back to the Tomb of Jesus. The Evangelist tells us:

Mark 16:1-4 … when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him. 2 And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulcher at the rising of the sun. 3 And they said among themselves, Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulcher? 4 And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away: for it was very great.

This was not what the women expected. They expected to get to the sealed Tomb, and hoped that they could get someone to roll the stone from the doorway so they could further anoint the Jesus Who WAS. Mary Magdalene was most heartbroken over the discovery. We read:

John 20:1-2 The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulcher, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulcher. 2 Then she runneth, and cometh to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and saith unto them, They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulcher, and we know not where they have laid him.

Mary believed that They have taken away the Lord, supposing a final act of cruelty by the Jewish Pharisees and Priests. While the Disciples of Jesus were in the Levitical Sabbath (that Sabbath day was A HIGH DAY1) Mary assumed that the enemies of Christ had come and taken Him away.

John 20:3-4 Peter therefore went forth, and that other disciple, and came to the sepulcher. 4 So they ran both together …

The commentaries notethat other disciple is traditionally believed to be John. Peter and John had a foot race to the tomb, and John got there first.

John 20:4-5 and the other disciple did outrun Peter, and came first to the sepulcher. 5 And he stooping down, and looking in, saw the linen clothes lying; yet went he not in.

This part of the Scripture is very important. Jesus’ body had been wrapped with strips of linen, secured with about 100 pounds of a myrrh and aloe paste. When John looked into the tomb he saw the linen strips “lying” there. Had Jesus’ body been stolen, as Mary supposed, then they would have taken the body with the strips, as the myrrh and aloe paste acted as a glue.

John 20:6-7 Then cometh Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulcher, and seeth the linen clothes lie, 7 and the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself.

Though John was the first to the tomb, he waited until Peter went in. It was well known that Peter was the Chief Apostle, and I believe John was deferring to him. Peter saw the linen strips, and saw the head covering rolled up neatly, and in another place in the tomb.

Jesus was wrapped, as a baby, in swaddling clothes. When He ceased to be a baby, these wrappings were removed. Jesus’ body was wrapped with strips of linen and a hundred pounds of embalming paste. Had grave robbers taken Him, the head covering would not be rolled up, nor the linen strips present. The Soniclight Commentary notes:

That Person who had “rolled up … the face-cloth” had apparently been the resurrected Jesus. A grave robber would not have taken the time to fold the head covering neatly, but would have left it lying in a heap. Neither would friends who might have removed the body done this; they would have hurried away from the tomb as quickly as possible to avoid being apprehended. It is not clear whether the head covering lay where Jesus’ head had lain. What is clear is that someone had folded (“rolled”) it up carefully.

Why did the grave clothes lie as they had been before the body of Jesus exited them, and why had the face-cloth been carefully folded and laid aside? One explanation is that these were deliberately given as two different witnesses to Jesus’ resurrection.”

John 20:8 Then went in also that other disciple, which came first to the sepulcher, and he saw, and believed. 9 For as yet they knew not the scripture, that he must rise again from the dead.

The Apostles knew that Jesus said He was going to rise from the grave, but knowing a thing and actually believing are two different things. John saw the two mute witnesses – the burial clothes and the face covering – and believed that Jesus rose from the Grave. Jesus passed through the grave clothes and through the rocky tomb. An angel rolled back the stone so the disciples could see that Jesus had risen (Matthew 28:2), not to let Jesus out!

Over the next 40 days Jesus will appear again and again to His disciples. Jesus has defeated death, and the devil. Beloved, in order to be saved you must believe in the resurrection of Christ from the dead. Jesus Christ “bore the sins of many, and made intercession for the transgressors” (Isaiah 53:12). He died on Calvary making payment for our sins. But Jesus went farther than this. The Bible says:

Romans 8:34 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.

Jesus died on Calvary to save a wretch like me. But He rose from the grave, and is at the right hand of God the Father, making intercession for those who are His people. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is absolutely integral to the salvation of the believer. The Apostle said:

1 Corinthians 15:14-23 … if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. 15 Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. 16 For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: 17 and if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. 18 Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. 19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. 20 But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first fruits of them that slept. 21 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But every man in his own order: Christ the first fruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.

