Do You Understand Christmas?

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The Book of Matthew starts with a genealogy of Jesus Christ:

Matthew 1:1 … The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham …

… and as you read through the genealogy you come across names of people you can hardly pronounce, people you may have never heard of, and some that you have. This genealogy stems from the father of our faith Abraham, and continues – one by one – showing a lineage between Abraham and the stepfather of Jesus, a man named Joseph:

Matthew 1:16 … and Jacob begat Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.

Let me read to you these familiar words:

Matthew 1:18-21 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. 19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily. 20 But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. 21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.

Now I want you to focus on the words that the angel of the Lord (I believe, Gideon) spoke to Joseph:

Matthew 1:20-21 Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. 21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.

Having read this to you, I now ask you ALL to read this with me:

Philippians 2:12-13 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. 13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.

What does Philippians 2 have to do with the beloved Christmas story?

Joseph Was Afraid

Do you realize that the wonderful story of Christmas begins not with joy, but with fear? The Angel of God told Joseph:

Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife..

Joseph was fearful. Why was he afraid?

Joseph of Bethlehem, of the tribe of David, was engaged to be married to Mary of Bethlehem, of the tribe of David. Joseph and Mary loved one another. It was not uncommon among the ancient Jews to arrange marriages between families to strengthen bonds, and grow the tribe. It is very possible that Mary had been promised to Joseph from an early age. He may have been betrothed or engaged, promised to Mary since he was a baby. Joseph and Mary probably grew up together. He had known her his whole life. Mary was supposed to be a virgin. The Bible tells us that just before they formalized their marriage by coming together as one …

Matthew 1:18-21 … {before Joseph and Mary} came together {to formalize their marriage as man and wife} , she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. 19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily.

Joseph was confronted with a dilemma. Mary – a girl he has loved his entire life – Mary was “found” (the Greek εὑρίσκω heurískō, pronounced hyoo-ris’-ko) which means “to discover by examination”. I suspect this happened on their very wedding day. The honeymoon was beginning. And Joseph discovers that Mary is with Child.

You can summarize what is wrong with America today with our attitude as we read this ancient text. “Mary was with child. So what? There’s abortion, or adoption, or single parenthood. It’s no big deal!” Yes, it is a big deal. You see, Joseph was a just man, a believer in God, and God in His Word said that sexual sin was wrong. If Joseph revealed that Mary was pregnant outside of marriage at the least she would be shunned. God said of sexual sin:

Leviticus 18:29-30 For whosoever shall commit any of these abominations, even the souls that commit them shall be cut off from among their people. 30 Therefore shall ye keep mine ordinance, that ye commit not any one of these abominable customs, which were committed before you, and that ye defile not yourselves therein: I am the LORD your God.

At the most the Law decreed:

Deuteronomy 22:23-24 If a damsel that is a virgin be betrothed unto an husband, and a man find her in the city, and lie with her; 24 Then ye shall bring them both out unto the gate of that city, and ye shall stone them with stones that they die; the damsel, because she cried not, being in the city; and the man, because he hath humbled his neighbor’s wife: so thou shalt put away evil from among you.

Joseph was a just man. He was a believing man, a follower of God, a keeper of God’s Word. But Joseph loved Mary, and the Scripture says that he was …

not willing to make her a public example,
was minded to put her away privily

Rather than reveal what looked to be a terrible breach against God and himself Joseph decided to put her away – to divorce her privately. He would not bring charges against her.

What a wonderful love Joseph had!
He loved God and loved Mary.
This is why God chose to use Joseph to bless the world.

The Angel of God comes to Joseph with a wonderful message!

Matthew 1:20 Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.

The angel of God said “FEAR NOT”, phobeō mē, “stop fearing”. Put your fears to rest, Joseph. You will not have to expose Mary to death or dis-fellowship. You will not have to hide her pregnancy from your and her family. Do not fear to take Mary as your lawfully wedded wife. The Child she carries is not illegitimate. The child Mary is carrying is conceived of the Holy Spirit.

Who is the Holy Spirit?
The Holy Spirit is God working among us.

  • The Holy Spirit was present at the creation of the earth:Genesis 1:2 … and the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
  • The Holy Spirit moved the Prophets to write our Bible:2 Peter 1:21 … the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy {Spirit}
  • It is the Holy Spirit that leads people to faith in God, and makes the believer a Child of God by spiritual birth:John 3:5 {Jesus said} … Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

The Holy Spirit who makes the Christian and indwells the Christian (see 1 Corinthians 6:19) is indeed a member of the Godhead (see Acts 5:3-4). It is the Holy Spirit that empowers the Church and gives gifts unto the believer in order to glorify Jesus (see John 14:25-26; 15:26-27; 16:7-15). The Holy Spirit is a Person not a power Who can be can be grieved (Ephesians 4:30); has a will (1 Corinthians 12:4-7); and uses His mind to search the deep things of God (1 Corinthians 2:10). It is the Spirit that has fellowship with believers (2 Corinthians 13:14).

It is the Holy Spirit that caused the virgin we call Mary to be with Child of God. God bypassed man when He made the humanity of Christ. Joseph as a fallen man could have no hand in making the Savior.

Joseph – This Is Good News

God would choose to enter humanity through a little virgin called Mary. If Joseph had not listened to God but instead kept the Law of God without compromise then Mary would have been killed – and the Messiah would never come.

Joseph looked beyond himself.
Joseph lived his life by faith.
Joseph
feared the Lord. Oh, that more of us feared the Lord!
and Joseph
loved the Lord. Oh, that more of us loved the Lord!

The Angel gave Joseph the best news of all. Not only had Mary been faithful to him, but she was faithful to God.

Matthew 1:21 {Mary} shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.

What Joseph started out hearing as bad news was actually the best news of all. What is this good news? God would send His Son into this fallen world to save us from our sins. Why would God choose this method to save humanity? We read:

Matthew 1:22-23 Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, 23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.

Matthew tells us that this plan that God has for Mary and Joseph has been in motion since the days of Isaiah, some 700 years before. Isaiah said:

Isaiah 7:14 … the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. {which means “God with us”. See also Matthew 1:22-23}

Isaiah 9:6 … For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

God will enter humanity through Mary. He will be born to and nursed by a virgin. Why did God have to do this? Because we are born sinners. Our first parent Adam sinned against God. God placed Adam in the perfect Garden then told him:

Genesis 2:16-17 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.

Adam did as he was NOT to do, and death entered creation. From the time of Adam every person born into this life was born physically alive, but spiritually dead. We are born into this life separated from God by a sin nature that plagues us from birth. The Scripture tells us:

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

We compare ourselves to others around us to determine if we are ok or not ok. We look at ourselves in the mirror. “Man, I’m fat!” Then we go out and look at someone else. “But I’m not as fat as HE is!” Somehow we feel that by doing better than those around us we are ok.

I speak in tongues, so I’m ok.
I tithe, so I’m ok.
I go to Church, so I’m ok.
I don’t cheat on my wife, so I’m ok.
I pay my taxes, so I’m ok.

We determine our – shall I call it – ok-ness – by those around us. But whether we are ok or not is not based on others. Our ok-ness is based on God. How do we stack up to God?
How do we measure up in HIS eyes?

Romans 5:17-19 tells us … by one man’s offense death reigned by one; … 18 … by the offense of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; 19 … by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners…

God – the God Who made Heaven and earth and all that is in it – looks at us and says “death reigns among mankind. They are all condemned. They are all sinners. They are an offense to Me.” You may measure up as ok on a human scale, but on a God scale you and I are absolute zero. We are sinners in need of a Savior.

So God decided to save us. That’s what Christmas is about. Christmas is about we who are sinners – enemies of God – being reached out to BY GOD. The Lord reaches out. The Baby in the manger, the Child born of the Virgin, is Eternal God in human flesh. That Baby is the Lamb of God, sent by the Father to pay for the sins of the world. The Angel said:

Matthew 5:21 Mary … shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.

The Son of God enters humanity. He does not enter to parades and the cheers of the public. He enters humanity on a rescue mission. What did the Angel say?

Jesus SHALL SAVE His people from their sins

We are told in:

Romans 5:8-11 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. 11 And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.

The Baby born in the manger was born to die for us. Why did He have to die? Because sin is an eternal affront to God. It is not a lark, a fantasy, a jaunt. Sin is deadly, for it separates from God.

It was sin that cast Adam and Eve from Paradise.
It was sin that brought a flood that killed all but eight souls.
It was sin that destroyed Tyre and Sidon.
It was sin that demolished Sodom and Gomorrah.
It is sin that brings death and mayhem to humanity.
It is sin that keeps people from God, and ultimately from Heaven.
Sin is the third party that destroys marriages.
Sin robs children of their parents.
Sin kills babies in the womb.

Oh Beloved, would that we would all understand that sin is no joy, but a robber of joy. It pays a deadly wage. But Christ came to separate us from sin’s slavery. Christ was born once, so that we could be born again. Jesus came to make payment for our sins, to be the Savior of HIS people. To those who receive Him as Lord and Savior, you receive with Him life, love, adoption, and power to become the sons of God. With Jesus you receive Heaven in eternity and peace with God on earth.

We Need To Examine Our Salvation
With Fear And Trembling

Which brings us to the Scripture you read earlier:

Philippians 2:12-13 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. 13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.

The Bible doesn’t tell us to work FOR our salvation, but to work it OUT. Jesus worked worked for our salvation. None of us can earn nor deserve our salvation. This is why God became Man. He took our place on Calvary, dying for our sins. Once more:

Romans 5:19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were MADE sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be MADE righteous.

2 Corinthians 5:21 For he hath MADE him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be MADE the righteousness of God in him.

Are you one of Christ’s people? I am not your judge. God is your Judge. Examine your salvation, dear ones. I want us all in Heaven. But more than this, I want us all as Christ’s people right now, here on this earth. If you are saved then you are not save by your works – but once saved you will live for Jesus. You will live to honor the Lord Who saved you.

I wish every Christian a Merry Christmas. But if you are not one of Christ’s redeemed, I wish you a scary Christmas. I pray the conviction of God afflict you until you can say with confident peace,
“I am Christ’s and Christ is mine!”

May God touch your hearts with His Word!

Posted in Christmas Sermons, General, Sermons Preached | Tagged , , ,

Christ Lifted Up

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John 3:13-18 And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven. 14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: 15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. 16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. 18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

I believe John 3:16 is perhaps the most famous and memorized Bible verse. I believe this is because John 3:16 is part of a discourse that the Lord Jesus held with a Jewish Rabbi and Leader named Nicodemus. We are told this in:

John 3:1 There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews:

and in John 3:10 Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master (Greek διδάσκαλος – didaskalos, literally “master teacher” or Rabbi) of Israel, and knowest not these things?

As Jesus discussed salvation with this “master teacher of Judaism” He began to reveal that Christianity is not just another religion among many. Those who are true Christians are “born again of the Spirit of God” (John 3:3, 5, 8). A Christian becomes a Christian because that person calls on Jesus to be saved. The Genuine Call from the lost person creates what you might call a chain effect which is described in …

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

God makes the Christian. Not the Church, nor the Creed; not the Pastor nor the Person. Only God. God causes a supernatural change to occur in the believer, one in which God describes it as “being born again”.

Tonight I want to focus on the passages leading up to John 3:16, starting here:

John 3:13 And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.

The Jamieson, Fausset & Brown Commentary on John says of verse 13:

The perfect knowledge of God is not obtained by any man’s going up from earth to heaven to receive it – no man hath so ascended – but He whose proper habitation, in His essential and eternal nature, is heaven”

In other words only Jesus Christ has ever had direct contact with God in Heaven. He has looked upon God, spoken to God face to face, lived with God, and is Himself God. So what Jesus is about to tell this Rabbi named Nicodemus – and us who are listening in – is firsthand information. Jesus is not speaking as a Prophet nor a Pastor, but as a Person of the Trinity.

Now Jesus gives us a parallel between an Old Testament event, applying it to His coming crucifixion. Jesus says:

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

We know this is a reference to Jesus’ crucifixion because of the phrase LIFTED UP. Jesus told the Pharisees:

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

John 12:32-33 {Jesus said} And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. 33 This he said, signifying what death he should die.

Jesus knew from the very beginning of His earthly ministry that He would be LIFTED UP or crucified for our sins. Though Nicodemus may not have fully understood all that Jesus was saying, it is clear that Jesus is comparing His coming crucifixion to the time in the Old Testament that Moses lifted up a serpent in the wilderness.

The Lifting Up Of The Serpent Defines The Crucifixion

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

To understand Jesus’ illustration we need to go in the Bible to where Moses LIFTED UP the serpent. This is found in Numbers Chapter 21.

