Which Kingdom Do You Belong To?

Photo by Nils Nedel on Unsplash

Turn with me in your Bibles to Matthew 17. As you’re turning, let me ask you:

What is the greatest threat that faces America today?

Some would say “The Coronavirus”. Yet more people die of cancer every year than those who die of Covid-19. Dr. Beatrice Tiangco, director of The Medical City’s Augusto P. Sarmiento Cancer Institute, compared COVID-19 and cancer. She noted, “The COVID virus has a life span of less than a month. It dies on its own — usually in seven to 10 days — without treatment.” As to the cancer cell, she noted, “{Cancer} does not know how to die. Only surgical removal, chemotherapy and radiation can kill it. If you do not kill or remove every last cancer cell in the body, the remaining ones will grow again, sometimes more aggressive than before”(found here).

Some would say “Socialism”. Many young people have grown up in colleges that pushed Marxism and Socialism. Many of our politicians today are openly supportive of Socialism and Communism. I have to admit as a retired military man, this mentality frightens me. I have seen Socialism and the anguish it brings first hand. I pray that as a nation we never go this route. Is this our greatest threat? Well,

Others would say “Racism” or “Systemic Racism”. Though I’m not going to argue this point, I do find it interesting that such a racist nation as America would elect a black man, Barack Hussein Obama II, the 44th President of the United States (2009-2017). I do believe there is a racism, because we ALL are sinners who fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). I do not believe that we can effectively legislate racism out of the human heart. This is something that only God in Christ can do. Oh, that we would all come to Christ, for in Christ all are my brothers and sisters, regardless of color!

These are all big problems that face our nation, but I believe the biggest problem we face is the loss of Christian Identity. The Christian is to be …

Matthew 5:14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.

The Church is the “light of the world” because it reflects the way and teachings of Jesus Christ, “THE Light of the world” (John 8:12; 9:5). Jesus told us to:

Matthew 5:16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

The Church is to be doing good works for Jesus, shining in this present dark world.
The Church is NOT to be one with the world.

The Church will NEVER be one with the world, not and be the Church. The Church is IN the world, but not OF the world. The great Evangelist Billy Graham wrote in the article, “In the World, But Not of It”:

The Bible says in Romans 12:2, “Do not be conformed to this world.” The Bible teaches in Galatians 1:4 that, “[Christ] gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age [cosmos].” In other words, the world was such a great danger to our souls that this danger caused Christ, the Son of God, to go to the cross to deliver us from it.

Throughout the Bible, the lines are definitely drawn between the world of unbelievers and the world of the children of God. “Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God” (James 4:4). Jesus Himself said, “The world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world” (John 17:14-16). Again Jesus said, “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you” (John 15:18).

The Bible also teaches that the Christian will face opposition in the world. “All who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution,” said the Apostle Paul in 2 Timothy 3:12.”

God Loves Everyone, And Proves it In Christ

Matthew 17:22-23 And while they abode in Galilee, Jesus said unto them, The Son of man shall be betrayed into the hands of men: 23 and they shall kill him, and the third day he shall be raised again. And they were exceeding sorry.

When Jesus first walked this earth, those who followed Him thought that He would overturn Rome and return a son of David back to Israel’s Throne. Jesus will do this one day, but first our Lord came to make payment for our sins. Jesus knew Who He was, and why He was here. Jesus started telling His disciples of His impending death, burial, and resurrection. After Peter acknowledged Jesus as “THE Christ, THE Son of the Living God” 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.

And again,

Matthew 17:12 I say unto you, That {Elijah} is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they {wanted}. Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them.

John the Baptist, whom Jesus likened to Elijah the Prophet, was killed for preaching Christ. Jesus Himself, the Son of Man, will also have to suffer. Did you know that around one third of the New Testament is focused on the last week of the life of Christ? Why is this so important? Because we are sinners, and God is holy. Jesus had to suffer for our sins. He had to bear the brunt of our punishment. The Bible says:

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

Jesus Christ gave His life for the sis of the whole world. The racist is a person who is not saved, for Heaven shall be many colored. John the Revelator looked into Heaven and saw the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ being worshiped by the elders of Heaven:

Revelation 5:9-10 … they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; 10 and hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.

Heaven shall be populated by believers in Christ of every kindred, tongue, people, and nation. As that old song goes:

Red and yellow, black and white, we are precious in His sight!

No person shall have dominance in Heaven but the Son of God. We make much of color among humanity, but Christ makes much of faith.

When we receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, believing that He died for our sins and rose again for our justification, then God brings us into His Family, the Family of God. The Bible says:

Galatians 3:24-29 … the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25 But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. 26 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

Once you received Jesus Christ by faith, trusting His work on Calvary for your lives, then the Spirit of God came and adopted you into the Family of God.

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

Jesus Christ died for you, dear Christian, to take you out of darkness, and to bring you into the Light of God. You no longer belong to Satan. You are no longer of the blood line of Adam. YOU ARE GOD’S POSSESSION. YOU ARE GOD’S CHILDREN. The Father has, upon our faith in Jesus,

Colossians 1:13-14 … 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:

When the Disciples heard Jesus talk of His impending death the Scripture says:

Matthew 17:23 … they were exceeding sorry

They could not understand why the Master had to go to Calvary. But we, today, understand why. God shed His Son’s blood to build the Family of and Kingdom of God. We who are saved belong to God now. We do not belong to this world. We belong to Jesus!

Do The King’s Kids Pay Taxes To The King?

Matthew 17:24-25 And when they were come to Capernaum, they that received tribute money came to Peter, and said, Doth not your master pay tribute? 25 He saith, Yes. …

Word Study When Jesus and his band of disciples came to Capernaum, the Publicans quickly found them. The Publicans were hired by Rome to insure that all people payed their taxes – what the King James calls “tribute”. This is the Greek word δίδραχμον dídrachmon, (pronounced did’-rakh-mon), which means a double-drachma or half a shekel. This wasn’t a great deal of money, but it was a tax that citizens were to pay to the King or to Caesar. When asked “Don’t Jesus pay taxes?”, Peter immediately answered “Yes”. But Jesus questioned Peter. He asked Peter:

Matthew 17:25 … of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their own children, or of strangers?

The children of the King never pay taxes. Only those who are not in the family pay taxes. Peter answered Jesus:

Matthew 17:26 … Of strangers. Jesus saith unto him, Then are the children free.

Jesus’ children – saved by faith in Him – are not primarily citizens of this world. We are citizens of God’s Kingdom. Our King is Jesus Christ. Jesus said that, technically, the children are free. Jesus Christ is the Way to God (John 14:6). Jesus Christ is “God with us” (Matthew 1:23). We do not belong to this world, but to another world, a great spiritual realm.

And yet, we still live in this world. Though the children are free, Jesus told Peter:

Matthew 17:27 Notwithstanding, lest we should offend them, go thou to the sea, and cast an hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money: that take, and give unto them for me and thee.

As Christians, our primary allegiance is to the Kingdom of God. The children are free. However, as citizens of this earth we do pay taxes lest we offend them. Jesus had Peter and His disciples do an extraordinary thing in order to pay that tax. Jesus was showing us our God has limitless resources, and that He will meet our needs. What did the Apostle say?

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

Jesus Christ is THE Son of God, come from Heaven to save us. When we receive Him as Savior and Lord we become sons of God.

Galatians 4:4-7 … when the fulness 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.

The Son of God gave Himself for us, so that we, believing in Him, can become sons of God. God takes care of His children. By having His disciples – mostly ex-fishermen – go fishing for the money, Jesus is showing us that God our Father will ALWAYS meet our needs in this life. We just need trust Him. As the Church of Christ we must always remember that we are called to God’s Kingdom FIRST. If you are saved then God calls you to serve HIM first, His Kingdom THEN the kingdom you find yourself in. The Apostle said:

Philippians 2:12-16 … 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

The Church and the Christian always stand separate from the darkness of the world. We are the Light of Christ. We are to shine for Jesus, always holding forth the Word of Life.

Value In The Kingdom Of God

As Jesus has been talking about kingdoms, now the disciples question Him.

Matthew 18:1-4 At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? 2 And Jesus 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.

Our Lord Jesus loved children. He said:

Matthew 19:14 {allow} little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.

Jesus now uses a little child to describe the Kingdom of Heaven. The disciples want to know how they can achieve GREATNESS in the Kingdom of Heaven. How can we please the Father?

  1. Jesus called a little child unto him”. You please the Father when you hear Jesus calling your name, and you come unto Him. You must come to Jesus when called. Jesus said:

Matthew 11:28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

Jesus said, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. (John 7:37).

God has done everything He can do to bring you into His family. But there is something you must do. When Jesus calls, you must come. The Pharisees, the keepers of the Law, kept coming to Jesus to reject and persecute Him. And yet Jesus kept on trying to reach them. Jesus told them:

John 5:38-40 … {you religious Pharisees} have not {the Father’s} word abiding in you: for whom he hath sent, him ye believe not. 39 Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. 40 And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.

When the child heard Jesus call, he ran into His arms. The child did not linger where he was, wondering what his playmates might think. He came when Christ called.

  1. and set him in the midst of them”. Jesus put this called child “in the midst of them”. No Christian is saved individually to walk with God individually. We, once saved, become a part of God’s Kingdom. We become a part of a local Church, a group of believers who love the Lord and serve the Lord together. The Bible says:

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

A local Church is a body of believers who, like little children, have humbled themselves to God in Christ. We come together to love and support one another, encouraging one another in the faith. We provoke one another to love and good works, serving God our Father for the glory of Jesus.

Matthew 18:3 … Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven

We are to believe with the faith of a little child. We are to trust that our God will care for us. He will, you know. Our God gave the most for us at the Cross of Calvary. Will He not now care for us? As the Apostle said:

Romans 8:32 He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?

God loves us, and will care for us as a good Father will do. We came to Jesus when He called. We believed that He died on Calvary for our sins. We hold that His Word is true, and trust Him to lovingly care for us as we go through this life.

Child Of God, You Belong To Jesus!

Matthew 18:4 Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Beloved, the Church must re-discover the Kingdom of God. We must get back to what the Lord has told us, back to the Bible. If we will, God will protect us, and help us move mountains as we promote His Kingdom.

We must back away from the devil’s devices. We are not of this world. We are of a higher world, a greater world, and Jesus Christ is our King. God promises to protect us. When He said:

Matthew 18:6 But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.

Christ looks after His children. He will not fail us. He will protect us. So let us, as His children, draw near to Him, and to His Word. Let us live our lives to honor Him, not to please the world. May God touch your hearts with His Word and Spirit. Amen and Amen.

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

Speak To The Mountain

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Mark 11:22 And Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith in God.

We have restarted Sunday School classes for the children in our Church, and so far things are going well. The Coronavirus has really hit our Church attendance, though things are still going well. Our Sunday School is down to just a few people. Fear has gripped so many. I came across this little story, and thought I’d share it with you.

Illustrate A little boy had just begun to attend Sunday School. His teacher gave him a colorful bookmark for his Bible. On the bookmark were the words, “Have Faith In God”. As he and his parents headed home on a nice Fall day, they had rolled the windows down in the car, enjoying the crisp air. The child was admiring his bookmark when, suddenly, it slipped from his hands! Out the car window it went! The child cried out, “Stop Daddy! I’ve lost my Faith in God!”. The child’s father pulled off the road, stepped out of the car, and in a few moments returned the bookmark to the child’s hands. Neither parent scolded the child, but mother saw it as a lesson. She said, “I believe we would all be happier, and live more blessed lives, if we were careful not to lose out faith in God”.

As a nation it seems that we have lost our faith in God.
Many local Churches seem to have lost their faith in God.
Many believers are driven by fear rather than faith.Beloved, our God is still the God Who moves mountains.
Our God is the God Who still is in control of all things!
Our God wants us to have the faith to move a mountain.
To have faith in Him, for His glory, and His Kingdom.

The Backstory: The King Came To Jerusalem

The context of a Bible verse drives what you should think of the Bible verse. In our text today Jesus told His disciples:

Mark 11:22 … Have faith in God.

What happened prior to this statement? Let’s look at our context. Just two days before this moment, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords – our Jesus Christ – rode into Jerusalem on a donkey. Watch the faith of our Master in His words:

Mark 11:2-3 Go your way into the village over against you: and as soon as ye be entered into it, ye shall find a colt tied, whereon never man sat; loose him, and bring him. 3 And if any man say unto you, Why do ye this? say ye that the Lord hath need of him; and straightway he will send him hither.

“The LORD hath need of this donkey”. The LORD had need of the donkey, not just to enter Jerusalem this last time, but because Bible Prophecy demanded that the Messiah do so.

Faith in God ALWAYS partners with
the Word of God, the Scripture!

The Prophet declared in Zechariah 9:9 Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.

The KING OF KINGS, the One Who is just (righteous, without sin) and has salvation (Jesus alone saves), He will enter Jerusalem this last time. He will rise on a donkey. Not on a white horse – though He will do this at the end of time – but now on a donkey. He comes bringing peace and salvation to His people. As Jesus entered the Holy City the Bible says:

Mark 11:8-11 … many spread their garments in the way: and others cut down branches off the trees, and strawed them in the way. 9 And they that went before, and they that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna; Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord: 10 Blessed be the kingdom of our father David, that cometh in the name of the Lord: Hosanna in the highest. 11 And Jesus entered into Jerusalem, and into the temple: and when he had looked round about upon all things, and now the eventide was come, he went out unto Bethany with the twelve.

Jesus was celebrated by the people. They thought that He was coming to overthrow Rome. Jesus will one day overthrow Rome, and all cities, when He comes into His Millennial Kingdom. But at this time He is coming to overthrow sin, death, and the devil.

Word Focus The King enters His city, enters His Temple, and oversees everything. Notice the text says “when he had looked round about upon all things”. Jesus does nothing yet. He just looks. Jesus goes to Bethany with the twelve to rest overnight. The next day we read:

Mark 11:12-14 And on the morrow, when they were come from Bethany, {Jesus} was hungry: 13 and seeing a fig tree afar off having leaves, he came, if haply he might find any thing thereon: and when he came to it, he found nothing but leaves; for the time of figs was not yet. 14 And Jesus answered and said unto it, No man eat fruit of thee hereafter for ever. And his disciples heard it.

Word Focus As Jesus and His disciples come back to Jerusalem, He spots a fig tree “afar off having leaves”. As there are many leaves, the tree should have the “knobs” that come on a fig tree prior to fruiting (see F.F. Bruce, Answers To Questions, page 56). I actually believe that Jesus knew there were no figs nor knobs on this fig tree.

The Fig Tree Represents Religion Without Fruit
The Fig Tree Represents Religion Without Faith
The Fig Tree Represents The Current Temple & Judaism

The day before Jesus went into Jerusalem and looked around the Temple, but did nothing else. Jesus saw something at the Temple that He is going to address shortly. I’ll talk about this in just a moment – but first let’s talk about the Fig Tree.

When God the Son found no figs on the Fig Tree, He cursed it. “No man eat fruit of thee hereafter for ever”.

Though the disciples hear Jesus, they think little of this. After all, it was not the time for fig trees to produce fruit. What did Jesus expect, anyway? But Jesus is speaking with a duel meaning. The day before the Lord came to the Temple, but found no worship there, no evidence of faith. He is back today, and now our God will address what He sees in the Temple.

Mark 11:15-19 they come to Jerusalem: and Jesus went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the money changers, and the seats of them that sold doves; 16 and would not suffer that any man should carry any vessel through the temple. 17 And he taught, saying unto them, Is it not written, My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer? but ye have made it a den of thieves. 18 And the scribes and chief priests heard it, and sought how they might destroy him: for they feared him, because all the people was astonished at his doctrine. 19 And when even was come, he went out of the city.

Within the Court of the Gentiles, merchants have set up, and are selling lambs, bulls, doves, and other clean animals to be sacrificed for the Passover. Jesus came to the Temple to hear and share the Word of God with others. The focus of God’s Temple, and His Church today, is not to make money off of those who gather with us.

If God Came To Our Church,
Would He Find Faith And Fruit?

Our purpose is to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ, to exalt the Lord our God. Our purpose is to pray, and seek God’s guidance, to be the light of the world. Today in many Churches, the purpose of God’s Kingdom has been removed. Churches have become political parties, or havens of social justice warriors, or rest stops for those who despise God Almighty but love sin. Oh Beloved, do you not know that:

The purpose of God’s people gathering is to honor the Lord Who made us.
The purpose of the Church is to expand the Kingdom of God on the earth.
The purpose of the Church is to share the Gospel of Grace.
The purpose of the Church is to increase God’s footprint in the nation.
Let us be the “light of the world, a city set on an hill cannot be hid.”
Let us be God oriented, and Christ honoring.

Judaism was not doing this. This is the second time that Jesus ran the money changers out of the Temple. The Temple, like many Churches today, has become SECULARIZED.

Mark 11:16 {Jesus} would not suffer that any man should carry any vessel through the temple.

The people were to come together to serve God with empty hands and open hearts. I suspect if Jesus were to return today, He’d take away our cell phones while we worship.

Mark 11:17 {Jesus} taught, saying unto them, Is it not written, My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer? but ye have made it a den of thieves.

When we come together to worship God, we are to worship God. Yet Judaism in Israel robbed God of His due worship. The people were focused on anything but God. It was a den of thieves! Jesus leaves the Temple, and leaves Jerusalem. It is the next day that we read:

Mark 11:20-22 … in the morning, as they passed by, they saw the fig tree dried up from the roots. 21 And Peter calling to remembrance saith unto him, Master, behold, the fig tree which thou cursedst is withered away. 22 And Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith in God.

Faith In God Only Comes When We Are
Rooted In God’s Word!

The Fig Tree is a picture of a people who have ceased to have faith in God. Fruitless, the tree is withered from the roots up. If our roots are not in God’s Word, we will wither and die. If our roots are not in glorifying Christ, our roots will wither and die. Did not Jesus say?…

John 15:5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.

When our roots are in this world, we will wither and die. But when our roots are in Christ, we cannot be defeated.

Jesus Christ shed His Blood on Calvary to advance the Kingdom of God. He shed His Blood so that – through faith in Him – the Kingdom of God can grow stronger and more numerous on this earth. Israel and her spiritual leaders missed this point. The Church in America is just as guilty of this today. Let us repent and return to the Christ of our salvation. God expects His people to live for Him, to rejoice in Him, to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with others that more will enter the Kingdom of God.

Peter points out that Jesus cursed this tree just the day before. Jesus says:

Have Faith In God!

What is faith in God? I have heard it said that FAITH stands for:

Forsaking
All
I
Trust
Him

What Jesus says next has been debated by Biblical scholars for years. Frankly, it is very clear to me what Jesus is saying. Read with me:

Mark 11:22-23 … Have faith in God. 23 For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith.

Where are your roots at? The roots of your life? Is it in God, and trusting in God’s promises. Or is it in YOURSELF? The stepbrother of our Lord writes:

James 4:1-4 From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? 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. 3 Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. 4 Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.

Faith in God is to fully rely on God daily. If you have a need, have you asked God for it? Does what you perceive to be a need promote God’s Kingdom, or your agenda? If you are a Christian, God saved you and left you on this earth to advance His Kingdom. This is what pleases God.

Do We Speak To The Mountain In Faith?

Jesus said:

Mark 11:22-23 … Have faith in God. 23 For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart

Are you speaking to the mountain,
or is the mountain speaking to you?

During this time of pandemic, people are tuning into news shows, and fear keeps mounting over the Coronavirus. People are being driven by FEAR and UNCERTAINTY. Jesus said that when a mountain is in your way, preventing you from doing that which will bless the Master, you need only speak to the mountain and God will move it. Speak to the Mountain – do not let it speak to you.

“In the name of Jesus, mountain, and for God’s glory, you will MOVE! My God is GREATER than you are. MOVE, and hit the beach!”

Our God is a Mountain Moving God. He will do whatever is necessary to advance His Kingdom, to support you as you work for Him. Let’s find some examples of what Jesus said in the Scripture.

Illustrate Do you remember the little Shepherd boy named David. He came to the Army of Israel to bring his brothers lunch one day when he heard Goliath cursing Israel. Hear Goliath:

1 Samuel 17:8-11 Why are ye come out to set your battle in array? am not I a Philistine, and ye servants to Saul? choose you a man for you, and let him come down to me. 9 If he be able to fight with me, and to kill me, then will we be your servants: but if I prevail against him, and kill him, then shall ye be our servants, and serve us. 10 And the Philistine said, I defy the armies of Israel this day; give me a man, that we may fight together. 11 When Saul and all Israel heard those words of the Philistine, they were dismayed, and greatly afraid.

Israel was LISTENING TO THE MOUNTAIN
instead of speaking to it.

What did David do? David spoke to the mountain (Mark 11:23). He told Goliath:

1 Samuel 17:45-47 Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied. 46 This day will the Lord deliver thee into mine hand; and I will smite thee, and take thine head from thee; and I will give the carcasses of the host of the Philistines this day unto the fowls of the air, and to the wild beasts of the earth; that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel. 47 And all this assembly shall know that the Lord saveth not with sword and spear: for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give you into our hands.

David spoke to that mountain named Goliath. By the end of the day, the mountain was cast into the land of forgetfulness (Psalm 88:11).

Illustrate What about the Hebrew children, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego? The mountain said:

Daniel 3:14 … O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, do not ye serve my gods, nor worship the golden image which I have set up?

What did the Hebrew children do? We are told in

Daniel 3:16-18 … O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. 17 If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. 18 But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.

Cast into the fiery furnace, the Hebrew children held hands with the Son of God (Daniel 3:25). As Pastor Mark Batterson said:

“… you must quit talking to God about the mountain in your life and start talking to the mountain about your God. You proclaim His power. You declare His sovereignty. You affirm His faithfulness. You stand on His Word. You cling to His promises.”

Beloved, do not listen to the mountain. I say again, DO NOT LISTEN TO THE MOUNTAIN. Listen to God, and speak to the mountain. If you are purchased with the Blood of Christ, then …

2 Timothy 1:7 God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

Quit letting the darkness get the best of you. Israel listened to the mountain and, fearing to enter the Promised Land, lost the Promised Land. Turn off the television, the mobile phone, the computers and pads. HEAR GOD.

Romans 12:2 …. be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

The mountains of life will come to you, but rest in the power of God. Do not let the mountains make you feel small.

Illustrate When Elijah spoke to the mountain of false religion, he stood on Mount Carmel, a commanded fire from Heaven. That day 450 false prophets of Baal and 400 false prophets of the groves (1 Kings 18:19) were killed, and God was glorified. But when Elijah listened to the mountain called Jezebel he ran scared. Oh Beloved, do not listen to the mountain. Listen to God, and speak to the mountain.

God told a frightened Moses:

Exodus 3:12 Certainly I will be with thee; and this shall be a token unto thee, that I have sent thee: When thou hast brought forth the people out of Egypt, ye shall serve God upon this mountain.

Serve God upon the mountain. Speak to the mountain. Tell that mountain how great your God is. Tell that mountain that God is faithful, and indefatigable. You are His child, His beloved. He sacrificed Jesus Christ for you.

You are meant to be overcomers, victors and not victims.

1 John 5:4-5 … For {whosoever} 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?

Let Us Unify As God’s People,
Speaking To The Mountain For His Glory

Mark 11:24-26 Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them. 25 And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. 26 But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.

When God’s people come together to honor the Lord, God can use us to move mountains. But we must be TOGETHER. We must forgive and love one another, just as Jesus forgave and loves us. I have pastored Churches where God’s people carried grudges with one another. You cannot move the mountain while you carry the weight of unforgiveness in your hearts. Remember our Master, Who, suffering shame and sin for us, nevertheless prayed:

Luke 23:34 … Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do

Let us unite with God, and with one another. United, we stand. Divided, we fall. Let’s stand together in the power of Christ, speaking to the mountains of life about our God. God is able to move the mountain. Let us trust Him, in Christ’s name I pray. May God touch your hearts with his Word. Amen and Amen!

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

2. The MUSTS Of The Christian Faith: The MUST of Sacrifice

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John 3:14-15 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: 15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.

This is a message that I believe every Christian should hear – particularly the American Christian. The preaching we most often hear in our Churches throughout America are those that make God our Servant, and we His master. I have heard of many, and seen many, come to Christ for salvation and yet later drop away from Him because of trial or tribulation in their lives. We have been sold a Pollyanna version of salvation by many modern preachers.

Central to the Christian faith is the MUST of Sacrifice.

Though Jesus and the Apostle preached this great truth clearly, it has been largely ignored by the modern Church. Our faith is all of sacrifice. We are saved because Jesus Christ sacrificed Himself for us. Once we as His children by faith are saved, we are to live lives of sacrifice. Not like the world, but like the Christ. When we understand the sacrifice of the Christian faith our lives begin to make sense. God did not save us through the sacrifice of His Son so that we as believers would drift casually into Heaven. God saved we who are Christians by faith in the sacrifice of His Son so that we, being born again, will be light and salt to this present world.

We Cannot Be Saved Apart from The Sacrifice of Christ

God cannot adopt a sinner into His family. God cannot inhabit a law breaker. Sin must be paid for. The debt must be eradicated, or there can be no New Birth. When Nicodemus came to Jesus, our Lord told him:

John 3:14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up

If you do not know your Bible you will not understand this verse at all. Nicodemus was a high ranking Jew in the Jewish Council, the Sanhedrin. What is Jesus talking about, “as Moses lifted up the serpent”? To understand this we need to take a “field trip” from today’s text to Numbers Chapter 21.Please turn there with me.

In Numbers 21 the Canaanites attacked Israel, and Israel cried out to God. God strengthened His people, and the Bible says:

Numbers 21:3 .. the LORD hearkened to the voice of Israel {He heard their prayers}, and delivered up the Canaanites; and they utterly destroyed them and their cities: and {Moses} called the name of the place HORMAH.

Israel had their eyes on God, and were serving God as they should. Moses commemorated this great victory by calling the name of the place “Hormah”, which means “Devotion”. Israel had a mountaintop experience. We have all had mountaintop experiences, times when the blessings just seem to pour out. But as we walk with God, we will have mountaintops – but we will also have valleys.

Sooner or later you are in the valley. But God is there. God is there on the mountain, and God is there in the valley.

We are to love God with all our hearts regardless as to our circumstances (Deuteronomy 6:5). It is a fickle love that only loves on the mountaintop. We are to love God in the valleys of life. It didn’t take long for Israel to hit a valley.

Numbers 21:4 {Israel} journeyed from mount Hor by the way of the Red sea, to compass the land of Edom: and the soul of the people was much discouraged because of the way.

The journey that God took Israel on led from the mountaintop, and into a hard valley. They were to trust the Lord Who saved them. We must always trust and love God … but Israel forgot this. They took God’s name in vain. We read:

Numbers 21:5 … And the people spake against God, and against Moses…

Beloved, if you are saved by faith in Christ, you will have trials. You are to trust God in the trials. You are to live for Him.

As Israel murmured and blamed God, the Lord took action. Because of their sinful mouths the Bible says:

Numbers 21:6 … the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died.

Serpents came into the camp. I saw a movie once called “Snakes on A Plane”. Israel suffered “Snakes On A Plain”! I don’t like snakes. I don’t know many people who like snakes. Adam’s fall came because of the devil disguised as a snake.

the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23)

Our God is a consuming fire (Hebrews 12:29). It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the Living God (Hebrews 10:31). It is a terrible sin to curse the god Who saved you, but an even more frightening thing when God sends punishment upon us. Because God’s Israel sinned against God, God sent serpents into the camp. Not just any old serpents, but “fiery serpents”, poisonous creatures who brought with their bite death.

Israel repented. The Bible says:

Numbers 21:7 the people came to Moses, and said, We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord, and against thee; pray unto the Lord, that he take away the serpents from us. And Moses prayed for the people.

Moses prayed – and God blessed. He said:

Numbers 21:8-9 And the LORD said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live. 9 And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived.

Now let’s go back to Nicodemus. Now you understand what Jesus was telling him. Our Lord said:

John 3:14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the SON OF MAN must be lifted up:

As Moses lifted up the fiery serpent on a pole, the “SON OF MAN must be lifted up”. Moses made a serpent, put it on a pole, and those who looked upon it were saved. God the Father made a Son of Man, put Him on a pole, and those who look upon Him are saved.

Jesus Christ is that “Son of Man”. Our Jesus came and lived a life of sacrifice that ended in sacrifice for our sins. When we look upon Him, this “Son of Man”, believing He died for the sins of the Sons of Men, then we are saved!

Jesus Christ Is Both The Son Of God
AND The Son Of Man

Eighty times in the Gospels Jesus refers to Himself as “Son of Man”. No one ever calls Jesus “Son of Man”
but Jesus Himself.

Others called Jesus “Son of God”. For instance,

  • The DEVIL referred to Jesus as “The Son of God” (Matthew 4:3,6).
  • The DEMONS called Jesus “The Son of God” (Matthew 8:29).
  • Jesus’ DISCIPLES called Him “The Son of God” (Matthew 14:33).
  • The CENTURION who crucified Jesus called Him “The Son of God” (Matthew 27:54).
  • The Apostles called Jesus “The Son of God” (Mark 1:1; John 1:34).
  • The ANGEL GABRIEL called Jesus the Son of God” (Luke 1:35).
  • The early PREACHERS of the Gospel focused on the fact that the “Son of God” came and sacrificed Himself for us (Acts 9:20; Romans 1:4; 2 Corinthians 1:19; Galatians 2:20, et. al).

Jesus Christ is the Son of God. He is God Himself become human flesh. 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.

When the Father speaks of Jesus, He says …

Hebrews 1:6-8 … let all the angels of God worship him. … 8 But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of thy kingdom.

Jesus Christ is the only God the Son.
But Jesus is also the Son of Man, the Messiah.

The Son of God agreed to sacrifice Himself on Calvary.
The Son of Man died in our place, paying for our sins.
The Son of God agreed to die.
Jesus died as a perfect “Son of Man”.
This is why you and I are saved – God died for us!

God foretold of this unique sacrifice of Christ the Messiah in the Old Testament. The “Son of Man” would come from God to bring God’s people into a closer union with Him. The Prophet Daniel – in the grip of Babylonian captivity – nonetheless prophetically looked forward to see our Jesus:

Daniel 7:13-14 I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. 14 And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.

The Messiah would one day rule the earth, and the dominion of the Son of Man would be an everlasting dominion which would never pass away. When Jesus spoke of Himself as the “Son of Man” He said that He would first have to be “lifted up” or sacrificed for our sins.

No one can be saved unless they recognize Jesus as the ONE and ONLY Son of Man, the Messiah sent from God. Jesus told the religious Pharisees:

John 8:23-24, 28 {Jesus} said unto them, Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world. 24 I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins. … 28 Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things.

Just as Israel looked on the serpent that Moses lifted up to be saved, we who are Christians looked on the Son of Man Who was lifted up to be saved. We believe on the Messiah, our Jesus. What love Christ had, to leave the splendor of Heaven to come to this earth for us! Jesus chose the nails! He said:

John 12:32-34, 37 … And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. 33 This he said, signifying what death he should die. 34 The people answered him, We have heard out of the law that Christ abideth for ever: and how sayest thou, The Son of man must be lifted up? who is this Son of man? … 37 But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him:

Salvation comes to us when we look at Jesus, high and lifted up, the “Son of Man” dying for the sins of others sons of men. Jesus Christ the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins (Matthew 9:6). It was Jesus Christ the Son of Man Who was handed over to be crucified (Matthew 26:2). Jesus – our Lord Jesus – was tortured, rejected by the Jewish Council, by the Pharisees and leaders of Israel, killed and yet rose again (Mark 8:31). It is Jesus Christ Who is coming again to save His people, and establish His Kingdom on the earth (Revelation 14:14).

Do you know Him? Do you know the Son of God Who became the Son of Man to save us? Do you know Him Who was willing to be put on a pole, nailed to that tree, just so that we could be saved? Oh the foolishness of those who reject Him, refusing to look upon Him and be saved. Oh that all who read this would be convicted of their sin! Oh that all who hear this would turn to Him Who made such a great sacrifice for us! He willingly took the nails.

Luke 18:31-33 {Jesus said to His disciples} Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the SON OF MAN shall be accomplished. For he shall be delivered unto the Gentiles, and shall be mocked, and spitefully entreated, and spitted on: And they shall scourge him, and put him to death: and the third day he shall rise again.

Jesus did this so that “whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). Do you know Him?

The Son Of Man Was Sacrificed
So We Could Be Saved

We have all we need to enter Heaven with the Blood of Christ. “The Blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin (1 John 1:7)”. So why don’t we go immediately to Heaven? BECAUSE JESUS WANTS US TO WALK AS SONS OF GOD ON THIS EARTH. He wants others to see Christ in us, living sacrificially for Him. Listen to the Scripture:

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.

Salvation brings the sinner into sonship, the son into sainthood, and the saint into service unto God.

If you have been saved by faith in Christ you are called to walk – not in the darkness of this present world – but in the light that is Christ. You are called to cherish God’s Word. You are called to live a life of sacrifice. If the Son of Man be lifted up, He will draw all men unto Jesus (John 12:32). The Christian who is saved indeed will live a life of sacrifice, imitating Christ in all that we do. What draws others to Christ? It is not just a static Cross hanging on a wall in a Church house. It is believers in Christ living as sons of God, Saints separated unto Him, living for Him Who died for us. When believers live sacrificially, loving as Christ loved, motivated to glorify God our Father, then this draws others to come to Jesus.

We call ourselves “Christian”, but the word “Christian” is only found three times in the Bible (Acts 11:26; 26:28; 1 Peter 4:16). The Bible refers to those who love Jesus as “Saints” (62 times) and “sons of God”. Listen to these texts:

John 1:12 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 ..

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

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

Philippians 2:15 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;

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.

Romans 12:1-2 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

As sons of God every believer in Christ is called to live sacrificially, just as Jesus lived. What did our Master tells us? “Take up YOUR CROSS and FOLLOW ME” (Matthew 10:38; 16:24; Mark 8:34; 10:21). The Christian life is a life that imitates God, not the world. We know that our old man is crucified with Jesus, destroying the body of sin, so that we will not serve sin (Romans 6:5-11). Since we are risen with Christ, we seek those things which are above, where Christ sits on the right hand of God the Father. Our affections are on our savior and Lord – our life is hid with Christ in God (Colossians 3:1-4). We who are Christ’s do not follow the world, but our Lord (Ephesians 4:17-24). The Baptist Evangelist F.B. Meyer wrote:

“When once a man understands the meaning of Calvary and not only accepts it for himself, but unites himself with it, he enters upon an absolutely new zone, or sphere, of living. Old things pass away! All things become new! The love of Christ constrains him, no longer to live for himself, but to Him, who loved him, and gave Himself for him.”

What Christ did for us is not just save us from Hell, but He brought Heaven to this earth. Live for Jesus, dear believer, if you are indeed a believer. Follow Him, imitate Him, live sacrificially not selfishly. Be the light, the Son, the Saint, the Servant you were called to be. For Christ’s sake, and for the sake of our community, our city, and our country. BE THE LIGHT! In Christ’s name I beseech you. Amen and Amen!

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

There Is A Way

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As you turn with me to Proverbs 14, let me give a little introduction to this wonderful Book.

Introduction

When I began to make prayer a priority in my life many years ago, I started by praying through the Book of Proverbs. The Book of Proverbs is largely written by King Solomon, a man who was given wisdom from God.

1 Kings 4:29 God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding exceeding much, and largeness of heart, even as the sand that is on the sea shore.

Solomon was said to be the wisest man who ever lived. Solomon found out that BEING wise and DOING
the wise thing is not always the same.

Solomon often failed in his walk with God, but God’s Grace is sufficient for all who believe (2 Corinthians 12:9). Though Solomon loved and followed the Lord our God, he, like we who are His Children by faith in Christ (Galatians 3:26), often fail the Lord. And yet, our God is faithful (1 Corinthians 1:9; 10:13). Though Solomon did not write all of the Proverbs, I believe he collected all of the Proverbs, these 31 chapters of wonderful messages to us. As there are no more than 31 days in a month, you can read and pray over a Proverb each day – and learn much by it. Solomon’s name is found at the beginning of Proverbs 1:1; 10:1; and 25:1.

The purpose of Proverbs is to teach “the fear (or respect of) the Lord”. As the Book begins Solomon wrote:

Proverbs 1:7 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Cliff’s Notes on the Book of Proverbs contains this very truthful statement:

The Book of Proverbs assumes that divine revelation is communicated to individuals through careful and correct thinking, as well as through prophetic inspiration. This conception leads to the view that the wise man lives in harmony with the divine will; the fool brings disaster upon himself.”

I couldn’t have said that better. Let me say it again: “The wise man (or woman) lives in harmony with the Divine Will; the fool (or godless acting person) brings disaster upon himself (or herself).”

What a person believes internally will always dictate
what
that person does externally.

You can say “I believe thus and such”, but it is your actions that prove what you actually believe. Every actions has consequences. We have forgotten this in America.

We Need To Take Responsibility For Our Actions
We Need To Get Back To God’s Word

Proverbs 14:12 There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.

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

Two verses, exactly the same. There is a way that seems right unto a person. The person follows that way, believing that the way is right. But because the way is not right, it leads to death.

When I was a young man, peer pressure drove me. My peers offered me alcohol, drugs, a destructive lifestyle. Then I met God through Jesus Christ. Life has become simpler and better when I seek the counsel of God before I commit my way to something.

God loves us, and always wants the BEST for us. He placed Adam in a perfect environment. God gave Adam a perfect wife. He gave Adam VERY CLEAR directions. God 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.

Adam, I’ve given you much. Just don’t eat of this ONE tree, else you will die. And yet, the serpent (who is Satan) came into the Garden, and said:

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.

Let us learn from Adam. The WORLD does not love you. The devil certainly doesn’t love you. God loves you. God says what is right, and what is wrong. Though the way we think seems to be good, in time if it doesn’t measure up to GOD’S WAY then it leads to destruction and suffering. When Adam chose to obey the serpent, he died spiritually in that very moment, just as God said. Adam’s legacy is summarized in …

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 not only hurt himself, but hurt his children as well (and we are all his children). Sin is in the world because of that one, seemingly innocuous act. It was a small thing, to eat that fruit. We were designed by God to eat. We are given the teeth and the bone and muscle to eat. Yet to use what God gave us – our mouths – to consume the wrong thing brought death on a worldwide populace.

What you believe is what you do. If you do not believe and do what the Creator has said, you bring death upon yourself and others.

Illustrate When I was in the Air Force, I saw two very graphic tragedies that happened because of the wrong type of belief. While stationed at Moody Air Force Base, Valdosta, Georgia, I had to participate in a search and recovery mission for a young F-4 pilot. He was flying a night mission. While on a night mission, pilots are taught to fly by instrument, not by their own sight or judgment. This young pilot was flying inverted, head toward the ground, when he became disoriented. He pushed the stick to cause the aircraft to elevate, but since he was flying head down toward the earth, he succeeded in plowing the aircraft into the ground. He did not live. There is a way that seemeth right unto man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.

We need to watch the instrument that god has given us if we do not want to crash and burn. We need to heed the Bible!

Illustrate Many years later when I was stationed at Fairchild Air Force Base in Spokane, Washington the command staff of the base all died while piloting a B-52 Bomber. While negotiating a dive and a hard turn the pilot misjudged the location of power lines at the end of the runway. The aircraft cartwheeled into the ground. There were no survivors. There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.

Father Always Knows Best!

Proverbs 16:2-6 All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes; but the Lord weigheth the spirits. 3 Commit thy works unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established. 4 The Lord hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil. 5 Every one that is proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord: though hand join in hand, he shall not be unpunished. 6 By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the Lord men depart from evil.

We live in a day where people have no “fear of the Lord”. What establishes right and wrong in our America today? If you watch the news, the television shows, you will find that what people think is right is what is portrayed as right. Humans are the final arbiters of right and wrong. If we do not follow the crowd, the peer pressure, the consensus backed by the television talking heads, then we are at wrong. Secularism has gripped America. Why? Because there is no fear of the Lord. People preach a “God of love and acceptance”, regardless as to what the Scripture says.

According to the world, the Bible is just one book among other books. Humans establish what is truth. If that is true, why do we have so much discord?
Beloved, we’re going to “feel” ourselves to death.

If a person feels that he is a she, then what that person feels is right. If a person feels that marriage is to another, regardless as to who that “another” is, then this is right. If a person feels that they want to pursue a licentious lifestyle and abort the fruit of that lifestyle, then this is right. As it was in Solomon’s day, so it is in America today:

Proverbs 16:2 … All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes;
but the Lord weigheth the spirits.

As long as well all agree (or a large, shouting mob agrees), then whatever we want to do is clean in our eyes. The old words for sin, fornication, adultery, theft, riotous living, no longer apply in America. We think our way is right. But it is God Who weighs the spirits. It is God Who determines what is right or wrong, good or evil.

I have had, as a Pastor, people come to me and say “this is what I want to do. Is it all right, or not?”. My reply has always been, what has the LORD told you about your action? What does the Bible say? If God has decreed the action is wrong in Scripture, if your conscience feels a bit off from even contemplating the action, then it is not right.

Proverbs 16:3 Commit thy works unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established.

Could you do what you propose to do with Jesus Christ standing by your side? If not, do not do it. The reason there is so much INSANITY and RIOTING in America today is because people are not committing their works unto the Lord. Are you glorifying God by your actions, or are you glorifying yourself? The Bible says:

Proverbs 16:4 The Lord hath made all things for Himself, yea, even the wicked for the day of evil

The Lord made all things – even you – for Himself. If you pursue wickedness, God allows you to live for His purposes. But sooner or later we all will return to the Lord. We are told in:

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

The Apostle reminds us as Christians:

Romans 14:8 For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s.

Christian, you belong to God. You were bought with a price, the precious Blood of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 6:20; 7:23). You will return to God one day, and be judged for your works. Live as unto the Lord. Unbeliever, you are declared by God to be a FOOL:

Proverbs 14:1 The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.

You may reject God now, but one day your souls will also return unto God. God has said:

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

Your lack of the fear of the Lord has made you callous. Unbeliever, God is a consuming fire (Deuteronomy 4:24; Hebrews 12:29). You are lifted up with pride, believing that what you do will never be punished. Your parents, perhaps, did not teach you discipline. You believe you are unaccountable, and will never be held responsible. This is foolishness!

If You Are RIGHTeous, You Walk RIGHT With God

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

It was PRIDE that led Adam to fall. Beloved, we have no justification to be proud. What we have, we have of God.

You may believe yourselves to be invincible, joining with others like you hand in hand. But God is omnipotent, and omniscient. Your sins are an affront to the Holy God Who made all things. Sin as defined by God is unnatural, something that God would have banned from creation. Sin was not crafted into Adam’s body by God. Sin is no friend to anyone. Sin is a slave master that, in time, will bring death. The Apostle said:

Romans 6:16 Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom you obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?

Sin is no trifle – it is a bringer of death.

  • Drink alcohol unto intoxication, and you receive a hangover. Continue to do so and your liver will be destroyed. Alcohol is a poison. God does not want you to poison yourself.
  • Abuse drugs for the good feelings that they bring. The drugs will destroy your God given bodily systems, your organs. Many have abused drugs, believing it to be a trifle. Many have been buried because of it.
  • Use your body as a sexual playground. You may escape unharmed a few times, but in time it will bring disease, and with it destruction and death. Adrian Rogers once said:

Don’t let a little sin in, all hell will break loose!”

  • Disobey the lawful order of a policeman, contrary to the teaching of God’s Word (Romans 13:1). “He beareth not the sword in vain” (Romans 13:4). It is not the policeman’s fault if he has to shoot you. Obey the Law. God said so.

Illustrate Don’t be an I-an, be a CHRISTian! If you profess to be a Christian, then you will walk with Christ. There are many Christless who profess to be “Christian” today. Do you know what a Christian without Christ is? He or she is an I-an. The true Christian does not live for I, but for the Lord. The true Christian walks daily with Christ. The Apostle said:

1 John 1:5-7 … 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.

Proverbs 16:6 … by the fear of the Lord men depart from evil

We live in an America today where there is little good old fashioned “fear of the Lord” today. Did you know that the phrase “fear of the Lord” is found thirty times in Scripture, and “fear God” is found twenty-two times. We must get back to the highway of righteousness if we want to be blessed of God.

As Christ’s Children, We Walk With Him
On The Highway Of Righteousness

Proverbs 16:17-19 The highway of the upright is to depart from evil:he that keepeth His way preserveth his soul. Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. Better it is to be of a humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud.

God’s Children by faith in Christ do not walk in the way of darkness. We walk so as to please our Lord. Christian, if you are indeed a Christian, you are now members of the Kingdom of God. We are to serve the Lord with the lives He has allowed us to have. When we who are His serve Him out of love and respect, He blesses us. The Bible says:

Ephesians 6:5-8 Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ; 6 not with eye service, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; 7 with good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men: 8 knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free.

God the Father will bless your obedience. Had Adam heeded God, we would all still be in Paradise. Follow the Lord Who loves you. Not your feelings, but the Lord. Walk worthy! Walk worthy!

Colossians 1:10-14 … walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11 strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and long suffering with joyfulness; 12 giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: 13 who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: 14 in whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:

Had Cain listened to God, he would never have been marked for destruction. Had Lot’s wife listened to God, she would have never been turned into a pillar of salt. Had the world listened to God in Noah’s day, destruction would have been averted. Had David listened to God, his firstborn child would never have died.

If your life has become tedious and tasteless, do not blame others. Look in the mirror, and blame the one who is looking back at you. Then look up. Turn to Jesus Christ.

Galatians 1:4 ..{Jesus} gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world

Jesus did not just come to this earth to take us to Heaven. He came to this earth to bring Heaven to us. Oh Beloved, give your life to Jesus. Live not by feeling, but by faith. Turn to God’s Word daily, and recommit each day to walk in the light with Jesus. Have the attitude of faith that the Apostle had, saying:

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

Do not live for the “I”. Live for the Lord. There is where life is. There is where joy is. Live for Jesus! Jesus freely bore our sins in His body on the tree of Calvary. Why? So that we could die to sin, but live to righteousness, live under His leadership (1 Peter 2:24). There is no freer or more blessed life than to live by faith in Christ, searching out God’s truths through His Bible and His Spirit.

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

Posted in Proverbs, Sermons Preached | Tagged , ,

The Lord’s Table Is More Than Grape Juice And Stale Crackers

Photo by James Coleman on Unsplash

Is it possible to be a Christian, and yet live as sinful as a non-Christian? The answer is both “yes” and “no”.

Please turn with me to 1 Corinthians chapter 11. As you turn, let me give a little introduction
to this wonderful text.