The empty tomb of Christ tells us as believers that:

  • Jesus Is Who He Says He Is:The Bible says in Romans 1:4, “Jesus Christ … {was} declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, BY THE RESURRECTION FROM THE DEAD. Death cannot hold Jesus. Since He has defeated death, and told us whosoever liveth and believeth in Me shall NEVER DIE” (John 11:26), I know His guarantee is true. Jesus is the fulfillment of Isaiah 25:8, saying “He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of His people shall He take away from off all the earth: for the lord hath spoken it.”
  • The Afterlife Is What Jesus Says It Is: There is indeed a Heaven and a Hell, and Jesus alone leads the way to God. Jesus said in John 14:6, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life; No One cometh to the Father but by Me”. Jesus is the Door to Heaven. He said in John 10:7-9, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep. All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”
  • Proper Life Is What Jesus Says It Should Be: No person is sinless but Jesus (John 8:7; Hebrews 4:15; Hebrews 9:28). No Christian is sinless. But once we are saved by faith in the resurrected Christ, we are born again of God” (John 3:3,7; 1 Peter 1:23), “not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God, which liveth and abideth forever. We who are saved are resurrected creatures, heading toward a future resurrection. 2 Corinthians 5:17-18 tells us “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. 18 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ”. The “born again” believer views sin differently from the lost son of Adam. It is sin that killed our Master. It is sin that Jesus paid for, very painfully, on the Cross. When a “born again” believer sins, he or she are convicted of sin by the Holy Spirit, and will repent, confessing that sin unto God for Christ’s sake. The Apostle was quite adamant on this. He said in 1 John 2:4, “He that saith, I know {Jesus}, and keepeth not His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him”. Our Lord Jesus said in 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. Jesus Christ was unclothed on Calvary so that we could be clothed in the light and righteousness of God. We used to be children of darkness – now we are to walk as children of light” (Ephesians 5:8). “Our old man is crucified with Jesus, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin (Romans 6:6).

Do you know Him? Do you know my Jesus? He gave His life for you and I, so that we can begin to live life the way the Lord intended. If you do not know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, I beg you, receive Him today. We who are Christians now serve an amazing Savior, and are headed toward a wonderful eternity, filled with “joy unspeakable”. May God the Holy Spirit use His Word to move your hearts to Christ. Amen and Amen!

___________________Note On The “Sabbath”_____________________

1 “High Days” are annual holy days or annual Sabbaths as defined in Leviticus 23:7, 8, 21, 25, 28, 31, 32, 35, 36 & 39. These are special Sabbaths not to be confused with the weekly Sabbath. There were seven annual Sabbaths in addition to the weekly Saturday Sabbath:

  • The first and seventh days of Unleavened Bread
  • Pentecost
  • Trumpets (Rosh Hashanah in Hebrew)
  • Atonement (Yom Kippur)
  • The first day of Tabernacles (Succoth)
  • The Last Great Day.

The “High Day” of John 19:31 is the first day of Unleavened Bread, which falls the day after the Passover (Nisan 15).

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Touch Me Not

Sunrise
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In our 8:30 service today we’re going to be looking at the empty tomb of our Lord. We’ll be in John 19:38-20:10. For our Sunrise Service I wanted to look at the verses that come after this. Having seen the burial clothes of Jesus in the empty tomb, Peter and John go back home:

John 20:10-13 Then the disciples went away again unto their own home. 11 But Mary stood without at the sepulcher weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulcher, 12 and seeth two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. 13 And they say unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? She saith unto them, Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him.

Invasion Of The Body Snatchers!

But Mary stood without at the sepulcher weeping”. Peter and John saw the empty tomb and the clothes left behind, but Mary lingered. When she first found the tomb opened she ran back to the disciples, telling them:

John 20:2 … They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulcher, and we know not where they have laid him.

Mary had not found Jesus’ body, so she was not satisfied. Someone must have taken Jesus’ body!

Mary was often found sitting at the feet of Jesus, hearing Him teach (Luke 10:38-39). When Mary’s brother Lazarus died she told Jesus, while weeping,

John 11:32 … Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.

Her weeping and hurt caused Jesus Himself to weep, though He would raise Lazarus from that grave in short order. Mary wanted Jesus. Peter and John looked in the tomb and saw Jesus’ grave clothes, but Mary looked in the tomb and saw “seeth two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain”. They ask her “Woman, why weepest thou?”, to which she replies “they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him”.

God has promised in His Word:

Jeremiah 29:13 … ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.

Mary sought Jesus with all her heart. Peter and John were happy with empty grave clothes, but Mary wanted Jesus. So Jesus came! We read:

John 20:14-15 And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away.

There is Jesus! Mary is being driven by FEELINGS right now, and she does not recognize that this is Jesus speaking to her. How is that possible? It is very early in the morning, and waning darkness is difficult on the eyes. I also believe it is because the resurrection body is so glorious, so different than the earthly bodies that we now have, that it will amaze us when the Lord gives them to us. The last time Mary saw Jesus He was beaten so badly that the Prophet said:

Isaiah 52:14 As many were {astonished} at thee; his visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men:

Isaiah 50:6 I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting.

