The Word Of Faith

Christmas Is Christ #4

1Luke 1:56-64 (KJV) And Mary abode with {Elisabeth} about three months, and returned to her own house. [57] Now Elisabeth’s full time came that she should be delivered; and she brought forth a son. [58] And her neighbors and her cousins heard how the Lord had shewed great mercy upon her; and they rejoiced with her. [59] And it came to pass, that on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child; and they called him Zacharias, after the name of his father. [60] And his mother answered and said, Not so; but he shall be called John. [61] And they said unto her, There is none of thy kindred that is called by this name. [62] And they made signs to his father, how he would have him called. [63] And he asked for a writing table, and wrote, saying, His name is John. And they marveled all. [64] And his mouth was opened immediately, and his tongue loosed, and he spake, and praised God.

For those of you who have been following the Christmas Story with me you know that God came to Elisabeth and Zacharias first, promising them a son named John. This was an answer to Zacharias’ prayer. He and his wife were barren – without children – and they were both well past child bearing years. So God sent Gabriel unto Zacharias to tell him that his prayer was heard, and that he was to have a child.

But then Zacharias doubted the Word of God.
God silenced him that day, taking away his voice.
“Since you did not believe My Words, You will be silent until John is born.”

C.H. Spurgeon wrote “If there can be one sin more heinous than the unbelief of a sinner, it is the unbelief of a saint. For a saint to doubt God’s word – for a saint to distrust God after innumerable instances of his love, after ten thousand proofs of his mercy, exceeds everything.”

So Zacharias was silent for nine months. Mary came to help her cousin Elisabeth have her blessed child. It’s ironic that Elisabeth said of Mary:

Blessed is she that believeth” (vs 45)

but could not say the same thing of her poor husband. Unbelief had shut his mouth. Then the child John was born.

Faith Trusts God Without Knowing Why

Luke 1:59 (KJV) And it came to pass, that on the EIGHTH DAY they came to circumcise the child;

Why was John circumcised on the eighth day? Because this was when God told His people Israel to circumcise their children. God told Abraham:

Genesis 17:12 (KJV) And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every man child in your generations, he that is born in the house, or bought with money of any stranger, which is not of thy seed.

Circumcision was the mark of the household of faith. Males were circumcised, not females, so circumcision was not a sign of salvation but of inheritance. Those who would not submit to circumcision among the children of Israel were cut off from Abraham’s inheritance:

Genesis 17:14 (KJV) And the uncircumcised man child whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken my covenant.

I want you to notice that God told the Israelite male that he had to be circumcised – but God never told him WHY. When God first directed Abraham to the rite of circumcision – a terribly painful thing to do to an adult male – God never said why. He just said “Do it”.

God said to future generations of children born “do it on the eighth day” but never specified why. Faith does not debate with God. Faith trusts God. God knows best. Where God sees unbelief He chastises if needed to bring us to full faith in Him.

Zacharias doubted God, but Elisabeth trusted God.
Doubt cost Zacharias his voice, but in her faithfulness Elisabeth found a voice.
She circumcised John on the eighth day according to God’s Word.
Why the eighth?
Because God said so.
And God knows best.

It was not until 1935 that doctors discovered the relationship between Vitamin K and Prothrombin, a protein present in blood plasma that leads to clotting of the blood. From Apologetics Press I quote:

On the eighth day {of a newborn’s life} the amount of Prothrombin present {in it’s blood stream} is elevated above one-hundred percent of normal — {this} is the only day in the male’s life … this will be the case … If surgery {such as circumcision} is to be performed, day eight is the perfect day to do it. Vitamin K and prothrombin levels are at their peak.”

Elisabeth didn’t know these medical truths, but trusted the Word of God. Oh that we would trust God and His Word! God always knows best for His children. The Psalmist said “He knows the way of the righteous” (Psalm 1:6). When Job was tried of God he did not curse the Lord, but trusted His heart and His Word, saying:

God knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold” (Job 23:10)

This trial is not to my destruction, but to my good. Our God is a wonderful Father and a magnificent Provider. We must trust Him.

Do You Prefer GOOD or BEST?

Luke 1:59 And it came to pass, that on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child; and THEY CALLED HIM ZACHARIAS, after the name of his father.

When a child is born it is a celebration in a Jewish home. The Special Rabbi (called the Moile) who was to circumcise the baby and the Rabbi who would bless the child “called him Zacharias after his father’s name”. These men were Jewish authorities, Pastors who were much respected. But Elisabeth did not let their prestige or positions cow her. God had said what this child should be named.

Luke 1:60-61 And his mother answered and said, Not so; but he shall be called John. [61] And they said unto her, There is none of thy kindred that is called by this name.

In the Bible names have meaning. “John” means “the Grace or Mercy of the Lord”. John would go before the Lamb of God Who takes away the sins of the world.

Grace and Love always proceeds Jesus, so JOHN was the best name for the child.

John would promote Christ, herald Christ. The name “Zacharias” is a beautiful name meaning “The Lord has remembered”. It’s a good name – but JOHN was better. But God wanted John named John.

As humans when we second guess the will of God we always choose the good over the best. God knows what is BEST. Name him Zacharias – OK that’s good, but not BEST. It is BEST to follow God’s Word.

As soon as Elisabeth said “he shall be called John” the traditionalists began to argue. “Not so! None of your kindred are called by that name”. The traditionalists are everywhere and ever present. Their battle cry is:

We’ve never done it that way before”

and they say “Others will laugh at us if we do what God says”. They are not ground breakers in their faith but love to dig a hole that that everyone else can crawl in with them. They never hear the Word of Faith as “Onward Christian Soldiers”, and instead of standing on the promises of Christ my Lord they die sitting on the premises despite the Lord. They are the noisy ones in the Business Meetings who seem to know best, but do not care to glorify God.

After shunning the mother Elisabeth’s direction … WHAT ARROGANCE …. they look to Zacharias.

Luke 1:62 And they made signs to his father, how he would have him called.

If we can’t get support for our suggestion, let’s look to Zacharias!” Here is a man who lost his voice for 9 months for unbelief. Let’s turn to this faithless individual. But Zacharias has learned his lesson. We read:

Luke 1:63-64 {Zacharias} asked for a writing table, and wrote, saying, His name is John. And they marveled all. [64] And his mouth was opened immediately, and his tongue loosed, and he spake, and praised God.

Just four words. “His name IS John”. But with these four words Zacharias’ voice is restored. And as he spoke, John praised God.

Christ Centered Faith Is Rewarded By God

Luke 1:67 (KJV) And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Ghost, and prophesied, saying,

God will not reward faithlessness, but He does reward faith. Zacharias’ obedience to God in spite of his disability caused his voice to return – and he was FILLED with the Holy Spirit, empowered or anointed or God – and he began to preach!

Luke 1:68-69 Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people, [69] And hath raised up an HORN OF SALVATION for us in the house of his servant David; [70] As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began: [71] That we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us;

In his preaching Zacharias praised God for His faithfulness. God raised up the HORN of SALVATION, his son John. God’s Israel are depicted as a mighty army moving forward. When the Calvary moved forward it always responded to the sounds of the HORN, the TRUMPET. John was not the Savior, but he would be the HORN that went before Jesus. Each of the four Gospels show John as the fulfillment of Isaiah 40:30 and Malachi 3:1 …

In Matthew 3:3 For this is the one referred to by Isaiah the prophet, saying, ‘The voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Make ready the way of the Lord, make His paths straight!’

In Mark 1:1-3 The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. As it is written in Isaiah the prophet, “Behold, I send My messenger before Your face, who will prepare Your way; The voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Make ready the way of the Lord, make His paths straight.”

In John 1:23 {John the Baptist} said, ‘I am a voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord.’ as Isaiah the prophet said.”

John would be the Horn of Salvation, the fulfillment of Bible Prophecy. His message would ring out clearly that Christ was the Messiah. His ministry would be successful because Christ was Whom he pointed to. No ministry will stand that does not center itself on Christ.

If Christ is not the point, your ministry is pointless!

The Bible warns in 1 Corinthians 14:8-9 For if the bugle produces an indistinct sound, who will prepare himself for battle? So also you, unless you utter by the tongue speech that is clear, how will it be known what is spoken? For you will be speaking into the air.

There are many preachers and supposed Bible teachers today who are “speaking into the air” rather than preaching. All preaching drives toward Christ. All of God’s glory drives toward Christ. John in his ministry would never be side tracked – he would always herald clearly that Christ was the Savior, the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29). His ministry would be successful unto the end.

Zacharias also preached of the faithfulness of God, saying ..

Luke 1:72-75 To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant; [73] The oath which he sware to our father Abraham, [74] That he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear, [75] In holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life.

Finally, Zacharias directly bestowed blessing on his newborn child Zacharias. Fathers often laid their right hand on their firstborn child to bestow their inheritance upon them. As Zacharias laid his right hand on little baby John he did not bestow his earthly inheritance. Priests such as Zacharias were not given a portion in Israel as were the other tribes, for their portion was the Lord (Deuteronomy 18:1-2). So Zacharias passed on to John the only thing he had – he passed on service to the Lord.

Luke 1:76-79 And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways; [77] To give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins, [78] Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the Dayspring From On High hath visited us, [79] To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.

The words “Dayspring From On High” or better “Sunrise From On High” is a reference to Jesus Christ. God sent His Son into the world to be the Light of the World. He is the Light of God that lights our path so that we might not stumble in this present darkness. Praise His Name forever more!

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He will make our feet like Hinds feet!

good study!