What happened in Numbers 21? Well, it starts out well. Israel had just had a great victory. Attacked by the King of the the Canaanites, God blessed His people. We read:

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

The name “HORMAH” means “devotion”. God’s people were having victory because they were devoted to God. They sought the Lord. They looked to Him, and not to themselves. The Church in America is failing today because we are NOT HORMAH. We are not devoted to our God. We are doing things all for the wrong reasons.

We are to glorify the Lord!
We are to trust Him, and fully rely on Him!
He is able, but we are not!

As Israel begins to move once more that day’s march starts out with celebration. Our God blessed! They started out singing. But then we read:

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

The land of Edom is the place where the children of Esau lived, the ancient enemies of Israel. Israel had an easy win with the Canaanites, and probably thought that things would be downhill for a while. It wasn’t. There is more stress, more trials. And the people became discouraged.

God knows that we are going to be discouraged at times. This is why the Lord tells us:

2 Chronicles 20:15 … Thus saith the LORD unto you, Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God’s.

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

Fear and discouragement often go together. Discouragement is the devil’s greatest tool. He can fan the spark of discouragement into a flame of disobedience and dishonor. This is what happened with Israel.

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

The people spoke against God and His chosen leader. They even went further by mocking the manna that God had given them in Grace. Israel had a shortage of water – though they were not dehydrated. They were tired and stressed – though not overwhelmed. But as they murmured and mocked, God listened.

The Bible tells us that “the wages of sin is DEATH” (Romans 6:23).
The Bible says that “sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death”
(James 1:15)
.

Sin is dangerous – very dangerous – especially when you anger God. The Bible says:

Numbers 21:6 {because of their sin} the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died.

As death came on many, Israel decided to repent, to turn from their sin and cry out to God. The Bible says that:

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

Now we’re coming to Jesus’ reference from John 3. God spoke to Moses, and told him:

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

Moses lifted up a brass serpent on a pole. If a serpent had bitten anyone, if that person looked up and focused on that serpent believing – they would live.

The Serpent And The Christ

The serpent represents the sin of the people. The serpent represents our Lord Jesus Christ. That was what Jesus said. Once more:

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

It was a serpent in the Garden of Eden that enticed Adam to sin against God (see Genesis 3:1, 6-7; 2 Corinthians 11:3). That serpent is satan (Revelation 12:14-15; 20:2). Sin caused humanity to fall from God. Sin brought snakes into the camp of Israel. Sin brings death.

  • The serpent that was placed on Moses pole was not a natural serpent. It was made of brass by Moses. The Man that hung on the Cross of Calvary was not a natural born man. He is God made, born of the Holy Spirit:

Matthew 1:20 … the angel of the Lord appeared unto {Joseph} in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.

Luke 1:35 … the angel {of the Lord} answered and said unto {Mary}, 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.

  • Sin was killing Israel. They could only be saved by looking up at that serpent on the pole. Sin kills us. We are only saved by looking up at our Jesus on the Cross of Calvary.

Why did God use a snake in the Old Testament to represent the Christ in the New Testament. The answer is very simple.

2 Corinthians 5:18-21 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. 20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. 21 For {God the Father} hath made {God the Son} to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

The snake represented sin. When Jesus was crucified – LIFTED UP on Calvary’s Cross – God literally MADE HIM TO BE SIN FOR US. Jesus knew no sin. He was completely sinless. The Scripture declares:

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

Jesus became not just me, but every sinner who would ever be born. He became the ultimate snake. Dying on that Cross He took my penalty and your penalty upon Himself. He did this so that we could become:

Sons of God
Children of Light
Priests unto God
A peculiar people who praise Him!

  • There was no work for Israel to do in order to be saved from death. Moses built the serpent and put it on the pole according to God’s specifications. All Israel could do was look at the serpent. They could not make their own pole. They could not earn nor deserve their salvation. God in Grace provided that salvation, they only need LOOK. God said:

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

Only God can save. Only God. We look unto Him, high and lifted up. Suffering, bleeding, dying. That is MY sin which caused that. That is MY God Who is hanging there for me. Ever will I love Him because of that. We are to look unto Jesus. And, as Moses did, do nothing to modify what God has said. Moses did exactly as God said, and Israel lived. We as God’s Ambassadors must – we MUST – do the same!

Damnation Or Salvation Based On That Look

John 3:16-18 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. 18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already

Whoever looks up at Jesus, believing will not perish. That is every person’s choice, to look or not to look. Those who look are saved. The sin is covered, and the person is freed from slavery to sin to serve the living God. What does the Scripture say?

Romans 6:6 … Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that HENCEFORTH WE SHOULD NOT SERVE SIN.

Romans 6:16-18 Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? 17 But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. 18 Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.

The death of Christ freed us who are His from sin so that we can serve the Savior. Let us together serve the Savior!

May God touch your hearts with His Word.

Posted in John, Sermons Preached | Tagged , , , ,

God’s Alphabet For His Children

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Photo by Patrick Tomasso on Unsplash

Psalm 119:1-8 ALEPH. Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the LORD. 2 Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart. 3 They also do no iniquity: they walk in his ways. 4 Thou hast commanded us to keep thy precepts diligently. 5 O that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes! 6 Then shall I not be ashamed, when I have respect unto all thy commandments. 7 I will praise thee with uprightness of heart, when I shall have learned thy righteous judgments. 8 I will keep thy statutes: O forsake me not utterly.

When I was a little boy I learned my ABCs by song. Perhaps you did, too. Remember?

A B C D E F G

Come and sing along with me.

H I J K,

L M N O P

Tell me what think of me.

Q R S T U and V

W X and Y and Z

Now I know my ABCs

Come along and sing with me.

I still sing this song sometimes when I’m filing something away 🙂 – Singing is a good way to learn. God used a song to teach His children the importance of the Scripture. This is what Psalm 119 is: the ABCs of faith.

Psalm 119 Is The ABCs Of Faith

We can’t study the entire Psalm 119 tonight, for it has 2445 words, making it longest chapter in the Bible (and the longest song).

Psalm 119 Is A Very Long Song
Teaching God’s Children The ABCs Of Faith

Psalm 119 is one of the few chapters of the Bible where the verse divisions are inspired by God. The verse divisions of the Old Testament were assigned by the Jewish Rabbi Nathan in 1448 AD. Psalm 119 is broken up using the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet, Aleph, Beth, and Gimel and so on, which are like our English ABCs. Each letter division is followed by eight verses.

22 Divisions
x 8 Verses
= 176 verses

The Rabbi at the Jewish website aish.com wrote:

22 is a number of completeness, because it is the full representation of the 22 letters of the Alef-Bet – i.e. everything from A to Z (from Alef to Tav).

As for the number 8: We know that 7 represents the “natural realm” – i.e. 7 days of the week, 7 notes in the musical scale, etc. But 8 represents completeness beyond nature – a completeness in the spiritual realm. That is why Brit Milah is held on the 8th day of a boy’s life. This also explains why God first commanded Abraham to perform circumcision with the words, “Walk before Me and be complete” (Genesis 17:1).”

It is popular in this secular world today to hear people say, “I’m spiritual, but not religious. I don’t need an ancient text to guide my spiritual life.”

You may believe this, but Psalm 119 stands up and tells you that you are no more than an idolater. Idolatry worships what it thinks is God, but it is really an imaginary little “g” god. God is defined by His Word. Idolatry is very dangerous, which is why the Bible tells us …

1 Corinthians 10:13-14 … There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it. 14 Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry.

Trials and tribulations come to all who are human, animal, and plant life on this fallen earth. The God Who created all that you see – our faithful and trustworthy God – is able to take us through the trials that beset us. Yet an idol can do us no good. The first generation of Israel followed God out of Egypt, then began to make an idol of Moses rather than the Lord Who saved them. What happened when Moses was called up into Sinai to receive the Law? Israel had Aaron the High Priest create an idol to worship, a golden calf (Exodus 32:21-24) to worship and follow instead of Moses. Many churches today make idols out of their pastors or worship leaders. Beloved, do not do this. We are but men. But God is God, and He is defined by His Holy Scripture, the Word of God.

If you know God’s Word, you know God’s Character.
If you know God’s Character, you know God.
The Scripture – our Holy Bible – defines God, the True God.
Our worship is defined by His Word!

Blessing Comes By Obeying The Lord

Psalm 119:1-2 ALEPH. Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the LORD. 2 Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart.

The word “blessed” starts this ABC of faith. ALEPH. Say this with me. ALEPH. That is equivalent to our “A”in the ABCs. Say it again. ALEPH. This is the beginning of faith. The word “blessed” is the Hebrew אֶשֶׁר ʼesher, (pronounced eh’-sher) which means “to be happy”.

Do you want to be “happy”?

Americans – in fact everyone – wants to be “happy”. When our nation broke away from the tyranny of Great Britain our founding fathers wrote in our “Declaration of Independence”:

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

Our forefathers knew than God created us and wanted us to be happy. But happiness is not automatic – it must be pursued. It is not like the air we breath.

Happiness is to be pursued.
To pursue God is to pursue happiness!

As a nation we have in the last few years pursued happiness apart from an ongoing relationship with the God Who made us. As a result we are not happy – though we have so much stuff we have to rent storage space to hold it all. We are like the farmer that Jesus spoke of in Luke 12:13-21 who had so much stuff that he said:

“What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? and he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods.”

But then God called him to judgment, this always busy, always unhappy farmer. The Lord told this foolish American:

“… Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”

Genuine richness comes from both knowing and walking in step with God your Creator. There is no happy life apart from God.

Psalm 119:1 ALEPH. Blessed {or happy} are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the LORD.

Who are the “undefiled in the way”? These are the ones who “walk in the Law of the Lord”. The ones who obey the Lord our God.

There has been much nonsense in my lifetime – particularly nonsense from the pulpits of liberal American churches – that has said:

The law cannot save you,
So toss the law away and believe on Jesus.
Do nothing beyond this, because you don’t have to.
You’re not under the Law, but under Grace.

This is hogwash – a twisting of the Scripture. Those who are saved walk by the precepts of the Lord Who saved them. It is true that the Scripture says:

Galatians 3:22-26 But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. 23 But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. 24 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25 But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. 26 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.

Well meaning and confused preachers have teaching secularism and liberalism from their pulpits have said “If you are a Christian you are no longer under the Law. You are therefore lawless. Just believe in Jesus, and do what you will – you will go to Heaven.” Our Lord Jesus did not teach this – ever! And neither did the Apostle Paul. Here is the Biblical teaching.

The written Law was given to unbelieving Israel at Mount Sinai. The written Law was given to show each and every one of us that we are at best sinners in need of God our Savior. The written Law was given to show us our need for Christ, and to demonstrate through its ceremonies how the Lamb of God would come from God to save us.

The written Law foretold our Jesus. When Jesus came to this earth – Incarnate God born of the virgin Mary according to the written Law (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23; John 1:14; 1 John 4:9) He was quite specific. He said:

Matthew 5:17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.

Only Jesus among mankind has ever perfectly lived out the Law. Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of the Law. When He died on Calvary He decreed “It is finished”. Not “I am finished” but “IT is finished”:

John 19:30 When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.

James 1:15 Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.

When sin is finished it brings forth death. Jesus defeated sin and death on the Cross. When we receive Him as Lord and Savior then we are saved – saved by faith. BUT HEED THESE WORDS. ONCE SAVED BY FAITH, WE WALK OBEYING GOD. You cannot be saved by keeping the Law of God – the Pharisees are proof of this. But once you are saved you walk according to the decrees of God. Not to BE saved, but BECAUSE you are saved. We who are Christians do not have to kill animals to cover our sins. Christ’s death paid for our sins. We who are Christians do not have to avoid certain foods in order to be saved. God has decreed all things clean because of Christ (Acts 10:10-16). We who are saved need not be ceremonially circumcised according to the Law, for …

Colossians 2:10-11 And ye are complete in {Jesus}, which is the head of all principality and power: 11 In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ:

The Christian is circumcised not in his foreskin, but every Christian whether male or female are circumcised in heart (Romans 2:29). Our hearts are tender toward God. We love Him, and follow Him Who saved us. We cherish His Word, and do according to His will. His Spirit indwells us, and directs us. This His Bible we love because we are loved of Him. The Bible tells us:

1 Corinthians 7:19 … Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God.

Leviticus 22:31 Therefore shall ye keep my commandments, and do them: I am the LORD.

Deuteronomy 5:9-10 Thou shalt not bow down thyself unto them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me, 10 And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me and keep my commandments.

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

John 15:10-14 … If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love. 11 These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. 12 This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. 13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. 14 Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.