The Jesus that stood before Mary now was in His glorified eternal state. She supposed He was the gardener. But then, Jesus called her name:

John 20:16 … Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master.

When God the Son called her name, the tears were chased from Mary’s eyes. Mary knew this was Jesus. It is such a blessing when God calls your name – that is, when you are seeking him. In the Garden of Eden …

Genesis 3:9 … the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?

On that day Adam and his wife hid from the Lord, knowing that they had sinned against His command. On that day Jesus told the serpent, that old Devil, also called Satan (Revelation 12:9):

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

This was the very first prophecy that a Messiah would come, being born of the woman. This Messiah would be bruised by the devil – and oh, how our Savior was bruised! But this Messiah would also crush the head of the serpent. It shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel, but only His heel would be hurt. Jesus is alive.

Jesus appears to Mary early on so that we can see that God always keeps His promises! What God said in Genesis is fulfilled in John. Our God is faithful!

Touch Me Not, For I Have Not Ascended

John 20:17 Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.

Why did Jesus tell Mary Touch me not? One of the stupidest explanations I ever heard was that “Jesus’ wounds were still sore, and He didn’t want to be touched”. Let’s look to the text rather than to fantasy.

Word Study The word TOUCH is the Greek ἅπτομαι háptomai, {pronounced hap’-tom-ahee}, which means “to fasten one’s self to, adhere to, cling to”. Mary wasn’t just touching Jesus – she grabbed Him and held on! In Matthew 28:9 we are told “they came and held him by the feet, and worshiped him”. Mary grabbed hold of Jesus and didn’t want to let go. But Jesus had to go. His mission was not fully completed. Jesus said I am not yet ascended to my Father. The Resurrected Christ must ascend to the Father. For what? The Book tells us:

Hebrews 9:11-14 But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; 12 neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. 13 For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: 14 how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

Our Jesus, a High Priest after the order of Melchizedek (Psalm 110:4; Hebrews 5:6; Hebrews 6:20-7:3; Hebrews 7:17, 21), entered into the Heavenly Holy of Holies by his own blood. It is His Blood that and His Blood alone that was accepted by the Father God as payment for our sins (Ephesians 1:7; 1 John 1:7; Galatians 3:13; Ephesians 2:13). The Lamb of God paid our sin debt in full. The Scripture says:

Romans 4:20-24 {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 offenses, and was raised again for our justification.

Jesus Christ was delivered to the Cross “for our offenses.
Jesus Christ was delivered from the tomb “for our justification”.

Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift! (2 Corinthians 9:15). The grave could not hold Jesus, so Mary must not hold Him now. But He will return many times over the next 40 days showing us that death and the grave are defeated, along with sin, for all who have received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

May God touch your hearts with His Word and His Spirit this wondrous Resurrection Sunday. Amen and Amen!

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The Praying Christian

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A little boy went to Church with his mamma and daddy. He promised his parents he would behave if he could sit in the “big” service, rather than go to the Children’s Church he usually attended. As the little boy watched the service unfold, the preacher began to pray. As the preacher ended the prayer, he said “We ask this in Jesus’ Name”, and sat down. Without thinking, the little boy blurted out:

You didn’t say AMEN”!

Does Your Prayer Hang On An “Amen”?

There’s really nothing in the Bible that says “you must say ‘Amen’” for your prayer to be acceptable to God. The word “amen” comes from both Greek and Hebrew. In Greek it is ἀμήν amēn (pronounced am-ane’), and the Greek itself came from the Hebrew אָמֵן ʼâmên, (pronounced aw-mane’). The word means “this word is true, this is sure, so be it, of a truth”. The Greek Lexicon states:

At the beginning of a discourse – surely, truly, of a truth. At the end of a discourse – so it is, so be it, may it be fulfilled. It was a custom, which passed over from the Synagogues to the Christian assemblies, that when he who had read or discoursed, had offered up solemn prayer to God, the others responded Amen, and thus made the substance of what was uttered their own.”

Jesus often used a double amen in His sermons, quite apart from prayer. The King James often quotes Jesus’ amens as “verily”, as in:

John 1:51 … verily, verily (amen, amen) I say unto you …
John 3:3 … verily, verily (amen, amen) I say unto thee …

Jesus uses “amen, amen” some 25 times in the Book of John alone. The doubled “amen” makes what Jesus says emphatically strong. So “amen” does not have to be in a prayer, but is a statement of affirmation. What DOES have to be in prayer?