EmbraceGodwithConnie

Habakkuk 1:1-4 KJV

1.  The burden which Habakkuk the prophet did see.

2. O Lord, how long shall I cry, and thou wilt not hear? Even cry out unto thee of       violence, and thou wilt not save! 3. Why dost thou shew me iniquity, and cause me to behold grievance? For Spoiling and violence are before me: and there are that raise up strife and contention. 4. Therefore the law is slacked, and judgment proceeded. (KJV)

1. “This is the message that the prophet received from the Lord in a vision.

2. How long, O Lord, must I call for help? But you do not listen! “Violence!” I cry, but       you do not come to save.

3. Must I forever see this sin and misery all around me? Wherever I look, I see destruction and violence. I am surrounded by people who love to…

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HE, my rescuer

very nice post

lydiacngaihteblog

Today was one of those days I was alone and my mind was free to revisit past incidents of my life. I am certain it’s by God’s grace that I could sit down and converse with God as I did some life’s introspection. I was taken by a deep warmth surprise at finding the most worthiest reasons to thank God for. It wasn’t those moments of great success, times of abundance and self fulfilment. Instead, I am grateful for those times when my heart was broken, when the dreams and the people I held close and tight were taken away from me, and when things did not go my way. The pain and hurts at the moment were true and difficult. But it was in those hurtful experiences that I was actually being rescued from the path of lesser life and dimmer light. I also realised that I’m a human…

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If You Have a Pulse, God Has a Plan

wonderful Word from a beautiful Sister in Christ

Holy Spirit, You are welcomed here.

I was raised going to church, so I knew who God was. In 2007, I went through a devastating tribulation of being sexually abused by the pastor at the church I was attending at the time. This pastor was very friendly to me, and looking back, more so than to anyone else and more than I realized at the time. He had a niece that I was friends with and she was spending the night at his house. She asked if I wanted to spend the night as well, and I did. I’m not going to go into intricate details of what happened that night to me.

Fast forward to church that morning, I felt uncomfortable around him. I began to feel guilty, scared and unworthy. My mom had “The Birds and the Bees” talk with me, so I felt like I couldn’t talk to her because I didn’t want…

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Jesus Shall Be Great

Christmas Is Christ Series #2

1.jpgSermon Notes Luke 1:26-32 (KJV) And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, [27] To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. [28] And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favored, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. [29] And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. [30] And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favor with God. [31] And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. [32] He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:

Audio Of Sermon: 

We live in a world today in which faith is placed not in God nor His Christ nor even His world, but in institutions and people. Idolatry abounds in America, and it shows in the rudeness we see all around us. Many years ago Bible Scholar Arthur W. Pink wrote in his book the Godhood of God:

“When Christian theologians (?) accepted the Darwinian hypothesis, which excluded God from the realm of Creation, it was only to be expected that more and more God would be banished from the realm of human affairs. Thus it has proven. To the twentieth-century mind God is little more than an abstraction …. Man … is a “god” unto himself. He is a “free agent” and therefore the regulator of his own life and the determiner of his own destiny. Such was the Devil’s lie at the beginning – “Ye shall be as God” (Gen. 3:5). But from human speculation and Satanic insinuation we turn to Divine revelation.”1

There is a God, a Triune God, and during this season we call “Christmas” we turn our attention to this Loving Creator. Our focus is not on Santa Claus nor secular humanism, but the Lord and the miracle of this season.

Christmas cards speak of the Wise Men, the First Noel, the Little Town of Bethlehem. In our Church we light the Advent Candles. Everything we do is to bring honor and glory to the reality of Christmas, that God loved us so much that He entered humanity. He became part of His own creation. The Apostle wrote in amazement:

Galatians 4:4-5 But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, {5} To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.

Paul uses very precise language here. Christ was sent forth. He did not come into existence in Mary, but was with God from eternity past. He is the Living Word of Whom the Scripture says:

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

Jesus is co-equal with God, for the Father said of Him:

Hebrews 1:8 (KJV) … Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of thy kingdom.

Jesus Christ is very God of very Gods. And our Great God humbled Himself for us.

God Is Great In His Faithfulness To Us

If God became man – and He did – where would you expect Him to enter our story? My expectation would be that He would show up at some well known and famous city, like New York or Washington DC. I would expect His entrance to be filled with ticker tape like the World War 1 hero Alvin York rode through, all to cheering crowds. Where did our Lord enter the world?

Luke 1:26 And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth ..

In the sixth month” is a reference to the conception of the Prophet John by Zacharias and Elisabeth. Gabriel had promised that couple, that precious older couple, that they would have a son who would be the Herald of Christ. Six months following this announcement God sends Gabriel to a place called Nazareth. A small town, a nondescript place like Sawdust or Culleoka or Garner. There was a saying that went about in those days:

“Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” (John 1:46)

Nazareth was no place, but two young people lived there who loved the Lord. These young people had been engaged to be married from birth as the custom of the day was, and were living normal and natural lives looking forward to their wedding day until God intervened.

Luke 1:27 (KJV) To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.

Mary was a virgin. She was untouched by any man, and engaged to her beloved Joseph. Why did God come to a virgin? You have to look back to the beginning of the Book to understand this. When the serpent, that old devil, tempted Adam and Eve to betray God, God told the serpent:

Genesis 3:15 And 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.

Theologians call this the protoevangelium, or the first preaching of the Gospel. What is recorded in Luke was the fulfillment of the promise of God in Genesis. Man sinned, and brought separation from God. But God came and closed the gap.

Romans 5:12 (NKJV) Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned—

God promises the devil that through the SEED of the woman he would be destroyed.

Women do not have SEED
Women have EGGS
Men have SEED
I hope you understand this.
In a normal world, no woman can have a child without the contribution of a man.
So how would this be done?
God is going to show us.
The Scripture declares ..

1 Corinthians 15:22 (NKJV) For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.

Through the natural man sin and death entered the world. But through the Supernatural Man, Jesus Christ, sin would be eradicated and death destroyed. God would do this through the Seed of the woman. The Prophet wrote that God would faithfully keep His promise.

Isaiah 7:14 Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a VIRGIN SHALL CONCEIVE, and bear a son, and shall call his name IMMANUEL.

Immanuel means “God with us”. God would come to us through a virgin. Not only this, God would come to us through the lineage of Abraham. God promised Abraham:

Genesis 18:18 … Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him?

Here is threefold miracle of Christ. He must be “the Seed of the woman” or virgin born. He must be of the lineage of Abraham according to God’s promise. And what else?

God promised King David:

Genesis 49:10 The scepter {symbolic of rulership} shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.

This prophecy, given long before the birth of Christ, foretold that the Tribe of Judah would be God’s ruling Tribe in Israel. God said “the scepter – the rule – shall remain in Judah until SHILOH (meaning The One To Whom It Belongs) shall come. Christ is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Judah would rule, and Christ would come from the lineage of Judah.

This is all fulfilled in what God does in Mary. Jesus Christ, the Shiloh of God, must be born of a virgin, born of the line of Abraham, born of the Tribe of Judah, born as an heir of King David. Do you not see? Do you not see miracle upon miracle heaped on our Savior? Yet, do not look at the miracles of fulfilled prophecy and become enamored with them. Do not focus on the vivid colors of the painting and fail to see the overall theme that is rendered here. My aunt Dorothy – now in the arms of Jesus – was assistant curator of the North Carolina Museum of Art. There were many times when I went to the museum in Raleigh and saw beautiful paintings and wondrous scenes. Most of these paintings, when they were first rendered by the artist, seemed to have little value. Many of the artists did not become famous, nor were their works prized, until after their deaths. After their works were examined over the passing years people came to understand how priceless and valuable these paintings were. So it is with the birth of Christ!

So many people this holy-day season will think of Jesus in passing. They will glance at pictures on cards that show the Baby in the Manger. They will look at the colors of Christmas, but not at the overall picture. Look what God accomplished for you! Look at the promises, the amount of time that passed, the precise control that God used, the love of God that passes all understanding. When we see the Cross of Calvary we can understand the love of God.

Unless we see and perceive how much God loved us, and how He proved that love in the virgin birth, then we only see a part of the picture. God is Great! He shall be great. This does not mean that Christ shall work His way into greatness, but as God is great He shall be great, for He is God.

Mary Is A Recipient Of Grace

Why did God choose Mary? Some seek to make Mary greater than she is. Some call Mary the “Queen of Heaven”, and some churches actually worship her. That would be wrong. Mary was a good and Godly woman who loved the Lord. Gabriel says to her:

Luke 1:28-30 (KJV) And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly FAVORED, the Lord is with thee: BLESSED art thou among women. [29] And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. [30] And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found FAVOR with God.

The words of Gabriel show us that Mary is not superhuman, but a child of God by Grace. The angel says:

Hail! – χαίρω chairō – REJOICE!
χαριτόω charitoō – You are filled with GRACE!
εὐλογέω eulogeō – You have been BLESSED!
χάρις charis – You have found GRACE with God!

Mary was not the winner of some prize that she was vying for. God bestowed Grace on her. She loved the Lord, and the Lord was going to bring the Savior into this life through someone who loved Him.

Listen to me, Beloved. God will not bless anyone in a great way unless they are faithful in the small things. Mary loved the Lord God. She kept herself chaste. She obeyed God’s precepts. God used her because she loved Him. God sat His love on Mary, and invited her to participate in that Great Plan of Salvation, just as He has sat His love on you and invited you to participate in His Great Plan.

Jesus Christ’s humanity was born of Mary. Not because Mary was best, but because God loved Mary. Jesus Christ’s humanity was born of Mary. Not because we deserved His love, but because He first loved us. Jesus Christ was born of Mary. Not because either she or we were sinless, but because God is faithful, and in His faithfulness wants to love us.