Psalm 119:1 ALEPH. Blessed {or happy} are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the LORD.

The “undefiled in the way” are those who have received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, believing Him to be our Lord and Savior. The early Christians were called “those who walk in the way“. When Jesus healed the blind man at Jericho the Bible says:

Mark 10:51-52 And Jesus answered and said unto him, What wilt thou that I should do unto thee? The blind man said unto him, Lord, that I might receive my sight. 52 And Jesus said unto him, Go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole. And immediately he received his sight, and followed Jesus in the way.

The blind man did not work to be given sight. He heard Jesus coming. He cried out to Jesus, “Lord Jesus, have mercy on me”. When Jesus gave him sight then his way became Jesus’ way, and Jesus’ way was his way. He followed the Lord. What did Jesus say of Himself?

John 14:6 … I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

Which brings me to this point:

I Am Not SAVED By My Works,
But I Am BLESSED By Following My Savior

Psalm 119:1-3 ALEPH. Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the LORD. 2 Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart. 3 They also do no iniquity: they walk in his ways.

Blessing or happiness comes by seeking the Lord, and by keeping His testimonies – that is, by doing what He says. The professing Christian that is not following Jesus in the Way is one of two things:

Confused, or
Completely Lost!

The Scripture defines faith this way:

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

Without faith you cannot be saved. But faith properly defined is the heart felt pursuit of God. It is not the pursuit of religion. The Muslims pursue religion. The Mormons pursue religion. The Progressives, the LGBT crowd, the party goers, the various cults all pursue religion.

The Christian pursues God. Why?
Because we LOVE God our Savior.
We LOVE Jesus. We LOVE the Spirit of God.
And we know that God is NOT FOUND in sin,
But in the palace of righteousness.

When Christ Jesus came to this earth it was not merely to save souls, but to build a kingdom of Light. The kingdom of Light loves Jesus, loves the Father, loves others because we have been loved. We follow God by rejecting what He has defined as iniquity, and by walking in His ways. What are God’s ways? Well Jesus told us in His first recorded sermon, the Sermon on the Mount. What did He tell us?

Matthew 5:19-20 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 5:43-46 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy. 44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; 45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

The Pharisees had a head knowledge religion rather than a heart knowledge faith. They did what they saw as commands in order to get to Heaven. This works based salvation just made them more selfish and self centered. They thought among themselves “Heaven was made for us because we are SO GOOD”. People with this mindset will be in hell one day, not Heaven. I was listening to a comedian the other day who was talking about God. He said (and I’m paraphrasing him):

“I believe in God – but only when I have to. When I’m flying I believe in God. When I get on a plane and see a little old lady trying to get her bag into an overhead compartment I stop and help her. Then I say, “See here, God, what a good person I am! Please don’t let the plane crash”. But when the plane landed he said “I don’t have time to help that little old lady. After all, I already helped her. Let somebody else do it – I just believe in God while I’m in the air”.

Many people are this way. They believe in a god of convenience, a god when they are hospitalized, a god to turn to when death visits their family. That person is not saved, but terribly lost. The Pharisees loved the Law, loved religion, loved doing stuff, but had no love for God or for others. They were terribly lost. The religion that touches the head but not the heart is the religion of the lost.

I’m about out of time, but I want to give you a little more of this wonderful Psalm 119. Hear this:

Psalm 119:2 Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart.

Psalm 119:10-11 With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments. 11 Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.

Psalm 119:24 Thy testimonies also are my delight and my counselors.

Psalm 119:34 Give me understanding, and I shall keep thy law; yea, I shall observe it with my whole heart.

Psalm 119:47-48 And I will delight myself in thy commandments, which I have loved. 48 My hands also will I lift up unto thy commandments, which I have loved; and I will meditate in thy statutes.

If some preacher has told you that you must keep God’s Law to be saved, then he is lying. We are saved by faith in the finished work of Christ. But if some preacher has told you now that you are saved by faith you no longer need hear nor heed God’s Word, this Holy Scripture, then he is lying. God gave us His Word to live by it, to learn by it, to love it. Our prayer is:

Psalm 119:5 O that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes! 6 Then shall I not be ashamed, when I have respect unto all thy commandments.

Born again by faith in Christ, we are indwelt by His Spirit. We need His Word. We live our lives according to His Word because we love Him. Blessed be the Name of the Lord!

Posted in Psalms, Sermons Preached | Tagged , , ,

Kingdom Of Heaven Taken By Force

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Photo by frank mckenna on Unsplash

Matthew 11:12-15 And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force. 13 For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. 14 And if ye will receive it, this is {Elijah}, which was for to come. 15 He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

As we start the Advent Season and recognition of our Lord Jesus Christ coming into humanity (an event called “The Incarnation”) we will sing about the birth in the manger. We will celebrate the shepherds watching their flocks by night, and the celebration of angels as Messiah was born in a manger. We will talk about the little virgin called Mary and her faithful and godly husband Joseph. We’ll see and hear the children sing about that Holy Baby born.

So why am I in the middle part of Matthew instead of Matthew 2? Because the birth of Christ came according to Bible Prophecy. Someone asked me once “Why do you trust this Bible and what it says? Hasn’t it changed over the years? Haven’t people changed?” My answer is, “No, people haven’t changed, and the Bible hasn’t changed. Before Christ could come prophesies – written in Scripture – had to be fulfilled. When Jesus Christ came He fulfilled every single prophecy of the Messiah found in the Old Testament”. That’s why I trust the Bible. It has proved itself over and over again, and I love God it’s Author for it! Praise Him!

Before Messiah could come someone else had to come. The King of Kings and Lord of Lords (Revelation 19:16; Deuteronomy 10:17; Psalm 136:3; Daniel 2:47; 1 Timothy 6:15; Revelation 1:5; Matthew 28:18; Acts 10:36), our Blessed Jesus, was going to be born into humanity. The King was coming! The Promise of salvation from the serpent of sin (Genesis 3:15) was going to be fulfilled! The blessing of Abraham was now going to come on the world (Genesis 12:1-3).

Before the King of Kings and Lord of Lords could be clothed
in flesh a Herald must be raised up.
Part of the miracle of Christmas is John the Baptist.

John The Baptist – The Herald Of Christ
Was The Elijah & Moses Which Was To Come

Jesus never spoke a lie or made an error. Jesus is …

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

Or as John spoke of Him:

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

Jesus said of John the Baptist:

Matthew 11:13-14 For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. 14 And if ye will receive it, this is {Elijah}, which was for to come.

Elijah was one of the Greatest Prophets in the Old Testament. It was Elijah who stood on Mount Carmel – just he and God, together against the false idols of that day. No one else stood with Elijah but God. But Beloved, if you and God are standing together, you are in a majority! It does not matter if the whole world stands against you.

Romans 8:31 … If God be for us, who can be against us?

Elijah and God that day on Carmel proved God’s faithfulness. The idols were overturned, satan was cast down, and God once more showed Himself to be faithful. Yet Israel would not hear.

Time passed, and the Messiah did not come. The Messiah was prophesied. One of the texts you will hear this Season prophesying Jesus’s birth is:

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.

Matthew 1:23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.

God the Messiah would come to us through a remarkable birth, a virgin birth. But there is significance in Jesus saying that John the Baptist
was the Elijah who was to come.

After Elijah defeated idolatry on Mount Carmel God took him up to Heaven without death – he was caught up by a chariot of fire (2 Kings 2:3-9). After taking Elijah into Heaven God foretold through the Prophet:

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.

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

John the Baptist was the messenger that God sent to prepare the way before Jesus. He – like Elijah – would stand strong against the forces of evil, often standing by himself against the religious evils of satan. Jesus said …

Matthew 11:14    And if ye will receive it, this is {Elijah}, which was for to come.

The first Elijah – that great Prophet – after fighting the forces of evil with God by his side grew weary and despondent. He was exhausted. Why was he exhausted if God stood by his side? Because the devil and the forces of evil are relentless. They never cease! When righteous Elijah stood up against the false prophets – the false religious system of Jezebel and Ahab – he trusted in God. But after battling and standing with God there was one more evil to come. The queen of Israel, Jezebel, sent to Elijah a messenger:

1 Kings 19:2-4 … saying, So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I make not thy life as the life of one of them by to morrow about this time. 3 And when he saw that, he arose, and went for his life, and came to Beersheba, which belongeth to Judah, and left his servant there. 4 But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers.

The first Elijah experienced what even the strongest of God’s servants will experience. Evil is relentless. Evil is Judas Iscariot hiding among the twelve. Evil is the soldiers hiding in the bushes of Gethsemane, waiting to see who Judas kisses. Evil is the deacon who rises up against the overseer. Evil is the religious Pharisee plotting Christ’s death because Jesus healed a man on the Sabbath. Evil takes many faces. It is violent. It is pretty. It is winsome. It is sneaky. It is shining as Lucifer – that fallen angel – shines.

Elijah let evil effect him. He broke, and ran. His mind went away from God and, for just a moment, he took his eyes off of Jesus.

Evil Is Persistent – But God Is Greater Than

Just as even Elijah broke and ran from evil,
John would have his failure.

But just as God stood with Elijah, so now Jesus stands with the Elijah who was John the Baptist. Jesus said:

Matthew 11:12 And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force. 13 For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. 14 And if ye will receive it, this is {Elijah}, which was for to come.

Elijah failed and ran – and John the Baptist had a crisis of faith, too. What lead up to our text of today? Evil starting attacking John as soon as he came into ministry. His story starts at his birth, which was miraculous and part of the Christmas story.

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.

Zacharias and Elisabeth were faithful to serve God, but they had no child. Then God sent an angel to them, saying:

Luke 1:13-14 Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John. 14 And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth.

Why was John being born? Because he was the prophesied Herald of the Lord. The angel told Zacharias that John (whose name means “The Grace of the Lord”) …

Luke 1:17 … shall go before {the Messiah} 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 the Baptist was a cousin to Jesus Christ, and would be born about 6 months prior to Jesus. This was so his ministry would herald Jesus for 6 months or so until Jesus the Messiah began to minister.

The devil did not want the Messiah to come. He tried to kill the Messiah in Bethlehem through evil Herod. But God protected His Son. As John and Jesus grew John started preaching about six months before Christ Jesus came to be baptized. As John preached the kingdom of Heaven suffered violence. All of the forces of evil rose up to discredit John. When John began to preach the idolatrous Pharisees and the fallen world began to attack:

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

The forces of evil struggled against John. They tempted him, asking him “Are you the Christ?”. There are many preachers who, in the preaching of the Gospel, as their churches grew to the glory of God began to think more highly of themselves than they ought to think (Romans 12:3).

John kept his eyes on Jesus.

Are you Elijah, John? Are you the Moses that was to come?” the idol worshipers of religion asked. You see, God promised that when Moses died:

Deuteronomy 18:15 … The LORD thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken;

John, are YOU that Moses? But John was very careful, and very humble. He would not say he was the Elijah that was to come, and definitely knew that he was not the Moses of God’s people. That title was reserved unto Christ Jesus. He is our Moses, our Leader, our Lawmaker, our Lord! So John said, “No, I am not Moses nor Elijah”.

If the idol makers cannot get you to follow their idol, they will try to get you to make yourself into an idol. John the Baptist was not fooled – and neither should you be!

They pressed John. “Then WHO ARE YOU! We must know!” And John replied, quoting the prophesy of …

Isaiah 40:3 {John the Baptist was} 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.

John 1:23 … I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet {Isaiah}.

Evil is persistent! They pursued John. The demanded:

John 1:25Why baptizest thou then, if thou be not that Christ, nor Elias, neither that prophet?

John kept his eyes on Jesus. He cried out:

John 1:26-27 … I baptize with water: but there standeth one among you, whom ye know not; 27 He it is, who coming after me is preferred before me, whose shoe’s latchet I am not worthy to unloose.

John stood on the mountain just as Elijah stood on the mountain many years ago, standing up for the Messiah. The Christ has come – He now is! Yet You, false god called “religion”, false light called “secularism”, false doctrine called “humanism” and “progressiveness” – oh it’s gone by many names over the years. But it still is evil. John stood, and pointed to Christ.

The Kingdom Of Heaven Suffers Violence,
And The Violent Take It By Force

Returning to our text we read Jesus’ words once more:

Matthew 11:12 And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.

You will not coast to Heaven. If you are born again and living for Jesus then evil will seek you out. Evil will attack you. On the day that Jesus uttered these words the Bible tells us:

Matthew 11:2-3 Now when John {the Baptist} had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples, 3 And said unto him, Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?

The first Elijah had a crisis of faith in 1 Kings 19, and now the second Elijah has a crisis of faith.