Healthy Christians Frequently Pray

Prayer should not be something you do just every now and then, or only during special times (like before a meal or prior to bed). Prayer should be frequent. In fact, the Bible says in 1 Thessalonians 5:17,

Pray Without Ceasing

The Christian’s lifestyle should be thoroughly interlaced with prayer. We live in a rough, fallen world. Beloved, if we would pray more, we would worry less. Prayer reminds us that not only is God in control, it tells us that we are weak, and desperately need His presence in our lives.

When Peter was imprisoned for preaching the Gospel, the Bible says that:

Acts 12:5 … prayer was made without ceasing of the Church unto God for him …

The Church prayed together, remembering that Jesus promised “where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20). When God’s people come together and pray, the power of God comes to earth. The Church prayed for Peter, and called an angel from Heaven to let him out of prison.

Prayer moves mountains.
Prayer calls angels.
Prayer stirs the heart of God.

The Apostle Paul had power with God because he prayed. He told the Church at Rome:

Romans 1:9-10 For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers; 10 making request, if by any means now at length I might have a prosperous journey by the will of God to come unto you

Paul also prayed for his disciple Timothy, telling him:

2 Timothy 1:3-4 … without ceasing I have remembrance of thee in my prayers night and day; 4 greatly desiring to see thee

Defining The Concept: When the Bible tells us to “pray without ceasing”, I do not think that it means we should never stop praying. There are times when we must interact with other people, at the store, at work, and in our homes. Though Paul said he “prayed without ceasing”, we know that God used him to write scripture, and to preach the Gospel. So it is certain there were times when Paul was not praying. I think the intent of “pray without ceasing” is that we should never be far from our God, and never be lacking in addressing Him. The praying Christian is the joyful Christian.

When we pray, we are not doing so for show, or to be seen of men. We are praying to our Heavenly Father. Jesus said:

Matthew 6:5-6 And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. 6 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.

When thou prayest”. Jesus doesn’t say IF you pray,
but WHEN you pray.

Prayer is something that every Christian should do. Jesus tells us that when we pray, we are not to be praying so as to impress a fallen world. Prayer is communication with the Almighty God. Do not pray just so that others can hear you.

Some have taken Jesus’ statement, “when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door”, to mean that no one should ever hear us pray. This is not the Lord’s emphasis. He doesn’t mean that we should never pray publicly, but that we should never pray to be seen of others. Prayer is not a stage performance.

However, there are times when public prayer is perfectly acceptable. Herbert Lockyer’s “All The Prayers Of The Bible” notes there are 650 prayers listed in the Bible, and that Jesus Himself prayed 25 different times during His earthly ministry. One of Jesus most well known prayers is recorded in John 17, often called “Jesus’ Priestly Prayer for the Church”. Jesus obviously prayed publicly, else the prayer would have not been recorded in the Bible. We may pray publicly, but only if we can do so and keep our mind focused on God and not on those who might be around us.

Prayer speaks to God.
Good prayer always has a purpose.

Jesus tells us:

Matthew 6:7-8 But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. 8 Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.

What Jesus calls vain repetitions is a reference to just mouthing words, over and over, thinking that this serves some purpose. God knows what our needs are, and yet wants us, as His children, to ask Him for things. James said:

James 4:2 Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not.

We who pray are not to use words with no purpose, but are to always remember we are speaking to a Person in prayer. God is Almighty, but He nonetheless is a Person. He does not want us to say just a mouthful of words without purpose. Let us “ask in faith, nothing waivering” (James 1:6).

Pray Specifically and Purposefully

When we pray, let us pray specifically and purposefully until we get a definite answer from God. Jesus illustrated this in:

Luke 18:1-8 {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 would 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?

There are times when we pray that God does not answer our prayers immediately. What should we do? We should keep approaching the Throne of Grace. We should pursue God in prayer just as this widow pursued the unjust judge. God will answer our prayers, but we must seek His face until we get an answer. In the Garden of Gethsemane our Lord Jesus prayed three times:

Matthew 26:39 … O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.

Jesus knew that the Cup of Divine Judgment would be poured out on Him at Calvary. Jesus prayed three times that this cup pass, if it were possible. It was not possible. After the third prayer (Matthew 26:44) Jesus got up, and with purpose told His disciples:

Matthew 26:46 Rise, let us be going: behold, he is at hand that doth betray me.

Once the prayer is answered, Jesus goes on to do the Father’s will. We should do like Jesus. We are to pray, knocking on the door of Heaven, until we get an answer. Once we get an answer, let us move forward, crossing the Jordan into the Promised Land. Let us live for God!

Jesus’ Model Of Prayer

It was after a session of prayer that:

Luke 11:1-4 … one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples. 2 And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth. 3 Give us day by day our daily bread. 4 And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.