The Son of God lowered Himself in love to take on humanity to live and die for us. Look at the wonder of God’s Love! In the realm of humanity a king is always born in a palace. The high born are born of high born. This is the way of man. The child of the king will be king, and that child will be waited on hand and foot by nannies and butlers, fed the finest of foods, given the greatest of care. The king’s child will be taught, not in a common school, but with a special tutor, usually someone of great fame, a Plato or a Socrates. Not so with God! When the Son of God came to save the world, He was born of the Tribe of Judah, but Israel was under Roman bondage. He was not born to Herod, nor to Pilate, nor to Caesar, but to Mary and Joseph. He was not born to riches and wealth, nor to degrees and decrees. Jesus Christ was born of an unknown virgin because of God’s great love!

The Christ Child Shall Be Great

Luke 1:31-33 (KJV) And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. [32] He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: [33] And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.

The Child promised to Mary shall be GREAT! The clue to His greatness begins with His name. Thou shalt call His name JESUS. His name means God is our Savior. Jesus is a great Savior. Jesus is great because He is the one and only Son of the Highest. He is THE Son of God. As the Son of God He possesses the Throne of David, and rules over Israel. His Kingdom never ends. Earthly kingdoms come and God, but Christ reigns forever.

The Child shall be great in power. Jesus’ creative power is seen in how He healed and restored those around Him. The lepers cried out to Jesus:

Jesus, Master, have mercy on us! (Luke 17:13)

Jesus healed the ten lepers, but only one leper returned to Jesus after his healing. This leper …

Luke 17:16-18 (NKJV) …. fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks. And he was a Samaritan. 17 So Jesus answered and said, “Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine? 18 Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?”

Jesus is great in power, and great in love. He healed whosoever would come to Him. Jesus is a great Healer. Jesus is the Son of God. He is great in power and majesty. But most of all, Jesus is great in love. He is the Great Shepherd Who lays down His life for His sheep.

John 10:11-16 (NKJV) I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. …14 I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. 15 As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. 16 And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd.

Oh how Jesus loves His people. Oh how Jesus shall be great in love. This Holy Child of Mary’s is no mere human mortal, but He is God in the flesh. He is the God Man of whom the Apostle said:

Acts 20:28 Feed the church of God, which He has purchased with His own blood.

This Baby that Mary would have would be the “Lamb of God Who takes away the sins of the world” (John 1:29). No other man would ever speak as Jesus spoke – but His greatest greatness lies in the truth that He is God’s payment for sin. We are told in Romans:

Romans 11:36 (NLT) For everything comes from him and exists by his power and is intended for his glory. All glory to him forever! Amen.

But He lowers Himself to enter this earth for us. He would be born of Mary so that we could be saved. We who were chained in sin, He came to save! Spurgeon said:

He has undertaken great things, and glory be to His name, He has achieved them. His people’s sins were laid upon Him, and He bore them up to the cross, and on the cross He made an end of them, so that they will never be mentioned against them any more forever. Then He went down into the grave, and slept there for a little season, but He tore away the bars of the sepulcher and left death dead at His feet, bringing life and immortality to light by His resurrection.”

Jesus is greater than death, the defeater of sin and the giver of eternal life. He is great. He is great in that He will save whosoever will, if they will but come to Him. He invites you into His Kingdom that has no end.

Will you come? He is a Great Savior for a Great Sinner. This Child to be born of Mary was born to die for us. The Scripture says:

Romans 5:8-10 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (9) Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. (10) For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.

God has a GREAT WRATH reserved for the sinner who rejects Him. Rejecting Christ you have no where to go but a burning lake following this life. But Jesus was born of a virgin so that you could be reborn of God. Jesus entered humanity so that saved humanity can enter Heaven. Will you not receive of His Greatness!

If Jesus had not been virgin born, then you would not be saved. If Jesus had not taken on human flesh, then He could not shed His blood for you. If Jesus Christ had not agreed to make payment for your sinful nature, you would still be under the wrath of God. But because Jesus lowered Himself to be born of a virgin, you have – if you have believed – eternal life in Him!

This is Love Personified, this Jesus Christ our Lord! Though born of a lowly virgin, He is nonetheless Eternal God. The Bible tells us:

Hebrews 1:6 …when [God] bringeth in the first begotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him

How Shall This Be? God Will Do It!

When Mary was told that she was going to have a Child, she quite naturally asked:

Luke 1:34 (KJV) Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?

How is it possible that I, a virgin, conceive a Child such as this? Perhaps you who are bound in sin and hopelessness wonder how your life can be changed and be made new. The Angel told Mary:

Luke 1:35-37 (KJV) And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. [36] And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren. [37] For with God nothing shall be impossible.

The Angel’s answer to Mary was, basically, “God will do it”. How can your life change from sinner to saint, from lost to saved, from wanderer to a Child of God? It cannot come through your own power. Jeremiah (13:23) asked “Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots?” No, there are things we cannot do.

But with God all things are possible. You just need to say “Yes” to God, to trust Him, to let Him work in your life. Trust Christ. Say with Mary:

Luke 1:38 (KJV) …. Behold the {servant} of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.

God is great, and will bless you if you but trust in Christ. May God touch your hearts with His Word.

1A.W. Pink, Godhood of God, ccel.org

Posted in Christmas, Christmas Sermons, Following Disciples, Luke, Sermons Preached | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Mary’s Song

Christmas Is Christ Series #3

1Sermon Notes: Luke 1:39-55KJV And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Judah; {40} And entered into the house of Zacharias, and saluted Elisabeth. {41} And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost: {42} And she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed [art] thou among women, and blessed [is] the fruit of thy womb. {43} And whence [is] this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? {44} For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. {45} And blessed [is] she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord. {46} And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, {47} And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior. {48} For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. {49} For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy [is] his name. {50} And his mercy [is] on them that fear him from generation to generation. {51} He hath shewed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. {52} He hath put down the mighty from [their] seats, and exalted them of low degree. {53} He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away. {54} He hath [helped] his servant Israel, in remembrance of [his] mercy; {55} As he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever.

Audio Of Sermon: 

Christmas Is A Time Of Shared Faith

Mary had been told that she was to have the Christ Child, the long awaited Messiah. But the Angel also told her:

Luke 1:36-37 … thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren. {37} For with God nothing shall be impossible.

Mary had asked Gabriel how could she – a virgin – conceive a child. How can this be, seeing I have not known a man sexually? The Angel tells her that God has already done a miracle 6 months before, that Elisabeth – who was barren – is now with child. There is nothing impossible for God.

Beloved, there is nothing impossible for God! Our God is a miracle making God.

Jeremiah 32:27 (NKJV) Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for Me?

God can do anything that righteousness allows.

  • God Cannot LIE: Hebrews 6:18 …. it is impossible for God to lie …
  • God Cannot CHANGE: Malachi 3:6 …. For I am the Lord, I do not change
  • God Cannot BREAK A PROMISE: Psalm 89:34 … My covenant I will not break, Nor alter the word that has gone out of My lips.
  • God Cannot Be Pleased With FAITHLESSNESS: Hebrews 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

When Mary heard what God said through Gabriel she rejoiced. Then she showed us her faith by heading to Elisabeth’s house.

Unbelief would have said “Wait”.
Fear would have said “Be Still”.
But FAITH said “Go”!

This was no easy trip. The distance from Nazareth to Hebron – where Elisabeth was – is about 81 miles as the crow flies – and Mary wasn’t flying. Mary was going to offer help to her cousin. In those days family helped family. She was going to help her 6 month pregnant cousin. She was also, I believe, going to share her good news with Elisabeth. If this had happened today maybe she would have called her cousin, or posted it on Facebook. Thank God for the old days! No, there was nothing easy to this trip. This would take her – a young lady – several days of travel over dangerous terrain fraught with thieves and no goods. But she went. God had told her she was having a Baby, the Christ Baby, and God was going to protect her. Elisabeth needed her, so she went.

She went in haste. We are told:

Luke 1:39 And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country WITH HASTE, into a city of Judah;

Faith moves WITH HASTE. It does not dawdle. When we procrastinate the things of God, we often do not do them. When God told Abraham to sacrifice his only son Isaac what did that faithful old man do? The Bible says:

Genesis 22:3 (NKJV) Abraham rose EARLY in the morning and saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son; and he split the wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him.

Faith has feet. It prays. It seeks God’s Word. But once faith has God’s Word, faith moves. It does as God says. Mary moved, and went to Elisabeth.

Luke 1:40-44 {Mary} entered into the house of Zacharias, and saluted Elisabeth. {41} And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy {Spirit}: {42} And she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed [art] thou among women, and blessed [is] the fruit of thy womb. {43} And whence [is] this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? {44} For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy.

I always love this section. The PRO CHOICE crowd has held for years that “The baby in the womb is not a baby, just a piece of unfeeling tissue”. Hogwash! When Mary entered the home of her cousin the baby leapt in her womb, and Elisabeth was FILLED with the Holy Spirit. God made Himself known to His servant – and out of this Filling or Empowerment or Anointing – She said “the baby John LEAPT in my womb FOR JOY”. Though John was still embraced by his mother’s flesh he knew His Savior – and Yours – was in Mary. Think on this for a moment. Mary had been pregnant only a FEW DAYS. That which was within her was a tiny fetus. Yet John sensed the Lord in Mary. Elisabeth sensed the Lord in Mary.

Luke 1:42-43 (NKJV) … Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! 43 But why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?