The Corinthian writings are called “Church Epistles”, or more clearly, “letters written to the local Churches”. Most of the letters that the Apostle wrote to local Churches contained doctrine or teachings for the Church from the Apostles. The Bible is so very important because God founded His Church on …

Ephesians 2:20 … the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;

The Church is founded on Bible doctrine, written doctrine or teachings from the prophets (the Old Testament) and the apostles (the New Testament). Right after God started the Church on the Day of Pentecost, the Bible says:

Acts 2:41-42 …. they that gladly received {Peter’s preaching of Christ} were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. 42 And {the early Church} continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.

There were no “Church Rolls” or membership lists. Those who were baptized in water were considered members of Christ’s Church. The Church “continued steadfastly”, heeding:

  1. The “Apostles Doctrine”. The teaching of the Bible.
  2. Fellowship. Believers gathered together to grow in Christ.
  3. Breaking of bread. They enjoyed the Lord’s Table.
  4. Prayers. The Church prayed together. The Christian prayed alone.

The reason believers gathered together, as we do today, is so that we can build one another up in our faith. The Bible says that as Christians,

1 Thessalonians 5:9-11 …. 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. 11 Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.

As believers we come together to encourage one another, to build up one another, not to tear one another down. We offer comfort to those in our midst who are suffering through prayer. We edify one another. The word “edify” is the Greek οἰκοδομέω oikodoméō, (pronounced oy-kod-om-eh’-o), which means “to build a house together”.

We who are saved are, the Scripture says,
“The House of Christ” (Hebrews 3:6). We are
to build this House upward, Godward.

The Christian is commanded to “not forsake the assembling together of ourselves”, but to come together to “exhort one another”, the Greek παρακαλέω parakaleō (pronounced par-ak-al-eh’-o), or literally “to call to one’s side so as to comfort and encourage”. Many today say, “I don’t have to be a part of a Church to be saved”. As the Bible says:

1 Corinthians 12:18 … now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.

The Church is a part of God’s Plan of salvation. It is a world in microcosm, a world whereby we show love one to another, practicing to be like Jesus. We are to imitate God, to follow Jesus. Thus when we gather as a Church, we are to come together for the better – to better one another.

When The Gathered Church Is Selfish
It Hurts The Cause Of Christ

It is possible for a Christian to fall into sin. It is possible to step away from your calling momentarily. When you do this, it does not just hurt you. It hurts Christ’s Church. When God speaks of our mission, He always speaks of GROUPS of Christians. Not individuals, but GROUPS. Hear this:

1 Peter 2:9-10 … ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light: 10 which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.

The Christian is “called out of darkness, and brought into God’s marvelous light”. It is not normal for a Christian to live in sin. We who are saved are to live IN THE WORLD, loving those around us. But we are never to IMITATE THE WORLD. We do not belong in sin. Jesus said:

John 15:19 If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.

We are called to walk TOGETHER with one another as we walk WITH Christ. The Church and Christian walking in the light of Christ will be hated by the lost.

Beloved – and I speak to God’s Church – now we are the Children of God (1 John 3:2). The Beloved Apostle John said:

1 John 1:6 If we say that we have fellowship with {Jesus}, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:

The Christian & the Church are designed to walk in the light with Jesus.
The Christian & the Church are designed to live out the Word of God.
The Christian & the Church are designed to obey the commands of Jesus.
The Christian & the Church are designed to live so as to honor our King.

Let’s look at our text.

1 Corinthians 11:1 Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.

FOLLOWERS. That’s plural. We – TOGETHER – follow the Word of God, the Apostle’s Doctrine. We FOLLOW Paul, Peter, Matthew, Mark, Luke. We follow both OLD and NEW Writings, the fully Bible. When we follow God TOGETHER we are blessed TOGETHER. When we do not – we hurt ourselves and others.

Paul was not pleased with Corinth. He wrote:

1 Corinthians 11:17 Now in this that I declare unto you I praise you not, that ye come together not for the better, but for the worse.

When we come together, loving God and loving one another, we promote the Kingdom of God. This is our calling.

Ephesians 5:1-2 Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us…

Philippians 2:4-5 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:

Believers, we are not to come together to satisfy OURSELVES.
We gather together and honor God.
We gather together and love one another, as Christ loved us.

Love is a door that swings outward, blessing others.

That is the Way of the Master.

When we do not love one another, word gets around. The Apostle said:

1 Corinthians 11:18-19 For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it. 19 For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.

Paul was in Roman bondage, awaiting trial by Caesar. How did he hear of Corinth’s sins? Somebody told him. When the Church does wrong, word gets around.

The local Church at Corinth was not unified spiritually, because the factions in the Church were living for themselves and not for Christ. There was warring and fighting in the Church, totally contrary to the will of Christ. Some were false Christians who, though outwardly professing Jesus, inwardly were just living for themselves.

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

The stony ground “Christians” (Mark 4:16-19) never grow deep roots. When the world strikes at their faith they quickly backed away, going back to Egypt, rather than staying faithful to the Word of God. The Corinthians had grown so Christless in their meetings that they perverted the meaning of the Lord’s Table.

1 Corinthians 11:20-22 When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord’s supper. 21 For in eating every one taketh before other his own supper: and one is hungry, and another is drunken. 22 What? have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? or despise ye the church of God, and shame them that have not? What shall I say to you? shall I praise you in this? I praise you not.

When the Corinthians came together to partake of the Lord’s Table, it was the Lord’s Table in name only. It was not what Jesus told us. When Jesus first gave the Lord’s Table, He told us:

Luke 22:19 this do in remembrance of Me.

The Lord’s Table Reflects The Love Jesus
Wants Us To Have For One Another

The Lord’s Table is to remind us how much Jesus loved us. It is to remind us that He suffered in Body on Calvary’s Cross, shedding His Blood so that we might be saved. The person next to you who takes of the Lord’s Table is a person of equal value to yourself. There are no second class citizens at the Lord’s Table. As we were loved, we love. As Jesus gave, we give. How did the Church at Corinth take the Lord’s Table? Selfishly. Sensually.

1 Corinthians 11:21 … in eating every one taketh before other his own supper: and one is hungry, and another is drunken

Word Study A beautiful ritual had been degraded to a common boozer. The word translated “drunken” is the Greek μεθύω methýō, {pronounced meth-oo’-o}, which means to drink to the point of intoxication. The Apostle tells them if they are going to “party” like this, then do so at home, not where the Church is gathered. The intent of the Church gathering is to honor God and to love one another. Period!

Sometimes as believers we commit sins because we are ignorant that what we do is a sin. Though most of our sins are with knowledge, there are some that happen because we just don’t know any better. The Corinthians knew better. The Apostle wrote:

1 Corinthians 11:23-26 For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: 24 and when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. 25 After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. 26 For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come.

Paul was not Paul when Jesus had His last supper with the disciples. Paul was Saul, unsaved Saul.

Before Paul was Paul, he was Saul the Pharisee, and he hated Christians. After Christ was crucified and resurrected, Saul met Jesus on Damascus Road (Acts 9:3-6), and was born again by the Holy Spirit through faith in Christ to be Paul the Apostle. Someone had to show Paul the Lord’s Table, so that Paul could show the Lord’s Table to others. What the Corinthians were doing was not Christlike, not by a long shot. What they were doing was worldly. They ignored the command of Christ, and made the church like the world.

When the Church is like the world, it cannot reach the world. When the Christian acts just like the unbeliever, the Christian cannot be light, but is instead darkness. The intent of the Lord’s Table is “to show the Lord’s Death”, to show how much Jesus loved us, and proved His love by His willing sacrifice.

Illustrate Many years ago my Pastor, Dr. Benny Woods, told me at the end of a Lord’s Table, “David, I ruined that Table”. Concerned, I asked Brother Benny what he meant. I didn’t see anything wrong in what he did. Then he told me, and the light bulb came on. “I offered the Church the Cup before I offered the Bread”. When you hear that, you might think “that’s not so bad”. What makes it bad is that it is not in the order that Jesus gave it. You see, Jesus had to be beaten, bruise, humiliated, and stripped naked before the Cross. His body had to be torn up so that the Blood could be shed on Calvary. When you get a soft drink you always open the container before you drink it. Jesus had to be opened up so that the wrath of God could be satiated.

Ever since that day I am always careful to make sure the BREAD is first blessed and offered BEFORE THE CUP.

To Defile The Lord’s Table Is To Bring
Divine Judgment On Yourself

1 Corinthians 11:27-30 … Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. 28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. 29 For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. 30 For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.

Christians, God disciplines His children. He paddles us when we get off course of the faith. The Corinthian believers were weak and sickly, subject to disease, because they had defiled the Lord’s Table. Some were even put to sleep. This doesn’t mean to nod off in a service. No. The word “sleep” is often used in Scripture to describe the death of a saint, a believer in Christ. When Jesus’ friend Lazarus died, Jesus said:

John 11:11-14 … Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep. 12 Then said his disciples, 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.

I always ask you, as Christians, to prepare your hearts before partaking of the Lord’s Table. I ask you to do this now. Cleanse yourselves of sin. Seek Christ, our Great Mediator, in prayer. Confess your sins before Him, pleading the Blood of Calvary. If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). Do so now. Do not partake of the Lord’s Table unworthily. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen and Amen.

Posted in 1 Corinthians, Communion, Sermons Preached

Wisdom Is From God

The Holy Bible is true
Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

We live in a day where knowledge is super-abounding. To learn something all I need do is go to the Internet. This fantastic tool – accessible even to people in many third world countries – is an open door to the world’s knowledge. Choose a search engine – I like Google myself – and the subject, and you have all the information (and misinformation) that the world knows about it. You can go to You Tube and find instructional videos on anything from car maintenance to carpentry to zoology. Knowledge is so easy to gain. We have immense knowledge in the 21st century – and yet so very little wisdom.

There is a great difference between wisdom and knowledge. Knowledge is raw facts. Wisdom is the ability to assemble the facts in a way that is productive and helpful. For instance, we have a great deal of knowledge on the Coronavirus – but very little knowledge on how to deal with it. The scientists and doctors told us, at first, there is no need for masks. Then they told us we needed masks. Now I am hearing that certain types of masks do no good. So what is true? The truth is, we are trying to restrain a gnat with a chain link fence. We need wisdom.

We know that racism is wrong. This is knowledge. So how do we deal with it? The world says, “Let’s riot. Let’s destroy neighborhood businesses. Let’s block traffic. Let’s act out, and let’s burn things. By destroying things, we can fix things!” Is this wise? No. We have a knowledge of a problem, but need wisdom to fix it. No amount of kneeling during anthems, or celebrity scoldings is going to fix the problem. We must have wisdom.

During this pandemic our Church has modified the way that we share the Word of God. As many are fearful of the Coronavirus, I asked the Lord to give us wisdom. As a Church we now broadcast to Facebook. We use a local FM Transmitter so that our most vulnerable members can sit in the parking lot outside of our sanctuary and listen to the services on their radios. We also have in-person services which just a few attend. The other day I was talking to a pastor friend of mine, and shared what we are doing as a local church. When I mentioned Facebook he told me another pastor he knows said they tried Facebook, but stopped it. Why? Because too many members stayed home and watched the services on Facebook. I asked my friend “What difference does that make? Isn’t the goal to share the Word of God to as many as possible?”. Beloved, our goal as God’s people is to share the Word of God with others. Period. That is what our Lord would have us do.

There are too many in leadership that have knowledge, but no wisdom. Which brings me to our text tonight, Job chapter 28. The Book of Job is a Book of suffering. The main character, Job, was a man who loved the Lord.

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

And yet the Lord allowed Job to lose everything. He lost his assets. He lost his sons and daughters. Job lost everything, even his health. When Job was afflicted – an affliction that was allowed by God – Job responded:

Job 1:21 Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.

Job had no knowledge as to why he was going through these trials. When Job’s friends came to him, it wasn’t long before they began to suggest reasons that they thought Job was being tried. The number one reason they believed was that Job had secret sins that God was punishing. One friend named Zophar the Naamathite accused Job of not only sinning, but lying to himself, his friends, and to God. Zophar said:

Job 11:3-6 Should thy lies make men hold their peace? and when thou mockest, shall no man make thee ashamed? 4 For thou hast said, My doctrine is pure, and I am clean in thine eyes. 5 But oh that God would speak, and open his lips against thee; 6 and that he would shew thee the secrets of wisdom, that they are double to that which is! Know therefore that God exacteth of thee less than thine iniquity deserveth.

Zophar had KNOWLEDGE, but no wisdom. Job had actually done nothing wrong. He was not being punished, but being refined. God uses trials to refine us so that we can better use the knowledge He gives us.

Where Is Wisdom To Be Found?

In Job 28 to difference between KNOWLEDGE and WISDOM is explored. What causes Job to search for wisdom? His suffering. When we suffer, we do not need knowledge. We need wisdom. Suffering leads us to seek out wisdom. Read with me:

Job 28:1-2 Surely there is a vein for the silver, and a place for gold where they fine it. 2 Iron is taken out of the earth, and brass is molten out of the stone.

We know that silver comes from veins in the earth. We know that gold and iron are taken from the earth. We have learned how to make brass by molting copper and zinc, and we know the difference between molten brass and molten bronze. Humans are made in the image of God:

Genesis 1:26-27 … God said, 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. 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

As humans made in God’s image, we have the ability to gain knowledge by experience. We know by experience.

Job 28:3-4 He {God} setteth an end to darkness, and searcheth out all perfection: the stones of darkness, and the shadow of death. 4 The flood breaketh out from the inhabitant; even the waters forgotten of the foot: they are dried up, they are gone away from men.

We know things. Humans know stuff. Yet it is God Who controls the earth. He controls the times and the seasons. It is God that allows the floods, and takes them away. We can learn where and how God does things, but we cannot make those things. We cannot make silver or gold, nor do we make copper and zinc. God does. We make nothing, but take what God has graciously allowed us to have, and have modified it and arranged it into something else. The God Who made us is the God Who makes all things.

Job 28:5-8 As for the earth, out of it cometh bread: and under it is turned up as it were fire. 6 The stones of it are the place of sapphires: and it hath dust of gold. 7 There is a path which no fowl knoweth, and which the vulture’s eye hath not seen: 8 the lion’s whelps have not trodden it, nor the fierce lion passed by it.

It is God Who causes the wheat to grow. We have gained the knowledge to gather the wheat, to make the wheat into flour and bake it. But God makes the wheat. The same earth that bears fruit we can enjoy is also “turned up as it were fire”, it has fire underneath it. The core of our planet is fire. We know it, but cannot understand the wisdom that made it. God made it. God has made things knowable, and unknowable.

Our God is awesome!

Job 28:9-11 He putteth forth his hand upon the rock; he overturneth the mountains by the roots. 10 He cutteth out rivers among the rocks; and his eye seeth every precious thing. 11 He bindeth the floods from overflowing; and the thing that is hid bringeth he forth to light.

Job tells us that it is GOD that shaped the earth that we are on. It is GOD Who cut the rivers through the rocks. It is GOD Who made the Grand Canyon. It is GOD Who is OMNISCIENT, all seeing – “His eye seeth every precious thing”. God knows where what we consider precious is buried. He knows where the gold, the silver, the copper and iron are buried. God does not consider these things “precious” though. We do, but not Him. God consider life to be precious, for life is in His image. The Bible says:

Psalm 116:15 Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.

God considers His people, secured by faith in Jesus Christ, to be precious.

The woman who loves God is more precious than rubies (Proverbs 3:15)

The death of the godly, departing into glory, is precious (Ecclesiastes 7:1)

Our Lord Jesus is the precious corner stone of the Church (1 Peter 2:6)

Jesus’ blood shed on Calvary is precious, for it only saves us (1 Peter 1:19)

The promises God makes to us is precious (2 Peter 1:4)

The Heaven the believer is headed toward is precious (Revelation 21:19)

As we go through trials, Beloved of God, the Lord continues to watch over us. Why? Because we are precious to Him for Christ’s sake. As we, like Job, are tried, the trials are not strange coincidences, or accidents of nature. Trials come to make us seek out wisdom. Job, tried, sought for wisdom. Hear his words:

Job 28:12-22 But where shall wisdom be found? and where is the place of understanding? 13 Man knoweth not the price thereof; neither is it found in the land of the living. 14 The depth saith, It is not in me: and the sea saith, It is not with me. 15 It cannot be gotten for gold, neither shall silver be weighed for the price thereof. 16 It cannot be valued with the gold of Ophir, with the precious onyx, or the sapphire. 17 The gold and the crystal cannot equal it: and the exchange of it shall not be for jewels of fine gold. 18 No mention shall be made of coral, or of pearls: for the price of wisdom is above rubies. 19 The topaz of Ethiopia shall not equal it, neither shall it be valued with pure gold. 20 Whence then cometh wisdom? and where is the place of understanding? 21 Seeing it is hid from the eyes of all living, and kept close from the fowls of the air. 22 Destruction and death say, We have heard the fame thereof with our ears.

Illustrate Wisdom is the most valuable thing in the world. It is more valuable than gold or silver, and cannot be found in the earth or in the seas. Destruction and death have heard of wisdom, but have never met it. A good example of this was when Category 5 Hurricane Katrina hit America in August 2005. The Hurricane caused over 1800 deaths and $125 billion in damage, most of which was in New Orleans, Louisianan. People were left without power, food, or water, but had plenty of panic. Why did so many suffer? They had KNOWLEDGE that the Hurricane was coming, and fleets of school buses at hand that could have been used to evacuate the city. Yet though the city was told the Hurricane was coming, and mandatory evacuation notices were issued, the citizens and it’s leadership failed to act. KNOWLEDGE WITHOUT WISDOM IS OFTEN USELESS.

Yet less than a month later Hurricane Rita struck Texas and Louisianan. Though Rita was the most intense tropical cyclone on record in the Gulf of Mexico, and the fourth-most intense Atlantic hurricane ever recorded, damage only reached about 18.5$ billion. Why was this equally disastrous phenomena not equally as destructive as Katrina? Because the people heeded the warnings, and put the knowledge they had into action by evacuating. This is KNOWLEDGE coupled with WISDOM.

God often uses trials to bring us to the realization of this great truth:

Wisdom Is Found In God

Job 28:23 God understandeth the way thereof, and he knoweth the place thereof.

God knows the way of wisdom. God knows the place of wisdom. You cannot find wisdom in a secular college. You cannot find wisdom on Google or on You Tube. The Source of Wisdom is God. The Holy Bible is the written Word of God. Sadly, few Christians turn to their Bibles today.

Every day I read my news from sources on the Internet. So often I read of influential and well known pastors and authors in the Christian community who are going through divorce, despair, and even premature death because of suicide. Why are they going through these things? Because too often they have KNOWLEDGE of what God’s Word says, and yet out of ignorance, or even outright disobedience, refuse to DO what God’s Word says. They HEAR but do not DO. The Bible is God’s Word to us. The Psalmist told our Lord:

Psalm 119:89 Thou {O Lord} through thy commandments hast made me wiser than mine enemies: for they are ever with me.

To HEAR and DO what God says is wisdom. He said:

Psalm 19:7 The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.

Those who do what God says – DO IT – are wise. The Apostle told his convert Timothy:

2 Timothy 3:15-17 … from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 that the man of God may be {mature}, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.

Those who are saved by faith in Christ are those who not only hear, but DO what God has said. Too often I read of popular, influential Christian “progressive” leaders who have abandoned the teaching of scripture for the ways and means of the world. I read of one mother who ceased believing scripture because of her daughter’s sexual lifestyle. It wasn’t long before this same woman was plunged into a messy, horrific divorce. The Bible gives clear guidelines for what is and is not marriage, and yet many who profess Christ refuse to obey what the Scripture says. Knowledge without wisdom will destroy a life. Sexual sin is most destructive. The Bible says:

Proverbs 6:27-29 Can a man take fire in his bosom, and his clothes not be burned? 28 Can one go upon hot coals, and his feet not be burned? 29 So he that goeth in to his neighbor’s wife; whosoever toucheth her shall not be innocent.

God has established standards of behavior that He expects His Children to obey. Jesus said:

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

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

Obedience to God’s Word is wisdom. So many KNOW what the Scripture says, KNOW what God has said, and yet DO NOT DO what God has said. Knowledge without wisdom is useless. God knows best. Let me say that again:

God knows best.
God knows best.
God knows best!

Job 28:24-27 For {God} looketh to the ends of the earth, and seeth under the whole heaven; 25 to make the weight for the winds; and he weigheth the waters by measure. 26 When he made a decree for the rain, and a way for the lightning of the thunder: 27 then did he see it, and declare it; he prepared it, yea, and searched it out.

God knows the end from the beginning, and decrees what will be done from eternity past (Isaiah 46:10). God has said:

My counsel shall stand; and I will do what I desire!

When I was growing up, there was a show on television called “Father Knows Best”. Beloved, Father does know best. Our God knows what is best, regardless as to what “progressive” Christians believe. The Bible says:

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

It is time for God’s Church to cease compromising with the world. We need to do as God says if we expect to be blessed. This leads us to our final point:

When We Do What God Says, We Are Indeed Wise

Proverbs 28:28 And unto man {God} said, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding.

In our day people FEAR peer pressure, but do not FEAR God. God is, after all, that Jolly Old Man that lives up yonder. Yet this is not the God of the Scripture. The God of the Scripture is our Maker, Eternal and forever Perfect. He is the One Who sent His Beloved Son to this earth to show us the Way of the Kingdom of God. We are called, as Christians, to imitate God, not man. The Bible says:

Romans 12:1-2 … present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

We need to FEAR GOD, which means to have our greatest respect for Him and what He has said in His Word, the Holy Bible. We as Christians need to get back to the Bible. We need to not just READ it, but HEED it. We are to DO what God tells us to DO in His Word. We are to be followers of God, as dear children (Ephesians 5:1). A child does not lead the parent, and we do not define God. God defines God. God defines good, and God defines evil.

The fear of the Lord, THAT is WISDOM.

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

Posted in Job, Sermons Preached | Tagged , , ,

Lord, I Believe: Help My Unbelief (Red Letters #44)

Photo by Jerry Zhang on Unsplash

Turn with me in your Bibles to Mark 9. As you’re turning there, let’s give some context. Jesus has been on the mountain with Peter, James, and John. The New Testament doesn’t tell us which mountain this was that Jesus went up with His three chiefs, just that it is “a HIGH MOUNTAIN apart” (Matthew 17:1). The Bible Journey Commentary notes:

The mountain where the ‘transfiguration’ occurred was probably Mount Hermon, a short distance to the north of Caesarea Philippi – in the area where Jesus asked the disciples, ‘Who do you say I am?’. Mount Hermon (meaning ‘sanctuary’) is the highest mountain in Palestine (at 9233 ft / 2815m above sea level) and has a permanent white snowfield that provides melt-water during the dry spring and summer to feed the River Jordan. It was a sacred place to the early Caananites and was one of the ‘high places’ of pagan worship often revered during Old Testament times. Jesus chose this special place to show his personal and unique relationship with God, together with his close ties to the most respected early leaders of the Jewish religion, Moses and Elijah.”

Bible Scholars R.H. Fuller and John Lightfoot (as sited in Jesus And Archaeology (pg 176), author James H. Charlesworth) believed Jesus was transfigured on Mount Hermon, as it is the highest place located near Caesarea Philippi (Matthew 16:13). The name “Hermon” is sometimes referred to as Baal-Hermon in Scripture, because it was considered a sacred place for worshipers of the Canaanite god Baal.

Jesus ascended a mountain that was one of Satan’s strongholds and there was revealed as the Messiah
to Peter, James, and John.

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

God used Moses to bring in the Law, the Old Covenant of works. God sent His Son Jesus to bring to us the New Covenant of Grace. When Moses went up Mount Sinai, the Bible says:

Exodus 24:16 And the glory of the Lord abode upon mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days: and the seventh day he called unto Moses out of the midst of the cloud.

When Jesus went up Mount Hermon the Bible says:

Matthew 17:1 … after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart

In both cases, God spoke to Moses and His Son on the seventh day, from a cloud (Mark 9:7; Exodus 24:16). When God spoke to Moses, He gave him a Law that would teach His people about the Coming of the Messiah. When God spoke on Mount Hermon, He only spoke to Peter, James, and John, but revealed Jesus Christ as the fulfillment of the Law of God. There wold be no longer a need for animal sacrifice following Calvary, for Jesus would be sacrificed once and for all for those who believe in Him.

Hebrews 10:4, 9-14 … it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins. 9 then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God {My Father}. {God} taketh away the first {covenant, the Law of works}, that he may establish the second {covenant, the Grace of Jesus Christ}. 10 By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. 11 And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: 12 but this man, 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.

Moses brought stone tablets down Mount Sinai containing laws for God’s people to live by. Mount Sinai was NOT in the Promised Land, but in Arabia (Galatians 4:25). Jesus Christ alone came down Mount Hermon. It is Jesus that we follow, and His Spirit that guides us in life and through this wondrous Book we call the Holy Bible. When Moses came down Mount Sinai the first time, he found Israel worshiping a golden calf (Exodus 32:7-20). Had Moses not intervened, God would have destroyed Israel, saying:

Exodus 32:10 … let Me alone {Moses}, that My wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them: and I will make of thee a great nation.

Brothers and sisters, it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the Living God (Hebrews 10:31).

Had Moses not intervened, God would have wiped out all of Israel for sponsoring and following idolatry. But Moses intervened, and God spared Israel. When Jesus came down Mount Hermon, followed by Peter, James, and John, Israel was once more worshiping a golden calf. Many Churches today worship golden calves. Many Pastors stand in pulpits and, like Aaron, Moses brother, take the riches of the flock, melt it down, and build a golden calf for the congregation to worship. What are the golden calves we worship today?

Denominations, and human creeds.
Buildings and places of worship.
Music, and musical styles.
Pastors and people that are so fallible.

Are you at Mark 9:14? Let’s read it:

Mark 9:14-18 And when {Jesus} came to his disciples, he saw a great multitude about them, and the scribes questioning with them. 15 And straightway all the people, when they beheld him, were greatly amazed, and running to him saluted him. 16 And he asked the scribes, What question ye with them? 17 And one of the multitude answered and said, Master, I have brought unto thee my son, which hath a dumb spirit; 18 and wheresoever he taketh him, he teareth him: and he foameth, and gnasheth with his teeth, and pineth away: and I spake to thy disciples that they should cast him out; and they could not.

God Is Not The Author Of Confusion

When Moses came down the mountain, he found Israel worshiping a golden calf. Carrying the Law on stone tablets in his arms, he cast them to the ground, breaking them. Israel broke the Law, and Moses illustrated it very graphically.

When Jesus comes down the mountain, He finds 9 of His disciples in the midst of confusion. As our Master comes into view the arguing crowd runs toward Jesus.

Jesus speaks first to the Scribes, the Bible scholars.

Vs 16 {Jesus} asked the scribes, What question ye with them?

The Scribes have written scripture, copying them for others, so often that they have memorized vast sections of Biblical text. They make no recorded reply to Jesus, but I can imagine their words were much like Aaron spoke to Moses:

Exodus 32:22-24 .. Aaron said, Let not the anger of my lord wax hot: thou knowest the people, that they are set on mischief. 23 For they said unto me, Make us gods, which shall go before us… 24 And I {Aaron} said unto them, Whosoever hath any gold, let them break it off. So they gave it me: then I cast it into the fire, and there came out this calf.

God’s Pastors are not to please people, but to please the God Who saved them and called them.

So many religious people know the Bible, but do not know the God Who wrote the Scripture. So many are like the Scribes, who know the text, but not the One the text was written about. When Jesus came down that mountain, He is “the Beloved Son in Whom the Father is well pleased” (Mark 9:7). God said “Hear Jesus!” The Father commands us that we look to Jesus. All eyes on Jesus. Yet we often get sidetracked. The Scribes have no answer that God considered worthy to be recorded in our Bible.

Mark 9:17-18 … one of the multitude answered and said, Master, I have brought unto thee my son, which hath a dumb spirit; 18 and wheresoever he taketh him, he teareth him: and he foameth, and gnasheth with his teeth, and pineth away: and I spake to thy disciples that they should cast him out; and they could not.

This man approached Jesus kneeling, asking for mercy, praying for help for his son.

Matthew 17:14-15 … kneeling down to {Jesus}, and saying, 15 Lord, have mercy on my son: for he is lunatick, and sore vexed: for ofttimes he falleth into the fire, and oft into the water.

The man kneels down to Jesus, and puts his request before the Lord. If you compare Mark’s account to Matthew’s account, you see that this man approached the disciples before he approached Jesus. Perhaps he came to the disciples looking to find Jesus. When Jesus was gone away on the mountain, this father turned his attention to the disciples. He says:

I spake to thy disciples that they should cast him out; and they could not

We Too Often Rely Upon Ourselves, And Not The Lord

The reason that Israel demanded that Aaron make a false god to lead the nation was because Moses had been 40 days on Mount Sinai. Israel had been looking to Moses for leadership. Though Aaron was the High Priest, the people only trusted Moses. After all, hadn’t MOSES lifted the Rod of God over the Red Sea, and the waters parted. Hadn’t MOSES stood before the Rock in the desert and, striking the rock with his staff, hadn’t water gushed out? Aaron had done nothing to help the people, but MOSES was always there. When Moses left, after a few days the people became concerned. As time passed the people became confused, and then confusion moved into fear. We have lost MOSES. We need to DO something.

The nine disciples left at the base of Mount Hermon saw Jesus, Peter, James and John go up the mountain. We are told in Luke 9:37 that these four did not return until the next day. They didn’t have to wait for Jesus for 40 days – just ONE day. When this man comes up to the nine with his “son, which hath a dumb spirit (Mark 9:17), they attempt to cast out this spirit in their own power. Guess what? Nothing happens. Why? Because we need Jesus. We all need Jesus.

Faith is not a human ability. Faith is to trust in God, and to seek out God to fulfill our needs.

Illustrate Several years ago there was a lady in our Church in Lexington, Tennessee, who had a sister who had died of cancer. When she share the story with me, this precious lady was not bitter at God. She was bitter at the Church her sister was part of. When her sister was diagnosed with cancer, her Pastor and friends from the Church told her to “just believe. If you believe HARD ENOUGH your cancer will go away.” When the woman’s cancer continued to progress the Church, led by the Pastor, made her feel as if she were a failure as a Christian because she didn’t believe hard enough. Beloved, this is madness. You can’t just believe harder!

Illustrate Scottish Missionary John Gibson Paton, decided to translate the Gospel of John into the language of the natives of New Hebrides. He had a problem, though. The word “believe” is found in John 90 times – and the word “believe” was not in the language of the people. Dr. Paton was about to give up when one day a native came to his home. Exhausted, the native fell into a chair, and used the native word which means “I am resting all of me on this”. Dr Paton realized he could use this word for the English word “believe”.

To “believe” is to rest everything on God. To come, exhausted and spent, to The Lord Jesus Christ.

Beloved, we must never rely on ourselves for anything. We must rely on Jesus. To rely on anyone else is to rely on last – best. When we bring our brokenness and heartache to Someone for relief, we must not accept a lower case, little “s” someone. What does the Scripture say?

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.

Psalm 33:20 Our soul waiteth for the Lord: he is our help and our shield.

Isaiah 12:2 Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the Lord JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation.

This man was in a terrible state because his son was suffering. He described his son’s condition. “He is taken, and torn. He foams at the mouth, and gnashes his teeth. He is losing weight, and will not eat.” This is such a frightening place to be. His “child is a lunatic, diving into the fire, diving into the water, seeking to destroy himself”. I have known many parents in this same condition. Their children, the ones that they dearly love, have fallen into a terrible state. Depression, cutting, self destructive behavior. Beloved, the child needs Jesus. We all need Jesus.

We need the Jesus Who is the Mediator of the New Covenant. We need the Jesus Who stands between us, and the Heavenly Father. We need the Jesus Who shed His Blood on Calvary for our sins. We need the Jesus Who cried out:

It is finished! (John 19:30)

Adam allowed sin to enter the world, and death by sin. When lust conceives, it brings forth sin, and sin, WHEN IT IS FINISHED, brings forth death (James 1:15). The devil led Adam into giving away our birthright, but Christ came to restore us to God. He is our Redeemer, our Savior, our Lord. We stand right before God because the Son was wronged on our behalf.

Oh, how we need to cry out to Jesus!

When I am afraid, I put my trust in You (Psalm 56:3). Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose trust is the LORD (Jeremiah 17:7). Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD, the LORD Himself, is the Rock eternal (Isaiah 26:4). When this man got where Jesus was supposed to be and Jesus wasn’t there, he looked to other fallen men for blessing. There is no lasting blessing in men. We are all fallible. But our Jesus is not.

Jesus addresses this man, saying:

Mark 9:19-20{Jesus} answereth {the father}, and saith, O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him unto me. 20 And they brought him unto him

Word Study Jesus responds to the father of the afflicted child, but also addresses the crowd. He calls them all ἄπιστος γενεά apistos genea, “unbelieving people”. Why is He calling them this? Because they are trying to fix the situation that this man is in with human power. Human power can only go so far.

Zechariah 4:6 … Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts.

It is God Who is Sovereign. There is a limit on human wisdom, on human ability. We have so much technology that we begin to believe that we are gods. Yet we are not. Only God is God. Only Jesus can fix what is hurting us. “Bring him to Me”, says Jesus. Bring your problems. Bring your troubles. Bring them to ME, our Master says.

Matthew 11:29 Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

Can you rest on Jesus? The Bible says,

Mark 9:20-22 and when {the boy} saw {Jesus}, straightway the spirit tare him; and he fell on the ground, and wallowed foaming. 21 And {Jesus} asked his father, How long is it ago since this came unto him? And he said, Of a child. 22 And ofttimes it hath cast him into the fire, and into the waters, to destroy him: but if thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us.

This young man is obviously no longer a child. He has been afflicted since he was a child. He has been destructive for years, and nothing that man has done seems to help. The man tells Jesus, “IF You can do anything, have compassion on US”. The suffering of the child is shared by the parent. What is interesting about this statement is that, in the Greek text, this “IF” is a First Class Condition. What the man is literally saying is:

IF, and I know you can, IF You will heal my child, it will help both of us!

Jesus tells the man:

Mark 9:23-24Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. 24 And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.

What Jesus Is Asking Is,
“Will You REST FULLY On Me?”

Jesus isn’t asking this man to believe harder. He’s telling the man, “Will you rest fully in My arms? Will you surrender the entire situation – bleak as it looks – to Me”? Notice how the man answered Jesus:

Mark 9:24 {the father} said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief

The man is at a place of absolute surrender.

Tears are streaming down his face. He doesn’t care what people think of him. He could care less. He just wants his child to be healed. Beloved, Jesus Christ came to this earth for people just like this. He didn’t come for those who think they have it all together. Jesus came for the broken, the imperfect, the sinner in need of a Savior. Jesus said:

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

If you think you’re whole, Jesus isn’t for you. If you think you’ve got it all together, Jesus isn’t for you. This father is saying, “Jesus, help me as I am, a doubter!” We often lose the blessings of God because we will not rest in Christ. We flap about, trying to be better, trying to be stronger. But this is not what Jesus wants of us. He wants us to trust in Him, to rest fully on Him and His Word, believing that our God is able.

Mark 9:25 -27 When Jesus saw that the people came running together, he rebuked the foul spirit, saying unto him, Thou dumb and deaf spirit, I charge thee, come out of him, and enter no more into him. 26 And the spirit cried, and rent him sore, and came out of him: and he was as one dead; insomuch that many said, He is dead. 27 But Jesus took him by the hand, and lifted him up;
and he arose.

Jesus is able. Our Jesus is able to do “exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us” (Ephesians 3:20). There is nothing that our Lord cannot do, if we will rest fully upon Him.

A Private Word With Christ’s Disciples

The message today ends with these words:

Mark 9:28-29 And when he was come into the house, his disciples asked him privately, Why could not we cast him out? 29 And he said unto them, This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting.

What do “prayer” and “fasting” have in common? Properly understood, both prayer and fasting are a denial of self, and an absolute reliance upon God. As Christians and as humans we, at times, become too familiar with our God. We’re saved by faith, but many of us have gotten to where we are not passionate in our faith.

Apathy is, in many ways, worse than Atheism.

God allows trials in our lives to bring us face to face with situations we cannot overcome. I believe the Covid-19 Pandemic is a prime example of this. Too long in America, England, Canada, and in other prosperous nations we have relied on little “s” someones or somethings rather than relying on Jesus. Covid-19 has, thank God, brought us to the end of our resources. We are being reintroduced to faith, true Biblical faith.

We must rely on God our Savior. Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1 NASB). Faith believes what God has said, regardless as to how things seem. Faith is to come to God believing that He is as He says, and that He will bless those who seek Him (Hebrews 11:6). Faith believes in and rests in the Master. This is what saves a person. This is what keeps on saving a person.

We must come to Jesus Christ!

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

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

The Mob And The Rule Of Law

Photo by Florian Olivo on Unsplash

I never know what I’m going to preach until God puts it on my heart. This morning I was searching the Internet for news. The major news networks do not give news, but opinion and bias. I just want to be informed. Anyway, in one of my news feeds I found an article entitled “Tennessee In National Spotlight With Harsh Penalties For Protesters”. The article, written by Nikki Junewicz, focused on a bill passed by our state legislature. Bill 8005 passed in the Tennessee House with 71 Ayes, 20 Noes. The Bill passed in the Tennessee Senate with 25 Ayes, 4 Noes. Governor Bill Lee signed the bill into Law August 20, 2020. The Law “revises certain criminal laws concerning vandalism, assault, disorderly conduct, rioting, obstructing traffic, camping on state property, and other offenses; authorizes the TBI to investigate certain offenses”.

Every citizen in Tennessee should appreciate this law, especially after watching other cities across America burn as rioters and looters “peacefully protest”. Camping on state property is not allowed, and is punishable by up to 6 years in prison and a fine of up to $3000. Aggravated Rioting is now a felony, with prison time up to 15 years, and fines may be imposed up to $10,000.

This bill does nothing to limit our First Amendment privileges. The First Amendment to our glorious Constitution states:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

America is great because, as citizens, we can PEACEABLY assemble, and PETITION the Government for a redress of grievances. When people riot, they are causing lawlessness. When humans come together and allow the flesh to take over, when humans begin to disrespect property and other people, this destroys the structure of law that makes our nation great. Martin Luther King Jr did much to advance the Civil rights of American citizens, and did so without tolerating rioting, arson, or looting. I quote from the article:

Democratic Representative John DeBerry of Shelby County is not backing down in his support of the law, taking a firm stand against the protests, condemning those who compare them to the Civil Rights movement. ‘I saw it, I saw men and women stand with courage, integrity and class and they changed the world, because what the world could see in them was the lie that was being told about them,’ says DeBerry.

That’s why DeBerry says destruction of property should not be tolerated. ‘The way they did it, they had on their suits, their ties, their shirts, their hats, they locked arms and they marched peacefully and Dr. King stood for that which was peaceful,’ says DeBerry.

I heartily endorse any person to peacefully – PEACEFULLY – protest, whether I agree with your viewpoint or not. This is the glue that maintains our Republic. But rioting and burning, toppling statues and destroying public property, these are not the actions of citizens, but of a mindless mob. The Bible says:

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

If God is not the Author of confusion, then riots are not God endorsed, nor do riots promote an atmosphere where the Gospel of Grace can be shared. Mobs and riots are not new. The Way of Christ is not well liked by the lost world. Our Lord Jesus came to this earth to teach us the Way of Grace and Peace. Our Lord Jesus came and gave His life for us all so that we could become citizens of the Kingdom of God. Riots, looting, burning, killing, these are all symptoms of lawlessness and devilishness. These thing are not conducive to the Kingdom of God.

Christians Are Never to Be Part Of The Mob

In Acts chapter 19 the Apostle Paul is sharing the Gospel throughout an area called Ephesus. When Paul first entered Ephesus we read:

Acts 19:1-3 … it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples, 2 he said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost. 3 And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John’s baptism.

The Apostle Paul found twelve men who were “disciples”. They were acquainted with John the Baptist’s ministry, and were baptized by John in the Jordan River. These men had never met Jesus, though they heard John preach that the Christ was going to come. Paul informs these men that they must believe on Christ Jesus (verse 4), that Jesus has come and given Himself for their sins. The men believed, and were baptized in the name (under the authority of) the lord Jesus (verse 5).

Paul then headed to the Synagogue at Ephesus. The “Synagogue” was the local assembly of believers in Judaism. Paul, Himself a Jew, entered the Synagogue not just a day, but the Bible says:

Acts 19:8-10 {Paul} spake boldly for the space of three months, disputing and persuading the things concerning the kingdom of God. 9 But when {many} were hardened, and believed not, but spake evil of that way before the multitude, he departed from them, and separated the disciples, disputing daily in the school of one Tyrannus. 10 And this continued by the space of two years; so that all they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks.

Paul continued to share “The Way of Christ” in the Ephesian Synagogue for about three months. As the religious members of the Synagogue began to vocally try to stir up the “multitudes” against Paul, the Apostle left the Synagogue and rented a place to speak, the school of one Tyrannus. No one knows who Tyrannus was, but that’s not important. Paul used the resources God provided, and stayed in Ephesus for two years, sharing “the Word of the lord Jesus”. The Bible tells us:

Acts 19:17-20 … the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified. 18 And many that believed came, and confessed, and shewed their deeds. 19 Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver. 20 So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed.

As Christ was peaceably preached by the Apostle – not by riot nor by force – the Gospel went forth. Nothing good ever comes of rioting and burning. Paul followed “the Way of Peace”, which is what Jesus calls us to. As Zacharias prophesied:

Luke 1:78-79 … the dayspring from on high {a title of Christ Jesus} hath visited us, to give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.

Paul did not raise up rioters when the Synagogue was denied him. He found other avenues, and continued to share “the Way of Peace”, the message of the lord Jesus Christ. As hearts were changed people began to leave the cult of Artemis, the Ephesian fertility goddess, and began to come to Christ to be saved. As they did this

the people who came to Jesus did not burn BUILDINGS in Ephesus, but their own occult BOOKS and means of false worship. Those who turn to Christ walk with Christ.

Though Paul did not lead nor start any riots, his presence caused a riot to occur. You see, when the way of Christ is shared, those bound in darkness do not like it. Our Lord Jesus told us:

John 15:18-19 If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. 19 If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.

As The Way of Christ grew, this growth effected the idolatry business. You see, there were people getting rich by selling idols of Artemis, also called Diana, in Ephesus.

When Mobs Are Formed,
They Usually Have An Ulterior Motive

Acts 19:23-24 … And the same time there arose no small stir about that way. 24 For a certain man named Demetrius, a silversmith, which made silver shrines for Diana, brought no small gain unto the craftsmen;

Before Paul came to Ephesus, Demetrius and the other silversmiths made quite a bit of money selling idols of Artemis/ Diana. But now that Paul is preaching Christ, God is changing the hearts of the people. As more and more people are turning to worship of the true God, less and less are buying idols.

And Demetrius is upset over it!

Money and power was what Demetrius worshiped. He could care less about the pagan worship of Artemis. So Demetrius decides to gather a mob. That’s how mobs start. You have a ring leader who is charismatic, and a charlatan.

Acts 19:25-28 called together with the workmen of like occupation, and said, Sirs, ye know that by this craft we have our wealth. 26 Moreover ye see and hear, that not alone at Ephesus, but almost throughout all Asia, this Paul hath persuaded and turned away much people, saying that they be no gods, which are made with hands: 27 so that not only this our craft is in danger to be set at naught; but also that the temple of the great goddess Diana should be despised, and her magnificence should be destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worshippeth. 28 And when they heard these sayings, they were full of wrath, and cried out, saying, Great is Diana of the Ephesians.

Notice how Demetrius works. He starts out with “Sirs”. He panders to his audience. Secondly, he focuses on the wealth that they are losing. The crowd has been disenfranchised. It has been ROBBED by that THIEF PAUL. Paul is taking food out of their babies mouths! But then, after focusing on the loss of income, then Demetrius turns to religion. The temple of the great goddess Diana {is} despised, and her magnificence {is} destroyed!”

This is how the devil works. He never comes directly at you, but sneaks up on you. The propaganda that Demetrius focuses on is money and religion – and then he focuses on the city itself. He gets the crowd chanting, Great is Diana of the Ephesians. What is the result?

Acts 19:29 … the whole city was filled with confusion: and having caught Gaius and Aristarchus, men of Macedonia, Paul’s companions in travel, they rushed with one accord into the theater.

This is a picture of Portland, Oregon.
This is a picture of Seattle, Washington.
This is a picture of Oakland, California.
This is a picture of New York, New York.
This is a picture of Richmond, Virginia.
This is a picture of Austin, Texas.
This is a picture of Kenosha, Wisconsin.

Beloved, riots and destruction, with anarchy, are not new things. Lawlessness has taken over. The mob has no mind of its own, but strikes out, following feeling and anger. When the Apostle recalled this moment in his life in later writings he said:

1 Corinthians 15:32 … I have fought with beasts at Ephesus …

The mob, controlled by rage and feelings, is like a wild BEAST. That’s what the Apostle said. In Acts we see a perfect illustration of a rioting mob. We read:

Acts 19:32 Some therefore cried one thing, and some another: for the assembly was confused; and the more part knew not wherefore they were come together.

The message of the mob is noise. “Some cried one thing, and some another”. There was no focus. I listened to a video recording of a mob speaker in Oakland, California, leading the mob to chant “Death to America”. Another mob, headed by a Black Lives Matter activist, shouted he was “Ready to put D.C. cops in their graves”. Mobs have never done any good in society. It was mobs that lynched innocent Black people in the south. Notice that in the riot at Ephesus the {larger} part {did not know why} they were come together.

Elected Officials Must Disarm The Mob

When mobs form, someone must stand up and speak reason to quell it. Those who are our elected leaders must stop the mob before it grows beyond all control. It saddens me to see elected officials stand back, and do nothing when mobs form. It also saddens me when elected officials who ought to know better make judicial statements, rather than supporting the rule of law. Where lawlessness grows, society is destroyed.

Alexander, an enemy of Paul, stands up to try and calm the crowd down. But Alexander was a Jew, just like Paul was a Jew. The Bible says:

Acts 19:34 … when they knew that {Alexander} was a Jew, all with one voice about the space of two hours cried out, Great is Diana of the Ephesians.

The crowd would not allow Alexander to speak. Many of our young people are taught this technique on college and university campuses. When speakers are scheduled that have an opinion different than the crowd, rather than hear out the speaker, the crowd shouts him out. There is no educating a mob. There is no good that comes from a mob.