Matthew records the more familiar format of the Lord’s Prayer we are acquainted with:

Matthew 6:9-13 After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. 10 Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

Proper prayer always honors God first. In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus started by emphasizing that “Our Father God is in Heaven – and we want to hallow or glorify His Name”. Many times when we pray, we immediately turn to our needs. Jesus tells us that before we address our needs, we are to address God’s glory. We pray that Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. We acknowledge that we will receive God’s answer to prayer and rest in that answer, whether it is according to what WE think it should be. God is ultimately in control – that is His nature. If it is God’s will that we suffer, then it is for the best that we suffer, for God always knows best.

The Apostle Paul recounts this time in his life:

2 Corinthians 12:7-10 … lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. 8 For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. 9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

We do not truly know what Paul’s thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me was. We know that Paul sought God three times that this thorn be removed. God’s response? My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. God told Paul that he would have to live within this valley. Paul, rather than being bitter, recognized truly that what God was doing was for his own good. The Apostle then began to praise God for the thorn in the flesh, as well as for other “infirmities, reproaches, necessities, persecutions, {and} distresses for Christ’s sake. Paul truly believed the Scripture that:

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

After seeking the glory of God in prayer, the believer is supposed to pray for his needs. Jesus simply said:

Matthew 6:11 Give us this day our daily bread.

This part of the prayer focuses on our present needs. Notice that this part of the prayer is very short, and to the point. We pray directly to God our Father, asking Him for our needs for that day. But we also pray for our yesterdays.

Matthew 6:12-13 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil …

We pray for our failures before God. We all fall short of His glory, of His desires for our lives. So we ask our Lord to forgive us, in Jesus’ name.

Prayer Demands A Forgiving Spirit

But our forgiveness is conditional on how we ourselves have forgiven others. Jesus said:

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

If we are carrying grudges or hardness in our hearts toward others, then we will not be forgiven. God wants us to forgive as we have been forgiven. Though we fail daily, our God never fails. We are to forgive even our enemies. Jesus said:

Matthew 5:44-45 … But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; 45 that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

If we want our prayers answered, we must be sure to forgive those who have wronged us. This includes – but is not limited to – our spouses. The Apostle said:

1 Peter 3:7 Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honor unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.

Carrying grudges against anyone, especially toward a spouse, definitely hinders our prayers before God. The marital relationship is supposed to reflect the same love that Jesus Christ has for His Church, and the Church has for Jesus Christ (Ephesians 5:25-28). The Bible says:

Colossians 3:17-19 whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him. 18 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord. 19 Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them.

After praying that God will forgive our sins against Himself just as we have forgiven sins against ourselves, we close our prayers by acknowledging our desperate need of the Lord’s guiding hand (13) “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Some versions read “Deliver us from the Evil One”. As believers we need God’s daily intervention in our lives. I am so frail and subject to failure that I feel like that old song said:

Oh Lord, I can’t even walk without you holding my hand
The mountains too high and the valleys too wide
Down on my knees that’s where I learned to stand
Oh Lord, I can’t even walk without you holding my hand

Christian, Pray With Confidence, For God Is Faithful

Our God is faithful to His promises. He tells us:

1 John 1:5-9 This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: 7 but if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. 8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

God is faithful to forgive sin, but only when we confess sin in Jesus’ name. God is faithful to bless His children, but only when we pray in Jesus’ name. Jesus said:

John 14:14 If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.

Some people believe that this means to just tack a “in Jesus’ name we pray, Amen” at the end of a prayer. It means much more than that. To pray in Jesus’ name is to love and believe what Jesus has said about Himself. Jesus told the Pharisees,

John 8:42 If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me.

God the Father sent Jesus to be the payment for our sins. He also sent Jesus to be our King and Lord. Jesus said, “If ye love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15). When you hear the Word of Jesus and do not do it, you are not living in Jesus’ name. Jesus said:

John 14:21, 23 He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. … 23 … If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.

You are praying “in Jesus’ name” when you are living according to His Word and His directives. Jesus said, “he that loveth Me NOT keepeth NOT My sayings” (John 14:24). When we as believers live in obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ, then our prayers will be heard of God. When you, dear Christian, depart from the Way of Truth, repent! Confess your sins to your Father above, and ask forgiveness for Jesus’ sake. Live your lives walking the path of righteousness, doing as Jesus has told us. Practice praying as you go through your day – “{constant} in prayer” (Romans 12:12). If you keep God close to you as you move through the day, He will be close to you when you pray.