John has been serving the Lord, and if you serve the Lord you are often not politically correct! Politicians are often professional liars who say what everyone wants to hear. But Beloved, if you are God’s child by faith in Christ then you are to say what God wants to hear.
That will get you into trouble.

John had been preaching of the coming Christ. As part of that, John preached REPENTANCE. John stepped on people’s toes because he lived for the Lord. This is where his focus was.

John is in prison for saying that King Herod’s sexual incest was evil (see Matthew 14:4“it is against the Word of God for you to have her”). If you are the Light of God that God has called you to be YOU WILL NOT DRIFT TO HEAVEN ON GOSSAMER WINGS. Jesus told us:

John 15:18 If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.

There is nothing more the world hates than to be told that sin is wrong and God is right. There is nothing more hated than those who speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). The devil wants us all to buy into his lie that we can all just get saved by faith in Jesus, and then drift into Heaven on a cushion of grace, never going against the tide. Oh Beloved, if you believe this then hear the words of our Savior and Lord:

Luke 6:26 Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets.

The mark of the false prophet is the one who says:

Ezekiel 13:10-13 … Peace; and there was no peace; and one built up a wall, and, lo, others daubed it with untempered mortar: 11 Say unto them which daub it with untempered mortar, that it shall fall: there shall be an overflowing shower; and ye, O great hailstones, shall fall; and a stormy wind shall rend it. 12 Lo, when the wall is fallen, shall it not be said unto you, Where is the daubing wherewith ye have daubed it? 13 Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; I will even rend it with a stormy wind in my fury; and there shall be an overflowing shower in mine anger, and great hailstones in my fury to consume it.

If you are saved, you are called to stand with the God Who saved you. You are called to be Light even if you are the only one shining. You are called to stand up for Jesus and be counted. Those who believe in a salvation that brings no change of lifestyle nor change of temperament are believing in a Baal sort of religion, a Pharisaical abomination that crucified Christ, a godless paganism that drove the nails through His hands and feet.

If you are born again you may fail – but Jesus will stand with you and lift you back up. When John had his crisis of faith Jesus did not abandon him. No, Jesus never abandons His children. Jesus did not condemn John, no more than He condemned Elijah in 1 Kings 19. After ministering that day Jesus told John’s disciples:

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

John, keep looking toward Me. Keep your eyes on Me. Though you may be in a valley now, one day you will be in glory with Me. And John, I will not forsake you. I love you. Keep standing. Keep your eyes on Me. Not on others. Not on the idols of the ages. On Jesus Christ, the Messiah.

I love Jesus, and there have been times in my life when I have cried out to God. Every believer has, Old or New Testament. But keep your eyes on Jesus. He is there. And realize, dear ones – that Heaven is taken by the violent. The devil will attack if you are following Jesus. He will seek to destroy you. He will seek to destroy this Church. As Robert Turnage of Alpha & Omega School of Christ writes:

The powers of hell will try to prevent the salvation of a soul. God is the Victor. But, when you enter into God’s Kingdom, every opposition of hell will be brought against that soul. From the beginning, a born again soul realizes that God’s dealings with him were not just for his redemption, but he now has the realization of his new life and how he must guard and fight against every attempt to rob him of this treasure. That individual will fight every prejudice and bias leveled against him. The overcomer will stand and fight against every hindrance, criticism, and personal attack against his testimony. He knows God did not just make him a citizen of heaven at the moment of salvation; he knows God not only started a good work in him but, has an eternal purpose to finish what He has begun. God saves and keeps His children. His chosen ones will never only accept His eternal plan but will follow {His Word}…”

The message of Christmas is that God came into the world to save us from damnation. The forces of hell will do everything it can to damn a soul – so we must, as John did, keep our eyes on Jesus. As that beautiful song “It’s About The Cross”:

It’s not just about the manger,
Where the baby lay
It’s not all about the angels,
Who sing for Him that day
It’s not just about the shepherds,
Or the bright and shining star:
It’s not all about the wise men,
Who traveled from afar:
It’s about the cross …
It’s about my sin ….
It’s about how Jesus came to be born once
So that we could be born again.
It’s about the stone …
That was rolled away …
So that you and I could have real life someday.
It’s about the cross.

May God touch your hearts with His Word.

Posted in Christmas Sermons, Matthew, Sermons Preached | Tagged , , , , ,

This Is Right

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Photo by Robert Collins on Unsplash

Ephesians 6:1-4 Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. (2) Honor thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) (3) That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth. (4) And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

For this is right”. What is “right” and what is wrong? In our world today it seems as if the lines between right and wrong are blurred. Why is that? The charge can be laid directly at the feet of parents and grandparents and great grandparents. God gave the parents of the child the responsibility to teach what is “right” and what is wrong. When God gave Israel the land of promise He told them:

Deuteronomy 6:4-7 … Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: 5 And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. 6 And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: 7 And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children…

To teach the child was the give your stewardship the knowledge of God. God told His people:

Deuteronomy 6:18 … And thou shalt do that which is right and good in the sight of the Lord: that it may be well with thee, and that thou mayest go in and possess the good land which the Lord sware unto thy fathers …

How is “right” defined? It is “that which is right and good IN THE SIGHT OF GOD”. The Bible says:

Proverbs 21:2 … Every way of a man is right in his own eyes:…

But in Psalm 33:4 For the word of the Lord is right; and all his works are done in truth.

In our world today most people do not know right or wrong. They guess at it, or listen to the majority and grasp after it, but none truly understand right or wrong. Too many professing Christians are like Lot who sat in the gate of the city, silently watching the evil around him in Sodom and Gomorrah, but never speaking the Word of God. What came of Lot’s attitude? Because Lot failed to speak up and teach the children right according to God our Savior that iniquity grew and grew until God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19). When Lot left that city his own inquiry abounded, and through incest with his daughters created two cursed nations – the Moabites and the Ammonites (Genesis 19:37-38; Deuteronomy 23:3).

Failure to teach the children right according to God’s Word brings a curse on a person, and on a nation. The children of yesterday are the adults of today – and a curse has been brought on our nation because of lazy and godless parenting.

Authority Is Learned While A Child

Ephesians 6:1 Children, obey parents in the Lord: for this is right.

The word “obey” is interesting, the Greek υπακουω, hupakouo, (pronounced hoop-ak-oo’-o), which means to hear under (as a subordinate), that is, to listen attentively and then respond according to the command”. Children are taught to listen to and obey their parents as the first authority figures in their lives. The child that grows up without authority will grow up into an adult without authority. This leads to anarchy and eventually the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.

I heard Dr. David Jeremiah tell this story:

Three-year-old Holland was arguing with her mom during bedtime. Finally, her mother tucked the girl in, saying firmly, “I love you, Holland, but not another word tonight. You are going to sleep now. I’m done fussing over stuffed animals.” Holland said: “Mommy, I forgive you.” The mother didn’t know Holland even knew the word forgive, so she asked what she meant. The child said, “It means you were wrong, and I’m tired of being mad, and now I’m going to sleep and my heart won’t have a tummy ache.”

This mother had been teaching her child the things of God, for she had taught the child Jesus’ command:

Matthew 6:14-15 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: 15 But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Jesus taught us to forgive, and to do good even to our enemies. The child learned that, and praise God for it. But the child is also being taught obedience to authority, lawful authority, which is so necessary and yet so lacking in our world today.

In colleges across our nation parents are paying exorbitant fees to colleges and universities so that the same children can shout down speakers and disrupt classes all in some evil twisting of the American Constitution. Cities are violating federal laws under some guise of allowing illegal and non tax paying immigrants into our society. One political party in our country is a thinly veiled presentation of socialism, whereas the other political party tramples the rights of workers in the name of free enterprise. Did I make you mad? Good. Then what I said is about right.

Children are to be taught “what is right in the Lord. The phrase in the Lord is, I am told, found 115 times in the King James text, and always refers to an attitude and an action of righteousness as modeled by our God.

I wish more people had military training. It was in the military that I was introduced to the phrase “lawful order”. When a superior gives a “lawful order” I, as an airman, had to follow that command to the best of my ability. No one had to obey unlawful orders. Whether you served in the military or not, if you saw the movie Hacksaw Ridge you saw an illustration of lawful and unlawful orders. The movie was based on the life of a Christian named Desmond Doss. Desmond almost didn’t make it to Okinawa, which would have been not only tragic, but would have caused the death of many other Americans. His commander gave him an unlawful order, one that he refused to obey (if you want the details, see the movie!). Thankfully the order was rescinded – and Desmond went on to Okinawa where he saved 75 soldiers during one of the bloodiest battles of World War II. His actions were rewarded with the Congressional Medal of Honor.

Children are to obey their parents when given lawful orders, that is, direction that is honoring to the Holy Scripture. Children are to be taught that they have a sacred obligation to follow the direction of their parents. Parents are not to abuse nor molest their children. The Bible says that children are gifts from God:

Psalms 127:3-5 Lo, children [are] an heritage of the LORD: [and] the fruit of the womb [is his] reward. (4) As arrows [are] in the hand of a mighty man; so [are] children of the youth. (5) Happy [is] the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.

Children are to be a blessing to their parents. They are not only to “obey” their parents, but are to “honor” them. We read:

Ephesians 6:2 Honor thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;)

Obey is an action, whereas honor is an attitude.

Bill Bright of Campus Crusade for Christ told this story:

A mother was driving to school one day, and her youngest child was standing in the seat beside her. Realizing the danger, she said to him, “Sit down and buckle up! I may have to stop suddenly and you’ll be thrown against the windshield.” “No!” the little boy refused. “I said sit down, dear, I don’t want you to get hurt,” the mother said sternly. “No!” came the stubborn reply. Finally, she reached over and pulled him down. He sat there sullenly for a moment, then he said, “I may be sitting down on the outside, but I’m standing up on the inside.”

In America children have much greater liberty than they did in the ancient world. Both Jewish as well as Roman societies treated children with respect, but children had absolutely no rights until they reached a certain age. This may seem strange to many of you who are driving cars at the age of 16, who have mobile phones and computers, television, stereos, but the ancient children had no such things. We pretend that American economy is failing, yet our children have much more than children in other parts of the world. Please, dear children, do not allow things to lead you into disrespect of your parents. There is a good reason for respecting your parents.

Godly Respect Of Godly Parents Leads To Long Life

Ephesians 6:2 Children, … Honor thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;)

Look at that phrase, which is the first commandment WITH PROMISE. What is the Lord talking about? The fifth commandment that God gave Israel on Mount Sinai is found in:

Exodus 20:12 Honor thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.

God will give the child long life if they obey their parents in the Lord. Parents get to be parents by living through many things, making many mistakes along the way. The parents know from experience and scarring certain things are right, whereas other things are wrong. God tells us to listen to those who have lived through their youth, and live long lives! In America the elderly is not as respected as they are in other parts of the world. Pay attention to those who have gone before.

Ephesians 6:3 That it may be well with thee, and thou MAYEST live long on the earth.

That word “mayest” emphasizes that long life is not certain unless the Lord’s command is followed.

Satan does not know all things, but he does know this: if he can get you to following his direction, he can lead you to a premature and needless death. Satan (or one of the countless fallen angels that follow him) will come along and tell you, “It really doesn’t matter. Mom and dad don’t know what they’re talking about! Did God really say that?” The serpent did this with the first Children of God, Adam and Eve. How much better would life be now had Adam listened to God his Father and not to a gossipy snake?

Ephesians 6:4 And ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

I find it interesting that fathers are singled out by the Scripture to teach the children. Because of the so called “sexual revolution” and the “it’s my body and I can do what I want to” crowd there are a high number of both abortions as well as unplanned pregnancies. In many cases pregnant women have been abandoned by the father of that child, something that the Scripture and our Heavenly Father considers horrible. God our Father never abandons us, and so fathers should never abandon their children. Fathers are important to the training of the child. Dr. Edwin Louis Cole was the founder of the Christian Men’s Network, an organization devoted to helping Christian men and fathers. He said many years ago that:

The lack of effective, functioning fathers is the root cause of America’s social, economic and spiritual crises.”

The world will tell you that men – and in particular, fathers, do not matter to the child. My simple answer is this. God is represented as a Heavenly Father. Just as our Heavenly Father is even handed and kind with us, we as men are to be contributing, even handed, and kind. Fathers are exhorted to:

provoke not your children to wrath:
but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord

The two words “nurture” and “admonition” tell us how men are to aid in the education of the child. The word “nurture” is the Greek παιδεία paideía, (pronounced pahee-di’-ah) which means to correct, shape, or instruct. As you teach the child, so will the adult be. The word “admonition” is the Greek νουθεσία nouthesía, (pronounced noo-thes-ee’-ah), which means “a mild rebuke or warning”.