Listen to me. When mobs form, our elected officials do not need to “become buddies” with the mob. They do not need to endorse the mob. They do not need to enable the mob, and allow them to deface public property. Our elected officials need to speak up, and remind the mob of the rule of law. The law is like cold water on the fire of the law. As Ephesus is in the midst of a riot, an elected official does his job. Read with me:

Acts 19:35-41 And when the town clerk had appeased the people, he said, Ye men of Ephesus, what man is there that knoweth not how that the city of the Ephesians is a worshiper of the great goddess Diana, and of the image which fell down from Jupiter? 36 Seeing then that these things cannot be spoken against, ye ought to be quiet, and to do nothing rashly. 37 For ye have brought hither these men, which are neither robbers of churches, nor yet blasphemers of your goddess. 38 Wherefore if Demetrius, and the craftsmen which are with him, have a matter against any man, the law is open, and there are deputies: let them implead one another. 39 But if ye inquire any thing concerning other matters, it shall be determined in a lawful assembly. 40 For we are in danger to be called in question for this day’s uproar, there being no cause whereby we may give an account of this concourse. 41 And when he had thus spoken, he dismissed the assembly.

The town clerk, an elected official, stood up to the mob. He acknowledged that Ephesus was a place where Artemis/ Diana was worshiped, and allowed. But he warned the crowd that they stood in danger of being “called into question by that day’s uproar”. The Roman Empire did not tolerate rioting and lawlessness, and would have mobilized the Roman Legion to that area had they not calmed down. I applaud our Governor and our Legislature for standing up for the rule of Law. As the Apostle said in another place:

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.

In America we are blessed to live under a rule of law. As Christians, and as citizens, we are obligated to obey the Laws, and respect our first responders who help maintain law and order. As God’s people we need to be in prayer for our elected officials, that they would realize their great responsibility is not to pander to a mob, but to protect the businesses and bodies of American citizens.

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

Posted in Acts, Sermons Preached | Tagged , , , , ,

Godliness With Contentment

Photo by KAL VISUALS on Unsplash

One of the words I have often heard abused by professing Christians – particularly during this Covid-19 pandemic – is the word “happy”. I have heard the word in this context:

I’m not happy with my job.
I’m not happy with my boss.
I’m not happy in my marriage.
I’m not happy in my Church.

When the professor makes this claim, it is usually followed with:, “I’m going to leave, and …

I’m going to find another job.”
I’m going to find another boss.”
I’m going to find another spouse.”
I’m going to find another Church.”

In the United States of America you can make a life choice and make a life change any time you want. After all, our founding document, the Declaration of Independence, states:

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

This wonderful Declaration states that one of the rights that all humans have is the pursuit of happiness. That’s a wonderful thing, the basis of freedom. But if you are a Christian, what is it that God directs you to?

Does God Tell You To Seek
HAPPINESS Or HOLINESS?

What should my pursuit be? Tonight we’re going to examine a letter written by the blessed Apostle Paul to one of the young Christians he led to the Lord and was mentoring. Paul wanted Timothy to succeed, especially as Paul was going to send Timothy out to help establish local Churches. The Apostle told Timothy in

1 Timothy 6:6 … godliness with contentment is great gain.

Godliness And Happiness Are Tied Together

The world teaches that self must be satisfied. If you are not HAPPY, then you a right to be HAPPY. As a result people in America and all around the world chase after things, thinking that these things will bring happiness.

If you are saved by faith in Christ, the Lord wants you to be happy. But happiness as a Christian, born again of the blood of Christ, is not achieved by worldly standards. Christian, you were saved by faith in Christ to become godly, like unto the Son of God. The Scripture says:

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

Salvation takes us from a state of godlessness to a state of godliness.
Salvation takes us from a kingdom of darkness to one of Light.
Salvation takes us from selfishness into a place of selflessness.
Salvation takes us from this world, and points us to a higher plane.
Salvation takes us from slavery to sin, freeing us to serve the Savior.
Salvation takes from us our old life, and gives us new life.
Salvation takes us from the rat race, telling us to run with Christ.

If you as a Christians are seeking happiness in the old ways of the world, you will never find it. It has been my experience when a selfish person is given something, they always want more. The selfish are never satisfied. What they are given, in time, ceases to bring pleasure – then they want more.

As Christians, our happiness is tied to godliness, to behavior in keeping with what our Father calls us to be. The Bible says:

Job 5:17-21 Behold, happy is the man whom God correcteth: therefore despise not thou the chastening of the Almighty: 18 for he maketh sore, and bindeth up: he woundeth, and his hands make whole. 19 He shall deliver thee in six troubles: yea, in seven there shall no evil touch thee. 20 In famine he shall redeem thee from death: and in war from the power of the sword. 21 Thou shalt be hid from the scourge of the tongue: neither shalt thou be afraid of destruction when it cometh.

God disciplines His Children, those who are saved by faith in Christ. The Christian is happiest when following God. The commands:

Ephesians 5:1-3 Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; 2 and walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savor. 3 But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints;

Christian, the Spirit of God lives in you. You cannot be happy while using people as tools to satisfy your bodily pleasure. To follow God is to love as Christ loved, a sacrificial not a selfish love. Jesus Christ is the AUTHOR of salvation FOR ALL WHO OBEY HIM (Hebrews 5:9). When the Christian draws away from the Master, unhappiness besets us.

There can be no happiness for the Christian who does not pursue God. There can be no happiness for people who will not heed what Christ has said, what the Scripture directs. The Psalmist wrote:

Psalm 144:15 Happy is that people, that is in such a case: yea, happy is that people, whose God is the Lord.

As Christians, we are kings and priests unto God (Revelation 1:6; 5:10). Under the Old Covenant God’s Priests, the Levites, received no inheritance of the Promised Land. Why was this?

Deuteronomy 10:9 … Wherefore Levi hath no part nor inheritance with his brethren; the LORD is his inheritance, according as the LORD thy God promised him.

This is truly the best inheritance. The priests of Israel had no inheritance but God. But Beloved, that is the greatest thing. “My flesh and my heart may fail, but GOD is the strength of my heart, and MY PORTION forever” (Psalm 73:26). When God is our Portion we know that He will meet all our needs. Didn’t our Jesus say:

Matthew 6:31-33 Therefore {do not worry}, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? 32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. 33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

God is our Portion. We may not have land, but God, Who made the land, will insure we have a place to stay. We may not have money, but God, Who controls the nations, will not let us go hungry.

We are HIS priests, HIS children, HIS people,
and HE is OURS!

Psalm 146:5-9 Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the Lord his God: 6 which made heaven, and earth, the sea, and all that therein is: which keepeth truth for ever: 7 which executeth judgment for the oppressed: which giveth food to the hungry. The Lord looseth the prisoners: 8 the Lord openeth the eyes of the blind: the Lord raiseth them that are bowed down: the Lord loveth the righteous: 9 the Lord preserveth the strangers; he relieveth the fatherless and widow: but the way of the wicked he turneth upside down.

Are You In An Unhappy Place?
Look To God For Happiness!

We as Christians have a Power Source far greater than anything this world has. Are you in a bad spot? The Apostle addressed those in the Roman Empire who were SLAVES:

1 Timothy 6:1-2 Let as many servants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honor, that the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed. 2 And they that have believing masters, let them not despise them, because they are brethren; but rather do them service, because they are faithful and beloved, partakers of the benefit. These things teach and exhort.

The word “SERVANTS” here is the Greek DOULOS, a reference to slaves, bond slaves, or those in lowly, servile conditions. At this time in history the Roman Empire actually had more slaves or every color than it had citizens. In our day and age the cancel culture wants to wipe out all mention or memory of slavery in American history. I believe this is foolish. There have been slaves of all colors throughout all of human history. I despise the thought of it, that a person would use another person like an object. But it happened. What does the Bible say to those who are in slavery, or in terrible jobs working at slave wages?

The Lord directs those in slave like situations to “honor and serve the master that the name of God and his doctrine not be blasphemed”.

Our Lord Jesus willingly entered this earth as a lowly human. He came to serve, not to be served. Jesus trusted the Father, and submitted to Him in all things. The Bible says:

Proverbs 16:20 … whoso trusteth in the Lord, happy is he.

Do you trust in the Lord ONLY when things are going your way? Then you are not trusting in the Lord. To trust in the Lord is to obediently serve Him no matter what place you find yourselves in. To be godly, we are to imitate Jesus.

In the ancient world, slaves often cleaned the feet of their masters when they came home. In that world animal excrement was often found in the streets where people walked. To clean a person’s feet was the lowest job a person could be given. Hear the Scripture:

John 13:35, 12-17 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God; 4 He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself. 5 After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded. … 12 So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you? 13 Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. 16 Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. 17 If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.

Did you notice the last words Jesus spoke in our text. HAPPY ARE YOU IF YOU DO THEM. If you’re not happy, ask yourself,

Who am I serving right now? Myself, or someone else?

Be honest with yourself. WHO have you served TODAY? WHO have you served YESTERDAY? WHO will you serve THIS WEEK? It’s not service if you’re being paid for it. Are you bending your knee and washing someone’s feet? If not, you will never be happy.

Too many people today treat the Church like a marketplace. They come to Church, sit down, and say “Now make me happy”. God will not make you happy apart from making you godly. Godliness and happiness are tied together. If you are not serving God by serving others, you will NEVER be happy!

To Be Happy, Lay Down Your Life For Others,
Just As Jesus Showed Us To Do

In Romans chapter 14 there was a battle going on in the Church that Paul addresses. In Rome there were many pagan gods and goddesses, many temples dedicated to the worship of these false idols. Animals were sacrificed in these temples, so many animals that many of the temples offered the meat for sale at bargain prices.

Some of the Christians in the Church at Rome began to buy this discounted meat, a thing which offended others. This caused a stir in the Church. The Apostle told the Romans:

Romans 14:1-4 Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations. 2 For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs. 3 Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him. 4 Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand.

The Apostle commanded that the believers cease drawing battle lines over meat, and instead come together in love focusing on Christ. The Apostle said:

Romans 14:19-22 Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another. 20 For meat destroy not the work of God. All things indeed are pure; but it is evil for that man who eateth with offense. 21 It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak. 22 Hast thou faith? have it to thyself before God. Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which {God} alloweth.

The Christian way of life calls us to godliness, which is by faith serving one another. The Christian is not a consumer, but a producer, a giver, just like Jesus gave. HAPPY IS HE that condemns not himself in what God has allowed. A good thing becomes a bad thing when it causes your brother or sister to fall from faith.

Even if the Scripture allows it, put it away
if it hurts your weaker brother or sister in Christ!

Monetary Gain Will Not Bring Happiness

1 Timothy 6:3-5 If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; 4 he is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, 5 perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.

The Bible never tells us that it is a sin to be rich. In fact, there are many places in Scripture where God has blessed His Children by faith. When Joseph continued to faithfully serve God though sold into slavery by his brothers, the Lord blessed him:

Genesis 39:2 the Lord was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian.

David’s son Solomon loved and respected God. The Lord told him:

2 Chronicles 1:11-12 God said to Solomon, Because this was in thine heart, and thou hast not asked riches, wealth, or honor, nor the life of thine enemies, neither yet hast asked long life; but hast asked wisdom and knowledge for thyself, that thou mayest judge my people, over whom I have made thee king: 12 wisdom and knowledge is granted unto thee; and I will give thee riches, and wealth, and honor, such as none of the kings have had that have been before thee, neither shall there any after thee have the like.

When we seek to do as God calls us to do, loving Him and loving others, God will meet our needs. He will give us what we need. If we put God’s Kingdom first then all else will fall into place.

1 Timothy 6:6-10 … godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. 8 And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. 9 But 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.

Money is a great temptation, and has caused many to fall away from the Gospel. God calls us to be content with what He has allowed us to have.

Money and stuff does not bring happiness. Only a right relationship with Christ does this. Many who have chased after the riches of this world have brought misery on themselves and on others. We should instead be content with the riches we have in Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul was pleased to ..

Ephesians 3:8 … preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;

Illustrate When we trust in riches and pursue riches, this will lead to an unhappy state. I like to watch educational shows on television, and saw one episode about something called the Angler Fish. The creature has an appendage on its head that looks just like a worm. The fish goes and buries itself in the sand of the ocean bottom, then, leaving this appendage sticking out, begins to wiggle it. It’s not long before a fish comes along and takes a bite on the bait, then, GULP, the fish is gone. Money is like that. It tempts people, and traps people, then ultimately destroys people. If you have been blessed with riches, then use them for the glory of God.

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.

If you, dear Christian, have been blessed with money or talent or position, then use these things for the glory of God. God gave you these blessings so that you can bless others, not so you could hoard what you have. Jesus warned us of the danger of trusting in riches.

Luke 12:16-21 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.

In that parable you see the trap of riches. Sooner or later we must all stand before our Creator. Have we used what God has given us for His glory, or are we hoarding riches, while scrabbling for more? “Let not the rich person glory in their riches. Let them instead glory in knowing the LORD our God” (Jeremiah 9:23-24).

If You Will Be Happy,
Run Toward Jesus & Run Away From The World

1 Timothy 6:11-12 But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. 12 Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.

The Apostle loved to use athletic metaphors. Paul was ministering among the Gentiles, and the Gentiles were avid followers of the sporting events Caesar offered in the coliseums. In Hebrews 12:1-2 the Apostle tells the Christian to “run with patience the race set before us”.

In our text today (as well as in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27) the Apostle uses BOXING as an illustration of the Christian walk.

We are to “fight the good fight”. I’m sure you have all seen boxing matches. Have you ever seen when one fighter gets overwhelmed by the competition, then he goes into the clench. He wraps his arms around the opponent, rendering his punches ineffective, and giving himself a moment to revive. When life begins to beat you down, go into the clenches. Not with the opponent, but lay hold on eternal life, the life to which you have been called. Focus Heavenward. You are children of the Lord Jesus Christ:

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

You belong to Jesus. Avoid the profane and vain babblings of science falsely so called (1 Timothy 6:20). You are children of eternity. Let your happiness come from this place, the place where we will one day be, if we belong to Jesus.

May God touch your hearts with His Word and His Spirit. Oh God, revive us again. Revive your Church. In Christ’s name I pray, Amen and Amen!

Posted in 1 Timothy, Sermons Preached | Tagged , ,

The Keys Of The Kingdom Of Heaven

Photo by Jason D on Unsplash

Matthew 16:15-19 {Jesus} saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? 16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. 17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. 18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. 19 And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

Last week we heard Jesus ask His disciples, “Whom do you say that I Am?”. Peter spoke up. “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God”.

When Protestants and Catholics read the rest of the text, we interpret it differently. Catholics (and Beloved, if they are saved by faith in Christ, they are our brethren) read where Jesus said:

Matthew 16:17-19 Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. 18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. 19 And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven

Catholics believe that, with these words, Jesus made Peter the Pope or highest authority of the Church. Catholics believe that the Pope is a major foundation of the Church, that he is infallible (without error). Catholics believe that Peter alone has the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. I disagree with this for a few textual reasons.

Jesus Died For Us All, Even Sinful Peter

First of all, Peter is not infallible. Right after Peter told the Lord “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God”, we read:

Matthew 16:21-23 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. 22 Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee. 23 But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offense unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.

No man, outside of Jesus Christ, is infallible. We are all sinners, Pope or otherwise. We all fail. We are fragile creatures, a point recognized by the Apostle when he wrote:

2 Corinthians 4:6-8 For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. 8 We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;

We who are saved are as fragile and fallible as earthen vessels, easily broken, easily misled. The foundation of the Church is no mortal man. The foundation of the Church is …

1 Timothy 6:15 {Jesus Christ}, the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; 16 who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honor and power everlasting. Amen.

The Peter who acknowledged that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God is the very same Peter that Jesus would later call Satan, who savored not the things of God but the things of this world. So no, the Church is not built on fallible man. The Church is built on the infallible Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God. Jesus had to die on Calvary for us all.

He drank a cup of wrath without mercy, that we might drink a cup of mercy without wrath” (Oswald Chambers)

So what did Jesus mean when He told Peter,

Matthew 16:19 … I WILL give unto thee
the keys of the kingdom of heaven:

What are these “keys”? That’s what I want to talk about. Notice Jesus’ exact words to Peter. Jesus doesn’t say “I am NOW giving you the keys”, but He says “I WILL give unto you the keys”. This is a promise of a future blessing. They keys were not given to Peter, nor to anyone just yet. Jesus promises “I WILL give the keys”. Do you see that?

At this point in human history the Church has not yet begun. Jesus said:

upon this rock I WILL build my Church”

Not “I am building”, but “I will build”. Just like the Church is still future, the keys to be given are still future. There is something that must happen before the Church can be. At this time in history the Temple is still standing. People are still making animal sacrifices, waiting for the Messiah. The Messiah has come, The Christ, the Son of the Living God. But something else must happen. Christ must go to the Cross of Calvary, making payment for our sins.Once the disciples heard the great truth that Jesus ALONE is THE Christ {Messiah}, THE Son of the Living God, 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 MUST go to Jerusalem. He MUST suffer under the hand of the religious establishment. He MUST be killed. He MUST lay His life down, and MUST rise again on the third day. The Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world (John 1:29) must die for us. Sin is no trifle before God. Sin is an offense against an Eternal Being, the God Who made all things. Born into this world of sin, born of parents who are sinners, we are the offspring of Adam, sinners all. The Apostle said:

Romans 5:8-12, 15 … while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. 10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. 11 And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement. 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: … 15 … if through the offense of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many.

Adam brought sin into the world. The madness that we see on the news, the riots, the murders, the evil trying to make lawlessness normal, these are all the marks of the lost sinful soul. Those without Christ cannot do well before God, and rarely do well among man. The plowing of the wicked is sin (Proverbs 21:4). Every act of human good done before God without Christ and His shed Blood is like unto filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). Jesus said “A bad tree cannot produce good fruit” (Matthew 7:18). The Bible teaches that every human is born physically alive, but spiritually dead to God:

Psalm 51:5 Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.

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

Jesus had to die for our sins. He alone is THE Christ, THE Son of the Living God. The Son of God died on Calvary for the sons of Adam. The Apostle said:

Romans 3:9-18 both Jews and Gentile … are all under sin; 10 as it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: 11 there is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. 12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. 13 Their throat is an open sepulcher; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: 14 whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: 15 their feet are swift to shed blood: 16 destruction and misery are in their ways: 17 and the way of peace have they not known: 18 there is no fear of God before their eyes.

Creatures that are fallen from God cannot enter into God’s Heaven. They must be given the keys, for Heaven is locked out from those who are lost.

Jesus Will Only Give The Keys Of Heaven To Those Who Confess To The World That
Jesus Is The Christ, The Son Of The Living God”

As Jesus speaks to His disciples this day, the Church is future and the Keys to be given are yet future. Jesus must go to Calvary. The Church is built on two future things:

The Cross And Resurrection of Jesus Christ, and
The Coming of the Holy Spirit

The Spirit had not yet been given to man, for Christ had not yet died for our sins. Jesus declared …

John 7:37-39 If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. 38 He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. 39 (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)

The Coming of the Holy Spirit cannot happen until our Lord goes to Calvary. The Lord began to teach the disciples that He had to depart, and that the Spirit of God had to come. We read:

John 14:15-17 If ye love me, keep my commandments. 16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; 17 even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.

Once Jesus went to Calvary and rose again, the stage could be set that the Holy Spirit come unto God’s people. To those who confidently confess that Jesus ALONE is THE Christ, THE Son of the Living God, God has sent the Spirit. The Holy Spirit comes to the Christian to teach us more about Jesus:

John 14:26 … the Comforter, which is the Holy {Spirit}, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

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

Jesus had to go before the Spirit could come. This is why Jesus spoke of the Church and the Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven as a future event. The Spirit could not come and indwell the Children of God until the Son made our adoption possible. Jesus told His disciples:

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

When Jesus Christ died on Calvary, He made payment for the sins of the world. When we call on Him, believing, He promises that the Spirit of God will come to us. It is the Spirit of God that brings the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven. The Holy Spirit comes to every professor of Christ Jesus. The Bible declares:

Romans 8:9-11 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. 10 And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.

On the day that Jesus commended Peter for understanding the greatest truth ever told, Jesus had yet to go to Calvary. That was coming. But in order for God to save man, it would require more than just the sacrifice of Calvary. God would have to change us. We are born into this world sinners, children of Adam. But HEAVEN IS GOD’S HOME. Heaven is not where the Children of Adam go. Heaven is where the Children of God go.

It Is God The Spirit That Brings Us Both Life,
And The Keys To Heaven

It’s not our color or behavior that define who we are. At the core of who we are is God, the essence of existence. And sometimes we lose sight of that.” (Armstrong Williams)

We are born into this world spiritually dead. But when we confess that Jesus is THE Christ, THE Son of the Living God, then God sends His Spirit to us to make us fit for Heaven. Salvation is more than just a creed. When you confess Christ, believing on Him, God sends His Spirit into your life. You change. You must change.

Heaven does not have open borders. Heaven is God’s home, a place where God’s Children go. Apart from Christ we are Adam’s Children. But confessing Christ, God sends His Spirit to us, to change us from children of Adam to Children of the Living God. Jesus said:

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

Heaven is God’s Home. You cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven, the Kingdom of God, unless you are BORN AGAIN. You cannot make yourself born again. You cannot. You could not make yourself born the first time, nor can you make yourself born the second time. Hear the Lord:

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

There are many who profess to be Christian, but their profession is but outward, much like the profession of the Scribes, Sadducees, and Pharisees of Jesus’ day. God must come to you and change you. He promises to do so when you confess that Jesus is THE Christ, THE Son of the Living God. When you,

Romans 10:9-11 …. 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.

Do you wish to enter Heaven? You need the keys. Profess Christ as He is, and God will bring you the keys. God will come to you, and cause you to be born again. Your portion is to lay your life down, to turn from being your own god, and turn to the Son of God. The Christian is the person who has

1 Peter 1:22-25 … purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: 23 being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. 24 For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: 25 but the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.

Oh that God would reveal the great truth to you, and that you would believe. When you believe on Christ the Holy Spirit will do His part.

Romans 8:13-17 …. if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. 14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. 15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. 16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: 17 and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.

If you are a Christian, indwelt by the Spirit of God, you have they keys of Heaven. If you have the keys, you have the RIGHT to be in Heaven. If you have the keys, your DESTINATION is Heaven, where you will live in eternity. But also if you have the keys, you have the right to offer them to others.

If You Are Saved, Share The Keys With Others

Matthew 16:19 I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

People have argued about the meaning of this passage for years, but I see no difficulty in it. If you have the keys of Heaven, if you have confessed Christ as Lord and Savior, and God the Holy Spirit has changed you, then share these keys with others. If a soul is saved here (loosed from sin and death), then it will be loosed in Heaven (forgiven and adopted into the Kingdom). The Apostle Peter used the keys on the Day of Pentecost. Our Lord Jesus, having paid for our sins, told us:

Matthew 28:18-20 … All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. 19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you

In Acts 2 Peter shared the keys with crowds in Jerusalem, and 3000 entered the Church that day. In Acts 8 Peter shared the keys in Samaria, and in Acts 10 he preached to the Gentiles. Where people believed and confessed that Jesus is The Christ, The Son of the Living God, the Holy Spirit came and changed both hearts and destination. People are bound in their sins, enslaved to this world. But where Christ Jesus is shared the Spirit can work. Bonds can be broken. Sinners freed. But if you refuse to take the keys, then what is bound on earth is bound in Heaven. When you leave this earth, you will not go to Heaven, but Hell.

Beloved, the choice is yours.

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

Do you know Jesus Christ as both Lord and Savior? If not, lay your life down to Him. Believe that He gave Himself on Calvary for you. And, once you are converted, strengthen your fellow believers (Luke 22:32). Oh, how I pray that God’s Spirit touch your souls, that you come to Jesus this very day. May God the Holy Spirit make this seed cast a reality. In Christ’s name I pray. Amen and Amen!

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

Faithful Sayings Of Paul

Five times in the Scripture the Apostle Paul says, “This is a faithful saying”. Now the Bible tells us that:

2 Timothy 3:16-17 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.

ALL Scripture is God breathed (theopneustos), and is profitable. This means both the New and Old Testaments. The Bible is true in all that it affirms, and true in all that it reports. None of the Scripture is disposable.

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

So why did Paul speak of “faithful sayings”? These are, I believe, catechisms or teachings of the early Church that highlighted important aspects of our faith. One commentary suggests that the early Church began to develop short, creed like phrases to help people remember the Gospel. I thought I would talk about these “faithful sayings” tonight.

1. Jesus Christ Came To Save Sinners

1 Timothy 1:15 … This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.

Word Study πιστός λόγος {pistos logos}, literally means “Faithful is the Word”. This is an interesting phrase for, as you know, “The Word” is another name given to our Lord Jesus Christ.

John 1:1-4 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. 4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men.

The Word, Jesus Christ, “came into the world”. Prior to His incarnation, the taking on of human flesh, Jesus was with the Father and the Spirit from eternity past.

John 12:44-46 .. Jesus cried and said, 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.

John 3:17 God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

Jesus Christ “came into the world”, sent from the Father, sent through a virgin, made of the Holy Spirit of God. Jesus Christ is the “seed of the woman” prophesied in Genesis 3:15. Christ the Creator and Director of Creation stepped onto the stage He made. He enter history with His Story. Jesus Christ came to save sinners.

The Church often forgets this great truth. We get settled into our pews, our comfortable padded chairs, and focused on the nice buildings we are in. If a visitor comes in who is different, perhaps dirty, perhaps with different customs, sometimes we inadvertently and perhaps even unconsciously stand back from them. But the first and greatest creed of the Church is …

Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners

Jesus did not go through all the prophetic trouble that He went through to save “good people”. Jesus told the Church of His day, a Church run by Pharisees, Sadducees, Scribes, and Herodians:

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

I have heard some outside the Church speak somewhat smugly as to why they never assemble with the Church. “The Church is filled with hypocrites and people, many of whom are worse than I am”. I agree with you. But Beloved, what did you expect? Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners. Those who are found in Church assemblies will always be sinners, broken people.

If you’re staying away from Churches because sinners are in them, that’s as foolish as staying away from the hospital when you’re sick because
“there’s sick people in them”!

If you think you’re too good for Church, you don’t need to go anyway. If you think you’re good enough to go to Heaven, then Jesus isn’t for you. But Beloved, the Bible says “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). The Bible says:

Romans 3:12 … there is NONE that doeth good, NO, NOT ONE!

Jesus came into the world for sinners, just like you and I are. The message of the Gospel is to repent and believe, to turn to Jesus as your Savior and Lord. The Apostle Paul was at one time as self righteous as YOU are. He went about capturing and killing Christians at the behest of the Sanhedrin. But then Saul met Christ on the Damascus Road, and Saul turned into Paul. Even as an Apostle, Paul says “I am the chief of sinners”.

Are you a sinner? Then turn to Jesus. “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). Jesus came for you, no matter what sin you committed. He came to save you, just as He saved me. Blessed be the Name of the Lord!

2. Our God Is A God Of Order,
Hence The Church

Salvation of the sinner is the first faithful saying. The second faithful saying deals with the Church. We read:

1 Timothy 3:1 .. This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.

Word Study Though the King James translate this text as “This is a true saying”, the Greek is still πιστός λόγος {pistos logos}, literally meaning “Faithful is the Word”. In 1 Timothy chapter 3 the Apostle speaks of the qualifications of Bishops and Deacons in the Church.

I am always amused when people speak against what they call “organized religion”, and then sneer at the Church. Some may even talk of being “non-denominational” as if that makes their group better than the other groups. When I hear the foolish talk about “organized religion” I say, “So you are for DISORGANIZED religion?” Our God is a God of order. You see this in creation. His hand is on every tree, every blade of grass, every animal. The Bible declares:

1 Corinthians 14:33 God is not the author of confusion …

When God created man and woman, He used order. The Bible says:

Ephesians 5:22-25 … Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the savior of the body. 24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. 25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;

The God Who created order in marriage, also created order in the Church. Christ gave Himself for the Church. God has always reached out to the world through groups of people. In the Old Testament, Christ reached out through Israel. In the New Testament He reaches out through His Church. If you are saved by faith in Christ, you are to belong to a local congregation called “the Church”. As Peter preached the Gospel, the Scripture says:

Acts 2:47 … the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.

The Lord “nourishes and cherishes His Church” (Ephesians 5:29). Christ is the Head of His Church (Colossians 1:18). Nearly every New Testament writing is addressed “to the Church”. There is no Christianity without the Church. The two go hand in hand.

3. The Christian Is Called To Be Godly,
Not Worldly

1 Timothy 4:6-9 If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained. 7 But refuse profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness. 8 For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come. 9 This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation.

Usually when I head to Church meeting with my wife on Sunday mornings, I will pass two or three runners, out exercising themselves in the cool morning air. There’s nothing wrong with bodily exercise. I need to do more bodily exercise. However,

Godliness – being like God in thought and deed – is always profitable.

How does one become “godly”? We do so by feeding our souls the Word of God, the Holy Bible. We read, study, and meditate on it’s words, words of God. A Godly person does not rely solely on the Sunday morning sermon or Sunday School to be blessed. Just as you eat daily (or I assume you all do), we must feed on the Word of God daily. Jesus said:

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

Many professing Christians are today unable to contribute anything of kingdom value to American society because they feed their souls

profane and old wives’ fables

supplied by godless television … and yet spend little time reading or meditating on the Word of God. There is an old computer term called GIGO. This means, GARBAGE IN, GARBAGE OUT. What you feed your soul makes a difference. The Apostle tells us that the Christian is called to:

Romans 12:1-2 … present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

It is valuable to attend Church services, to hear the sermons, the Bible teaching, the Sunday School and Training Union classes. But you must also spend time in the Word of God yourselves if you are to grow spiritually. You must actually HEAR the Word, then DO what you have been told. God has given to each Christian

2 Peter 1:3 … all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue

Godliness is actually devotion to God IN ACTION.

We are to walk with God on a daily basis, seeking to be pleasing to Him in our lives. Godliness is not just a warm fuzzy good feeling. It is like Enoch, who walked with God, pleasing Him (Hebrews 11:5). The devoted Christian will practice the Presence of God where ever he or she goes. Church of England priest William Law stated:

Devotion signifies a life given, or devoted to God. He therefore is the devout man, who lives no longer to his own will, or the way and spirit of the world, but to the sole will of God, who considers God in everything, who serves God in everything, who makes all the parts of his common life, parts of piety, by doing everything in the name of God, and under such rules as are conformable to his Glory.” (from A Serious Call To A Devout And Holy Life)

Godliness is a habit developed over time, each day walking more and more with God. Some walk with an idolatrous god, a little ‘g’ god that is not reflected in the Scripture. Many young Christians, brought up by “Baby Boomers”, today see God as just some wizened old man up above. As John Murray wrote in Principles of Conduct:

“The fear of God is the soul of godliness.”

When the Apostle spoke of ungodly mankind, he said “there is no fear of God before their eyes” (Romans 3:18). If you are a Christian you need no longer fear the wrath of God (1 John 4:18), but as a Child of God you can be disciplined for walking in ways that displease the Father. This is why the Bible says:

Philippians 2:12-13 … 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.

As God’s Children, we want to please our Heavenly Father. When we displease Him, he can and does punish us (Hebrews 12:7-8). To be Godly is to be Christlike, to imitate the Father. Too many today believe in a God of Love, but do not realize that this same God is also a Holy God, a God of Wrath. As Navigator Jerry Bridges notes:

The love of God has no meaning apart from Calvary. And Calvary has no meaning apart from the holy and just wrath of God. Jesus did not die just to give us peace and a purpose in life; he died to save us from the wrath of God. He died to reconcile us to a holy God who was alienated from us because of our sin. He died to ransom us from the penalty of sin—the punishment of everlasting destruction, and of being shut out from the presence of the Lord. He died that we, the just objects of God’s wrath, should become, by his grace, heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ.”

Godliness is profitable because it blesses our lives. Jesus said:

Matthew 7:24-27 Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: 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. 26 And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: 27 and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.

4. Our God Is Always Faithful
And Will See Us Through This Life Into Glory

2 Timothy 2:11-13 It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him: 12 if we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us: 13 if we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself.

The day that every Christian is saved, that believer surrenders his or her life to God, in exchange for the life of Christ. We believe that He died for us. Repenting of our sin and self service, we bow the knee to Calvary. The Bible says:

Galatians 2:20-21 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. 21 I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.

My righteous standing before God does not come because of any good works that I do, but based on the good work of Christ on the cross. The old me died on the day I received Jesus as Lord and Savior. I now belong to Jesus. The old David is dead, thank God! The Scripture says:

Colossians 3:1-3 If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. 2 Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. 3 For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.

I no longer own me. Jesus owns me. He is in charge of my life. I am His son and servant. And He will keep me until the end.

The Apostle told the Corinthian believers:

1 Corinthians 6:19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?

The day I was saved, I gave Christ title to my life. And He will be faithful to deliver me at the end of this life into glory everlasting. As the Apostle said in another place,

2 Timothy 1:12 … I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.

As one pastor put it, “Christ did the most for us at salvation. Will He abandon us now that we have been purchased by his blood? No!”. Our Lord is faithful.

5. Christians Are Not Saved By Works,
But If Saved, Will Do Good Works For God

Titus 3:4-8 But after that the kindness and love of God our Savior toward man appeared, 5 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. 8 This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men.

No Christian is saved by works. But once we are saved, we WILL work for God. We WILL be good citizens of the Kingdom of Light. The Apostle said in another place:

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

Salvation is an entirely free gift from God. But note the very next verse in Ephesians:

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

Saved by faith, the Christian is a new creature in Christ: old things are passed away, behold, all things are new (2 Corinthians 5:17). The person who says “I am saved” but walks as an unbeliever walks IS A LIAR. These are not my words, but Scripture’s words. The Apostle said:

1 John 2:3-5 And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. 4 He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5 But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.

Jesus said, “he that follows Me shall NOT walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” (John 8:12). The Apostle said, “you were at one time darkness, but now you are light in the Lord: walk as children of light (Ephesians 5:8). And John again said:

1 John 1:5-7 This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: 7 but if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.

You cannot be saved, and be the same as you were before. Jesus changes you. If you know Him,you know these five sayings to be true. And if you do not know Him, today would be a great day to call upon the name of the Lord.

For whosoever calls upon the Name of the Lord shall be saved!

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

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

Strange Fire And The Priesthood

Leviticus 10:1 And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the Lord, which he commanded them not.

All Christians Are Priests Before God

Once saved, a Christian has an eternal purpose. We are to do good works for our Savior and Father. The Bible, the whole Bible, was given to teach us how to live lives of purpose as believers. The Bible says:

2 Timothy 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.

ALL Scripture – the entire Bible, is theopneustos, inspired by God, breathed by the Almighty. It is God’s breath of spiritual life to His people. Believers are to apply the Scriptures to their lives so they can do good for God. We read:

Ephesians 2:10 … we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

We are saved by calling on the Lord Jesus Christ, repenting of our sins.

Romans 10:13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

But once saved, we who are Christ’s enter God’s Kingdom as kings and priests unto God our Father, as the Scripture says:

Revelation 1:5-6 … Unto {Jesus} that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, 6 and hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

Leviticus is a great Book for all Priests to read. Certainly there are many things in the Book that do not apply to our lives today. There are, however, principles contained in the Book that every believer-priest should know.

Under the Old Covenant (Testament), the Priests were Levites. Now under the New Covenant (Testament) every believer in Jesus Christ is a priest,
and Jesus
Christ our High Priest (Hebrews 4:14-16)

When Christ died on the Cross the veil covering the Holy of Holies in the Temple was torn from top to bottom (Matthew 27:51), signifying the end of the Old Covenant priesthood and the start of the New Covenant priesthood. Today “there is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5). The Apostle addressed the New Covenant Priesthood in:

1 Peter 2:5-9 … ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. 6 Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in {Zion} a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. 7 Unto you therefore which believe he 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 marvelous light ..

As believer-priests our lives are to be “living sacrifices” (Romans 12:1-2) unto our Creator and Lord. We live to please our God.

Titus 2:11-14 … For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, 12 teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; 13 looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ; 14 who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.

Priests Are To Do God’s Work God’s Way

The Priest is a Priest by the Grace of God. We do not earn nor do we deserve such a great honor. God commands that His Priests (that’s you and I, Christian) live in the way that is pleasing to Him. Let’s explore our text:

Leviticus 10:1-3 And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the Lord, which he commanded them not. 2 And there went out fire from the Lord, and devoured them, and they died before the Lord. 3 Then Moses said unto Aaron, This is it that the Lord spake, saying, I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me, and before all the people I will be glorified.

When we read what God did to Nadab and Abihu, our first reaction may perhaps be that our God was a little unreasonable. They offered “strange fire before the Lord” and immediately “the fire of the Lord devoured them”. Why such a harsh sentence? The Bible tells us that Nadab and Abihu were born to Aaron, Moses’ brother.

Exodus 6:23 … Aaron took him Elisheba, daughter of Amminadab, sister of Naashon, to wife; and she bare him Nadab, and Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar.

Nadab and Abihu were the two eldest of four sons of Aaron, the man that God would soon call to be High Priest over Israel.

Word Study Nadab’s name {נָדָב Nâdâb, pronounced naw-dawb’} means “a free or generous gift”. Abihu’s name {אֲבִיהוּא ʼĂbîyhûwʼ, pronounced ab-ee-hoo’} means “He (God) Is My Father”. These men were born and raised up by Godly parents who named them wonderful, hopeful names. Like all Israelites Nadab and Abihu were born into chattel slavery, and suffered that harsh way of life with all the Israelis. Nadab and Abihu experienced the overwhelming Grace of God as young men.

  • Nadab and Abihu saw God bring ten plagues on Egypt, and lived through the night that the death angel passed over every home covered with the Blood of the Lamb (Exodus 12:23).
  • Nadab and Abihu Saw God lead Israel by pillar of cloud by day, and pillar of fire by night (Exodus 13:22). Oh, what a joy that must have been!

  • Nadab and Abihu saw God part the waters of the Red Sea (Exodus 14:13), and walked between the towering waves as if on dry land. They also saw the mighty Egyptian Army destroyed by water, as our MIGHTIER God rendered judgment on those unbelievers.
  • When Israel bivouacked at Mount Sinai, Nadab and Abihu saw God and LIVED! The Scripture says …

Exodus 24:1, 9-11 {God} said unto Moses, Come up unto the Lord, thou, and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel; and worship ye afar off. … 9 Then went up Moses, and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel: 10 and they saw the God of Israel: and there was under his feet as it were a paved work of a sapphire stone, and as it were the body of heaven in his clearness. 11 And upon the nobles of the children of Israel he laid not his hand: also they saw God, and did eat and drink.

I believe that Nadab and Abihu got to see the pre-incarnate Lord Jesus Christ, the manifest Member of the Godhead. God told Moses “you cannot see My face, for no one may see Me and live” (Exodus 33:20). God the Son took a human form, and actually ate and drank with them. Oh, how Jesus loves His people. He calls to us with a sweet whisper …

Revelation 3:20 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.

Nadab and Abihu were called, along with their father Aaron, to be Priests unto God. God gave them the Book of Leviticus to teach them how to fulfill their office. God never judges harshly. He is Love, and tolerates our failures on a daily basis. But God expects us to do what He says, because what He says is so very important. Jesus said:

Luke 12:48 … For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required …

The Actions Of The Old Covenant Priests Foretold The Coming Of The New Covenant Christ

When God established the Tabernacle along with the Old Covenant Priesthood, He required that His people perform animal sacrifices to provide a temporary covering for sin. These sacrifices foreshadowed or looked forward to the coming of the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, Who taketh away the sin of the world (John 1:29). Animal sacrifice was important, because God wanted everyone to know that sin is not a trifle. Our God is holy, righteous, and just. Our God cannot even LOOK on sin (Habakkuk 1:13) without being compelled by His holiness to punish it. Sin is an affront to our Holy God. Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people (Proverbs 14:34).

Sin demands death! Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sin (Hebrews 9:22). Hence the Brazen Altar and it’s perpetual flame.

As God instituted the Old Covenant Priesthood, He directed them on the “Brazen Altar”:

Leviticus 6:8-9, 12-13 … the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, 9 Command Aaron and his sons, saying, This is the law of the burnt offering: It is the burnt offering, because of the burning upon the altar all night unto the morning, and the fire of the altar shall be burning in it. … 12 And the fire upon the altar shall be burning in it; it shall not be put out: and the priest shall burn wood on it every morning, and lay the burnt offering in order upon it; and he shall burn thereon the fat of the peace offerings. 13 The fire shall ever be burning upon the altar; it shall never go out.

The fire of the brazen altar was never to go out. Why? Because when sin is atoned for (by the burnt offering) God can be present with His people. Fire, or Light represents God. It is God Who created Light (Genesis 1:3). When God presented Himself to Moses, He was a flame in a burning bush (Exodus 3:2). When God led Israel from Egypt, at night He led as a Pillar of fire (Exodus 13:21-22).

The Priests were to keep this fire burning day and night. When the Tabernacle moved, the fire was carried with it. This fire was special because God Himself started it. We read:

Leviticus 9:23-24 … the glory of the Lord appeared unto all the people. 24 And there came a fire out from before the Lord, and consumed upon the altar the burnt offering and the fat: which when all the people saw, they shouted, and fell on their faces.

The fire in the brazen altar represented the Presence and Judgment of the Lord. The Scripture says,

Deuteronomy 4:24 & Hebrews 12:29 … {our} God is a consuming fire …

That Brazen Altar was a type or a foreshadowing of our Lord Jesus on the Cross of Calvary. The animal without blemish was slain, and the fire {God’s judgment} of God consumed it. When Jesus Christ Himself comes from glory to this earth, He goes to the Cross making the shadow {the Brazen Altar} obsolete. When Jesus cried out “It is finished!” (John 19:30), He was saying that the Old Covenant is passed and the New Covenant has come. Praise God, we no longer need to sacrifice animals for sin today, because

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

The Old Covenant Priests were to keep the Brazen Altar burning. There was another Altar, however, called the Altar of Incense. This altar stood before the veil that separated the Holy of Holies from the Holy place.

The Altar of Incense represented the prayers
of
believing people going up to God.

God cannot hear your prayers (Isaiah 59:2). But once sins are paid for (the Brazen Altar), then prayers can go up to God (Altar of Incense). God told the Priests:

Exodus 30:7-8 And Aaron shall burn thereon sweet incense every morning: when he dresseth the lamps, he shall burn incense upon it. 8 And when Aaron lighteth the lamps at even, he shall burn incense upon it, a perpetual incense before the Lord throughout your generations.

The incense burned was the prayers of the people for whom God would give His life. These prayers “were set before God like incense” (Psalm 141:2).

The fire that lit the Altar of Incense was ALWAYS
taken from the coals of the
Brazen Altar.

Leviticus 16:11-13 … Aaron shall bring the bullock of the sin offering, … 12 and he shall take a censer full of burning coals of fire from off the altar before the Lord, and his hands full of sweet incense beaten small, and bring it within the veil: 13 and he shall put the incense upon the fire before the Lord, that the cloud of the incense may cover the mercy seat that is upon the testimony, that he die not:

Why was this order important? Because God wanted His Priests, both Old Covenant and New Covenant, to know that sin MUST be atoned for if our prayers are to be heard. We cannot pay for our sins, our offenses against the immortal God. It takes the Blood of sacrifice, the death of the innocent. Under the Old Covenant this was the blood of an animal that was without spot or blemish. Under the New Covenant, this is the Blood of Jesus Christ, Who died for us.

Nadab And Abihu Took STRANGE Fire
To The Altar Of Incense

Leviticus 10:1-2 Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the Lord, which he commanded them not. 2 And there went out fire from the Lord, and devoured them, and they died before the Lord.

Word Study What is “Strange Fire”? The late Dr. R.C. Sproul notes, “What is ‘unauthorized fire’, or, as it is rendered in other translations, ‘profane fire’ or ‘strange fire’? … the word profane comes from the Latin profanus, which literally means ‘outside the Temple’.”

As we have seen, Nadab and Abihu were supposed to take coals from the Brazen Altar, and these coals (representing the cleansing of Christ’s Calvary) gave them access to God. Instead, they took STRANGE fire to light the incense. They took fire from without the Tabernacle, man made fire, not God given fire.

You may say, “Well, what’s the difference? Fire is fire, and any old fire can light the Altar of Incense.” Here’s the difference. There’s a little phrase that comes right after the strange fire is mentioned. The little phrase is:

which he {God} commanded them not

When the Lamb without spot or blemish was slain, and burned on the Brazen Altar, the fire (representing the Judgment of God on sin) devoured the sacrifice and not the people. When coals from the Brazen Altar were used to light the Altar of Incense, God heard the prayers of His people. But when the Priests skipped the Brazen Altar and went straight to the Altar of Incense, they were standing before God, unholy in His sight. God explained their sin quite simply:

Leviticus 10:3 I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me, and before all the people I will be glorified.

God blesses His Priests when they set Him apart and treat Him with respect. We live in a day where people have little respect for the Lord. Many of Christ’s Priests (that’s you, Christian) are living their lives based on feelings and not on what God has said. When anyone tries to approach God, the Holy God, the wonderful God Who saves us based on our own merit, then we will not be blessed.

In America today we are too flippant as Christians in serving our God. We need to heed the Scripture. We need to approach our Heavenly Father through the Brazen Altar, through the Blood of Jesus Christ. This is what will bless! This is what will put wings on our prayers.

Once you understand the relationship of the Brazen Altar to the Altar of Incense, then you live your lives ever thankful for what Jesus Christ did for us. I have often read a passage in Isaiah, never quite understanding it until today. The text is found in:

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

This is a beautiful picture of Heaven that Isaiah was allowed to see. Was he overjoyed? No, he was frightened nearly to death. Isaiah cried out:

Isaiah 6:5-8 … 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. 6 Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar: 7 and he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged. 8 Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.

When Isaiah saw our God, and compared himself to the absolute holiness of our God, he cried out in fear and repentance. Then notice an angel took a coal from the altar. This is what the Brazen Altar represents, what is fulfilled in Calvary. The angel touched Isaiah’s lips with this coal, symbolic of the Altar of Incense. Your sins, being paid for, now give you access to God. You now can approach Him in prayer and fellowship. But you must have the coal on the lips. You must have God’s coal on the Altar!

God’s Church, and God’s New Covenant Priesthood, must approach the Father through the sacrifice of the Son. It is because of Jesus that we have access to God. The coals of Christ’s death cover our sins, and make us clean before God. As the Apostle said:

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

The Churches that are dying today are composed of believer-priests who are offering strange fire to God. They are bypassing Calvary, and going straight to God in the Holy of Holies. The message God gives us all is:

Leviticus 10:3 … I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me, and before all the people I will be glorified….

We entered salvation and Christ’s Kingdom by repentance and turning to Jesus Christ. We live our daily lives, in God’s Presence, the exact same way. We honor His Word over “feelings” and above “peer pressure”. Our God is an awesome God, and His people will obey Him if they wish to be blessed.