God honors the one who prays while sitting (2 Samuel 7:18), standing (Mark 11:25), kneeling (Daniel 6:10; Luke 22:41), laying prostrate (Matthew 26:39; Mark 14:35), or with uplifted hands (1 Timothy 2:8). God honors the humble prayer that honors the name of Jesus Christ. God honors the prayer that is submissive to His glory. But God cannot honor the prayer from a sinful son, nor from a procrastinator who will not take the time to pray. Christian, we desperately need to be people of prayer. Let’s make a commitment to seek our God’s Face daily, “without ceasing”, for the glory of the Father and the honor of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen and Amen!

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What Love Looks Like

Photo by Mohamed Nohassi on Unsplash

Turn with me to Matthew 27.

The world struggles to see what “love” is. You hear it’s cry in secular songs. The Rock Group Foreigner sang, “I Want To Know What Love Is”. Tina Turner sang “What’s Love Got To Do With It? What’s Love But A Second Hand Emotion?”. Elvis Presley “Can’t Help Falling In Love”. Dolly Parton sang “I Will Always Love You”. For Willie Nelson, “You Are Always on My Mind”. Heavy D is happy, “Now That We Found Love”.

If you want to see what true love is, then you need to look at Jesus Christ. Look at Him as He willingly laid His life down for us. Jesus said in:

John 10:17-18 Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. 18 No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself.

God laid His life down willingly for us, that we might be saved. This is love. We see what love is when we look at Jesus, and how He responded to the Cross.

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

As Jesus laid His life down, He calls us to lay our lives down. He laid His life down for us on Calvary. He expects us to lay our lives down for Him. If we are to be friends of God, we must have this type of love. A sacrificial love. A willing love. Jesus said:

John 15:13-14 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. 14 Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.

Love is not about me, and getting my way. Love is to sacrifice myself for the blessing of another.

I heard a worship song the other day where they kept singing:

And oh, how He loves us, oh
Oh how He loves us
How He loves us all.
Yeah, He loves us.

It is true that God loves us. And we are to love Him as He loves us. We are to love others as He loves us. That is what love is. It is not a carnal satisfaction found in a feeling. Love is defined by the Cross. Love is a willing surrender to elevate another. “To us there is but One God, the Father, OF WHOM ARE ALL THINGS, and we in Him; and One Lord Jesus Christ, BY WHOM ARE ALL THINGS, and we by Him” (1 Corinthians 8:6). Jesus willingly chose to “bring many sons to glory” (Hebrews 2:10) by going to the Cross for us. Let’s look to the Cross.

Love QuietlyDied Took My Cross

Matthew 27:21-26 The governor {Pilate} answered and said unto them, Whether of the twain will ye that I release unto you? They said, Barabbas. 22 Pilate saith unto them, What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ? They all say unto him, Let him be crucified. 23 And the governor said, Why, what evil hath he done? But they cried out the more, saying, Let him be crucified. 24 When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it. 25 Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children. 26 Then released he Barabbas unto them: and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified.

Barabbas had previously been found guilty of both insurrection and murder (Mark 15:7). An insurrectionist is someone who violently rebels against lawful authority, and Barabbas had done it and got caught. We don’t know much about Barabbas. His name means, according to Hitchcock’s Bible Dictionary, “a son of shame”. Barabbas may not be a name, but a description of this terrible sinner. He was a prisoner, a number, a nameless criminal, a murderer. Stripped of his name, the “son of shame” waited to be executed.

Matthew 27:16 and they had then a NOTABLE prisoner, called Barabbas.

The Romans – and in particular Roman soldiers – took great pleasure in public executions. Barabbas was waiting for death in a dank cell.

According to Roman custom, the accused was
made to create his own cross.

Though he had not wanted to make it, I am sure the soldiers scourged Barabbas, and beat him, until he made his cross. Now he waited to be nailed to it, to die for taking another’s life. Someone comes to the door of the cell. It is a soldier. “Barabbas, get up! It is time.” He comes out of the darkness, and hears the cry of the crowd.

Crucify Him! Crucify Him!”

I’m sure Barabbas thought it was for him they cried. But as he came into the light, Pilate asks, “We have Barabbas, the son of shame, and Jesus. Which shall I release?” The crowd, egged on by the Jewish Court called the Sanhedrin, says “Let Jesus be crucified”. Pilate cries out, “What evil has He done?” The crowd does not answer. They just shout, “Let Jesus be crucified!”. When Pilate saw that there was no way to do otherwise, he washes his hands of the verdict, saying

Matthew 27:24 {Pilate} took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it.

Focus It is interesting that only Matthew records Pilate “washing his hands” when passing verdict on Christ. Matthew was Jewish, and the Priests washed their hands before making a sacrifice.

When the Pharisees were debating whether to betray Jesus to Pilate, the High Priest Caiphas said in John 11:50,{It is} expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not.” This was an inadvertent prophecy that Jesus Christ would be sacrificed for the greater good of humanity. When Pilate washed his hands before sacrificing Jesus, it was an eerie parallel to the priest who would kill a lamb for the people. Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God! (John 1:29).