Children need to express themselves, and they also need to be able to fail and get up again. As I heard someone once say:

You don’t drown by falling in water. You drown by staying in it!”

That makes sense. When children fail they need to be corrected. I was invited to a basketball game at one of our Tennessee high schools one time, and watched one young man take the ball then shoot it. He missed the shot. His father was sitting not too far behind me, and that father stood up and started shouting and cursing at his son. May I say that is very bad parenting. Young people will fail. We love them, and train them in the Lord. One of my favorite scriptures is:

Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

Did you see that little two letter word UP. We as fathers are to train UP our children. Not cut then DOWN, but lift them UP. The promise of Scripture is that if you train your child UP, then one day (when he is old) what you planted will come forth (he will not depart from it).

What If I Don’t Have Any Children?

Some of you sat through this message barely paying attention to it. You thought, “I don’t have any children – so what is this to me?”. Every male in this Church has an obligation to encourage and help train the child. Whether you are the biological parent of the child or not, many children today desperately need good male influences.

I love to play a little game I call “imagining Heaven”. I like to think about Heaven. Think, with me, just a moment about Heaven. When we get to Heaven (if you’re going – not all are going. If you don’t love Jesus you’re not going) I believe when we first get to Heaven we’ll spend an eternity or two listening to and loving Jesus. I know I will. But after a few eternities I think I’m really looking forward to getting to know the old saints.

Imagine talking with Moses. I’d love to ask Moses how it felt when the death angel passed over his home. I’ll bet that was frightening. I’d love to hear Moses talk about the parting of the Red Sea, and how the people grumbled as they wandered through the desert for forty years.

Imagine talking to King David. I’d like to know how it felt to kill Goliath. I’d like to know what was in his mind when he disrespected Uriah … and I’d like to talk with Uriah for a little bit as well.

Imagine talking to Daniel, and his friends Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednigo. I’d love to ask Daniel about the lion’s den. And I’d like to ask the three Hebrew children how it was to be tossed in the fire and find Jesus there, chilling out, maybe having a barbecue!

Can you imagine. We’ll get to talk with the Bible heroes, those who trusted Jesus. We’ll get to talk with the Apostle Paul, the Apostle Peter, and Billy Graham. For eternities we’ll sit and hear stories as to how these great people – both men and women – changed the world.

Now imagine these great people – sinners all saved by the grace of God, by faith in the blessed Jesus Christ – imagine these people asking you what you did to change the world. Stephen, stoned to death for loving Jesus, looks at you and asks, “What did you do? How did you make your mark?” And Father Abraham. What will we tell him?

You see, we live in turbulent times. People have traded godly sexuality for ungodly sensuality. Children are murdered in the name of sexual revolution, and politicians are standing up, looking at cameras, and proudly saying “I support abortion all the way up to and even after the birth of that child”. Children are being taught that humans are no more than higher developed animals – evolved monkeys – and that morality does not matter. What will we do to make a difference?

Now imagine a young man coming to you in glory. Imagine him telling you that you took the time to love him when no one else would, and that because of you Heaven has another child. When you ask him why, he says “Because I saw Jesus in you. You loved me. You took the time to speak to me, to care for me. You helped feed me. Thank you”.

Beloved, it will be like another Heaven. Let us shine for Jesus!

Posted in Ephesians, Sermons Preached | Tagged ,

Greater Love – A Communion Message

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Photo by James Coleman on Unsplash

John 15:12-14 This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. 13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. 14 Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.

True love – the greatest of love – is to be willing to lay down your life for another. This is an utter act of unselfishness.

What is a life worth?

The late founder of Walmart Stores – Sam Walton – had a net worth of $2.8 billion dollars, and while he walked this earth was reckoned by Forbes Magazine to be the richest man in the entire world. During the October 1987 stock market crash Walton lost $2.6 billion dollars in personal net worth. What did Walton say when asked about the loss?

“It’s only paper.”

I don’t know if Walton was a Christian or not, but he had the right idea. What is most precious is life. All life. All colors. All humans. All ages. Life is precious. You are precious. Life is made by God. Every life has potential. You have potential. God made you not so you could toss away your lives, but to live in His image and in His presence. To follow His Word, not the world.

How many have heard of Freddie Figgers, or his company Figgers Communication? I never have – but this is the kind of story you’ll never hear on the network news.

A little Afro-American baby was abandoned near a dumpster. That child was rescued, adopted, and loved by Nathan and Betty Figgers. They raised little Freddy as if he were their own – for he was. Freddy said “I have never met my biological parents. I have never had the interest”. By age 12 Freddie had his first job as a computer technician. By 15 years old he started to develop a cloud database in his back yard, and became his own boss. By the time he was 30 years old he had his own telecommunications company, Figgers Communications. He is now the founder and CEO of Figgers Wireless, a black owned telecommunications firm valued at over $62.3 million dollars. What drove him? His God given talents with computers, and his love for those who laid their lives down for him. You see,

His adoptive father Nathan developed Alzheimer’s.

So Freddie began to research, and developed a two way communications device/ GPS tracker that he put in the pair of shoes his father wore. This way he could both locate and talk to his dad at any time.

Freddie was abandoned, but his adoptive parents saved him,
laying down their lives for him.
Freddie is now laying down his life for others.

Freddie’s is driving his company to develop devices to help people manage diabetes. He said: “For far too long, large diabetic medical supply corporations has made billions of dollars profiting from this horrible disease by taking advantage of consumers with outrageous cost. We could have easily sold our invention to any Medical supply company, but that would only be adding to the problem. We have a solution that’s all in one and it remotely manages diabetics 24/7. But best of all {it is affordable} for all patients. WE PUT PEOPLE OVER PROFIT.”

This is not a Joel Osteen Sermon – with all due respect to Mr. Osteen. I don’t know what Freddie or his parents relationship to the Lord is, and I’m making no judgments. But here is a great truth here that American Christianity has missed over the past few years. It was what Jesus taught us, but we have largely abandoned:

God created us to lay our lives down in love to others.
God modeled this unselfish, sacrificial life through Jesus Christ.

The Father Sent Jesus To A Selfish World

John 15:12 This is my commandment,
That ye love one another, as I have loved you.

God in the flesh, Jesus Christ gave us a commandment. Not a request, not a suggestion, not a theory. A commandment. God spoke from Mount Sinai through Moses and gave the Law. Now God speaks directly to us.

love one another, as I have loved you

Not to just “love one another”. The Beatles sang about loving one another. Country, Rap, Hip Hop, and Rock and Roll all sing about love, but the love represented by the world is selfish and self serving. Jesus commanded another love. A love just as He loved us. What was that love?

  • God’s love is undeserved. We are all sinners, born selfish, far from God in our thoughts and actions. Our Great Shepherd gave us life, and yet we barely acknowledge Him:

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

When God gave His Son, how did He come into the world? Was He celebrated with fanfare? Was His birth into humanity headline news in the ancient world? No. The Bible tells us that Mary ..

Luke 2:7 …. brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

Liberals and so called Bible scholars have tried to minimize this by redefining the clear scriptural text. You can say what you will, but Jesus was not born in the best of places. He was forsaken from the very beginning. This was no surprise to God. No one sought Jesus at the beginning but some Gentile Magi from the area of Babylon. The shepherds sought out Jesus only because …

Luke 2:9-12 … the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. 10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. 12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

  • God’s Love is unwanted. The humility of Jesus and His rejectedness was a sign to the shepherds that the Messiah had come. When the shepherds went and saw Jesus, the Bible says:

Luke 2:17-18 .. when they had seen {Jesus}, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. 18And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.

Here was the Messiah, the Savior of the world. He had been prophesied of in the Old Testament, the “hope of Israel” the Servant and Messiah …

Isaiah 49:6 … to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth.

Jesus came into a world that did not want Him, a selfish place. When the Magi – the “Wise Men” from the East came to Jerusalem looking for Jesus how was He regarded? They were excited, saying:

Matthew 2:2 … Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.

Was Herod the King ecstatic that the Messiah, the savior came? Absolutely not! Herod tried to deceive the wise men, but could not, for God was with them.

Matthew 2:12 … And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.

When Herod realized that he had been ignored he showed the selfishness of the lost. The Bible says:

Matthew 2:16-18 … Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently enquired of the wise men. 17 Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by {Jeremiah} the prophet, saying, 18 In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.

God knew that this evil would occur, and foretold of it in Jeremiah 31:15. God knew that the world, driven by selfishness, would not want the Savior. Yet the Savior wanted the world. He came to give Himself for all, though we did not want Him. The Scripture spoke of our selfishness:

Isaiah 53:1-11 Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed? 2 For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. 3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. 4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. 5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. 7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. 8 He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken. 9 And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth. 10 Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. 11 He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.

Jesus came to a world that did not want Him – but He loved us anyway. The Christmas Story is not a pleasant one – not really. Praise God that Jesus came … but we did not want Him. We were satisfied in our selfishness, in our sinfulness.

We pampered the God that is “Me”, and were headed toward hell and eternal damnation with no hope for tomorrow. Yet Jesus came anyway. He loved us enough to be born in the lowest of places –
He, the King of Glory. For us!

The Love Of Christ Is Unselfish And Sacrificial – Free To All

John 15:12-13 This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. 13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

God calls us to friendship through His Christ. Throughout His life Jesus reached out in love to others. The religious crowd constantly rejected Him. Sadly, religion often does that. Religion says “if you do this ceremony or if you do that ceremony God will be impressed”. Only two things about us have ever impressed God. God is impressed with how evil we can be – how we can take His good blessings and twist them to evil in some unnamed god’s name.

Evil impresses God. It impressed God to destroy all the known world but eight souls in Noah’s day (Genesis 6:5-6).
The selfless sacrifice of Jesus impresses God.
Nothing else among humanity impresses God –
just evil and the overwhelming love of Jesus Christ!

Jesus Christ impressed the Father with His willing sacrifice on Calvary. Jesus laid His life down for His friends. Jesus told us:

John 10:14-18 I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. 15 As the Father knoweth me, even so know I 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 shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd. 17 Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. 18 No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.

Jesus willingly and selflessly laid down His life for ours. He paid the penalty of our sin by His suffering and death. This impresses God the Father and God the Spirit, that God the Son would do this.

Beloved, you are saved from eternal damnation because of Christ, because of His selfless love.

He died for us. He is the Perfect Sacrifice for our evil. His selfless love – if received – saves us from eternal punishment. The Scripture says:

Colossians 1:19-23 … For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; 20 And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. 21 And you, that were {in past times} alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled 22 In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in {God the Father’s} sight: 23 If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;

1 Peter 1:18-23 Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; 19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: 20 Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, 21 Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God. 22 Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: 23 Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.

The Mark Of Salvation Is To Love Like Jesus

John 15:12-14 This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. 13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. 14 Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.

Jesus laid His life down “for His friends”. You are His “friend” only if you imitate Him, doing as He says. You, dear Christian, are saved to live selflessly, not selfishly. You are to be like Jesus. You are to love the unlovable. You are to lay your lives down for others whether they deserve it or not. This is what we are called to be.

The selfish Christian and the self centered Church is no different from the world around it. We are called to be more. That is what the Lord’s Table reminds us. Jesus Christ gave Himself unselfishly to save me and bring me into the Family of God. Now I live by the Law of love and the Spirit. I live loving others, dying to self daily. It is surprisingly simple to become a Christian, but a lifetime work that you will fail at, but strive for. In the Lord’s Table we symbolically take Christ into us. As we leave this place we are to live not symbolically, but literally, loving and serving others.

This is the Way of Christ. This is why you were born. Are you born again? Or are you just “religious”? Both God and the world know the difference. I hope you do. I hope you do. May Christ touch your hearts with His Word!

Posted in John, Sermons Preached | Tagged , , , ,

God’s Word Is Truth

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Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

John 17:1-8 These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee: 2 As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him. 3 And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. 4 I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. 5 And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was. 6 I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word. 7 Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee. 8 For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me.

As Jesus prepared to go to Calvary the Bible tells us that He looked up to Heaven and prayed. He knew that His Church would be facing great stresses, that the Church that He was dying for would be filled with fallible and broken creatures that were subject to sin. Jesus knew that there would be an epic battle between the Church that He bled and died for, and the false church of Humanism.

That battle has never stopped.

Several years ago a sitting President made the remark that “America is no longer a Christian nation”, and fundamentalist pulpits throughout this great nation rose up and in indignation castigated this man. Yet truthfully America has never been a Christian nation. It was founded by Christians called Pilgrims who sought religious freedom in this “New World”. The foundation of our nation was indeed Christian. Yet from the beginning there has been a struggle between the light and the darkness, with often the established (little “c”) church on the wrong side.