The Mother of the Lord Jesus Christ stood in her home. What an honor this was for Elisabeth! Not because of who Mary was, but because of Who Jesus was. Here is the tiny fetus Who will be born the Savior of all Who believe. What a miracle God wrought in Mary. What a miracle God brings in us who have believed in His Christ!

There is no jealousy or envy in faith. Elisabeth is not belittled because God chose her to carry John and Mary the Savior. Nor is there pride in faith. Arrogance and Faith cannot occupy the same home, for one will take the other in hand.

What is a mark of faith? Humility. A lowliness of self.

1 Peter 5:6-7 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: {7} Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.

With humility comes blessing. God cannot save the prideful, nor can He bless the arrogant. Notice also that faith – as expressed by Elisabeth – will trust the Promise of God. Elisabeth tells Mary:

Luke 1:45 And blessed [is] she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord.

Elisabeth says “blessed are you, Mary, because you believed God”. There is no blessing without belief. Mary believed God, just as Abraham our father believed God. Jesus told Doubting Thomas:

John 20:29 (NKJV) … because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.

Mary had no physical evidence as of yet that Christ was in her. And yet, she believed. Mary had no physical evidence that Elisabeth was six months pregnant when the Angel told her so. She had to go 81 miles to see the evidence. She believed without having to see. She trusted God, and was blessed for it. Have faith in God (Mark 11:22). Trust His Word. What He has said, He will do. Man may fail, but God will not.

Proverbs 3:5-6 (NKJV) Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.

Humble Faith Produces A Song In The Heart

Luke 1:46-49 And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, {47} And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior. {48} For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. {49} For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy [is] his name.

Mary’s Song begins by praising and lifting up the Name of God. God has been good to Mary. He has been good to all of us. Do we praise Him as She does?

My soul doth MAGNIFY the Lord

That doesn’t mean that she places a magnifying glass on a little god to make him bigger. No, God is BIG anyway. God is awesome.

Psalm 47:2 (NKJV) For the Lord Most High is awesome; He is a great King over all the earth.

Deuteronomy 10:17 (NKJV) For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality nor takes a bribe.

Some of you worship a false god, a little god, a god you keep in your pocket. For some this god is a ring of beads that you touch and pray to. To others it is a statue, or a fantasy of your making. I have heard of the alcoholic who was told to just worship something higher than himself. He staggered drunk to a tree one summer day, sat down, looked up and saw a little squirrel perched on a limb. “Why little squirrel, you are higher than I am, so you can be my god”. The squirrel looked at him, then sensing this was a nut bigger than it could crack, ran away. Some of you like Laban of the Old Testament have lucky charms you call your gods.

If your god is small enough to be stolen, and hid by a small girl, then your god is useless and certainly NOT the God of the Scripture. Mary had no little god but the God of Scripture, the God of Truth, the God Who is. Mary lifted up God’s Name, praising Him, glorifying Him. “My Soul Magnifies My God!” The great preacher C.H. Spurgeon said:

“IT is very clear that Mary was not beginning a new thing; for she speaks in the present tense, and in a tense which seems to have been for a long time present: “My soul doth magnify the Lord.” Ever since she had received the wonderful tidings of the choice which God had made of her for her high position, she had begun to magnify the Lord; and when once a soul has a deep sense of God’s mercy, and begins magnifying him, there is no end to it. This grows by what it feeds upon: the more you magnify God, the more you can magnify him. The higher you rise, the more you can see; your view of God is increased in extent; and whereas you praised him somewhat at the bottom of the hill, when you get nearer and nearer to the top of his exceeding goodness, you lift up the strain still more loudly, and your soul doth more fully and exultantly magnify the Lord.”

my spirit hath REJOICED in God my Savior

For Mary God was her Savior. Mary loved God, and He loved her. There are many who profess to be Christian who are no more Christian than a cloud. For Mary the Lord was Lord of:

her tongue
her time
her treasure
her talent
her testimony
her toil

Because He was her Lord she trusted Him and trusted Him still. Joy overflowed from her heart, and radiated outward in her countenance and in her song. Mary is not immaculate, as many believe, but like us a sinner in need of a Savior. God saved her so that He could use her. God saves us so that He can use us for His glory and majesty. Blessed be the name of the Lord.

Luke 1:48 For HE hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.

God loves us though He regards our LOW ESTATE. He is immense, but we are tiny. Yet in His immensity He loves us.

Deuteronomy 7:9 Know therefore that the LORD your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations.

Psalm 86:15 But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.

Psalm 136:26 Give thanks to the God of heaven, for his steadfast love endures forever.

Zephaniah 3:17 The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.

Oh how God loves us, though we often be unlovable. He loved Mary though she were small. Our God Who is everywhere at once – for in Him we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28) and is immense in power. And yet this immense Creator loves us, and calls us to His side.

1 Samuel 2:1-10 … My heart rejoiceth in the LORD, mine horn is exalted in the LORD: my mouth is enlarged over mine enemies; because I rejoice in thy salvation. {2} [There is] none holy as the LORD: for [there is] none beside thee: neither [is there] any rock like our God. {3} Talk no more so exceeding proudly; let [not] arrogancy come out of your mouth: for the LORD [is] a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed. …”

It is God Who blesses, God Who strengthens, God Who has given you your sustenance, your salvation, the very air you breath. Praise Him! Glorify Him! King David, a man who was after God’s own heart, said:

Psalms 28:6-7 Blessed [be] the LORD, because he hath heard the voice of my supplications. {7} The LORD [is] my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise him.

Hasn’t God blessed you? Then praise Him! Share what He has done with those around you. Speak of His great blessing, of the salvation which has been given to you.

God Humbled Himself – And So Must We

Luke 1:51-55 He hath shewed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. {52} He hath put down the mighty from [their] seats, and exalted them of low degree. {53} He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away. {54} He hath [helped] his servant Israel, in remembrance of [his] mercy; {55} As he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever.

The entirety of Mary’s song is humble, surrendered to our Father. To those who come to God with open but empty hands God blesses. God scatters the proud in their imagination and puts down the mighty from their seats. But to those who humble themselves, God blesses.

God humbled Himself. God came from Heaven to earth. The Eternal God the Son was willing to have a beginning in flesh. He would be born of water and blood, coming forth from Mary. He did this so that He could fill the hungry with good things. Jesus lowered Himself for you and I.

As Mary humbled herself and waited on Elisabeth for the next three months, and humbled herself to go with her husband to Bethlehem, her Son would humble Himself. He would humble Himself by being born in a manger. He would humble Himself by growing up in Nazareth. And His ultimate humiliation would be went He went to the Cross of Calvary for you and I.

Philippians 2:6-8 (NKJV) {Jesus} being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.

Jesus humbled Himself for us. We therefore humble ourselves to receive Him. The great writer and theologian C.S. Lewis said:

Now the whole offer which Christianity makes is this: that we can, if we let God have His way, come to share in the life of Christ. If we do, we shall then be sharing a life which was begotten, not made, which always existed and always will exist. Christ is the Son of God. If we share in this kind of life we also shall be sons of God. We shall love the Father as He does and the Holy Ghost will arise in us. He came to this world and became a man in order to spread to other men the kind of life He has — by what I call “good infection.” Every Christian is to become a little Christ. The whole purpose of becoming a Christian is simply nothing else.”

God became incarnate so that we could be saved. God came from Heaven so that He could take us to Heaven with Him. This is the wondrous message of Christmas.

So this season as you look at the Christmas Tree with all its lights, remember this. Out of the dead tree of the Cross God offers us His Light and His life. The present that matters most is not what is UNDER the tree, but He Who hung on the Tree. The greatest gift God can bestow upon any was given in the manger and on the tree. The greatest gift of all is Jesus! Receive Him. Love Him. Care for Him. Walk with Him.

May God touch your hearts with His Word!

KJV All texts are KING JAMES VERSION, unless otherwise noted

Posted in Christmas, Christmas Sermons, Cross of Christ, Faithfulness of God, General, gospel, Jesus, Sermons Preached | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

He Breathed Life Into These Bones

excellent post

Justified And Redeemed

First off, this post is totally unplanned! I had another post scheduled for today, but that post is going to have to be published for another time!

 This post is a “God took the truth, squeezed me into the biggest hug ever, and laid this on my heart to write” kind of post, because today, God confronted me when I least expected it!

During the weekend, I read a passage that reminded me of my recovery, and I know that this will make my second post about eating disorder recovery, but God is speaking to me, and I want to share with you what He told me! On Saturday, I was listening to a podcast, and it was speaking about breathing life into dry bones that was mentioned In Ezekiel.

I looked at the passage and it struck something within me because I remember the time I first…

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The Beginning Of Christmas

1

The Book of Luke was written by a Gentile Physician who accompanied the Apostle Paul on many of his missionary journeys. He writes to Theophilus, which may not have been a person but the Church. The word “Theophilus” literally translated means “Friend of God” and may remind us of the words of our Beloved Jesus:

John 15:15-17 (NKJV) No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you. 17 These things I command you, that you love one another.

The writer of Luke is also the writer of Acts. As He writes, he doesn’t write as an eyewitness, but as someone who took eyewitness accounts from the Apostles. He starts with – if you’ll read with me …

Luke 1:1-4 KJV1 Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us, {2} Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word; {3} It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus, {4} That thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed.