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

Posted in Sermons Preached | Tagged , , ,

Who Is Jesus To You?

Photo by Laura Siegal on Unsplash

Matthew 16:13-18 When Jesus came into the coasts of Cæsarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? 14 And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, {Elijah}; and others, {Jeremiah}, or one of the prophets. 15 He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? 16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art THE Christ, the Son of the living God. 17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. 18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

Who is Jesus to you? This is perhaps the most important question you can ever ask yourself, for the answer will change the direction of your life.

Are You Following Jesus, Or An Idol?

Matthew 16:13 When Jesus came into the coasts of Cæsarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?

Let’s notice first of all where Jesus was. He was in the coasts of Cæsarea Philippi. Mark tells us in:

Mark 8:27 Jesus went out, and his disciples, into the towns of Cæsarea Philippi: and by the way he asked his disciples, saying unto them, Whom do men say that I am?

Jesus was actually heading into the various villages and towns that made up Cæsarea Philippi. This area is only mentioned twice in the Bible (see above), but it’s an interesting area. First, the area is Gentile territory. No Jews went into the area because of the idolatry that was so prevalent there. Cæsarea Philippi was the location of the cave of Pan, the Pagan god of sexual pleasure. Ryan Fraser wrote an article for the Jackson Sun called Caesarea Philippi: The Gates of Hades. In the article he recounted his trip to Israel, and his visit to this area. Describing the “Cave of Pan”, Ryan wrote:

To the pagan mind, the cave at Caesarea Philippi created a gate to the underworld (Hades), where fertility gods took up residence during the winter. People committed detestable acts to worship these false gods. Caesarea Philippi’s location was especially unique because it stood at the base of a cliff where spring water flowed. At one time, the water ran directly from the mouth of a cave set in the bottom of the cliff.”

The Pagans made sacrifices to idols at the mouth of this cave called “The Gates of Hades”. You ask me, “What significance does this have to this sermon”? Read again what Jesus told Peter upon his confession of Jesus:

Matthew 16:18 I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

Word Study The words translated “GATES OF HELL” is in the Greek πύλη πύλη ᾅδης {pylē hadēs}, The Gates of Hades. Jesus was, I believe, standing in front of this Pagan site of idolatry. The Gentile inhabitants of Cæsarea Philippi believed that this cave was the entrance into the underworld, the other side of the veil. They believed the gods received people into the Pagan heaven through this portal. When Peter told Jesus:

Matthew 16:16 Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.

Jesus told Peter that the great truth Peter boldly spoke is the means by which Jesus builds His Church. The pagan belief systems represented by that cave called “The Gates of Hell/ Hades” will not prevail against Christ’s Church.

Is Jesus Just Another “John The Baptist”?

Many people today have many ideas as to Who Jesus is. If you ask people “Who do you think Jesus is?”, you will get a variety of answers. People in America today are familiar with the name “Jesus Christ”. If you ask them the same question Jesus asked His disciples:

Matthew 16:13 … Whom do men say that I, the Son of man, am?

You will get a variety of answers, even in the local Churches. Jesus’ disciples told Jesus:

Matthew 16:14 … Some say that thou art John the Baptist

A lot of people today believe this about Jesus. Jesus is a great spiritual leader. Jesus is no different than John the Baptist (the forerunner of Christ) or Mahatma Gandhi. When Gandhi was asked why he did not embrace Christianity, he replied:

“…to be a good Hindu also meant that I would be a good Christian. There is no need for me to join your creed to be a believer in the beauty of the teachings of Jesus or try to follow His example.”

A United Methodist preacher Dr E. Stanley Jones wrote in his book “Mahatma Gandhi: An Interpretation”:

On the day that Mahatma Gandhi was killed, I arrived in Delhi just an hour and a quarter before the tragedy … {it was} the greatest tragedy since the Son of God died on the cross.”

I am sure Dr. Jones spoke sincerely, but he fell into the same trap many fall into. You see, many people see Jesus as just a great man, another John the Baptist. They see His death as a tragedy, contrary to what Jesus said. Gandhi was murdered by an assassin. Jesus, on the other hand, laid His life down for us. He said:

John 10:17-18 … 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. …

When John the Baptist was murdered by Herod (Matthew 14:10; Mark 6:27), this was not a death he chose. If John were given the option, I’m sure he would have chosen to live. But Jesus – both knowingly and willingly – laid His life down for our salvation. Jesus Christ is not just a great man, but He is God Incarnate. The Apostle said:

Philippians 2:6-11 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.

John the Baptist was an exceptional man, a man that God blessed. But John the Baptist, like Mahatma Gandhi, was but a man. Jesus Christ is God Incarnate. He is the Living Word of God become flesh.

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 made all things. He is the beginning and end of all things. Jesus calls Himself:

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

It is the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End, Who is the God of Scripture. This same God said in:

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.

There is but One God Who is “the First and the Last”. This wondrous God created everything that you see. We are told in:

Isaiah 44:12-13 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.

John the Baptist was a great prophet. According to Jesus, he was the greatest prophet who ever lived. Jesus said,

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

Yes, John was great. John was a great leader, and hoards of Jews went into the wilderness to seek out John. But John was but a mortal. Jesus Christ is eternal God become flesh. Jesus Christ is the One of Whom the Father said:

Matthew 3:17 … This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

And to remove all doubt the Father reiterated again:

Matthew 17:5 … This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.

The Father did not call John the Baptist, or Gandhi, or any other religious leader throughout human history “My Beloved Son”. Jesus only holds this distinction. The Father said, “Hear ye HIM”. Jesus is the sole representative from the Trinity, the manifest Member of the Godhead.

To say that “Jesus is another John the Baptist” is actually blasphemy. Jesus Christ is God. To make God into a man is misleading, and blasphemous. John was great, but Jesus is infinitely greater!

Is Jesus Just Another “Great Prophet”?

Returning to Jesus’ question:

Matthew 16:13 ..Whom do men say that
I, the Son of man, am?

The disciples had not only heard that Jesus was John the Baptist, but …

Matthew 16:14 … Some say that thou art … Elijah; and others, {Jeremiah}, or one of the prophets.

What is wrong with this? Jesus, when He visited His hometown of Nazareth, referred to Himself as a Prophet. He said:

Matthew 13:57 …. A prophet is not without honor, save in his own country, and in his own house.

Jesus called Himself a Prophet. So isn’t Jesus just a great Prophet? No, Jesus is more than this. You can see this in how Jesus addresses Himself in the question. Again, Jesus asked,

Matthew 16:13 ..Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?

Jesus called Himself “the Son of Man”. When we hear this phrase, it means nothing to us. To us it just sounds like Jesus is saying He’s a human. But the phrase “Son of man” has great emphasis in the writings of the Prophets. You see, from the time of Adam’s fall, and the destruction it wrought on all of humanity, God has promised that a Redeemer would one day come. On the very day that Adam and Eve were cast out of Eden, God told that old Serpent Lucifer (and Satan/ Lucifer was the serpent. See Revelation 12:9, 12:15, 20:2; 2 Corinthians 11:3):

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

A Messiah would come Who would crush the devil’s head. This Messiah would be born of a woman, virgin born (Isaiah 7:14), a Holy Thing never before seen in creation, made by God the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:35). But this “Son of man” would be much more than a normal human. When the Prophet Daniel saw the coming of the Messiah, he wrote:

Daniel 7:13-14 … I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. 14 And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.

Every Rabbi, every Jew looked to the prophecies of the coming of the Messiah. They knew that one day the Messiah, THE Son of man, would come. This Messiah would be given:

Dominion, everlasting Dominion
Glory
The Eternal Kingdom of God
All People will worship Him

Jesus specifically named Himself the Son of Man. “And whom do people say that I, THE SON OF MAN, am”? Before the Messiah came, God allowed humanity to temporarily cover their sins via animal sacrifice. This was but a temporary covering, proved by the fact that Israel had to make these sacrifices over and over again. The writer of Hebrews clarifies this truth, saying:

Hebrews 10:1-10 For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect. 2 For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshipers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins. 3 But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. 4 For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins. 5 Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me: 6 in burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure. … 9 then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. 10 By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

The Messiah – “The Son of man” – came from Heaven to take away our sins once and for all. No other human has the ability to give us a right standing with God. The Bible declares that “all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). But ONLY the Son of Man, Jesus Christ our Lord, has power to bring about forgiveness of sins.

The Prophets spoke of the coming of the Son of Man.
Jesus Christ IS The Son of Man!

When Jesus came to Nazareth and

Matthew 9:2 … they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy; Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee.

The Scribes and Pharisees thought, “This man blasphemes God!”. For Who can forgive sin but God? Sin is an offense against God, so only GOD can forgive sin. Jesus went on to say:

Matthew 9:6-8 But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then saith he to the sick of the palsy,) Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house. 7 And he arose, and departed to his house. 8 But when the multitudes saw it, they marveled, and glorified God, which had given such power unto men.

The multitudes got it wrong. They thought, “Oh, God has given this man such power!” But God had not given Jesus this power. Jesus said, “I, the SON OF MAN, have POWER TO FORGIVE SIN”. No one else has power to do that. Only Jesus. Only the Messiah.

When the Pharisees accused Jesus’ disciples of violating the Sabbath Day, Jesus told them:

Matthew 12:8 … the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day.

The Messiah, God in the flesh, is the One Who established the Sabbath Day. He Who made the rules is He Who can change the rules. When Christ rose from the grave on the Sabbath Day, His Church began to honor the Sabbath not on the 7th day, but on the Messiah’s resurrection day. Why? The SON OF MAN, the Messiah, is Lord of the Sabbath.

Jesus Christ can forgive sins because Jesus Christ is God our Messiah. But Jesus Christ can forgive sins because Jesus Christ our Messiah paid for our sins.

Mark 8:31 {Jesus} began to teach them, that the Son of man must 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.

As Messiah, Jesus Christ paid for our sins. He is …

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

Jesus Christ is not another Great Prophet. He is the Messiah, the Only means by which a person can be saved. Jesus said:

John 3:13-17 … no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the SON OF MAN which is in heaven. 14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: 15 that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. 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.

Knowing Jesus As The Christ Opens Heaven’s Gate

When Peter told Jesus, “You are THE Christ (Messiah), THE Son of the Living God”, Jesus replied:

Matthew 16:17-18 … Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. 18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

The knowledge that Jesus is the Messiah, the sole Savior sent from Heaven to this earth, is divinely imparted. God must speak it to your hearts. The knowledge that Christ is THE Messiah, and that there is NO OTHER MESSIAH, is what separates Christianity from the idols of this world like “The Gates of Hades”. There are many who PROFESS to be Christians. But Beloved, you are not a Christian if you cannot pass this litmus test. The Apostle James established this litmus test many years ago. He wrote:

1 John 2:22-23 Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is THE Christ? He is Antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son. 23 Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: [but] he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also.

Whoever denies that Jesus is THE MESSIAH, the ONLY MEANS of salvation – this person is A LIAR. This person is ANTICHRIST, for this person has denied BOTH the Father and the Son. Whoever denies that Jesus is the ONLY WAY unto the Father is believing in a false, Pagan christ. John went on to say:

1 John 4:2-3 Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: 3 and every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of Antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.

1 John 5:1 Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him.

There is only one way unto God, and that way is by faith in Jesus Christ. You can only receive this knowledge when the Father opens your eyes to it. The solid foundation of the Church is this truth. Sadly, there are many Churches that have turned from this great truth to believe another Gospel. This little ‘g’ gospel tries to blend with the world so as to appease the world. But there is no salvation available through the other messiahs.

Peter’s profession of “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God” (verse 16) brings several great gifts from Jesus.

Matthew 16:18 …. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter

If you know Jesus as Messiah, then Jesus knows you. Jesus said “I know My sheep, and am known of mine” (John 10:14). Jesus knows you, dear believer. He knows your name. He knows your needs. He knows you!

Matthew 16:18 … upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

The Church of Christ is built on the solid truth that Jesus is THE Christ – there is no other. The false gods of this world are just that – false. Jesus Christ is the only way to peace with God (John 14:6).

Matthew 16:19 I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven…

Those who have the keys are those who have the right to enter in. We are saved and adopted into the family of God by faith in CHRIST Jesus. Salvation is only possible through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Oh, how I pray that God’s Spirit lead you to Jesus Christ today. Amen and Amen!

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

Living On Purpose For Jesus

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Philippians 1:12-24 But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel; 13 so that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places; 14 and many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear. 15 Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will: 16 the one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds: 17 but the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defense of the gospel. 18 What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretense, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice. 19 For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, 20 according to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death. 21 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 labor: 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.

Who Are You Living For?

What are you living for? Some people are just marking time. They are not living – they are just surviving. Life is a gift from God, and every day should be lived on purpose with God.

I don’t believe that the year 2020 is an accident, or that it is a coincidence that the Covid-19 virus has consumed us as a nation this year. The numbers 20/20, separated with a slash, are a measure of vision. As a little child my vision – that is, my eyesight – was very poor. I am legally blind without my glasses. But with eyeglasses my sight is 20/20, which is clear and normal vision for a human.

The year 2020 has been a vision check for our nation. Too many people do not have 20/20 vision, and even more have poor spiritual vision. As this year began with the Coronavirus, we went into a shutdown in nearly every state. Suddenly people heard something they always knew. We all will one day cease to be on this earth. That is the nature of life. No one lives forever on this earth. No one. Those who are Christians believe what Jesus told us:

John 11:25-26 … Jesus said … 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?

Everyone physically dies. We have known this forever. But we do not place the truth in perspective in our lives. Everyone dies – but we think it will always be someone else. When we pass someone on the highway we are but 2 feet from death. If that person approaching you is texting and distracted, nothing stops them from coming into your lane and abruptly into your life. The Bible tells us:

Hebrews 9:27 … it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:

We all have an appointment with death. We do not know when that is, but we know that it is coming. The writer of Hebrews went on to say:

Hebrews 9:28 … so Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many …

Death is coming. Staying at home will not stop that. Death is inevitable. Hiding out in a basement will not correct that. We all have an appointment with death. However, if you have received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, He has promised that your soul will continue on into eternity with Him.

Life Without Christ Is Not Life At All

Life with Christ is a daily challenge, but life without Christ is a life without purpose. The Apostle Paul was imprisoned for preaching the Gospel of Jesus. The world does not like the Gospel of Jesus. The worlds loves a modified gospel (little ‘g’) of jesus (little ‘j’), but not the true Gospel. The True Gospel says that we are to REPENT:

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

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;

REPENT means to turn away from the world. BELIEVE means to turn toward Jesus. The Apostles preached to both Jews and Gentiles:

Acts 20:21 … repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.

The Christ is a person who has been saved on purpose by God. A Christian is a person who has purpose because of God. The Christian is in the world, but not part of the world. The thought that a Christian can be saved, then go back to living his or her life without regard to the Lord, is utterly foreign to the Scripture. We who are Christians love everyone, and share the Gospel of Christ with everyone.

But we are not part of this world.

The stepbrother of Jesus wrote:

James 4:4 … know ye not that the friendship of the world is {to be the enemy of} God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.

Christians are members of Christ’s Kingdom. We are citizens of Heaven FIRST and FOREMOST. We live for and in God, and to the glory of Christ. Jesus warned us that living as Christians would bring us the animosity of the world. Jesus said:

Luke 6:22 Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man’s sake.

This is the place that Paul was at. He had been living his life on purpose, serving the Kingdom of God while here on this earth. Every Christian is called to this place of service. We are to be “ambassadors for Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:20). Jesus saved us, and left us in this world so that we can lead others to Jesus. But doing this comes at a price.

Philippians 1:12-13 But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel; 13 so that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places;

Paul has been captured by the Roman Empire, and is on his way to meet with Caesar Nero. Paul was imprisoned between two guards, and headed toward a certain death. Death was coming, rapidly coming for Paul. But Paul was not complaining. Why? Because Paul realized that each day is a gift from God. Paul realized that he was at peace with God because of his faith in Christ. When Paul looked at his impending death he was not frightened, but exhilarated! He said:

the things which happened unto me have fallen out
rather unto the furtherance of the gospel

What were the “things” that Paul faced? He didn’t name them, but I can guarantee they were not good. Paul suffered. He suffered terribly. In another place Paul wrote:

2 Corinthians 4:8-9 We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; 10 always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.

Paul was not discouraged, but encouraged. His spiritual vision was 20/20. He was not focused on comfort and safety, but on glorifying the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul knew that living for Jesus would alienate him from the world he once knew, but he wanted others to enjoy the life in Christ that he had. Paul said, in effect:

There is a purpose in my bondage, and that that the Gospel of the Kingdom be spread throughout Rome”.

Was Paul going to be beheaded? Yes! But before he died, Paul would be able to spread of Christ in the innermost Palace of Rome. Gentiles who never heard of Jesus would hear of Him Who died for us all. Paul lived his life on mission for the Master. Beloved, we who are saved are to do the same. We are not to spend our days watching the television, dreading the boogie man we call the Coronavirus. No! The trials that have come on this country, on the Church, and on the Christian have come not because some leader, either Democratic or republican, failed to protect us. No! The trials that have come are here for the furtherance of the Gospel. The Apostle said:

Philippians 1:14-15 … and many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear. 15 Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will:

As Paul looked confidently to the Lord to fulfill His purpose in him, believers around Paul were emboldened by his example. Christian, others are watching you. Look up! Paul’s willingness to stand up for Christ even when the state was against him caused other preachers to stand up. Some of these preachers were false teachers whereas others were sincere lovers of the Lord. Nonetheless this did not discourage Paul. He said:

Philippians 1:16-18 … one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds: 17 but the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defense of the gospel. 18 What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretense, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice.

Paul was not concerned of the motives of the other preachers. He was just happy and blessed that Jesus was being preached. God told Ananias when Paul was knocked down on the Damascus Road:

Acts 9:15 … Go thy way: for {Paul} is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: 16 for I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake.

Philippians 1:19-21 I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, 20 according to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death. 21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain

God had a purpose for Paul’s life, just as He has a purpose for yours. Paul kept his eyes on the Lord, and on the purpose that God had for him.

The More You Live On Purpose For God,
The Less You Worry About Death

Illustrate Where is your focus? I have always been somewhat afraid of heights. This is interesting, because I am an Air Force retiree, and was often exposed to heights. Our electronic system had a piece of equipment that was in the tail section, some 40 feet off of the ground. To reach it, you had to use a B-21 lift, which was a hydraulic platform made of extruded steel. I always dreaded having to change out this part, as I had to be 40 feet in the air on a lift that wobbled and swayed in the breeze. Do you know how I got through it? I focused on the mission at hand, and rested in the assurance that the lift was more than adequate to keep me in the air.

Paul focused on the Christian mission. The Christian is to live FOR CHRIST. We who are saved belong to God.

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

We who are saved are the prized purchased possessions of God. The Holy Spirit of God lives in us. We are not our own. We are to live for the Lord Who saved us. If we live, we are Christ’s. But if we die, it is all good, for it is nothing but gain!

The purposeless life is the miserable life. The lock-downs that we have gone through with the Coronavirus have actually done more harm, than good. David Deavel a senior contributor the The Imaginative Conservative notes:

Dr. Mike deBoisblanc of John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek, California, told reporters that suicide had vastly increased. “We’ve never seen numbers like this, in such a short period of time,” he said. “I mean we’ve seen a year’s worth of suicide attempts in the last four weeks.”[5] Two months later, in a webinar for the Buck Institute, CDC Director Robert Redfield told listeners that when it came to high school students, “We’re seeing, sadly, far greater suicides now than we are deaths from COVID. We’re seeing far greater deaths from drug overdose that are above excess that we had as background than we are seeing the deaths from COVID.”[6]

The Washington Post, one of the cheerleaders of shutdowns, reported in July that suspected overdoses jumped nationally by 18% in March, 29% in April, and 42% in May of this year. The Post noted that the reasons for the spike include not only the joblessness and isolation that were created but also the fact that “many treatment centers, drug courts and recovery programs have been forced to close or significantly scale back during shutdowns. With plunging revenue for services and little financial relief from the government, some now teeter on the brink of financial collapse.”[7] Economist Charles Steele has suggested the excess deaths this year due to suicide and overdose could be over 70,000.[8]”

{5} Amy Hollyfield, “Suicides on the rise amid stay-at-home order, Bay Area medical professionals say” (May 2020).

{6} COVID Webinar Series at https://www.buckinstitute.org/covid-webinar-series-transcript-robert-redfield-md/

{7} William Wan and Heather Long, “‘Cries for help’: Drug overdoses are soaring during the coronavirus pandemic,” The Washington Post (July 2020).

{8} Michael Austin, “Study: 111,000 Children Will Starve to Death Because of Economic Shutdowns,” The Western Journal (July 2020).

The Apostle did not spend his time worrying about what might be, but instead focused on what God promised. The Apostle John, martyred by exile to the Island of Patmos, declared:

1 John 2:22-25 Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son. 23 Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: [but] he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also. 24 Let that therefore abide in you, which ye have heard from the beginning. If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father. 25 And this is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life.

God promised those who received Christ as Savior and Lord that we have eternal life. The Apostle Paul told the disciple Titus:

Titus 1:2-3 … in hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began; 3 but hath in due times manifested his word through preaching, which is committed unto me according to the commandment of God our Savior;

What God has said is true, is true. Let us keep our focus on our Jesus, and our minds dwell on His purpose in us. King Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived according to Scripture, said:

Ecclesiastes 7:1 A good name is better than precious ointment; and the day of death than the day of one’s birth.

We can all understand why a “good name” would be valuable. If people do not trust your character, you won’t get far in this life. But how can the day of one’s death be BETTER than the day of one’s birth? It is because, if you know the Lord Jesus as Savior, death is a promotion, not a demotion.

Philippians 1:22-24 But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labor: 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.

Paul was not concerned about dying. He actually couldn’t wait to get Heaven where our Lord is. Paul would have understood that old hymn we often insincerely sing:

This world is not my home

I’m just a-passing through

My treasures are laid up

Somewhere beyond the blue.

The angels beckon me

From heaven’s open door

And I can’t feel at home

In this world anymore.

Oh Lord, you know

I have no friend like you

If heaven’s not my home

Then Lord what will I do?

The angels beckon me

From heaven’s open door

And I can’t feel at home

In this world anymore.

When I was in the Air Force, the hardest assignment I ever had was to spend 14 months in Kunsan, Korea. It was hard because I had to be separated from my family that whole time. One thing kept me going throughout that tedious tour. My wife sent recordings every week, sounds from home. I kept my focus on home, until the day I was home.

Christian, where is your focus? Where is your home? The life you live now is so very temporal. “What is your life? It is a vapor, a fog that vanishes with the rising of the sun” (James 4:14). This life is fleeting. The next life is eternal. Keep your eyes on the eternal. Keep your eyes on Jesus. The Apostle ends with these words, and so do I:

Philippians 1:27-30 Only let your {way of life} be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; 28 and in nothing terrified by your adversaries: which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God. 29 For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake; 30 having the same conflict which ye saw in me, and now hear to be in me.

Do not be afraid, Pilgrim. We are on the road home. Let us look to Jesus! May God touch your hearts with His Word and His Spirit. Amen and Amen.

Posted in Philippians, Sermons Preached | Tagged ,

Beware Of The Leaven Of …

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Matthew 16:1-6 The Pharisees also with the Sadducees came, and tempting desired him that he would shew them a sign from heaven. 2 He answered and said unto them, When it is evening, ye say, It will be fair weather: for the sky is red. 3 And in the morning, It will be foul weather to day: for the sky is red and lowring. O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times? 4 A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet {Jonah}. And he left them, and departed. 5 And when his disciples were come to the other side, they had forgotten to take bread. 6 Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.

Mark 8:11-15 And the Pharisees came forth, and began to question with him, seeking of him a sign from heaven, tempting him. 12 And he sighed deeply in his spirit, and saith, Why doth this generation seek after a sign? verily I say unto you, There shall no sign be given unto this generation. 13 And he left them, and entering into the ship again departed to the other side. 14 Now the disciples had forgotten to take bread, neither had they in the ship with them more than one loaf. 15 And he charged them, saying, Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, and of the leaven of Herod.

As I have said repeatedly, when we study the Gospels, it is best to look at parallel texts. Today we look at an incident in the life of Christ. Jesus had had a wonderful few days. He fed 5000 Jews with 5 loaves of bread, and 4000 Gentiles with 7 loaves of bread. At the end of this last miracle we read:

Matthew 15:37-39 And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the broken {bread} that was left seven baskets full. 38 And they that did eat were four thousand men, beside women and children. 39 And he sent away the multitude, and took ship, and came into the coasts of Magdala. (Mark calls this Dalmanutha, Mark 8:10)

Magdala was the home of a lady called Mary of Magdalene, out of whom Jesus cast seven demons (Luke 8:2). Jesus is well known in Magdala because of Mary and the other miracles that He has done in the power of the Spirit. No sooner than Jesus made landfall we read:

Matthew 16:1 The Pharisees also with the Sadducees came, and tempting desired him that he would shew them a sign from heaven.

A Wicked And Adulterous Generation Seeks A Sign

The Pharisees and Sadducees were continually asking Jesus – and the Apostles who continued to preach after His ascension – for a “sign”. These men had seen all the signs that they needed to see. Jesus had raised the dead, caused the cripple to walk and the deaf to hear. He gave sight to the blind. Jesus feed large groups of people – 5000 Jews and 4000 Gentiles – with just a tiny amount of bread. Jesus had proved Himself the Messiah, and boldly proclaimed:

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.

The Sadducees and Pharisees demand to “show us a sign” is just a way of attempting to irritate Jesus, to cause Him to lose His temper and perhaps stumble spiritually. Unbelievers used these satanic tactics with the later Apostles. Paul wrote:

1 Corinthians 1:22-23 For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: 23 but we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness;

Neither Jesus nor the Apostles spent time producing “signs” for the Jews (the Pharisees and Sadducees). The Evangelist Mark tells us Jesus responded:

Mark 11:12 And {Jesus} sighed deeply in his spirit, and saith, Why doth this generation seek after a sign? verily I say unto you, There shall no sign be given unto this generation.

Jesus “sighed” over their desire for a “sign”. Why? Because their hearts are hardened to the Gospel of salvation. They saw all the signs they needed to see. But the hardened heart cannot be reached. Jesus told them:

Matthew 16:2-4 {Jesus told them}…. When it is evening, ye say, It will be fair weather: for the sky is red. 3 And in the morning, It will be foul weather to day: for the sky is red and lowring. O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times? 4 A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet {Jonah}.

Word Study People see what they want to see. When it benefits them, or they think it benefits them, they will watch and learn. But if the sign requires a change of mentality or a change of behavior, the “wicked and adulterous” generation rejects the sign from God. Jesus called these Pharisees and Sadducees “wicked and adulterous”, the Greek πονηρός καί μοιχαλίς γενεά (ponēros kai moichalis genea), literally means “a people who seek to do wickedness and adultery, destroying marriages and homes”. Jesus called these people “hypocrites” because they were two faced. They pretended to be right before God, yet in their actions they sought out Satan and did their best to destroy society. When Jesus calls them ADULTERERS He heaps the greatest of condemnation on them.

Among the ancient Jews, adultery was viewed as a sin as grievous as murder, rape, or kidnapping. Adulterers were to be taken outside of the city and were to be stoned with stones until they were dead (Deuteronomy 22:23-24; Leviticus 20:10). Adultery, like murder, tears at the fabric of a civilization. It destroys the nation by destroying the family. As such, God viewed sexual sin of this nature as a heinous crime.

The farther a nation wanders from Biblical marriage, the farther that nation moves from God. When those who are suppose to lead the nation in righteousness no longer do righteousness, then the darkness gets greater and greater.

God watches a nation, and blesses it or
allows it to fall into its own curse.

Jeremiah 29:23 23 … because they have committed villainy in Israel, and have committed adultery with their neighbors’ wives, and have spoken lying words in my name, which I have not commanded them; even I know, and am a witness, saith the Lord.

Hosea 4:2-3 By swearing, and lying, and killing, and stealing, and committing adultery, they break out, and blood toucheth blood. 3 Therefore shall the land mourn, and every one that dwelleth therein shall languish, with the beasts of the field, and with the fowls of heaven; yea, the fishes of the sea also shall be taken away.

All around us we have evidence, “signs”, that there is a God Who made us. Jesus clearly presented Himself as Messiah, the One sent from glory to save His people from sin. But rather than see the sign, the Pharisees kept asking “show us a sign”. They were like Satan Who, tempting Jesus in the wilderness, said:

Matthew 4:6 If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.

Jesus refused to give Satan a “sign” that He was the Messiah, for God had already proved Him so at His baptism. Didn’t the Spirit of God descend upon Jesus like a Dove? Didn’t the Father speak from Heaven, saying,

Matthew 3:17 … This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

Didn’t Jesus heal? Didn’t He teach the Word of God with power? Didn’t He prove Himself the Good Shepherd by giving and loving and doing? Yet these religious hypocrites demanded more, more, more. Jesus told them:

Matthew 16:4 … A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonah.

This is the second time Jesus made this statement. Just a few days previously Jesus told the Scribes and Pharisees:

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: 40 for as Jonah was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

Beware The Leaven

Jesus warns His followers, His Church, of becoming “leavened” by the world. We read:

Matthew 16:5-8 And when his disciples were come to the other side, they had forgotten to take bread. 6 Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees. 7 And they reasoned among themselves, saying, It is because we have taken no bread. 8 Which when Jesus perceived, he said unto them, O ye of little faith, why reason ye among yourselves, because ye have brought no bread?

Jesus said “beware of the leaven of
the Pharisees and of the Sadducees”.
Mark adds “and of the leaven of Herod” (Mark 8:15).

When the disciples heard this, they thought that Jesus was talking about them being poor stewards. Jesus had just fed 4000+ Gentiles with 7 loaves of bread, and the disciples took up seven baskets of leftover bread after all were filled (Matthew 15:37). They did not bring but 1 loaf of bread with them, and felt guilty about their negligence. When Jesus said:

beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and
of the Sadducees (and of Herod)

they linked this statement to their failure in planning, in using the gifts that God gave them. Jesus chastised them, saying …

{vs 8} O ye of little faith, why reason ye among yourselves,
because ye have brought no bread

Why did their minds focus on the bread? Because they were not focused on Jesus. They heard the word “leaven” and immediately their minds went to bread.

What is leaven, and what is it’s
significance in the Scripture?

Leaven is YEAST. It is used to ferment beers, but its most common use is in bread making. Leaven is added to bread to make it rise. A tiny amount of yeast mixed into a bread dough will cause the loaf to double in size. Once cooked, the yeast dies, but leaves behind both flavor as well a soft texture.

Early in Israel’s history God used leaven, or the lack thereof, to teach them about sin and righteousness. Only two places in scripture does God command Israel use leaven:

  • When the Peace Offering was given. The Peace Offering was given whenever God’s people wanted to praise Him for the peace they enjoyed with Him. The Peace Offering was the only sacrifice worshipers could eat. Leviticus 7:11-13 tells us,

    And this is the law of the sacrifice of peace offerings, which he shall offer unto the Lord. 12 If he offer it for a thanksgiving, then he shall offer with the sacrifice of thanksgiving unleavened cakes mingled with oil, and unleavened wafers anointed with oil, and cakes mingled with oil, of fine flour, fried. 13 Besides the cakes, he shall offer for his offering leavened bread with the sacrifice of thanksgiving of his peace offerings.

    The unleavened bread represented the sinless life, whereas the leavened bread represented the sinful life. The Peace Offering emphasized that sinful man had peace with the Holy God because of his Grace. No leaven could be burned on the altar of God (Leviticus 2:4, 5, 11), but the leavened bread was shared among the people.

  • When the Feast Of Pentecost was celebrated. Lambs without spot or blemish were sacrificed to God. Two “wave loaves … shall be of fine flour, baked with leaven; they are the first fruits unto the Lord” (Leviticus 23:17). The lambs without blemish were sacrificed and burned, but the wave loaves were given to the priests. The Lamb was symbolic of Christ, Who has no sin. The wave loaves are symbolic of God’s Church, both Jew and Gentile, who are imperfect, marred by sin.

Leaven or yeast was often used in Scripture to signify sinfulness. Sin, like yeast, when imparted to a community, will spread and grow if not addressed. It is this image that the Apostle Paul shares with us, problems that He addressed in the early Church. In 1 Corinthians 5 the Apostle addresses unrestrained sexual sin in the Church.

1 Corinthians 5:1-2 It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife. 2 And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you.

The Church’s attitude toward one of its members in sexual sin should be one of mourning, not celebration or acceptance. Sin is sin, and sexual sin is particularly grievous. The Apostle said:

1 Corinthians 6:18 (NKJV) Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body.

Using the illustration of sin as leaven, the Apostle told the Corinthians,

1 Corinthians 5:6-8 Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? 7 Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us: 8 therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

Just as leaven or yeast spreads throughout a bread dough, sin spreads throughout a people if is not restrained.

When Jesus said “Beware the Leaven of the Pharisees, and of the Sadducees, and of Herod”, He was not speaking of physical bread.
He was speaking of spiritual bread.

Jesus now illustrates this with the feeding of the 5000 Jews and the 4000 Gentiles:

Matthew 16:9-12 Do ye not yet understand, neither remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets ye took up? 10 Neither the seven loaves of the four thousand, and how many baskets ye took up? 11 How is it that ye do not understand that I spake it not to you concerning bread, that ye should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees? 12 Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.

What Jesus said in our text above is almost exactly the same thing recorded in Mark 8:15-21. Jesus asked His disciples to:

remember the five loaves of the five thousand,
and how many baskets ye took up?

Notice that Jesus says absolutely nothing about the fish – only the bread. He asks basically about the leftovers. When Jesus was given five loaves of bread, and 5000+ were fed by Him, twelve baskets of leftover bread was taken up afterward. What does this tell us?

If you have a relationship with Jesus,
you will always have more than enough!

the seven loaves of the four thousand,
and how many baskets ye took up?

Again, our Lord took the little 7 loaves of bread, and not only fed 4000+ Gentiles, but had seven baskets of bread left over. Only when Jesus reminded them that a relationship with the Christ always blesses, always gives increase to our deficiencies, only when Jesus emphasized this we read:

Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the DOCTRINE
of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.

Word Study The Pharisees, Sadducees, and Herods all have a singular “DOCTRINE” in common. What is “DOCTRINE”? The word “doctrine” is the Greek διδαχή didachḗ, {pronounced did-akh-ay’}, which means “the teachings or word of a certain group or person”. Jesus was telling His disciples:

  • Beware of the teaching of the Pharisees. The Pharisees teach that RELIGION is enough, that RELIGION will bring you into the place God wants you to be. The Pharisees taught a rigid observance of the Law of God, but rejected a daily relationship with Christ Jesus. How were the Pharisees? They were VERY HARD HEARTED toward the truths of God. They had little to no love for others, and focused on self righteousness. The God that made YOU, made that person NEXT TO YOU as well. Religion without Christ is not enough, but it produces a very mean creature. Jesus illustrated this in ..

Luke 18:9-14 {Jesus} spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: 10 Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. 11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. 12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. 13 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

The Pharisee in the Temple was HIS OWN GOD. Note the phrase in verse 11, “he prayed thus WITH HIMSELF”. His prayers were not addressed to God, but toward those around him, and toward himself as he fed his pride. The Law of God …

Romans 7:12 … is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.

It is good to keep God’s Law, to do what He says. Jesus said, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments” (John 14:15). When we do what God says, we do it with an eye toward pleasing Jesus Christ Who loved us, and gave Himself for us. We are ever mindful that we are creatures of Grace. We are saved because of Jesus. It is the relationship we have with Him that brings us into the family of God and into the gates of Heaven. The doctrine of the Pharisees – law without Christ – makes a very hard heart. That individual will care nothing for those around him.

  • Beware the teaching of the Sadducees. The Sadducees were anti-spiritual and very secular. They believed in the power of the human spirit, for they did not believe in the Holy Spirit.

Acts 23:8 … the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, neither angel, nor spirit: but the Pharisees confess both.

The Sadducees rejected the supernatural, and believed more in the power of the human spirit rather than the power of the Holy Spirit.

The Sadducees believed the only Heaven you would ever have would be on earth right now – so let’s live for today! Very materialistic, the Sadducees focused not on eternity, but on the here and now. The Sadducees might have written a book called “Your Best Life Now!”, because they did not believe in an afterlife. The belief of the Sadducee is found all throughout the Church today. Those who enjoy the leaven of the Sadducee aren’t really interested in telling others about Jesus Christ, because they – at heart – do not believe in eternity. Sadducees today go by many different titles. One group called “Social Justice Warriors” push for changes in the way that people are treated, but never focus on sharing Christ with the same people.

  • Beware the teaching of Herod (the Herodians). The Herodians believed in the power of politics to transform the human condition. Throughout scripture we often find the conservative Pharisees conspiring with the followers of Herod, the Herodians, to destroy Jesus:


Mark 3:6 And the Pharisees went forth, and straightway took counsel with the Herodians against him, how they might destroy {Jesus}.

Mark 12:13 And they sent unto {Jesus} certain of the Pharisees and of the Herodians, to catch {Jesus} in His words…

Herod was not a descendant of King David, but was an Idumean, or an Arab. When Jesus Christ came to this world, a Herod sent soldiers to Bethlehem to kill Him while He was but a baby. Throughout His ministry, Herod and his followers watched Jesus. They saw Him as a threat to Herod’s Throne, and waited for a time to destroy Him without causing riots in Jerusalem.

The Doctrine of Herod is politics, political aspirations, without Christ. There are many professing Christians today who expect the state to fix what ails America. Whether Republican, or Democrat, or Libertarian, or Independent, they expect a politician to clean up the morality of a nation. Beloved, it is not the government’s job to bring the light to our nation. It is God’s job.

The danger of the leaven of the Pharisees, the Sadducees, and the Herodians is that it teaches a type of Kingdom of God devoid of Christ and His Spirit. The Church is only “the Light of the world”,

Matthew 5:14 {Jesus said} Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.

While Jesus Christ is in the Church:

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

The Pharisees, Sadducees, and Herodians all sought a better world without Jesus Christ. There is no better world without Jesus. With Jesus, a little is much, because Jesus will make the little, much. Without Jesus it is not Christianity. Without His Word and His Presence, it is not the Kingdom of God. Jesus Christ must NEVER be excluded from our services, and our lives.

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

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

Standing Strong In Chaotic Times

Photo by Hasan Almasi on Unsplash

Psalm 123 Unto thee lift I up mine eyes, O thou that dwellest in the heavens. 2 Behold, as the eyes of servants look unto the hand of their masters, and as the eyes of a maiden unto the hand of her mistress; so our eyes wait upon the Lord our God, until that he have mercy upon us. 3 Have mercy upon us, O Lord, have mercy upon us: for we are exceedingly filled with contempt. 4 Our soul is exceedingly filled with the scorning of those that are at ease, and with the contempt of the proud.

This Psalm – though small – has a lot to tell believers in the Bible living in America today. This small Psalm – just 4 verses long – is a prayer for deliverance from a believer who is emotionally spent. What has worn him down, and what is his solution – the solution that God speaks to his heart? He is overwhelmed with the unsaved and godless world around him. He is, as Larry Norman once said, A Stranger in A Strange World”.

#1 Believers In Scripture (Like Jesus) Will Suffer

Those who believe in and live according to Scripture like Jesus did, will always be persecuted by those who do not believe in and live according to the Scripture.

The world enjoys the darkness of sin (John 3:19; John 12:46). The Scripture shines light on the darkness.

Many people today love a type of scripture that teaches “all will be saved and go to Heaven”, but despises the Scripture that teaches obedience to the King of Heaven.

Many who profess “Jesus is my Savior” believe they are going to a Heavenly Kingdom one day, and yet refuse to live their lives under His Kingship here on the earth. Jesus and Heaven are for later. Now there is the earth. Now we can do as we please, for we are our own kings and queens. No one sets our standards but our peers, our social media “friends”.

Word Study This is what is taught. God forbid – in any age – that you believe the Scripture! This has always been the case. The writer of Psalm 123 says “we are EXCEEDINGLY FILLED with contempt”. What does he mean? The Hebrew for “EXCEEDINGLY FILLED” רַב rabשָׂבַע sâbaʻ {pronounced saw-bah’} means “we have had more than enough”. He repeats this phrase in verse 4:

Our soul is exceedingly filled with the scorning of those that are at ease, and with the contempt of the proud.

The Psalmist is saying “our SOULS are SATURATED with the SCORN and CONTEMPT of those around us, those who are FILLED WILL PRIDE but have no knowledge of God”.

We live an a society today where this nation – founded by Christians – is now anti-Christian. If you believe God’s Word is true and state this truth in any public place, you will be shouted down, mocked, and treated as evil.

So many Christians today have been so bullied by the pagan culture around us that they have compromised with evil, and keep silent rather than be rebuked. The Bible is said to be outmoded, and any who stand up for it’s truths are archaic and against progress.

Today even the state is getting involved in attacks against Christianity. The Supreme Court of the United States should be wholeheartedly endorsing the First Amendment, protecting the rights of Christians to worship. Instead even our Chief Justices have turned a blind eye to state terrorism of the Church. But this isn’t new.

In England prior to the colonization of America the state religion was Anglicanism, and Bible believing Christians who did not agree with the state owned Church of England were persecuted. William Penn, the eventual founder of Pennsylvania, was imprisoned in the Tower of London from 1668-1669, accused of “heresy”. His crime? He was a Quaker. His beliefs were not endorsed by the King nor his Church. Penn told the King:

If thou wouldst rule well, thou must rule for God, and to do that, thou must be ruled by Him. … Those who will not be governed by God will be ruled by tyrants.”

Quakers were not allowed to worship in buildings. Locked out of his Church building by the state (does this sound familiar?), Penn preached in the street in front of the building. Penn was charged with “unlawful, tumultuous assembly that disturbed the king’s peace”. When William Penn was tried, the jury refused to declare him guilty. The Judge was furious, demanding …

a verdict that the court will accept, [or the jury itself] shall be locked up without meat, drink, fire, and tobacco. … We will have a verdict by the help of God or you will starve for it.”

After the jury refused to find William Penn guilty three more times, the Judge fined the jurors, and had them locked up. It is this incident that led William Penn and other believers to come to the Americas, seeking religious freedom.

Only a nation founded by Christians would have allowed competing religious views to have freedom of worship.

In Atheistic, Marxist, Hindi, and many Muslim countries today, Bible believing Christians are persecuted and often killed. From The Voice of the Martyrs:

When Poonam quietly left Hinduism in 2012, the Bible she obtained instantly became her most prized possession. The young Indian wife and mother of three secretly read God’s Word in her home each day, growing in her understanding of God’s love for her. But she feared that her husband would discover her new faith, and he soon did. After overhearing her praying a Christian prayer one day, he found her Bible and angrily tore it to pieces. “From today on you stop reading the Bible, and as long as you live in this house you better not pray!” he scolded. Poonam’s husband then beat her, eventually kicking her out of the house and refusing to let her see their young sons and daughter. Her Christian faith cost her everything.”

Jesus made it a point – His number 1 point – that those who are saved are now members of another, Higher Kingdom. Just as Jesus was at odds with those bound in sin and in state supported religion, He told us that we, too, would be persecuted. Listen to His words:

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

John 15:18-19 If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. 19 If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.

1 John 3:13 … Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you. 14 We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love …

Luke 6:22-23 Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man’s sake. 23 Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets.

We who are Christians cling to the truths of the Word of God because our Master and Savior Jesus Christ held the Scripture in such high regard. Jesus quoted Scripture throughout His earthly ministry, saying “it is written”. In fact, the phrase “it is written” is found some 80 times throughout the Bible as the prophets referred to the Holy Bible scriptures. The Apostle, via the Scripture, commands the Christian to:

Romans 12:1-2 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Our bodies do not belong to the darkness, but to the One Who saved us. We are purchased possessions of God, freed from sin and bound to His Will. We are called to live according to what our God and Savior says is right and righteous, to live as “living sacrifices”. The world will call this crazy, insane. The world will declare the Book we follow to be out dated, the tool of haters. But we love. We love God, and we love others. It is not love to endorse the slavery of sin nor the morality of darkness. Jesus Christ set us free, so we live valiantly, hopefully, looking to Him.

#2 Believers In Scripture (Like Jesus),
Look To Their Sovereign Father ALWAYS

To say that Psalm 123 is a “Psalm of Lament” is to mis-label it. Sorrow is not the main message of this Psalm. The title of this Psalm (along with 14 other small Psalms) is “A Song of Degrees”. My favorite preacher, C.H. Spurgeon, stated that these 15 Psalms …

were chanted by the Lord’s people as they went up to the temple. They are “Songs of the Goings Up;” so some read the word. Those who delight to spiritualize everything find here Ascents of the Soul, or language fitted to describe the rising of the heart from the deepest grief to the highest delight”.

Psalm 123 looks upward to God. It was said by God’s Old Testament believers as they went to their Church building, the Temple. Persecution of the believer is not mentioned until the end of the Psalm. Though fed up, the believer does not look at the persecutors or the haters, but we read:

Psalm 123:1 Unto Thee lift I up mine eyes, O Thou that dwellest in the heavens.

Note first of all the word “Eyes”, found four times in this little Psalm. The eyes of the persecuted are not focused on the persecutors. They are focused UPWARD. UNTO THEE lift I up mine eyes.

The Eyes Of The Christian Is On The Sovereign God

The believer in Scripture knows that our God is Sovereign, that He is in control of all things. The Bible says:

Psalm 2:2-4 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.

Our God is in Heaven, He does all that He pleases (Psalm 115:3). It is God Who made all things, and God Who controls all things.

Psalm 113:4-9 The Lord is high above all nations, and his glory above the heavens. 5 Who is like unto the Lord our God, who dwelleth on high, 6 who humbleth himself to behold the things that are in heaven, and in the earth! 7 He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth the needy out of the dunghill; 8 that he may set him with princes, even with the princes of his people. 9 He maketh the barren woman to keep house, and to be a joyful mother of children. Praise ye the Lord.

Our God could squash all opposition to His people, and at times does so. But there are other times when our God – though He does not cause the hatred and the scorn – He allows it. “But why”, you might ask, “why would our God allow us to be attacked by the godless?”. Because our Lord desires the salvation of the world. He wants the world saved, for it to willingly turn to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. What did Jesus Christ our Lord tell us?

John 3:16-21 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. 19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. 21 But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.

He that “believeth not in Christ is condemned ALREADY”. The smoke of hell clings to their souls. Their destination is not glory, where the Son of God will reign over His people. Their destination is damnation. This is why the Christ is forbidden to take vengeance, or to attack back those who attack Him. What did the Apostle write to the Roman Christians, even as he was in bondage for preaching the Gospel of salvation.