Throughout this entire episode our Jesus does not complain nor defend Himself. This is as the Prophet some 700 years before wrote:

Isaiah 53:7-8 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. 8 He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.

Jesus was innocent of any sin, and yet He willingly went to the Cross. He had every right to complain, and yet did not. Jesus knew before He ever went to Jerusalem that last time that He was going to be sacrificed – and yet, He went anyway. He had earlier told His disciples:

Matthew 20:18-19 Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be betrayed unto the chief priests and unto the scribes, and they shall condemn him to death, 19 and shall deliver him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify him: and the third day he shall rise again.

Jesus died instead of Barabbas. Remember the cross that Barabbas made? On that day, Barabbas was set free, and Jesus took Barabbas’ cross. The Jewish court unlawfully denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you; and killed the Prince of life” (Acts 3:14-15). As it was with Joseph in the Old Testament, “they thought evil against Jesus, but God meant it for good, to save many people to life” (my paraphrase of Genesis 50:20).

Jesus died for Barabbas. We are all Barabbas.

We are all, like Barabbas, guilty of sin. The Bible says:

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

Now you might say, “But wait a minute, preacher. I’m a sinner – but I never murdered anyone.” You may not have physically murdered anyone, but we are all guilty of sin. Jesus said, “anyone who looks at another with lustful intent has already committed adultery in their heart” (Matthew 5:28). Sin is not always an action. It is a thought. “whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment” (Matthew 5:21-22). Sin is anything that is against the order or design of God. Sin starts in the heart, then moves outward from there. We are all born sinners. The Bible says:

Romans 6:23 … the wages of sin is DEATH

God warned Adam in Genesis 2:17, “of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” The wages of sin is death. Adam sinned, and brought spiritual death on himself, and on all his progeny (that’s us). We are all Barabbas. Our hands formed the crosses that will kill us. But Jesus took our cross. He took our penalty on Himself. We stand, in our own selves, condemned before God, sinners, lost and undone. But Jesus, in His great love, took Barabbas’ cross. He died in our place. What a wondrous love this is! The Bible declares:

1 Peter 3:18 For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:

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

That day an incredulous Barabbas walked free. He should have died for his sin, for God said in Genesis 9:6, “Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man. ” Barabbas deserved death. But he was freed because Jesus took his place. We are freed because Jesus took our place.

John 6:29 … This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.

Love Does Not Strike Back, But Trusts God

Jesus is delivered to the soldiers to be crucified – but they must first have their sport. The Bible tells us:

Matthew 27:27-31 Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the common hall, and gathered unto him the whole band of soldiers. 28 And they stripped him, and put on him a scarlet robe. 29 And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews! 30 And they spit upon him, and took the reed, and smote him on the head. 31 And after that they had mocked him, they took the robe off from him, and put his own raiment on him, and led him away to crucify him.

Jesus Christ as the Son of God is indeed the King of Heaven,

1 Timothy 6:15 … the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords

It is Jesus Who, “in the beginning was with God, and was God” (John 1:1), alongside of Father and Holy Spirit, created all things. The Bible says of Jesus:

John 1:3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.

Jesus Christ is the revealed Member of the Godhead. God cannot be seen by man, but Jesus is God manifest and seen. Jesus is:

Colossians 1:15-17 … the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: 16 for by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: 17 and he is before all things, and by him all things consist.

The word “CONSIST” in our above text is the Greek συνιστάω synistáō, {pronounced soon-is-tah’-o}, which means “to pull together” or “constitute”. Jesus not only made all things, He designed all things. He knows their order. He is the Ultimate Ruler. When the Sanhedrin came to get Him in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus told Peter that He did not need his sword:

Matthew 26:53 {Peter}, Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels? 54 But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?

Jesus had an immense force waiting for His beck and call. Considering that it took but one angel to kill 185,000 armed men in one night (2 Kings 19:35), had Jesus called 12,000 angels to His side, the earth itself would have been destroyed. Here is immense power in the Person of Christ.

And yet struck, He did not strike back. He was capable of striking back, more than capable. But He did not. They clothed Him on as scarlet robe so as to mock Him, and crushed a crown of thorns down on His precious Head. All of Heaven watched, and waited for his call. And yet, love bore up. Scripture must be fulfilled. The Promise of God must be kept. As Jesus said,

But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?”

The Lord told us to

Matthew 5:44-45 … Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; 45 that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

The Son of God could easily have struck back. But He loved the soldiers. He loved us and loves us even when we are unlovable. “We love him, because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19). Jesus “bore His own Cross” (John 19:17), but at one point fell under the load. The soldiers “found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name: him they compelled to bear his cross.” (Matthew 27:32).