The message of Luke is a delivered message – “Even as they delivered them unto us”. It was delivered by “eyewitnesses and ministers of the Word”. Luke gathered this information for the Church, and wrote it in order. He writes of the beginning of the ministry of Christ to the end. Christ had no beginning in eternity. He is very God of very Gods. He is the One of Whom the Apostle John declared:

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 is not first made in Christmas – Christ is re-made. He does not enter EXISTENCE but enters HUMANITY. God the Father sends His eternal, pre-existent Son to earth not in a space ship but through the Holy Spirit. The Bible declares:

Galatians 4:4-6 But when the fullness2 of the time3 was come, God sent forth his Son, made4 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.

The Holy Spirit would bring Christ into the world. But His coming would not be through the rich or famous, the well known or the powerful. The Holy Spirit would send Jesus into the world through hyphenated people. Who are the hyphenated people? You might be one of them. I’m one of them. People ask who I am and I say “I’m David Buffaloe”, and they reply “David – Who”. I’m one of the unknowns. If you say Warren Buffet or Bill Gates everyone knows who they are. No one knows much about David Buffaloe, Luke, or perhaps even you. Yet God uses the hyphenated. God uses the little person who will do as God says. That’s why the first account in Luke is not about Herod or Caesar, but about a priest we will call Zacharias – Who?

Zacharias Who?

Luke 1:5-7 There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife [was] of the daughters of Aaron, and her name [was] Elisabeth. {6} And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. {7} And they had no child, because that Elisabeth was barren, and they both were [now] well stricken in years.

The Old Testament story of the Fall begins with Adam and Eve, but the beginning of Christ does not start until you get to Abraham and his wife Sarai. Abraham was an old man who had an old wife, and both were without children. But God promised to bless Abraham – and the entire world – to give him a child and a Nation, if he would but follow God. God can bless you if you follow Him. God will not bless you if you won’t.

The New Testament lineage of Christ is no different. There is a priest called Zacharias who is married to Elisabeth. They were both childless, and past child bearing age. They were living out the life that God gave them. Though things had not worked out as they wanted them to, they nonetheless served God to the best of their ability.

they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.

This is a good lesson for all of us. They kept on serving God to the best of their ability, honoring Him with their lives. They could have become bitter over what they didn’t have but refused to do so. Every day is a gift from God. Live for God. Love for God. You may not be rich or famous. So what? God will use you.

I was watching a little 8 year old girl – a singer – in a video recorded from America’s Got Talent. The little girl came up and the judges asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up. Without hesitation the little girl said:

I want to be a superstar!”

Here she is, 8 years old, and chasing fame. Her mother named her Celine after Celine Dionne wanting her to succeed. But what if she does? How many child superstars are now lost, cast aside after being eaten up with Hollywood and fame?

a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife [was] of the daughters of Aaron, and her name [was] Elisabeth.

In the timer of King David the priests were divided into 24 different orders or courses, and they all rotated so that sacrifices could continually be made for sin. The course of Abia was the eighth course, descended from Eliazar, Aarons’ eldest son. Without a child their course or line would die out. God told His people when they went into the Promised Land:

Deuteronomy 7:14 Thou shalt be blessed above all people: there shall not be male or female barren among you…

Yet Zacharias and Elisabeth were barren. Was God punishing them? No. Sometimes God withholds the GOOD from us to bring to us the BETTER. God had something BETTER for this precious couple.

We Are To Glorify God

God wants the BEST for our lives. When things do not go the way we want them to go, we should serve the Lord all the more. We are to love God not for what He gives, but because of WHO HE IS. We are to trust God’s love. We are to serve Him. This is what Zacharias did. We read:

Luke 1:8-9 And it came to pass, that while he executed the priest’s office before God in the order of his course, {9} According to the custom of the priest’s office, his lot was to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord.

What do we see in this text? Obedience! Serving God. Not serving self. Not sulking because he didn’t get what he wanted. No, Zacharias executed the priests office BEFORE GOD. He knew that God was watching him. He did so in the order of his course. Zacharias was not – as we called it in the military – absent without leave or AWOL. He did what he was supposed to do. The Bible commands us to trust in God, and to serve Him with all out hearts. We read:

1 Peter 5:6-7 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: {7} Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.

Don’t worry – serve!
Don’t fret – live for Him!

God will not bless you when you do not do what He asks you to do. If you are not happy with how life has played out for you, then as the old Poker Players used to say:

Play the hand you’re dealt!

1 Corinthians 10:31 (NKJV) Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

Colossians 3:17 (ESV) And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Zacharias was doing what God told him to do. He was being obedient, glorifying God, magnifying His Name. Oh Beloved, are we not to do the same? When one of us does not glorify God in opur lives, does this not act as a cancer in the Body, spreading outward, killing worship? But notice that as Zacharias was doing what He was supposed to do:

Luke 1:10 And the whole multitude of the people were praying without at the time of incense.

Zacharias shows us something. When WE are obedient to God, we lead OTHERS to be obedient to God. There was a multitude of people praying that day, following what Zacharias was doing.

Those who watch you follow your leadership – what are you showing them? Are you yawning through the sermons? So are those around you. Are you self centered and selfish? So are those around you. Your children and grand children will follow you. Your friends will imitate what you do.

his lot was to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord

The incense, as it burned, smoked, and that smoke symbolized prayers going up to God. The Psalmist said:

Psalms 141:2 Let my prayer be set forth before thee [as] incense; [and] the lifting up of my hands [as] the evening sacrifice.

Revelation 8:3 And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer [it] with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne.

When God’s people are obedient, worshiping and glorifying Him, then great things will come.

We cannot come to Church and be focused on what others are doing or not doing and expect to be blessed. We cannot come to Church for our own entertainment, nor to be lifted up above God.

God is God, and when we meet we are supposed to worship and glorify Him. As everyone was serving God, we next see this:

Luke 1:11 And there appeared unto him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense.

The Angel Gabriel appears on the RIGHT SIDE of the altar of incense. The RIGHT side is the position of bestowed authority. In ancient times the one who had the closest confidence with the King sat on His RIGHT hand.

When the inheritance was given, the RIGHT HAND was laid on the blessed.
Exodus 15:6 Thy right hand, O LORD, is become glorious in power
Luke 20:42 The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand
Acts 5:31
Jesus hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins

Gabriel is on the RIGHT HAND of the altar to show us that GOD BLESSES OBEDIENCE. If Zacharias had not been doing as the Lord said, he would not have been blessed.

Luke 1:19 And the angel answering said unto him, I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to shew thee these glad tidings.

Obedience In Little Things Brings Big Blessings

Gabriel that stand in the presence of God emphasizes that this is one of the mightiest of angels. If this angel stands in the presence of God then he must be one of the chief angels, a cherub, a guardian in the throne room of God. This Gabriel is a powerful angel, and he brings a powerful message. You see, in the Old Testament God gave certain key prophesies that would show us when the Messiah had come. One of these key prophesies in The Herald of the King. 700 years before Christ came Isaiah prophesied:

Isaiah 40:3-5 The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. {4} Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain: {5} And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see [it] together: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken [it].

And four hundred years prior to the first Advent of Christ the Prophet Malachi said:

Malachi 3:1 Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts.

When the King of Kings entered this earth, He would have a Herald of Heralds, someone well suited to be His announcer. This would be the child of Zacharias and Elisabeth, a child named John. Gabriel tells Zacharias:

Luke 1:13 But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias..

Don’t be afraid. If an angel were to walk in this place tonight we would probably all be afraid. These are immense creatures composed of light, creatures that have stood in God’s presence. Don’t be afraid. This is only good news, the beginning of God’s Gospel.

Luke 1:13 .. for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John.

John had never stopped praying for a child. Though he and his wife were well past child bearing years, they never gave up on God. They kept praying for a miracle, and God blessed them. Oh, that we would trust God as this man did.

Luke 1:13-17 And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth. {15} For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb. {16} And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. {17} And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of (Elijah), to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.

John would be one of the greatest Prophets of Israel. John would be born a Nazarite Priest. The Nazarites were a special type of priest in the Old Testament. God established this priesthood in:

Numbers 6:2-8 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When either man or woman shall separate [themselves] to vow a vow of a Nazarite, to separate [themselves] unto the LORD: {3} He shall separate [himself] from wine and strong drink, and shall drink no vinegar of wine, or vinegar of strong drink, neither shall he drink any liquor of grapes, nor eat moist grapes, or dried. {4} All the days of his separation shall he eat nothing that is made of the vine tree, from the kernels even to the husk. {5} All the days of the vow of his separation there shall no razor come upon his head: until the days be fulfilled, in the which he separateth [himself] unto the LORD, he shall be holy, [and] shall let the locks of the hair of his head grow. {6} All the days that he separateth [himself] unto the LORD he shall come at no dead body. {7} He shall not make himself unclean for his father, or for his mother, for his brother, or for his sister, when they die: because the consecration of his God [is] upon his head. {8} All the days of his separation he [is] holy unto the LORD.

Most of the Nazarites chose to be so. God chose John from his mother’s womb to be a Nazarite. The Hebrew word NAZIR, simply means “to be separated or consecrated” to God. John would be so consecrated his entire life. Smith’s Bible Dictionary states:

Of the Nazarites for life, three are mentioned in the Scriptures — Samson, Samuel and St. John, the Baptist. … We do not know whether the vow for life was ever voluntarily taken by the individual. In all the cases mentioned in the sacred history, it was made by the parents before the birth of the Nazarite himself.”

What a glorious promise had been made to Zacharias. Christ was coming, and his son John would make ready a people prepared for the Lord!

Faith births faith.
Obedience leads to obedience.
God blesses obedience!

Then Zacharias stumbled. And He suffered for the stumble.

Luke 1:18 (KJV)  And Zacharias said unto the angel, Whereby shall I know this? for I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years.