A Christian nation – that is, a nation led by Christ – looks like this according to the Bible:

Isaiah 11:1-10 And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots: 2 And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD; 3 And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the LORD: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears: 4 But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked. 5 And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins. 6 The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. 7 And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. 8 And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice’ den. 9 They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea. 10 And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious.

What does a “Christian” or a “Christ led” nation look like? The Leadership of the nation will have:

“(vvs 2) the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD; 3 And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the LORD”..

Do we see that today? Does our White House or our Congress reflect the spirit of wisdom and understanding, counsel and might in the fear of the Lord? No it doesn’t. Does peace reign in our land. Can we say that this is a land where:

“(vvs 5) … righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins. 6 The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them”

Can a “little child lead them” in this land? I can’t even leave my door unlocked during the day at my house. Just last week someone broke down and left their car in our parking lot and it was stolen from our Church parking lot about 10:45 at night. The cameras picked up a fuzzy image of the theft but no details, by the way. No, we do not live in a safe and godly country.

Further let me add that as we fought for freedom in our country our founding fathers endorsed chattel slavery and theft of land from established native American peoples. The Cherokee and the Apache had developed states within these lands, states that they sought to protect as we took land that was not ours. No one likes to talk about it, but this is the truth.

Jesus knew that His Church alone would be a nation unto itself, a Kingdom of righteousness on a lost planet. One day Jesus is going to return and do as the Scripture says.

“(vvs 7) And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. 8 And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice’ den. 9 They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.”

Peace will be on the earth, and killing shall cease. Why? Because THE EARTH SHALL BE FULL OF THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE LORD. The Word of God will be cherish, not mocked. It will be lived. We will in those days do what God’s Word says to do.

Eternal Life Is Based On Knowledge Of God:
Where Is Your Knowledge Based?

Jesus prayed for His Church. He prayed:

John 17:1-2 These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee: 2 As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.

Jesus prayed that His Church – His people saved by faith – would understand that our primary calling is to glorify God. We glorify Jesus, lifting Him up, praising Him because He is the Source of Eternal Life. What is Eternal Life?

Eternal Life Is To Be Possessed By Jesus!

Jesus prayed:

that he (Jesus) should give eternal life to as
many as thou hast given him.

When you are saved by faith in Christ you become the personal possession of Jesus Christ. He paid for you. He shed His Blood for you. He suffered for you. He died for you. He rose again for you. You belong to Jesus. The Church belongs to Jesus. The Apostle Paul called it being a bond servant. He taught:

1 Corinthians 7:22-24 For he that is called in the Lord, being a servant, is the Lord’s freeman: likewise also he that is called, being free, is Christ’s servant. 23 Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men. 24 Brethren, let every man, wherein he is called, therein abide with God.

We serve a Living Savior – no Christian who is indeed a Christian belongs to himself or herself – we are BOUGHT WITH A PRICE (1 Corinthians 6:20; 7:23), INDWELT by God’s Spirit, CHILDREN of the Most High God. We live to praise Him, to glorify Him in our lives, to lift Him up for all to see, to live surrendered lives for Him. We no longer serve sin:

Romans 6:17-18 But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. 18 Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.

Dear Christian, you are no longer a part of this world, but are of God’s Kingdom. We live as Children of God. Jesus prayed:

John 17:3 And THIS IS LIFE ETERNAL, that THEY MIGHT KNOW THEE THE ONLY TRUE GOD, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.

Eternal Life is all about knowing God – and knowing what God wants. When we know God and do what He says then life is blessed. The unbeliever cannot know the will of God. The unbeliever is blind to the will of God. Jesus told the unbelieving religious crowd called the Pharisees:

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

The religious Pharisees – like many different types of unbelievers today – based what they believed on FEELINGS. The Church of Christ is not to be feeling based but Word of God based. Feelings are deceptive.

A young girl under the influence of drugs believes she can fly. She steps off of the 10th floor balcony of her apartment. She didn’t fly.

A math teacher puts 2+2 = _____ on the blackboard. She says, “Class, this is a one question test. You either pass or fail it based on your answer. Answer carefully.” The teacher leaves the class, and one student stands up and says “I feel the answer should be 5.” He convinces the majority of the class that 5 is the right answer because it feels right. Does the class pass or fail?

On January 28, 1986 the space shuttle Challenger became a ball of fire killing all crew on board. Investigations later pinpointed the problem – the “O” Rings on the solid rocket boosters lost their elasticity because of cold temperatures that day. Five engineers told the mission control supervisor that the seals were prone to failure and recommended cancelling the flight. Leaders at NASA “felt” that the engineers were being too cautious and convinced the mission control supervisor to go ahead with the launch. Seven people died because of “feelings”.

Salvation Is Based On Christ’s Word

John 17:4-6 I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. 5 And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was. 6 I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word.

As Jesus prayed for His Church He said “I have finished the work that Thou (O Father) gavest Me to do”. What was the “work” that Jesus came to do?

Jesus Came To Prove The Validity Of God’s Word
Jesus Came To Save A People Who Cherished God’s Word

Throughout the Gospel accounts Jesus quoted the Scriptures – the Old Testament text that we have today.

  • When attacked by Satan Jesus confidently quoted Deuteronomy 8:3

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

  • When Jesus threw the moneychangers out of the Temple he confidently quoted Psalms 93:5; Isaiah 56:7; and Jeremiah 7:11

Matthew 21:13 … It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.

  • When Jesus condemned the Pharisees of hypocrisy He confidently quoted Isaiah 29:13

Mark 7:6 Well hath {Isaiah} prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.

  • When Jesus foretold of His death He referenced the Scriptures. When Jesus spoke of His authority as Messiah, He confidently referenced the Scriptures.

Mark 9:12 … it is written of the Son of man, that he must suffer many things, and be set at nought. (compare this with Psalm 22:1-31; Isaiah 53:1-12; Daniel 9:24-26)

John 5:39-40 Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. 40 And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.

Jesus’ ministry was all about fulfilling the Scripture, preaching the Scripture, explaining the Scripture, and living by the Scripture. If Jesus believed the Bible as God’s Word who am I to deny it?

The Church that Jesus prayed for was that little band of believers of whom Jesus said:

they have kept Thy Word

The Church is a people populated by God, saved by faith in his Word. We believe the Scripture. We do not believe popular opinion, nor what the lost world believes. We unashamedly believe God’s Word the Bible. We do the things God tells us to do because we know that only by doing His Word are we blessed. As Jesus quoted and explained Scripture He was not quoting a fairy tale. In His prayer He said:

For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me.

That’s how salvation comes. It comes by hearing the Word of God – the Bible – then acting on that hearing. We heard of Christ Jesus, and believe He died for our sins. We believe our salvation is secure because we are …

Hebrews 12:2 Looking unto Jesus the AUTHOR AND FINISHER OF OUR FAITH; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Without a certain grasp of the Scripture we have no hope, no promise, no eternal life, no thing. Let the world be empty. I choose to love Jesus and to cherish God’s Word. Jesus prayed:

John 17:15-17 I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.

What sets the Christian from the lost is that we believe as Jesus believed that God’s Word is truth. This is our standard, our mindset, our faith, our all. Join me in believing this for God’s glory!

Posted in John, Sermons Preached | Tagged ,

God’s Design Of All Things

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Photo by Sandy Millar on Unsplash

The news is often interesting. This just in: A man was arrested for putting up Christmas decorations. The man came home high on drugs, and since he had been shopping for Christmas decorations decided to get an early start. He put the decorations up, and after he was done settled down to watch a little television. Then the family came home – but it wasn’t his family. High on drugs he had entered a neighbor’s home. Though he apologized the neighbor nonetheless called the police, and he was arrested. He was an intruder, not a member of the family. He was in the wrong place.

You’re in the right place this morning. We are here to study the Word of God and to get a blessing from our Heavenly Father. Last week we heard what our Lord had to say about how believers should live in relationship to the One Who saved us. God called we who are Christians to follow Him, to be His dear Children not just while in this building, but beyond this building. We are to be …

“filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18)

God is to possess all of us, not just part of us. God is to be the One Who “fills us up”, completes our lives. If we are blessed of God to be saved by faith in Christ, this will cause a change in our lives. Which brings us to the Christian Family. How did God our Father design the Christian Family? I am not talking about what the world thinks is right but am reciting what God says is right.

Ephesians 5:21 Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.

Submission Is Not A Dirty Word

The word “submitting” in our text is the Greek ὑποτάσσω hypotássō, (pronounced hoop-ot-as’-so) which means to obey, be in obedience toward, to be subject to. The worldly mindset is that of pride, of me first, of my god is the one I see in the mirror. Yet this is not to be the mindset of the Christian. The command:

Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God

tells us that the Christian is not to be prideful or domineering, but to be submitted to God (in the fear of God) and because of that relationship, to be submitting to others.

Submission is not a bad word!

Nineteen years ago the Southern Baptists got in trouble for re-writing The Baptist Faith and Message. Under the leadership of the late Adrian Rogers this denomination decided to use the word submit in reference to women. And the world blew up! Everyone was upset. Every news channel and feminist organization had a fit – what my mama used to call a hissy fit. Television sitcoms wrote whole episodes about how horrible it is that that nasty word “submit” was used toward women in marriage or toward women in general.

Let’s defuse this word “submit”.
I “submit” to you that …
Everybody must submit,
or we all will
be injured or die”.

  • You had to submit to get to Church this morning. You stopped at red lights. You drove on the RIGHT side of the road. You yielded to others. You stayed in your lanes of traffic. You had to, or you would have been injured, or died!

In 1988 I and my family were stationed in England at RAF Alconberry. When I got to England I had to SUBMIT and go to traffic school. I had to SUBMIT and learn the laws of the road. In England they drive on the LEFT side of the road. I could not get a British License unless I submitted and agreed to submit to their traffic laws. Now I could have went to England and said “I’m an America, not a Brit! We drive on the RIGHT side of the road. You’re ALL WRONG, and I’m gonna do what I think is best!” How do you think that would have played out? At the least I would lose my license. At the most, I could have been killed, killed someone else, or been imprisoned. Submission to the government is normal. The Apostle Paul, imprisoned for preaching the Gospel to a secular and religious society, wrote:

Romans 13:1-5 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God

God is behind the laws of every nation. We submit to the laws. In fact,

  • The Law itself submits to the law.

You live in a free country because the law submits to the law. No police officer has the right to come into your home without an invitation unless there is a clear threat to life or a clearly seen violation of the law. The law must get a search warrant to come into your home, and must convince a judge to issue that search warrant. Submission is part of an orderly society.

  • When you go shopping or do anything in public, you must submit.

IIf I’m shopping and someone is in my way I submit by saying “excuse me”. That person then moves out of the way, submitting to my request. We have order. What if I walk in the store and just push people out of the way. “I’m not submitting – get out of my way!” I can get a bloody nose, a slap in the face, or even be arrested for provoking a riot.

I was standing in line at a register one time when a rude young man of color pushed me to the side and got in front of me. I let it go. I submitted. I could have grabbed him by the hair of the head (and I thought about it) and slung him behind me. I could have went to jail where – there – I would have to submit. Submission is necessary.

  • Submission is necessary in any Church. As I preach this message you are submitting. If one of you jumped up right now and tried to take the stage I would ask you to sit down. One speaker at a time. Period. The Apostle addressed this in:

1 Corinthians 14:29-33 Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge. 30 If any thing be revealed to another that sitteth by, let the first hold his peace. 31 For ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted. 32 And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. 33 For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.

In the Church – in fact, in any business, organization, or group – there is submission. In the Fire Department Tony Scott is not the whole Fire Department. Though Assistant Chief, he both leads and submits. The same is true in the Church. God sets members in the Church. The Bible says:

1 Corinthians 12:19-20 And if they were all one member, where were the body? 20 But now are they many members, yet but one body.

If everyone were in charge all the time it would be as if there were no Divine Design – and if that were the case then there would be no body at all. We are called of God to be what HE has designed us to be. It is no shame to be as God designed you to be. It is a shame when we take upon ourselves roles and giftings that were never given us by God.

  • You had to submit to the speaker/teacher when you went to school. Children learn this while in Kindergarten. Sister Brenda cannot teach the children the Christmas Program if the children will not submit. Brother Jerry cannot lead the choir if the members will not submit. Without submission there is no learning, no growing, no doing.