Romans 12:9-21 Let love be without {hypocrisy}. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. 10 Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honor preferring one another; 11 not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; 12 rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; {devoted to prayer}; 13 distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality. 14 Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. … 17 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.

God allows evil to come to His Children so that others can see Christ Jesus in us. Jesus was persecuted, and loved anyway. We are persecuted, and love anyway. The ability to stand strong, looking unto our God in spite of persecution, is proof of our salvation. Jesus said:

Matthew 10:30-33 …. the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows. 32 Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. 33 But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.

You deny Jesus when you compromise what He holds dear in order to be well thought of by those in darkness. Salvation never comes to a soul without repentance. The Evidence Bible notes:

The Scriptures speak of “repentance unto life” (Acts 11:18). We turn from sin to the Savior. This is why Paul preached “repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 20:21). The first public word Jesus preached was “repent” (Matthew 4:17). John the Baptist began his ministry the same way (Matthew 3:2). Jesus told His hearers that without repentance, they would perish (Luke 13:3). If belief is all that is necessary for salvation, then the logical conclusion is that one need never repent. However, the Bible tells us that a false convert “believes” and yet is not saved (Luke 8:13); he remains a “worker of iniquity.” Look at the warning of Scripture: “If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth” (1 John 1:6). The Scriptures also say, “He that covers his sins shall not prosper, but whoso confesses and forsakes them [repentance] shall have mercy” (Proverbs 28:13). Jesus said that there was joy in heaven over one sinner who “repents” (Luke 15:10).”

We who belong to God by faith in Christ look to Him, knowing that He watches over us. We live for the smile of our Sovereign God.

The Eyes Of The Christian Is On Our Heavenly Father

Psalm 123:1 Unto Thee lift I up mine eyes, O Thou that dwellest in the heavens.

When we who believe in the Scripture look up, we not only see a Sovereign God, but we see a Heavenly Father Who loves us. In the New Testament the Scripture says that believers in Christ are adopted by God – we are His Children. We read:

Galatians 4:4-7 … 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.

Heaven is our Home, and God our Father. We who have received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior are, in the words of Galatians 3:26, “all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus”. Because THE Son of God, Jesus Christ, shed His Blood on Calvary, we who have received Him are His adopted Children. We have a home waiting for us in Heaven, a “mansion” that Jesus is preparing for us (John 14:1-3) who believe that He is the ONLY WAY unto God (John 14:6). What has Christ given us?

Romans 8:14-17 … as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. 15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. 16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: 17 and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.

As Jesus suffered, was persecuted, we will be persecuted. Yet this is not a discouragement, but a blessing. If we were of the darkness we would be at home in the darkness. But we belong to God our Father. He is:

Matthew 6:9 … Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.

#3 Believers In Scripture (Like Jesus),
Are TOGETHER Members Of His Kingdom

Psalm 123:1-2 Unto thee lift I up mine eyes, O thou that dwellest in the heavens. 2 Behold, as the eyes of servants look unto the hand of their masters, and as the eyes of a maiden unto the hand of her mistress; so our eyes wait upon the Lord our God, until that he have mercy upon us.

In verse 1 we see the speaker talking in the first person. I lift up my eyes”. But as we move to verse 2 we see the speaker talks not just for himself, but for a group. Our eyes wait upon the Lord our God”. Believers serve the Lord together in unity.

Since the pandemic we call the Coronavirus has hit America we have seen on social media quite often the statement:

The Church is not the building. The people are the Church”.

Many of those who post or proclaim this (and I do agree with it) are professing believers who refuse to come together with other believers to worship God. It is true that the Church is not a building. But it is also true that the Church is not one person. The Church is a community of like minded believers who gather together to worship the Lord.

Some Churches cannot afford buildings. Some Christians, living in areas where it is fatal to worship Christ, can only come together secretly, in groups. In the first century Church believers met in catacombs, underground graveyards, for fear of being executed. But Christians nonetheless met together. The Church is NOT the Church on the Internet. The Church is a community of faith that meets together to share the Word of God. On the Day of Pentecost when the Apostles first preached the Gospel following Christ’s ascension we read:

Acts 2:41 …. they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls …

Who was added to the Church? Those who received the Gospel, and were publicly baptized in water. What did they do once they were saved? Did they sit at home, posting pithy sayings on Facebook? No. Here was the Church:

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

THEY” heeded the APOSTLES DOCTRINE, the teachings of the Scripture, the teachings that Jesus gave to them. They heard SERMONS – together. They FELLOWSHIPPED. They BROKE BREAD, or enjoyed the Lord’s Table TOGETHER. They PRAYED. They didn’t have a big building, but they got together as a body and lived as citizens of God’s Kingdom.

They took care of one another. The first Church:

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

The first Church met in the TEMPLE and in HOMES, which, if I am not mistaken, are BUILDINGS. They got along with one another. And the Lord added to the Church daily such as should be saved. The Church is a body of believers that, working together, they live by Kingdom principles as taught by the Word of God. Nothing else is a Church. Nothing. It is not one member, but many, who look to the Head (see 1 Corinthians 12).

If you know Jesus as Lord and Savior, He is this to you whether you are in the building we call “Church”, or whether you are home or at work. You are part of the Kingdom of God. You cherish Jesus, and live for Him. His Word, the Holy Scripture, matters to you. This is the Christian indeed. Are you? Are you saved? Or are you just religious? If you are not saved, today is the day to repent, turn to Jesus, and receive Him into your life as both Lord and Savior. May God guide you to do so this very day. In Christ’s name, and for His glory we pray. Amen and Amen!

Posted in Psalms, Sermons Preached | Tagged , ,

I Will Trust My God And His Word

Photo by Evgeni Tcherkasski on Unsplash

Someone once asked me, “Why do you believe the Bible is God’s Word, and not a collection of writings from different people?” My response is simple. First, I believe God’s Word because it’s always proved itself to me. The Bible says of itself:

2 Peter 1:20-21 … knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is {a matter of your own interpretation}. 21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy {Spirit}.

When I DO what God’s Word tells me to do, my life has always been blessed. Case in point: as a young man in the U.S. Air Force, I was lonely. I prayed and asked God to send me a wife – and He did. We have been married 42 years TODAY … and our marriage is blessed. Why? Because God keeps His Word. If you do as God says in His Word, the Bible, and trust in Him, you WILL be blessed.

There’s another reason I believe the Scripture, this Bible, is God’s Word and not man’s writings. It is true of every human that when we do something stupid, we do not want to put our stupidity on a bulletin board for all to see. That is human nature. I have done stupid things in my life that I have no intention of telling you about, and you have the same experiences. When we come to the Bible – like Psalm 34 which we’ll be studying tonight – we see stupid and embarrassing things recorded. That doesn’t make sense from a human viewpoint. It does make sense from the Divine standpoint.

In Scripture God highlights the foolish and stupid mistakes our ancestors made, so that we know not to do the same things.

The heading of Psalm 34 states,

A Psalm of David, when he changed his behavior before Abimelech;
who drove him away, and he departed.

David got his eyes off of God. Because he got His eyes off of God, he put himself in an embarrassing and quite dangerous situation. David learned a lesson from his foolishness with Abimelech, and this Psalm is God’s teaching to keep us from making the same foolish mistakes.

Abimelech is not a person’s name, but a title. Gentile kings often have specialized titles.

Pharaoh is the name that the leader of Egypt had. Pharaoh was considered by the Egyptians to be a type of god (they we Pantheists), and his name literally means “the Great House”. He was the builder of Egypt.

Many Roman emperors were called Caesar, in honor of both leading figures of the early empire, Julius and Augustus Caesar.

The title Abimelech was taken by many of the Philistine kings. It is suggested that Abimelech means “the god Moloch is my father”. Abimelech would have been considered a “son of god” by their followers, making them gods in the eyes of the people. The title Abimelech is found 62 times in the Scripture.

Our God Often Used Abimelech To Test And Strengthen The Faith Of Our Forefathers

Psalm 34:1-3 I will bless the Lord at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth. 2 My soul shall make her boast in the Lord: the humble shall hear thereof, and be glad. 3 O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together.

The Christ follower is to keep the Lord in our mouths and in our lives. David encourages us to join him in “blessing the Lord at all times”. The word for BLESS is the Hebrewבָּרַךְ bârak, {pronounced baw-rak’}, which means “to adore or kneel before, to praise”. The word is in the Piel stem, which denotes a deliberate action. David said “I will make myself adore the Lord no matter what may come. I will do this AT ALL TIMES.”

It is easy to praise God while in the comfort of your recliner, or in the ease of your local Church. It is easy to praise Him when you feel good, when the atmosphere is just right, when you are on the mountaintop. But what of the valleys? What if we are in pain, or in a scary situation? Case in point: some of those who profess Christ as Savior are in absolute FEAR of this Coronavirus Pandemic. Some are so frightened they refuse to leave their homes, refuse to see their children, refuse even to receive a food delivery from friends. They have allowed fear to fill them, rather than praise and adoration of God.

Illustrate Fear makes us look foolish! Did you hear about the little boy with two lines in a play? He was supposed to say, “It is I. Be not afraid.” But when he got on stage, he blurted out, “It’s me. And I’m scared!”.

Illustrate Fear overwhelmed the child, and made him look foolish. It embarrassed him. I heard another story I thought applies here. Onboard an aircraft the passengers were terribly frightened. The plane was being tossed about by turbulence. The clouds outside looked more like coal. Lightning streaked the sky, flashing throughout the cabin. Some passengers cried out, while others just cried. But one small child sat comfortably throughout the storm, focused on drawing a picture of a tree, a boy, and a sunny day. One lady nearby reached out and patted his head. “Honey, aren’t you afraid?” He looked up from his drawing, smiled, and said, “No Ma’am”. Puzzled and trembling she asked, “Why not”? The little boy answered, “Because my Daddy is the Pilot”.

The life that looks up in faith, no matter what it goes through, and says “My Daddy is the Pilot”, is the life lived in confidence. It was this David who, as a young man, took his brothers lunch one day as they gathered with the army of Israel against Abimelech and his forces at Socoh and Azekah, in Ephes-dammim (designated PAS-DAMMIM (1 Chronicles 11:13). The ground there is red like blood, which was why it was called ’ephes dammîm, or boundary of blood. This would be a spooky place to do battle, but this was where the Philistines challenged Israel to come. And it was in this place that a giant champion called Goliath would call out:

1 Samuel 17:8-10 … choose you a man for you, and let him come down to me. 9 If he be able to fight with me, and to kill me, then will we be your servants: but if I prevail against him, and kill him, then shall ye be our servants, and serve us. 10 And the Philistine said, I defy the armies of Israel this day; give me a man, that we may fight together.

All those in the camp of Israel that day – King Saul included – allowed the size of this warrior of Abimelech to frighten them. When the young boy David rode up, and heard the curses that Goliath was throwing at God’s people, David did not look at Goliath but looked upward and knew that His Father was flying this plane. When David volunteered to go and fight Goliath,

Saul looked at David’s size and youth.
The people looked at Goliath’s size and strength.
But David looked at the Lord.

Psalm 34:4-5 I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears. 5 They looked unto him, and were lightened: and their faces were not ashamed.

The greatest enemy you have, dear Christian, is not the Coronavirus, it is not sickness, or even death. The greatest enemy you have is fear. Fear keeps us from trusting God. Fear keeps us from the Promised Land. Fear makes us wander in the wilderness for 40 years until we die, never enjoying the promise of God. Fear robs us. Fear is a liar, a thief. Jesus said

John 10:10 This thief comes to steal, to kill, to destroy you. Turn from this thief and to Me. I, Jesus Christ, came that you might have life, abundant life. (my paraphrase)

You know how the story ends when David met Goliath. David, with a slingshot and a smooth stone, knocked down this monster of a man, then cut his head off with his own sword. David knew that this was going to happen before he ever engaged Goliath. How? He told Goliath:

1 Samuel 17:46-47 This day will the Lord deliver thee into mine hand; and I will smite thee, and take thine head from thee; and I will give the carcases of the host of the Philistines this day unto the fowls of the air, and to the wild beasts of the earth; that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel. 47 And all this assembly shall know that the Lord saveth not with sword and spear: for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give you into our hands.

“The battle is the Lord’s”. David did his part. He boasted in God. He praised the Lord. God did His part. God caused the stone to fly true, and gave David the strength to lift Goliath’s sword to finish the job.

Psalm 34:6-8 This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles. 7 The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them. 8 O taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.

When David says, “Taste and see that the Lord is good”, He is calling us to do as He did. Not just to hear of how God blessed him, but to step out in faith and do that which God has told you to do. “Taste” is something that “you must do to experience it”. In America today too many believers have sat quietly on the side lines, wanting “someone else” to make a difference. Beloved, “Someone else” is YOU. We are to step out in faith and serve our Lord, magnifying Him with our lives. This is the only thing that will return our nation from this present darkness.

To Defeat Abimelech We Must Walk In The Light

Psalm 34:9-11 O fear the Lord, ye his saints: for there is no want to them that fear him. 10 The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing. 11 Come, ye children, hearken unto me: I will teach you the fear of the Lord.

If we will defeat life’s Abimelechs, we must not fear the darkness, but we MUST FEAR THE LORD. Throughout the Scripture, God commands His children to “Fear not”:

Genesis 15:1 FEAR NOT, Abram, I Am thy Shield …
Genesis 46:3 FEAR NOT {Jacob} to go down into Egypt …
Deuteronomy 1:21 FEAR NOT, neither be discouraged ..
Deuteronomy 20:3 FEAR NOT, and do not tremble …
1 Chronicles 28:20 … FEAR NOT, for the Lord thy God is with you..

We are not to fear the things that are around us … but we ARE to FEAR God. What does it mean to FEAR GOD. David will teach us in this Psalm. He says:

Come, ye children, hearken unto me:
I will teach you the fear of the Lord

David tells us if you desire life, and want to live many days, and see good throughout those days (my paraphrase of verse 12), then…

Psalm 34:13 Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile.

The FIRST thing that the believer must learn to control is THE TONGUE. Our tongues are to be God controlled. We need to be careful what we say, and how we speak. James, the stepbrother of Jesus our Lord, wrote:

James 3:3-11 Behold, we put bits in the horses’ mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body. 4 Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the {rudder turns}. 5 Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! 6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell. 7 For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind: 8 but the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. 9 Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. 10 Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be. 11 Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter? 12 Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? either a vine, figs? so can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh.

Our tongues have the power to destroy. We can speak defeat, and speak fear, and spread destruction through the body of Christ with our tongues. As a Pastor I always hate it when, after our Church meets, little clusters of people gather together to whisper to one another. If they were praising God they would be doing so in the light. If they were preaching Christ, they would do so from the rooftops (Matthew 10:27).They are not praising God. They are speaking faithlessness, and spreading faithlessness to other susceptible younger members. These are whispers of satanic origin, whispers of hell!

I have seen too many young members leave the Church forever because a professing Child of God who should be an Ambassador of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20) instead became a spokesman for the devil, and brought poison into the Body!

The Irish poet (April 1818-October 12, 1895) Cecil Frances Alexander, wrote:

All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful,
The Lord God made them all.
… He gave us eyes to see them,
And LIPS THAT WE MIGHT TELL,
How great is God Almighty,
Who has made all things well!

Guard your tongues from speaking evil. Make sure that what you say mirrors what God says. Do not let our lips speak “guile” {Hebrew מִרְמָה mirmâh, pronounced meer-maw’}, which means “deceitfully or falsely”. The Bible declares that as believers we are to be:

Ephesians 4:15 … speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ

We are to be like Jesus, and help others be like Jesus. Our lips are to foster this. If we want to have long and good lives we are to remember that God is watching us. David said:

Psalm 34:15-16 The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry. 16 The face of the Lord is against them that do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth.

It is a universal truth that “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). Sin destroys. When you do righteousness – that which GOD defines as right – then God sees this and watches over us. But when we do evil, even if we profess we are Christians, then the face of the Lord is against those that do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth. We are to do that which pleases God, knowing that what we do will yield either a good fruit or an evil fruit. The Apostle warns:

Galatians 6:7 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.

To fear the Lord is to cry out to Him when we are tried, so seek God first. David writes:

Psalm 34:17-19 The righteous cry, and the Lord heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles. 18 The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit. 19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the Lord delivereth him out of them all.

We are to humble ourselves before God, honoring Him as our Father and our Lord. We are to seek Him first. God told Israel:

Isaiah 31:1 … Woe to them that go down to Egypt for help; and stay on horses, and trust in chariots, because they are many; and in horsemen, because they are very strong; but they look not unto the Holy One of Israel, neither seek the Lord!

Our God Is The God Of Abimelech

We have talked about the Philistine Abimelech throughout this message tonight, but have not seen the place in Scripture where, as our title tells us,

A Psalm of David, when {David} changed his behavior before Abimelech; who drove him away, and he departed.

What was the shameful thing that David did, a thing that so embarrassed him? The David who defeated Goliath in 1 Samuel 17 is a David being chased by King Saul. Saul wanted to kill David, because he knew David was to be his successor. David is on the run when we come to 1 Samuel 21.

David comes to the Tabernacle, to Ahimelech the priest. He is hungry, and asks for some bread. The priests give David five loaves of bread. This is significant. David is alone and hungry – but God is still with him. When David defeated Goliath:

1 Samuel 17:40 {David} took his staff in his hand, and chose him FIVE smooth stones out of the brook, and put them in a shepherd’s bag which he had, even in a scrip; and his sling was in his hand: and he drew near to the Philistine.

Though David only needed one one stone to knock Goliath down, he chose FIVE. Throughout Scripture FIVE is the number of Grace. As David comes to the priests, he says:

1 Samuel 21:3 … give me FIVE loaves of bread in mine hand …

David gets this. God is with him. God never abandons His children. Has He not said:

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

God is with David. David now asks for a weapon.

1 Samuel 21:9 And the priest said, The sword of Goliath the Philistine, whom thou slewest in the valley of Elah, behold, it is here wrapped in a cloth behind the ephod: if thou wilt take that, take it: for there is no other save that here. And David said, There is none like that; give it me.

David grabbed the sword of Goliath. Now let me ask you, how much did this sword of Goliath help Goliath in his battle against David? It helped not a bit. So David grabs this sword, a sword too large for his small frame, the five loaves of bread, and begins running.

1 Samuel 21:10 And David arose, and fled that day for fear of Saul, and went to Achish the {Abimelech} of Gath.

David is no friend of the Philistines. Not only this, he is carrying the sword of Goliath, the champion of Philistia. Achish is not going to save David, but to kill him.

and David let fear fill his heart.

1 Samuel 21:13-15 … {David} changed his behavior before them, and feigned himself mad in their hands, and scrabbled on the doors of the gate, and let his spittle fall down upon his beard. 14 Then said Achish unto his servants, Lo, ye see the man is mad: wherefore then have ye brought him to me? 15 Have I need of mad men, that ye have brought this fellow to play the mad man in my presence? shall this fellow come into my house?

Abimelech wanted nothing to do with this foolish madman David. David looked stupid, cowardly, pitiful. Abimelech let him go. But David learned from this. He wrote:

Psalm 34:20-22 He keepeth all his bones: not one of them is broken. 21 Evil shall slay the wicked: and they that hate the righteous shall be desolate. 22 The Lord redeemeth the soul of his servants: and none of them that trust in him shall be desolate.

The Lord looks after His Children. Why? Because God paid so much for our salvation. God gave His only Begotten Son for us. Jesus Christ shed His Blood on Calvary to purchase our redemption from evil. We are brought into His Family by faith in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:26). There is a remembrance of what Christ did for us in these final verses, a hidden prophecy of Christ’s death on Calvary. On the day that Jesus died for you and I, the Scripture says:

John 19:31-36 The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day, (for that sabbath day was an high day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. 32 Then came the soldiers, and brake the legs of the first, and of the other which was crucified with him. 33 But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs: 34 but one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water. 35 And he that saw it bare record, and his record is true: and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe. 36 For these things were done, that the scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken.

This is a reference to

Psalm 34:20 He {our Jesus} keepeth all His bones: not one of them is broken ..

Christian, you are very important to God. You need not be driven by fear of man, but MUST fear and love the Lord. If you do so, your life will be blessed. God did the most for you at Calvary … He will certainly care for you now! May God touch your hearts with His Word and Spirit. Amen and Amen!

Posted in Psalms, Sermons Preached | Tagged ,

The 4000 And The 5000

Photo by Kate Remmer on Unsplash

This Is Not A Re-Run
This Is The Love Of God For All

Please turn with me in your Bibles to …

Matthew 15:30-32 And great multitudes came unto {Jesus}, having with them those that were lame, blind, dumb, maimed, and many others, and cast them down at Jesus’ feet; and he healed them: 31 insomuch that the multitude wondered, when they saw the dumb to speak, the maimed to be whole, the lame to walk, and the blind to see: and they glorified the God of Israel. 32 Then Jesus called his disciples unto him, and said, I have compassion on the multitude, because they continue with me now three days, and have nothing to eat: and I will not send them away fasting, lest they faint in the way.

If you were with me last Wednesday night on Facebook Live, we talked about the Gentile woman (a Canaanite) who came to Jesus, asking that her daughter be healed. I don’t have time to re-preach this text, but I want to re-emphasize something I said during that sermon.

Up to this encounter with the Canaanite woman, Jesus has been concentrating on reaching out to the Jews.

The reason Jesus is doing this is because He is fulfilling the Word of God. God promised Abraham …

Genesis 12:2 ….. I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing:..

…. that He would bless His children, and bring a great nation (Israel) out of that old Saint. God also promised King David …

2 Samuel 7:12-14 … 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 establish the throne of his kingdom for ever. 14 I will be his Father, and he shall be my Son.

The Son of God, the Messiah, would come from King David’s lineage. This King of Kings, our Lord Jesus Christ, will sit on the Throne of Israel forever.

Our God always keeps His promises. Always!

Not one of the promises the Lord made to the House of Israel failed; all came to pass” (Joshua 21:45). “Blessed be the LORD, Who has given rest to His people Israel, according to all that He promised; not one word has failed of all His good promise..” (1 Kings 8:56). “For as many as are the promises of God, in Him they are YES ..” (2 Corinthians 1:20). “Let us hold FAST the confession of our hope without wavering, for HE Who promised, He is FAITHFUL!” (Hebrews 10:23).

God made precious promises in Abraham, and David, and throughout the Prophets of the Old Testament that the Messiah would come to Israel. When Christ came, He came to Israel FIRST. As the Apostle said:

Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first

But the Scripture does not say “to the Jew ONLY”, but, praise God, “to the Jew FIRST”. God promised to save Israel. But God also promised something else. We read the rest of the promise God made in Abraham:

Genesis 12:3 ….. and in thee {Abraham} shall ALL families of the earth be blessed.

The Messiah would come to the Jew FIRST, but He came to the world ALSO: “ALL the families of the earth”. When God foretold of Jesus the Messiah coming He said:

Isaiah 42:6-7 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; To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house.

Jesus Christ did not only come for “the People”, a reference to Israel, but also “for a light of the Gentiles”. God said of His Son Jesus:

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

And God told Israel when He spoke of Messiah coming from her:

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

Jesus Christ came to the Jews first – but ALSO to the Gentiles (Romans 1:16). Our God is a God of order and truth. Our God is NOT the AUTHOR OF CONFUSION (1 Corinthians 14:33). So when Jesus came, the first half of His ministry was focused on Israel. He told His disciples …

Matthew 10:5 … Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not …

He went to the Jews FIRST. But as the Pharisees and Scribes continued to hinder and attack His ministry, in Matthew chapter 15 Jesus begins to turn toward the Gentiles. A few Gentiles had approached Jesus for healing before this, but they had to seek out Jesus, for He was ministering in Jewish territory. The turning point of Jesus’ ministry is flagged in:

Matthew 15:21 Then Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon.

The “thence” is an area called Gennesaret, a region southwest of Capernaum. These are decidedly Jewish areas. Jesus intentionally goes toward Tyre and Sidon, Phonetician or Gentile cities. It is here that Jesus encounters the Canaanite (Gentile) woman, which brings a “the Great Light of God, Jesus Christ, to the Gentiles”. What does this teach us?

Jesus Loves Every Color Of Person Equally

With the Canaanite woman Jesus begins to turn His ministry from a focus on Israel, to a focus on the Gentiles. After Jesus heals this Canaanite woman’s daughter (you can find the sermon I preached on this on my blog bibleteacher.org, entitled “The Prayer God Answers” {https://bibleteacher.org/2020/08/06/the-prayer-god-answers/}) we read:

Matthew 15:30-31 And GREAT MULTITUDES came unto him, having with them those that were lame, blind, dumb, maimed, and many others, and cast them down at Jesus’ feet; and he healed them: 31 insomuch that the multitude wondered, when they saw the dumb to speak, the maimed to be whole, the lame to walk, and the blind to see: and THEY GLORIFIED THE GOD OF ISRAEL.

These are GENTILES that are coming to Jesus. These GENTILES are bringing in lame, blind, dumb, maimed, and many others, and cast them down at Jesus’ feet.

These GENTILES of the Roman Empire, these GENTILES who have captured Israel, these GENTILES who helped place an Idumean named Herod on a Jewish throne, these GENTILES are seeing the Messiah that the Scribes and Pharisees rejected.
THEY are GLORIFYING the GOD OF ISRAEL.

  • A couple of weeks ago we studied the feeding of the 5000 in Matthew 14:14-21. This was a GREAT MULTITUDE of JEWS that Jesus fed in a desert place belonging to the city called BETHSAIDA (Luke 9:10).
  • Tonight we’re going to see Jesus feed different type of multitude. This is a GREAT MULTITUDE of 4000 GENTILES that Jesus fed in the midst of the coasts of Decapolis (Mark 7:31).
  • One commentary I read noted that Jesus fed the 5000 Jews in the spring, and fed the 4000 Gentiles in the summer. Though I cannot say for certain, I can say that Jesus fed Israel FIRST, then the Gentiles LAST. Jesus turned to the Gentiles because the majority of the Jewish Church leaders; the Scribes, Pharisees, Sadducees, and Priests; rejected Him as Messiah. Jesus told His disciples just before He went to Calvary:

Matthew 19:30 … many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first.

Many of the Jews, to whom God sent Jesus first, received Christ as Lord and Savior. Yet the nation itself because of poor and belligerent leaders, would not come to Jesus. The heart of the people was waxed gross, and their ears dull of hearing, and their eyes they had closed, lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. Because of this the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and that they will hear it (Acts 28:27-28).

So many people lose blessing from God, but it is not God’s fault. If you are not blessed it is not because God did not reach out to you. If you are lost, damned for all eternity, it is not because Christ did not try. It is because you hardened your heart to Him Who loves you, and gave His life for you.

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

I want to note a difference between the LAST and the FIRST. When Jesus fed the Jews, they had been listening to Him teach for ONE DAY. But the Gentiles, Jesus said, they continue with me now three days. The Gentiles were hungry for God. The Apostle Paul spoke of …

Romans 2:14-15 … the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: 15 which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;)

God has given each and every person a conscience, an innate ability to understand what is right and what is wrong. The conscience or the heart can be HARDENED. We live in a day where people harden their hearts. Extreme liberalism and “Progressivism” is a hardening of the heart. The television, the news, the internet, the media all around us, bombarding us, contribute to the hardening of the heart and the dulling of the conscience.

Illustrate Case in point: Years ago when I watched shows like Gunsmoke and someone got shot, they went down – but you NEVER saw any blood. Now we see shows like CSI where bodies are dissected. Or movies like Texas Chainsaw Massacre where people are horrendously cut up. Blood is spraying, and bodies profaned. We have seen so much gore and sex on television that we rarely flinch anymore. This is the hardening of the conscience. When children play vivid video games like Grand Theft Auto, or games where as players they gruesomely blow body parts off of people or Zombies, the heart hardens. Consider your heart to be a container. What you put in it matters. A Catholic Priest named Dwight Longenecker said (and I love this, for it is true):

First we overlook evil, then we permit evil, then we legalize evil,
then we promote evil, then we celebrate evil,
then we persecute those who still call it evil.”

It is not God’s fault when we harden our hearts. It is our fault. The Bible says:

Matthew 15:32 I have compassion on the multitude…

Word Study Jesus had COMPASSION on the Jewish multitude (Matthew 14:14). He healed them. He blessed them. He taught them, and fed them after only one day. But Jesus has COMPASSION on the Gentile multitude. That word “COMPASSION” is the Greek σπλαγχνίζομαι splanchnízomai, {pronounced splangkh-nid’-zom-ahee} which means “to be inwardly and profoundly moved”. Author James R. Edwards writes in his book The Gospel According to Mark:

The Greek word for ‘compassion’, splanchnízomai, comes from splangnon, meaning … vital organs. … splanchnízomai takes on a metaphorical meaning of being moved deeply within… ‘I have compassion for these people’ expresses Jesus’ gut-wrenching emotion on behalf of the crowd …”

Our God desperately loves each and every one of us.

When Jesus fed the Jews “He was moved with compassion (splanchnízomai)” {see Matthew 14:14}. Jesus was as deeply moved with love and care for the Jews, just as He was for the Gentiles.

In the midst of the horrid race wars that seem to be going on in our country today, we need to turn to Jesus, and see how He loved. Though Jesus’ Apostles are all Jews He showed those He groomed for leadership that every life matters, and every person is created in God’s Image and Likeness (Genesis 1:27). The color of our natural skin, eyes, and hair is determined by Melanin. The importance of this color is assigned by sinful prejudice, not by God. God loved both Jews and Gentiles equally. God loves each and every person with a profound, gut wrenching love!

Jesus had compassion for the Jews and the Gentiles, and wants His Apostles and His Disciples to have that same compassion. When Jesus wanted to feed the Jews who had come to Him, His disciples said of the 5000:

Matthew 14:15 … This is a desert place, and the time is now past; send the multitude away, that they may go into the villages, and buy themselves victuals.

Jesus wants His people to understand that our power is weak, but God’s power is infinite. There is nothing our Jesus cannot do, if we would but ask Him. Yet often we fail to ask Him. We think, “What can I do? How can I solve this problem?” We view the problem with our eyes focused on ourselves, not on God our Savior. The God Who saved us, the God Who taught us, is the God Who will provide for us. Jesus told His disciples when He fed the 5000 Jews:

Matthew 14:16 … They need not depart; give ye them to eat.

Jesus told them, “These Jews do not need to leave. YOU give them something to eat!” (see also Mark 6:37; Luke 9:13). What did they have to give these Jews? Jesus. Jesus is what we give. We point them to Jesus. We take what God has given us, and give it to Jesus.

Oh, how gracious our God is! We are all so hard headed and hard hearted! Now, just a short time after Jesus fed 5000 (which is more than 4000), Jesus tells His Disciples as 4000 Gentiles need to be fed:

Matthew 15:32 … I will not send them {these Gentiles} away fasting, lest they faint in the way.

How should the Disciples respond? They should remember the 5000. They should look to Jesus. They should take whatever they have, put it in Jesus’ hands, then serve what Jesus gives them. Beloved, this is the Christian way of life. The reason we are not reaching the world, Church, is because we are relying on our strength.

We must rely on Jesus. We must commit the little He has given to us back to Him, and then let Him work. We must serve the Lord! But did they? Did the first Disciples? No.

Matthew 15:33 … His disciples say unto Him, Whence should we have so much bread in the wilderness, as to fill so great a multitude?

Well guys, you fed 5000 with five little barley loaves and two fish. This is just 4000. How did you feed the 5000? Mark records the Disciples saying of the 4000:

Mark 8:4 … From WHENCE can a man satisfy these men with bread here in the wilderness?

From WHENCE?” How about JESUS? If Jesus fed 5000, Jesus can feed 4000. 5000 is more than 4000.

Matthew 15:34 .. Jesus saith unto them, How many LOAVES have ye? And they said, Seven, and a few little fishes.

I want you to notice our text very carefully. What is the question Jesus asks? How many loaves have ye? Jesus DOESN’T ask about the fish. You remember, when Jesus fed the 5000, He asked the same question. Look it up.

Mark 6:38 {Jesus} saith unto them, How many LOAVES have ye? go and see. And when they knew, they say, Five, AND TWO FISHES.

Jesus never asked about the fish. He asked about the LOAVES of bread. What is the significance of this? Jesus is not a Fish – He is BREAD. Jesus is the Bread of Life.

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 for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.

Jesus is the Living Bread of God, the Giver of Life.

Matthew 15:34 How many LOAVES have ye?
And they said, SEVEN…

I do not believe in coincidence. I believe they had SEVEN loaves of bread because SEVEN is the Biblical number of completeness and perfection. When God created the world and all that is in it, He rested on the seventh day, because creation was perfect or “very good” (Genesis 1:31; 2:2-3). There was nothing more to do, so God rested.

When Jesus fed the 5000, He had 5 Loaves. 5 is the number of GRACE. Now Jesus has 7 Loaves – the PERFECT and COMPLETE amount of bread to feed 4000 people – that is, if they give it to Jesus!

Matthew 15:35 And {Jesus} commanded the multitude to sit down on the ground.

Just as Jesus had the 5000 Jews sit down (see Matthew 14:19; Mark 6:39; Luke 9:14; John 6:10), He now has the 4000 Gentiles sit down (see Mark 8:6).

Matthew 15:36 And {Jesus} took the seven loaves and the fishes, and gave thanks, and brake them, and gave to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude.

The Disciples gave Jesus the little they had. This mirrors what happens when Jesus fed to 5000. Our Lord gave thanks. Jesus thanked the Father for providing the seven loaves, just as He thanked God for providing the five loaves for the 5000. Jesus “looked up to Heaven” (Matthew 14:19; Mark 6:41; Luke 9:16). As Son of God He represented the Heavenly Father. Jesus looked up to Heaven. He thanked the Father. He broke the bread, then gave it back to His Disciples, who in turn distributed it to the masses.

Matthew 15:37-38 And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the broken MEAT that was left seven baskets full. 38 And they that did eat were four thousand men, beside women and children.

Everyone had plenty to eat. Beloved, I love the King James text, but sometimes the translators of that wonderful text add things that are not exactly right. If you look in your King James text, you will see the word meat is italicized. This is because the translator added the word because he thought it would improve the flow of the text. But in this case the word is not right, nor is it needed. In fact, though I do not doubt the sincerity of the translator, it misleads a little.

When Jesus Fed 5000 Jews, There Were 12 Baskets Of Bread Left Over.
Jesus Is All That The Twelve Tribes Of Israel Need.
When Jesus Fed 4000 Gentiles, There Were 7 Baskets Of Bread Left Over.
Jesus Is All That The Gentiles Need.

Church, dear Church, let us give what He has given us back to Him. Let us entrust the little we have to the Master. He will look up to Heaven, bless it, then give it back to us to give to this terrible sad and empty world. Do not delay. Give it all to Jesus. A singer I have not heard in years, Evie (Evelyn Tornquist Karlsson), sang:

Are you tried of chasing pretty rainbows?
Are you tired of spinning round and round?
Wrap up all the shattered dreams of your life,
And at the feet of Jesus lay them down.
Give them all, give them all,
give them all to Jesus;
Shattered dreams, wounded hearts, broken toys.
Give them all, give them all,
give them all to Jesus;
And
He will turn your sorrow into joy …

If you do not have Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, your life will never be complete. Jesus Christ came to give life, everlasting and wonderful life, to all who believe on Him. Jew or Gentile, bond or free, male or female, red, yellow, black, or white, if you do not know Him, I pray that you will call upon Him today. He is able! He is able! He can take your broken life, and give you abundant life. He can feed your soul. Like a Shepherd, a Good Shepherd, He will never leave you. May Christ take this Word and bring all who read it to a saving knowledge of Him. Amen and Amen.

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

Transgressing The Commandment With Human Tradition

Photo by Timothy Eberly on Unsplash

Matthew 15:1-3 Then came to Jesus scribes and Pharisees, which were of Jerusalem, saying, 2 Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread. 3 But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?

Confusion Reigns When We Add To God’s Word

Two groups of people come to Jesus from Jerusalem. These men are representatives of the Temple and of the High Priest. They are powerful men, sincere in what they believe. One group is called the “Scribes”, men who were trained in the written Law and the oral traditions of Judaism. The “Pharisees” were a religious denomination of Judaism, very strict and conservative. Their name “Pharisee” literally means “separated ones”. They considered themselves to be above reproach in religious service.

These men were bewildered, confused at the ministry of Jesus. They had been observing Jesus’ followers, and noticed that they did not keep certain traditions. Their question to Jesus was:

2 Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread.

What the Scribes and Pharisees are referring to is the oral traditions called the Mishnah. The Mishnah is like a commentary on the Word of God, and the Gemara is a commentary on the Mishnah. The easiest way to understand this is:

The Torah is the WRITTEN Law of God, given to Moses.
The Mishnah is the ORAL Law of God, teachings verbally passed down.
The “Gemara” is the rabbinical commentary on the “Mishnah”.
The Talmud is the Mishnah with the Genara.
There are two Talmuds: The “Babylonian” which dates from 5th Century AD. The “Palestinian” or “Jerusalem”, which is the earlier record.

Are you confused? I admit that I am. Confusion always occurs when we leave the simplicity of the written Word of God and add in other things. My Bible says:

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

When humans – even sincere and perhaps good hearted people – begin to add our two cents worth to what God has said, then we bring in confusion. The Christian way of life is one of simplicity, not confusion. We are to live:

2 Corinthians 1:12 … in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have our {way of life} in this world ..

The devil loves to confuse us. He loves to put his twist on things. He did this in the Garden of Eden when he said, “has God really said that when you eat of this tree you shall surely die? (Genesis 3:1). .. “God knows that in the day you eat of this tree you shall be like gods, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:5). When humans begin to put their spin on what God has spoken and recorded in His Word, then confusion sets in. The Apostle addressed this in the early Church, saying:

2 Corinthians 11:3-4 .. I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. 4 For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.

This danger has always been with us. What has God said? He has given us a written record of what He considers right and true. Do we bind to the writings of the Scripture, or do we allow the oral traditions over the years, or even this day, to take precedent?

Jesus at this point is facing the same dilemma that every Pastor faces in every age. The Scribes and Pharisees are asking “Why aren’t your disciples following the oral traditions like we do?”.

Bible Scholar F.F. Bruce notes, “The ‘elders’ here {that the Scribes and Pharisees are referencing} are not the living rulers of the people, but the past bearers of religious authority, the more remote the more venerable”. Their complaint,

they wash not their hands when they eat bread..

has nothing to do with good hygiene. The Mishnah called for people to observe rigid, extensive rituals for washing before eating. The Jewish Rabbi Jose stated, “He sinneth as much who eateth with unwashen hands, as he that lieth with a harlot”. These things – though the Scribes and Pharisees held to them – were never taught in the written Word of God. The Bible says that:

Exodus 30:18-21 Thou shalt also make a laver of brass, and his foot also of brass, to wash withal: and thou shalt put it between the tabernacle of the congregation and the altar, and thou shalt put water therein. 19 For Aaron and his sons shall wash their hands and their feet thereat: 20 when they go into the tabernacle of the congregation, they shall wash with water, that they die not; or when they come near to the altar to minister, to burn offering made by fire unto the Lord: 21 so they shall wash their hands and their feet, that they die not: and it shall be a statute for ever to them, even to him and to his seed throughout their generations.

The Priests were to ceremonially wash themselves – both hands and feet – before they ministered in their office. This did not apply to those in the congregation. God did say that those who touched anything or anyone who was unclean were to wash, not only hands and feet, but their bodies as well (read Leviticus 15). The written Law of God, however, did not mandate washing of hands before eating.

Jesus Referenced Not The Oral Law
But The Written Law

When Jesus Christ came to this earth He upheld the written Scripture alone to be the Word of God. Jesus said:

Matthew 5:17-19 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. 18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. 19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

The Hebrew Bible (our Old Testament) is composed of the Law, the Prophets, and the writings. The Jews called the written Scripture TaNaKh, which is:

Torah – Law
Nevi’im – Prophets
Ketuvim – Writings

The Mishnah was not, to Jesus, a part of the Hebrew Scriptures, the Word of God.

This is why Jesus did not respond to the Scribes and Pharisees question by defending His teachings. Instead Jesus directly asked:

Matthew 15:3 … … Why do ye also transgress the COMMANDMENT OF GOD by your tradition?

The Mishnah is NOT the Commandment of God.
The Commandment of God is the written Word of God,
the
written Holy Scripture.

Jesus’ ministry on this earth is empowered by three words: “It. Is. Written.” When the devil attacked Jesus, our Lord responded with “It is written” (Matthew 4:4, 6, 7, 10). When Jesus chased the money changers out of the Temple, He said “It. Is. Written.” (Matthew 21:13). When Jesus spoke of Judas Iscariot’s betrayal and His crucifixion, He said “It. Is. Written.” (Matthew 26:24). When He spoke of His disciples deserting Him, He said “It. Is. Written.” (Matthew 26:31). When the Scribes and Pharisees attack Him for disregarding the Mishnah, Jesus instead refers to the Torah as the Word of God. Jesus quoted God’s written Word:

Matthew 15:4 For God commanded, saying, Honor thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death.

The texts Jesus is quoting is from

Exodus 20:12 Honor thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee. (see also Deuteronomy 5:16)

Exodus 21:17 … he that curseth his father, or his mother, shall surely be put to death.

Leviticus 20:9 … For every one that curseth his father or his mother shall be surely put to death: he hath cursed his father or his mother; his blood shall be upon him.

God in His written Word, the Holy Scripture, has set out a Law that a person’s parents are to be HONORED. The Scribes and Pharisees were honoring the Mishnah as if it were the Word of God, but were ignoring the Word of God. Jesus quoted them:

Matthew 15:5-6 BUT YE SAY, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; 6 and honor not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition.

What were the Scribes and Pharisees doing? As parents age, God required that the parents be taken care of by their children. Honor of the parent was not just when the offspring was a child. The parent is supposed to be honored even into old age. This costs money. It costs money to take care of your elderly parents. But God demands that children care for their parents, loving them even when they have moved from home and made a life for themselves.

The Scribes and Pharisees found a loophole in the Mishnah that they often flaunted. They would set aside money as a “gift to God”. As this money was dedicated to God, the money was unavailable to use for their needing and aging parents. Pastor and Author Chuck Swindoll in his book Insights on Matthew 1-15 quotes R.T. France,

This convenient declaration apparently left the property actually still at the disposal of the one who made the vow, but deprived his parents of any right to it … such a pious fraud is in direct conflict with the will of God as expressed in the fifth commandment”.

The action of abandoning your parents who loved you and raised you to adulthood is a horrible thing, worthy of death according to God’s Written Word. This is the problem that we all have when we substitute human tradition and opinion (Mishnah) over the written Word of God (TaNaKh with the New Testament). The question that Children of God must always ask is,

Is What You Believe Backed By Written Scripture,
Or Is It Human Oral Traditions?

When the Scribes and Pharisees ignored the written Word of God an instead elevated the oral tradition of man, they committed a horrible crime. God’s fifth Commandment is a design detail to be so important that to fail to do it is to commit an act as horrendous as murder (Genesis 9:6), kidnapping (Exodus 21:16; Deuteronomy 24:7), bestiality (Leviticus 18:23), child sacrifice (Leviticus 20:2), idolatry (Leviticus 20:27), or sexual sin (Leviticus 18:22; 20:10) does. To dishonor your parents was a capital crime, punishable by death.

Why is dishonor to your parents such a horrible thing? Because a child learns good citizenship and respect for authority in the home first.

The child that rebels against the parent and who is not corrected grows up to riot, to break the laws of the nation, to become an anarchist. The more good citizens a country has, the more stable that country will be. We are seeing the insanity of wandering away from God’s Word playing out in our country today. The moral code of a citizen is established when that person is a child. When children grow up bereft of parents to honor and guide them, they become bad actors later in life.

And confusion abounds in the nation.

It Was Hypocritical Of “Separate Ones” or Pharisees
To Establish Human Laws As Superior To
The Written Word of God

Jesus did not give the Scribes (the Legal scholars) and Pharisees (the Separate Ones) a chance to answer His question, but immediately indicted them as HYPOCRITES:

Matthew 15:7 Ye HYPOCRITES, well did {Isaiah} prophesy of you, saying, 8 This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoreth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. 9 But IN VAIN THEY DO WORSHIP ME, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.

Word Study Jesus quoted Isaiah 29:13 when He indicted the Scribes and Pharisees. They, like ancient disobedient Israel, SAID that they loved the Lord, but turned away from His written Word. “In VAIN do they worship Me”. When we reject the Scripture, the written Word of God in order to embrace human opinion and feels, then our worship of God is VAIN. Jesus uses a Greek word μάτην mátēn, {pronounced mat’-ane}, which means “fruitless, unsuccessful, to no purpose”. God is not in the worship service when His Word is not upheld. God will not honor any Church that departs from the Written Word of God for some type of Mishnah, whether it be a Jewish Mishnah or a Gentile Mishnah.

God and God alone is the final Arbiter of Truth. God is our Creator. He is the Maker of every person. He is the Grand Designer of our planet, and all that are on it. It is God Who defines good and evil. When God 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.

This was an absolute. God decreed this, and had it written into Scripture. Jesus stated:

Matthew 19:17; Mark 10:18 … there is NONE GOOD BUT ONE, that is, GOD

Psalm 25:8 Good and upright is THE LORD: therefore will he teach sinners in the way.

God establishes what is good and what is bad. God knows that we as humans are frail and fallible. He knows that we are born crooked, sinners all. There is not a person among us that can measure up to Who God is. All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). We are all products of Adam’s OPINION in the Garden of Eden. Knowing God’s Word, Adam rejected His Word in order to follow his own opinion. His failure to the Word of God brought catastrophe upon the human race.

Our God sets the standard, and his standard is clearly presented in the Word of God. I often hear people challenge the Word of God by saying:

Well, Jesus never said that this lifestyle was wrong. He never addressed it at all.”

Then they stand back and say, “The Old Testament was back then. We are in the New Testament, and if Jesus didn’t say it, then it’s not wrong”. What is wrong with this chain of thought and argument? Jesus often referenced the Old Testament as the Word of God, and directed that it be followed. Here’s a big one that I often encounter. People in SEXUAL SIN – be it heterosexual or homosexual sin – often state:

Jesus never addressed what the Old Testament said was sexual sin – so it’s no longer a sin”.

My reply: “Jesus DID address heterosexual as well as homosexual sin. In Matthew 19 Jesus said:

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.

Jesus quoted the Old Testament Scriptures when He said, “Have you not READ”. It is God Who made man and made woman. It is God Who designed marriage to be one man and one woman. Marriage is not multiple women to one man, nor is it man on man or woman on woman. Marriage is a bond between a man and a woman, the same bond that was from “in the beginning”. This is not popular in our world today, and in many cases the false narratives that the devil pushes have been reinforced by local or national churches that have said, “has God really said that?” Well yes, Jesus has spoken to it, and He speaks to it from “it is written”.