He asked for a sign when no sign was needed. Here is the Chief Messenger of God, Gabriel, standing before him. Gabriel has just spoken. So Gabriel tells him:

Luke 1:19-20 (KJV)  And the angel answering said unto him, I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to shew thee these glad tidings.  [20]  And, behold, thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak, until the day that these things shall be performed, because thou believest not my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season.

Zacharias lost his voice because he did not believe. God will do what God has promised He will do. Trust God, or lose your voice! Trust God, live for Him. What He has said, He will do. God is faithful.

May God bless us as we enter into this Holy Season of Christmas!

1All Scripture quoted is King James Version, Unless otherwise noted

2 G4138, πλήρωμα, plērōma, play’-ro-mah, From G4137; repletion or completion, that is, (subjectively) what fills (as contents, supplement, copiousness, multitude), or (objectively) what is filled (as container, performance, period): – which is put in to fill up, piece that filled up, fulfilling, full, fulness., (Strong’s Hebrew and Greek Dictionaries)

3 G5550, χρόνος, chronos, khron’-os, Of uncertain derivation; a space of time (in genitive case, and thus properly distinguished from G2540, which designates a fixed or special occasion; and from G165, which denotes a particular period) or interval; by extension an individual opportunity; by implication delay: – + years old, season, space, (X often-) time (-s), (a) while., (Strong’s Hebrew and Greek Dictionaries)

4 Aorist Deponent Participle, G1096, γίνομαι, ginomai, ghin’-om-ahee, A prolonged and middle form of a primary verb; to cause to be (“gen” -erate), that is, (reflexively) to become (come into being), used with great latitude (literally, figuratively, intensively, etc.): – arise be assembled, be (come, -fall, -have self), be brought (to pass), (be) come (to pass), continue, be divided, be done, draw, be ended, fall, be finished, follow, be found, be fulfilled, + God forbid, grow, happen, have, be kept, be made, be married, be ordained to be, partake, pass, be performed, be published, require, seem, be showed, X soon as it was, sound, be taken, be turned, use, wax, will, would, be wrought., (Strong’s Hebrew and Greek Dictionaries)

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Short Bed Narrow Cover

Isaiah 28:16 Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste. (or “will not act hastily” or “will not be disturbed”)

Isaiah 28:20 For the bed is shorter than that a man can stretch himself on it: and the covering narrower than that he can wrap himself in it.

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Audio of Sermon: 

Sermon Notes: If you have ever had a loved one in the hospital and you had to stay with them you’ve been introduced to discomfort. Hospital food is rough. If you stay overnight with a loved one you have enjoyed those torture devices they call a pull out bed. The pull out bed is made for a small child or a tiny human. The bed is too short to rest on without bumping your head or your feet hanging off. It’s miserable. And the blankets the hospital gives you to cover yourself with are just too short. You stay uncomfortable the entire time. If you happen to fall asleep, don’t worry – someone will come in and wake you up to see if you’re sleeping.

God uses an example like this today in our text.
Circumstances sometimes force you into a short bed and narrow covers.
You can’t help what circumstances force upon you.

God in our text today isn’t talking to people who are – by want of circumstance – forced to lie on a short bed and cover themselves with a narrow sheet. In our text today the Lord is talking to His Old Testament people. Israel had become worldly. They had drifted away from God’s Word.

Her rulers and priests gave lip service to God but in practice had nothing to do with God. God draws a picture that is quite disgusting. When a people get away from God things become ugly. The Lord said:

Isaiah 28:8 (KJV)  For all tables are full of vomit and filthiness, so that there is no place clean.

The Leaders, both religious and secular, became worldly. The Lord charged:

Isaiah 28:7 …. priest and the prophet have erred through strong drink, they are swallowed up of wine, they are out of the way through strong drink; they err in vision, they stumble in judgment.

The farther a people turn from God and His Word, the dimmer the vision and judgement gets.

Israel departed from the Word of God. By departing from God’s Word, they could not find rest. Any nation and any person who departs from God’s Word will not find rest.

God is our rest. His Word is our strength. Oh, that we would all cling to Him! As Jesus formed His Church He told us

Matthew 5:13-16 (NKJV) You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. 14 You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

God’s believers are the salt of the earth.
Salt is not only a seasoning, it is also a preservative.
Salt shakers on the table are there so that bland food can be seasoned for better taste.
Salt in larger quantities is injected into meats as preservatives to keep mold and bacteria at bay.
You who believe are God’s salt.

You who believe are the Light of the world.
Christ shines through us as we cherish His Word.
God’s people are to be God’s salt and light in America,
just as Israel was meant to be God’s salt in Canaan.

When the salt of God’s people becomes corrupted by the Word of Man and does not stay in the Word of God then it is good for nothing but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. We must not emulate the darkness, nor befriend the evil. We must shine as God shines through us, reflecting His glory to a lost and dying world.

Worldliness Makes A Short Bed With A Narrow Cover

The group Focus on the Family noted that:

A recent nationwide survey completed by the Barna Research Group determined that only 4 percent of Americans had a “biblical” worldview. … Barna says, “Although most people own a Bible and know some of its content, our research found that most Americans have little idea how to integrate core biblical principles to form a unified and meaningful response to the challenges and opportunities of life.”

God gave us His Word as a cherished Treasure, as a most Dangerous Book that the world despises. The world offers no solace to people, but God’s Word does. The Prophet said:

Isaiah 28:20 For the bed is shorter than that a man can stretch himself on it: and the covering narrower than that he can wrap himself in it.

To depart from God’s Word and God’s Leadership brings us into an uncomfortable state. From the beginning of human history there has been a battle for the mind. The devil and his worldlings teach one set of ideas, the Creator Who loves us another. Jesus prayed for us before His crucifixion, saying:

John 17:14–15 (ESV) I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because THEY ARE NOT OF THE WORLD, JUST AS I AM NOT OF THE WORLD. 15 I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.

The Devil and his followers are always twisting the truths of God.
God’s children are called to teach His truths to their children,
and their children’s children.

Isaiah 28:9 (KJV)  Whom shall he teach KNOWLEDGE? and whom shall he make to understand DOCTRINE? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts.

Those children that God gives us – precious children – must be taught the knowledge and doctrines of God. Before Israel went into the Promised Land God told His people:

Deuteronomy 6:1-10 (NKJV) Now this is the commandment, and these are the statutes and judgments which the Lord your God has commanded to teach you, that you may observe them in the land which you are crossing over to possess, 2 that you may fear the Lord your God, to keep all His statutes and His commandments which I command you, you and your son and your grandson, all the days of your life, and that your days may be prolonged. 3 Therefore hear, O Israel, and be careful to observe it, that it may be well with you, and that you may multiply greatly as the Lord God of your fathers has promised you—‘a land flowing with milk and honey.’ 4 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. 6 “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. 10 “So it shall be, when the Lord your God brings you into the land of which He swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give you large and beautiful cities which you did not build,

A loving God gave Israel Canaan, and a loving God gave us our America. Do we teach our families about the Lord Who loves us so? Is our priority God’s Word, or a football game? Is our priority showing our children the truths of Scripture, or teaching them the latest Grand Theft Auto video?

We are in the Christmas Season.
Do our children know
why this is such a special season?

Do we speak in this blessed season of the miracle that Christmas is, that the Eternal Christ, the Son of the Living God, and how He lowered Himself to be born of a Virgin? Do we speak of His Manger, that food trough He borrowed to be His crib. What great love is this that Christ came from the palace of Heaven to this fallen earth. Do we share with our children and grandchildren the immense love of God revealed to Shepherds, to Wise Men, and to Angels on the day of His Virgin Birth – a birth prophesied throughout the Old Testament.

Or is all of our talk of Santa, of The Elf On The Shelf,
of lit trees and presents greedily opened?

There is nothing inherently wrong with imagination and fantasy.

One of my favorite movies is the original Miracle On 34th Street, and right behind that It’s A Wonderful Life with the great Jimmy Stewart. And I certainly do not mean to be the Grinch Who Steals Christmas (which was a delightful Dr. Seuss movie). But the reason many young people today have forsaken God and His Church is because all they were taught growing up was worldly video games. The television was their baby sitter, and they heard nothing of Christ or of our Creator.

The child must be made still to hear of the Lord Who loves them.
Biblical thought is taught – passed on – from parent to child.
God must be preeminent in our families first, then He will be preeminent in our Churches.

The Bible is a miraculous Book written by a miraculous and very real God.
Do we believe what He says, or what man says?

  • Do we believe that the earth was created in six literal 24 hour days? Few people believe this anymore because more time is being spent watching what misinformed scientists have said rather than focusing on the Book. As you read the Creation Account in Genesis it clearly states:

Genesis 1:1-5 (KJV)  In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.   [3]  And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.  [4]  And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.  [5]  And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. AND THE EVENING AND THE MORNING WERE THE FIRST DAY.

Throughout the account God uses language to show us the six steps of creation are literal days. “And the EVENING and the MORNING were the FIRST DAY”. He repeats this formula for every day of creation. The earth was created in six literal days – 24 hour periods of time. “But Pastor, the scientists said on television last night …” I don’t care. I believe God and His Word. Do you?

  • Do we believe that God created all things according to His standard? Man was formed, then the anilals. Eve was formed from Adam’s rib. This was the prototype of marriage. Do you believe this, or what the LGBT crowd has told you? The Bible says:

Genesis 2:21-24 (KJV)  And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof;  [22]  And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.  [23]  And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.  [24]  Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.

Marriage is of God, not of man. Adam was first formed, then Eve. On the basis of this doctrine is what God used to form a family. They were to “multiply, and fill the earth”, not hop from bed to bed. It is not all right to sleep with someone to whom you are not married.