Colleges that allow their students to stand up and scream while an unpopular speaker who is scheduled to appear is trying to talk are not doing their students any favors. They are tolerating uncivil and malicious insurrection in the veil of “freedom of speech”. Freedom of speech does not mean that we all speak at the same time.

  • We have the finest military in the world because of submission. If every man and woman in the military said “I’m going to do what I want to do when I want to do it” then we would have no military.

Every now and then I’d get some nut from a liberal state in my unit who thought he or she could do what they wanted when they wanted. They didn’t last long. Some I arrested and sent off to correctional custody. Others I just had booted out of the Air Force. Everyone – even the Base Commander – submits to someone else in the military. Submission is not a bad word.

  • It may surprise you to know that EVEN GOD submits. Our Lord Jesus is God in the flesh. The Bible makes this very clear. At Jesus’ birth the Angel said:

Matthew 1:23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. (see also Isaiah 9:6)

Jesus Christ is “God with us”. Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world, though God said in the Old Testament:

Isaiah 43:11 … I, even I, am the Lord, and beside Me there is no Savior!

We are told in Isaiah 44:24 that God created the world, and in John 1:3; Colossians 1:16 that Jesus made all things. Jesus Christ called Himself The Great I AM (John 8:58). Thomas called Jesus “My Lord and My God” … and Jesus did not correct Him (John 8:58). Jesus said:

I and My Father are ONE (John 10:30-33) and the Jews attempted to kill Him because He made Himself equal with God. Jesus is equal with God. And yet Jesus said:

John 14:9 … he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; …

Luke 2:49 {do you not know} I must be about my Father’s business?

Jesus Christ submitted to the Father. God the Son came to this earth because God the Father sent Him.

\Submission is not a dirty word. Jesus is not lesser than because He submitted to the Father. He submitted to the Father in Gethsemane. He prayed:

Luke 22:42 Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.

Jesus came to this earth because the Father sent Him. He said:

John 6:38 … I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.

God the Son submits to God the Father. But further, God the Spirit submits to God the Son. Jesus said:

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

God the Spirit submits to God the Son and God the Father. But did you also know THE FATHER SUBMITS TO THE SON. Because Jesus fulfilled His role as Redeemer the Bible says:

Ephesians 4:32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.

In the Trinity God the Father leads the Son Who leads the Spirit Who forgives us because of the Son. There is no confusion, but each Member of the Godhead both submit and lead. Submission is not a dirty word. It was because Adam failed to submit to God that we lost Paradise! God told Adam “in the day you eat of it, you shall SURELY DIE” (Genesis 2:17). Where submission is not, there is death! Adam brought sin into the world, and death by sin (Romans 5:12).

Submission to one another is so necessary in creation as well as in the Creator. You are not “less than” because of submission. Without submission nothing of value is accomplished. Without submission death reigns and evil rules.

Submission Is Necessary For A Successful Marriage

I’ve pulled the pin on that so called hand grenade of submission – so now let’s look at the rest of the text. It should be fairly easy to understand.

Ephesians 5:22-24 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the Savior of the body. 24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.

The wife is exhorted to be subject to the leadership of HER OWN husband. This has nothing to do with your value, precious ladies. It has to do with DESIGN.

This word “submit” has nothing to do with value
– but with Divine design. The Bible says…

1 Timothy 2:13 For Adam was first formed, then Eve.

Adam was made, then Eve. And yet the Scripture says:

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

Genesis 5:2 Male and female {God} created them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created.

God made BOTH Adam and Eve in His image.
God blessed them both.
God gave them BOTH dominion over the world.

Yet it was to ADAM – not Eve – that God gave the command that forbade the eating of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. It was not Eve’s act that brought sin into the world. It was ADAM’S act.

Romans 5:12, 15, 17, 19 … 12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: 15 … if through the offense of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many. 17 … by one man’s offense death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.) 19 … by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.

The reason that Jesus entered this world as a MAN and not a WOMAN is because ADAM did not do the right thing. Eve ate as much of the forbidden fruit that Adam did – but Adam was the leader in that marriage. Eve was to follow, to submit to Adam, not to the serpent. Women are designed by God and called by God to follow the godly lead of their husbands.

Ephesians 5:22-23 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church:

Ladies are called to follow their husbands “as unto the Lord”. The man is not free to ask you to do evil or that which is ungodly. The husband is the leader in marriage – just as Jesus Christ is the Leader of His Church. The husband is called of God to follow the Lord and lovingly lead his wife – just as Jesus lovingly leads us.

Ephesians 5:24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.

The husband, like Jesus Christ, is to set the standard in love. As he does so the wife is to follow her husband. But Beloved, the husband also submits!

Ephesians 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;

Husbands are called to sacrificially love their wives just as Jesus did with us. The husband is to lay his life down for his wife. That was what Jesus did – and what we are commanded to do. We are called to be imitators of Jesus Christ. We too are to SUBMIT – and that’s not a dirty word.

Ephesians 5:28-29 … So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. 29 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:

The husband is to nourish and cherish his wife – to put her on a pedestal – to honor her, not shame her. Christian women do not wear burkas, or walk 3 feet behind us. When I and my wife walk into the store or the restaurant it is as we hold hands. And guess what?

I open the door for my wife.
I treat her with respect and love.
I encourage her in her faith.
When I don’t like something I treat her with respect.
If I am ever harsh, I apologize to her.
I want what is best for her life. Period.

Ephesians 5:31-33 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. 32 This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. 33 Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.

The husband is to submit to his wife by leaving mother and father. Some men degrade their wives because “what you cook is not as good as mama’s”. Shame on you. Elevate your wife. Encourage her. Speak well of her. Until this nation returns to God’s design we will falter and flail at life.

We need to DO as God says.

Submission Is Necessary For Salvation

I want to leave on this note. Submission is necessary for salvation. Jesus Christ submitted Himself to death on the Cross of Calvary to save you and I. The only way you can be saved is to submit to Him in faith, believing He died for your sins, and receiving Him as Lord of your life. Jesus Christ is the Head of His Church. Only those who are born again by faith in Him are a part of the Church. It’s not the name written on the roll that matters. It is the name written in the Book of Life. Have you met Jesus? Do you know Him? Do you follow Him? Do you submit your life to Him? If not, today is the day you need to begin. May God touch your hearts with His Word!

Posted in Ephesians, Sermons Preached | Tagged , , , , ,

Salvation Not A Counterfeit

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Matthew 7:21 … Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

Key Thought: Christians Are People Changed By God To Follow The Son Of God.

The devil loves to counterfeit Christianity – and often uses Christian bookstores and Christian businesses to do this.

I was reading an article by Dr. Russell Moore the other day called Does Jeremiah 29:11 Apply To You? I’m sure you’ve heard Jeremiah 29:11, or seen it on a sign or a get well card. The verse is very rarely quoted in the King James Version. The King James reads:

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.”

But the text usually quoted is from the New International Version:

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

though sometimes it’s in the New American Standard:

“For I know the plans that I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.”

The verse is passed off as one that says the Lord loves everyone, and will cause everything to work out in your life to be for the best. Does this verse apply to you? Dr. Moore writes:

Many understand the text to be about God’s favor on one’s life and on one’s plans. If I just have confidence and follow my heart, someone following this line might think, God will bless me. … {That’s not what God is saying} … This verse comes in the context of a shocking message from the prophet. Those “left behind” in Jerusalem—anchored around the temple and the throne—assume that their relative fortune is a sign that God is for them, while those carted off in captivity to Babylon are seen to be under God’s curse. It’s not just those in Jerusalem who are tempted to think this way; those in Babylon are tempted to think it too. Israel’s God seems distant to them, and they seem as though they’ve been raptured away from the promises to Abraham. Jeremiah says, though, that God’s judgment will fall on Jerusalem, and that God’s purposes will come to being through the exiles.”

You can take a Bible verse out of context and make it say anything you want. The devil and the world are masters at doing this.

The often misquoted Jeremiah text is actually a promise to those who obey God’s Word that they will not be destroyed with those who denied God’s Word. God’s Word is most important. We must DO what God says to be blessed. The reason much of Israel is going to be destroyed is because they heard God’s Word but did not DO God’s Word.

This is what Jesus is telling us in our text today. Jesus said:

Matthew 7:21 … Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

Not everybody is going to be saved. No. Only those who do the will of Jesus’ Father shall enter Heaven. We must DO what God says. This applies whether we are in the Old Testament or in the New Testament.

God’s Word has two covenants.
And OLD Covenant and a NEW Covenant.
Israel was under the OLD Covenant.
The Church is under the NEW Covenant.
The Old Covenant is Moses on a Mountain receiving the Law from God.
The Old Covenant is the people at the base of the mountain,
frightened by the Law.
The New Covenant is Jesus on a Mountain sharing God’s love.
Our text today is Jesus’ sermon from the Mountain.
As God spoke through our Lord Jesus, He spoke to those on the mountain.

What a grand difference there is between the Old and New Covenants. When Moses went up the mountain:

Exodus 19:16 And it came to pass on the third day in the morning, that there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount, and the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud; so that all the people that was in the camp trembled.

Did you hear God say “the third day in the morning”? Oh Beloved, when Moses was on the mountain the people trembled, for Moses gave the Law but did not enable anyone to fulfill the Law. The Law of God should make you tremble if you do not know Jesus. IT SHOULD MAKE YOU TREMBLE. The third day in the giving of the Law made Israel tremble, tremble, tremble! But when Jesus went up on the mountain “Jesus sat down, and His students – His disciples – came to hear Him speak” (Matthew 5:1). Our Lord Jesus would:

Matthew 16:21 … be killed, and be raised again the third day.

Matthew 17:23 … they shall kill him, and the third day he shall be raised again.

Luke 18:33 … And they shall scourge him, and put him to death: and the third day he shall rise again.

1 Corinthians 15:4 … He was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

What a difference it makes! Moses come off the mountain with the Law, a Law that none could keep. But Jesus, Oh Jesus, He went up the mountain. He spoke the Law of God. And He promised that those who believe in Him would be enabled to keep what He said. That’s what this message is about today.

It Is Not Enough To Know Bible Doctrine

The Law is good. The Scripture is wonderful. Nothing bad comes from reading the Bible. Oh, how I wish that everyone would read the Bible. I am glad that, as a Church, we support the Gideon’s International. God’s Word brings light. As David said:

Psalms 119:105 … Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.

Jesus started preaching His “Sermon on The Mount” back in Matthew chapter 5. A lot of people went up that mountain with Jesus that day. I am sure that the path up the mountain was tricky. I get out of breath climbing the hill from our Fellowship Hall to our Sanctuary! The people came up, sat down, and heard Jesus. Some perhaps left before the sermon was completely. I have had people walk out on sermons before, and never heard the application. I have had people distracted by bugs flying around in the sanctuary, by someone coughing, by a baby passing gas or crying, or by disobedient children along with their parents who will not make them behave. Imagine Jesus preaching on the mountain that day. I imagine – knowing how people are – not every one stayed the full sermon, not every one payed attention to the whole sermon. But as Jesus comes to the end of the sermon He says:

Matthew 7:21 … Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven

There were many on the mountain that day that heard what Jesus said and called Him LORD. They knew Who Jesus was. Their DOGMA or DOCTRINE was right. When they came to Jesus they did not see Jesus as a mere teacher, but saw Him as Lord. The word “Lord” is the Greek KYRIOS, which was a title used for God under the Old Covenant:

Genesis 2:4 … the LORD God made the earth and the heavens,

Genesis 2:7 … the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

Psalm 113:1-2 Praise ye the LORD. Praise, O ye servants of the LORD, praise the name of the LORD. 2 Blessed be the name of the LORD from this time forth and for evermore.

You may know a lot of Bible doctrine. You may know a lot of Scripture truths. That’s not a bad thing. But mere knowledge of truth will not get you into God’s Heaven.

II remember one episode of the Andy Griffith Show that was about the Mayberry Men’s Club. Called The Golden Door To Good Fellowship the men who were part of that club could get past that “Golden Door” (yes, there was actually a golden door) – BUT YOU HAD TO KNOW THE PASSWORD. Goober Pyle guarded the door, and unless you knew the password you couldn’t get in. But once you got in – oh what pleasures there were! You could drink all the root beer you wanted – oh, and play cards, too!

It’s not enough to know Bible Doctrine. It’s not enough to know that Jesus is “Lord”. A lot of people believe Jesus is “Lord”, and not just a good teacher. But do you follow Him? Has your knowledge changed your life? Jesus said:

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

John 14:23 … If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.

Does your knowledge of Jesus effect your life? Do you do what Jesus says do? Or do you just hear and then walk away? Do you hear Jesus and then do what He says? Do you judge yourself before you judge others? Jesus told us:

Matthew 7:1-5 Judge not, that ye be not judged. 2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. 3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? 4 Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? 5 Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.