Jesus Now Addresses The MULTITUDES

As Jesus addresses the Scribes and Pharisees I can almost see them, their faces getting redder and redder, their arms crossed, their expressions tight lipped and furious. But Jesus now ignores these sincere men. We read:

Matthew 15:10-11 And he called the multitude, and said unto them, Hear, and understand: 11 not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man.

Jesus addresses the “multitudes” because what He has said about the written Word is God is so very important. Too often people focus on the external physical things and say that these “defile a person”. It is possible to eat things that defile your bodies. You can defile your body by eating too much food. You can defile your body by drinking too much alcohol. You can defile your body by putting too much or anything into it. You can literally poison your body by taking in the wrong things, the wrong substances, the wrong stuff.

But what defiles a SOUL? Jesus spoke a PARABLE:

11 {it is} not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man.

Words come out of your mouth. What you say comes out of your mouth. And what comes out of your mouth comes from inside you, from your soul. When Jesus told this to the multitudes, His disciples – men that loved Jesus – came up the Master and said:

Matthew 15:12-14 … Knowest thou that the Pharisees were offended, after they heard this saying? 13 But he answered and said, Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up. 14 Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.

Jesus was not going to apologize for telling the truth. Too often, dear friends, those who know the Word of God apologize for telling the truth. But what God has said is true, regardless as to what others may say. What His Written Word states is true for every age. That may offend some, but if you love God it will not offend you. If you love God, you will love His Written Word. You will love his Word more than anything or any one else.

Psalm 119:1-3 Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the Lord. 2 Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart. 3 They also do no iniquity: they walk in his ways.

The Scribes and Pharisees had ignored the written Word of God for so long and had lived by the Mishnah, that they were hardened in their hearts. They were plants that the Heavenly Father had not planted. If the Father did not plant them, then who planted them? The devil. The darkness. Those who ignore the written Word of God and in preference turn to the various Mishnahs found in humanity are not of God. They are weeds in the garden. They are false plants, left in place by God to try the righteous, produced by the evil one to attempt to draw us away from the path of righteousness.

Now Peter speaks up. “Declare to us this parable”, the parable that our Lord just spoke. He says:

Matthew 15:16-20 {Jesus said} … Are ye also yet without understanding? 17 Do not ye yet understand, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught? 18 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.

The reason people do evil things is because of what is in their hearts. I often hear people talk about racism, and specifically systemic racism. What is this? It is what God calls “sin”. How does this become nourished in the heart? Because people have rejected the written Word of God for the various Mishnahs that people have accepted as true. When a person’s mouth is filled with poison, you can be certain that the source of this poison is a defiled heart. Jesus told the Scribes and Pharisees:

Matthew 12:34 O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.

Solomon warned us to “watch over your heart with all diligence,

For from it flow the springs of life” (New American Standard used for clarity). What we take into our eyes and ears goes into our hearts. When we spend much time in front of televisions or reading books but little time in the written Word of God, we allow our hearts to be filled with fruitless things. It is the written Word of God that blesses us. Jesus said:

Luke 6:45 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.

Whether your life produces good and godly fruit or bad and useless fruit is determined by what you allow to enter your soul through your eye and ear gates. You can eat bad food, or drink bad things and, in most cases, it will pass from your body within a day or so as waste. But what you feed your hearts will impact your very souls. The great preacher G. Campbell Morgan wrote in his book Searchlights From The Word:

Here, then, we find the test of all human teaching, however well intentioned. If it be not based upon and rooted in the Word of God, or if it depart in any degree from the true intention of that Word, it is without pity to be rooted up. By this test we need ever to try our traditions, customs, habits, rules, regulations. Man is always in danger of destroying the very thing he desires to safeguard, when he adds to the simplest things of the Divine revelation”.

Our nation is in tatters because we have, as a people, turned from the written Word of God to the mishmash of politics and social justice. Our families are in disrepair because we have raised our children to disrespect the written Word of God. We need to heed the Psalmist, who said:

Psalm 119:11 Thy word {o Lord} have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.

Oh that we would as His Church cling to His written Word, cherishing it above all else. Oh that we would understand that only the written Word of God can pierce even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit (Hebrews 4:12).

We must get back to the Bible! May God touch your hearts with His Spirit and His Word. Amen and Amen.

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

The Prayer God Answers

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Matthew 15:25 .. Then came {the woman of Canaan} and worshiped {Jesus}, saying, Lord, help me.

Christians ought to be praying people. It is by prayer that we enter the Kingdom of God. We obey the Scripture.

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

By prayer the Spirit of God comes to us. By prayer we enter the Family of God. When we fail – and we often fail – it is by prayer we repent and realign ourselves to God.

When Peter stepped out of the boat to walk on water with Jesus, he prayed. “Jesus, may I come?” The Master replies, “Come!” Peter takes a step of faith, and begins to walk on water. Then his humanity shows. He looks at the water and begins to sink. Peter prayed quickly,

Matthew 14:30 … Lord, save me!

And immediately “Jesus stretched out His hand and caught Peter” (Matthew 15:31). Jesus loves to answer prayer. Oh, how our God loves to answer prayer. But we must pray. The Scripture tells us:

James 4:2-3 … ye have not, because ye ask not. 3 Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.

God would answer our prayers, if we actually believed in prayer. You say, “But preacher, I do believe in prayer”. Do you? Do you pray daily, frequently? Do you ask God to accompany you before you begin your journey? Do you hold God in your consciousness asking, seeking, and knocking” (Matthew 7:7-8; Luke 11:9-13)?

Trials Drive Us Into The Arms Of Christ

As I get older, I am more appreciative of the trials that my Lord God allows me to go through. It was through the blessed trial of pain that I endured in 1983 that I learned how sweet it is to pray. If you are a Christian, trials come to prove and strengthen your faith. If you are not a Christian, trials drive you toward the arms of Christ.

Matthew 15:21 Then Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon.

Jesus went thence”. Jesus had been in the area of Gennesaret, a region southwest of Capernaum. While Jesus was in this area the Bible says:

Matthew 14:36 {all that were diseased begged Jesus}, that they might only touch the hem of His garment: and as many as touched were made perfectly whole.

There was no power in the hem of His garment – the power was in Jesus. They believed so much in Jesus that they believed contact with His clothing alone would bring healing. As humans, sometimes we need a physical thing to focus on while believing in God. When Paul preached, the Bible says:

Acts 19:11-12 NKJV … even handkerchiefs or aprons were brought from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out of them.

And when Peter preached:

Acts 5:15 NKJV … they brought the sick out into the streets and laid [them] on beds and couches, that at least the shadow of Peter passing by might fall on some of them.

When you come to God in faith, the Lord rewards with blessing. Many were healed in

{Jesus} departed into the coasts of TYRE AND SIDON”.

Gennesaret and Capernaum are primarily peopled by Jews. It is possible that some Gentiles came to Jesus, but I doubt it based upon what occurs next. Jesus leaves Gennesaret and goes toward the Phonetician cities of Tyre and Sidon. The Phoneticians were unbelievers in God, idolaters. These two Gentile cities, are some 50 miles away from Gennesaret.

Why would Jesus go 50 miles on foot – a long journey – into decidedly Gentile territory? Because Jesus knew there was a woman there that need His help.

I am shocked that anyone who is a Christian would harbor racism in their hearts. Jesus Christ was never racist. If He were racist, then the Gentiles – that’s any of you who are NOT Jews – would have never been saved. Jesus Christ came to this earth for everyone, because everyone is broken. We are all under a sin curse, a universal blemish brought on humanity by Adam’s poor choice.

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.

God gave up His Beloved Son Jesus so that the WORLD would have an opportunity to be saved and adopted into the Family of God. Jesus gave His life on Calvary that WHOSOEVER, regardless of skin color, could have everlasting life. The Jewish crowd probably did not follow Jesus as He headed toward Gentile territory. The Romano-Jewish Historian Titus Flavius Josephus wrote:

Of the Phoenicians, the Tyrians have the most ill-feeling towards us.”

Yet Jesus went that way. He wanted to show us something. We read:

Matthew 15:22 And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto {Jesus}

The Evangelist Mark calls this woman “a Syrophenician by nation” (Mark 7:26), which would mean that she came from southern Lebanon. The woman is not a Jew. The Canaanites were the ancient enemies of Israel. They occupied the Promised Land before Israel came, and were life long enemies.

Trials Bring Us To A Place Of Humility

Matthew 15:22 And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil.

God bless the trial that brings us to our knees, for here is where we will find our God. God despises pride. There are seven sins that God considers abominations:

Proverbs 6:16-19 These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: 17 a proud look, …

and PRIDE is the first on His list of things despised. God hates pride. God says:

Proverbs 16:5 Every one that is proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord…

God can work with a broken vessel, but He can do nothing with a vessel filled with self, with pride.

Proverbs 8:13 … {the Lord said} Pride and arrogance and the evil way

And the perverse mouth I hate.

God hates pride because it inoculates us against Him. The Scribes and Pharisees were great scholars of the Scripture, but never used it as God intended because of pride.

Pride makes God a man, and man a God.

Pride blinds the one who has it. Pride asks, “Is it I Who will betray You, dear Jesus?” while looking not at oneself but at those around you. Pride deflects the blessings of God, for it is a clenched fist and a stiff and unbowing attitude. The great author C.S. Lewis stated:

According to Christian teachers, the essential vice, the utmost evil, is Pride. Unchastity, anger, greed, drunkenness, and all that, are mere fleabites in comparison: it was through Pride that the devil became the devil: Pride leads to every other vice: it is the complete anti-God state of mind.”

The wicked, in his pride, will not seek after God, nor will he even think of God” (my paraphrase of Psalm 10:4). This Gentile woman has not come to Jesus in pride. She cries out:

Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil.

She did not say, “You’ve healed in Capernaum – now heal us here in Tyre”. She did not demand of God when she asked. She plead her case based on mercy. We have all been blessed by the mercy of God. The Bible says:

Matthew 5:45 … {God} maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

We have neither earned nor deserved the great gift of life that our Creator has given us. Yet many of us will not even acknowledge God in the slightest of ways. This woman was a Gentile from a pagan, idolatrous society. Yet the trial she is going through with her child has given her awareness of need. She needs the Lord. She begs the Lord to help.

Jesus, You are Lord. Jesus, You are the Son of David, the rightful heir to God’s Kingdom. You are, Jesus. Please, my daughter is grievously vexed by a demon. Help me, Lord, I plead”.

When We Pray, There Are Times
When God Seems Silent

Matthew 15:23 But {Jesus} answered her not a word. …

Though this woman pleads with Jesus loudly and repeatedly, for this is the Imperfect Tense which can mean repeated action, Jesus answers her NOT A WORD. He does not acknowledge her in any way. This is very strange.

When Peter walked on the water and, looking away from Jesus, started to sink, he cried out “Lord, save me!”. The Bible says:

Matthew 14:31 … and IMMEDIATELY Jesus stretched forth His hand, and caught him …

This is a pattern throughout the New Testament. When someone in need calls out to Jesus, our Lord acts immediately. There are only two instances that I can think of when Jesus delayed answering prayer: here, and when His friend Lazarus lay dying (John 11:6).

When A Person Prayed To Jesus, Grabbing Hold Of The Mercy Seat, Jesus Usually Responded With Mercy.
Why Does He Ignore This Woman?

Because Jesus wanted His disciples to see what genuine faith is. Genuine faith in God persists in prayer, even when God seems silent. Genuine faith humbles itself before God, willing to love Him even if His response is delayed. We are told in:

Colossians 4:2 … Continue {persist} in prayer …

Jesus even gave us a parable on persisting in prayer. We read:

Luke 18:1-7 {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?

If we would be blessed of God, we should ask, and keep on asking until God answers us. Sometimes God will answer our prayers with a “no”. When He does, then “no” is what’s best for us. When God seems silent, however, we should be like this woman. Keep on praying. Keep on asking. Her child was suffering, and she wanted mercy. She continued to pray.

Seek The Heart Of God In Prayer

Matthew 15:23 But {Jesus} answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us.

As this woman is praying, seeking Jesus’ help, those closest to Him were saying, “send her away, Lord. She is disturbing us!”. There is some debate in the commentaries what this statement means. The SonicLight Commentary states:

The disciples probably wanted Jesus to heal the woman’s daughter so she would stop bothering them.”

The easiest thing for Jesus to do would be to grant her wish. Jesus responded not to the woman, but to His disciples when He said:

Matthew 15:24 … I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

In the first half of Christ’s ministry Jesus came to the Jews FIRST. God made a promise to Abraham, the father of the Israelites, and promised to send Messiah through Israel (Genesis 12:1-3). God made a promise to King David that a son would come from His lineage that would be the Messiah (2 Samuel 7). When Jesus Christ entered this world through a Jewish mother, with a lineage that traced back to Abraham and David (Matthew 1:1-17; Luke 3:23-28), this was God’s fulfillment of His promise. When Jesus sent His disciples out, the scripture says:

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

The Apostle Paul also said:

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

It was not yet time for Jesus to be healing Gentiles. Though He had previously healed a Centurion’s servant (Matthew 8:5-13) this Gentile woman comes to Jesus while He is in Gentile, not Jewish, territories.

The woman was persistent. She sought the heart of God in her prayer.

Matthew 15:25 Then came she and worshiped him, saying, Lord, help me.

Then came she – she drew near by faith

and worshiped Him – she humbled herself before Christ

and prayed – “Lord, help me”

Did Jesus immediately meet her need? No. Jesus actually belittled the woman. He said:

Matthew 15:26 .. It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs.

Word Study “I have come for the Children, not the Canaanites. I can’t take the Children’s bread and cast it to DOGS.” The term “Dog” is used in the Bible to describe the unbeliever. When Jesus was crucified it was prophesied:

Psalms 22:16 For DOGS have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have enclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet.

Dogs or unbelievers will not be in Heaven one day. John wrote:

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 {Heaven} ARE DOGS

If there was any pride in this woman, at this point it would have reared it’s head. Yet the woman plead with Christ.

Matthew 15:27 … And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the DOGS eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.

She did not argue nor demand, but said “Lord, even the dogs get to eat the crumbs that fall from the Master’s table”. She humbled herself before Christ. Jesus wanted His disciples to see and learn from this encounter. The Gospel is not just for one group of people, but for all people. Jesus Christ came for all.

Matthew 15:28 Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, GREAT IS THY FAITH: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.

The woman was blessed because she showed GREAT FAITH toward God. When we approach God in faith when we are tried, and call upon Him, claiming His promises as our own, our faith grows from little faith to great faith.

Little faith waits on a sign.

Great faith seeks out the Savior.

Little faith has too high an opinion of itself.

Great faith has the right opinion of God.

Little faith is effected by its surroundings.

Great faith keeps it’s eyes on Christ.

Little faith gives up in discouragement too quickly.

Great faith refuses to be discouraged, but pursues Christ.

This woman’s great faith did something else as well. When her child was healed we are told:

Matthew 15:30-31 And great multitudes came unto him, having with them those that were lame, blind, dumb, maimed, and many others, and cast them down at Jesus’ feet; and he healed them: 31 insomuch that the multitude wondered, when they saw the dumb to speak, the maimed to be whole, the lame to walk, and the blind to see: and they glorified the God of Israel.

Great multitudes of Gentiles came to Jesus after the healing of this woman’s daughter. Her faith was much like the faith of the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:1-30). Her faith triggered a massive revival among the Gentiles in that area, planting the seed of Christ’s future Church. When we seek God in prayer, and honor Him in our lives, God uses us to bring revival in the land. Brothers and sisters, in these days our land desperately needs Jesus. Let us live for Him, seeking His face in prayer moment by moment, until the day we meet Him in glory.

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

Posted in Matthew, Sermon Series "Red Letters", Sermons Preached | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Waiting On The Lord

Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash

Today we’ll expound one of my favorite passages of Scripture:

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

Christians, We All Need To Learn
How To Wait On God

Pastor Adrian Rogers once said, “You can save a lot of time by waiting on God”. That is such a true statement.

But what does it mean to “wait”?
Does it mean to do nothing?
To just sit at attention until God tells me what to do?

As a nation we have been in a state of “waiting” since March of this year because of the Coronavirus. Most of the local Churches in America shut down at some point as United States citizens were commanded by Governors to quarantine ourselves at home. “Safer at home” became a familiar buzz word, found both on the Internet and on television in advertisements. Citizens were commanded to give up their freedom in order to “flatten the curve” of the Coronavirus. We at Riverview shut down our services for two weeks in respect for our Christian Governor Bill Lee. Our Governor has been respectful of our First Amendment rights. The Governor of California has not been respectful, but has shut down Churches while allowing “essential” businesses to continue unhindered. This past Sunday Pastor John MacArthur of Grace Community Church in unison with the elders of that Church stated that they would not obey the state mandated ban on services. The Pastor quoted the Apostles who were commanded by the state not to preach:

Acts 5:29 … We ought to obey God rather than men.

The elders of Grace Community released a statement, saying:

““Christ is the one true head of His church. For that preeminent reason, we cannot accept and will not bow to the intrusive restrictions government officials now want to impose on our congregation. We offer this response without rancor, and not out of hearts that are combative or rebellious (1 Timothy 2:1-8; 1 Peter 2:13-17), but with a sobering awareness that we must answer to the Lord Jesus for the stewardship He has given to us as shepherds of His precious flock,” the statement said. “To government officials, we respectfully say with the apostles, ‘Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge’ (Acts 4:19). And our unhesitating reply to that question is the same as the apostles’: ‘We must obey God rather than men’ (Acts 5:29).”

To Wait On The Lord Is To
Put Him Above All Others

Beloved, this is an example of “waiting” on God. We “wait” on God when we honor Him, and serve Him above all others. In our Psalm today King David writes:

Psalm 27:4 One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may DWELL IN THE HOUSE OF THE LORD ALL THE DAYS OF MY LIFE, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in his temple.

Word Study Some commentators define “house of the Lord” as either the Tabernacle, the Temple, or the Church building. I do not think this is a good definition. David was the King of Israel, and said “the one thing I asked the Lord to help me do is to DWELL in the house of the Lord”. The word translated “DWELL” is the Hebrew יָשַׁב yâshab, {pronounced yaw-shab’” which means “to remain in, to inhabit, to have my abode in, to abide or rest in”. If David was referring to the Temple then he would have been asking God to let him stay in the Tabernacle all the time, for David said he wanted to yâshab “ALL THE DAYS of MY LIFE”.

David was King over Israel. He cannot do what God has called him to do by staying in the Tabernacle forever.

As King, David must go out with His men to fight battles as God has so commanded. As King, David must go and issue ruling and judgments from his throne. The King has many duties. He can certainly go to Tabernacle to worship the Lord, but cannot do so “all the days of my life”. That is a physical impossibility.

So what is David referring to. The phrase “house of” is found some 880 times in the Bible, 25 of which are in the Psalms. Many times in scripture “house of” refers to a physical dwelling. However, There are other times when it refers to a dynasty or a ruling, to be under the authority of another.

When God called David to be King over Saul, the latter was not so quick to give up his throne. The Bible says:

2 Samuel 3:1 Now there was long war between the HOUSE OF SAUL and the HOUSE OF DAVID: but David waxed stronger and stronger, and the house of Saul waxed weaker and weaker.

Those who recognized the God given authority of David as King were in battle against those who submitted to Saul as King. “House of” is a reference to authority.

Later in history when David and his son Solomon went to be with the Lord in Heaven, David’s grandson Rehoboam ruled Israel. Rehoboam made very bad diplomatic decisions, so bad that they caused ten of Israel’s tribes to walk away from Rehoboam. The Bible says:

1 Kings 12:19 So Israel {the ten northern tribes} rebelled against THE HOUSE OF DAVID unto this day.

Though David was no longer ruling, Rehoboam occupied the throne as a descendant of King David. The throne was therefore called “the house of David”. This is no reference to the Tabernacle or the Temple, but a reference to the God given RULE. In the New Testament the individual Christian and the gathering of Christians we call the “Church” is under the “house of Christ”. We read:

Hebrews 3:5-6 … Moses verily was faithful in all his house, as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken after; 6 but CHRIST AS A SON OVER HIS OWN HOUSE; WHOSE HOUSE ARE WE, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.

If you are a Christian indeed, you are “of the HOUSE of CHRIST”. We are citizens of His Kingdom. What King David was asking God to do for Him:

Psalm 27:4 … that I may DWELL IN THE HOUSE OF THE LORD all the days of my life

was that God would rule David as David ruled Israel. This same heart was in Solomon when he prayed and asked the Lord:

1 Kings 3:7-10 … And now, O Lord my God, thou hast made thy servant king instead of David my father: and I am but a little child: I know not how to go out or come in. 8 And thy servant is in the midst of thy people which thou hast chosen, a great people, that cannot be numbered nor counted for multitude. 9 Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people? 10 And the speech pleased the Lord, that Solomon had asked this thing.

David wanted – and prayed that – God would guide his heart and his hand, that he would NEVER fail the Lord. This is a wonderful prayer that every believer should pray. When we ask God to rule our lives – and we willingly follow Him as “King of Kings and Lord of Lords” (Revelation 19:16; Deuteronomy 10:17; Psalm 136:3; Daniel 2:47; 1 Timothy 6:15, et al) – then God blesses us.

To Wait On The Lord Is To
Hear & Obediently Do His Word

Psalm 27:1 The Lord is my LIGHT and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

David prayed that God would rule him as he ruled Israel. This is a beautiful prayer, and a request that I know please God. David said that YAHWEH is:

  • The LORD is my LIGHT”. When God is present with His people, God brings us LIGHT. The Scripture says:

1 John 1:4-6 And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full. 5 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:

When God is present with us, we always walk in light, because God is Light. His way is always right. If we are walking in sin we are not walking with God. If we are walking contrary to God’s way, we are not walking with God. What God has said is true is ALWAYS true, no matter what the world may say. Our Heavenly Father loves us, and gives us good things when we walk with Him. The Bible says:

James 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

You cannot walk in the Light of God if you will not read and heed His WORD, the Holy Scripture. The Old Testament directions of God are “light”.

Proverbs 6:23 … For the commandment is a LAMP; and the law is LIGHT;

What God has said in His Bible gives us light, so that we can live in His presence and under His will. When the Coronavirus hit our nation one of the largest search engines called “Google” noted a fifty percent increase of those searching for instruction on “prayer”. In July of 2020 the American Bible Society stated:

In 2019, over one-third of American adults (35%) said that realistically they never use the Bible outside of a large church service. In January [2020], that number was statistically unchanged. However, by June of 2020, that proportion had fallen to 31%. The proportion of Americans who use the Bible daily also fell to fewer than one in ten (9%), the lowest number on record during the ten years of the State of the Bible research study.”

The Scripture tells us in Psalm 119:105, “Thy word {O God} is a LAMP unto my feet, and a LIGHT unto my path.It is the Holy Word of God that establishes the normal Christian life. It is God’s Scripture – His written Word – that draws us to where He is.

Psalm 43:3 O {Lord}, send out thy light and thy truth: let them lead me; let them bring me unto thy holy hill, and to thy tabernacles.

When Jesus Christ walked this earth, He was the Light of God. Jesus was the Light shining in darkness (John 1:5), misunderstood by the world. 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. (also, John 9:5)

When Jesus prepared to leave this world, He promised to send “the Spirit of truth”, the Holy Spirit of God to those who believe on Him. The Spirit of truth “dwelleth with you, and shall be in you” (John 14:17). The Spirit of truth “testifies of Jesus” (John 15:26). This Holy Spirit “will guide you into all truth” (John 16:13). Christ gave us of His Spirit so that we can learn of God’s truth, the Word contained in the Holy Scripture.

King David not only had access to the Word of God, but he cherished it. He sought God’s guidance in that blessed written Word. The Lord was David’s “Light”. David also uses another term to refer to Yahweh:

Psalm 27:1 The Lord is my light and my SALVATION

  • The LORD is my SALVATION”. David had a Savior in the Lord Who was his Light. God spoke through the Prophet, saying:

Isaiah 45:21 … there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Savior; there is none beside me.

When Jesus Christ was “begotten” into this world, Eternal God born of a virgin, the Angel said:

Luke 2:11 … unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.

Yahweh took upon Himself humanity. Christ is the Savior of the world (John 4:42). In a dream the Angel of God told Joseph, Mary’s husband:

Matthew 1:20-21 … fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for 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.

Because David acknowledged the God of Scripture as his Lord and Master, David was saved from His sins. When Christ Jesus is the Lord of your life, and you are members of His Kingdom:

Colossians 1:13 … delivered from the power of darkness, translated into the Kingdom of God’s dear Son (my paraphrase),

then God is indeed your Savior. There are many false teachers today who proclaim that you can be saved by faith in Christ, and yet not be under the authority of that same Christ. This is patently un-Scriptural. It is like the dogmas of penance and Purgatory, foolish concepts taught no where in Scripture. That great Theologian A.W. Tozer wrote:

No Christian believer should ever forget what the Bible says about the Person and the offices of the eternal Son, the Christ of God. “God hath made this same Jesus whom ye have crucified both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36). Jesus means Savior; Lord means Sovereign; Christ means Anointed One. The apostle Peter did not proclaim Jesus only as Savior; he preached to them Jesus as Lord and Christ and Savior, never dividing His Person or His offices. Remember, also, the declaration of Paul: “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, thou shalt be saved.” Three times in the passage to the Roman Christians telling how to be saved, Paul calls Jesus “Lord.” He says that faith in the Lord Jesus plus confession of that faith to the world brings salvation to us!”

When we are submitted to the Kingdom and Rulership of Christ our Lord, we need not fear our enemies. If God is my General, and I His troop, He will insure that I am protected so that I can fulfill His Will. David testified:

Psalm 27:2-3 … When the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell. 3 Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear: though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident.

  • The LORD is my hiding place, my refuge from my enemies. When David faced the fiercest of enemies, even those who wanted to “eat up his flesh” like wild beasts, David trusted in the Lord. Resting in Jesus, David commanded his heart to do three things:
  1. whom shall I fear?” (verse 1). David commanded his soul to “FEAR (יָרֵא yârêʼ, pronounced yaw-ray’) NOT”. If you are walking in the will of God, heeding His Word and doing as He says, fear is not to be your companion.

To Abraham God said, “Fear Not” (Genesis 15:1),I am your SHIELD”. God will protect you.

To Jacob God said, “Fear Not to go to Egypt (Genesis 46:3),I will make you a great nation”.

To Israel God said, “Fear Not, neither be discouraged” (Deuteronomy 1:21).

To Joshua God said, “Fear not, be not dismayed” (Joshua 8:1)I have given them into your hand).

Throughout the Scripture God our Father tells those who have received Him as Lord and Savior to “Fear Not”.

2 Timothy 1:7 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

Let the darkened world dwell in darkness, confusion, and madness. We who are Christ’s will look to Him Who saved us, and live our lives for Him.

  1. of whom shall I be afraid”? (verse 1). The Hebrew פָּחַד pâchad, {pronounced paw-kkad’} means to be in awe of, or to tremble at. Whereas (יָרֵא yârêʼ, pronounced yaw-ray’) speaks to fear in the heart, pâchad refers to physical symptoms that accompany fear or dread. Beloved of Christ, we do not need to tremble in fear at the enemies around us, for God is greater than any enemy.

Psalms 46:1-2 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;

Psalms 56:2-4 Mine enemies would daily swallow me up: for they be many that fight against me, O thou most High. What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee. In God I will praise his word, in God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me.

  1. in this will I be confident”. Where God is, there is no defeat. You and I should be confident with the Psalmist that – though all things do not APPEAR good, they ARE good. Why? The Apostle Paul – a man who suffered imprisonment for preaching the Gospel – declared

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

If you are saved by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, God has a purpose for every minute of your life. That purpose is not to be defeated by the darkness, but to stand strong, looking unto Him Who loves us and gave His life for us. The Apostle went on to say:

Romans 8:31-39 … What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? 32 He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? 33 Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. 34 Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. 37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. 38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The Psalmist – though not using the same words as the Apostle Paul – voiced the same truths. He said:

Psalm 27:5-6 … For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock. 6 And now shall mine head be lifted up above mine enemies round about me: therefore will I offer in his tabernacle sacrifices of joy; I will sing, yea, I will sing praises unto the Lord.

God will protect His Children. He will set us up upon a rock, for He is our Savior and Lord.

A wonderful Savior is Jesus my Lord,
A wonderful Savior to me;
He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock,

Where rivers of pleasure I see.
He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock
That shadows a dry, thirsty land;
He hideth my life in the depths of His love,
And covers me there with His hand,
And covers me there with His hand.

To Wait On The Lord Is To Pray,
Humbly Expecting His Presence

Psalm 27:7-10 Hear, O Lord, when I cry with my voice: have mercy also upon me, and answer me. 8 When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, Lord, will I seek. 9 Hide not thy face far from me; put not thy servant away in anger: thou hast been my help; leave me not, neither forsake me, O God of my salvation. 10 When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up.

The worst thing that could happen to a Jew in David’s day was for his parents to forsake him. David considered a thing far worst than this to be the LORD forsaking him. So David prayed for the Presence of God. We who love the Lord should pray for His Presence. The greatest thing the believer has is the knowledge that God is with us, and will never forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6).

Hebrews 13:5-6 Let your {way of life} be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for {God} hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. 6 So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.

When we wait on God, God stays with us. He protects us. He guides us. He loves us. Do you know the Lord? Is Jesus Christ your Lord and Savior? If not, today would be a wonderful day to do as Scripture says:

Romans 10:9-11 .. if you would confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved. With your heart you believe in Jesus, and receive His righteousness. With your mouth you make a confession that leads to salvation. Whosoever calls upon the Name of the Lord Jesus shall be saved. (my paraphrase).

Oh, that you would, by faith, enter the Kingdom of God this very day. Give yourselves to Christ, and He will give Himself to you. May each and every person under the sound of this Gospel receive and believe this very day. Amen and Amen.

Posted in Psalms, Sermons Preached | Tagged , , ,

The Christian And Trials

Photo by Zoltan Tasi on Unsplash

Matthew 14:22 And straightway Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him unto the other side, while he sent the multitudes away.

Jesus made His disciples get into a ship without Him. This “ship” is a fisherman’s boat, probably one of his disciple’s boats.

Matthew 4:18-22 Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. 19 And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. 20 And they straightway left their nets, and followed him. 21 And going on from thence, he saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he called them. 22 And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed him.

Jesus found His first disciples in a fishing boat. He called them to Himself, and they left their boats to follow Him. Now Jesus is sending them away on a boat.

When Jesus calls us to salvation, He calls us to leave everything and follow Him. But then Jesus sends us back to our lives to serve Him, to honor Him as we go about our lives. He sends us

Matthew 14:22 And straightway Jesus CONSTRAINED his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him unto the other side, while he sent the multitudes away.

Word Study The word translated “constrained” is the Greek ἀναγκάζω anankázō, {pronounced an-ang-kad’-zo}, which means “to compel, to force, to drive, to demand as necessary”. Jesus wanted His disciples to get into this boat and go across the water to the other side, while He dispersed the crowd. Jesus would send the multitude away. The disciples did not want to leave Jesus. They wanted to stay with Jesus, and I understand this.

That morning the disciples discovered that John the Baptist had been martyred for the faith(Matthew 14:13). John’s suffering and death reminds us, Beloved, that ..

Christians, YOU Will Suffer In The World
For Following Jesus

John did not die a natural death. John stood up for Biblical truth, and was horribly martyred for it. King Herod, the despot puppet ruler of Israel, had imprisoned John because Herod had taken his brother’s wife to himselfcommitting adultery, a terrible sin that violates the sanctity of marriage. The Bible says:

Matthew 14:4 … John said unto {Herod}, It is not lawful for thee to have her.

Herod! The Word of God says you will not steal your brother’s wife! Herod, like many who are unbelievers, became enraged when called out on his sin. He imprisoned John in a dungeon. John was a holy man, the greatest Prophet ever born according to Jesus (see Matthew 11:11). Nonetheless Herod imprisoned him for honoring God’s Word. Lusting after another family member, Herod’s stepdaughter asked that John be beheaded, and the head be given to her. Herod complied. Though he was sorry for it, he did so anyway, because he told his stepdaughter he would do whatever she asked.

Christian, you can do everything right, follow the Lord as best you can, but if you honor Jesus and the Word of God Jesus said “you will be hated by the world”.

Matthew 10:34-36 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. 35 For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. 36 And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.

John the Baptist is a picture of the faithful servant of Christ living in this fallen world. We, like John, are to live for Jesus regardless as to what others say. John lived his life not for himself, but for Christ. He was

The Voice of one crying in the wilderness, saying, “Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God” (John 1:23; Isaiah 40:3).

The world despises repentance, but we are called to say what John and Jesus said. We are to preach repentance from sin, and pointed all who would hear to the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior, just as John did. We are to be faithful servants of God our Savior.

Beloved, Christianity is not the mega Church Pastor, the rock star Worship Leader. Christianity goes forward when every person lives for Jesus, shining for Him, whether you are recognized or not.

John served the Lord and died alone in a prison, beheaded for his faith. Herod’s stepdaughter danced with his head on a silver charger. Your heart may be asking:

“Where is God in all this?
Why didn’t Jesus have John freed from prison?”

God is still there, but part of our lot in life, our purpose, is to suffer with Jesus. The Scripture declares:

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

The Apostle Paul told Timothy:

2 Timothy 3:10-12 But thou hast fully known my … persecutions, afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured: but out of them all the Lord delivered me. 12 Yea, and ALL THAT WILL LIVE GODLY IN CHRIST JESUS SHALL SUFFER PERSECUTION.

If you are living as a Child of God in the Kingdom of God you will be despised by the world. When a Christian tells me “Oh, I get along with everyone”, then my mind goes back to the words of our Lord Jesus:

John 15:18-21 If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. 19 If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. 20 Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. 21 But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me.

If your worldly friends are satisfied with the way of life you both live and speak of, then you are not perhaps walking in the light but in gray and black darkness.

We as Christians are not to be holier than thou, for this is a smoke in God’s nostrils (Isaiah 65:5). But we are also not to call right wrong, or darkness to be light (Isaiah 5:20). Followers of Christ are to follow Jesus, to love God with all our hearts and minds, and to treat others as we want to be treated.

Love is our way of life. But we are never to compromise with darkness. When you walk with Christ in the light, you will anger those bound in darkness. Follow Jesus anyway. Follow Jesus, knowing the world will despise you. Follow and love. John’s death frightened Jesus’ disciples, and they wanted to stay with Jesus. That is a normal response. But Jesus wanted them in the boat.

Trials Grow The Christian’s Faith

After Jesus commands His disciples on the boat we read:

Matthew 14:23 … when {Jesus} had sent the multitudes away, {Jesus} went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, HE WAS THERE ALONE.

Jesus put His disciples in a ship to head across the waters to Capernaum (Luke 6:17). The Jesus Who fed over 5000 with a tiny child’s meal, this Jesus puts us in situations where we must trust Him no matter what may come.

Jesus put His disciples in the boat on purpose, to try them, to grow their faith. The Apostle Peter who was on this boat would later write about trials, saying:

1 Peter 1:3-7 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: 7 that the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.

When we are tried, dear Christian, we still have the assurance of salvation. Every Christian is “kept by the power of God”. God shed His Son’s Blood for our salvation. God sent His Spirit to abide with us. God has invested so much in us that He would not abandon us. No, our salvation was costly to God. The intent of salvation and the heart of our Great Shepherd Jesus (John 10) is to grow our faith, to make us more like Him. Because of this Christ often compels us to get on the boat, to row out to midst of the sea, and to trust Him where ever He may take us. Continuing our text:

Matthew 14:24 But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary.

Where is Jesus when the boat we’re in is tossed, when the winds blow us contrary to the waves, so it seems as if we will sink? Where is Jesus in the midst of this Coronavirus pandemic? Where is Jesus when the Churches in California are being forcibly closed by a despotic governor? Where is Jesus when disease strikes, when death comes to someone I love? Where is He? Jesus is where He always is. He is there with us, if we would but call His name.

The Evangelist Mark tells us in his accounting of this event:

Mark 6:46-48 … when {Jesus} had sent them away, he departed into a mountain to pray. 47 And when even was come, the ship was in the midst of the sea, and he alone on the land. 48 AND HE SAW THEM TOILING IN ROWING; for the wind was contrary unto them: and about the fourth watch of the night he cometh unto them, walking upon the sea, and would have passed by them.

Though Jesus in His humanity was praying on the shore, in His deity Jesus was aware of what His disciples were going through. Our Jesus never takes His eyes off of His Children. He knew what was going to happen when He put them on the boat. Jesus knew what they were going through. Jesus is the Good Shepherd. He said:

John 10:11, 13-14 I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. … 13 The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd ….

Christ Child, Jesus cares for you. He is not caring for us because we are paying Him to do so. He paid for us by dying on Calvary. He suffered for us at the Cross. Jesus will not abandon that which He paid so much for. Never!

Romans 5:6, 8 … when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. … 8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

The Savior Who gave everything for us will not abandon us when trials come. His love binds Him to us. The trials He allows in our lives are to mold us and make us more like Him. The Scripture says:

Romans 8:38-39 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Perhaps the boat you’re in today is being tossed about with waves. Perhaps you are suffering by disease, or age. Perhaps you have lost someone you love. Call upon Jesus. Don’t row against the storm – Call upon Jesus!

The Gospel of Mark tells us in a parallel text that Jesus would have passed by them (Mark 6:48). Why would Jesus pass them by? Because of unbelief.

Earlier in the day Jesus did something that only the Messiah could do. Jesus fed above 5000 people with a child’s meal, and everyone ate to their fill. Furthermore, there were twelve baskets full of bread left over after all had eaten. Jesus is the Messiah. Rather than call out to Jesus, the disciples row harder and harder against the storm. They use their own strength the battle a thing that no human can battle. They rely upon their own strength rather than Jesus Christ. Had they cried out to Jesus sooner, perhaps they would not be so weakened later! But Beloved, how often do we do the same thing? When faced with something overwhelming … something like this Coronavirus … are we fighting it by calling on the Name of Jesus, or are we rowing against the storm.

Jeremiah 17:5-8 Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord. 6 For he shall be like the heath {tumbleweed} in the desert, and shall not see when good cometh; but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land and not inhabited. 7 Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is. 8 For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.

When trials come, we are to cry out to Jesus. Call upon Him Who gave everything to save us. Yet many times we are like these men. When trials come, we pull harder on the oars. We try harder. We will not be defeated! We can DO it! What has God, our Loving Creator, told us?

Psalms 118:8-9 It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man. It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in princes.

Jesus went out on the sea to save His children, but was not going to stop unless they called upon Him. “He would have passed them by”. When we struggle against the trial in our own power, God often “passes us by”. He wants us to rely upon Him, to heed Him, to call out His Name.

Matthew 14:25-27 And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea. 26 And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear. 27 But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.

They are not looking for Jesus in faith, but are allowing the storm to control them. Unbelief has blinded them so much that they now see Jesus as a boogie man, a ghost, a “spirit”. This is no boogie man, no ghost. This is Jesus.

Christ Calls Us From The Boat To Follow Him
Christ Puts Us In The Boat To Test & Grow Our Faith
Christ Bids Us To Leave The Boat With Him

Why was Peter the Chief Apostle? Have you ever thought about that? Jesus called Andrew, Peter’s brother, to salvation before He called Peter. In fact, Peter was introduced to Christ by Andrew his brother. “Peter, come, we have found the Messiah” (John 1:41). Andrew was first. Why wasn’t he the chief Apostle? Because ..

Peter put his faith in action. Faith is not to sit and soak. Faith hears the Lord, and steps out into discomfort because Jesus bids we go.

Matthew 14:27-29 … Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid. 28 And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. 29 And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.

I have heard a number of preachers talk about Peter walking on the water. They usually focus on this part,

Matthew 14:30 … But when {Peter} saw the wind boisterous, {Peter} was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. 31 And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?

I hear so many say “Peter shouldn’t have taken his eyes off of Jesus”, and that is true. However, I want you to look at this a different way. I ask you,

How many people in all of human history can say that they ever walked on water like Peter did?
I can’t think of anyone – can you?

Peter walked on water. He asked Jesus if he get out of the boat, then Peter got out of the boat. Peter stepped off of a tossing ship, cast about by wind and waves, to stand in the middle of this same wind and waves with no protection whatsoever.

While the 11 disciples clung to the boat in the midst of the raging sea, Peter stepped out of the boat and Jesus clung to him. Faith exercised is not always perfect.

When you were tiny babies, you at one point took your first step. How many times does a baby fall when it tries to walk? Many times. Yet its parents are there to lift the child up, to encourage that baby to try again. Let me put it this way:

When Jesus said “O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?”, was He looking at Peter, or was He looking at those clinging to the boat? Jesus took Peter back into the boat with Him, and then “the wind ceased” (verse 32). Peter tried and failed, but he at least tried. The other 11 did not.

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.

Jesus is Who He says He is. We are to love Him, and keep our eyes on Him. Let us look to Jesus and, as He leads us to the boat, let us go where He says. When He bids we leave the boat, let us go where He is. Let us keep our eyes on Jesus. May God’s Holy Spirit touch our hearts to hear and apply this Scripture in our lives this very day. Amen and Amen.

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

Lessons From Job (Various Texts)

Photo by Fabian Albert on Unsplash

The Book of Job is the oldest Scripture, by date of writing, in the Bible. It is also a book that sadly, few believers study. Job is a book about suffering. I believe that is the reason why this is the oldest written Book in our Scriptures. From the fall of Adam, all throughout human history, and unto the end of time humanity suffers. We all suffer.

Suffering is not limited to the physically ugly, the poor, the uneducated; but beautiful people, rich people, and highly educated people all suffer.

Job was a wealthy man, with a large and prosperous family. Job loved the Lord. He was NOT suffering because of sin in his life.

Job 1:1 Job was was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and {rejected} evil.

In the Book of Job the main character loses his family, his business, and his health. He loses these blessings not because he dishonored God, but because he honored God. The Lord gave Satan permission to afflict Job in the first two chapters of the Book. In all the affliction Job suffered,

Job 2:10 … In all this did not Job sin with his lips

Job maintained his faith in God. Though upset and angered at the loss of all things (especially his children), Job did not outwardly dishonor God.

Even The Best People Suffer, & Sufferers Need
Social Interaction With Others

I believe technology is a great tool, and I love technology. I love social media, and love to use it to spread the Gospel. But technology and social media is no replacement for one on one – personal – interaction.

The Book of Job shows us how even the best people suffer. And even the best people need the compassion of other people. We need a listening ear, a loving touch. Hence Job.

After all these tragedies afflicted Job, three of his friends from three different cities – Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Namaathite – came together to comfort Job. United, these three friends did the best thing they could do:

Job 2:13 .. they sat down with him upon the ground seven days and seven nights, and none spake a word unto him: for they saw that his grief was very great.

Job’s friends were with Job.
Job’s friends were where Job was.
They touched Job.
They waited on Job.
They suffered with Job.

These friends sat down on the ground with Job, and kept him company. They stayed silent, allowing Job to speak first. They just listened, and waited on their friend.

When we go through trials – and we all go through trials – we need friends around us to help us process our trial.

Dr. Vivek Murthy was the Surgeon General of the United States (2014-2017). He wrote a book called Together: The Healing Power Of Human Connections in a Sometimes Lonely World. In the book he noted that strong relationships decrease the likelihood of premature death by 50%. What causes early death, suicide, and depression can be linked to loneliness. Those who have no friends or confidants that they can share burdens with shorten their lives. Loneliness, especially while going through trials, causes heart disease, dementia, strokes, anxiety, insomnia, and immune system problems. We are hard wired for social connection.

MRI scans reveal that our brains have nonsocial and social networks. When you’re filing taxes or washing dishes, your nonsocial network is active. But as soon as the taxes are done or the dishes washed, the brain’s social network automatically comes back online. Seeking out relationships is our brain’s default mode. In any mode not dedicated to a task, we’re looking for someone to connect with. Even among the most introverted and task-oriented among us, our thoughts inevitably drift toward other people.” (quoted from Thinkr newsletter).

Electronic devices cannot take the place of a one on one relationship with other people. You may have scores of Facebook “Friends” online, but these are not true friends. A friend is someone who extends love to you, unselfish love, when you are in need. Solomon said:

Proverbs 17:17 A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.

Proverbs 27:9 Ointment and perfume rejoice the heart: so doth the sweetness of a man’s friend by hearty counsel.

Throughout the Book of Job you will see a pattern. Job will speak, and then one of his friends will speak. When Job’s friends speak they are sincerely trying to help their friend. There is both good advice as well as bad advise that comes from these friends. When you, or a friend, are suffering, the sufferer needs more than just words and opinions.

Minister To The Suffering
With BIBLICAL Counseling

Everyone has opinions and feelings. When we are ministering to the suffering, offer BIBLICAL based counseling. Not your opinions or feelings, but what God’s Word has said.

Job’s friend Eliphaz the Temanite was perhaps the wisest and eldest of his friends. As he gave counsel to Job, Eliphaz said:

Job 5:27 Lo this, we have searched it, so it is; hear it, and know thou it for thy good.

His counsel did not come of God, but was based upon Eliphaz’s experiences as a human. Now some of his counsel may have been right. Eliphaz said some right things. He made the statement:

Job 5:17-18 Behold, happy is the man whom God correcteth: therefore despise not thou the chastening of the Almighty: 18 For he maketh sore, and bindeth up: he woundeth, and his hands make whole.

Eliphaz’s premise was that God is Almighty, and that if a trial comes our way, then it came our way because the Almighty allowed it. This is indeed a Biblical truth. The Psalmist said:

Psalms 94:12 Blessed is the man whom thou chastenest, O LORD, and teachest him out of thy law;

Solomon, the wisest human (other than Jesus) who ever lived, wrote in the power of God’s Spirit:

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

The writer of Hebrews quoted this Holy Word when he wrote:

Hebrews 12:5-11 And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.

The Bible teaches that God allows trials to come our way to shape us, and to make us more like Christ, more like a Child of God. Biblical counsel remind the sufferer of God and His purpose, and will lead the sufferer to Jesus.

Human opinion and human counsel often do more harm than it does good. I have heard of women who were going through marital problems who, upon running to their friends for counsel, are told “Just divorce the bum!” But is this what God would counsel us to do? Human opinion is often the opposite of what God thinks is best. God told Israel:

Isaiah 30:1 Woe to the rebellious children, saith the Lord, that take counsel, but not of me; and that cover with a covering, but not of my spirit, that they may add sin to sin:

The Lord our God always knows what is right, and His Word is always right. The Bible says:

Isaiah 28:29 … the Lord of Hosts is wonderful in counsel, and excellent in working..