The world says sexual sin is “complicated”.
God says it is a short bed with a narrow cover.

  • Do we believe that morality begins with God? Have you ever thought about the forbidden fruit of the Garden of Eden? What was it? Were Adam and Eve forbidden to eat of the Tree of Life? No. They could eat of life all they wanted. God wanted them to have eternal life. But what tree was forbidden?

Genesis 2:16-17 (KJV)  And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, 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.

Why THAT tree? Because God determines right from wrong, good from evil. God establishes the standards, not the majority nor the consensus. God does.

The child must be taught the Word of God, and we must learn His Word. It must be the filter on all our thoughts. What did the Apostle say?

Romans 3:4 (NKJV) … let God be true but every man a liar.

His Word is to be cherished. We need to HEAR and DO His Word.

  • Do we understand that disobedience to our loving Creator leads to discomfort?

Isaiah 28:11-12 (KJV) For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people. (12) To whom he said, This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing: YET THEY WOULD NOT HEAR.

Israel rejected God’s Word and lost her nation. The stammering lips that God spoke of was the Assyrians – the barbarians who would come in and take over their nation. When I think about stammering lips today I think of the nonsense you see on television. The newscasters, the talking heads, they have no solutions to the problems that ail us. The doctors have not a clue. But God knows. God is able.

God spoke to His people, and speaks to us today. Do we want a short bed and narrow covers, or do we want the REST that only God can provide. God offered a rest for the weary, a refreshing. The first use of the word “rest” is is the Hebrew MENOQAW (Word: מנוחה Pronounced men-oo-khaw’) which means “a place to recline”. The second use of the word “rest” is the Hiphil Imperative NUAQ (Word: נוח Pronounced noo’-akh), which means “to be caused to rest”. God said “I offered you a double rest – a place to recline, to lay down your burdens.” But Israel would not hear, so disaster struck.

It is not God’s fault when you reject His offer and drown in your sins. You can choose to curl up on a short bed of worldliness and under the narrow cover humanism, but in time you will be uncomfortable. You draw the cover to your chin and your feet will be left cold. Or else he will shift and portions of his body will drape from the bed. So it is with the wisdom of this world. It may seem satisfactory at first, but in time it is a miserable mess.

Isaiah 28:15 Because ye have said, We have made a covenant with death, and with hell are we at agreement; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, it shall not come unto us: for we have made lies our refuge, and under falsehood have we hid ourselves:

We cannot compromise with the darkness. We must remain in the light that is our Christ. The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23), and we are not to be employed by sin or satan. We are to love our Lord.

Our Rest Is Jesus And His Word

Isaiah 28:16 Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste.

The Scripture God spoke through Isaiah is repeated by the Chief Apostle Peter, who said:

1 Peter 2:5-6 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.

This is how we know this text speaks of Christ. Let’s break down what God said:

Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone

God speaks to us with His Covenant Name. He is Lord GOD, ADONAI YAHWEH (אדני Pronounced ad-o-noy’ + יהוה Pronounced yah-weigh). This is the same name God used in:

Genesis 2:4 when it says He created the Heavens and the earth
Genesis 2:16
when God warned Adam not to eat of the forbidden fruit
Genesis 2:18 when God made woman to be a helpmeet for man
Genesis 3:21 when God clothed fallen Adam and Eve with the fur of animals

This great Covenant Name of God is used throughout the Scripture every time God does a great thing for mankind. It is the Adonai Yahweh, the Eternal God, Who lay in Zion for a foundation a stone. God says “There is but one foundation by which you can have a relationship with Me, and that is the foundation that I have laid”. That foundation is Jesus Christ.

Zion is the city of God, and the foundation of that city is Jesus Christ. The foundation of God’s Church is Christ. This is the Rock upon which His Church was formed. The Apostle said:

1 Corinthians 3:11 (NKJV) For no other FOUNDATION can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

The Father lay in Zion the foundation, a Stone that is Christ. He is what His Church stands upon.

The foundation of the Church is not human opinion, but Divine Ordinance. We are built upon the writings of the apostles and prophets, built upon this Book of Books, this Sacred Text, this Holy Work. Christ is the Chief Cornerstone holding foundation to walls. His Spirit binds us together. His Blood brings us into His Family. His sacrifice cleanses us from sin. His resurrection stands as a guarantee of Heaven.

Jesus Christ is the sure Stone we stand upon. It is He Who is …

Revelation 1:17-18 …. the first and the last: (18) I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive forevermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.

Jesus Christ is the Foundation Stone of His people.
He is also the Tried Stone.
a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation

  • Jesus Christ is the Tried Stone.

Hebrews 4:15 (NKJV) For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.

Jesus suffered what we suffer, and more. But He stayed the course and kept His eyes on the Father. He was tried. Though Pilate agreed to execute Jesus he did so saying (Matthew 27:24) “I am innocent of the blood of this just person”. As the Scripture says:

1 John 3:5 (NKJV) And you know that He {Jesus} was manifested to take away our sins, and IN HIM THERE IS NO SIN.

Jesus Christ has also been tried by many believers over thousands of years. They have found Him to be the rest for their souls. People who have trusted in Him have found that He is indeed a bed that they can stretch out on, and a cover they can rest comfortably under.

  • Jesus is the Precious Cornerstone. The Scripture declares

Ephesians 2:19-21 (NKJV) Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, JESUS CHRIST HIMSELF BEING THE CHIEF CORNERSTONE, 21 in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord,

Those who are truly saved see Jesus as “precious”, (Word: יקר Pronounced yaw-kawr’), costly, highly prized, a pearl of great price. This is what Peter says in:

1 Peter 2:7 Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner,

We know that we are saved by faith in Him, and that we keep on being saved by faith in Him. He is Precious. But Jesus is also our Precious Cornerstone.

  • Jesus Is The Sure Foundation.

We have the promise of God that all who believe in Jesus “shall not make haste”. Another version puts it this way, “He who believes in it will not be disturbed”, or “the one who trusts will never be dismayed”.

Those who trust in the provision of God in Christ Jesus have found a sure rest for their souls. Let life throw its worst at you. If you are trusting in Christ then you know that everything will always come out just fine.

Isaiah trusting in Christ was protected, though Israel fell. Daniel trusting in Christ was safe in the lion’s den. David trusting in Christ stood over a dead Goliath. Joseph trusting in Christ rose from slavery to second in command of mighty Egypt. Moses trusting in Christ led God’s people from Egypt through the Red Sea, while the enemies of God drowned. Paul trusting in Christ preached and established Churches throughout the pagan Roman empire.

The believer trusting in Christ will be blessed. He will never be discouraged and never be disturbed.

Those who trust in Christ will ultimately triumph!

May God touch your hearts with His Word.

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Five Fingers Of Grace

Audio Of Sermon: 

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1 Corinthians 16:13-14 (KJV) Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong. 14 Let all your things be done with charity.

As the Great Apostle closes his first letter to the divided Church of Corinth he wants the Church to understand … they are not alone. No Church ever stands alone. The Church belongs to Jesus, and Jesus will be glorified in His Church. There are many religious groups in the world, but only one Church. The Church is marked by unity and love in Christ Jesus. The Church is MADE by the Grace of Christ. A Church formed by Grace is marked by five things. We are to …

Watch (γρηγορέω grēgoreō)
Stand Fast In The Faith (στήκω stēkō)
Quit You Like Men (ἀνδρίζομαι andrizomai)
Be Strong (κραταιόω krataioō)
Do All Things With Charity

You are not saved by works, but once saved you DO WORK. Your life is changed. Your priority aligns with that of Christ. We have FIVE things the Apostle commands the Church. Five is the number of Grace. You have five fingers on your hands, and it is with your hands you work. So today we’re going to look at what the Apostle said as if it were five fingers on a hand.

Grace leads to work. These are the five fingers of Grace!

God’s Children Are To WATCH

onefingerWe are to WATCH (γρηγορέω grēgoreō) for our Lord. Jesus told us:

Matthew 24:42-44 (NKJV) Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour YOUR LORD IS COMING. 43 But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. 44 Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.

Jesus is coming again, and He comes for His child. We do not know when our Jesus is coming again, and we do not know when He is coming for us.

Matthew 25:13 (NKJV) Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.

Jesus is coming again to receive His Church to Himself. We do not know when that day will be. We know that Jesus will come and receive each of us one day into His Heaven.

We do not know when the final day of our life will be upon this earth.
So we WATCH.
We live our lives as those under His constant care.
We do not want to be found of Him when He comes to be doing that which is unworthy.
We WATCH.

We do not want to be like Peter, who claiming that he would never deny our Lord, could not stay awake in Gethsemane. Jesus asked Peter:

Mark 14:37 (NKJV) Simon, are you sleeping? Could you not watch one hour?

Watching means to pray, and keep your eyes open to opportunities to honor our Lord. I’m reminded of a story a missionary told me one day. He said that he spoke to the children at an orphanage overseas, a poor place, and told the children that Jesus was coming again. After that moment the caretaker of the orphanage said that every morning those precious children would get up from their beds, run to the window, and look out at the sky, trying to see Jesus.

Are you WATCHING for Jesus? The Apostle said in:

Colossians 4:2-6 (KJV) Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving; 3 Withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds: 4 That I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak. 5 Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time. 6 Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.

The devil is lulling the world to sleep in sin. The devil has, from the beginning, tried to lull the Church of Christ into a sleep. But God tells us …

1 Thessalonians 5:6 (KJV) Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.

Watching means to stay sober, to be alert. We are to WATCH for our Jesus is coming again!