The danger of judging others rather than yourself is that it can make you a Pharisee. No one wants to be a Pharisee, or self righteous. Jesus told the Pharisees:

Matthew 23:12-13 And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted. 13 But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.

Self righteousness does two terrible, destructive things. It first of all keeps the self righteous person from realizing that we all are sinners in need of the Savior. What did our Lord say?

Luke 5:32 I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

Luke 19:10 For the Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.

It is good to know that Jesus is Lord – but do you know that none of us are worthy for Heaven? It is Jesus Who paid our way into Heaven. It is Jesus that we need to come to in humility, realizing we need a doctor.

We need to come to Him not just saying Lord, but surrendering to Him as Lord. Are you in love with Him?

It Is Not Enough To Be Excited

Matthew 7:21 … Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven

We are emotional creatures. We get excited – and we were designed that way. There were many people who were excited when Jesus first came and began to preach. When John the Baptist told his disciples about Jesus, saying:

John 1:32 … I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him.

Two of his disciples followed Jesus home that day. They thought that Jesus had come to save Israel from Roman occupation. When Philip, who followed Jesus, went and spoke to his friend Nathaniel he was excited. He said:

John 1:45 … We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.

Oh, they were excited! I have preached the Gospel of salvation many years now. I have seen the Holy Spirit of God touch lives and change people’s lives. I have seen people excited, EXCITED, and come forward to give their lives to Jesus. They were on fire the day they were saved.

Then they cooled off. They heard the Gospel as if it were Fire Insurance, and Jesus Christ as the Salesman. But the Gospel is not just a momentary thing. I know you’ve been told this by others, but it’s not true.

As Jesus preached, more and more “disciples” followed Him, excited to see the Messiah, the Lord Who was going to overthrow Rome. When Jesus fed the 5000 with a two fish and five little biscuits the people were excited. Surely Rome is going to fall if we follow this Miracle Man!

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

Jesus was “Lord, Lord” to these people. Jesus crossed the sea and moved to Capernaum – and the crowds followed Him! When Jesus saw this crowd – this excited crowd – He told them:

John 6:26-35, 40 Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled. 27 Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed. 28 Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? 29 Jesus answered and said unto them, THIS IS THE WORK OF GOD, THAT YE BELIEVE ON HIM WHOM HE HATH SENT. 30 They said therefore unto him, What sign shewest thou then, that we may see, and believe thee? what dost thou work? 31 Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat. 32 Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world. 34 Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread. 35 And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.

John 6:40 And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.

It is fine to be excited about Jesus. I am. But mere emotion will not save you, no more than merely hearing the doctrinal truths will save you. You must receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

Receiving Him as LORD I will follow Him,
and DO what He says.
Receiving Him as SAVIOR I will trust Him to change me,
and make me His child.

When Jesus told the crowd what He expected of them the Bible says:

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

To be saved is not just fire insurance. To be saved is to give Christ all that you are, and to let Him give you all that He is. To be saved is to be changed.

The Truly Saved Follow Jesus. Period.

Matthew 7:21 … Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

The Christian is the person who has received Christ as Lord and Savior. Because that person has received Christ their lives are changed. The changed life shows in the fruit we produce.

Matthew 7:17-20 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. 19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. 20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

What makes a good tree good, and a bad tree bad? It is in its design. How was it made? You see a good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. It is God that tests the fruit. We who are saved are God’s garden (1 Corinthians 3:9). We who are saved are God’s trees.

Where are your roots planted?
God can see where your roots are planted!

If your life is rooted in Christ then the things that you do for God will be pleasing, because you are one of His children. But there are many people who say:

Matthew 7:22-23 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

Too many people think “because I have done this good thing or that good thing I am saved”. But ARE you? Jesus said that on judgment day there would be MANY who were doctrinally correct. There would be MANY who were excited about Jesus. There would be MANY who preached or taught Bible classes. There would be MANY who volunteered to help others. There will be MANY who tithe, or were baptized, or on Church rolls. MANY, MANY, MANY. Then Jesus will tell them:

then will I profess unto them, I never knew you:
depart from me,
ye that work iniquity

Oh you sang in the Choir, you preached in the pulpit, but you never knew Jesus – and He didn’t know you. This brings or should pause to each and every one of us. Pastor Greg Morse writes:

Jesus shows the fantasy of mere activism — of the one who would say, “I’ve done great things for God and thus I am saved.” … They thought and felt and acted, at times, like saints, but their lives were marked by self and sin. They listened to the Sermon on the Mount, only to go away not to cut off limbs of lust, nor cease their adulteries, nor end the hatred toward their brother, nor renounce the love of money, nor forgive their neighbor, nor relinquish their anxieties, nor resolve to be charitable in their judgments — all by faith in and love for the Preacher. Nor would they be bothered to ask, seek, and knock for the Spirit’s help (Matthew 7:7–11). Their righteousness would not exceed that of the Pharisees (Matthew 5:20).

They vainly thought — as I thought for many years, and ache over how many in our day still think it — that hearing was sufficient. That feeling was enough. That public displays of religion would do the trick. They wandered, as in a dream, trusting in the fact that they heard, that they felt, or that they did, even though they continued to practice sin.”

The saved are saved by unconditionally surrendering to Jesus. The saved love Jesus with a desperate love, and being saved by faith in Him obey Him in all things. He is Lord. Period.

If Jesus is your Lord, and you follow Him as Lord and Savior, then you know Him and He knows you. But if not, dear One, today is the day to receive Him as Lord and Savior. Call upon Him, dear one, and receive His salvation. Believe He died for you as Savior, and lives for you as High Priest. Obey Him in all things. Develop a desire to seek out the habit of righteousness. I end with His promise:

Matthew 7:24-27 Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: 25 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. 26 And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: 27 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.

May God the Spirit touch your hearts with His Word!

Posted in Matthew, Sermons Preached | Tagged

The Unworthy Servant

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Photo by Jordan Whitfield on Unsplash

Luke 17:3-10 Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. 4 And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him. 5 And the apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our faith. 6 And the Lord said, If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamine tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you. 7 But which of you, having a servant plowing or feeding cattle, will say unto him by and by, when he is come from the field, Go and sit down to meat? 8 And will not rather say unto him, Make ready wherewith I may sup, and gird thyself, and serve me, till I have eaten and drunken; and afterward thou shalt eat and drink? 9 Doth he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? {I do not think so} 10 So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.

It pays to read the Scripture in context. I have heard preachers speak on the Parable of the Unworthy Servant but never look at the text around that parable. Context makes all the difference.

First of all let’s make note that this parable is only found in the Gospel of Luke. I think that is very important. The other Gospels were written by men who ministered for Christ. Matthew and John were Apostles, hand picked by Christ. Mark was written by an Evangelist (see acts 12:12; 15:37) who worked with Paul. Who did God use to write the Book of Luke? A physician, an early doctor who followed the Apostles and recorded what they said about Jesus. Luke was a Gentile who, based on various commentaries I read, never actually met Jesus face to face. What Luke knew of Jesus was from his encounters with the Apostles (including the Apostle Paul). He writes at the beginning:

Luke 1:1-2 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;

Luke received what he wrote from eyewitness accounts of others. Someone told Luke about the Parable of the Unworthy Servant, and God allowed Luke to put it in the Scripture. The parable may have been an especially wonderful thing to Luke as he was a follower of those who saw Jesus but he himself had never seen the Lord other than with spiritual eyes. Jesus went to the Jews first, then to the Gentiles. Luke was a Gentile in the midst of a bunch of Jewish believers.

In Luke 17:3-4 Jesus emphasizes the need to forgive others if you will be used of God. What Jesus said was:

Luke 17:3-4 Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. 4 And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him.

Christians are not to harbor grudges. Our faith demands that we be forgiven as we have been forgiven. If we as believers sin by word or deed the Bible says:

1 John 1:7 But if we walk in the light, as {God} is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.

As we imitate God our Savior we love one another and fellowship with one another. We are saved because of the blood of Christ. We are not saved because we are perfect. We are not saved because we are worthy. It should not shock us when a brother or a sister in Christ sins against us, because we all are imperfect beings subject to sin.

Who among us has not sinned?
Let him or her cast the first stone! (John 8:7)

We all sin, have sinned, and will sin.
We are not saved because we are worthy.
We are saved because HE is worthy!

It is Jesus Who:

“… is worthy… for Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by Thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; and hast made us unto our God kings and priests; and we shall {one day} reign on the earth (Revelation 5:9-10).

We are not worthy. When we take and hold a grudge we put ourselves above God. We all have sinned and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). We must forgive others. No one is saved out of worthiness. No one. Not Billy Graham, nor David Jeremiah, nor John MacArthur, nor Charles Spurgeon, nor even David Buffaloe.

Therefore we must forgive. In response to this teaching the …

Apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our faith. (Luke 17:5)

To live a life of forgiveness requires a strong faith – not in ourselves, but in God. I’ll say that again:

To live a life of forgiveness requires
a strong faith in God and God alone!

If I had that much faith in God then that tiny bit of faith would be able to move a mountain. Where my faith is placed very much matters. I don’t need to scatter my faith out. My faith must be in my God, my Heavenly Father, my Blessed Redeemer Jesus. To have a great faith we all need to be like John the Baptist was. Do you remember John? John the Baptist was a mighty man of God. He was greater than Billy Graham, greater than Joel O’Steen, greater than any preacher we have ever heard of. You know how I know he was greater?

John did not have a big Church.
He never dressed in a fancy suit.
God led him to the wilderness to preach.
And people – without Facebook, Twitter,
Without NBC, ABC, or CBS,
Without free coffee and doughnuts to all who came,
Without good PR and a large advertising budget,
People flocked to John to be baptized!

One day those who followed John came to him and said:

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

Listen John – we’ve got a competing Church. That Man that YOU baptized has a BIGGER CROWD than YOU have! What do you think we ought to do?”

Well if John pastored a megaChurch today he would have went out and discussed Church Growth Strategies with the experts. Maybe John needed to start a coffee house to reach the Millennials. Maybe Generation Z needed a place that they could work out. Maybe we needed a few more billboards. But John didn’t buy into any of these things. Notice John’s words:

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

If it didn’t come from God, it won’t come. If it is of God it can’t be beaten. But if it’s my program, or John’s program, or some slick PR thing, Beloved, it will come to nothing. John went on to say:

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

John did not see himself as a “great man of God”, but as a recipient of God’s Grace. God called John to be the forerunner of Christ. What an honor that was! But John was not called to that position because he was a better person than others. God did not desperately need John the Baptist to do what he was called to do. What John had, he had by Grace.

John was saved by Grace.
John was appointed by Grace.
John baptized large numbers of people by Grace.
John’s ministry was for but a season.
And John had to decrease while Jesus increased.
So that Grace could go forward.

Beloved, none of us are worthy. None. That is what the Parable of the Unworthy Servant is about. God chose Luke to write the Gospel of Luke. Why? Because God wanted to. Period. God chose 12 that He named Apostles. Why? Because God wanted to. Period. God sent His Son to die for us on the Cross. Were we worthy? No! Why did God do this? Because He wanted to.

God doesn’t owe us anything. We owe Him everything. Now let us see the parable with us as the unworthy servants.

Luke 17:7 …. which of you, having a servant plowing or feeding cattle, will say unto him by and by, when he is come from the field, Go and sit down to meat?

I have a servant who has been out working all day. Do I call him in to supper, feeding him before I feed myself? Absolutely not! The one plowing was my servant. He’s doing his job. I’m recompensing him for his job. He’s doing what he’s supposed to do.

Luke 17:8 And will not rather say unto him, Make ready wherewith I may sup, and gird thyself, and serve me, till I have eaten and drunken; and afterward thou shalt eat and drink?

If I’m paying a servant to plow the field and to wait on me, I’m not going to wait on him. That’s foolish. He is only doing his job. His job is to wait on me because I am paying him for it.

Every day God gives us life. Every day we enjoy the riches of America. God gave me a life I do not deserve. God gave me salvation through His Son Jesus Christ. God doesn’t owe me anything. But I, and you too, dear ones, we together owe God everything. And that’s how we need to approach our service to God. Jesus said:

Luke 17:10 So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.

We are doing our duty when we serve the Lord. He saved us to serve Him. We are blessed beyond measure. We owe God everything, and God owes us nothing. We serve Him because this is our reasonable service. The Apostle Paul put it this way:

Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, [which is] your reasonable service.

If we are saved, it is our reasonable service to live for Him. Let us do so every day, to the glory of God our Savior!

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