Matthew 27:33-38 And when they were come unto a place called Golgotha, that is to say, a place of a skull, 34 they gave him vinegar to drink mingled with gall: and when he had tasted thereof, he would not drink. 35 And they crucified him, and parted his garments, casting lots: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots. 36 And sitting down they watched him there; 37 and set up over his head his accusation written, THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS. 38 Then were there two thieves crucified with him, one on the right hand, and another on the left.

As they nail a naked and beaten Jesus to that terrible tree, the soldiers gather at the foot of the Cross. They are not there to look upon Him Who is dying for them, but to game for His clothing. The Bible tells us that this was yet another fulfilled prophecy, spoken of in:

Psalm 22:14-18 I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels. 15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death. 16 For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have enclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet. 17 I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me. 18 They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture.

Jesus is thirsty before He is nailed to the Cross. As a “kindness”, they offer Him vinegar to drink mingled with gall: and when he had tasted thereof, he would not drink. His tongue stuck to the roof of His mouth. As He is nailed to the Cross and dropped into the socket of the earth, His dripping blood makes His thirst more acute. Yet Jesus says nothing. He does not cry out for mercy, nor curse His tormentors.

Love Becomes A Curse For Our Sake

Pastor R.C. Sproul wrote: “When on the cross, not only was the Father’s justice satisfied by the atoning work of the Son, but in bearing our sins the Lamb of God removed our sins from us as far as the east is from the west. He did it by being cursed. “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree’” (Galatians 3:13). He who is the incarnation of the glory of God became the very incarnation of the divine curse.”

In Psalm 22, often called “The Crucifixion Psalm” or “The Psalm Of The Cross”, we have a very vivid description of what our Lord went through as He hung, naked and bleeding, for us. Jesus was mocked by those who watched Him suffer.

Matthew 27:39-44 And they that passed by reviled him, wagging their heads, 40 and saying, Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross. 41 Likewise also the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said, 42 He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him. 43 He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, I am the Son of God. 44 The thieves also, which were crucified with him, cast the same in his teeth.

What happens to Jesus is again prophesied in Psalm 22.

Psalm 22:6-8 But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people. 7 All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, 8 He trusted on the Lord that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him.

They mock Jesus. They spit on Jesus. Again, Jesus could have come down from that Cross. But had He done so, we would yet be dead in our trespasses and sins. As Jesus suffers, He says not a word. Peter says of our Master:

1 Peter 2:22-24 {Jesus} did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: 23 who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: 24 who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.

Jesus has said nothing. No groans are even recorded. But suddenly, the atmosphere of Golgotha (aka Calvary) changes. The sun blots out. Darkness falls in the midst of the day.

Matthew 27:45-46 Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour. 46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?

After three hours of darkness – unnatural darkness – Jesus cries out. The words that Jesus says were prophesied over 1000 years before this moment. My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?. If you remember, this is not the first time we see Psalm 22, often called “The Crucifixion Psalm” or “The Psalm Of The Cross”, fulfilled. The first words of Psalm 22 are:

Psalm 22:1 My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?

Jesus knows why the Father has turned His back on His Son. Our sins are being poured out on Christ. Jesus – dying for Barabbas – dying for us – hangs on a borrowed Cross. He dies not for His sins, but for ours. Pastor Jon Courson says “Great is the mystery (of godliness) that God became a man (1Timothy 3:16). But greater still is the mystery that the MAN became a LAMB (Jn 1:29) and the LAMB became a WORM to save you and me!” That is so very true!

Beloved, if you do not know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, I beg you to come to Him this very day. “How shall we escape, if we neglect so great a salvation”? (Hebrews 2:3). Jesus Christ went through hell on earth so that you can inherit God’s Heaven beyond time. Will you not believe on Him. I close with this little poem I found in the devotional Streams In The Desert by L.B. Cowman:

The day when Jesus stood alone
And felt the hearts of men like stone,
And knew He came but to atone
That day “He held His peace.”

They witnessed falsely to His word,
They bound Him with a cruel cord,
And mockingly proclaimed Him Lord;
“But Jesus held His peace.”

They spat upon Him in the face,
They dragged Him on from place to place,
They heaped upon Him all disgrace;
“But Jesus held His peace.”

My friend, have you for far much less,
With rage, which you called righteousness,
Resented slights with great distress?
Your Savior “held His peace.”

–L. S. P.

Jesus suffered and died for us, so that we might live. Let us live through love of Him.

Surrender your souls to Jesus, for
He surrendered His soul for you.

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

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