In Hebrews the Lord tells us that the Word of God ministers to both our soul and spirit, “the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart”. Human opinions vary from person to person, but God’s Word always speaks truth.

Be Very Careful Of Making Assumptions When Ministering To Those Who Are Suffering

When a sufferer comes to us we need to be very careful not to add to their pain. If someone is in agony, we do not want to push the thorn in deeper. Throughout the Book of Job, his friends take turns making judgments as to WHY Job is in this terrible moment of suffering. For instance, Job’s friend Zophar the Naamathite made the assumption that the trials which came to Job were on his friend because of sin in his life. He told Job …

Job 11:14-20 If iniquity be in thine hand, put it far away, and let not wickedness dwell in thy tabernacles. 15 For then shalt thou lift up thy face without spot; yea, thou shalt be steadfast, and shalt not fear: 16 Because thou shalt forget thy misery, and remember it as waters that pass away: 17 And thine age shall be clearer than the noonday: thou shalt shine forth, thou shalt be as the morning. 18 And thou shalt be secure, because there is hope; yea, thou shalt dig about thee, and thou shalt take thy rest in safety. 19 Also thou shalt lie down, and none shall make thee afraid; yea, many shall make suit unto thee. 20 But the eyes of the wicked shall fail, and they shall not escape, and their hope shall be as the giving up of the ghost.

Now that is an easy assumption to make. We are all sinners (Romans 3:23), and fall short of the glory of God. It is also true that sin can bring chastisement or disaster into the life. The Apostle Paul told the Corinthian Church – a church filled with lawlessness – that they were bringing suffering on themselves by taking the Lord’s Table in an unworthy manner. He wrote:

1 Corinthians 11:28-31 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. 29 For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh {condemnation} to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. 30 For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. 31 For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.

The “wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23) even to the believer. So when Job’s friend Eliphaz the Temanite made the same suggestion in Job 4:8:

they that plow iniquity, and sow wickedness, reap the same

It is Biblically true that sin will bring suffering. But to accuse Job of being in this terrible place because he was a sinner is uncalled for. Job’s friends were making assumptions. Though they were sincere in their desire to help Job, we know for a fact that Job was not suffering because of sin in his life. God bragged on Job, telling Satan that:

Job 1:8 … there is none like {Job} in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and {rejecting} evil

Job was not at fault for the trials he was going through, but his friends began to blame him or suggest that he was guilty of secret sin. Though Job was innocent of any wrong doing, their accusations extended and intensified Job’s suffering. Job had no need of additional judgments heaped upon him while he is in this incredibly tortured state. When friends minister to those suffering, we need to be careful that we do not needlessly add to their suffering.

Not all suffering is a result of sin. In Luke 13 we read:

Luke 13:1-5 There were present at that season some that told him of the Galilaeans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 2 And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things? 3 I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. 4 Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? 5 I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.

Jesus’ disciples thought that bad things always happened to people because they were sinning. Jesus corrected that thought by saying we all need to repent – we all fall short of the glory of God. Many of those who suffer are not necessarily suffering because they are worst than others. One day Jesus went to heal a man who was born blind. We read:

John 9:2-3 … his disciples asked him, saying, 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.

Why was the man born blind? Because God willed it so. Because God wanted Christ’s disciples to see the power of God through His Son. The man was not at fault, nor his parents. Job was not at fault. God just willed it. We are not to be judges. Unless we absolutely know – beyond a shadow of a doubt – that a suffering friend is in sin, we should not make that judgment. We need to lead them to Jesus, and pray for them – not judge them.

When Ministering To The Suffering,
Listen Much And Talk Little

When you look at the Book of Job,

  • Chapters 1 & 2 outline the destruction of Job’s family and way of life.
  • In Chapter 3 Job verbally agonizes over his life, suggesting that he should never have been born.
  • In Chapters 4 – 27 Job’s friends try to analyze what Job has gone through. Each friend speaks, then Job replies, generally defending himself against accusations and supposition.

The long, extended debate that happened between Job and his friends did nothing to alleviate his suffering, nor did it lead him to the Lord. The friends, believing that they were defending God Himself, were intent on blaming Job. Job, while not directly blaming God, was intent on defending himself against charges of unrepentant sin in his life. The friends unwittingly increased, rather than decrease, Job’s suffering.

One of my favorite passages of Scripture is one I know you all well know. It is:

1 Corinthians 10:13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

This text is often misread and misunderstood. People read the text as “God will not put more on you than you can bear”. But that is not the whole of the verse. The text says “with every trial, God will provide a means of escape, so you can bear that trial”. When the Apostle Paul wrote this (under the inspiration of the Spirit) in his first letter the the Corinthians, in his second letter to the Corinthians he wrote of the suffering he was going through. He said:

2 Corinthians 1:3-10 Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; 4 Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. 5 For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ. 6 And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation. 7 And our hope of you is steadfast, knowing, that as ye are partakers of the sufferings, so shall ye be also of the consolation. 8 For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life: 9 But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead: 10 Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us;

The Apostle said in verse 8, we were pressed out of measure, above (our) strength, insomuch that we despaired of life. Paul and those with him were loaded down with more than they could bear. And yet, they did not give way to hopelessness. Why? The answer is in the first part of the text. The Apostle said in verse 3-4, “Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; 4 Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. Trials came on Paul and those with him that were greater than THEY could bear. But Paul relied not on himself, but on the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. He leaned into God, resting in His embrace. When trials come upon us that are greater than we can bear, we are to lean into our Father Who is in Heaven. We are to rest in Him Who is the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort.

When someone is suffering, it is not necessary for us to – like Job’s friends – judge the sufferer. We are to bring the sufferer to Jesus. We are to bring Him to the God Who is faithful, loving, and true. Job was a believer in God, a faithful believer. The Bible says of God:

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

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

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

When Job’s friends gathered around Job, rather than going through an extended dialogue that offered no blessing – they should have pointed Job to the Faithful Father. Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it. (1 Thessalonians 5:24). The Lord is faithful, who shall (establish) you, and keep you from evil (2 Thessalonians 3:3).

Harriet Sarnoff Schiff is the author of the book The Bereaved Parent. When her young son died on the operating table, her pastor told her “I know that this is a painful time for you. But I know that you will get through it all right, because God never sends us more of a burden than we can bear. God only let this happen to you because He knows that you are strong enough to handle it.” She then asked her pastor, “So if I were a weaker person, my son would still be alive?” When people are suffering, do not ask them to “be strong” or make foolish applications like this pastor did. When ministering to the sufferer, you do not have to talk. Listen. Listen to those in pain.

Do as Job’s friends did at the beginning:

Job 2:13 {Job’s friends} sat down with him upon the ground seven days and seven nights, and none spake a word unto him: for they saw that his grief was very great.

They sat down, and just suffered with Job. The Bible counsels:

Romans 12:15 Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.

The Christian is commanded under the Royal Law to

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

We are not to add to the burden of the sufferer, but to help him bear his burdens. How do we do this? We carry our friends to Jesus. We suffer with them. We cry with them. We are compassionate toward them, loving them as brethren. We are filled with pity, and courteous (1 Peter 3:8). Do to them as you would have them do to you. I’ll say that again:

Do to them as you would have the sufferer do to you (Mark 12:31; Luke 10:27). This means to empathize, to put yourself in the other person’s place – and act accordingly.

Our Lord Jesus did this. Many say that the smallest verse in the Bible is in

John 11:35 Jesus wept.

Why did Jesus weep? Because His friend Lazarus was dead. But Jesus knew that He was going to raise Lazarus from the grave in just a few moments. He knew that Lazarus would come hopping out of that tomb, covered with old funeral attire. Yet Jesus wept. Why? Because Jesus put Himself in their place. He knew their tears would turn to smiles of joy, but He nonetheless suffered with them. Isaiah said of the Messiah,

Isaiah 63:9 In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them: in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; and he bare them, and carried them all the days of old.

Our Jesus loves us. He weeps with us, when we weep. We need to be afflicted when our brothers and sisters are afflicted, just as our Lord does. Our Jesus is a High Priest that is touched with the feeling of our infirmities (Hebrews 4:15). He suffered with Mary and Martha at the death of Lazarus, and suffers with us today when we are tried. We must bring those suffering to Jesus. That is where peace is.

If The Sufferer Comes To God,
The “Why” No Longer Matters

At the end of the Book of Job, our suffering hero comes face to face with God. In Job chapters 38 – 42 God responds to Job:

As Creator (Job 38-39), and
As Judge (Job 40-41)

When Job meets God, he stops asking “why”. In the presence of God there is peace and joy. When we minister to the suffering, love them. Speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15), and share the Lord Jesus with them. Speak the Gospel to the lost, and remind the saved of the great love that God has for them. Pray with the sufferer. Do not judge, but draw them – through the power of Scripture, personal testimony, and the Holy Spirit – to God. Remember the words of the Psalmist:

Psalm 16:8-11 I have set the Lord always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. 9 Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope. 10 For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. 11 Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.

When we minister to the suffering, we cannot answer the “why”, but we can gently lead them to Jesus Who can give them comfort. May God bless us, and enable us to be the Light that Christ calls us to be. Through His Spirit and God’s Word I plead this – Amen and Amen.

Posted in Job, Sermons Preached | Tagged ,

The Kingdom Of Heaven Is Like

Photo by Johannes Plenio on Unsplash

Matthew 13:24 Another parable put {Jesus} forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened …

Since I was saved at the age of 17 in a little community Church, the Church of God of Prophecy, I have often wondered what Heaven would be like. I suppose every Christian would love to know exactly what Heaven is like. We know a few things about Heaven, based upon what the Scripture has told us. Heaven is God’s Throne, and earth God’s footstool:

Isaiah 66:1 Thus saith the LORD, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool …

This means that Heaven is the place where God’s primary presence is. Though He is on earth, earth is but His footstool (Acts 7:49). Heaven is God’s Home, and though He is on the earth it is in Heaven that He is seen face to face. Though God is high and lifted up His people who will dwell with Him are humble and attentive to His rule.

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 {דַּכָּא dakkâʼ, dak-kaw’, BROKEN or CRUSHED} and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite {דַּכָּא dakkâʼ, dak-kaw’, BROKEN or CRUSHED} ones.

Those who will be with God in Heaven are not “high and lifted up”, but those who are broken, humble, desperately wanting to follow the lead of their Savior and Lord. Heaven is not for the arrogant, but for the repentant. Heaven is a place where:

Revelation 21:3 … 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.

God was with man in the beginning of creation. When God created the earth, He put a branch of Heaven on the earth called “Eden”.

Genesis 2:8 And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.

The name “EDEN” is the Hebrew עֵדֶן ʻêden, (pronounced ay’-den), which means “delight, pleasure, luxury”). Eden – like Heaven – had a simple order. God ruled, humanity obeyed. When Adam disobeyed God and brought sin into the Garden of Eden, he lost Eden, and the world lost the blessedness of peace with God. Because of sin wars, pain, suffering, thorns, death, disease, everything that is horrid and anti-Heaven came into the world. Yet for God’s people we are told that one day we shall be in Heaven with our Lord.

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.

Jesus Explains Heaven In A Series Of Parables

When Jesus Christ, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords (1 Timothy 6:15; Revelation 17:14; 19:16) came to this earth, He came to establish the Kingdom of God on the earth. The Creator put Heaven on earth in Eden.

Jesus came from Heaven to earth, not just to one day bring His followers to Heaven, but in order that He could bring some of Heaven to this present earth.

Today Jesus is going to establish some truths about Heaven that He wants His children by faith to understand. As we established last week, a parable is an earthly story with a heavenly meaning. The intent of the parable is to teach the Child of God, born again by faith in Christ, the deeper truths of God. After Jesus finishes the parables on Heaven we read:

Matthew 13:51-52 Jesus saith unto them, Have ye understood all these things? They say unto him, Yea, Lord. 52 Then said he unto them, Therefore every scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old.

The scribes were the teachers of the Law, scholars of the Old Testament scriptures. Those who are believers in Christ are to teach others these truths about Heaven. The householder is the master of the home. In the Old Testament God commanded the householder to not just hear His Word, but:

Deuteronomy 6:6-9 And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: 7 and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. 8 And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. 9 And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.

Jesus’ teachings on Heaven are to be periscopes by which you view the world around you. These words are to cling to you wherever you go, and be on your hands and ever before your eyes. These words are supposed to be so profound that they mark your home like graffiti, and infiltrate your business dealings.

The business of the believer in Christ is the Kingdom of Heaven! We do what we do to bring others into the Kingdom of Heaven NOW, for there will be no bringing of souls into Heaven THEN!

The Parable Of The Tares Of The Field
And The Battle For The Population Of Heaven

Let’s look at the first parable Jesus speaks on the Kingdom of Heaven:

Matthew 13:24-30 Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: 25 but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. 26 But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. 27 So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares? 28 He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? 29 But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.

This is the longest parable that Jesus speaks on the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus’ disciples understood the simpler parables, but we read:

Matthew 13:36 Then Jesus sent the multitude away, and went into the house: and his disciples came unto him, saying, Declare unto us the parable of the TARES of the field.

Word Study Before I go any further, let us examine what a “TARE” is. This is the Greek ζιζάνιον zizánion, {pronounced dziz-an’-ee-on}, and refers to a false grain, often called a darnel or a wild wheat. The tare resembles wheat, but it has a purplish head that turns black as it ripens, whereas true wheat turns brown. If you are a country boy, you’ve probably had thew stem end of a tare in your mouth! I often pluck the long grass from it’s foundation and pop it in my mouth like a toothpick. That end of the tare is not dangerous. But the HEAD – To eat much of the HEAD of the tare can cause a drunken nausea, or even to death. One scholar named Sarah Laskow writes:

Darnel …(is) definitely not good for us. When people eat its seeds, they get dizzy, off-balance and nauseous, and its official name, L. temulentum, comes from a Latin word for “drunk.” Darnel is a “mimic weed,” neither entirely tame or quite wild, that looks and behaves so much like wheat that it can’t live without human assistance. Darnel seeds are stowaways: the plant’s survival strategy requires its seeds to be harvested along with those of domesticated grasses, stored and replanted next season.”

Farmers have always been aware of Tares, especially in Jesus’ day. We have equipment now that separates the wheat from the tares, but in Jesus’s day it was a painstaking process done by hand. The disciples were familiar with tares.

(they asked Jesus)Declare unto us the parable of the tares of the field.

Matthew 13:37-43 {Jesus}… said unto them, He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man; 38 the field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one; 39 the enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels. 40 As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. 41 The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; 42 and shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.

Word Study The sower in this case is Jesus Christ, the Son of Man. Jesus used the title “Son of Man” of Himself. The title “Son of Man” was used in prophecy to foretell the coming of the Messiah (see Daniel 7:13). Jesus used the phrase “Son of man” to refer to Himself some 80 times in the Gospels. One that leaps to my mind is a favorite text:

Luke 19:10 … For the SON OF MAN is come to seek and to save that which was lost.

Jesus Christ is the Sower of the good seed.

Matthew 13:38 … the field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom

If you are born again by faith in Christ, you are “good seed”. Jesus Christ saved you from your sins, and occupies you by His Holy Spirit. Jesus sowed you into the world not to be infected by the world, but to bear fruit for Him in this field we call the world. But Jesus is not the only One sowing. Jesus said:

Matthew 13:38-39 … the field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the TARES ARE THE CHILDREN OF THE WICKED ONE; 39 the enemy that sowed them is the devil…

There is a battle for the “field” going on all the time. Jesus Christ is sowing “seed”. He, through His Church, is bringing many to salvation by faith in Him.

It is the LORD Who adds to His Church.
(
Acts 2:47; 1 Corinthians 12:18)

Satan also sows his seed. Satan sowed Judas Iscariot in Jesus’ ministry, Alexander the Coppersmith and Hymenæus in Paul’s ministry, and has sowed and continues to sow tares in opposition to God’s Kingdom. Satan’s seed – like tares – looks genuine. But the fruit of the tare is poisonous. It sickens, weakens, and destroys. In the early Church tares called “Pharisees” crept in, causing much discord. Today tares creep in called “Progressivism”, relabeling that which the Bible defines as sin, ignoring the warnings of God Who said:

Isaiah 5:20-24 Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! 21 Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight! 22 Woe unto them that are mighty to drink wine, and men of strength to mingle strong drink: 23 which justify the wicked for reward, and take away the righteousness of the righteous from him! 24 Therefore as the fire devoureth the stubble, and the flame consumeth the chaff, so their root shall be as rottenness, and their blossom shall go up as dust: because they have cast away the law of the Lord of hosts, and despised the word of the Holy One of Israel.

The Tare co-mingles and hides in among the wheat. The tare has perverted many of the denominations of Christendom, introducing the forbidden into the light of day. Jesus continues:

Matthew 13:39-43 … the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels. 40 As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. 41 The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; 42 and shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.

The Church of Christ is called to bear fruit for Christ, and to trust our Lord, who will separate the wheat from the tares. We who love Jesus are to heed the King of Kings and His Word, upholding His Scripture and doing as He says. You will be fruitful unto God your Savior. We stay in the word and in the world, but do not follow the world. The Christian is to do good toward our enemies, love one another, and tell others about our Lord and Savior. We leave the harvesting to the Master.

Matthew 13:26-30 … when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. 27 So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares? 28 He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? 29 But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.

My job and your job, dear Christ follower, is to bear fruit for Christ, not to harvest and judge. We are not to condone sin, but to commend every person to the Savior. We obey our Jesus, waiting for the harvest. We are to be ever mindful of the Scripture:

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.

Two Parables On The Seed Of The Kingdom,
The Gospel Of Christ

Matthew 13:31-32 Another parable put {Jesus} forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field: [32] Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof.

The first two parables, The Parable of the Sower which we studied last week (Matthew 13:3-23), and The Parable of the Tares (Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43) which we have just discussed, these parables Jesus explained them to His disciples. But Jesus does not explain these next two parables. Why? Jesus has given us the KEYS to these parables in the first two parables.

The Kingdom of Heaven is a mustard seed, the smallest of all seeds. The Sower of this tiny seed is first of all Jesus Christ, but also His Children, members of His Spiritual family by faith. The field is the world, this present earth.

The Gospel message that we sow is a very small, inconsequential thing according to the world. People say, “How can I fix my life? How can I have purpose and joy, a better life?” For the Christ follower the answer is simple:

Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved, both you and your household! (Acts 16:31)

What! Just believe? “Yes! Repent. Turn from the gods you have been following, and turn to the Messiah, believing He died for your sins.” The world hears this and is OFFENDED. But Jesus said,

Matthew 11:6 … blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me.

The Kingdom of Heaven is not entered into by all people, but only by those who have confessed with their mouths that Jesus is LORD, and believed in their hearts that God has raised Him from the dead (Romans 10:9-10).

Heaven is not for the gods among men, but for the Children of God. Heaven is not for the arrogant and prideful, but for those who know their Creator, and are submitted to HIS Will!

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

Word Study The mustard seed is the Gospel. What are the characteristics of a mustard seed? A mustard seed is both TINY and OFFENSIVE.

Illustrate When I was a little boy a country remedy for sickness was the mustard plaster. It was a gooey mixture of water and mustard that was put on your chest to get rid of coughs, colds, and sickness. Within five minutes of application it began to irritate you. You began to squirm, and were very uncomfortable until your parent took it off of you.

The Gospel message is offensive. It makes people squirm.

We think we are good people, that we deserve Heaven. Beloved, the Bible condemns all as sinners. All. Not just the Hitlers and the Stalins, but the David Buffaloes, and whatever your name is.

Matthew 13:32 … {the mustard seed} indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof.

What is interesting about this parable is that Jesus said the mustard seed of the Gospel of the Kingdom is the greatest of all herbs (which is true), and becomes a tree (which is unnatural). If you plant a mustard seed it will be the biggest herb in your garden, but will NOT become a tree. Why did Jesus speak of this seed in this parable becoming a tree? Because He speaks of a supernatural event. The Kingdom of Christ is growing, that tiny seed planted so long ago, and has spread all over the world. The Kingdom of Heaven is being populated now, by those who receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. The Kingdom will continue to grow until the end of time. It will grow supernaturally large enough to where the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof”. The Kingdom of Heaven is

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.

The Kingdom of Heaven is populated
by the spread of the SUPERNATURAL Gospel

Matthew 13:33 … The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.

Leaven, or yeast, is a very small fungal, single cell organism works to make bread rise. Leaven cannot effect “three measures of meal”. Leaven needs water and sugar to effect the flour. Yeast can be seen floating in water, but has no means of propulsion on it’s own. The Holy Spirit is the Living Water (John 7:37-39). When we receive Christ as Savior, then He sends His Spirit – the Living Water of God – to live within us. There is power in the Gospel of the Kingdom.

Though Insignificant And Ignored By The World,
The Gospel Is The Greatest Treasure
Ever Given To This World

Matthew 13:44-45 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field. 45 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: 46 who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.

The greatest thing that can happen to you is the Gospel. The Gospel declares we are all sinners in need of a Savior. The Gospel declares Jesus Christ is that one and only Savior. The Gospel calls us to:

Repent of our current lifestyle, and
Receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
Rest in truths of God’s Word,
while
Residing obediently in the Presence of God.

Jesus is calling you to His side this very day. Will you come? He is casting the Gospel net outward, drawing others into His Family. Will you come?

Matthew 13:47-50 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind: 48 which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away. 49 So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, 50 and shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.

Receive Jesus as He is, and He will receive you as you are. Trust in Him. Lean into Jesus Christ. Do not delay. Jesus came to save you from your sins, to adopt you into His Kingdom. Will you come? May God open your eyes to receive Him as both Lord and Savior, and thus be entered into His Kingdom this very day. May God’s Word and His Spirit draw you. Amen and Amen!

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

Jesus, the Only Messiah

Photo by Joel Muniz on Unsplash

This morning we studied the parables that Jesus spoke on “The Kingdom of Heaven”. We were in Matthew 13. Let’s tonight start at

Matthew 13:53-54 And it came to pass, that when Jesus had finished these parables, he departed thence. 54 And when he was come into his own country, he taught them in their synagogue, insomuch that they were astonished, and said, Whence hath this man this wisdom, and these mighty works?

There Are Five Gospels

Word Study There are five “Gospels” tied to our Bible. When we use the word “Gospel”, this is actually a translation of the Greek εὐαγγέλιον euangélion, {pronounced yoo-ang-ghel’-ee-on} which means “good news” or “good tidings”. The bad news found in the Scripture is that we are all sinners, and in and of ourselves are headed toward everlasting damnation, because sinners do not go to Heaven (Romans 3:9-26; Revelation 21:8 & 27). Sin and sinners deserve only the wrath of God (Romans 1:18). That is the bad news. But the good news – the “Gospel” – is that God sent His Only Begotten Son to be our Savior and Lord. When we surrender our lives to Him, Who has surrendered His life for us, then God imputes His righteousness to us. We become covered by the Blood of His dear Son. Our sins are atoned for by what Christ did for us on Calvary. But this atonement is only received when we receive the Atoner – Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.

The “Gospel” is found all throughout the Bible. It is foretold in the Old Testament, and has come to pass in the New Testament. Though the “Gospel” is throughout the Bible (many call it the “Red Thread of Redemption”), the first four books of the New Testament are called “Gospels”. These are eye witness accounts of people who were with the Lord Jesus as He walked this earth.

As I said before, there are five Gospels. What is the fifth Gospel? Why, it is YOU, dear believer, if you have received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

The interesting thing about the Gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John – is that each Gospel gives a different perspective of Jesus’ ministry on earth. Matthew tells us that after Jesus spoke the Parables of the Kingdom of Heaven, Jesus went to His own country and taught them in their synagogue” (Matthew 13:54). But this is just part of the story. The Gospel of Mark gives a little more information:

Mark 6:1-2 {Jesus} went out from thence, and came into his own country; and his disciples follow him. 2 And when the sabbath day was come, he began to teach in the synagogue …

Jesus goes to Nazareth – His home town, the town He grew up in – and goes to the “synagogue” or the local Church, the gathering of Jewish believers. Luke goes a little further, saying:

Luke 4:16 {Jesus} came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read.

Matthew, Mark, and Luke testify that Jesus went to Nazareth to share the Gospel with His hometown. Luke further tells us that Jesus went to the family Church “as was His custom”. I have heard so many young people today make statements like,

I believe in Jesus, but NOT the Church”, or
“I’m saved and a follower of Christ, but I don’t do Church”

Beloved, you are NOT a follower of Christ if you don’t “do Church”. The Fifth Gospel is the believer, lovingly gathering with other believers. The Four Gospels are rarely read by the world, but all see the Church. If you want to find Jesus, you will find Him in Church, where several believers in Him are gathered (Matthew 18:20).

Word Study It was Jesus’ custom (ἔθω éthō, {pronounced eth’-o}) was. Jesus was in the habit of going to Church. Jesus’ disciples followed Him to Church. Why was this? Jesus could have avoided a lot of stress in His ministry had He avoided Church. Church is filled with spiritually and emotionally broken people. Church is filled with sinners. Had Jesus avoided Church (synagogue), His life would have been much more peaceable. And yet, it was Christ’s habit, His manner, His custom to go to Church and teach. Why? Because God never saves a person so they stand alone. When God saves us, He calls us into community. Among the Jews this community was called “synagogue”. Among we today this community is called “church”. Jesus came to build the Church on earth. Jesus came to teach His Church to stand together as light in this dark world. Jesus said:

Matthew 16:18 … upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

The Church is created by God to glorify the Messiah, Jesus Christ our Lord. Israel has been waiting for the Messiah. Jesus is in His hometown Church on the Sabbath, as was His custom, teaching them that He is the Messiah.

The Gospels All Teach Jesus Is The Christ

We’ll be back to Matthew 13 and Mark 6 shortly. But Luke tells us something that is not reported in by either Matthew nor Mark. Luke tells us WHAT Jesus read and said in the Synagogue of Nazareth.

Luke 4:16-17 {Jesus} stood up for to read. 17 And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet {Isaiah}. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written,

The Leader of the Synagogue generally chose which Scripture was to be read on the Sabbath. Jesus had been in this Synagogue many times as a Child, and had probably read Scriptures many times. The Bible in Jesus’ day was in huge scrolls.

I am told that sixteen Scrolls made up the Hebrew Scripture (our Old Testament), called the TaNaKh.

The TaNaKh was composed of the TORAH (The Law: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy), the NEVIIM (The Prophets: Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, 12 Prophets), and the KETUVIM (The Writings: Psalms, Proverbs, Job, Megillot (Song of Songs, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Esther), Daniel, Ezra/Nehemiah, Chronicles). Jesus was handed the Isaiah scroll. Our Lord finds – and remember, this is not as easy as it is for us to do today – He finds Isaiah 61, a passage that prophesies the coming of the Messiah. Jesus reads:

Luke 4:18-20 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, 19 to preach the acceptable year of the Lord. 20 And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him.

As Jesus reads Isaiah 61:1-2 He stops in the middle of verse 2, which reads:

Isaiah 61:2b-3 …. and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; 3 to appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.

The Jewish listeners in the Synagogue were very familiar with the Isaiah text. When Jesus stopped reading in the middle of verse 2, it would be like me saying, “Let’s say the Lord’s Prayer. Our Father, Who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy Name. Thy Kingdom come …” If I stopped at that point, you would all be watching me, wondering why I stopped. Jesus stopped in the middle of the text – and the crowd looked at Him and waited. Then Jesus says something startling. He says:

Luke 4:21 … {Jesus} began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.

Jesus Christ is the long awaited Messiah. Jesus has fulfilled every part of this Isaiah 61 prophecy, up to Isaiah 61:2b.

Luke 4:18 (quoting Isaiah 61:1a) … 18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor …

When the Messiah came, He would PREACH the good news, the Gospel to the POOR. In America, since the time of President Lyndon B. Johnson, we have tried to eliminate poverty. Poverty will NEVER be eliminated. Jesus said “the poor you will have with you ALWAYS” (Matthew 26:11). In America we have, for many years now, coddled our children. We have let them compete in events where everyone gets a trophy, whether they win or not. We have sent our children to colleges and universities that have taught them “social justice”, making them believe that we can somehow legislate a utopia in America by turning to socialism or communism. Beloved, it will never be. The poor you have with you ALWAYS. Some are born into poverty. Others make decisions that cause poverty. We are broken creatures. That’s the bad news. But here’s the GOOD NEWS.

The Messiah came to preach and attempt to reach THE POOR.

Those who have everything will rarely seek the Messiah. When money is your God, when you have been born with beauty, brains, or talent, when you are a success in life, very rarely do these people seek out the Master. Here’s something I hope you will all understand.

Life isn’t fair. Never has been, never will be.

People are born into many different places and states. It is the way it is. Period. You could give everyone a “guaranteed income” and we would still have poverty, because as humans we are broken. But here’s the good news: Jesus’ Gospel will reach the poor a whole lot faster than it will the rich, the beautiful, the brilliant. The Apostle Paul said:

1 Corinthians 1:26-28 For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: 27 but God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; 28 and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: 29 that no flesh should glory in his presence.

The Bible does not say that ALL of the rich, the beautiful, the talented do not receive the Gospel. What it does say is that most of those saved are the broken, the poor, the have nots. Beloved, that is good news! Jesus Christ came for the least and the lesser. Jesus Christ did not come to save the righteous, but to bring sinners – yes, SINNERS to repentance (Matthew 9:13; Mark 2:17; Luke 5:32). If you are broken, Jesus came to fix you – if you would but repent.

Luke 4:18b (quoting Isaiah 61:1b){The Spirit of the Lord} hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,

The Messiah came not for the emotionally stable,

but to HEAL the BROKENHEARTED.

The Messiah came not for the masters,

but to preach deliverance to the SLAVES.

The Messiah came not for those with vision,

but to give Heavenly vision to those who were spiritually blind.

The Messiah came to free the beaten up slave, bound in the unfairness that is life. He came to free all who believe in Him from the slave market of sin. He came to set us free from the darkness that throttles this world.

John 8:34, 36 Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. … If {Jesus Christ} the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.

Praise God for Jesus Christ! If you are hurting, you are in need, then Jesus came for you. If you are uncertain, if you are suffering, Jesus came for you. If you are beaten down by the unfairness and tediousness of life, Jesus came for you.

Luke 4:19 (quoting Isaiah 61:2a) … to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.

The “acceptable year of the Lord” is a reference well understood by the Jews of Jesus’ day. This phrase is found no where else in the Bible. Ellicott’s Commentary notes:

The primary reference was to the year of Jubilee, when land that had been mortgaged returned to its owner, and debts were forgiven, and Israelite slaves released (Leviticus 25:9-10). ”

The “Year of Jubilee” was the fiftieth year where grace dominated the land. There was no sowing nor reaping that year, but every Israelite was to enjoy the bounty of the Promised Land. One day Jesus will come and establish His Kingdom on the earth, and we who believe in Him will be given great blessing and prosperity.

Unbelief Doubts Jesus While Demanding A “Sign”

Jesus told His hometown, “This very day this Scripture is fulfilled in your ears!” Jesus Christ is the One and only Messiah. He came to Nazareth so that His fellow towns people could be the first to receive Him as Messiah. Yet they rejected Jesus. The Gospels tell us:

Matthew 13:54-57 Whence hath this man this wisdom, and these mighty works? 55 Is not this the carpenter’s son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas? 56 And his sisters, are they not all with us? Whence then hath this man all these things? 57 And they were offended in him.

Mark 6:2-3 … many hearing him were astonished, saying, From whence hath this man these things? and what wisdom is this which is given unto him, that even such mighty works are wrought by his hands? 3 Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him.

They were offended in Him”. Jesus’ hometown rejected Him as Messiah. Luke now reports a sermon Jesus preached that caused Him a lot of trouble. In my lifetime I’ve sometimes preached sermons that made people angry. But what Jesus said next made the people of Nazareth want to kill Him. He said:

Luke 4:23 … Ye will surely say unto me this proverb, Physician, heal thyself: whatsoever we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here in thy country.

Jesus knew what was in the minds of His fellow countrymen. They were thinking, “Well, if you’re Messiah, give US a sign. Show US the works You did in Capernaum, and then we’ll believe.” How did Jesus respond? He said:

Luke 4:24-26 Verily I say unto you, No prophet is accepted in his own country. 25 But I tell you of a truth, many widows were in Israel in the days of {Elijah}, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when great famine was throughout all the land; 26 but unto none of them was {Elijah} sent, save unto Sarepta, a city of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow.

Jesus recounts a Bible story found in 1 Kings 17 & 18. In those texts Elijah, one of the greatest of Israel’s prophets, told Evil King Ahab that all of Israel would be under a great drought. God sent Elijah to a hidden place called the brook Cherith, where God gave him both food and water. In time the water, even of this little brook, dried up. God then sent Elijah to the widow of Zarephath (Sarepta), about 8.5 miles south of Zidon (Sidon). Zarephath is not a part of Israel, but is a part of ancient Phoenicia, a place of the Gentiles. Why did God have Elijah go to Zarephath (Sarepta) and not to Israel. Because King Ahab sought to kill Elijah, believing if he killed the Prophet the rains would return. God saved the baby Jesus by having Joseph take Jesus to Egypt to avoid the evil King Herod (Matthew 2:13-23).

What was Jesus’ point in bringing this story out? Beloved, just sitting in Church doesn’t make you saved! God sent Elijah to Zarephath and not to Jerusalem because this Gentile widow was willing to believe in God. When Elijah got to her home the woman was at the end of her rope. We read:

1 Kings 17:10-12 … when {Elijah} came to the gate of the city, behold, the widow woman was there gathering of sticks: and he called to her, and said, Fetch me, I pray thee, a little water in a vessel, that I may drink. 11 And as she was going to fetch it, he called to her, and said, Bring me, I pray thee, a morsel of bread in thine hand. 12 And she said, 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.

Phoenicia was not suffering under a drought, so to provide water for Elijah was no problem. The bread, however, was a problem. The widow had just enough flour to make a tiny biscuit – something that could be cooked with two sticks. That’s not much. She was going to use the last of her flour, then last down with her son and die.

The poor you have with you always, Jesus said. God came to bless the broken but believing.

1 Kings 17:13-14 Elijah said unto her, 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.

In America, just as in Nazareth, the people say “Show us a sign, THEN we’ll believe You, O Lord.” That is NOT faith. FAITH is what THIS WIDOW DID. Elijah said, “Feed me FIRST, and God will increase your flour and oil”. There was just enough flour for a woman and a child – OR just enough flour for Elijah. This widow now has an option. She can

Either make HERSELF and her SON a biscuit, and die, or
Make ELIJAH a biscuit, and trust in God.

Faith does not demand a sign from God, then move upon that sign. “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”. Faith says,

I can’t see it, but God said it.
So I will believe God and do what He said.
For God is faithful (1 Corinthians 1:9)

The widow did as God said, and she and her son were sustained throughout the entire famine. Faith believes and moves! Jesus is not done, though. He says:

Luke 4:27 And many lepers were in Israel in the time of {Elisha} the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, saving Naaman the Syrian.

If Elijah was the greatest Prophet in old Israel, Elisha was the second greatest. Elisha was called to replace Elijah in 1 Kings 19:19-21. Elisha asked God for a double portion of Elijah’s spirit, and God granted that gift to him. One day Elisha was approached by Naaman, a great General who served the King of Syria (a Gentile nation). Naaman was afflicted by leprosy, a terrible skin disease. Naaman wanted to be healed, and Elisha told him:

2 Kings 5:10 … Go and wash in Jordan seven times, and thy flesh shall come again to thee, and thou shalt be clean.

At first Naaman refused to do it. He thought that he knew better than Elisha, better than God. But Naaman’s servant told him:

2 Kings 5:13 … My father, if the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldest thou not have done it? how much rather then, when he saith to thee, Wash, and be clean?

Naaman relented, and went to the Jordan. He “dipped himself seven times in Jordan, and his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean” (2 Kings 5:14). A Gentile was healed, whereas Jewish lepers were not. What was Jesus’s point?

Jesus Christ Came To Save Believers In Him

Jesus came to the Jews first, to His home town first, and offered Himself as Messiah. Nazareth would not believe in Him. Israel – at least, a large part of Israel – refused to believe in Him. Faith believes in Christ. Had the Jews – in this case, Nazareth – believed in Jesus as Messiah, they would have been blessed. But instead they demanded a sign, just as the Pharisees had done in Capernaum. Jesus told them, in effect,

God saved believing Gentiles,
But did not save unbelieving Jews!

How was this message received? Not well.

Luke 4:28-31 And all they in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath, 29 and rose up, and thrust him out of the city, and led him unto the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong. 30 But he passing through the midst of them went his way, 31 and came down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee, and taught them on the sabbath days.

They were “filled with wrath”, so much that they wanted to cast Jesus off a cliff. Why were they so angry? Because they they thought that, as “Jews” and as “Jesus’ hometown”, that they deserved a special status from God. There are many people today who think they have “special status” from God. Beloved, there is NO special status. You either receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and are saved, or reject Him and you are lost. There is no in between.

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

Beloved, have YOU received Jesus Christ as God’s Messiah? Have you believed that He and He alone is the Savior of the world? Do you follow Him as Lord and Savior? I pray that your answer to these questions is a hearty “YES”. There is no other means of being in a right standing with God. None.

May God the Holy Spirit and this precious Scripture lead you into a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ. Amen and Amen.

Posted in General

The Parable Of The Sower

Photo by Beth J on Unsplash

Matthew 13:1-3 The same day went Jesus out of the house, and sat by the sea side. 2 And great multitudes were gathered together unto him, so that he went into a ship, and sat; and the whole multitude stood on the shore. 3 And he spake many things unto them in parables …

As we learned at Jesus’ feet in Red Letters #32, those who are Christ’s “mother and brothers”, His Family, are those who are born into the Kingdom of God. This is a supernatural event that occurs when one receives Jesus Christ as both Lord and Savior. Jesus has just finished teaching that those who willingly and lovingly follow Him are of His Family.

What Limits The Growth Of The Gospel Seed?

1. The Gospel Seed Must Be Spread To All,
Regardless As To Who Or What They Are

Is it because Jesus only presented Himself to a select few, an “elect” or chosen? In our text we can see this is not true. Jesus did not limit where His message went. We read:

great multitudes were gathered together unto him

There were so many people following Jesus at this point that He could not speak without being mobbed. Now, all of these people were not believers. Many were curiosity seekers. Many came to see if Jesus was indeed the Christ, the Messiah. Others came to be healed of Jesus. They wanted a temporary blessing, a sickness or disease removed, a life made physically whole. Others came to Jesus to watch Him, much like buzzards watch carrion, waiting to jump on Him to disprove His ministry.

Jesus never limited those who received Him. When you are studying the Gospels, it is helpful to study parallel accounts of the same message, as each writer gives a different perspective. In Luke chapter 8, our parallel to Matthew 13, the blessed physician Luke is more detailed about those who were following Jesus. We read:

Luke 8:1-4 And it came to pass afterward, that he went throughout every city and village, preaching and shewing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God: and the twelve were with him, 2 And certain women, which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary called Magdalene, out of whom went seven devils, 3 And Joanna the wife of Chuza Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others, which ministered unto him of their substance. 4 And when much people were gathered together, and were come to him out of every city …

Jesus limited no one.
He spread the same Gospel seed on every ground.

We see that Jesus went throughout EVERY city and village. The cities are large, the villages small. Jesus visited everywhere, regardless as to their size, their economic outlook, or their race. Jesus preached the same message: preaching and shewing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God. Who was with Jesus?

The twelve were with Jesus.

Though all twelve of Jesus first disciples were Jewish, they were from very different backgrounds. Some were common fishermen. One was a hated tax collector. There was a religious zealot, who sought the overthrow of Rome. Some of these men were unmarried, and others, like Peter, were married. James and John were brothers. Judas was greedy, and Thomas doubtful. It was a diverse group of men.

Then there were the women. We are told certain women, which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary called Magdalene were following Jesus. Mary was probably a social outcast because of her demonic affliction now past. Then we read of Joanna the wife of Chuza Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others, which ministered unto him of their substance. Mary was Jewish, but Joanna was a wealthy and powerful Roman woman. Her husband was Herod’s business manager. We know nothing of Susanna other than she was generous with helping Jesus – so I suspect she was wealthy according to the standard of that day.

What Limits The Growth Of The Gospel Seed?

2. The Holy Spirit Must Work The Ground
Where The Seed Is Cast

I heard a preacher once say that “Jesus spoke in parables to make things more understandable”. That is not Biblical. We read:

Matthew 13:10-16 And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables? 11 He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. 12 For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath. 13 Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. 14 And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of {Isaiah}, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: 15 For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. 16 But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear.

This is a very clear text to understand, if you understood the Kingdom Principles (Red Letters #32) that Jesus previously taught in Matthew 12. Jesus said that He spoke in parables:

Because it is given unto YOU to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to THEM it is not given.

Who is the YOU that can understand the parables?

It is those who are born again into the Kingdom of God.
It is those who have intimate access to Jesus, His followers.
It is those where the Spirit has worked and is working.

The Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible states that the parables of Jesus were both works of art as well as weapons of warfare . A person can only understand Biblical Truth if God opens our eyes to it.

Those who are lost and apart from Christ cannot understand Biblical truths. They have hardened their hearts to Christ. Their understanding is darkened by sin and spiritual death. God has clearly presented Himself in nature, and man created a Darwinistic Fantasy to avoid glory to God. The Scripture says …

Romans 1:21 … when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.

God has revealed Himself in nature’s design, and yet, rejecting the proof of God all around, they invent alternate truths and realities which are no more than fairy tales. God must open the eyes of the lost to their lostness. People love sin, and want to stay in darkness. Jesus told Nicodemus in

John 3:16-21 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. 19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. 21 But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.

People love sin and want to stay in the darkness. They do not want Christ. God must open the heart to the truth that a soul without Jesus is both dead and damned. God must intervene, He must convict us of our need of the Savior. Jesus said “Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin” (John 8:34). It is the work of God the Spirit, the Comforter, to awaken a person to their need of Christ as Lord and Savior. Jesus said:

John 16:7-11 … if I depart, I will send {the Holy Spirit} unto you. 8 And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: 9 Of sin, because they believe not on me; 10 Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; 11 Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.

Unless the lost person’s eyes are opened, they cannot be saved. God must anoint them (1 John 2:20, 27). God must reveal Biblical truths to us (1 Corinthians 2:10). Jesus spoke in parables so that the SAVED could understand the deeper truths of Scripture. If you are saved, you are indwelt of God (Romans 8:9). If you are NOT saved, you need to REPENT and come to Jesus. If you refuse to repent and turn, you have no need of deeper truths … salvation must come first.

Jesus quotes Isaiah 6:9-10 … And {God} said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. 10 Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed.

Salvation is not something you can “work your way into”. It is something you can only receive as a gift of Grace. Pastor Allan Descheneau put it best:

For those who want to know God better, who the Spirit is working in them, who are asking, seeking, knocking … they will receive and find and will have the door opened unto them. But those who don’t want to hear it, who love their own sin, their self, who feel justified in their actions, who don’t want to be lorded over by anyone else – the parables will only harden their hearts further.”

The lost do not need the deeper truths of the Kingdom. They first need Jesus, just as we all need Jesus.

The lost desperately need Jesus. And yet, in their blindness and ignorance, they consider the preaching of the Cross to be foolish, unnecessary, the words of superstitious and uninformed people. But to the Child of God, to those who are “Christ’s mother and brothers”, to us the Cross is the very power of God (1 Corinthians 1:18).

What Limits The Growth Of The Gospel Seed?


3. The Genuine Gospel Seed Must Be Deliberately
But Without Prejudice Cast On All Grounds

Jesus spoke the parable of the Sower to explain why it is that so few come to Christ. Read with me:

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

When we look at Jesus’ parable of the Sower, you can tell that there is one seed sown onto four different grounds.

The sower does not change the seed, nor does he sow with prejudice. The sower is unconcerned about the conditions of the soil, the weather or the wind. The sower just sows. He sows the same seed.

This is where the Church in America has failed. We have varied the seed based on the audience. Jesus never varied His message. What was His message?

Matthew 4:17 REPENT, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.

Jesus told the prostitutes to REPENT. He told the alcoholic and drug addicted to REPENT. Jesus told the Church goers and the self righteous to REPENT. Jesus told the blind, the diseased, the infirm to REPENT. He expected and expects people who have REPENTED to stop being their own gods, and to dedicate themselves to the Messiah.

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

Matthew 11:20 .. Jesus began to upbraid the cities wherein most of His mighty works were done, because they REPENTED not

Jesus never varied the seed. The message wasn’t changed based on the audience. Jesus didn’t speak the Gospel one way to the rich, and another way to the poor. He didn’t diminish the need to REPENT and turn to Him, regardless as to the “lifestyle” of the persons. Jesus never told the Jews one thing, and the Gentiles another. He chastised the Pharisees, saying:

Matthew 21:32 For John {the Baptist} came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not: but the publicans and the harlots believed him: and ye, when ye had seen it, repented not afterward, that ye might believe him.

The seed, that glorious Gospel seed, demands that a person REPENT, and turn surrendered to Jesus Christ as both Lord and Savior, the King of His Kingdom.

It amazes me that people think they can live their lives ignoring Christ, being horrible Kingdom citizens, and believe that they will enter Heaven upon their deaths. Beloved, if you will not obey the King NOW, what makes you think that you will enter His Kingdom THEN? The Gospel we preach demands REPENTANCE toward God and OBEDIENT FOLLOWING of Christ. No person can save themselves. Jesus Christ saves us, but only when we lean surrendered into Him. My hope of salvation lies in giving up my own life, and in investing my life – worthless as it is – into Christ. If you are indeed a Christian then Christ is your Master and Savior.

Jesus is the Shepherd, and I the sheep
Jesus is the Vine, and I but a branch
Jesus is the Light, and I but a reflector
Jesus is King of Kings, and I but a son of the King

Salvation is only a reality when a person under conviction of sin cries out to Jesus. Both I and you were condemned to damnation, a just damnation, by a righteous God. To REPENT means to take myself off of the throne and to kneel at his Throne. My life belongs to Him. There is absolutely NO salvation to anyone who stands arrogantly and unsurrendered before the Cross of Calvary. If you are a Christian then heed the Word of God:

1 Corinthians 6:19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?

Is Christ in you? Then know that:

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

You are not to be a man pleaser, but a God pleaser. You are to live for Christ. You are to be like Jesus. If you are saved, Beloved, you are to be like Jesus. This radically impacts your life. The saved are to love even their enemies. Jesus said:

Luke 6:27-29 But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, 28 Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you. 29 And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloak forbid not to take thy coat also.