God’s Children Are To Stand Fast In The Faith

twofingersThe Apostle said: Stand Fast In The Faith.
The Greek (στήκω stēkō) implies a troop
of soldiers bracing themselves against the enemy assault, holding the high ground
. We are to “stand fast – hold the high ground – of FAITH”.

What is “the faith” that we are to stand fast in? We studied this just a week or so ago.

1 Corinthians 15:1-5 (KJV) 15 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; 2 By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. 3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: 5 And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve..

When we abandon the Gospel of Christ we abandon the faith.

It is the Gospel that gives us strength. There are people today who cherry pick what they want to believe in the Scripture. The Bible is not a buffet where we pick what we want, and turn up our noses at what we don’t want.

If I throw away the text that says:

1 Timothy 3:2 (KJV) A bishop (overseer, Pastor) then must be blameless, THE HUSBAND OF ONE WIFE,

and ignore this text – a requirement from the Apostles – then what value the rest of Scripture? If we read:

1 Corinthians 6:9-10 (NKJV) Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither FORNICATORS, nor IDOLATERS, nor ADULTERERS, nor HOMOSEXUALS, nor SODOMITES, 10 nor THIEVES, nor COVETOUS, nor DRUNKARDS, nor REVILERS, nor EXTORTIONERS WILL INHERIT THE KINGDOM OF GOD.

Do we toss this text out in order to be politically correct, or do we accept it as truth? The Gospel brings with it conversion and agreement to the Way of God. If a kleptomaniac comes to me and says:

Preacher, I used to love to steal. Now that I’m saved, I love to steal, but don’t feel guilty about it”.

What should I say to that person? Good job? Absolutely not. Salvation brings conversion. So why is it that when people claim to be saved but still live in lifestyles frowned upon by God do we say it is all right. I submit to you, we are not being God’s Church. God saves completely. When Zacchaeus the Tax Collector was saved how did he respond to Christ?

Luke 19:8 (KJV)  And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord; Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold.

Jesus told the crowd “this day is salvation come to this house”. Salvation comes when there is evidence of CONVERSION, and this only comes by the Holy Spirit of God.

The Scripture says:

Galatians 5:1 (ESV) For freedom Christ has set us free; STAND FIRM therefore, and DO NOT SUBMIT AGAIN TO A YOKE OF SLAVERY.

We are not called to be religious nor self righteous, but to love God and His Word and stand together, believing what He has said. The Scripture says:

Philippians 1:27-28 (NKJV) Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel, 28 and not in any way terrified by your adversaries, which is to them a proof of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that from God.

Converted Believers Are To “Quit You Like Men”

threefingersThis is the Greek ἀνδρίζομαι (andrizomai). What does this mean? It means MAN UP. Or as some have said, COWBOY UP. Be brave, not a coward. Be brave, not a coward. Jesus told His disciples:

John 15:18-20 (NKJV) If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also.

In is in the atmosphere of easy believism, the gospel so readily preached from pulpits today, that people profess Christ but have the stamina of a snowflake.

The darkness always hates the light. Those who sin in darkness do not want a light turn on them, for their sins to be exposed for all to see. No, the darkness bids us not be light, but dim our light, be like the world. Jesus sent His disciples out into the darkness with full knowledge of what they were facing. He said:

Matthew 10:21-28 (NKJV) Now brother will deliver up brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death. 22 And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved. 23 When they persecute you in this city, flee to another. For assuredly, I say to you, you will not have gone through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes. 24 A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. 25 It is enough for a disciple that he be like his teacher, and a servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more will they call those of his household! 26 Therefore do not fear them. For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known. 27 Whatever I tell you in the dark, speak in the light; and what you hear in the ear, preach on the housetops. 28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

Jesus did not want His disciples to be fearful, but to go forward with the Gospel of God no matter who it might offend. We live in a day where the greatest offense is to offend in any way, to go against the established wisdom of the world. Beloved, the darkness will always hate the light.

The first murder in Scripture was when believing Abel
offered a sacrifice to God, offending his brother Cain.
Joseph was sold into slavery because he spoke God’s Word to his brothers.
Jesus Christ was executed, not for treason, but for being Light.

We who are Christ’s are not to speak to please the world, but to please our Father Who is in Heaven. We are to magnify our Lord and be obedient to His Word in all things. We are to MAN UP and obey Him and His Word whether or not anyone else agrees with us or not. Many Churches are compromising the truth of God’s Word because they feel that they will lose their audience if they don’t mellow the message down.

I read an interesting article in The Baltimore Sun this past Monday. The article was entitled “Churches Merge, close: We no longer live in Christendom. We really have to accept that it’s a thing of the past’”. Yes, that was actually the title. The article was published October 10, 2017, and was an op-ed piece written by journalist Jonathan M. Pitts. Is Christ and His Church dead in America.

Absolutely not! Here’s a few pieces from the article:

For a decade and more, Govans Presbyterian Church and Brown Memorial Woodbrook Presbyterian Church have labored in the manner of many mainline Protestant congregations: Working ever harder to provide spiritual resources for a dwindling number of congregants.

… Brown Memorial Woodbrook (Presbyterian Church), about two miles from Govans (Presbyterian Church) on North Charles Street, has been running its busy Sunday school and community garden and working on LGBT equality and other social justice issues. … But with attendance stagnating, maintenance costs rising and the population of Christians from which to draw shrinking, the two have decided to join forces. … they’ll become one congregation before the end of the year … The Episcopal Diocese of Maryland has closed a net eight churches since 2007 and plans to shutter one more ….. if the congregation can’t present a feasible financial plan by January.

Listen Beloved – these are all liberal, not Bible believing Churches. But hear what the article says next:

… A few faith traditions have fared better… evangelical Christianity’s numbers are holding steady.

The Bible believing and Bible preaching and teaching Churches are holding steady. The numbers are not dropping. Why? It’s only spiritual common sense.

When the Church decides to compromise with the darkness to reach the darkness, that Church loses those members who were walking in the light. People of faith are bailing out of Churches that adopt the darkness of the world.

Christ is still alive and well – and so is His Church. Jesus said:

Luke 9:62 (NKJV) No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.

We are not to look back to Egypt, but to look upward and forward as we follow our Jesus. Israel looked back, and that entire generation died out, never taking the Promised Land. God’s people are to be committed to God’s Word. We are not to be obnoxious, but we are to be clear.

Christ died for our sins so that we would live in a right God approved manner.
Christ died to take us out of sin’s control, not to make us compromisers.

1 Peter 2:21-25 (NKJV) For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: 22 Who committed no sin, Nor was deceit found in His mouth”; 23 who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously; 24 who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed. 25 For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

God’s purpose for us is that we follow in Christ’s steps. Jesus died so that we might live to righteousness – not self righteousness, but God’s righteousness.

Children Of God Are To Be Strong In The Lord

1 Corinthians 16:13 … be strong

fourfingersThe Apostle Paul exemplified what God said through Him:

Ephesians 6:10 (NKJV) Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.

God never asks us to be strong in ourselves, but to be strong in the Lord. To take our weaknesses and our fears to God, and let Him transform us into the powerhouse that He wants us to be. God watches over His Children. God’s strength comes to us when we trust and live in His promises.

As Moses prepared to die, and to pass over into Heaven, he called Joshua to his side. Moses told both Joshua and the people:

Deuteronomy 31:3-8 (NKJV) The Lord your God Himself crosses over before you; He will destroy these nations from before you, and you shall dispossess them. Joshua himself crosses over before you, just as the Lord has said. 4 And the Lord will do to them as He did to Sihon and Og, the kings of the Amorites and their land, when He destroyed them. 5 The Lord will give them over to you, that you may do to them according to every commandment which I have commanded you. 6 Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you. 7 Then Moses called Joshua and said to him in the sight of all Israel, “Be strong and of good courage, for you must go with this people to the land which the Lord has sworn to their fathers to give them, and you shall cause them to inherit it. 8 And the Lord, He is the One who goes before you. He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed.

What gives us who are His the strength to continue on is to know that God goes before us. He is greater than anything that comes against us. God is always with His people. He has said:

Hebrews 13:5-6 (NKJV) … “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” 6 So we may boldly say: “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?”

Our strength is knowing that our Savior is near. And He is, and will always be.

The Thumb Of Grace Is LOVE

1 Corinthians 16:14 (KJV) Let all your things be done with charity.

fingers-mdOn every hand there are five fingers, but I submit to you the most important finger is the THUMB. Without the thumb it’s hard to pick up anything. You can lose a finger and continue life relatively normal. You can even lose three fingers and still function. But if you lose the thumb the hand becomes largely useless. The Apostle spoke on love in 1 Corinthians 13, ending up by saying:

1 Corinthians 13:13 (NKJV) And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Our faith is built on love. We are saved by the Gospel because “God so LOVED the world”. We are born of the love of Christ, Who willingly and without reservation went to the Cross of Calvary for us. Love defines us. You cannot love as Godf wants you to love until you have experienced His Love in Christ. Jesus said:

John 15:13 (NKJV) Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.

Jesus did that for us. Since He did this for us, we who are loved into Heaven are to do the same. The Apostle said:

1 John 3:16 (NKJV) By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.

You cannot love as God wants unless you have experienced His love in Christ. Have you? Have you heard His Gospel, and believed on Christ as Lord and Savior? Do you lay down your life for Him as He laid down His life for you? If you have not, make today the day you meet my precious Savior Jesus Christ. Call on Him. He will receive you as He received this worthless man, and He will make you ready for life and God’s Heaven – Praise His Holy Name!

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