The life that grows out of the Gospel seed …

avoids drunkenness (Ephesians 5:18)
rejects the sins of the flesh (Galatians 5:16-26)
controls anger (Ephesians 4:26)
seeks to be God controlled (1 Peter 4:7)
turns away and cuts off sinful habits (Matthew 5:27-30)
humbles themselves before God (James 4:10)

For the Christian to say “I am a Christian” and yet to wallow in things that Christ would never do is but deception. The Bible reminds those born of the Gospel seed that:

Romans 6:20-22 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.

When a person hearing the Gospel REPENTS, then God the Holy Spirit enters that soul. The life is changed. Whereas before you followed the world in sinfulness, now you follow Jesus, obeying Him for the glory of God.

Only YOU Limit The Growth Of The Gospel Seed

When the disciples are alone with Jesus, He explains His parable. He says:

Matthew 13:18-19 Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower. 19 When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side.

When the good seed of the Gospel is sown by the wayside, this is the Gospel preached to those unenlightened by God. They “understandeth it not”. They hear the “word of Christ’s Kingdom” but do not understand it. The Apostle Paul wrote in …

2 Corinthians 4:3-4 But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: 4 In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.

The devil and his demons are constantly blinding the lost to the Gospel. He cloaks their eyes. He uses methods and means to distract. I have preached the Gospel and seen a lone bee come into the room … and all eyes are on the bee, ears turned off. The seed hits the wayside. A hum, a telephone ringing, a baby crying or a child acting out as children will do. Satan will throw distractions in your direction, anything, to keep the Gospel from going forth.

Matthew 13:20-21 But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; 21 Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.

Then there is the stony, and shallow soil. Many hear the Gospel and apparently receive it, yet their lives are hardened. This is the person who walks the aisle, takes the preacher’s hand, then leaves the Church and the Lord Jesus Christ. Their faith is but skin deep. They do not practice the disciplines of the Child of Christ. They neither pray nor read God’s Word on a regular basis … after all, salvation is free, is it not? To them Jesus Christ is Savior but NOT Lord. Their make believe faith looks good until the trials come – and trials will come. Their faith has no deep roots. Like the pine tree, a strong wind can blow it over. These are like the number of “Christian Contemporary Music Artists” who – it seems like every year – decide to walk away from Christ.

Matthew 13:22 He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.

The thorny ground person loves to ride the fence, never committing fully to Christ, nor even fully committing to the world. They love to stay in the middle, a “moderate”, a person who wants to be saved but who will not repent fully. They fill their lives with worldliness, not with Christ. They avoid anything that might be uncomfortable. I meet these people all the time. Christ calls us to stand for Him in the midst of a sinful and fallen world. If your lifestyle and your faith does not cause others to hate you, perhaps you are a fence rider. Jesus said:

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

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

The Christian is to be friendly, but not friends with the world. The stepbrother of Christ wrote:

James 4:4 Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.

God so loved the world that He gave His only Begotten Son” (John 3:16). But if you receive His Son, you will reject the sinful ways of the world. You will affirm that what God says is true, is indeed true. You cannot be half Christian and half worldling. You must choose.

Matthew 13:23 But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.

The Christian is the person who hears and understands the Word of God. The Holy Spirit opens that person’s eyes to the Gospel. Being saved, that Gospel seed causes the believer to be fruitful for God. The amount of fruit varies, but each believer in Christ is to bring forth SOME fruit.

Are you saved, dear one? If you are, you will be bearing fruit, in some capacity, for Jesus. In the Church today too many people sit about waiting to be waited on. Beloved, if you are waiting to be waited on, you are not fruitful – and perhaps not saved. Examine yourselves, whether you be in the faith or not. And if you are, begin sowing the Gospel seed. May God open our eyes and and our hearts to receive His Biblical truth.

Amen and Amen!

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

God Owns All Of Me

Photo by NASA on Unsplash

The last time we spoke on Facebook Live, we covered the 23rd Psalm,The LORD is my Shepherd, I shall not want,

This may surprise you, but the Lord owns His people. He is in charge of His people. We, as believers in Jesus Christ, are characterized in the Scripture as sheep ruled by a Shepherd. Case in point:

Psalm 100:3 … we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

Psalm 95:7 … For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand….

The Christian no longer owns himself, but is the child, the obedient child, of the Master. We are not our own – we are bought with a price (1 Corinthians 6:20; 7:23). We belong to God.

The Believer in Christ belongs to God.
The unbeliever also belongs to God.

But what of others who are not saved. What of the rest of the earth? To whom does it belong? Psalm 24 tells us that God owns everything. Read with me.

Psalm 24:1-10 The earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. 2 For he hath founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods. 3 Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? or who shall stand in his holy place? 4 He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully. 5 He shall receive the blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of his salvation. 6 This is the generation of them that seek him, that seek thy face, O Jacob. Selah. 7 Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. 8 Who is this King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle. 9 Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. 10 Who is this King of glory? The Lord of hosts, he is the King of glory. Selah.

To Whom does the earth belong? The earth is the Lord’s. To Whom does the produce and production of the earth belong to? The earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof. What of the people of the earth. We know that the Christian, the believer in Christ, the receiver of the Holy Spirit belongs to the Lord. But what of the unbeliever? We are told that The earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. Everything and everyone belongs to God. God made it, and that which He made, He owns.

God in His Grace gave dominion of the world over to mankind (this is both man and woman) after their creation. God told the first beings:

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.

Humanity was given a stewardship by God. Humanity – man and woman – were given specific directions on how to manage that which they were given.

Be fruitful”. Reproduce.
“Multiply”. Reproduce often.
“Replenish the earth”. Care for your stewardship.
“Subdue it”. You are God’s sharecroppers.
“Have dominion over”. You are not an animal. You are over animals.

Slavery is wrong because only God owns the person. He owns the believer, and owns the unbeliever. God recognized slavery in scripture, but never justified it. Mankind was to have dominion over animals and the earth itself. It is the stewardship that God has given us.

When a person says, “It’s MY body, I can do what I want with it”, there is an element of truth to this – but this is not the whole truth. Your body is a stewardship from God. Biblically – and I believe the Bible – everything that we see, touch, and are around are God’s possessions. Life itself is a stewardship. Everything you have and hope to have is a gift from God. God graciously allows us to have – albeit temporarily – all that we have. There is but one God and Father of all, Who is OVER all, THROUGH all, and IN all (Ephesians 4:6). The Apostle quoted Psalm 24:1 when he warned the Corinthian believers about greed and pettiness. He writes:

1 Corinthians 10:24-26 Let no man seek his own, but every man another’s wealth. 25 Whatsoever is sold in the shambles, that eat, asking no question for conscience sake: 26 For the earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof.

Listen believers – and I speak to the child of God by faith in Christ:

Believers are sheep, and Christ our Shepherd. We must never allow the world to own us. We must never become slaves to darkness, greed, money, or hatred. The Apostle encourages us to seek to profit others rather than to fill our own pockets. God owns everything.

By God’s Common (universal) Grace He:

Matthew 5:45 … maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

God owns the world. God owns every soul. God owns the soul of that baby carried in the mother’s womb, and owns the soul of the mother as well. God owns the soul of the black man, minimized and often harmed by inconsiderate and racist people. God owns the soul of the red man, the yellow man, the brown man, the white man. When you look at another person remember God’s Words:

Ezekiel 18:4 Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine …

Everything belongs to God.

God Made It, And Owns It. We Are But Stewards.

Psalm 24:1-2 The earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. 2 For {God} hath founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods.

It is God Who makes the land and the land masses. When God first made the earth, the earth was covered with water. There was no land that was not below the water. The Bible tells us that:

Genesis 1:9-12 And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so. 10 And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good. 11 And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so. 12 And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good.

God caused the land to rise up from the waters, and God created what we call the “continents”. When America was founded, it was founded by many people who were aware that God owns everything. America was blessed in it’s founding because the Founders knew God. Were they perfect Christians? No, but none of us are. Yet these Founding Fathers stated in the Declaration of Independence:

We, therefore, the representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name and by the Authority of the good people of these colonies, solemnly publish and declare , that these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be free and independent states …. with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence …”

America, like every nation and every land mass on this entire planet, belongs to God. In a speech given by Patrick Henry on March 23rd, 1775, he stated:

we are not weak if we make a proper use of those means which the God of nature hath placed in our power. The millions of people, armed in the holy cause of liberty, and in such a country as that which we possess, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us. Besides, sir, we shall not fight our battles alone. There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations, and who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us…”

America was an experiment that was supposed to fail. Great Britain was a worldwide super power that the disorganized and poorly equipped colonists certainly could not defeat.

America gained it’s independence. Why? I believe it is because America was founded to glorify God. It was founded to allow religious freedom to every person.

Though America and many of its Founders turned a blind eye to slavery of the black persons {something that was grievous}, in time God used godly men and women to overturn the horror of chattel slavery. As I said before, no human has a right to possess or oppress another human. Only God owns us, and God can do what us as He will, for it is He that made us, and not we ourselves. I spent a large portion of my adult life – 20+ years – in the United States Air Force because I love this nation, and love the concept of freedom embodied in our Constitution and in our laws. Though we are all flawed by sin I can tell you, without a shadow of a doubt, that the United States of America is the most blessed nation in the world. Our blessings are upon us because of God’s Grace.

Having Recognized The Truth That God Owns All,
Can All Enter Into God’s Presence?

If God owns everything and everyone, then it is logical to believe that we shall be with Him. That which I own will stay in my possession. So if God owns all, will all enter Heaven upon their earthly demise? The Psalmist asks:

Psalm 24:3 Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? or who shall stand in his holy place?

To go into the Presence of God is to “ascend”, to move upward from the earthly to the glorious Heavenly. The phrase “hill of the Lord” is a reference to the place where God is.

The Pulpit Commentary notes:

God’s “hill” is, in reality, the highest heaven, wherein he has his dwelling-place. Its representative on earth was, at this time, the Mount Zion, where it was already determined in the Divine counsels that the temple should be built, and whither David was now about to transfer the ark of the covenant …”

We are told by God in Isaiah 66:1, “Heaven is My Throne, and the earth My footstool”. God abides in both Heaven and earth – in fact, everywhere. But God has also said in Matthew 18:20, “Where two or three are gathered together in My Name, there am I in the midst of them”. God is in the midst of His people when they are honoring Him. God will not allow any in His presence who refuse to honor Him in heart and hand. The Psalmist said:

Psalm 24:4 He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully.

Those who have the right to enter the Presence of God is the ones who are clean outwardly (has clean HANDS) and who is pure inwardly (a pure HEART). The Bible tells us that, among the children of Adam,

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

1 John 1:8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

No one has clean hands before God unless they have cleansed by God. God the Son said of the human heart:

Matthew 15:19-20 For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: these are the things which defile a man …

and God the Father declared through the Prophet:

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.

God must cleanse us so that we can enter His Presence. God must spiritually change our condition. The Psalmist said in another place:

Psalm 51:10 Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.

Among mankind we often think that “good works” will make us right before God. The Law contained a number of “good works”: animal sacrifices, feast days, dietary laws, circumcision. Yet none of these “good works”, though ordered of God, had the power to change the doer. This is why the Apostle Paul wrote:

Romans 3:19-28 Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: THAT EVERY MOUTH MAY BE STOPPED, AND ALL THE WORLD MAY BECOME GUILTY BEFORE GOD. 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. 21 But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; 22 Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: 23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; 24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: 25 Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; 26 To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. 27 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.

No “good work” can bring us into the Presence of God. We need Jesus Christ. The Messiah came to “bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18). The “good works” of the Law were teaching tools to show all that we need a Savior. Jesus Christ did the one absolutely good work when He died on Calvary for our sins. The Scripture says:

Hebrews 9:12-14 Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood {Jesus} 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?

Jesus Christ alone is “the Lamb of God Who takes away our sins” (John 1:29).

Dying on the Cross of Calvary for our sins, Jesus in spirit and through the Holy Spirit entered into Heaven, that holy Hill of God, obtaining eternal redemption for us who believe. Jesus died for our sins so that we need no longer be circumcised, we need no longer offer animal and food offerings on a bloody altar. As that blessed song states:

Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe.
Sin had left a crimson stain.
He washed me white as snow!

Who has clean hands and a pure heart? It is the one who has received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. It is the one who has repented of being their own possession, and have agreed with God that “the Lord is my Shepherd”. I no longer belong to me – and neither do you. Christian,

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

By faith in Jesus Christ’s work the Bible says:

Hebrews 10:19-25 Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; 21 and having an high priest over the house of God; 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) 24 and let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: 25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

The believer in Christ is freed from the slavery of sin to follow the Savior. Our hearts are purified daily by our indwelling Savior. Our hands will do the things He has commanded us to do.

Those Who Are Accepted Of God Are Sheep,
Not Pigs or Dogs or Wolves.

When a person is saved by faith in Christ, they are changed both outwardly and inwardly. They do not “lift their soul up unto vanity”:

Psalm 24:4 He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully.

Word Study The word “vanity” is the Hebrewשָׁוְא shâvᵉʼ, shawv; or שַׁו shav which means “that which is empty, false, worthless, godless, destructive or evil”. This word is used to describe idolatry or fake gods. Those who are saved do not speak falsely about others (Exodus 23:1), and do not minimize the glory of God’s name (Exodus 20:7). Those who belong to God do not bear false witness against others (Deuteronomy 5:20), nor do they speak untruths to their neighbors (Psalm 12:2). If you are saved by faith in Christ, born again of His Spirit, you do as Jesus says. You will love God with all your being, and love your neighbor as yourself (Leviticus 19:18; Matthew 22:37-40). Jesus expects those who are His sheep to radically LOVE. He said:

Matthew 5:43-48 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy. 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; 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. …

We who belong to the Great Shepherd of our faith are not to lower ourselves to be like the world. Grace saves us, and empowers us to radically love even the unlovable. The Scripture says:

Romans 6:15 What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.

Pastor Anthony Carter wrote:

When Jesus freed the woman caught in adultery, He asked her: “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She replied, “No one, Lord.” Jesus then said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more” (John 8:10–11). When God has freed our consciences, it does not matter how others try to bind them. When Christ has washed our hands and hearts, it does not matter what other people say about them. We only must make sure that Christ has freed us, and that our consciences, hands, and hearts have indeed been washed in His blood.”

A Daily Personal Walk In The Presence Of God
Results in Great Blessing!

Psalm 24:5-6 He shall receive the blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of his salvation. 6 This is the generation of them that seek him, that seek thy face, O Jacob. Selah.

God blesses us, dear believers, when we live as He commands. We keep our hearts pure by heeding and doing what our Savior commands. When we maintain clean hands and pure hearts by following our Savior daily, confessing sin as soon as it rears it’s ugly head, God promises to bless us. How does God bless us? We read:

Psalm 24:7-9 Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. 8 Who is this King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle. 9 Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.

Word Study The “gate” in ancient times was the entry point into the large cities. People often did business at the “gate”. When you, dear ones, walk with the Lord your Savior daily, then “the King of glory shall come in” to your businesses. Do you wish to prosper in business? The let your gates (your businesses) be lifted up to the Lord. You religion must not be just private and in the home, but must permeate your daily walk where ever you are. When we lift our pursuits up to the King of glory, then He will defend us. Our “Lord is mighty in battle”.

Deuteronomy 20:4 … the Lord your God is he that goeth with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you.

King David sang unto God, “The Lord is my Rock, and my Fortress, and my Deliverer; 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.” (2 Samual 22:2-4).

Beloved, as we come through these difficult times in our nation’s history, let us give ourselves over to the Lord our God. Let us receive Christ Jesus as both Lord and Savior. Let us rely on Him. David ended this wonderful Psalm with:

Psalm 24:10 Who is this King of glory? The Lord of hosts, he is the King of glory. SELAH.

The last word of this Psalm is “Selah”, which means “REST”. Are you resting in the arms of Jesus, or are you still trying to be your own possession. You belong to God, dear one. Rest in the arms of Him Who made you. Rest in the arms of Christ. Remember the wonderful invitation Jesus gives to whosoever will come:

Matthew 11:28-30 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

Here is your Rest. It is in Jesus. It is in Jesus’ control, under His yoke. Give yourselves to Him, so that you can daily be in God’s Presence, and eternally be in God’s Presence. Do not delay. Call upon the Lord today. May the Holy Spirit touch your hearts to give yourselves to the Lord this very day. Amen and Amen!

Posted in Psalms, Sermons Preached | Tagged ,

Praying The 23rd Psalm

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Psalms 23:1-6 The LORD [is] my shepherd; I shall not want. (2) He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. (3) He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. (4) Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou [art] with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. (5) Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. (6) Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

We live in a fallen, sin ridden world. I know when I say this, I’m not telling you anything that you don’t know. All you need to do for proof of this is to just turn on your televisions. Not too long ago an young woman decided that she would hitchhike across Europe to prove her theory that people are, at heart, all “good people”. This has been tried several times over the years, and each time it has not been a good ending. Though other people have tried, and have either been raped and/or killed, this young lady believed that “all people are good”. So she tried. Just a few days into her adventure she was raped and robbed by a person posing as a taxi driver. The young lady claims that she will try again in a few years, that she has not given up on human “goodness”. It is a miracle she was not murdered.

The Biblical narrative (a view that I personally believe) is that God created the earth perfect, but man rebelled against the Creator. When Adam fell, he not only brought corruption to humanity, but he also brought sin and death into the animal kingdom. The Scripture says of humanity:

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

and of the animal kingdom,

Romans 8:20 For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly

Animals had nothing to do with the Fall. However, when one sins, often the innocent suffer. Since creation was bound to Adam’s station in Christ, his willing rejection of God brought death on him, his children, and all of creation.

To lost humans and animals/ creatures, a state of sin and death is considered normal. To the Christian, sin and death are products of a godless choice. To those Children of God (by faith in Christ), to sin is to defy God and light.

We live in an unredeemed and sin filled world, a world that normalizes what God says is wrong and evil. This causes the world to hate the Christian believer (John 15:18-20). Christian, we need to pray, to stay close to our Redeemer.

Let Us Draw Near To God By Praying His Scripture

One method of prayer that Christians have used is to pray Scripture back to God. To read and meditate on His Word while in the prayer closet. The Psalmist David often meditated and prayed through God’s Word.

Psalms 119:14-16 I have rejoiced in the way of thy testimonies, as [much as] in all riches. (15) I will MEDITATE in thy precepts, and have respect unto thy ways. (16) I will delight myself in thy statutes: I will not forget thy word.

I was talking with a brother in Christ the other day, and share with you what he said he learned. My brother said that he was taught to not just hear a sermon, but to internalize it, to apply it to himself. This is the way of Christian growth. David MEDITATED on God’s Word. The word “MEDITATE” is the Qal Imperfect of the Hebrew חיש, siyach, (pronounced see’-akh), which means “to ponder, dwell on, declare or utter in prayer”. David considered prayer and meditation of God’s Word to be more important that sleep:

Psalms 119:148 Mine eyes prevent {stay open during} the night watches, that I might meditate in thy word.

During prayer – especially in prayer using the Scripture – we can apply God’s promises to our current situation. Have you ever had a sleepless night? Then use that time to pray, and use God’s Word in your prayers. Take a Psalm and pray it back to the Lord, applying it to your life. If it does not cure your insomnia, it will at least ease your fears!

Psalms 23:1 The LORD [is] my shepherd; I shall not want.

To Whom do I run when tried and suffering? The LORD is MY SHEPHERD. My trial does not own me, but my God owns me. He is MY Shepherd, and that makes me His sheep. When we are hurt physically or spiritually our first instinct is to curl up, to become defensive, to withdraw into a shell, to go through an emotional roller coaster. Sometimes we even get mad at God, though we should not do so. Some, like Job’s wife, will tell you:

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

What good comes from this? I am finite, but my God is The LORD. When you see the word Lord IN UPPER CASE in the King James this is the name YHWH, Yahweh, the Eternal Name of God.

My Shepherd is not finite.
My Shepherd is He Who created all things, and yet is created by none.
My Shepherd is the Great “I Am” (Exodus 3:14)
Not the God Who was, but the God Who says:

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

There is nothing too great for my God – the LORD – to handle. My God, my Shepherd, knows and controls all things. He says:

Isaiah 46:9-10 Remember the former things of old: for I [am] God, and [there is] none else; [I am] God, and [there is] none like me, (10) Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times [the things] that are not [yet] done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:

The LORD, He alone is God, and He is MY SHEPHERD. Let us pray to our Shepherd:

You, O God, are my LORD, and my Shepherd. When I look at the beauty and majesty of all things, the immensity of space, the depths of the sea, the intricacy of all You have made, I can only praise You, Precious LORD. You are Infinite. You are worthy of praise. What ever I am going through is no accident. You are The LORD. You have the right to do as you will. “All things work together for good to those who love You, those who are called by Thy Name” (Romans 9:28). Satan has no power over me. You are MY SHEPHERD. You are MY KING. I praise You for Your power, Your majesty, that You are great, and do wondrous things: thou [art] God alone (Psalms 86:10).

My situation is not My LORD – You are!
My situation is not my SHEPHERD. You are!
My hurt is not My LORD – You are!
My pain is not My LORD – You are!
The suffering of my loved ones are not My LORD – You are!
My loss is not My LORD – You are!

You alone are God. You alone are worthy. You alone are majestic. You alone are The LORD, Blessed Be Your Holy Name!

Psalms 23:1 The LORD [is] my shepherd; I shall not want.

You, Oh Great Shepherd, saved me at a terrible price. Your Scripture declares:

1 John 4:9-10 In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. (10) Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son [to be] the propitiation for our sins.

As My Shepherd You laid Your life down for Me. You are the “Door of the Sheep” (John 10:7). You paid a great, an immense price for me at Calvary. As the Door of the Sheep You lay your life down, taking death and sin upon yourself for my sake. You are my beautiful Shepherd!

Psalms 23:2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

It is God Who has given good to me. What I have, I do not have because of my genius, or because of my luck. It is the goodness of God that gives me life (Romans 2:4).

Psalm 130:3-6 If thou, Lord, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand? 4 But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared. 5 I wait for the Lord, my soul doth wait, and in his word do I hope. 6 My soul waiteth for the Lord more than they that watch for the morning: I say, more than they that watch for the morning.

You, O Lord, “make me to lie down”. I am where I am because You have placed me here. Thank You for Your leading!

A sheep is not a wild animal, wandering about, doing as it wishes. A sheep is possessed by the Shepherd. I am God’s property. I am not my own – I am bought with a price (1 Corinthians 6:20). I was purchased by the shed Blood of Jesus Christ. My life is costly to my Master. He will never abandon me – NEVER!

Psalm 23:3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

Sin had destroyed me, but Jesus Christ saved me. The promise of Scripture is:

Matthew 1:21 … {Jesus} shall save his people from their sins

He does not save us IN our sins, but FROM our sins. He makes me complete. Sin tore at my soul, diminishing me, but Jesus brought me from darkness to light. I was not redeemed, purchased from the devil’s clutches with finite means, BUT WITH THE PRECIOUS BLOOD OF CHRIST (1 Peter 1:18-19).

It is in Psalm 22 that we see the prophecy of the Cross of Calvary. It is in Psalm 22 that we see Jesus crying out, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me? (Psalm 22:1; Matthew 27:46). Jesus chose to take the nails for you and I. He will not abandon us now, nor ever. He restores my soul to Heaven, to live with my God.

Psalm 23:3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

As His sheep, I am to live my life for and with my Shepherd. I no longer belong to sin nor Satan. There are many who claim that they are saved so that they can revel in their sin. Oh, no, Beloved. My Shepherd leads me in PATHS of RIGHTEOUSNESS for His name’s sake.

A Christian will not walk in darkness.
A Christian will not rejoice in lying.
A Christian will not pursue the works of the flesh.
A Christian will not engage in heterosexual or homosexual sin.
A Christian will live his or her life with Christ in the Light,
not imitating the darkness. Our 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.

A Christian will confess his or her sins, relinquishing them to the Cross of Calvary. If we confess our sins, our Lord is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:8-9).

Psalm 23:4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou [art] with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

We will all go through valleys in our lifetimes. David had many valleys in his life. Chosen by God to replace Saul as King (a mountaintop), David had to be pursued by Saul, who intended to kill him. Two things kept David straight through his valleys:

  • David knew that God had a plan for his life, and
  • David knew and trusted in the faithfulness of God.

Because David focused on the God Who is his Shepherd, the Great God Who saved us, the giants he faced were small in comparison. When David’s Goliaths approached him, David focused on the Lord his Shepherd, the Lord Who would never abandon His sheep. This, Beloved, is our God. Though the valleys often cause our hearts to flutter, we can rest assured that God’s plan for our lives will be fulfilled. Thy rod, O Lord, and Thy staff, they comfort me. If I am chastised of the Lord, He chastises me for my own good. If I am led of the Lord, where He leads me is where I need to be.

Psalm 23:5 Thou {O LORD} preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

O Lord, help me to focus on you, not on the trial. Let me rest at Your table, though enemies are all around me. You anointed David’s head with oil, making him a King over Israel. You, O Lord, anointed me with your holy Spirit. You, O Lord,

Revelation 1:5-6 … loved us, and washed us from our sins in Your own Blood, and hath made us Kings and Priests unto God our Father …

We who love You, O Lord, are a chosen generation …

1 Peter 2:9 … a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people; we are to show forth the praises of our Lord Who has called us out of darkness, and into Your wonderful light!

I may not have everything, and I might suffer needs. Yet because of You, dear Lord Jesus, my cup runneth over! Every day of my life is a blessing because of You. Thank You for being my Shepherd, blessed Savior and Lord.

Psalm 23:6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

The enemy of my joy is a complaining spirit. Lord, as I look upon You, I cannot complain. You have been both good as well as merciful to me. I do not deserve nor have I earned Your blessings. You are my God, and I am not a god, but a sheep, a lowly sheep. Thank You for loving me as you do. And when it becomes time for me to depart, remind me, dear Lord, that one day I will dwell in the House of the Lord … forever! Let me, dear Lord, remember the words of the Apostle, Who said:

2 Corinthians 5:8 We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.

Death is not my enemy, for death has no hold on Me. I belong to my Shepherd, my Jesus. Not to death, but to Him Who has given me eternal life. Praise You, Lord, praise You!

This life is not all that we have, dear Christian. We are not dying creatures headed toward death and the grave. We who have believed in Jesus are Children of God moving toward eternal life. We are Heaven bound. Let us take as many as we can to Heaven with us when we go. God is using us who believe to bring others into His Kingdom.

An early preacher by the name of Augustine said:

Death is not to be regarded as a disaster, when it follows on a good life, for the only thing that makes death an evil is what comes after death. Those who must inevitably die ought not to worry overmuch about what accident will cause their death, but about their destination after dying. Christians know that the death of a poor religious man, licked by the tongues of dogs, is far better than the death of a godless rich man, dressed in purple and linen. Why then should those who have lived well be dismayed by the terror of death in any form?”

These are great words! Let us look upward at the Lord our Shepherd, trusting Him with all of our lives. Hallelujah! Hallelujah! In Christ’s name I pray that God touch your hearts with these words. Amen and Amen!

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

The Kingdom Of God Principles (Red Letters #32)

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash
Audio of Message

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

A young man came to Jesus one time and asked:

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

Jesus told this young man simply:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Only Children Of The Kingdom Shall Enter Heaven

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And the Writer of Hebrews said:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Heaven Is For Those Who Follow Jesus

Once more Jesus said:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So it is with Christ and His kingdom.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How Are You Daily At The Feet Of Christ?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Whose Home Are You?

Photo by Gift Habeshaw on Unsplash
Audio of Message

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Lost Need Jesus, Not Good Works or Theology

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Romans 3:10-12 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: 11 There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. 12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Death is in their mouths, in their teaching!

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

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

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

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

Only One Sign Is Given To The Lost

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Man Made Religion Will Not Last Long

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

both Savior and Lord!

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

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

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

Photo by Richard Felix on Unsplash

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

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

Now we must rely upon God.

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

Now we must rely on God.

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

Now we must rely on God.

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

The Bible is the Book of God. Those things that are written in it are things that God our Creator and Father want us to know. The madness that America seems to be gripped in is not unique in the history of the world. God’s Old Covenant people called “Israel” has been in 70 or so years of captivity, first to Babylon and later to Medo-Persia. A nation once blessed by God wandered away from the God Who loved her. The Bible says:

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

If the nation “whose God is the Lord” is blessed, then the nation that has abandoned God is cursed. Israel was cursed. She had turned her back on God, and had lost her freedom. When we refuse to follow God, and choose to follow self, it is not long before destruction comes. This was Nehemiah’s Israel. Nehemiah himself …

was in Shushan the palace

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What did Nehemiah do?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nehemiah prayed:

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

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

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

God is NOT to blame. WE ARE!

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

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

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

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

Nehemiah ends this chapter with:

For I was the king’s cupbearer.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We Must Never Lose The Vision

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Godly Must Not Cease

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

Audio of Message

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

When The Godly Cease Obeying God, Confusion Reigns

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

The first two words that King David uttered were:

יָשַׁע yâshaʻ, (pronounced yaw-shah)
יְהֹוָה YaHWeH

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

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

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

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

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

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

King David cries out to God because

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

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

Why has the Godly person ceased? David said:

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

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

John 17:6-11, 14-17 I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word. 7 Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee. 8 For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me. 9 I pray for them… 11 And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are. I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 15 I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.

Jesus Christ – the Living Word of God – came to earth giving us the Written Word of God. Jesus explained the Word. He explained His Kingdom. His Church is supposed to operate based on the Word of God, what God has declared truth.

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

with a double heart do they speak..

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

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

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

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

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

1 Corinthians 6:8-10 Nay, ye do wrong, and defraud, and that your brethren. 9 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, 10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.

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

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

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

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

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

We Must Get Back To The Bible

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted in Psalms, Sermons Preached | Tagged , ,

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

God Is Not Racist Audio File

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stand up; I myself also am a man

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Godly Love Opens The Door To Sharing & Receiving The Gospel

Continuing our story, Peter asks Cornelius,

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

Cornelius tells Peter:

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

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

Acts 10:34-43 Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: 35 But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him. 36 The word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (he is Lord of all:) 37 That word, I say, ye know, which was published throughout all Judaea, and began from Galilee, after the baptism which John preached; 38 How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him. 39 And we are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree: 40 Him God raised up the third day, and shewed him openly; 41 Not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before God, even to us, who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead. 42 And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead. 43 To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted in General

A Matter Of Integrity (Life Of Job #2)

Photo by Mika on Unsplash

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

In Trials, Do You FRET or REST?

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

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

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

Why FOUR?

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

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

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

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

Everything, that is, but his own personal health.

What Will You Do When You Lose Your Health?

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

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

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

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

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

We come once again to Job.

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

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

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

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

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

2. The state of being whole and undivided.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See The Patience And Love Of Job For Our God

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted in Job, Sermons Preached | Tagged

Transfiguration (Red Letters #41)

Photo by Boris Smokrovic on Unsplash

After rebuking Peter for saying that Christ need not go to Calvary, Jesus told His disciples that Calvary was only necessary for Him, but it is necessary for THEM. Just as Jesus would die on Calvary to make payment for our sins, we who would follow Jesus must die on Calvary, surrendering our lives to God. Jesus said:

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

Jesus denied Himself – His position as Son of God and His power as God the Son – in order that we be saved. To receive the salvation that Jesus has given to us we MUST also go to a Calvary.

We must, like Jesus, deny our self, take up the Cross, and follow the Master. To those who refuse to go to Calvary, they shall lose their birthright, eternal life from Christ. To those who cling to this world and to the old self there shall never be a change. You can gain the whole world, but in return you lose your own soul. You must surrender to the Lord, trusting Him, believing Him as Lord and Savior. This is non-negotiable. If you do not, you have no hope for life afterward. Jesus told His disciples,

Just as I surrendered to the Cross for You,
You must surrender to the Cross for Me.

Jesus said in verse 27:

For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and
then he shall reward every man according to his works.”

The Messiah will one day return, and reward every person according to their works. I can hear you now. You have been told by many preachers that salvation is a gift of God, not of works, lest any person should boast (Ephesians 2:8-9). Human works will not secure salvation for anyone. There is no good that you can do that will impress God, causing Him to save you. But there is ONE WORK that you must do. Do you know what it is? When crowds followed Jesus to Capernaum right after He miraculously fed the 5000+ men, women, and children, many asked:

John 6:28 What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?

Jesus’ answer was simple. He said: This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom {God the Father} hath sent.” (John 6:30). You are to believe Jesus. All judgment is given into Jesus hands (John 3:35; 5:22). There is coming a judgment day where the Son will judge every person according to their works. Have you followed Christ, denying yourself, resting in Him? If not, you will not be blessed, nor are you saved.

Right after Jesus speaks of His judgment on us all, He says:

Matthew 16:28 Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.

Jesus Transfigured Is Jesus In His Kingdom

As this is the last verse of Matthew chapter 16, this verse has confused many commentators and Bible Scholars over the years. The reality is the original scriptures had no chapter and verse divisions. These were put in place by men, and men are fallible. Verse 28 of chapter 16 actually should be verse 1 of chapter 17. We know this because of a little word AND. Read with me:

Matthew 17:1-3 AND after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart, 2 and was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light. 3 And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him.

The Transfiguration of Jesus is recorded in Matthew, Mark, and Luke. In Mark and Luke there is no chapter break between Jesus’ statement and the incident at the Mount of Transfiguration. For instance:

Mark 9:1-4 And {Jesus} said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power. 2 And after six days Jesus taketh with him Peter, and James, and John, and leadeth them up into an high mountain apart by themselves: and he was transfigured before them. 3 And his raiment became shining, exceeding white as snow; so as no fuller on earth can white them. 4 And there appeared unto them Elias with Moses: and they were talking with Jesus.

Jesus had a reason for everything He said and did. He told His disciples He had to go to Calvary for them, and they had to go to Calvary for Him. Then Jesus said, “Some of you will not see death, till you have seen Me in the Kingdom of God”. The Mount of Transfiguration is a fulfillment of what Jesus promised to His disciples.

Prayer And Revelation

Matthew 17:1 …. Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart,

Luke tells us:

Luke 9:28 … {Jesus} took Peter and John and James, and went up into a mountain to pray.

Jesus took Peter, James and John apart from the other Apostles. He had something He wanted these three men to see. As leaders, they needed to see the power of prayer. These men would be very important in the beginning of the early Church. Peter is the Chief Apostle, the leader of the missionaries that will go out for Him after Jesus ascends into Heaven. John will be the longest lived Apostle, a man who teaches us all how to love the Messiah. And James will be the Pastor of the Church in Jerusalem, the most dangerous place in the world to have a Church.

As these men pray, God allows these men to see the Kingdom of God come with power. The central figure of the Kingdom is our Lord Jesus Christ. We read:

Matthew 17:2 and {Jesus} was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light.

Word Study The word translated TRANSFIGURED is the Greek μεταμορφόω metamorphoō, which means “to change or be transformed from one state to another”. When Jesus walked this earth, He was God the Son, veiled in human flesh. The Father said to Jesus:

Hebrews 1:8 … Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of thy kingdom.

God became Man and dwelt among us. Jesus would one day tell John, exiled on Patmos, that:

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

The writer of Hebrews speaks of how the Old Covenant sacrifices and the Holy of Holies were shadows of the Coming Messiah. In Hebrews 10 we are told the Law of Sacrifice in the Old Covenant was but a shadow of good things to come. The animal sacrifices spoke of the need for the covering of sin. Yet these sacrifices were but temporary until God made a permanent way (Hebrews 10:1-4). For “it is NOT POSSIBLE that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sins”. This is why Jesus came into the world. Under the old Covenant the Priest took the Blood into the Holy of Holies to make atonement for the sins of the people. A veil covered that holiest of places.

That veil represented the flesh of Jesus Christ.

Hebrews 10:19-20 Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh;

As the Apostles prayed, God drew back the veil from the Holy of Holies. He exposed the wonderful Being of our Lord Jesus Christ. His Godness shined through, a Godness that had not been seen to that point. Mark says:

Mark 9:2-3 {Jesus} was transfigured before them. 3 And his raiment became shining, exceeding white as snow; so as no fuller on earth can white them.

Jesus was transfigured (μεταμορφόω metamorphoō) before them. Mark uses the same word, whereas Luke says “as he prayed, the fashion of his countenance was altered, and his raiment was white and glistering” (Luke 9:29). We speak of scientific metamorphosis, where the caterpillar becomes the butterfly through that miraculous cocoon. The caterpillar looks common, and has none of the beauty that the butterfly has. I think the Scripture used the perfect word to describe what happened to Jesus on that mountain. The Scripture, prophesying of the Christ, said that when He was first on this earth:

Isaiah 53:2 For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.

When people first saw Christ, He looked like every man. He was no movie star. He was, to most who saw Him, just a carpenter’s son (Matthew 13:55). He is a nobody from Nazareth. “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.” (Isaiah 53:3).

And then God the Father drew back the veil!

Dr. Kent Hughes writes in his commentary, “For a brief moment the veil of Jesus’ humanity was lifted, and His true essence was allowed to shine through. The glory which was always in the depths of His being rose to the surface for that one time in His earthly life.”

Suddenly Peter, James, and John see Jesus as He truly is. He is God incarnate. He is the Only means unto Heaven. He is the Only means by which we may have peace with God. He is the Lamb of God, offered but once for the sins of the world. He is the Promised Redeemer. He is the Shekinah Glory of God behind the veil that the frightened priest make sacrifice to. He is the Kingdom of God coming in glory and power!

Oh Beloved, it is prayer that opens the door, and causes the scales to fall from our eyes. It is prayer that lets us see Jesus as He is. Prayer “opens my eyes that I may see wondrous things out of God’s Law” (Psalm 119:18). When Elisha prayed, “Oh Lord, open my servant’s eyes so he may see” (2 Kings 6:17), the servant’s eyes were opened so that he saw the mountain full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. When Peter, James and John prayed, the blinders fell off. They saw Jesus as He is, as He has always been.

Jesus Christ is the Light of the world. (John 8:12; 9:5)
His Kingdom is a Kingdom of Light.

Those who come to Christ in faith are a transformed people. Daily we give…

Colossians 1:12-14 … thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: 13 who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: 14 in whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:

Christ, With Elijah And Moses

Matthew 17:3 And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and {Elijah} talking with {Jesus}.

Our Jesus, Who is shining with the Shekinah Glory of God, is now not praying, but holding a conversation with Moses and Elijah. The first thing I’d like to relate is this: how did they know this was Moses and Elijah? Peter, James, and John had never met either Moses or Elijah. Moses had been dead about 1400 years prior to this wonderful vision. Elijah had been received unto glory around 900 years prior to this time. How could they know who these men were. Beloved, they knew because they were in the Presence of Christ.

I have had people ask me “Will we know our loved ones in Heaven?” This text is proof that, yes, we WILL know our loved ones in Heaven. When we are in the presence of Christ in glory, we shall know what He knows. He knows His Sheep, and we shall know His Sheep. The Apostle Paul wrote:

1 Corinthians 13:12 For now (on this earth) we see through a glass, darkly; but then (in Heaven) face to face: now (on this earth) I know in part; but then (in Heaven) shall I know even as also I am known.

Illustrate When I came to the Church this past Tuesday, I saw the cutest thing, something that is actually an illustration of the text I just quoted. On the front steps of our Church building, right at the entry doors, a visitor was knocking on the door. Yes, a visitor! It was a wild turkey! I sat in our driveway, watching from my car, until I realized what the bird was doing. It saw its reflection in the glass of our double doors, and was pecking at it, trying to hit the ghostly image it assumed was another bird. I crept up and tried to get it’s picture, but it saw in the reflection, and took off! But this is so appropriate to our message today.

While we are on this earth we see through a glass, darkly. We don’t see the full picture. But when we enter Heaven because of Christ’s loving sacrifice, we shall know as we are known. No one will have to tell me who Isaiah, Moses, Elijah, Joseph, or any of the other Saints are. When we enter glory and are in the presence of Christ, glorious Christ, all shadows and darkness will be gone. Dr. W.A. Criswell said, “How do you know how to swallow? Did you know to swallow is one of the most complicated anatomical processes in your anatomy? But I never think about it. I just swallow. That is an intuitive knowledge. I was not taught it when I was a baby. I knew it. It is an intuitive knowledge, Moses and Elijah.”

In the Presence of Christ there will be no hidden things. We will know and love one another equally. There is no marriage, nor giving in marriage, but we will be like the angels in Heaven (Matthew 22:30). Praise God, death will be gone forever!

Seeing Moses and Elijah brings out another point. Some people believe that, when you die, your soul sleeps in the ground until the resurrection. Yet this text proves this to be incorrect. Moses died, as I said before, about 1400 years before – and yet here he is talking with Jesus. And Elijah. A chariot of fire took Elijah from this earth some 900 years before (2 Kings 2:11). Elijah was not sleeping somewhere, waiting for the bodily resurrection. No, both Elijah and Moses are with Jesus on the Mount, talking with Jesus. It is this beautiful figure that would give James the courage to pastor the Church at Jerusalem. Though the first martyr of the Church will be the Deacon Stephen (Acts 6:5, 8; 7:59), the first Apostle to be killed will be James (Acts 12:2). Herod will have James killed. But James will meet his fate without fear. What does God tell us who have believed on Him?

Romans 8:16-18 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: 17 and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. 18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

Moses is a picture of the Christian who has died, believing in Christ. He is not sleeping in a grave somewhere. He is alive, and with Jesus. Moses died in the service of the Master. Some of us will die in the service of the Master, but we will be souls around the Altar of God in glory (Revelation 6:9; 20:4). Our BODIES will sleep in the ground until the Coming of the Lord:

1 Corinthians 15:52-53 …. 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.

But until that trumpet sound we, like Moses, will be with our Jesus. But what of Elijah? Elijah never suffered death. He represents those who are on the earth when Jesus returns for His Church.

1 Thessalonians 4:14-17 … if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. 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. 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.

Jesus will come, and receive us who love Him and believe in Him. His Church shall not suffer the wrath of the Great Tribulation, but we, like Elijah, will be caught up to be with the Lord. Praise God for this great truth. Moses and Elijah, those dead and those raptured, bound together in the glorious Kingdom of Christ!

Why did Moses and Elijah meet with Christ on that mountain? We read:

Matthew 17:3 And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with {Jesus}.

They came to talk to Jesus. What did they discuss? Well the Blessed Physician tells us:

Luke 9:30-31 … there talked with {Jesus} two men, which were Moses and {Elijah}: 31 who appeared in glory, and spake of his decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem.

Moses and Elijah Are Representations

Word Study Moses represents the Law of God. The Bible tells us “the Law was given by Moses” (John 1:17). God gave the Old Testament Law of sacrifice and rituals to Moses. The Law of sacrifice had no power to save. When Moses spoke to Jesus, he spoke of our Lord’s DECEASE which He should accomplish at Jerusalem. When I read that text I thought, “what a strange translation – what does it mean?” So I looked it up. The word translated DECEASE is ἔξοδος éxodos, {pronounced ex’-od-os}. Moses spoke to Jesus about HIS exodus. When God saved Israel from Egypt, He carried His people out of Egypt, protecting them as they went, and called this the “Exodus”. As Moses led Israel in Exodus, Jesus Christ leads His Church in Exodus. When we come to Him, He forgives us our sins. He carries us away from fallen and pagan Egypt, and brings us into His glorious kingdom.

As Moses speaks to Jesus, I can imagine what he must have said. “Jesus, when You gave us the Law on Sinai, every sacrifice, every ritual was just a shadow of something better. The Law said in Leviticus 17:11, “it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul”. The Law said in Hebrews 9:22, “without shedding of blood is no remission {of sin}”. Oh Jesus, thank You so much for coming from Heaven to this earth. Thank You for being willing to go to Jerusalem, to become THE Lamb of God that takes away all sin.”

1 Peter 2:24 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.

And Elijah, he represents the prophesies of the Messiah, the promises God made through His Prophets. Elijah was the greatest of the prophets. As Elijah spoke to Jesus, I can imagine him saying: “Jesus, we were blessed to foresee Your coming. Lord, thank You for fulfilling the Word of the Lord to us all. Through Isaiah (53:5) You said, ‘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.’ Lord, You must die if we are to be redeemed,

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.

What a glorious moment in time was this Transfiguration! John would later write, “we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father” (John 1:14). Peter would later say, {we} were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received from God the Father honor and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (2 Peter 1:16-17). James would never speak of this in Scripture, being martyred so soon after Christ’s ascension.

Was Peter Wrong? Let’s Rethink This

As this wondrous Transfiguration is shown, as God rolls back the curtain and let’s us glimpse into the Holy of Holies, Peter speaks up. We read:

Matthew 17:4-8 Then answered Peter, and said unto Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for {Elijah}. 5 While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him. 6 And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their face, and were sore afraid. 7 And Jesus came and touched them, and said, Arise, and be not afraid. 8 And when they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no man, save Jesus only.

I have often thought that Peter misspoke when he suggested that “three Tabernacles” (σκηνή skēnḗ, {pronounced skay-nay’}) be erected on this mountain. Now, I’m not so sure. First of all, Jesus never corrected what Peter said. When the Father spoke and said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him, Peter, James, and John were frightened. Jesus did not chastise Peter like He did when Peter suggested that Jesus not go to Jerusalem. Jesus told him then, “Get thee behind Me, Satan: thou art an offense to Me!” (Matthew 16:23). Now Jesus just goes to these frightened men, touches them, and says “do not be afraid”. No rebuke. Just comfort.

Also, the Father did not rebuke Peter. The Father just clarified the truth when He said, “This is My Beloved Son; hear ye Him”. As Moses represented the Law and Elijah the Prophets, the “Law and the Prophets”, or the Holy Scripture, is what Jesus came to fulfill. Jesus never, ever deleted the Law and the Prophets, but commanded that we follow them. For instance:

Matthew 7:12 all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.

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

God’s Word, His Holy Bible, is to be cherished, for it teaches of the Christ. I believe the Scripture is still valid, still to be honored. Though we no longer perform ritual sacrifices and shadows for the atonement of sin (for Christ has come, and we are no longer under the Law of sacrifice), the Scripture is still God’s Word and is to be honored. But the emphasis as we study the Scripture is ALWAYS CHRIST JESUS. The Law and the Prophets are interpreted through the Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ. We are always careful to remember:

Jesus is the Father’s Beloved Son: Hear ye Him!

The Law and the Prophets point to Christ. All of Scripture heralds Christ. Scripture is important, for it speaks of Jesus. Do you know Jesus? Do you know Him? Have you received Him as the Scripture presents Him? Oh, how I pray that you have. You will not be transfigured until you see Him transfigured, and you receive Him transfigured into your life by faith. May God the Holy Spirit lead you, by His Word, to His Son this very day. Amen and Amen!

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